LAKE JACKSON

Perhaps burned by the lack of electricity during the February freeze or tired of spending a few days each hurricane season in the dark, local folks might be interested in picking up a generator at an area retailer. And with the calendar having moved into June, some might think demand isn't what it might be in September.

That demand is plenty high enough right now, though. Stores are having trouble keeping a full inventory of generators on the shelves.

"As soon as a hurricane comes, people start preparing at the last minute, so shipments, as we get them in, they're gone," said Angie Ford of the Home Depot on Abner Jackson Parkway in Lake Jackson. "Since the freeze, and because of COVID, it's a little bit of everything (driving demand)."

Home Depot only had one generator left on a Thursday morning in late May, with an expected replenishment Friday. The one left was a Ryobi 6,5000-watt model.

The selection was sparse not far away at the Tractor Supply Co. store off Highway 332 in Lake Jackson, but the store had some smaller models that could provide relief in a pinch.

"The smallest one I have is probably going to be this one," said Ben Kane of Tractor Supply, indicating the Champion model with 2,000-watt starting power and 1,700-watt running power.

Each generator box lists what you can run simultaneously with the generator and what you can run on its own. This one, at 38 pounds, can power full lights, a laptop, refrigerator, Wi-Fi, fans, television and a microwave at one time. A sump pump would need to run on its own, however, along with other items such as furnaces, dishwashers or a security system.

"These small, little portable ones, these are ideal (ones) you would take camping," Kane said. "So, it serves a dual purpose. Minimal household usage, but it's a lot easier to take with you, rather than, say, the big."

The 5,000-watt starting/4,000-watt running units, Kane said, can power most electrical things in the household at one time. However, it would have to handle something like a well or a washing machine on its own.

"You could run your water well, fill up your water heater, and you can use the resulting water pressure to take a nice, warm shower," Kane said.

Then, at night — with everything else cut off — you could use the generator to power the home air conditioning system.

"Especially down here, burning to a crisp — you can sleep comfortably" with the generator power, Kane said. "Or if it's in the winter, you can run your heating."

There's also the option of wiring in a permanent backup unit. While smaller, portable units can cost in the hundreds of dollars, whole-home units, like those manufactured by Generac, can cost thousands.

"It really depends on what you want," Ford said. "The Generac is — I don't have a base price. They'll do an in-home consultation, and they'll ask you, do you want your entire house powered or do you just want certain rooms — just your kitchen or whatever. They base it off exactly what you want."

Wes Wolfe is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0152.

"As soon as a hurricane comes, people start preparing at the last minute, so shipments, as we get them in, they're gone."

— Angie Ford, Lake Jackson Home Depot

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