October 2, 2022

Looking for generator in Lexington? Find options, safety tips

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Lexington prepares for winter storm

Approximately 0.25-0.5 inches of ice is expected to blanket Lexington as well as parts of western and northern Kentucky.

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With a winter storm headed toward Lexington, many homeowners may be checking the condition of their generators or hoping to locate one ahead of potential power outages.

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

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

  • Gas-powered generators let off deadly carbon monoxide, so never run them indoors, the agency reminds.
  • You also should never run your generator in your garage. Two people were hospitalized and one woman died in Laurel County in February 2021 after running a generator in a garage with no ventilation, the Herald-Leader previously reported.
  • Place your generator outside and away from windows. Make sure it is at least 20 feet from your home and other structures and direct the exhaust away from your home, as well.
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is functioning properly and has fresh batteries. If you feel sick, dizzy or weak, get some fresh air immediately. “Do not delay!,” the agency emphasizes.
  • Read your generator’s instruction manual and use it properly. Don’t overload it: only power a limited number of appliances.
  • Make sure your unit is grounded to avoid electrical shocks.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand. To prevent fires, clear the area around the generator of hazards and always shut it off and allow it to cool before refueling.

What types of generators are on the market?

Here’s a look at a few of the varieties on the market.

Portable generators are often the least expensive, running you around $400-$2,000, according to Consumer Reports’ Generator Buying Guide. For the most part they are gas-powered and need to be placed outside the home to protect occupants from exhaust.

Another variety, the inverter generator, is typically more expensive as it’s designed to run more efficiently. An inverter will typically cost you between $300-$4,000, depending on the model, but tends to be quieter than other types.

Home standby generators should be installed by a professional to be onsite and ready to use in the event of an emergency. A home standby unit kicks in automatically when you lose power and models can cost between $2,000-$6,000 before installation.

A fourth variety, the portable power station, is like a large battery pack to which you can plug in devices for a charge or power. As they aren’t gas-powered, many models can be safely used indoors. CR lists them in the $750-$3,000 price range.

Once you’ve landed on a variety, make sure you select a model that will fill the power needs of your home or any must-run appliances. CR also has some advice on determining the best size generator for your needs and says a “typical home” needs about 5,000 watts.

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Jerry Sparks fills up gas cans for his Jeep and generator for his home in New Zion at the Gray Hawk Landing in Jackson County, Ky., Wednesday, February 17, 2020. The National Weather Service has forecasted another winter storm to 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 stock, where available, is slim. Some recommendations are listed below, but as generators are a hot commodity as storms approach, call ahead to check and potentially put one on hold.

A number of businesses were showing generators in stock online at their locations as of midday Wednesday. They include:

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

Lexington Outdoor Power Equipment reported it had two left around 1:30 p.m. and had sold through the other stock. Lowe’s Home Improvement on Nichols Park Drive and Old Todds Road reported they had sold through their stocks, as well.

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If you have a generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and become deadly. Dreamstime 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 device.

If you buy a gas-powered generator, purchase a gas can 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 PM.

Jackie Starkey is the service journalism editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Centre Daily Times and Belleville News-Democrat. She is a graduate of UNC Asheville and previously worked for the Carteret County News-Times in coastal North Carolina. She is based at the Herald-Leader in Lexington.