When using, buying a generator, look before you leap

May 25, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.

If a hurricane comes howling through the Crossroads this season, snapping power lines and leaving residents in the dark, those with generators soon will find themselves plugging into them.

Lentz True Value Hardware sells and repairs generators so Ray Shannon, store manager, knows the ins and outs of generator use.

One factor people need to consider when purchasing a generator is what they intend to use it for, Shannon said.

A 6,000 watt generator provides enough power for most people, Shannon said. Still, people should know the generator doesn't mean they'll be able to run their whole household - that's not how a generator works, Shannon said.

"People have a misunderstanding about generators. They think they can just hook it up and plug everything in, but it doesn't work that way," he said.

When using a generator, it's important to consider the watts each appliance will draw, Shannon said. For instance, people often don't realize that larger appliances such as refrigerators and microwaves will have a surge in power when used.

Shannon said they see a lot of engines burned up from too big a strain being placed on them.

Most generators come with instructions to allow a cool down period before refueling the generator. While people assume this has something to do with safety, Shannon said it is actually an important way to reduce the wear and tear on the generator, allowing the carbon that builds up in the engine to breakup and be expelled when the engine starts again.

Still, the most important thing is for people to be practical about using a generator.

"The main thing is just getting one sized for what you're going to do with it," Shannon said.



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