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Long term planning for power outages

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    The cheapest I found was this....
    http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wc...gclid=CM_Sr-r3srMCFUWo4AodKRQAzQ#.UJUgZYXP8uw

    but I don't really need auto-transfer...let alone to pay that much...just blue skying different ideas.

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  2. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Interesting, but yes I agree its a bit much. I'd never want to pull 1200 watts continuous, need a really big battery to support that for more than a few minutes... and the 70amp charger- going with the C/8 slow charge rule you are looking at 560Ah... a lot of battery for this purpose.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You've probably thought of this, but relying on gasoline - as shown by the lines in NJ now - is probably only good for the very short term...perhaps a week, unless you have large and safe storage.

    Diesel might be able to be stored better?

    In any case, backups which are not tied to the outside world are definitely the best - even if they only power a few things on occasion. For relatively windy areas, there are decent $600 wind machines which can be battery tied. Even though PV is expensive, a small panel to serve as last resort isn't a bad idea...

    As with any backup system, there is a point where the percentage of failure of ALL the systems one has access to gets smaller with multiple avenues. For instance, I have Nat Gas which is not dependent on electric or gasoline...but it could go out if larger systems (pipelines) go down.

    As it stands, I'm gonna occupy the middle world - and counting on the nat gas not to go out along with no gasoline available. That means I have nat gas heating (fireplace and other stuff which could be rigged), two small gas generators and a car battery type inverter. That probably covers most all but the "civil unrest" type of power outage. I guess it would not be a bad idea to buy a small nat gas electric generator if I want to be really safe - and a small PV setup with a few batteries!
  4. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    You would think that someone would sell a charger/sine inverter/switch in the 600W/800W surge for something like $400....it would make a nice DIY UPS with a marine battery....but as far as I can tell...no one has. Of course, the Chinese might come out with one next week....

    For the record, I like this Chinese pure-sine inverter (for the price):
    http://www.amazon.com/Wagan-EL2200-Elite-Watt-Inverter/dp/B003INJ3VI
    and the same outfit sells a series of higher power products
  5. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Web-

    I agree with your thinking. Its the scene in NJ that got me thinking about this (as others). We have never had an outage like htat in the past but we all know the first time it does happen we will really wish we had prepared. I figure its only a matter of time.

    There are only a couple loads in my house that I really have to power in a long outage - the septic pump after 3-4 days to empy the tank, the sump pump if the basements flooding. The fridge and freezer for a couple hours a day would be nice to not loose a weeks worth of food.

    I have city water (and a camping viral filter if we have to use questionable supply), wood for heat, and NG in the house. Thinking of switching out the electric range for NG for other reasons anyway. If the wood ever runs out the NG steam boiler central heat uses so little electricty to run (basically just the ignitor circuit) pretty much nay battery and a small inverter would do..... Speaking of which, its funny that today with think of steam as so antiquated but it has a lot of forgotten advantages - no pumps or blowers to power, no water pipes to freeze....

    Right now I can get away with running the generator only 4-5 hours at light load a day to run the critical stuff. Having a batter/inverter system would probably let me cut that down to maybe 2-3hr a day running at heavy load. That would probably let me stretch 10 gal to over a week. Between the generator tank and a couple gas cans I could just keep 2 weeks supply on hand at all times (treated and rotated yearly like BB). We pretty much always have enough food around for a couple weeks, bottled water, etc,

    The other thing is Ive always wanted to experiment with PV and this gives me the excuse to do a science project :) I'd consider a full blown whole house grid tie system if I could get past the issue of solar panels looking out of place on a 200yr old house!
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Interesting... When looking at inverters at place like Northern and some solar sites all the "died on day 1" reviews made me leery of the no name Chinese units. That's why I was looking Xantrex. As you mentioned Magnum would be even better but $$$$$$$$
  7. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Dual fuel gensets (gas, propane) are out there and allow remote start (no choke) on propane. Pricey though.

    Ehouse
  8. Adkjake

    Adkjake Member

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    Sandy totally missed us up here, but upon seeing what's going on in NYC and NJ with gasoline supply, in the future I will be putting up 20 gals of gas (4 X 5 gal cans) and a full tank in the car anytime bad weather is forecast. As other posters have noted, if not used by next summer, it will go in to the mower, boat or car.

    If nothing else, Katrina, Irene and Sandy have shown us, you may have to be (likely to be??) responsible for your well being for days, be prepared!! The government and relief orgs can't do it all.

    I really feel for people down there who's homes are lost or damaged, but at the same time it leaves me shaking my head at how ill prepared people were. How they ignored evacuation orders and preparedness advice. Saw a news report this morning that people in Queens were complaing that FEMA wasn't passing out enough bottled water. WTF? The storm of the decade is being forecast and you can't fill up a jerry can or some gallon jugs with water? Same with food, it isn't a strectch to put up a week's worth of food, a bunch of canned goods, energy bars, a few loaves of bread, peanut butter, etc. Heck you can heat up a can of chili or soup over a candle to at least have a warm meal.

    There's been lots of back in forth in the news about Staten Island, and their problems. Story in the NY POST this morning, the Borough President was quoted as saying how shocked he was that at the height of the strom on Mon night, he went to check on one of the evacuation centers they'd set up, had cots set up for over 400 and room for more people. There were 43 people there.
    gregbesia likes this.
  9. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    We get Ice Storms here sometimes and about 10 years ago they had a week without power due to the storm. I'm considering buying a Honeywell backup generator through our employee purchase program that is NG/Propane fired in the next few months here.
  10. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    While expensive, marine power systems designed for larger yachts have worked with the battery/generator issues. I'd look there if I didn't want a traditional (NG or propane) standby system
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Ok, now that power is back on, I can report that the $100 HF genny was a champ for 5+ days. Had to have two spark plugs, swapping them every 20-30 run hours, cleaning the one I took out with emery cloth--takes 3 mins a day. Ran my 1/3 hp sump pump (exclusively) for 12 hours, then ran all my other loads.... full size fridge + ~150 W of CFL lights + insert blower + wifi router + small electronics. I tripped the breaker on the genny once running all of the above. Afterward, I started running the fridge during daylight only (when the CFL load was lower) and never had a problem. Shut down when asleep.

    Our phones and iPad had plenty of games and Netflix for entertainment at <20W. Also something called 'books'.

    Run time on minimal load (blowers, wifi and 1 light), ~9 hours on 1 gallon.
    Under heavy load (i.e. fridge cycling a lot), more like 5 hours on 1 gallon.
    Burned ~7 gallons in 5 days. I will prob buy a second 5 gallon Jerry can.
    Started on first light pull every time when the carb was full. Took 2 light pulls when the carb had been drained.

    1 big point for the cheapo plan. If I go to a transfer switch, all I get is to be rid of cords, light switches work, bathroom fans, garage door openers. Get TV/Wii that we didn't miss. My space heat and DHW are both 240V.

    Load mgmt is def easier with the cords...I would have to go to 2000W min with the tie.
  12. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    My only issue with marine options is that they are a lot louder and more maintenance intensive than many of the smaller stationary units available today. The other great thing about Propane is it doesn't go stale like Diesel or Gas.

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