Thursday, May 11, 2023

The power grid is looking increasingly vulnerable. Here are some ideas to cope with that.


Almost all of us depend on electricity to keep our homes functioning.  It's an essential basic requirement for modern living.  However, the power grid on which we rely is growing more and more unstable, partly due to bureaucratic meddling, partly due to "green" energy policies, and partly due to an ever-increasing demand placed upon it.  In combination, those factors make it increasingly unwise to assume that power will always be available whenever and wherever we need it.

There were approximately 10,000 energy projects in April designed to produce more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of collective power waiting for permits from federal and state agencies to connect to electric grids across the United States.

The problem is, that is nearly twice the collective electricity output of the 1,250 GW now being produced by all the nation’s power plants, most of which were built to generate power using fossil fuels.

Therefore, two bottlenecks are looming—more power is trying to squeeze into an inadequate grid and coal-fired plants are being retired faster than new plants using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are being built to replace them.

“The United States is heading for a reliability crisis,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Mark Christie warned on May 4 in a hearing before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

“I do not use the term ‘crisis’ for melodrama, but because it is an accurate description of what we are facing,” Christie said. “I think anyone would regard an increasing threat of system-wide, extensive power outages as a crisis.”

There's more at the link.

States have their own local issues with power supply, over and above national ones.  Here in Texas, we're facing a shortfall in reliable power generation capacity in the near future.

Public Utility Commission Chair Peter Lake on Wednesday warned that Texas' main power grid is at risk for outages this summer if wind turbines don't produce enough electricity when it's needed. He yet again made the case that more on-demand power sources, such as natural-gas-fueled power plants or batteries, need to be built to make the grid more reliable.

. . .

"The Texas grid faces a new reality," Lake said Wednesday. "Data shows for the first time that the peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount we can generate from on-demand, dispatchable power, so we will be relying on renewables to keep the lights on."

Lake based his statements on the grid operator's seasonal report that studies how much electricity the system is expected to be able to produce in various, low-probability scenarios, compared to demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas found that the grid might not be able to meet a very high demand for power at the end of the typical work day if it coincides with extremely low wind and an extreme number of unexpected outages at other plants. ERCOT also found that low winds and very high demand after sunset could also cause power shortages.

The demand for energy has increased as the state's population and economy grow, Pablo Vegas, president and CEO of ERCOT, said at the news conference, and wind and solar energy production has increased much more than coal- and gas-powered production to meet the electricity needs.

"So as a result, we are expecting to have to rely more on renewables during peak conditions than we ever have before," Vegas said.

Again, more at the link.

Therefore, we'll do well to plan ahead, assuming that our electricity supply may become unstable, and figuring out alternatives to help us cope with short- to medium-term outages.  Obviously, everyone's needs will be different.  However, here are some of the steps I'm taking to prepare our home for that incipient reality.

  • Generators are great, but they also demand fuel, and it's hard to keep enough on hand for an extended power outage.  For that reason, smaller generators (being more fuel-efficient) are often a better choice than larger ones, and they're also cheaper (important if you're on a budget, as we are).  However, don't get too cheap!  Quality is important in a generator, and there are plenty of horror stories about bottom-drawer units that simply quit after a day or two.  Better to spend more to buy higher-quality equipment.  After careful investigation, I went with a WEN mid-size dual-fuel inverter generator for our home.  I keep enough fuel on hand (gasoline and propane) to run it intermittently (not all the time) for a week or two, if we're careful.  For longer than that, if we're not able to buy more fuel, we'll have to "go dark".
  • Food preparation is obviously important.  We have some propane-fueled stoves, including the classic Coleman camping stove and a much larger model from Camp Chef, and enough fuel to keep them running for a couple of weeks.  We also have a couple of so-called "rocket stoves", including the Solo Stove and the Ecozoom Versa, and I'm putting aside enough smaller sticks and twigs to keep them burning for a few weeks.  (Rocket stoves have the huge advantage that one can find fuel for them almost anywhere, unlike propane stoves.)  I've also bought a few extra low-cost pots and pans from thrift stores, because cooking over a sooty fire is hard on cookware, and I don't want to spoil our good non-stick stuff by treating it that way.  (Lay in some high-strength detergent to clean the soot off them.  You'll need it every day.  How do I know this?  Trust me.  I know this!)
  • Clothes need to be washed.  I've set up two five-gallon buckets with lids, and a hole in the lid to accommodate a mobile washer agitator like this one.  (One could use a stick, for that matter.). They'll handle smaller items easily enough, and I keep sufficient laundry detergent on hand to be able to cope for a month or more.  We also have an outside clothes line to dry our laundry.
  • Lighting is a factor.  We have a number of LED flashlights and lanterns that'll do for short-term use, and our (smallish) generator will power a light or two on extension cords if necessary.  I'm wary of using candles too much, due to the fire hazard, but we have some on hand if necessary.
  • Cooling the house in a Texas summer is essential.  We don't have a really big generator, so we couldn't run our whole-house HVAC system, but we have a couple of window and portable units that can be powered by a smaller generator.  They'll keep some rooms livable for the short to medium term, and I keep enough fuel on hand for a couple of weeks.
  • Heating in winter is more of a problem.  I have a Dyna-Glo kerosene heater for the main room, and a couple of Mr. Heater propane units for smaller rooms.  I'm also doubling our supply of firewood for the fireplace.  That may only heat the main room, and imperfectly at that, but it's a whole lot better than nothing!  We should be able to cope for up to a couple of weeks if necessary.
  • The biggest problem will be losing our freezers.  We have a lot of meat in them, and if the power goes out, it'll be hard to keep that from spoiling.  They don't demand much power, so in the short term we can run a generator to keep them going:  but it may come down to a choice between having an air-conditioner, or keeping the freezers cold, or trying to balance the load between the two needs.  It won't be feasible to keep that up for more than a week or two.  We may end up inviting all our friends to an all-you-can-eat barbecue, and the neighborhood dogs as well!

Those are just a few ideas.  I'm sure readers have many more.  Please tell us about them in Comments, so we can all learn from your experience.  Thanks!



Anonymous said...


You might consider adding a 'critical load' PV system.

You mention your freezers and those are a great place to start. This is what I will install on our next move. Since the intended load is low, the number of panels and associated storage is also less. Adding a dedicated INDEPENDENT circuit for just those items eliminates any issue with having to deal with your whole house wiring.

With independently powered freezers you can always make ice (so long as you have water...) which is as much a comfort item as anything else. I would expect the value of a gallon of frozen potable water is quite high in some situations...

EricW said...

Get the biggest propane tank you can afford. The extra size lets you buy when the price is down, the stuff doesn't go bad.

Orvan Taurus said...

There are "candle lanterns" that can be hung from lantern hooks (which can passed off as plant pot hooks...). Such hooks mainly make using candles or kerosene lanterns much safer - isolation from various things (walls, pets, kids...)

Bob said...

I didn't see anything about water.

If the electricity goes, the water stops flowing. Water delivered in pipes require pumps for pressure and flow. Those pumps run on electricity. No water to drink or to cook with, none for showers or brushing your teeth, no water for your toilet. Forget about washing clothes. Even if you do have an available supply of water, you probably won't want to use huge amounts of it to flush away your stool and urine. A way to get rid of that residue is a necessary part of your planning.

If you are near a river or stream, purification becomes vital. Waiting for rain? Good luck. Sufficient safe water storage becomes far more vital than fuel storage. You can live out the rest of your life without modern fuels, but three days without water and you're finished.

June J said...

It's absolutely criminal here in Texas that the people put in charge of the electrical grid are whining about the wind turbines. Good grief, go back to clean, low cost natural gas powering the Texas grid!

Anonymous said...

Texan here. We bought a couple of small folding solar chargers online for about 40 dollars each. Tried them out and they easily charged our LED lights/lanterns as well as our notepads (Nook). We kept (we had to downsize and move into an apartment- health reasons) a chest freezer but my wife pressure canned our meats. I built a room inside of our garage with good insulation for a storage room. A 4K BTU window unit kept it at 66 all summer and I don't think it added more than about 15 dollars to the electric bill. Kept the canned goods but left the freezer and AC unit for the new owners.

nick flandrey said...

7cuft chest freezers are inexpensive and run on very little power. They will typically 'ride through' any power outage up to 24hrs if you don't open them. They will easily run off a small solar panel and inverter/battery. Another choice is an inverter that connects to your vehicle. You can run the car long enough to cool the freezers every day until your fuel runs out.

I recommend more than one smaller freezer vs a single big one. Losing one freezer to a mechanical failure doesn't cost you all your preps. Smaller freezers are easier to power from alternative sources (you can run them in a round robin fashion off a battery/inverter, or off your gennie in addition to your other loads.) And smaller freezers aren't as obvious in a garage as a giant white box.

Solar has the added advantage of quietness. I don't run my gennies at night during disasters because they are audible from a great distance. During the day it's less of an issue but could become one in an extended disaster. Solar avoids attracting attention from a distance.

As many people have suggested elsewhere, keep the supplies on hand to pressure can all of your freezer contents if it becomes clear you won't be able to maintain them. At the very least, cooked meats last much longer than uncooked, and don't need to attract a crowd.

There are other methods for preserving meat, such as smoking, salting, drying, and potting. Using the reference book I bought to actually try some of them is on my 'todo'list.


Oh, and don't assume that people haven't noticed your solar... I have noted which businesses and roadside installations use solar, and I can see which of my neighbors do. Many of the residential systems are 'grid tied' and won't work in an outage (surprise!) but the panels and inverters can be salvaged and reconfigured in a worst case scenario.

added- a 12v powered fridge, or active cooler like the kind sold for keeping drinks cold in the car is a very good prep for someone who has temperature sensitive meds...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The Coleman duel fuel stove might be a better option for some than the propane version. A couple of gallons of gasoline might be easier to acquire than a source of propane to those without a large propane tank. Depending on gasoline quality, the needle valve may require occasional cleaning. Not a hard job.

Carteach said...

There are a lot of options. The very first choice is lifestyle. If one chooses to depend on electricity to maintain their sole choice of lifestyle, so be it. It would then be prudent to develop some backup power plans, such as generation, solar, or wind. The latter two require battery storage as well. All three come with a price tag. A significant price tag.

I have chosen a different route. Having no freezers, and having easy ways to cook, light, heat, and have water without electricity... we can live comfortably for months. Honestly, years if we must.

It's a matter of forethought and choices.

LED lanterns that run on D-cells make a great lighting choice. We have enough for the house, and they double as patio lights all summer. I change batteries yearly, but just to stay fresh, and not because they are dead.

We have an electric well pump, but the house also has a hand-dug well that few people know about. I keep buckets and ropes on hand. Very useful even when not dipping water.

I put in a hot tub. Mostly to soothe away the aches and pains of growing old. That said, it's 250 gallons of treated water in a big insulated tank on my back patio. That's flush water for months, and potable in a pinch. I've gone winters without it running, and it doesn't freeze in our climate.

We live in the middle of the single best 'Plain Folk' food-producing area in the world. Not only do I garden, but roadside stands full of produce are a way of life here. Animal protein... all we want to purchase from neighbors who raise it. I know how to preserve food, and do so regularly to keep the skills alive. Most of our neighbors do as well. Hint: Get the big pressure cooker NOW, and learn how to use it. Get the canning supplies NOW, and learn what to do with them.

By the way, home-canned beef stew is as tasty a meal as you will ever have. Add in some scratch dumplings, and Oh My!

Alternate heat? Wood stove and neighbors who sell firewood, and deliver it. Also, propane heaters that are tested and used regularly.

Cooking? A canned-fuel chef burner for morning coffee or meals as needed. I bought a case of canned fuel and we are only on can three after years of intermittent use during power outages and running the big canner. We also have a big propane grill and an egg that will cook efficiently over wood scraps. In a real pinch, there is a fire pit with a cooking crane that I built into our back patio.

None of these things are a financial hit. They are part of our chosen everyday life. If the power goes blip... Meh. If the power just simply stops, we easily slide into our backup plans without the slightest bump.

I'd miss hot showers though.

Unknown said...

What Bob said is critically important.

If you're on a well, odds are the pump is grid-powered, and if you've got a generator, then for how long? If you're city/county water, then you're at the mercy of someone else's preparations and priorities.

A well with a sufficiently high water level can accommodate a manual or solar pump, but those have limitations. If you're going to be drawing from a non-seasonal surface water supply, then in addition to purification/filtering, you'll want to consider logistics and transport--water is heavy.

James said...

While expensive, solar generators are coming down a bit. The larger ones cane run a freezer or two for quite a while and can be charged from portable solar panels. The lithium iron batteries are rated for over 3500 recharges. They won't let you run for several days but can make up for shorter term grid outages.

Peteforester said...

Lighting: I share your wariness of open flame lighting. I have liquid fuel Coleman lanterns for the big guns. Many times though, all I need is to be able to see. Get yourself some of those solar pathway lights they sell at Hombre Depot. They're surprisingly bright these days! "Store" them out in the yard charging. When needed, just pull them up, pull the ground spikes off, and take them inside. They're good for several hours of usable light, and they're always ready! And they're KID SAFE! Next day, just put 'em outside to charge again!

If you plan to use a genny, TEST the genny ahead of time WITH THE LOADS YOU PLAN TO CONNECT TO IT! Many microprocessor appliances DON'T LIKE the "modified squarewave" output of many generators. Case in point; our GAS stove with its ELECTRONIC oven thermostat and "dashboard;" The ignitors on the burners would work, but the dash showed "rolling eights," and was useless. This meant the oven was useless as well, as it couldn't be selected or set! The fridge, on the other hand, had no problem with what the genny offered. If you're BUYING a genny and can afford it, go for an inverter model with "pure sinewave output."

If you can't afford or can't store a genny, get yourself an inverter capable of handling at least one of your refrigeration units. The decent sized ones usually have clamps on the battery leads to connect to the battery. Hook it up to the battery in your car and start the engine. You've just assembled a small inverter generator! ...Another good reason to keep your vehicle's fuel tank at least half-full!

Cooling: We use those roll-around A/C units for emergencies, given that our windows aren't conducive to "windowshakers." These don't need to wait for Armageddon to see use either. If your HVAC fails during a heatwave, chances are many others' units have failed as well. You won't be getting same-day service to fix yours! Ours failed during a stretch of hot Western days on a day that reached 113*. It was THREE DAYS before the tech was able to fit us in. The 12000 BTU roll-around was put into play. Even with the 110*+ heat we were experiencing, the roll-around kept the living area of the house at 80*. On the HVAC tack, run your system up early in the season to be sure it works. It's a lot easier to get an A/C tech in before the broiling starts! Ask him to give you a couple of spare motor-start condensers (capacitors). They're as easy to change as a lightbulb, and are many times why the compressor won't start. They usually last three to five years.

Heating: I SECOND the use of kerosene heaters! People largely forgot about those things after the fuel embargo in the 70's. They throw a TON of heat for the little kero they use! we actually prefer using them to our central heating, using the kero heaters during the day, and leaving the central unit for nighttime use only. ...Just remember to crack a window when using one... Oh; and get your kerosene in the off season. Come winter, it becomes unobtainium!

Keep enough dry and canned food to get you by for a few weeks. Face it; long term, you're probably gonna lose the freezers and their contents! You'll still need to eat...

KEEP SOME CASH ON HAND! If power goes, so does access to your money in the bank! Small bills; 20's or less. Yes, the stores' computers will go down, but business always finds a way, and cash will be king!

Xoph said...

Look at a RAM pump to get water with no electricity.

You can make your own 12V power system with car batteries, a charge controller, an inverter and some solar panels. Even if quiet, the panels are visible as are lights at night.

Any idea how many ball jars you need to can a freezer worth of stuff. What about having enough jars to can that cow, pig or whatever. Lots-just sayin.

Wood heat is good if you have a source of wood.

Walter said...

RE: Hot showers. Can't help you there, but for "warm" showers, check out Zodi camping water heaters. They're available in single burner and double burner, and default fuel is the standard 1-pound "fat cylinder" propane cylinder, but there are adapters that allow connecting a 20-pound grill tank. A single burner got us through several Florida hurricanes when we lost power. 105F water instead of 118, but that's better than "straight cold."

Will said...

Camping shower bags should be usable for warm showers after sitting (hanging) in the sun all day. One bag/person should be more than enough.

It would be prudent to devise a means to hang the bag in or near the shower. Hanging it on the shower head pipe might be too much weight for safe support.

If the bathroom is oriented to catch the sunlight, hanging it outside the window might be best, with an extended water hose run through the window to the shower.

Remember that water is over eight pounds/gal.

Stan_qaz said...

We are adding rooftop solar, it makes power we can use and ships the excess off to the power company for a small cost reduction in our bill.

We'd looked at that several times and never thought it worth the investment but we saw the Enphase system that offers solar backup, power when the sun is up but the grid is down. Not great but plenty to keep the fridge and freezer cold with enough extra to keep the CPAP and our less essential electronics charged.

Options we didn't get were a battery option that provides nigh-time power and optionally the ability to sell stored power back to the grid at peak times. There is also an available generator transfer relay option.

Still probably not a good investment but it is going to be convenient and at our ages that is a good thing.

boron said...

not to be all that negative about it, but it appears that the whole point of the energy philosophy of the current administration is to bring us down to the level of the people residing in central semi-equatorial Africa
after all: if it's good enough for them...

Peter said...

@Bob: You're right, I didn't comment about water. I have 30 days of drinking/cooking water in reserve, in 5 gallon plastic jerrycans and 4 gallon water fountain bottles, at 2 gallons per day per person. However, that doesn't leave any for non-potable use, and you're right, that should be catered for.

I'm going to add two 50-gallon drums formerly used to import olive oil. They've been washed out, but there's still a smell to them. We already use two to gather rainwater for the garden; now I'll add two more to store water for non-potable use such as washing clothes, flushing, etc. The "aftertaste" and such factors won't be relevant there, and it'll extend our supply of potable water. They can stand outside unless and until needed, and I'll treat them to prevent the growth of mosquito larvae, mold, etc.

Good idea. Thanks for reminding us of it.

Anonymous said...

“The United States is heading for a reliability crisis,”

The united states is being engineered to fail, made to look like incompetence

riverrider said...

we lose power about every other weekend now for one reason or other. we keep kitty litter jugs of water to flush with, army jerry cans for potable/clean water and have 1100 gallon tank hooked to the gutters. hot shower can be rigged with a kitchen sprayer, 12v water pump, and a jerry can. generators can't be counted on any more. ten percent or more failure rate brand dependent, even honda. i go with a multi pronged approach. no more freezer food than i can use in a short time. my fridge won't work on modified sine wave genny so i had to go inverter gens. many pumps won't either. its a constant struggle.

Anonymous said...

A big risk for many people are the consumer medical devices needed for health such as CPAP machines - which seem to be exceedingly common these days. Often they are EXPENSIVE, fragile, depend on mains power and are difficult to replace. Even things like masks are expensive and not readily available.
Portable versions are probably available but would require decent battery power to work. I would not like to be dependent on such a device in a "difficult" time, especially if one were on foot and carrying everything.

Anonymous said...

Meat canning ....good idea. But I think if an issue is SO bad to cause multiday grid down then the last thing on your mind would be troubling with prepping the meat, canning it and cleanup.
Better to can the meat NOW. Keep only minimal amount on hand in freezer.

Speaking from experience of hurricane & 7 days w/no electricity. Maybe Yankees losing electricity in January might enjoy the extra kitchen heat/humidity from canning meat, but peak Aug/Sept hurricane season is no time to can meat.

Stan_qaz said...

There are two options for backing up CPAP machines I have seen.

Direct battery to machine, with maybe a voltage regulator, less expensive and most efficient but tied to a specific plug and voltage setup, usually sold to fit your machine but likely won't fit your next.

Universal, 120 volt output, basically a battery and inverter so you have the inverter losses to contend with as well as the conversion in the CPAP machine. So additional components and the losses dictate a larger battery and more cost. Still as it will work with your new machine it may be cheaper over time.

We keep our current machine and the previous one so we have some backup if one dies. Extra supplies are tough but if you add a couple days to your replacement cycle you can accumulate a couple spares over time.

Too old to be walking anywhere, also anywhere (worth getting to) is too far to walk and we likely wouldn't be welcome once we got there. So we are planning on surviving in place as long as possible.

Hightecrebel said...

Those Mr. Heaters & Coleman stoves run off the little canisters. If you get the Mr. Heater hose adapter (and I mean the brand-name one) you can run it off a normal 20# grill tank without anything else. The Mr. Heater branded hose is a specific type of rubber (or manufacture process?) that doesn't leech oil at tank pressure. If you get a standard hose, make sure to lay in a good supply of the filters. I have about half a dozen. They will plug up after a decent but of use, and if you keep using them after a while they'll dump everything into your heater or cook stove and plug it right up. I can handle a plugged up stove, the heater is much more difficult to service.

As for tanks, if you can handle the 30-40# tanks, or even the 100# cylinders, go for it. I can't handle the big ones very well in the cold, so I have a couple 30#'s and three 20#'s (all steel because I'm still poor...eventually I'll get aluminum) that I cleaned up and keep under shade with a light-colored tarp over them.

And for those little heaters, for mine I've got a paint bucket grid that I modified to sit on the top, and set a wood stove fan on it (the heat-activated/thermoelectric ones) to move the heated air around better. Just need to buy a quality one that can handle the higher temps. I can have it set up over in the corner of my living room, and it kept the room comfortable during the last extended outage in sub-zero temps (-40F with wind chill, was only -15F temp wise.) My living room stayed low-60's/high-50's with the one heater on low

nick flandrey said...


I'm using 40 gallon stainless steel tanks that used to hold olive oil as potable water storage. I've got 4. Even after years and every imaginable kind of cleaning, some oil is still coming out of the seams. A britta filter in a pitcher deals with any residue or taste in the stored water, as long as it's still sanitary.

I run all my stored water thru the britta just to improve the taste. Filters live in the empty pitcher when not in use. They also have a 1 gallon square-ish dispenser filter jug thing, that is meant to live in your fridge. I find it VERY handy in the kitchen for cooking when we are using stored water. We also used to have it in the bathroom for tap water to brush teeth or fill a bedtime glass. Some type of water dispenser is very handy in your disaster kitchen. Long term, I have a restaurant type stainless steel iced tea dispenser.

I've got a bunch of aqua-tainers and they work fine, but I put them in milk crates to save the bottoms, and keep them from spreading out over time. They are not stackable. They also degrade and get brittle in any kind of sunlight. On the plus side, when the cap/spout thing breaks, and it will, you can get spare parts cheaply online.

I think the cheapest thing for water storage, per gallon, that is easy to get and maneuver is a food safe 5 gallon bucket, with a pour spout lid.

An inflatable kiddie pool and a camping filter are great and compact long term preps to be used for rainwater collection...

Plastic garbage cans are not good. You can line them with plastic bags, but they will split apart and dump all your water on the ground. They are not built for bursting strength, and they will be VERY heavy. IKE taught me that.

Water is your first need, and you should have as many layers of back up as you are comfortable with and can afford.


Hamsterman said...

I have a little 'Jet-boil' that is designed to run off of a butane-propane mix, but I've run it on a 2# Propane bottle with fair results as long as I'm only boiling water. It is very efficient. I can't imagine how long it would run off of a standard propane tank, but it probably needs a regulator. Maybe that's what the Mr.Heater Hose Adapter does.

Anonymous said...

Remember to start writing out your SOPs and putting them in a notebook so you can reference all the things you do for various situations. Helps brain freeze and also allows you to hand a list to someone else to help take care of things.

What is the PACE for cooling? Heating? WROL? Cooking? Water? water filtering? Evacuation, etc.

Primary, Auxiliary, Contingency, Emergency


Ready Drinking Water - Primary = tap + Berkey; Auxililary = 3 weeks bottled / jugged; Contingency = 500 gallon tap water tank + Berkey; Emergency = rain cachement + gravity filter + Berkey

The writing down helps to think through the process and is handy for periodic reveiw.


Trumpeter said...

If you have surface water you can filter then disinfect with chemicals. Dry chlorine bleach is shelf stable (liquid bleach attenuates over time,) cheap and a small amount will disinfect a large quantity of water.
After that a slow sand filter will biologically disinfect water. A clean barrel, some plumbing supplies and a lot of sand is all you need.

Anonymous said...

Pool shock. Check the ingredients, the cheap stuff is usually just sodium hypochlorate. The fancy stuff gets other additives. Couple bucks at the big box store for a pouch that will last years in SHTF. buy 2 or 3 and fuggeddaboutit.

Anonymous said...

When the grid fails, I really hope it starts during the winter ( sorry , northerners...) Summer heat and humidity in North Carolina will be unbearable without A/C, and having lived in Vermont (a.k.a, Frostbite Falls) for 5 winters, you can always add more layers of clothing. We have looked into solar powered generators but they are way too $$$$ for us.

Anonymous said...

I strongly endorse dual-fuel generators, preferably with electric start. Propane use is best since the fuel stores forever, the engine runs more cleanly (less soot in the engine oil), and no residue forms in the carb.

Also, you can buy reconditioned bulk propane tanks for half the cost of new. I have a couple of these.

nick flandrey said...

for a pouch that will last years in SHTF. buy 2 or 3 and fuggeddaboutit.

-- the stuff might technically last that long, but storing it is far from buy it and forget it. Anything stored near it will rust or corrode dramatically. The plastic bag will quickly degrade and break open, making your problems with corrosion even worse.

I don't have a good solution, but start by putting the bags into a plastic pail and seal that. Store it away from anything you like or want to keep nice. Check the pail for brittleness and replace as needed.

It might be possible to put the original packaging into mylar bags, seal those, put them in clean paint cans, seal those, put that into a plastic 5 gallon bucket and seal that... but I still wouldn't put it in the shed with tools or equipment.


oh, and buy a test kit for a pool or spa. That will tell you if your chlorine is working.

lynn said...

I have a 38 kw liquid cooled Generac that Generator Supercenter installed for me in August 2021 for $25K. I ordered it a week before the big Texas freeze in Feb 2021. It is natural gas fired so Centerpoint had to install a larger meter at high pressure for me. It is liquid cooled for quietness, can't hear it 100 feet away. Generator Supercenter took care of EVERYTHING for me. It just runs as needed with a ten second startup. It is oversized but I am contemplating putting a motherinlaw house on my 1.2 acre property with a 3rd a/c unit. We have monthly power outages out here in the sticks of Fort Bend County so I wanted automated.

I did check into a solar panel system with five Tesla power panels, the cost was $65K. That was a big no. I may change my mind on this in the future as the cost of electricity in Texas is up 25% and rising. More costs are coming down the road as ERCOT subsidizes the installation of six minute online 48 MW gas turbines, over a hundred installed so far in the Houston and Dallas metroplexes. One hundred more are promised.

Anonymous said...

I work with appliances and HVAC.

Your fridge and freezer do not need to be plugged in 24/7. These units turn on and off as the temperature rises and falls. This means that it only needs to cool when it is warming up. If you were to station your fridge /freezer in a location that does not need heat, the cooling load will be less (a utility porch or mudroom?). Just run the gennie 'til the unit turns back off, and you are good to go. Running it in the morning, afternoon, and after high periods of opening will suffice.

Additionally, a full freezer is more efficient than an empty one. So get a few cases of small bottled water, and fill in the spaces in your freezer. This water will freeze and become thermal mass that absorbs heat, thereby helping your good items stay frozen. The heat energy needs to melt the water as well as thaw the beef, slowing the thawing of the beef. It takes an amazing amount of energy transfer to "change state," to change ice to water and water to steam. This fact is the basis of cooling technology. So the ice bottles become and energy absorber. The water/ice can be removed and put back in as needed for space.

Also, in a power down situation, use a cooler for your most used items or for food that you will use in the next couple of days. This prevents cooling loss from the fridge/freezer, and you can thaw your upcoming meal in the cooler, using the cold of the frozen items to keep your other stuff cool.

I did the above with water bottles and cooler (no gennie) over a four day planned outage in August and my freezer did not even start to thaw, and I lost no food from the fridge.

DrBob3142 said...

I was gifted a Honda 2200i generator a couple years ago. When the power is out, I back-feed the house with the generator by pulling the main breaker. My gas furnace runs on 110 as does the refrigerator and deep freeze. I do not use the well nor air conditioning at that time (I live in the upper Midwest, so cold is more a threat than heat). To backfeed the house, I built a double-male 10 gauge extension cord. It works great for those times my power drops out.
I do like the idea of a big propane tank and a dedicated generator, but am not yet willing to cough up that much cash!