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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 12:59 PM

Odd marketing at Lowe's and Home Depot

Power outages are common hereabouts; the primary cause is lines torn down by trees. Generally they only last for a few hours but a few outages have gone on for days and the last big one persisted for two weeks We have a portable generator for backup power. While the generator is a very useful thing to have it does have its limitations. They are noisy and use quite a bit of fuel and because we don't have ours hardwired into our house it uses a heavy extension cord to supply, at best, the equal to four outlets for power.

I've been helping my son build a house and we've started to wire it. We plan to do the wiring in such a way that in the event of an extended power failure, which is inevitable, a safe, quick, and relatively easy switch to generator power can be made. This is normally done by installing a special switching box that safely disconnects the house from street power as it reroutes the connection to generator power. When used the generator's limited power is then directed to pre-selected crucial circuits in the house. The switches are reasonably well made and meet the requirements of electrical codes nationwide. These generator switches are commonly available and retail in the ~ $250 range. Both Lowe's and Home Depot (and half of the hardware stores in the country) carry the switches and there isn't five dollars difference in the prices between them. Instillation of one of the switches is somewhat complicated and best left to an experienced electrician, who will take several hours to install the device.

But there is another way to safely switch your home's power supply from the street to a generator. This one also meets the requirements of the various codes and with this one the user is not limited to pre-selected circuits to energize. The major difference between this one and the $250 version is that this second one cost's $45 and can be installed in the home by a reasonably competent do-it-yourselfer in about a half hour leaving it ready to be connected to the generator as needed.

Now here is the thing: Both Lowe's and Home Depot carry both types of the switching units, the $250 version and the $45 version. You can find them listed in products available on their respective websites. But while the $250 switch can be found on the shelf at any one of either of the companies thousands of stores the only way you can get one of the $45 switches is to order it on line and have it shipped to you, they are not even available for in-store pick-up.

To recount: $250 item, commonly available and works well, meets electrical code requirements but has limited utility.
$45 item, not stocked and not advertised, works well, meets electrical code requirements and has greater utility.

How can that be? Aren't these, as advertised, customer-friendly stores doing their best to meet your needs? Let me suggest that there is a great deal more room for profit selling the $250 item than there is for an item costing a fifth that much. And so the shelves are stocked as they are. Too cynical? You decide.

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Odd marketing at Lowe's and Home Depot (Original post)
1-Old-Man Jun 2013 OP
PoliticAverse Jun 2013 #1
1-Old-Man Jun 2013 #5
PoliticAverse Jun 2013 #8
SharonAnn Jun 2013 #15
snooper2 Jun 2013 #2
srican69 Jun 2013 #3
AnotherMcIntosh Jun 2013 #4
Nye Bevan Jun 2013 #6
baldguy Jun 2013 #7
KittyWampus Jun 2013 #10
PoliticAverse Jun 2013 #17
baldguy Jun 2013 #18
HardTimes99 Jun 2013 #13
Recursion Jun 2013 #9
KittyWampus Jun 2013 #11
HappyMe Jun 2013 #12
1-Old-Man Jun 2013 #16
HappyMe Jun 2013 #19
WinkyDink Jun 2013 #14
Whiskeytide Jun 2013 #20
hunter Jun 2013 #21

Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:02 PM

1. Would you provide a link to the $45 one you are referring to ?... n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:09 PM

5. Sure, here is a link to the Home Depot's on line sale

This one is used if you have a very common model of breaker box made by GE, there are other versions for other companies' breaker boxes but they are only slightly different in design while working the same way.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-PowerMark-Gold-Load-Center-Generator-Interlock-Kit-THQLLX1/100674082

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:10 PM

8. Thank you. n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:22 PM

15. Usually stocking something depends on how high a "turnover rate" it has.

How many sell in a time period?

Shelf space is expensive.

As far as pickup, who knows?

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:03 PM

2. Is it special order? How many are made a year?

 

What's the consumption rate?

I'm sure there are thousands of blogs on doing this. List the links to both products and there are surely multiple blogs/forums/YouTube you can look at to contrast and compare what folks are saying about the products.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:06 PM

3. nothing unusual about it .. stocking items on a shelf is a science - its been heavily studied

and analyzed.


Shelf space is expensive - so retailers tend to put their most profitable products at eye level ( or at the end of the aisle) .. the rest you have to dig your way to find.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:08 PM

4. Thanks.

 

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:09 PM

6. If Amazon has it, get your revenge on both Lowes and Home Depot by ordering it from there.

Bricks and mortar stores need to to adapt or die. And in this case, one advantage they have is by allowing you to drive to the store right now and get what you want. If they make you special-order it they are throwing away any advantage they have over Amazon.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:09 PM

7. The store makes $100 on one, and $20 on the other.

 

Solution: Don't shop at Lowes or Home Depot. Go to a locally-owned hardware store.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:16 PM

10. Which would probably not have either kind of electrical switch.

 

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:27 PM

17. Right, the local hardware store doesn't have either in stock.

The local electrical supply store might.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:29 PM

18. One with a well-stocked electrical dept? Sure they would.

 

And if they didn't have it, they'd know where to get one.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:17 PM

13. You and I have disagreed on other matters for certain, but on this we are in

 

100% full accord:

Think globally, shop locally!

You'll be doing your neighbors and community a BIG favor.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:11 PM

9. You can order it, right?

Sounds like they're meeting your needs.

If you want the convenience of coming to the store and getting it right now, you pay for the more expensive one. But if you want to save money, you can use their website. They've found a way to offer you the cheaper product while still maximizing the return on their shelf space.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:17 PM

11. Retail stores carry in-store whatever items sell. They have limited space

 

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:17 PM

12. You know, because there is

such a huge difference in price there has to be some safety or technical issue about the one over the other. I could see if one was $75, and the other was $45 - probably same product, minor differences.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #12)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:25 PM

16. They are as different as airplanes and boats, though both serve the same purpose

Actually these are very different products and there is not doubt at all that the $250 version is more expensive to produce in every way. It is more complicated in design, it is larger, is has many more parts and no doubt takes a great deal more labor to assemble and of course there is greater expense to transport it too. But it does the same thing as the much smaller and less complicated $45 version - which itself is undoubtedly overpriced in comparison to the cost to produce it; I doubt very seriously that it cost more than a dollar or two to make the $45 version.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #16)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:32 PM

19. I'm sure you know what is best.

If it were me, I would go for what is absolutely the safest, and the most reliable.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:21 PM

14. 1. Maybe they prefer actual electricians? 2. There's a problem for you with "direct shipping"?

 

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:44 PM

20. Safety might be an issue...

... but I'm not an electrician, so I'm speculating.

I do know that, after Katrina, a power company employee was killed in Alabama when he touched downed lines that supposedly had no juice in them. Problem was that, up the street a few houses, someone had hooked up a generator but failed to disconnect from the street lines. The power had back flowed to the lines and he was killed when he touched them.

Sounds like either option you're looking at should prevent that, but the "special switching box that safely disconnects the house from street power" sounds like it could be more reliable in this regard. I don't know for certain, but I'd look into that if you haven't already.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 02:42 PM

21. If I was building a house and it was allowed...

... I might not connect it to the utility.

If I did, maybe I'd hook it up like an recreational vehicle. You could plug your house into the grid outlet, or you could plug it in to something else.

A thirty amp twist lock ought to be fine for residential service. Also, supposing you couldn't pay your electric bill one month and they shut it off, then you could show up at your neighbor's house, extension cord in hand, and ask "Can I borrow some electricity???" And your neighbor could do the same. Plugging a house into a generator would not be a problem.

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