Scary Power Outage

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,211
central pa
It depends on the nature of the disaster. One would have a different strategy for a major disaster like a huge earthquake than for a 3-5 day power outage due to a wind or snowstorm. I've been in some serious hurricanes, and ice storm blizzards, but a major disaster has never happened to me in my lifetime thank goodness. The odds are very low for a catastrophe to happen for most people unless your town is in a tornado zone or a direct hit area like New Orleans. The longest I can recall being out of power was hurricane Dianne in 1955 and an ice storm out here in the early 2000s. Both outages lasted about 6 days.

We have a generator primarily to keep garden produce frozen. There are many months of food prep in our freezer. In the event of a more serious, true disaster, we would have to start cooking and canning whatever we could save. Our car can provide backup power for the freezer for a fairly long time if push came to shove.
Yeah that and the well pump is the only reason I have the generator. We buy beef by the cow and we will soon be butchering pigs as well. So loosing all that meat would be bad. We don't really freeze much of the produce we typically can most of that do no issue there. We also don't have a great garden at the new house yet so we normally don't have all that much to can. Usually just a dozen or do jars of tomatoes.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
I have a similar setup. I already had the generator so it made sense. I just don't understand the people preparing for a major disaster relying on something that needs gas propane or nay gas
Well, like begreen says it depends on the disaster. I always keep 15-20 gallons of non-oxygenated gas on hand, all in premium Eagle metal gas cans and labeled with the date I bought the gas as if it’s been stabilized. After keeping the gas for one year I use it in My lawn mowing equipment for my bus or in my trucks and buy new again. With the way my small 2000/2200 watt generator sips gas and I wouldn’t need to run it 24/7 I figure I could go a few weeks with my gas stores then after that who knows what would happen. maybe I could get more gas somewhere or maybe I could get some from my trucks or mowers.... I don’t know. But I do have a plan and I would have power for awhile anyways. I just hope it wouldn’t get real long and desperate.
 

velvetfoot

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2005
10,053
Sand Lake, NY
It'll be a luxury for short term outages, and to power the deep well pump. The little gasoline gen can carry most of the load during an extended outage, after I drag it out hook it up, fuel it up, etc. (and then drain it after the outage is over). That's the thinking now anyway.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
I like how my gen is set up by the house ready to go in a moment, I just have flip the main breaker in my panel then close the circuit on the two pole breaker I put in for the generator then go out and plug in the generator cord and give the thing a few pulls and I have power throughout the house.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
After a few longish outages of 3-6 days in the late 1990s and early 2000s I broke down and got a good generator to replace a Coleman 4800w contractor generator. The AC was dirty coming off that genset and some electronics and UPSs refused to accept it. So I upgraded to a good Yamaha inverter genny modified for dual-fuel to run on propane or gas. It sips fuel. Our long-term storage is in large propane tanks and a few BBQ tanks. That will cover us for a month with judicious running. Of course, since purchasing, we have not had an outage longer than 2 days for the past 10 years. LOL. I now look at that expensive generator as my insurance to keep outages at bay.
 

FramerJ

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
26
Missouri
I really don't understand why those of you who are worried about long term shutdowns etc are relying on generators as the main part of your strategy. Why not learn how to simply deal without electricity? The biggest issue for me would be water but I can get it from a spring a 1/2 mile away. Which is an easy walk. I can smoke or dehydrate food if need be to live without refrigeration. I really am not worried about any long term problem but I know I will be fine regardless
I would survive just fine without electricity. Heck, I could still do my job with a hammer and handsaw. Not sure the builder(s) would like the slower pace though. My wife however does like the creature comforts that come with living in a first world advanced society.

I take the personal responsibility to prepare us as best as possible. We are not going to freeze, go thirsty or starve. But there is only so much one can do. I can have months worth of food, fuel, water and provisions stored only to have it all wiped out in a tornado.
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
748
Northwest Lower Michigan
#1 concern for me with no power is freezing pipes. As long as I can keep the house warm enough for that, I’m good. I’m a single guy who can’t eat much normal things due to medical issues, I do best on cans and dry snacks. I almost never use my stove or fridge so there really isn’t anything to spoil. I’ve never had high speed internet until December, so I have no problem being disconnected from the world for a while, actually I do that often by choice.

This house came with an 7 or 8k Generac hooked to the propane tank. It’s nice for short outages but for a day or more it can get prohibitively expensive, I’d rather just use something small that will run the pellet stove. This house also has a low point drain in the basement, I could drain the pipes if I knew power was going to be out for a long time and shut off the generator. Better than burning $100/day in propane.

My old house had a woodstove and since my furnace had long since went out, it was my primary source of heat. When the power went out, I just lit some candles and it was like camping.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
779
Eastern Long Island NY
Well we bought our (2.3 kW, portable) generator when we had frequent outages due to thunderstorms in the South East, and the freezer was full because my wife was storing milk for our newborn. That stuff is priceless, and outages in 95+ heat make the freezer go warm in a heartbeat.

Other than that, it allows us to buy stuff cheap in larger quantities and store it. It'd be a shame to gamble with food bought because it was lower cost.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
An automatic generator on a big propane tank can lead to a lot of waste. We have a neighbor with an automatic system that went through a big tankful in about 4 days during a 6-day outage. In most cases, there is no reason for a generator to run 24/7. They were away and anything being protected was not for the last 2 days of the outage and it ran out of gas. The neighborhood got blissful silence.

We have kept things safely cold by not opening the freezer or refrig door and by running the genset 2 hrs in the morning and about 3-4 hrs at night. During that same 6 day outage we used about 7 gallons of gas on the old Coleman. We lost no food. That's about $21 of fuel vs $400.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
That’s the way I look at it begreen, I just used up the old non-oxygenated gas I had stored for the last year and refilled all four containers with twenty gallons of pure gas for $65, not bad especially considering I was in California two weeks ago and regular gas at many stations there was over $4 a gallon. Now those cans of gas can sit for a year unless I need them for an emergency. It’s the only prepping I do really and I didn’t take it too seriously until I heard that how vulnerable the grid is to a cyber attack and with what just happened to the biggest pipeline in the country the threat is real it seems and then there’s the occasional bad storm that could knock out power for awhile.
 
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clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
708
Colorado
How you are doing it is good for you are saving a lot of money so your family can get other important things..Sounds good to me...But I am spoiled and will stick with my stand by especially when I take a vacation no worries...clancey
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,384
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I have a similar setup. I already had the generator so it made sense. I just don't understand the people preparing for a major disaster relying on something that needs gas propane or nay gas
Around here about the worse thing we get are extended power outages due to wind/snow storms. There is the occasional flood, but that tends to be along certain rivers and streams which are known to flood. Hurricanes are usually nothing more than windstorms when they work their way up this way as they are petered out. There is the rare tornado, but again, it's usually nothing more troublesome than a strong wind storm. Earthquakes happen once in a while, but they mostly just rattle the dishes.

Usually we just have to hunker down for a few hours or days . . . or occasionally few weeks. The good news is typically not every area is affected by power outages and in the past I've had pretty good luck going to one or another nearby gas stations for fuel . . . although in the winter I typically have several gallons on hand anyway for fueling the ATV for plowing, snowmobile, etc.
 
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WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
This is a little off subject but look at the deal I got on these steel gas cans, I got all of The older ones for a total of $25 at two different sales. There’s three 5 gallon cans and two 2.5 gallon ones. I bought a can of Rust-Oleum galvanized steel primer and some red paint to repaint at lest the tops of them all. Like I’ve said before I’m in the lawn care business so gas cans are me.

And the four newer Eagle gas cans are my generator gas.
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
Nice score. I have an old Eagle, but it needs new parts (cap and vent plug). These are hard to find and expensive. I have a newer Eagle too that I picked up at a garage sale. That is my prime container now. The plastic ones don't last.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
Nice score. I have an old Eagle, but it needs new parts (cap and vent plug). These are hard to find and expensive. I have a newer Eagle too that I picked up at a garage sale. That is my prime container now. The plastic ones don't last.
If you look at the old cans you’ll see a new cap on one I bought on eBay for $6 shipped, kinda expensive for just a cap but I suppose $2 of that is for shipping and the padded envelope and I only paid $3 for that can so it was worth it. It’s a 1.5" cap and there’s all kinds of different gas can caps and spouts on the site.
 
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Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
430
Helena MT
I also have the Eagle gas cans, and I have made them flow much better by installing a metal vent.


Amazon product
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
Interesting. I went out an looked at the can. It needs a new pour spout. The old one is cracked. And the large fill cap has a soft air valve that one presses on when pouring. That is worn too. I found a spout on eBay, but it is $23.50 used + shipping with the bid going up hourly. However, it's the 2.5" vented fill cap that is harder to find.
 
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WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
That’s a lot especially with the shipping and tax on top of it. Maybe just a cap and a funnel would make more sense?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
Ordered the valves and found a new spout for $15 including shipping. Looks like I will be able to resurrect the old Eagle can. What red paint did you use?
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
Ordered the valves and found a new spout for $15 including shipping. Looks like I will be able to resurrect the old Eagle can. What red paint did you use?
I bought this Krylon International Harvester Red paint at Walmart for $5, it matched the newer Eagle cans the best and I got 6 ”Gasoline Only” stickers on eBay for $2 each after shipping since I bought 3 packs of 2 for the same shipping cost as one pack.. I started to work on the old cans today by using a orbital sander for what I could get off with that then I used a sand blaster for the rest but it plugged up so I need to Work on it and get new blast material or dry sand. I just got the new vents today too.

2D56BBD1-D032-46EF-9F92-EB6F9C25DD0E.jpeg 1FFF1215-C327-4D61-8074-D6CD9C55BDAE.png
 

velvetfoot

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2005
10,053
Sand Lake, NY
I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to use the standby, but I'm pretty sure if I was going away for a few days, I'd shut it off. At a minimum, you're supposed to check the oil once a day.

I have been toying with the idea of having the ability to make it autonomous. That is, it runs an hour or two maybe 3 times a day or something when nobody is home. Or, have it (additionally?) controlled by a house or freezer thermostat, with a big delta T, so that the pipes don't freeze or the food doesn't spoil.

It wouldn't be easy to arrange with the way the Generac transfer switch is designed. Load has to be shed whenever starting or shutting down gen.
 
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WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
2,006
Winter WI
I wander if this can is like yours begreen? I got it at the town dump where I work on Saturdays in the summer only. The spout is like yours I know. I got it for free of course. Not as good a find as some of the running chainsaws I’ve gotten from there but bad either. It won’t take much to make it look good again, just a little cleaning and maybe some silver paint for the top.
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,733
South Puget Sound, WA
Mine is a bit newer and 5 gallon. It is more like this one in Woody's picture, but with the spout.
Screen Shot 2021-05-23 at 7.18.33 PM.png

I got the vent valve and put it in the filler cap. I also ordered a spout from eBay for Eagle cans but it is too large. :-(, so for now I will have to use the old one. I also have a much newer Eagle 5 gallon metal can that is in primo condition. Got that from a yard sale.
 
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