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Lead Times and Availability
Generator availability and lead times are very much weather dependent. This is because most power outages are related to severe weather such as hurricanes and ice storms. Wide spread power outages cause a sudden demand for generators, transfer switches, generator cables and plugs. Therefore it is best to be prepared BEFORE an outage occurs and have these items on hand. Otherwise you may not be able to purchase these types of items when you really need them.
Read below about shortages in the past.
Late 2003 Update
The extensive blackout of August 2003 that affected 50 million people in the northeast US followed by hurricane Isabel that made landfall in the eastern US in September resulted is high demand for backup power products. As a result, many retailers are having a difficult time maintaining any inventory of portable generators and factory lead times are extended. This is also true for many associated electrical products such as transfer switches and transfer panels and the situation is continuing into 2004.
1st Quarter 2000 Update
Following the astronomical demand for backup power products the last few months of 1999, vendors and manufacturers report sales have dropped drastically in the year 2000. Here at NoOutage.com we have always felt that customers should not buy a backup power system just for Y2K. That was a one-time event. The many other causes of power outages will continue -- probably with increasing frequency. They should be the primary justification and reason for considering the installation of a system.
July 1999 Update
Concerns over Y2K have not been in the news media as much the last couple months. Also, no hurricanes have hit the US this season yet. These two factors seem to have slightly reduced the demand for portable generators, which have in turn allowed manufacturers to catch up on their backlog. Units have begun to appear on store front retailers' shelves but mail order firms are still quoting long lead times. However, the demand could change quickly if any hurricanes approach the US coast and as the end of the year approaches.
Growing Generator Shortage in US - Spring 1999
The demand for small portable generators is skyrocketing in the US as a result of concerns over possible Y2K related power outages. Even though utility companies are making great efforts to fix computer software bugs that could shutdown the grid, many people are ordering generators, just in case. Both large and small manufacturers of portable generators report that their production for all of 1999 is already sold and they are having to turn away new orders. This comes on the heels of a number of major ice storms in 1998 which also drove up demand. A representative for one popular brand predicts, "The shortage of generators this year is going to be incredible." A spot check of several mail order resellers found that their stock of all but the smallest units is completely sold out. They are still accepting new orders but quoting delivery times of two to six months and requiring full payment up front.
Because of this current situation, NoOutage.com has been unable to obtain some portable generator sets directly from the manufacturers. Most that we have contacted since forming our company in January 1999 are declining applications from new retailers and distributors. This has forced us to obtain some generators through a wholesaler at increased costs. [Note: This higher cost applies only to our DeVilbiss line. Other items are discounted below list.] Our wholesaler currently has stock available for immediate delivery. But due to the increasing and unpredictable nature of the demand this year, we cannot guarantee how long this stock will be maintained.
We recommend that anyone considering the purchase of a generator in 1999 do so as soon as possible. This is due to the uncertain availability and price of units as the latter part of the year approaches.
Because of the way we presently have to procure generators, you may find our DeVilbiss prices somewhat higher than some retail outlets. This is particularly true for some of the large home centers. However, our surveys show that some retailers are also having trouble maintaining inventory. One large chain in particular no longer carries the economically priced side-valve units. They now only have the more expensive overhead-valve units available. If you live near any home center retailers, we suggest you contact them before buying. If they have the size and type of generator you are looking for in stock at a reasonable price, buy it. If not, check our catalog.
Note, however, that we believe most of our other products (transfer switches and inverters) are competitively priced.