FALL AND WINTER storms can cause regional
power outages and knock out the electrical power
at home, which I know from firsthand experience
is both aggravating and unsettling. Being prepared
is important, and one of the most useful tools for
such a situation is a temporary power source.
Costco sells both portable and home standby generators in the warehouses and at Costco.com, so I
met with Patrick McClintock, Costco hardware
buyer, to understand the differences and benefits
of each type.
How many watts do you need?
Before purchasing a generator, one of the first
things to do is identify how many electrical watts
you will need when the power goes out, advises
Patrick. “The three general areas to address in an
emergency are security, food and information, so it’s
important to determine what systems or appliances
will support those needs,” he says.
For instance, a home security system, kitchen
appliances, TV, computer and cellphones may all
need to have electricity, so deciding which circuits to
power will be an important consideration.
Wattage requirements can be found on an appliance’s tag or owner’s manual, or on the brand’s website. Also, generators purchased at Costco have a
hang tag that lists wattage for various appliances.
Matching the total wattage it takes to run appliances
to the wattage supplied by the generator will determine an appropriate size.
“Generally, most people will require about 5,000
running watts [ 5 kilowatts] for their basic home
needs, so our 7-kilowatt portable generator is a good
the lights on
COURTESY OF GENERAC POWER SYSTEMS
Marketing and communications
consultant Sherrie Newman
fills September’s consumer
reporter slot with this behind-the-scenes look at a Costco
program. Send your questions
about this article to:
size, and still allows some wattage leeway,” says
Patrick. “If members need even more wattage, our
home standby generators are effective enough to
power an entire home in total comfort.”
Portable generators are one of the quickest ways
to obtain backup power as they can be picked up
from Costco and are ready to use. “Less expensive
than standby units, they are simple to fuel and connect power cords directly to appliances, and can provide enough electricity to power essental circuits,”
says Todd Welzbacher, vice president sales and
development for Champion Power Equipment.
Powered by either gasoline or propane, they can run
some seven to 10 hours before they need refueling.
“Portable generators will adequately supply
emergency power for most homes and also provide
an excellent value for members needing occasional
power sources, such as [at] remote job sites or
farms,” says Erik Streveler, vice president sales and
marketing for Techtronic Industries.
Newer electronics enable portables to run more
quietly and efficiently than in the past, and are essentially safe for sensitive electronics such as TVs and
computers without damaging power surges. Most
portable generators on the market don’t have what is
called a “pure sine wave,” as it is costly to add, but
Costco chose to offer this safety feature as an added
value, Patrick says.
Always standing by
Home standby generators are the 24-hour power
protection guards. Able to power any home, no mat-
86 ;e Costco Connection SEPTEMBER 2014
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a
video explaining more
generators. (See page
10 for details.)