Hurricane near-miss got us thinking....

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by oz in SC, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,687
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    SC and soon to be NC
    Well the near-miss with Hurricane Charley got us thinking about an alternative source of power.

    So anyone have any suggestions for a generator to basically run a few lights,the fridge and freezer and the like???

    Also any pros and cons on the various brands.

    It would also be useful for providing power when we are up on the land in NC so a portable one would be what we want.

    Thanks oz
     
  2. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Central New York

  3. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,026
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Location:
    WV
    If you are going to use it at other times, then caring for a generator might be for you. Otherwise, firing it up and keeping it in working condition for a once every two years kind of thing is an expense and unnecessary investment. Have you heard one running? They can be very loud for what they do. Would a small solar-powered lamp give you the light you need? Would a small refrigerator unit that runs off your car battery work to keep necessary perishables cold (medicine, breastmilk, etc.)? Perhaps it would be worth the investment to get a propane or natural gas refrigerator/freezer as their initial cost is comparable to a generator, yet you would use that investment yearround to save energy costs. Though that certainly doesn't meet your portability needs.

    You might consider having a backup plan for your foodstuffs. Such as the ability to cook/can or give away food that would spoil in an unrunning freezer. Instead, keep foods that don't need refrigeration for emergencies. Oil lamps, safety candles and solar flashlights take little maintenance and require significantly less investment.

    After the tornado went through Nashville years ago my brother bought a generator. He hasn't used it since, but he has to maintain it/run it at times to keep it working in case he ever does want to use it. Kind of an expensive purchase for him overall.
     
  4. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,523
    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    We have a 5 kw Onan that runs on propane that is exceptionally quiet. We have had several power outages this summer that lasted as much as 28 hours & I was glad we had it to run the freezer & refrigerator. We have two 500 gallon propane tanks, so we don't have to worry about keeping enough fuel for it. It is a little inconvenient to have to "exercise" it once a month, but otherwise it needs very little upkeep. If we had it to do again, we would buy a larger one so we could run everything at the same time.
     
  5. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,687
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    SC and soon to be NC
    Thanks for the replies.

    Well around here it would be used if/when a hurrican actually DOES hit us or comes close enough to knock out the power.

    When Floyd came near,we lost power for something like two days.
    It was inconvenient but any longer and food would start to spoil.

    On the land in NC we could use it for power BEFORE we build and also when/if we lose power up there-ice storms do happen in the area.It would also be useful on the land itself for running power tools when far from the house.

    I am looking at around 5KW and most likely gas powered although a diesel would be REALLY nice but cost is much higher.
     
  6. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    528
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    We bought a DeWalt with a Honda engine. Those Honda engines are wonderful!
     
  7. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    936
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    If you are going to use propane or natural gas to heat, I would look into using it to run the generator. Gasoline is dangerous to store & it degenerates over time.Almost all of the gasoline powered generators can be converted to propane or NG.
     
  8. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    Have you looked around for a used one? Sometimes people sell them extremely cheaply and they have hardly used them at all. You could prob work a deal where you get it checked out by someone who knows gennies before you put any money on it.
     
  9. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    You sure can get a lot more "bang for the bucks" buying used. We bought ours used after Y2K. We have hardly had a year that we didn't lose power for at least 48 hours once a year, usually in the hottest part of summer. We love the big honda engine and "exercizing" it once a month is just part of our monthly "prep check". We have ours far enough from the house that the noise isn't so bad. If you are running vehicles, storing and rotating gas is not that big a deal. We have done if for many years. It is certainly best stored in a small building away from other buildings, for safely sake......but farmers have had large amounts of gasoline on the farm for years. Rotation is key and the stabilizers work very well. People in the line of hurricanes, or in our case tornadoes, who store meats and fruits etc. in freezers are only buying "insurance" when they buy a generator. I like the feeling that I can stay out of the lines for food, water etc. if a natural disaster strikes and we survive it.
     
  10. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,061
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    we have a briggs I think, it is big evough to run the homestead. and yes, everyone that can afford one should get one. ours runs our air conditioner, computers, 3 freezers, frigs, tv, and milking machine. Well worth the money. I have asthma, and I want my air, and now I have it. Why be hot, and sticky, when I can be nice and cool. I love this thing.
     
  11. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Indiana
    The other thing to note is that you have to have a special electrical plugamajig (highly technical term here) installed correctly on your breaker box at the house, and there is also something about letting the power company know you are using a generator so during a power outage their linemen don't get shocked working on your lines.
     
  12. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    208
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    I have a small Honda generator that I like. Cost about $1000 new but I think it could be bought for less. Big enough for what I need. Probably light the house, TV and computer. Never tried the freezer. Pick it up with one hand, quiet and fuel efficient. I think the size up might be better if you are not hauling it around much. Years ago I had a diesel marine onan that I liked but never needed as much power as it put out? If I have to connect into a house breaker I pull breaker and hook generator to breaker. Black to breaker white to white in the box. Takes about a minute and protects generator in case power comes back on. You could always kill the main but how would you know when the power comes back on.
     
  13. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,373
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    I saw one at Home Depot a few days ago. Special back-up power system, not just a regular generator. Impressive and they "start at $995.00".
     
  14. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,061
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    you should always kill the main, other wise your power that you are genarating could go do the line,m and if some one is workig on the main, they could get fried.
     
  15. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,523
    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    When we built our house, we ran wire that is not connected to the breaker box. We put plugs for the freezer, refrigerator, TV, computer, & air conditioner. There are also a couple of extra ones for lights, microwave, etc. We made two extension cords out of 12/2 Romex that go from the generator to two plugs in an outside wall. These two plugs are connected to the wiring in the house. When the electricity goes off, we just plug the generator in & leave a light on so we know when it comes back on. No worry about workmen getting zapped or our gen. getting fried, or extension cords lying around to trip over.