As you can imagine, I follow severe weather. When a “derecho” storm with violent lightning and severe winds charges across the Northeast ripping up trees, battering homes and leaving millions without power, I know that Kohler generators are lighting up homes in pitch black neighborhoods like stars coming out on a moonless night. There will be stories to tell!
But first, what’s a derecho? It’s something akin to a tornado. The names of both come from the Spanish: A massive thunderstorm complex with destructive straight (“derecho”) winds is the counterpoint to a twisting tornado (“tornar”). So ends today’s language lesson.
Meet Arthur Salzberg of Chevy Chase, Maryland, as he begins to tell his story of a five-day power outage:
“We’re in the middle of a record heat wave, it’s Friday evening, and I’m out walking our two dachshunds (well, one’s dachshund-beagle mix), Frankie and Gracie. Something just feels strange — it’s the light — and I look up and there’s a massive cloud like a front with strobe lighting pushing in, fast! Looked like special effects in a movie. Next thing you know, the winds up to 75 mph blast through, we could hear trees snapping — one slammed into the neighbor’s house. Our only damage was a ripped off storm door and downed trees in backyard.
“At 10:37 PM, the power trips off. Silence. Except for wind, rain and debris. Then after just a few seconds, our Kohler generator automatically comes alive and within about 10 seconds, the house is up and running again. No worries. Frankie and Gracie settle in. And our tropical fish just keep doing their fish thing in their temperature-controlled tank. With the kids away at camp, my wife and I sit down to relax. We went back to watching our movie.”
It didn’t used to be so. When I spoke with Arthur, he described how 10 years ago, a power outage triggered something of a fire drill for the entire family. When the Salzbergs built the house, they started out with a small portable generator, just enough power for the “musts”: the refrigerator, the sump pump, the furnace blower and emergency lights.
“A portable generator is inexpensive on the front end,” says Arthur, “but I can tell you it won’t power much, it’s loud, and you’re going to be doing a lot of babysitting. Refueling every six to eight hours. I tried that for a five-day outage from Hurricane Isabel in 2003 — 17 refuelings! Can you even get to a gas station? Will it be open?
But now a more muscular 18kW Kohler standby generator powers 70% of the Salzberg household, including seven tons of air conditioning, refrigerator and freezer (“full of meat from a sale”), full phone, coffee maker, internet and TV, laundry, microwave, air filter system for the family asthma sufferer, and the security system.
“Don’t forget the garage door,” adds Arthur. “When we had the portable, I had to trip the garage door over to manual, got my finger caught, and … you don’t want to hear about it!”
Arthur adds one more surprising perk of a Kohler generator: you get visits from your neighbors who need to cool off and recharge their electronics. “No problem, come in. Good to see you! What’s new at your house?”
The Salzberg Kohler generator has now clocked over 260 hours of runtime in a little over two years. “That’s a lot of peace of mind,” says Arthur. “It used to be that we were always concerned about a blackout. Now, I’m back to my childlike enjoyment: Oh boy, exciting weather!”
Pelican Services, Inc., is the Salzberg’s Kohler Power Systems dealer.