Why I Love My Generator
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Why I Love My Generator

Talk to any cabin, cottage or camp owner with a generator, and you’ll find one common thread: They wouldn’t want to be without one. I chatted with several cabin owners who have portable and standby generators to find out how they use their units, and why they love them so.

Less stress, more comfort
Every year, Lee and Billee Goulet host Christmas at their camp in Roscommon County, Mich. With three kids and their spouses, along with six grandkids, it gets to be a houseful – in a wonderful way.

Several years ago, the whole gang had just arrived with presents, food, and all, and settled in at camp when the power went out. They packed everything up and drove home to celebrate the holiday.

Although nothing can completely squash quality family time, the outage was stressful and put a damper on Christmas. That’s when the Goulets decided it was time for a standby generator.

The Goulets have owned a standby generator for about 12 years now, and Lee says he uses it at least once a month.

Roscommon County experiences many wind storms and snowstorms, and since the Goulets’ camp is surrounded by deep woods, trees often fall on power lines. Plus, their place is remote, so it can take hours – even days – for the power company to come.

Last hunting season, Lee and several friends were at camp for six days. The power was out for four of the days, but it didn’t bother Lee and his guests – with the generator, their fun times continued uninterrupted.

The Goulets say their generator gives them confidence that power outages won’t trump their camp plans, whether it’s a holiday, a hunting trip or just a relaxing weekend.

A vital machine
For many people, like the Goulets, a generator is a matter of comfort and convenience. For Pearl and John Case, it was a matter of life and death.

The couple purchased their cabin on Sebago Lake in Maine nearly 30 years ago. Their first generator was a portable unit used to power not only basic appliances, but also John’s oxygen machine. John, who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), required supplemental oxygen 24/7.

One morning, at 2 a.m., Pearl heard John’s electrical oxygen machine beep – the power was out. Pearl, in her 80s, went downstairs with a flashlight to find pliers and a backup oxygen tank.

Depending on one’s oxygen requirements, these tanks last 4–8 hours, which is not long enough when there’s an extended power outage. That’s where the portable generator came in.

To start it, the Cases would first go outside – often in inclement weather – to set the unit up away from the cabin. They would then fill it with gasoline, pull the cord to start it, and refuel it every 6–8 hours (usually requiring multiple trips to the nearest gas station). It couldn’t run the entire house, so the Cases chose which appliances, in addition to John’s oxygen machine, to power.

The portable generator worked for a while, but as the couple grew older and John’s disease progressed, this was no longer a practical solution. John knew he didn’t have much longer and wanted Pearl to be comfortable when he was gone.   

The Cases decided to purchase a whole-house, standby generator – one that starts automatically when the power goes out. With this unit, the Cases didn’t have to worry about John’s oxygen supply (or the household appliances) during power outages.

Though John passed away a few months after the standby generator was installed, it undoubtedly brought him peace of mind to know that his bride would be safe in his absence. Today, Pearl says the generator gives her a sense of security and comfort.

Ericka Olin lives in northern Minnesota, where winter power outages from blizzards and ice storms are more common than peanuts at a ball game.

To avoid injury, it’s important that generator owners follow key safety measures, including:

1. Fumes: Portable and standby generators emit dangerous carbon monoxide fumes, so they should only be used outdoors and away from open windows or doors.

2. Power cords: Instead of just grabbing the cord off your electric weed-whacker for your portable generator, you need to choose the right cord. How? Select the cord amp that corresponds with the most powerful outlet on your generator. For example, a 30-amp outlet requires a 30-amp cord. The higher the amp of the cord, the more electricity it can transfer.

3. Gas: Never add fuel while the unit is running or hot. And don’t over-fill the tank; always allow room for fuel expansion.

4. Good reading: To protect yourself, your generator and your property, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
STANDING BY – When the power goes out at this cabin, backup power is provided by a Briggs & Stratton 10kW home standby generator. This model is designed to service a small- to medium-size home or cabin.
Briggs & Stratton

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