It Was a Dark and Stormy Derecho

What’s a derecho? It’s something akin to a tornado. The names of both come from the Spanish: a massive thunderstorm complex with destructive straight (“derecho”) winds is the counterpoint to a twisting tornado (“tornar”). 

When a derecho storm with violent lightning and severe winds charged across the Northeast, ripping up trees, battering homes and leaving millions without power, Arthur Salzberg of Chevy Chase, Maryland relied on his KOHLER generator to light up his home in his otherwise pitch-black neighborhood. 

“It’s Friday evening in the middle of a record heat wave, and I’m out walking our two dachshunds. Something just feels strange. It’s the light… I look up and there’s a massive cloud front with strobe lights pushing in, fast! Next thing you know, the wind is a 75-mph blast and we hear trees snapping. One slammed into the neighbor’s house. Luckily, our only damage was a ripped-off storm door and downed trees.

“At 10:37 pm, the power trips off. Silence except for wind, rain and flying debris. After just a few seconds, our Kohler generator automatically comes alive and the house is up and running again. No worries. The dogs settle in and our tropical fish just keep doing their thing in the temperature-controlled tank. With the kids away at camp, my wife and I sit down to relax and watch a movie.”

It didn’t used to be so simple. Arthur described how 10 years ago when the Salzbergs built the house, they started out with a small portable generator with just enough power for the must-haves: refrigerator, sump pump, furnace blower and emergency lights. 

“A portable generator is inexpensive on the front end,” says Arthur, “but I can tell you it won’t power much, it’s loud, and you’re going to do a lot of babysitting, refueling every six to eight hours. I tried that during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 – a five-day outage with 17 refuelings! Can you even get to a gas station? Will it be open?” 

But now, a muscular 18kW KOHLER standby generator powers the Salzberg household, including seven tons of air conditioning, refrigerator and freezer, phone, coffee maker, internet and TV, laundry, microwave, air filter system for the family asthma sufferer, and security system.  

The Salzberg generator has now clocked over hundreds of hours of runtime, with a surprising perk: visits from neighbors who need to cool off and recharge their electronics. “That’s a lot of peace of mind,” says Arthur.