Saturday, February 8, 2020

Three minutes of power

A tornado touched down yesterday morning only a mile or two from Castle Borepatch.  Fortunately nobody was killed but there was (as you'd imagine) quite a bit of mayhem.  Falling trees took down power lines and suddenly the Castle was without electricity.  That was a little after 0730 yesterday.  The power was still out late in the afternoon and I began to think about the food in the refrigerators and the chest freezer.  That was an investment I didn't want to replace.

And so I headed off to Orange Big Box Hardware Store and lo to my wondering eyes there was a palate (!) of 6500 W generators.  I gritted my teeth at the price and wrestled one to the car, driving home in the dark.  By the light of the headlights I put the wheels on, filled the crankcase with oil, poured 5 gallons of gas into the tank, and pulled the starter rope.  It barked to life, and the lights on the chest freezer shone once more.

Guess how long it took after that until the power to the neighborhood was restored?  No fair peeking at the post title.

Oh, well.  It's probably not a bad thing to have a generator around.  This is the second tornado we've had in these parts in six months.  Still, I would have liked to enjoy for a little longer the neighbor's envy  of the lights on in the Castle.


Differ said...

Impressive that in this country we can just go out and buy a genset in short order and restore power. Not as easy in UK.

libertyman said...

Ah, but just think, now that you are all ready, you will be unlikely to need it in the future.

I have one too, and it has been used a few times, but very much needed to keep the furnace going.

jeffrey nihart said...

Remember to drain or run the genie till the tank is empty. And add some gas stabilizer. If you drain you can put it in your pick-up gas tank.

Trust me when I say the gas the gub-ment makes us buy is bad after only 30 days. ARRGH....

LindaG said...

Glad you are all safe. It's not only a tornado you might need it for.

Jess said...

After spending a tremendous amount of money keeping gasoline in a generator for weeks, I can attest you are far ahead on costs.

Unknown said...

We moved into this house in summer 2005. The neighbor said He hadn't lost power for more than a few hours at a time in his 17 years here. That Thanksgiving weekend we lost power for four days, followed by 3 days on Christmas weekend with 2 feet of snow on the ground. We have electric heat, it got very cold. The following summer I installed a propane fired stand-by generator with an automatic generator transfer switch. We haven't lost power for more than a few hours at a time since then... I guess it works.

Aesop said...

1) Fuel stabilizer
2) A (55 gal.) fuel storage drum
3) Hand-cranked pump for drum
4) Spare oil, parts, etc. for genny

Do that, and you have all the power you want, for days.
A freezer, fridge, and microwave will do quite a bit.
If you need a light load, a single space heater will keep one room absolutely comfortable.
LED lights (even Christmas strings will suffice)and solar supply with battery storage should take care of lights for the whole house, and a computer.

Pfft! for tornadoes, at that point, unless you take a direct hit.

Gorges Smythe said...

Wow. Just Wow.

Ed Bonderenka said...

I've had my Y2K generator for let's see now... 20 yrs.
I never drain the gas.
I keep a 5 gallon can near it in the shed with a can of starter fluid.
Two 30 amp circuits (one from each leg of the main) run out to the shed.
I back feed both sides of the house with the main breaker off.
Best $500 I ever spent.

Brian said...

I've got a couple 12VDC generators parked in the driveway that are maintained on a daily basis.
Also have ~ 500 avg. watts of solar generation, ~ 1KW AH of battery backup, 3KW and .6KW 12VDC true sign inverters (house main and mobile spot use), LED's, radioS (HF -> UHF), identical freezers (one with Johnson Temp. control used as fridge for beer), propane camp stove/oven, wood stove, more flashlights than the wife likes to have around (until power goes out), some food, first aid, firewood, etc., ad nauseam ...

Not preppers per se, just lived with in places where power and the supply chain have enough disruptions to merit keeping a minimum of shtuff around but of course we now live on an island that gets nor' easters, thunderstorms and periodic visits from low intensity hurricanes plus we're those volunteer types - have been forever so there's that.

Surprised at the number of people around here that think the store will always be open but then it's easier to prepare to watch the Super World Series Kid Soccer Field Trip Friday Happy Hour Fishing Tournament Bowl than spend the time and money to make the <100% uptime (until it becomes the 100% downtime longer than 3 days when people start to really whig) inconveniences more tolerable.

Anonymous said...

Lived in Florida barely over 20 years; fired up the calculator and a calendar app to computer the number of hours that was, then used the Wayback Machine to recollect the number of hours I did not have electricity. Turns out to be a rather small percentage of "dark time" - total of about 150 hours in ~20 years, barely over 2%. Unfortunately, 140 of those hours were consecutive, right after a hurricane.....deduct those 6 days and ~10 hours in ~20 years comes to a bit over 1/10 of 1 percent outage time, certainly not worth buying a generator for. But those @*$% hurricanes.....I had 2 generators when I moved out of FL.

Old NFO said...

Well, at least you have it for 'next' time...

Rick C said...

"Trust me when I say the gas the gub-ment makes us buy is bad after only 30 days"

In 2012 I had occasion to let a car sit for about 8 months. At some point in there I think I poured a single bottle of gas stabilizer in there, one of those little pint-sized ones (about a 20 gallon tank.) When I finally needed to use the car again it started right up the first time with zero hesitation.

Unknown said...

Rick C: That was a car with fuel-injection. I've been doing the "park the car for months at a time" thing since 1989 when work took me across or out of the country, and my experience is that the modern fuel injected cars have no trouble with the stuff.

On the other hand, the vehicles with carburetors, (yes, I still drive one) will get about 50 miles after storage and then need a disassembly and cleaning of the carb, and likewise small engines both old and new go into "I don't care I don't want to start" mode, needing cleaning and often new diaphragms.

I found when I switched to exclusively using ethanol-free fuel in anything that has a carb that the problems stopped.

That's pretty easy to do in some states, where a selection of stations offer ethanol-free premium - and my experience is that the increased energy content (read, better fuel milage) of the ethanol-free stuff somewhat offsets the higher price for choosing premium octane. The real cost savings comes in having stuff work when you need it to, however.

Eagle said...

I keep a 7500w/6500w generator in a vinyl mini-shed behind the house. Wired the 30A feed into the main box - mechanical interlock prevents the mains and the generator from being switched into the box at the same time. Except for the bedroom halogens and the halogens in the stove hood, all the house lighting is LEDs. Gas stove, gas hot water, gas FHA furnace. We don't need much electricity: the generator runs the entire house.

2 5-gallon cans of stabilized gas next to the generator. The cans get drained into the cars and refilled each year. The stabilized gas in the generator's 8-gal tank gets drained and replaced each year.

I run the generator at least twice each year: in the spring and in the fall. After testing the power, I run the carb dry. If I have to use the generator during the winter, I change the oil in the spring.

So far, the generator has started on the first pull each time... including the several times I've had to use it during the winter.

It's a small price to pay to have a warm house when it's cold outside.

Comrade Misfit said...

The Trickster is laughing.

But at least you have one.

Will said...

I'll second the notion that gasohol should not be used in small engines, carb'd engines, turbo engines, hell, anything that burns gasoline.

If it has a carb, stock up on rebuild parts kits for that carburetor. As noted, if you forget and leave the gas in there, you WILL be cleaning it out, even if it has stabilizer in it. When it evaporates, which it will, it leaves a mess. Stock up on cans of carb cleaners, too.

One of the various problems with gasohol is that it makes the engine run hotter, since it is running leaner, so the throttle gets advanced to make the same power, which makes it worse. NOT good for air-cooled engines.

On injected engines with a knock sensor, it will retard the timing advance, so power and fuel economy suffers, along with throttle response.
This crap is sold merely to fill the corn producers pocket, no other reason. It's an overall energy loss, while burning food. How stupid is that?

waepnedmann said...

You might consider a conversion kit that will allow your gerator to run on propane or natural gas.
Propane stores indefinitely. There are several companies that produce these conversion kits. A web search will give you the information you would need if you decide to do this.
I recently installed a whole-house propane generator for my dad. It kicks on if the power goes off and shuts down when the power comes back on. The drawback problem I see is the estimated propane usage of two to four gallons per hour. Last winter we were without power in our area for six days. The cost will add up quickly if one runs the generator 24/7.