The latest trend among the 1%: Generator Envy

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According to Penelope Green in the New York Times Home and Garden section, The latest hot home accessory is not a heated driveway or home theater, but a diesel gen set. And not just a little thing to keep the fridge going in an emergency, that's not going to impress the neighbors in a blackout. The 1% need to be able to light everything. Here is a modest little installation by one builder:

Last year, one of Mr. DiBiase’s mega-houses sold for more than $11 million, one of the highest spec sales in Greenwich history, said Ms. McElwreath, who had the listing. Mr. DiBiase ticked off its features, starting with a 100-kilowatt Cummins, the Rolls-Royce of generators. It was a necessary feature, he explained, if you consider the power needs of the 16,000-square-foot house: nine zones of hydro-air, 10 zones of radiant heat, a whole-house Lutron lighting system, a Sub-Zero, several refrigerator drawers and wine coolers, a wine cellar, a home theater and a gym.

It is all leading to a new affliction: generator envy. Who has the biggest, and most automatic. In Greenwich they can be quite ostentatious about what their generators can do:

In Greenwich, Conn., some chilly residents shivered while their neighbors’ mega-units (the whole-house kind that kick on automatically and emit a sound hardly louder than a cat’s purr) powered not just furnaces, washers and dryers, garage doors and electric gates, “but the mood lighting on their trees,” Leslie McElwreath, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty there, said wonderingly, impressed by her neighbor’s generator prowess (and his spotlighted trees).

This stuff is pretty standard among the very rich in Central and South America: generator sets, very big tanks of diesel fuel, high walls and lots of security guards. All of which, no doubt, will be the next status symbol for the 1%


Home generators make some sense if you live in the country in a time of increasingly strange and violent weather. But there can be dangers; in Jamaica, where generators are common, a lot of people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning by having the gen sets too close to the house and not properly ventilated. Huge ones are noisy and smelly. The New York Times could have written a useful article about a useful product, but of course had to focus on the Greenwich zillionaires. Commenters are outraged, noting:

Unbelievable! As man-made climate change ramps up, people just find more ways to ignore it. First we all hide away in air conditioned houses and cars all summer to escape the relentlessly oppressive heat. Now I guess we're all supposed to buy generators to cope with the ever worsening freak weather. And the more oil we use to power these devices, the worse we make our climate. But oddly enough no one writes articles about that.

She has a point. More in the New York Times.

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The latest trend among the 1%: Generator Envy
Home theatres and wine grottos are so 2007; the latest trend is the home generator. Next: Gun turrets.

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