It was a Dark and Stormy Night…

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.


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3 Responses to “It was a Dark and Stormy Night…”

  1. Kelly Jones
    August 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Generators are a life saver when it comes to power outages. I was visiting my aunt in Virginia when some nasty storms came through. Luckily she had purchased a generator before hand and it kicked on once the power went out. Since she had just moved in a few months ago, she quickly met her neighbors as they were all coming over to get some relief. If she hadn’t made the purchase, she would have been out of power for 62 hours like her neighbors.

  2. Carol
    August 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly. We have a small 5550 watt portable gasoline generator we brought with us from our other house. We had a transfer switch installed when we had our current home built and when you live in the woods and rely on well water, it’s a must. During the snow storm of October 2011, we were without power for over a week. If it was my husband and I, we would have been fine since the weather was warm enough not to have to keep the heat on all the time and we have our woodstove. The little genny could be shut down for periods during the day and night however, the apartment building where my in-laws live didn’t have any power and there was no estimate when power would be restored. They’re in their mid-80’s and my mother-in-law was already exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia. We packed them up and brought them here. The poor little genny needed to provide more than we planned and we just kept our fingers crossed she would hold up. They were with us for over a week (we had power back but they didn’t.)

    After the storm, we decided we needed a bigger generator and one that could pretty much power the whole house so we did our research and decided on Kohler. Boy, we’re glad we did. Now, when we lose power, within 5 seconds, systems are back online. No having to worry about running outside, especially in horrible weather, hooking up the genny, making sure I have plenty of stabilized fuel, etc. All I do is monitor my OnCue and my propane tank.

    Now if I could only monitor my OnCue from my smartphone. (Hint, hint!)

  3. Ochuko
    September 29, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Well we are still wtiohut power. There are ~13,000 wtiohut in Michigan right now (due to high gusts the other day). DTE has brought in workers from Indiana and Ohio to help speed things up. I’m guessing we may be wtiohut power for a few days yet; our specific power outage is only affecting 160 people.Thanks to all of our clients, who have been very understanding during this mess!