Why all homes in South Louisiana should be equipped with a generator and an automatic transfer switch.

Its that time of the year again when the late summer heat commonly indexes in the triple digits.  While the humid subtropical climate here at home is hot, the tropics at this time of year define the word.  Like clockwork, Earth does what it does best, equalizes.  The sweltering heat between the northern and southern 23rd and 1/2 parallels is disbursed to the northern and southern reaches of the globe, in an incredibly efficient yet incredibly powerful way: HURRICANES!

Likely, very few people reading this are unaware of the imminent danger that can abruptly appear off our southern coast.  When it does, pandemonium ensues as the inevitable run on grocery stores and gas stations occurs.  Some avoid this chaos as they’ve prepared well in advance.  Even fewer are prepared for a several week power outage.  Be one of the very few – do yourself and your family a favor and get a generator and an automatic transfer switch.  Oh, and get one big enough to power the entire house –  every light, fan, outlet, tv, appliance, and most importantly, the AIR CONDITIONER!

Nine years ago today, many of us were “hunkered down” ready for the storm of the century.  As Katrina barreled toward our homes, no one fully knew what to expect.  We knew it could be devastating, and it was.  After the initial shock was over, the project of cleaning and putting life back together began.  The Northshore was not affected by the severe flooding like the Southshore, but in the weeks following both sides of the lake shared one hot similarity.  No power.  3, 5, 8 weeks or more was not unheard of to be without electricity.  Even the most thoroughly prepared don’t have the necessities for that amount of time, much less the luxuries of every day living that we’re accustomed to.  There are the very few however, that are ready to deal with the unfortunate circumstances in relative comfort with their generators and transfer switches. Generac_Guardian_Series

The benefits of the generator are self-explanatory.  The storm makes landfall, the winds increase, and shortly thereafter the lights begin to “flicker”.  A few too many flickers, and the power is off with no certainty as to when it may return.   If you’re fortunate, within a few short minutes electricity can resume flowing through the walls of your home with the temporary back up power provided by a generator.  The advantages are apparent.  If the refrigerator is powered, the need for ice and ice chests is reduced.  With the lights on, the need for candles, matches, flashlights and batteries is reduced.  If the TV and dish are powered, you have the most up to date information regarding the storm and its aftermath.  Perhaps however, the most underappreciated advantage of a generator is the ability to quickly return to a sense of normalcy.  You don’t miss your favorite TV shows, the appliances allow for the use of every day dishes and normal food preparation, and a hot shower does more for one’s psyche after a day in the late August South Louisiana heat than almost anything else.

While the generator is very important, an automatic transfer switch makes the luxury of a generator even more luxurious.  In a situation without the automatic switch, after the power fails some brave soul must weather the storm to start the generator, manually switch over the power supply from the power company to the private supply, and plug the unit into the home’s electrical system.  Rain, wind, debris and other hazards can make for a difficult and dangerous task.  In the situation with an automatic transfer switch, after the power fails, begin counting backward from 10.  By the time you get to “O”, the lights should have returned, the pot of gumbo can continue to simmer, the Saturday afternoon football games have resumed on the 50 inch and the fan on the A/C unit hadn’t even come to a complete stop before cranking back up.  Best of all, no one had to test their fortitude and contend with the outdoor elements.

In addition to the joy of automatic reserve power, there is also an increased comfort knowing that your generator is not potentially “back-feeding” into the power lines, thus creating incredibly dangerous situations for the power company workers.generator feedback

As with anything, the amount spent on such a system varies depending on needs and desires.  Obviously, stay within your budget, but budget higher.  The more power, the more comfort.  While it may be few and far between the storms that knock out power for longer than a week, one occurrence in a lifetime is enough to want to completely eliminate the chance it ever happen again.

Aside from the obvious benefits, the generator and transfer switch can also make a home in our part of the state much more attractive from a resale standpoint.  Anyone with experience with hurricanes (which is many) knows the value of backup power.  Do yourself, family and friends a huge favor, get the generator and automatic transfer switch.

~ Andrew S. Mendheim