Once a rare occurrence, power outages are becoming the norm with severe weather. More and more homeowners are refusing to take chances and investing in a home standby generator. Now Generac has the PowerPact -- an option for home standby power that is affordable and compact but still has many of the features found in larger generators.
Tom Kraeutler: This is the Money Pit's Top Products podcast coming to you from the 2014 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
Leslie Segrete: I'm Leslie Segrete.
Tom Kraeutler: Once it was a rare occurrence but today power outages are becoming the norm with severe weather. More and more homeowners however are refusing to take chances in their investing in a home standby generator.
Leslie Segrete: That's right. Now Generac  has an option for home standby power that's affordable and compact but still has many of the features found in a large generator. Here to tell us more is Jake Thomas from Generac. Welcome Jack.
Jake Thomas: Hey, thanks for having us on.
Tom Kraeutler: What is the Power Pack?
Jake Thomas: The Power Pack is a small unit, it's 7kW, 1-LP and 6kW on natural gas and it's retail price point is at 1,899, which actually includes the 50 amp transfer switch as well.
Tom Kraeutler: Wow. Under two grand?
Leslie Segrete: That's a good deal.
Jake Thomas: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's made out of a galvanized steel material so it's actually going to allow for an 18 inch offset placement versus a three to five foot placement that other generators may have.
Leslie Segrete: Wow, that's interesting.
Tom Kraeutler: Now when you say placement, let's describe that. You're talking about distance from ...
Jake Thomas: The generator to the house.
Tom Kraeutler: To the house.
Jake Thomas: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Leslie Segrete: That's interesting because you're dealing with a lot of properties, I know exactly where I live I'm right on top of my neighbor and I know when we put in the air conditioning unit, I had to get variances and things signed just because of the proximity to my neighbor and to my property line. With such a smaller footprint that probably opens the door for standby generators to so many more people.
Jake Thomas: Correct. The smaller outlines, this is ideal for them plus it actually lowers the installation cost because you don't have to run as much pipe, you don't have to run as much electrical conduit. It's overall more cost effective for the consumer.
Leslie Segrete: Now, how much can we power in the house? I know you said it was a 7kW, correct? What will that do?
Jake Thomas: That'll actually power a lot more than people really think. It'll power a well pump, a sump pump, a furnace, a number of lights, some kitchen circuits. All told you have eight circuits that you can power with the transfer switch and if you actually started counting what you absolutely have to have in an outage that's a lot.
Tom Kraeutler: Now let's describe what a transfer switch is for those that are unfamiliar, essentially these are certain circuits in the house you are going to choose to protect with this back-up generator, correct?
Jake Thomas: Correct. The generator is always monitoring the utility power and when power fails, the generator senses that and will actually send a signal to the transfer switch. You have certain circuits or conduits or outlets that are wired to this switch.
That switch actually transfers from utility power over to generator power safely to power just those circuits so you're not dangerously back feeding the power lines.
Leslie Segrete: Now that's interesting and this has got to be a very highly specialized installer because you're dealing with either propane or natural gas plus your electrical supplies. Is this somebody from Generac that I've got to bring in to do the install?
Jake Thomas: No, we have a dealer network of over 5,000 dealers also we don't necessarily require a dealer to put this in. It can be put in by an qualified person so if you have a qualified electrician, you don't necessarily have to be a generator specialist. These units are very, very easy to put in.
Tom Kraeutler: We're talking to Jake Thomas, he's a senior product manager with Generac about a brand new product called Power Pack. Now it's nice to know when your backup generator comes on.
This Power Pack capable or compatible with some of the mantra in technology that you guys have perfected over the years so that you can know when you're actually in a standby condition?
Jake Thomas: Sure, Tom, there are two options that the consumers have. They have a local in-house wireless device that just simply tells them the status of their generator, if it needs maintenance or if they need to call a repairman.
The other option, better option, the superior option is a product that we call Mobilelink. It is a cellular enabled communication system that allows a consumer to get notifications or see the status from any smart device, their smartphone, tablet or computer in case the generator needs attention.
We went the cellular route because if your power goes out, if your generator potentially fails ...
Tom Kraeutler: Your Wi-Fi network goes out.
Jake Thomas: Absolutely. With cellular since it's powered from the generator to battery it'll still communicate and tell you when you need it the most.
Tom Kraeutler: Makes sense. If you're one of the homeowners that does not yet have a backup generator, standby generator, this is your opportunity to get onboard with the Power Pack, a very affordable option home standby power at 1,899. Jake Thomas of Generac, thanks so much for being a part of the Money Pit Top Products podcast.
Jake Thomas: Thanks Tom, Leslie.
Tom Kraeutler: For more information you can go to the Generac website at generac.com .