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Home Matters

Keep the power flowing with a good generator

It's inevitable. At some point this winter a strong storm will knock the power out. And the experts say whether you just need a few lights or to keep your entire business going, a generator is well worth the investment.

This week on Home Matters, the guys are talking all about generators along with other electrical projects with Donal Barnes, Manager of Services and Special Projects, from SME Electric of Seattle.

Barnes says the first thing is to figure out how much you actually need. While the thought of a huge generator can be daunting, Barnes says you'd be surprised at how little it can take to keep the lights and some key appliances running without interruption.

"What's nice is we can get things like your microwave, your refrigerator, your furnace, a handful of general purpose or general lighting wall plug circuits on," he says of a small sized generator that puts out seven kilowatts.

If you want to make sure that extra freezer and some other appliances or a small business can keep running, Barnes says you might need to go up a bit in size to power everything.

Another big decision is whether to go with a portable generator that runs on gas or diesel, or pay more for one that's wired directly into your electric panel and starts automatically when the power goes out.

It can be critical for people who work from home or in a business where they can't afford to be out of action for even a few minutes.

"With a generator you're going to have power back on in seconds, and we can also offer surge protection and backup to ensure you're never without power."

It can also be lifesaving. Barnes says a number of people with elderly or sick family members that require constant care from medical equipment often put in generators to make sure there's no interruption in service.

A good seven kilowatt portable generator can cost you around $800 and up, while an automatic, wired generator starts for under $2,000. But when you can't afford to be in the dark, it's well worth the investment.

"That service will always be there when you need it," Barnes says.

Listen to the Home Matters podcast for more helpful tips to buying a generator and other electrical projects.

Donal Barnes and SME Electric of Seattle are a proud sponsor of KIRO Radio's Home Matters.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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