Keeping the Power On: Lessons Learned from the 2024 Winter Freeze

Lessons Learned from the 2024 Winter Freeze in Chicago cover image. Installing a generator or keeping your existing one working is key.

If we needed any reminder of the potential for extreme weather in the greater Chicago area, the winter freeze of 2024 certainly provided it. To be sure, Chicagoland residents are hardly strangers to cold temperatures and snow-covered landscapes but one thing that residents don’t often prepare for is the potential for those extreme weather conditions to knock out the local power grid. And indeed, with the most recent frigid weather and snow in January 2024, hundreds of thousands lost power in the Chicago area.

Such outages have become more and more common in recent years too. In February 2023, for example, Chicagoland faced a similar winter weather-related power outage that, again, impacted tens of thousands in various counties around the city.

Both of these incidents serve as stark reminders of the vulnerability of the power infrastructure to weather conditions such as heavy snowfall, ice storms, and freezing temperatures.

Lesson No. I from the Recent Winter Storm: Install a Generator

If you don’t currently have an alternative, backup power source for your home or business right now, getting a generator is a smart first step. Harsh winter storms like the one we just experienced, combined with the aging power infrastructure in the Chicagoland area, contribute to the susceptibility of the region to power outages. With an average of three major weather-related outages in Illinois per year, the odds suggest that many residents of Greater Chicago will, at some point, face the risk of being without power for extended periods, disrupting daily life and posing potential safety concerns.

Generators provide a reliable source of backup power that kicks in automatically when the main power supply fails. This ensures that essential appliances and systems, such as heating or cooling, refrigeration, and medical equipment, continue to function seamlessly, even in the face of a power outage.

Whole-home generators, in particular, can be a great investment as everything in the house can remain running when you need it. In addition, the average whole-home generator lasts anywhere from 15 to 20 years, if it is maintained regularly, meaning you’ll get value from it for years to come.

4 Benefits of Installing a Whole-Home Generator

In a real weather-related outage, the conditions inside your home can quickly become difficult to navigate and, depending on the season, even dangerous, especially when the heat goes off in extreme, cold weather. Here are 4 benefits of installing a whole-home generator.

Maintaining Comfort and Safety. During a power outage, homes can quickly become uncomfortable and unsafe. Generators ensure that heating systems continue to operate, preventing pipes from freezing and keeping residents warm. Additionally, essential medical equipment remains powered, contributing to the well-being of those with medical conditions.
Preserving Food and Medications. A power outage can lead to the spoilage of perishable goods, leaving residents without access to fresh food. Generators help maintain refrigeration, preserving food supplies and essential medications that require cold storage.
Protecting Electronics and Appliances. Sudden power surges and outages can damage electronic devices and appliances. A generator provides a stable power supply, protecting valuable electronics and preventing potential damage. Given it can also continue to power your mobile devices, computers, tablets, and overall access to the Internet, this can be a critical lifeline for you to connect with the outside world.
Peace of Mind. Knowing that a generator is in place provides residents with peace of mind, especially during severe weather events. It eliminates the stress and uncertainty associated with extended power outages, allowing families to focus on staying safe and comfortable.


Lesson No. 2: Maintain Your Existing Generator

If you own a backup generator, that’s great. You’ve already taken the first step toward getting the peace of mind you need during any power outage. The catch: Like any machine you own, it’s important to continuously maintain it and monitor its performance and viability on an ongoing basis. That’s where Penco can help. If it’s been a while since your last tune-up or if you just want to start ongoing monitoring, talk to us about setting up a maintenance plan for your generator. We have several options depending on type and model of your existing machine. Our trained and certified technicians will come to your home to make sure your generator is running up to the manufacture specifications.

The other option: Penco has a remote-monitoring solution called Mobile LinkTM through our Generac partnership, which can save customers on the costs of scheduling site visits over time. Through one of the Mobile Link purchase plans, you can allow Penco to continuously check your system remotely and reset it to make sure it works when you need it. Hundreds of Chicagoland households currently take advantage of this remote option.


Mobile Link is a remote, generator- monitoring solution available from Penco.


Lesson No. 3: Repair Your Generator Before the Next Outage

One thing that we at Penco see too often: Households have an existing generator that isn’t working but they wait too long to get it fixed. Then when freezing conditions (such as what we just experienced) occur, it’s too late and their home can become vulnerable to such outages. Even generators that consistently perform can shut down in such extreme weather.  So, if a generator isn’t performing properly, for whatever reason, contact us and we’ll send out an expert technician to repair your generator and get it back in working condition.

In the winter time, in particular, we also provide a Generac Cold Weather Kit that helps to prevent unwanted shutdowns. If the temperature falls below 0° F, for example, our kit can be used to maintain optimal battery and engine oil temperature. It also contains a thermostat-controlled battery pad and engine-block warmer. Depending on the need and the season, our technicians can talk with you about any of these options as well.

Conclusion: Contact Us and We Can Get You the Peace of Mind You Need

At Penco Electric & Generators, we’ve helped Chicagoland residents install their generators for decades.  And as the Premier Generac Service Dealer in the area, we make sure your installation is done safely and your generator is located properly per any requirements dictated by your local municipality. Our expert technicians also can help you with any maintenance or repair services. Don’t leave your home and family vulnerable to the uncertainties of winter weather—take control of your power supply!

Learn more about all our generator installation services and how we can help you stay powered during the winter and beyond. Call or contact us today. Don’t wait until the next outage—act now and let us be your partner in power.


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