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For Those Who Can Afford It, Standby Generator Is Ultimate In Convenience

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(Among the local businesses wired for a standby generator with automatic cutover is -- no suprise -- KYW Newsradio.  Photo by Ed Fischer)

(Among the local businesses wired for a standby generator with automatic cutover is — no suprise — KYW Newsradio. Photo by Ed Fischer)

Paul Kurtz Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a Philadelphia native who has been working as a reporter...
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By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Portable generators are a hot commodity during these days of winter power outages.

But demand has also gone up for bigger, more powerful — and more expensive — standby generators.

Unlike portable generators, there’s no priming or cord-pulling with “standby models.”

Ease of operation and power are the two big advantages of having a standby generator installed.  With the proper capacity, a  standby generator is capable of powering up everything in the house, as opposed to portable models that are designed to take care of essentials such as lights, heat, and  small appliances.

Steve Cohen, a local distributor for Peirce-Phelps, says standbys are hard-wired into the home.

“It mounts outside your home, just like your air conditioner, and they run a natural gas line to it. They also take a transfer switch and wire that into your main panel,” he explains.

When the power goes out, you flip that switch (or it flips on automatically) and power is restored.

But all that power and ease of use comes at a price.

“Depending on the size of the generator, anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars — maybe more if you get a real big one,” Cohen says.

Many hospitals and businesses have standby generators installed, but Cohen says the demand for residential installations is on the upswing.

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