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Looking for a generator in Lexington? Find options, safety tips

With a winter storm heading for Lexington, many homeowners may be checking the status of their generators or hoping to locate one ahead of possible power outages.

In anticipation of what could be up to 0.75 inches of ice, we’ve compiled some generator safety tips, along with some basics of what’s on the market.

Stay safe while operating your generator with these guidelines from Lexington Emergency Management:

  • Gas-powered generators release deadly carbon monoxide, so never run them indoors, the agency reminds.
  • You should never run your generator in your garage either. Two people were hospitalized and a woman died in Laurel County in February 2021 after running a generator in an unventilated garage, the Herald-Leader previously reported.
  • Place your generator outdoors and away from windows. Make sure it is at least 20 feet away from your house and other structures and also direct the exhaust away from your house.
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working properly and has fresh batteries. If you feel sick, dizzy or weak, get fresh air immediately. “Do not delay!”, Underlines the agency.
  • Read your generator’s instruction manual and use it properly. Don’t overload it: only power a limited number of devices.
  • Make sure your device is grounded to prevent electric shock.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy. To prevent fires, clear the area around the generator of any hazards and always turn it off and allow it to cool before refueling.

What types of generators are on the market?

Here is an overview of some of the varieties on the market.

portable generators are often the cheapest, costing you between $400 and $2,000, according to Consumer Reports’ Generator Buying Guide. For the most part, they run on gasoline and should be placed outside the house to protect occupants from exhaust fumes.

Another variety, the inverter generator, is generally more expensive because it is designed to operate more efficiently. An inverter will usually cost you between $300 and $4,000, depending on the model, but tends to be quieter than other types.

Home Backup Generators must be installed by a professional to be on site and ready for use in an emergency. A home backup unit automatically kicks in when you lose power, and models can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 before installation.

A fourth variety, the portable power station, is like a big battery that you can plug devices into to charge or power them. Since they are not gas-powered, many models are safe to use indoors. CR lists them in the price range of $750 to $3,000.

Once you’ve landed on a variety, be sure to select a model that will meet the power needs of your home or any essential appliance. CR also has some tips for determining the best size generator for your needs and says a “typical house” needs about 5,000 watts.

Jerry Sparks fills cans with gas for his Jeep and a generator for his home in New Zion at Gray Hawk Landing in Jackson County, Ky., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2020. The National Weather Service forecast another winter storm would drop more snow Wednesday night and Thursday. Silas Walker Lexington Herald-Leader

Where can I find a generator in the Lexington area?

Many stores report that stock, when available, is running low. Some recommendations are listed below, but since generators are in short supply as storms approach, call ahead to check and possibly put one on hold.

A number of companies were showing generators in stock online on their sites from midday Wednesday. They include:

  • The Harbor Freight Tools on Main Street and in the Eastland Mall.
  • Tractor Supply Co. on Main Street.
  • The Home Depot on Richmond Road and Harrodsburg Road.

Lexington Outdoor Power Equipment reported two left around 1:30 p.m. and sold through the other stock. Lowe’s Home Improvement on Nichols Park Drive and Old Todds Road also reported selling inventory.

If you have a generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and be deadly. The time of dreams TNS

What else do I need to run my generator?

To avoid using extension cords, CR recommends installing or having a professional install a transfer switch or interlock.

If you are buying a gasoline generator, buy a can of gasoline and label it clearly. Store your fuel away from your generator when it is running.

If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, be sure to purchase and install one in your home.

This story was originally published February 2, 2022 5:18 p.m.

Jackie Starkey is serving journalism editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Center Daily Times and the Belleville News-Democrat. She graduated from UNC Asheville and previously worked for the Carteret County News-Times on the North Carolina coast. She is based at the Herald-Leader in Lexington.