I've written a lot about backup power generators recently, first in a column three weeks ago and then in a follow-up column last week. I would have thought that was enough information to satisfy readers' curiosity, but it has turned out to have the opposite effect. The columns have generated (no pun intended) a flood of questions. So here is some additional information that I could not fit in the first two articles.
When using a portable generator, you must ensure that carbon monoxide does not enter your home, which could easily happen in the summer if the windows are open because the unit isn't big enough to power your air conditioner. Position the generator so the exhaust does not face the house, and check the wind to make sure the fumes are blown in a safe direction. You already should have carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, but if you do not, they are absolutely essential when using a generator for backup power.
If you buy a generator, it might be tempting to use the cheap and easy method of running extension cords from the generator outdoors to your refrigerator and other devices indoors. Not all extension cords are approved for outdoor use, especially when moisture from rain or snow is involved. Running the cords through the yard poses tripping hazards, and cracking open doors and windows near the generator to run the cords through also can let in carbon monoxide. Do it the safe and proper way with a professionally installed transfer switch. Check local regulations regarding noise and installation codes.
Home emergency power does not have to be expensive. For example, the WEN 56475 4,750-watt generator has electric start, 3,500 running watts, is CARB-compliant and sells on Amazon for only $414 with free delivery for Prime members. It is not an inverter (meaning it does not provide the "clean" power recommended for electronics), but it will keep the lights, refrigerator and forced-air furnace running. Combine it with the $299 Reliance Controls 31406CRK manual transfer switch with inlet box, and you have all the required hardware for around $700. (reliancecontrols.com)
And a final thought on inverters: When reading reviews of generators, you might find people who successfully used non-inverter models with computers, TVs and other sensitive electronics. I'm glad it worked for them, but for every few upbeat anecdotes there will be one from someone who fried their gear. If you opt to go with a conventional generator and you want to watch TV, you might want to get a small, inexpensive set that won't be a major loss if something goes wrong.
Q: Where can I buy a Technics OTTAVA-f SC-C70 Music System? They are sold out everywhere.
A: Technics recently announced a new version, the OTTAVA f SC-C70MKII. It will be released in December. Learn more at bit.ly/35ivJpu.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.