Backup electric generator interest surges after storm power outages

Backup electric generator interest surges after storm power outages

Several category EF1 tornados across the Chicago area ripped trees from the ground and knocked out power to more than 225,000 ComEd customers this week. 

For some, that’s when the backup electric generator kicked in and powered the sump pump, air conditioner, refrigerator and other large home appliances. For those 100,000 ComEd customers still without power two days after the storm, a whole-house generator could have saved them from spoiled food and ruined July 4th plans.

Storms bring customer surge

Maurice Bernardi, owner of highly rated Rob-Lynn Power Systems of Lombard, Illinois, says his whole-house generator installation business sees massive spikes after large storms. Bernardi worked through the night after the storms at calls in Hinsdale, Glen Ellyn and Chicago.

“Oh man, it’s crazy right now,” he says. “The majority of the calls have been from customers of other businesses who haven’t been properly educated on their units. That can be really frustrating. It’s important that customers learn how to use their units before the installation is complete.”

How to pick the right generator

For those contemplating a whole-house power unit, one of the biggest questions is what size generator is appropriate. Bernardi says his technicians determine the amount of power drawn from air conditioners, refrigerators, sump pumps and other essential electrical devices when sizing a generator for customers.

“You could have four refrigerators in a 400-square-foot garage, and you’d still need a larger unit,” he says. 

Once they determine the the proper size power generator for the space, Bernardi says his company can usually install it within a week. The average cost of a whole-house generator is about $7,300, Bernardi says. 

Whole-house generator brings comfort

Angie’s List member Susan Batzer of Villa Park, installed a whole house unit in 2013. She says she opted for maximum protection for “peace of mind.” Countless power outages over the years plus water and sewage backups in the home were enough convince Batzer to spend the $5,500.

“My husband and I are approaching retirement, and we want to be able to leave the house for a couple of months and know that if we lost power the whole house won’t flood,” she says.

Batzer says even with this summer's major storms, she hasn’t lost power for an extended period since Oakwood Electric & Generator of Westmont installed the electric generator. However, she says she’s ready when the times comes. 

“I look forward to being able to open my home to friends and neighbors the next time the power is out to help them in whatever way I can,” Batzer says.


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