Cold temps heat up interest in portable generators

Generators should never run in enclosed spaces, doorways

Cold temps heat up interest in portable generators

SAN ANTONIO – The chilly temperatures are hardly the winter storm of 2021, but they bring back reminders of power outages and misery. So, as the thermometer drops, interest in portable home generators is heating up.

“A lot of it is residential people coming in because they (fear) they won’t have enough power to keep the essentials running -- your fridge, your lights, your heating and all that kind of stuff,” said Dominic Rodriguez with Northern Tool + Equipment on Goliad Road.

One of the biggest questions buyers have is about the size of portable generator they should buy. The answer depends on your needs and some calculations, Rodriguez said.

The more high-demand appliances you want to run, the more wattage you’ll need. You also need to factor in startup or surge needs. A smaller, 2,000-watt portable generator will run a fridge, a few lights and a phone charger, but probably not much else. If you want to also power the heat or air conditioning, the water heater, clothes dryer and pretty much the entire house, you’ll want something more powerful, possibly in the neighborhood of 13,000 watts, according to Rodriguez.

Portable generators run on gasoline and can emit dangerous and deadly carbon monoxide fumes if they are not used correctly.

“These are never meant to run in an enclosed space or inside at all,” Rodriguez said.

Safety experts say that generators should be set up at least 20 feet from the house and should never be set up to run in a doorway.

Some newer models feature a built-in sensor that automatically shuts down the generator if it detects too much carbon monoxide.

If you already own a portable generator, maintaining it is critical.

Rodriguez says to be sure to use fresh fuel and don’t leave untreated fuel in the machine. Check the oil, spark plugs and air filters. It’s a good idea to crank it up once a month to be sure it will work if and when the power goes out.

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.