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Generators generating increased interest from local homeowners

We’ve all been there — sitting on the couch watching a favorite show, as the lights flicker and go off, a flashlight nowhere in sight. And then there’s the waiting for the power to come back on and life to return to normal, lighting candles and taking cold showers in the interim.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy as well as the recent increase in tornado activity in the region, the benefits of having an alternative power source are especially apparent.

Signal Mountain resident and remodel contractor with Tennessee Home Improvements Mike Richards said he has experienced an increase in requests for generator installation on Signal Mountain in the last year.

“For a lot of people up here it’s a convenience thing,” he said. “You don’t know what you’ve got until the power’s gone. The only time you shouldn’t have lights is when you’re camping.”

Richards said he installs two types of generators, including a fully automatic one which can cost up to $13,000 and automatically powers the entire house when the electricity goes out. With the other kind, dedicated circuit generators, which are less expensive, costing around $5,000-$6,000, people can choose a few items they want to power, such as the refrigerator, microwave or hot water heater, he said.

Unless a tornado hits, Richards said ice is the most common culprit for Signal Mountain’s power outages. Owning a generator can therefore be a safety precaution from December through the beginning of March, especially for the elderly who have trouble getting out of the house.

Providing outdoor lighting around the home offers increased safety from looting —which has gained attention in Sandy’s aftermath — and is another reason to consider a generator, he noted.

Among the other main perks is preventing pipes from freezing, possibly busting and causing water damage. For this reason, adding a generator typically lowers homeowners’ insurance rates, he said.

“It’s a major resale investment,” Richards said, adding that generator installation typically increases a home’s resale value by at least $18,000-$20,000.

He said he used his generator two or three times last year when his power went out for three or four days at a time.

“You do become a very popular person, especially if it’s cold,” he joked.

Richards said fully automatic generators require very little attention and will turn on automatically once a week for five to 10 minutes to stay in working order. Dedicated circuit generators need to be refilled with gas periodically.

“They’re extremely quiet; no louder than a heat pump,” said Richards of the Kohler brand generators he installs, although he can install any generator by customer request.

He said generators take three days to install.

Full power

Contact Tennessee Home Improvements owner Mike Richards at 280-0251 or mikerichardsthi@yahoo.com.

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