14 October

It’s Time We Bought A Generator. Past Time.

by Jon Katz

It is almost impossible to pay attention to the floods and fires and storms and not think about a generator if you live in America’s rural or suburban area. This, to me, is the biggest story in the world, but the message hasn’t yet reached Washington.

When I moved upstate, we lost power once or twice a year, for one or two hours. The longest I recall being without power was 10 hours. Around the country, it is now routine for people to be without power for days, even weeks.

We’ve had four or five times as many outages as before. I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet, stretch a credit card, and buy a generator. I r researched it for a month and paid our friend and home maintenance and repair specialist Mike Conklin to study the right one for us.

He and I ended up picking out a 13,000 Watt Duromax that would protect my medicine, Maria’s studio, our refrigerator, and water heater. Maria opted out of this one.

In a bad storm, which is now a question of when not if, we keep our food fresh, protect my expensive medicine, power Maria’s studio and keep the heat and some lights on.

We used to shrug power failures off as no big deal. I think it’s myopic and foolish to blow off the likelihood of powerless storms now. I’ll be able to read books at night.

I hate what it does to our budget, but otherwise, when we need it, it will be too late to get it.

We’ve had a couple of these new superstorms up here. They are fantastic, unprecedented, and more destructive than any storms before them.

I believe in science, and the scientists say they will get much worse before they ever get better, if they ever do.

I want us to try to get ahead of this awful new reality to the extent that we can.

The new generator is a start. Mike is going to help us find an electrician, connect the machine (it runs on gasoline) and also propane, and set it up somewhere in the back of the house.

We hope to have it up and running by the end of November. This model will keep almost the entire house running for 11 hours with one gasoline tank, more if we also have a propane tank.

I talked to people, read online, went to and visited the websites of Home Depot and Loews, and hired Mike Conklin, an experienced carpenter and handyman, to help. I trust him.

I am well informed on generators now and feel very good about the one we got.

There are not too many practical things I can do here on the farm to stop climate change. But at the very least, we can be ready.

(Friends, I don’t give out specific information about the things we buy here, you can check Duromaz or other generators on Amazon or visit Loews and Home Depot or their websites.

You can also talk to people at your local hardware store. There are lots of choices and decisions to make. I didn’t trust myself to make them all.) I feel solid about the one I bought. Climate change has plenty of punch, but winter up here still has some wallop.)


  1. Smart decision Jon. Last February here in Texas millions lost power and water for four days. It was unseasonably cold…low 30’s. I had one friend that froze to death and another friend died related to this storm. We are going to get a generator as well…..

  2. This seems like a sound decision, Jon. Hubby and I have always had one for going on 30 years now. In times of need, it really gave us peace of mind.

  3. We have a Toyota Tacoma which has a outlet in the back which we can plug in our sump pump. We haven’t had too many problems here in Canada but with animals you definitely need water for them. We always stored water in a dozen large plastic 5 gal containers with waiter in the barn. They were a street pick up out side a DQ on recycling day. I believe they held the ice cream base for soft serve. They were ideal when we were younger and healthier. Stay well you two.

  4. Too bad you didn’t talk to somebody that would have guided you in the right direction of a whole house generator. When you call the company that installs them they also give you a propane tank for a propane. My friend paid $1,000 2 years ago for a whole house generator with a propane tank full of propane and when her electric shuts off the generator kicks on just like that. She has no need to cart tanks of gasoline back and forth. She did that for a year. And then her and her husband decided to go with the whole house stand by generator which is much more efficient and less work. Maybe you have time to quick take that back and contact somebody to install a better one that is much more cheaper and you won’t have to have Maria running for gasoline all the time and filling it up comment

    1. Margaret, I’ll make you a deal. You send me a check for $8,000 (I’ll give you my S-mail and run off and buy a full house generator.

      That doesn’t include electrical work or shed construction, so make it $10,000, (plus cords and electrical boards, maybe eleven or twelve thousand) and I’ll be happy to run out and buy the full house generator I discussed with about six different salespeople in two states and a half dozen neighbors, every one of whom said I didn’t need it for our small farmhouse. Eight thousand was the best price I was offered.

      If I buy the one you love so much, all we’ll have to do when the power goes out is sit on our ass and count the six seconds it takes for the thing to turn on and avoid the horror of having to (gasp! actually, go outside in the snow and move our generator and turn a switch or two. Why doesn’t your friend buy a few cans of gasoline, she will only have to run back and forth once in a while?

      And even worse, with ours we might have to actually carry out a couple of gallons of gasoline sitting in the barn — how awful, how do people survive it? Your friend doesn’t have our generator – the propane is quite optional. We know how to store gas safely. It’s very cheap. The new machine will go eleven hours on one can.

      The one I bought will cost about $2,000. If you’d prefer to pay for that, it will power the whole house in exactly the same way, except for the switch turning. A number of electricians and others have recommended it highly and told me quite clearly I don’t need to buy the big ones. I also enjoyed the thousands of rave reviews from users.

      If you don’t wish to pay for my generator, perhaps you won’t tell me which one to buy and why. (This is fun, nothing drives the yentas away more than suggesting they pay for what they are advising people to do.) My e-mail is [email protected], I look forward to hearing from you. It’s like a magic wand, you don’t even have to say “vanish,” they just go away. Bye, Margaret and stay warm this winter.

  5. We live near Albany and have had so many more outages then when we lived in Texas (taller older trees here in NY) we are starting to think about a generator too! I’ve never met anyone who has one regretting buying it!

  6. I finally bit the bullet and had an automatic generator (Generac) installed. Cost about 7K but worth it the number of times we lose power here. No more waiting for the power to come back on! And it increases the resale power of the house.

  7. A thoughtful decision, Jon.

    In the Phoenix area, we still have electrical outages. They often occur during “monsoon season” in the summer, when brief but violent storms bring wind damage. But other electrical network failures do occur. Fortunately, our power companies are sensitive to possibilities for peak loading during our hot summers.

    When we lived in Florida, we were on “hurricane protocol” beginning every spring. That included shopping for ample supplies, for some items to last for weeks. (Last minute shopping doesn’t work!) This seasonal planning is a good idea for areas that face weather threats. Some tried generators for portable A/Cs that brought relief from the ensuing sticky weather and mosquitoes.

    Another reason for your generator: to power home medical equipment such as a CPAP machine (or for some people, an oxygen concentrator).

    Businesses deal with these contingencies in a wide-ranging discipline called “Business Continuity Planning.” This euphemism replaced the suggestive title of “Disaster Recover Planning.” Pursuing such an approach previously was a “hard sell” because money mangers would counter with, “What are the odds?” Now, not as much.

  8. We rarely lose power but are considering installing solar, as a back up for our electric sewer pump and for the environmental benefits. I’m curious how your solar power system works as a back up. Does the power stored in the battery system provide any back up during power outages?

    1. Lisa, solar is tied to the grid, if the power goes out, it goes out. There are batteries that act like generators, they cost a fortune..

  9. Lordy….we are so grateful to have a generator! It’s not an automatic one, but we are considering one. Here in Illinois, it’s also a matter of not if but when. When a tornado roared thru our town in 2015, having a generator saved our sanity, as we were living in a war-like zone for months. The sounds of generators running was almost soothing…it was something that helped hold back the fear. It’s a necessity now.

  10. Here in northern California we have lots of power outages (thank you Pacific Gas and Electric). New CA law this week taking effect immediately: no small gas engines – which includes generators. Okay, so I have to buy an electric generator but then the power goes out. What then…… The brilliance of all these laws is incredible….

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