In what could be another sign of things to come in the generator business, Coleman Powermate, sister company of camping equipment manufacturer The Coleman Company Inc., Wichita, Kan., plans to introduce very soon the AirGen(TM) Fuel Cell Generator.

Billed as the world’s first practical home fuel cell, it won’t be available at Home Depot. It will be available soon exclusively at www.colemanpowermate.com.

The AirGen is intended to be a backup generator and will retail for $7,995.

The 1.2-kilowatt unit can power a computer, phone, fax and light for eight to 10 hours before refueling. And since the only byproduct is water, it can be safely positioned indoors.

The AirGen generates electricity from the chemical interaction between oxygen from the air and hydrogen. It requires pure, bottled hydrogen.

Coleman has worked the last two years to create a hydrogen distribution system and to satisfy regulators. A U.S. Department of Transportation ruling is expected at any time, according to Popular Science magazine.

Hydrogen refills for the AirGen will cost $100 and Coleman is confident they can be delivered any where in the U.S. in two days.

The AirGen’s fuel cell is supplied by Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Coleman Co. and Coleman Powermate are subsidiaries of Sumbeam Corp.

Meanwhile, Cummins Power Generation, manufacturer of Onan-brand generators, is working to develop an affordable 10-kilowatt fuel cell module.

The Onan diesel, gasoline and LP generator sets that Cummins Power Generation now builds for RV use produce 12.5 kilowatts.

The goal of the Cummins/Onan research effort is to develop a virtually silent source of electric power with significantly lower fuel consumption and exhaust emissions when compared to existing technologies using fossil fuels.

McDermott Technology Inc. of Alliance, Ohio, is working with Cummins Power Generation on the development project.