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Take It Outside. Carbon Monoxide Kills: Generator Safety

As everyone knows, we carry generators at all of our stores, and they’re a nice thing to have. If you need light or warmth during a storm, or just need a couple of sockets over at the campground, generators will produce.

Their usefulness is easy to see, but can be dangerous if used the wrong way.

(editor’s note: as we were working on this article, the City of Duluth experienced a large power outage as a tree fell on a line, caught fire, and ultimately took a few hours to fix. We reacted by getting our generators out and running extension cords to critical computers and servers. Safety is always first. In our case, we needed to also be careful of extension cords which were running to generators strategically placed outdoors. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to generator safety!)

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I Want a Generator… How Much Power Do I Need?

When it comes to generators… It’s a question that we get asked ALL THE TIME.

How Much Power Do I need?

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-53-40-pmThe answer isn’t really easy. It’s not the sort of thing where we can give one quick number and be able to recommend a specific generator. Generator transactions are the epitome of what makes Howard Brothers unique from other retailers. All our customers questions will not be answered by literature and signage. It requires conversation and understanding the full requirements of a given situation.

Before we even get to power needs, we often have to ask our customers how the generator will be used.

  • Is this a commercial or residential need?
  • Delicate electronics vs appliances (which… almost all new appliances could be considered high end electronics now!)
  • Are their sound requirements? How loud are you willing to put up with.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-53-49-pmFor this article, let’s assume we’re talking about a residential customer who wants a generator for backup purposes only. He’s not demanding that it kick on power immediately after power failure. He’s willing to run some extension cords from outside where his generator is sitting (Yeah… you can’t keep any gas powered generator inside where people will be.)

So let’s discuss some of the things our customers need to consider when researching generators and wattage requirements.

Wattage and Amps

It used to be easier to talk about power needs. In the past, most appliances did a pretty decent job of specifying how many watts it required to run. Over time, most appliances and electric motors started listing their power requirements primarily in amps.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-53-57-pmWhich means that you’ve got to get out your calculator and do some simple math.

  • Watts = Volts x Amps
  • Amps = Watts/Volts

If you’ve got a 6000 Watt Generator, you have to get all your appliance and electronic needs converted to watts first so that you can add them all up to ensure you don’t exceed your wattage needs.

Most household appliances (in america) use 120 volts, and for this example let’s assume the customer is only interested in 120volt power needs. So let’s assume you don’t know the watts used by your wife’s hair dryer. You see stamped to the side that it is 15amps. 15amps multiplied by 120volts equals 1800 watts.

This isn’t always perfect, and it is best to know the actual wattage specified by the manufacturer of the product, but it is a good starting point to determining your total wattage requirements.

Honda has created a great wattage calculator that you can plugin numbers from your home and see the overall requirements you’ll need for your generator. Also, when in the store, we have some good charts that we generally share with our customers that helps determine total need.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-54-20-pmStarting vs Running Wattage

Some appliances require extra power to start up, while others maintain the same power requirements constantly.

To calculate your power needs correctly, you need to know which kind of load you are dealing with. (A load is defined as the device that you are powering.) There are two kinds of loads:

Resistive loads – Resistive loads are pretty simple: they require the same amount of power to both start and run the equipment. Many resistive loads are involved in heating or making heat of some kind. Examples of resistive loads include:

  • Light bulbs
  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster

Reactive Loads – Reactive loads contain an electric motor, which requires additional power to start, but significantly less power to run once it gets going. Typically starting power is 3 times the amount of power to run the application. Examples of reactive loads include:

  • Refrigerators / freezers
  • Furnace fans
  • Well pumps
  • Air conditioners
  • Bench grinders
  • Air compressors
  • Power tools

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-54-07-pmSome household appliances, like a furnace or refrigerator, have internal fans that come on intermittently. Extra wattage/power is needed to start the fan each time. Refrigerators also have a defrost cycle that requires power in addition to the compressor and fans. In these cases, we recommend that you allow the appliance to cycle for a while, but then unplug them during the temporary time that you are running other appliances. Once that temporary use is done, you can plug back in the refrigerator or freezer without having lost the temperature advantage from the closed appliances.

Reactive loads may also require additional power when the electric motor begins to work. For example, when a saw begins cutting wood, its power requirement will increase. This is not applicable for most household appliances.

Noisy vs Super Quiet Generators

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-54-41-pmThere’s not a lot to say here except that there is a difference in decibels that everyone should be aware of.

Honda makes some of the quietest generators available today. It truly is remarkable how quiet they run and you’re able to have a conversation with someone while one is running feet away from you.

Something that not most folks understand or know is this. For every 10 db, the sound level (noise) doubles. 70 db is twice as loud as 60 db. 50 db is 1/2 as loud as 60 db. Again, this isn’t perfect and we all hear differently, but the best way for you to tell truly how quiet a generator is, is to have it running and you listen to it.

We’re happy to demo this for our customers and honestly, it often becomes the principle selling point. Most of our customers get a generator not only for emergency power needs, but for fun times too. Tailgating, camping or other outdoor events which require power are more and more needed. You want something mobile enough that gives you power, but also allows you to enjoy being outdoors at the same time. No noise = Happy neighbors.

So you see, the answer isn’t really easy. Each family and house has different expectations for when they’re power is down. If you’re more concerned with power to major appliances like freezers, refrigerators and stoves, then you’ll have different needs vs someone who wants to only power heaters in extreme cold weather.

Regardless, we love this stuff. We love to help and always look forward to educating our customers on it. We want everyone to be happy with their purchase and not be upset that they didn’t get what they needed.

Come into Howard Brothers at any of our five locations and we’ll get you set up on a Honda Generator which will last you years and give you comfort and reliability for the same time.

For more information, download this Honda Generator Brochure


What to Expect When you Come to Howard Brothers for Power Equipment

There is a difference between going to a big box home improvement store vs going to a local business. If you visit one of our 5 locations around town, we hope that you experience that difference.

If you come to Howard Brothers for Power Equipment needs, you’ll be thrust into a conversation with one of our sales reps (who have been with our organization for 5, 10, 20, 30 years… you might even talk to John or Doug Howard themselves.) Our goal is to make sure that you get the right equipment for your needs. We honestly do not want to see you again with troubles. We only want to see you because you love the products and service you received from us… and you’re wanting to upgrade or add to your fleet.

Erick Herman took a moment recently to talk about some of the questions he presents when a new customer comes in for the first time. He wants to find out if the customer is going to be using his equipment as a residential or commercial user. Then there is a litany of questions from there that will aide him in determining the optimal brand/product for that customer.

You’ll see that our sales team looks at physical characteristics of our customers, they ask specific property questions, and many other questions to zero in on the best product for the need.

Stop by any of our five stores in Doraville, Duluth, Oakwood, Alpharetta and Athens to get the best outdoor power equipment that will give you years of great use.



Tom Hanks Moving to Lawrenceville?

Click bait titles. They stink. You’re checking out what’s going on in the world of your friends and family on facebook, and all of the sudden one of your friends shares an article about “The top 10 uses of WD40 that the democratic party doesn’t want you to know about.”

OK. That didn’t necessarily happen to me yesterday, but one of my friends on facebook did lure me with a click bait link. He posted a link to an article that was purporting that Oscar winning actor, Tom Hanks was moving to Lawrenceville, Georgia.

I clicked on it and immediately realized that it was a satirical news site. Not true. In fact there is probably some code behind the post that allows “Lawrenceville” to be exchanged for any small town city name in America.

Alas, Tom Hanks is probably NOT moving to Lawrenceville, Georgia.

But all day long, I was thinking about Tom Hanks roles and at some point I visualized Forrest Gump on his Snapper Lawn Tractor.

And it got me thinking… What kind of mower would Forrest Gump use today. Surely, he wouldn’t use a lawn tractor.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”


I think Forrest Gump would spend some of that Bubba Gump Shrimp Company money on an Exmark Lazer Z.

He’d know that comparing a zero-turn to lawn tractor is really no comparison.

  • His productivity would be greater
  • His maneuverability would be easier
  • His quality of cut would be more professional
  • The durability of the mower would be the best there is.

The bottom line is the Exmark Lazer Z would probably be the last mower that Forrest Gump would need to buy.


Soon, Forrest would be saying:

“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little mow. So I mowed to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d mow to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just mow across Gwinnett County. And I figured, since I mowed this far, maybe I’d just mow across the great state of Georgia. And that’s what I did. I mowed clear across Georgia. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I mowed clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.” – Forrest




Pride in Legacy: A Couple of Decades Later

The year was 1996, when just down the road we hosted the greatest athletic competition in history: The Olympics. In Georgia, there was a great sense of pride in our city and state. Southern hospitality was given to all who came from every competing country on the planet. For the first time thus far in our history, we were able to take MARTA towards Midtown, or hop in our cars to various venues around the state, to root not for the Dawgs or the Yellow Jackets, but instead for the team we call our nation.

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Riverside Mower in Athens is Now Howard Brothers’ Fifth Location

Doug and John Howard of Howard Brothers with Sandra and Roger Sullivan of Riverside Mower
Doug and John Howard of Howard Brothers with Sandra and Roger Sullivan of Riverside Mower

We are very excited to announce that Howard Brothers is now in Athens, Georgia. The details behind this new location are important, and one day, we will be sure to get them captured for the record, but for now, let’s talk about Athens.

Riverside Mower, owned by Roger and Sandra Sullivan, has been serving the outdoor power equipment needs of Athens and surrounding areas for over 30 years. Being in our industry for that long, we know it takes a whole lot more than just having the products and the location.  All you have to do is talk to their customers and you’ll immediately learn that words like trust, integrity, loyalty, are keywords that have been the foundation of the relationships that have been built at Riverside.

Folks from all over the region have driven in to Athens to do business with Riverside and the folks there.

Because Riverside sells some similar brands to Howard Brothers like STIHL, the Howards and Sullivans have had many opportunities to get to know each other. A few months ago, Roger and Sandra approached us to consider purchasing their business so that they could retire.

Roger and Sandra emphasized early on, they wanted to be sure that their customers and their employees, were going to be taken care of, and the area would continue to have a trustworthy partner in the outdoor power equipment business.

Officially today, March 1, Riverside Mower is now Howard Brothers.

Bruce Tate, our Parts Manager from our Oakwood store has been with Howard Brothers for 10 years. He joins the team in Athens and recognizes that he has a lot to learn about the people and the area, but he is up for the challenge. Be sure to go by and meet him.

As for Roger and Sandra, you’ll still see them in the store for a while. They are committed to helping us out during the transition. You’ll probably begin to see some changes around the store as we renovate and rebrand the location, but we all realize that spring is here! Business will be as usual for now. Our focus is on our customers and serving them as they’ve always expected.

We will continue to represent the brands that Riverside Mowers has sold. They do a great business with Toro, STIHL, Dixie Chopper and Honda as well as others, however… you may begin to see a few of our the other brands that our other locations sell. More on that soon.

Again, we’re excited. Business at our 4 Metro Atlanta locations (Alpharetta, Doraville, Duluth and Oakwood) has been great over the past few years. This growth into Athens is something that we’ve discussed for many years, but only recently were all the details revealed.

If you have any questions during the transition, be sure to ask.




The Black Friday / Small Business Saturday Sales Event at Howard Brothers

Black Friday sales used to be a secret. Before the Internet and social media, it used to be fun to get the newspaper on Thanksgiving morning and look through them all. That was part of the fun of getting up on Friday morning and fighting the crowds. I think it was more exciting and more of an experience.

Then everyone started leaking their ads early (some retailers do this even months ahead of time) and now opening time has become a strategy for sale day. Some retailers are opening on Thursday (we will never do that.) and some retailers are even beginning to close on Friday to set them apart from other retailers.

Well. I guess I should go ahead and “Leak” what we’ll have on sale next week.

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Add Some Spontaneity to Your Weekend’s Todo List

Wow, we may actually be able to have a sun filled weekend, which means a lot of projects will be outdoors this weekend in Atlanta and North Georgia. Are your leaves piling up like mine?

Here’s a nice reminder from True Value, to add a little spontaneity to your project.

We’re here to offer you expert advice, and make sure you use the right tools for the job. Make sure that your projects involve your family. You can make any project more fun and enjoyable if you do.

What projects do you have this weekend? How can we help?

Spontaneity True Value

Howard Brothers Featured on Lost and Found on Discovery Family Channel

I guess we can now admit/mention the fact that we’re going to be on a reality TV show.

Over the years, we’ve often laughed about the fact that if cameras were in place, one of the greatest reality TV shows could be edited from our day to day business. We would have a fantastic cast of characters from employees to customers, and when you throw some of our vendors in, it would be a sure fire success. The challenges and solutions offered at Howard Brothers multiple locations is captivating.

But, until that day when some production company finds out about us, we’ll just piggy back on already existing reality TV.

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