Standby power generators can keep custom home buyers going

Uninterrupted power keeps homeowners cool (or warm) under the worst weather or rolling blackout.

September 01, 2008

A peek inside Generac's 20kW model, which sport's the company's OVI engine. Photography by Generac

An aging power infrastructure and the influx of severe weather hitting our nation means power outages are more likely, and most custom home buyers are willing to pay the extra money to keep their home running. A permanent answer to differentiate your business and to give your homeowners piece of mind is a home standby power generator system.

The Guardian Home Standby Generators from Waukesha, Wis.-based Generac Power Systems is just one example of the explosive growth in residential standby power. “Hurricane Katrina showed us just how bad it can get,” says Steve Goran, vice president of sales for Generac. In fact, according to the latest Department of Energy figures, from September 2006 to 2007, more than 11 million people were affected by weather-related or rolling blackout power outages. Goran also points to geography and changing demographics to explain the influx of interest in his market. “Look where people are moving for the past 10 years; the trends have been toward the coasts and down South.”

Clement Feng, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, explains that in addition to having peace of mind, installing a permanent backup power solution is inherently more convenient than using a sometimes unreliable portable generator. “It may not have been run all winter. There could be gunk in the works. You just don't know,” he says.

The Guardian air-cooled line, for example, comes in five models with ratings of 8, 10, 14, 17 and 20kW. All sport the company's proprietary hardy overhead valve industrial (OVI) engines, which feature improvements such as enclosures made of galvanized steel or aluminum; an LCD digital control panel with an exterior signal light for simple maintenance messages; and an optional wireless remote monitor for performance readouts inside the house. “Our models range in capacity from eight kilowatts (kW) to a 20kW model, which is able to fully back-up a typical 2,000 to 2,500-square foot home,” says Feng. The 20kW model, when paired with the company's GenReady Load Center panel, can handle all circuits, including central air conditioning, without shutting off or juggling other circuits.

A 20kW generator, however, may not appeal to some homeowners. Goran and Feng say it comes down to needs versus wants. “Convenience starts to play a hand in there. People want to power stuff that's technically non-essential, but if you're without power for a couple days, it can get pretty inconvenient,” says Goran, adding, “After all, the installation costs are about the same for each model. Ask your customers how much power they'd want if they were without the grid for a few days.”

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