The New York State Thruway South of Buffalo, NY with more than two feet of snow on an impassible road.

Big snowstorms always threaten local power distribution grids. How long until your power goes out?

The winter of 2013-2014 was brutal for much of the United States. Several ice storms locked down the South and the East Coast, while the northern tier east of the Rockies was battered with one snow storm after another and record breaking cold. A new term was introduced to many—polar vortex.

A polar vortex is probably nothing new, but the term definitely made you feel cold just hearing it. Along with the cold and snow and ice, utility power lines and other equipment suffered right along with the people, and often left them without power. The southern ice storms were especially hard on utility crews who sometimes struggled to keep up with the outages.

Standby Generators

The 2014-2015 winter has barely started and already Buffalo, NY has been hammered with storms that dumped snow measured in feet. Across New England, more than 400,000 people found themselves without power on Thanksgiving morning as Winter-Storm Cato swept through.

Winter Power Outages

Snow and Ice prediction by NWS for Georgia and Atlantic Coast

Ice and Snow Blanket the SE in a February 2014 Storm

When the power goes out and temperatures are below freezing, it doesn’t take long for a house to become uncomfortable. And while some people find comfort in gas or wood burning fireplaces, most are designed for aesthetics and not for heating. You can huddle around the fireplace and keep somewhat warm, but the rest of the house can quickly become uninhabitable.

What Will Run on Standby Generator Power?

Once the inside temperature reaches freezing—which can happen very quickly in sub-zero temperatures—pipes begin to freeze. As the water expands, the pipes split. When the power is restored and the furnace begins working again, the pipes thaw and the splits turn into a deluge that can spill hundreds of gallons of water an hour.

Meanwhile, all the other problems that power outages cause are still present. Refrigerator and freezer temperatures can rise into the unsafe range. Sump pumps don’t work and the basement could flood. Nothing electric works. No lights. No television or computers. You can’t even charge your cell phone.

Backup Power

A standby generator ready to automatically provide power during an outage.

Standby Generator Installed Outside a Home

Whether you are at home or stranded by a blizzard, a standby generator keeps your home supplied with power. Air-cooled standby units range from 7 to 10 kilowatts to power essential circuits and up to 22 kilowatts to handle most or all of a home’s needs. For larger homes and businesses, liquid-cooled generators supply more power and keep everything running smoothly.

Standby generators are automatic. The installation includes permanent wiring through an automatic transfer switch. Power outages are detected immediately and the backup generator system orchestrates a sequence of events that begins supplying power to the home within seconds.

Unlike portable generators, you don’t worry about storing fuel or venturing out into a blizzard to refuel. The engine runs on natural gas or propane (LP Gas) and connects to the home’s existing gas supply line. Larger units may require a higher capacity meter or regulator.

Added Security

New York City streets clogged with cars and drivers after a snowstorm.

Clogged Streets After a Winter Snowstorm

Standby generators keep a home supplied with power when that need is the most critical. Whatever weather condition or equipment failure takes place, the generator keeps critical home appliances running. Furnaces, pumps, lights, heaters, computers, and so much more.

Without the generator, you might return to a home that is dark like the rest of the neighborhood. But with it, your home stays safe and warm and so does your family.

Portable vs Standby for Emergency Power

Are you ready for the next ice storm, blizzard, or polar vortex?