We just went through a corker of a hurricane. Irene ripped up the East Coast, with special vengeance saved for inland Vermont. As I write, Debbie and I are on a Harley trip that, for the first time in two decades, will not take us to many of our favored spots in southern and central Vermont. Quite simply, the roads we have taken over the years no longer exist.
After Irene hit, I headed out to buy a small generator to go along with our 36K Generac natural-gas monster. I wanted a portable backup gasoline generator. No dice. No generators for sale. Where I live, it was a clean sweep, until I caught a lucky break. A customer had returned a heavy-duty 4500-watt gas portable generator thinking he had purchased a propane generator (a good idea). The generator had not been put back on the sales floor, and I could have it, I was told. I could not believe my good fortune. And a 4500-watt heavy-duty construction site model would do me just fine. The product is a DEK, distributed by GXi Clayton N.C.. OK, so I had not heard of DEK, GXi or Clayton, NC. I figured the generator to be Chinese made. Not my ideal choice but it was indeed heavy duty and came with a nice three-year warranty and 24/7 800# backup.
The price at $650 seemed more than fair, and the DEK is now on my patio for assembly (oh yeah) and break in. This process is not a one-man job, so forewarned is forearmed. These things are heavy and do not come with the wheels attached, so from the outset, you’re dealing with a bit of a greased pig. How much of a load can you run with 4500 watts? First, forget power consumption hogs like microwaves, clothes dryers and dishwashers. Also forget minor items like toasters. Concentrate on your freezer and refrigerator, each of which will consume 1,000 Watts of running power. Your TV and DVD will team up for another 1000 watts. A laptop will require perhaps 500 watts, but I am not certain here. So you’re about 3500 watts down with 1,000 watts to use as overload help and the ability to run a few lights (no more than 75 watts each) I advise clicking off all your halogen light circuit breakers. These lights are wattage hogs. Head out and load up on some high-efficiency light bulbs.
Before a hurricane hits, place a piece of blue painters tape on the handful of circuit breakers you will want to remain live in an outage. You do not want to fumble around when the emergency hits. Trust me. Things go to hell fast, and most of your neighbors will not know whether they are on foot or horseback. Do not forget a large funnel to pour gas from your bulky and easy-to-spill five-gallon plastic gas containers. And unless you wish to turn your fine self into a human flamethrower, pour in the gas with the generator off. Do not fill your tank to the tippy top. Your tank wants to breathe. Finally, you want a generator with enough tank capacity to run all night. My 4.5K DAK qualifies. Act now. Do not miss the boat. With an especially warm spring in the Caribbean, the hurricane season is likely to be tough. Good luck.