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pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/8/20 8:46 a.m.

I am by no means a prepper, but I try to stay prepared for most emergencies. When Covid-19 hit, we had a stocked pantry and plenty of papergoods, even had a lot of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer leftover from when my daughter was sick. Our worst emergency would be storms that knock out power for a few hours, so I was generally OK.

Last nights storms took out power. After sheltering in place for a few weeks now, it was a big wake up call. We have lots more food in the fridges than usual, and I don't want to lose it. We all work from home now, so we need WiFi and outlets. The kid needs videos and games for school and play. The bearded dragon needs heat. Arrgh!!!

Good news, I am a BIT of a prepper. I have a 4500 watt generator, lots of extension cords, and spare gas in cans. I set up two power zones, near the two fridges, so I have a basic office setup in the basement and the wife/kid have juice in the kitchen. I have plenty of battery-powered lights and lots of spare batteries and a few power bricks as well. We have enough food for a few weeks, and with natural gas heaters and a wood stove, we could probably do this in mid-winter. 

I also have guns and ammo and a plan to establish a defensive perimeter. There are deer trails through the yard and plenty of squirrels for meat. OK, maybe I am a prepper. I just need a reliable water source. Maybe a windmill...smiley

 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/8/20 8:48 a.m.

Make sure you defend yourself against those deer and squirrels!

jharry3
jharry3 HalfDork
4/8/20 8:51 a.m.

I think you need a trebuchet. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
4/8/20 8:54 a.m.

When my brother built his new house, he installed a 17kw natural gas fueled automatic generator.  I was shocked at how cheap it was- Something like $7,000cdn, including the stuff inside the house.  Going into a new build certainly saved some labor on the installation, but even so, I thought it was a hell of a deal, particularly after the power was out for a day and a half over Christmas a couple of years ago, when the whole family was there.

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/8/20 8:56 a.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

When my brother built his new house, he installed a 17kw natural gas fueled automatic generator.  I was shocked at how cheap it was- Something like $7,000cdn, including the stuff inside the house.  Going into a new build certainly saved some labor on the installation, but even so, I thought it was a hell of a deal, particularly after the power was out for a day and a half over Christmas a couple of years ago, when the whole family was there.

Generac or Kohler I assume. Worked on them for a few years. They are well worth the money, but like anything that runs maintenance is key.

ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
4/8/20 8:59 a.m.

Time to dig a moat.

 

slowride
slowride Dork
4/8/20 9:00 a.m.

We have buried power lines so the power is pretty stable, but that doesn't mean infallible. I live in a townhouse with a one car garage so I don't have room for a big generator. Are there small ones that are worthwhile?

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
4/8/20 9:13 a.m.
slowride said:

We have buried power lines so the power is pretty stable, but that doesn't mean infallible. I live in a townhouse with a one car garage so I don't have room for a big generator. Are there small ones that are worthwhile?

If you're not doing the "whole house" thing, just get as much generator as you need.  For me, it was running the well pump without significant risk of burning it up, plus a few other essentials, like the two refrigerators.  I think my Coleman is rated something odd like 6875 Watts or something.  I've used it a few times, and it's paid for itself, IMO.  Even had it running a 5000 BTU window A/C unit when we lost power in the Summer, which is nice when it's 90+ and humid as heck outside.  It's noisy, but when it's making electricity you can't get anywhere else, it doesn't matter much.

Short answer:  Yes.  Add up the running watts of your essential items and triple it for a safety factor.  Buy that much generator. 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/8/20 9:18 a.m.

I picked up a used generac plus associated automatic main disconnect for about $700. Installed it myself and materials brought total up to maybe $1100. We have it because we have a finished basement and sump pumps. If the generator prevents a flood incident even once it's a heck of a deal.

Whole house automatic natural gas backup is pretty nice. It however did fail to start when the power went out last winter on the day it was like -20 outside. I need to swap the oil with a synthetic I think. 

slowride
slowride Dork
4/8/20 9:25 a.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

Thanks!

oldopelguy (Forum Supporter)
oldopelguy (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/8/20 9:33 a.m.

You guys don't want to know what is going on with your power generation and distribution right now.  Some of the numbers are mind blowing. 

I actually ordered parts for my ancient 3rd string backup to the regular 2nd string backup to my normal backup generator last week.  I'll probably clean the carb and change the oil on my 1kw suitcase generator this weekend too.

Toyman01 (Forum Supporter)
Toyman01 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/8/20 9:37 a.m.
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:

Make sure you defend yourself against those deer and squirrels!

If he's a true prepper, he's not going to defend against them, he's going to eat them. laugh

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
4/8/20 9:49 a.m.
Toyman01 (Forum Supporter) said:
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:

Make sure you defend yourself against those deer and squirrels!

If he's a true prepper, he's not going to defend against them, he's going to eat them. laugh

Don't forget groundhogs!  I hear they make a nice stew.

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/8/20 9:57 a.m.

The longest we've been out of power was for 10 days. (hurricane) We have enough generator to power the kitchen, living room, studio & bedroom. Pretty much everything except A/C. We make do with lots of fans, but A/C would be nice during hot hurricane weather.

It's weird to be streaming movies and eating ice cream while the whole world is pitch black outside.

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy HalfDork
4/8/20 9:57 a.m.

A true prepper would have just a .22 and thousands upon thousands of rounds, that all fit in the front pocket of their pants.

 

11GTCS
11GTCS New Reader
4/8/20 9:59 a.m.

There's a few problems with portable generators.  We have one and it's come in handy several times over the years especially after winter storms.  We're pretty much suburban and don't loose power very often but with wiring hanging and trees everywhere it can happen.

1) How much gas do you feel safe storing?   Our 4500 W unit has a 5 gallon gas tank on top, depending on load that's usually good for 6 to 8 hours of run time.   We have a separate shed for the lawn tractor / etc. so if we expect a storm I usually have at least 15 gallons in cans on hand.

2) Depending on the generator, noise is a consideration.   Ours is on the low end of the spectrum and quite honestly is loud enough to wake the dead.   We haven't had to run it often for long periods and when we did I tried to shut down at 10:00 PM or so in deference to the neighbors.  Better generators are much quieter of course.

3) They sit for long periods of time, sometimes years.  You really need to be on top of properly laying them up after use.  (Stabilizer / run carb dry / oil changes, etc.)  Ours has a 10 HP B&S, it's easy to work on and has always started when needed by making sure to follow the layup steps.

4) How are you connecting to the house?  Cords? Transfer panel?   It's really, really, really (like really) important to not back feed the utility lines when you're running on generator.  You could electrocute utility crews working to restore power.   The transfer panels have interlocks that open the main breaker to the utility to prevent this.

5) Do you have a safe / weather proof location to run the generator?  Every time I need to use mine it's either snowing or raining sideways, we have a detached garage and the generator gets placed at one of the garage doors with the door partway open.    You need to be very conscious of CO poisoning possibilities, it seems like every time there's a big storm I hear of at least one tragic incident.   I get that we're all pretty mechanically aware on here so hopefully not an issue.   Theft is also a consideration.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/8/20 10:00 a.m.

I've always wanted one or two of the quiet Honda generators for off-grid camping. I think when we climb out of the next few months I might bump that up on my list from "kinda cool to have" to "I could justify spending this money." 

I probably could anyway since we've had increasing impacts from tropical systems in recent years. If I could run the fridge, basic electronics recharging, some lights and a fan or two if it's hot, that's really all I'd need. Running the electric HVAC and the rest of the house probably isn't actually necessary. Lower demand means less fuel usage.

I don't know that this is going to turn me into a full scale prepper, but I do think it's going to foster a slightly higher level of preparedness to be self sufficient. Again, with environmental conditions changing, it makes some sense.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
4/8/20 10:03 a.m.

This is my plan except my dad doesn't own a store/gas station.  
 

 

wae (Forum Supporter)
wae (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/8/20 10:07 a.m.

Thankfully, I haven't needed to do it during this misadventure (yet), but we've lost power due to ice storms and things in the past for a couple days so I've brought the motorhome to the house, parked it in the driveway, and run some extension cords out through the garage.  It's only a 4k (or maybe 4500) Watt setup, but it's enough to keep the food cold, run some lights, charge phones and laptops, and run some box fans and/or heaters.  Plus it comes with its own 80 gallon fuel tank.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
4/8/20 10:39 a.m.

In reply to 11GTCS :

You bring up very good points that should be taken into consideration, but none are insurmountable.  Having a source of electricity when the utilities fail is a wonderful thing.

KyAllroad (Jeremy) (Forum Supporter)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/8/20 10:45 a.m.

I'm thinking it might be a better choice for us to get one or two of those heavy duty inverters and running them off the Suburban.  The motor is already maintained, it's quiet, and the fuel tank is 35 gallons.

11GTCS
11GTCS New Reader
4/8/20 10:58 a.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

I couldn't agree more, 10-12 years ago the transformer out in front of our house decided to take a dump at 2:00 AM in subzero weather. (Utility came out, spent a loooong time up in the bucket truck and then drove off so I sort of figured it was transformer time.)  By 6:00 AM it was down to 45 F in the house and no sign of the crew so I fired up the generator.   (Pro tip; know where to grab the throttle linkage to idle the engine and let it warm up, I did not expect it to fire on the first pull at -2 F!  Took me a couple of seconds to get it slowed down.)  It was nice to have heat on at that point.  The guys were back before 7:00 and had the transformer on line in a hour but still good to know we could heat the house.

It also goes without saying that people on here don't generally need to be schooled on any of those points I listed.  The general public on the other hand is many times not so equipped.

Will
Will UltraDork
4/8/20 11:09 a.m.

I don't consider myself a prepper either, but recent events have shown that if you have more than four cans of soup and six bandaids, you're better prepared than most.

A few months before all the coronavirus stuff, there was  a water main break here in Chattanooga that left parts of the city wihout tap water. Local stores sold out of bottled water immediately. The police department had to set up areas where they could give out water to people who needed it. And bear in mind he outage lasted less than 48 hours.

Very few people take even the most basic precautions against things going wrong.

Dr. Hess (Forum Supporter)
Dr. Hess (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/8/20 11:36 a.m.

One of these:

https://smile.amazon.com/Aquaboon-A-CE-S-water-filter/dp/B01KOVSO1Q

two buckets and a nozzle and you have your own drinking water supply.  Swamp water in, drinking water out.  They sell a kit with the nozzle, O rings, etc too, but that filter is the guts of it.

ThurdFerguson
ThurdFerguson Reader
4/8/20 11:38 a.m.
oldopelguy (Forum Supporter) said:

You guys don't want to know what is going on with your power generation and distribution right now.  Some of the numbers are mind blowing. 

I actually ordered parts for my ancient 3rd string backup to the regular 2nd string backup to my normal backup generator last week.  I'll probably clean the carb and change the oil on my 1kw suitcase generator this weekend too.

Can you provide more details?  I am curious as the nuclear power plant close to home went off-line late last Friday.  News said back up came on line as expected so not an emergency situation but I wonder if something else is happening.  Just curious as I have all this time at home doing nuttin.

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