A Primer On Backup Power For
Upcoming National Grid Test
By Ted Twietmeyer
| This article is intended as a primer on how to keep your
lights on, stay warm, keep food and medicine from spoiling, keep your creature
comforts such as entertainment, etc... With the upcoming, intentional power
grid failure planned for November 13 and 14, 2013 you may want to consider
a backup generator if possible.
If you live in a apartment, in the city or a crowded neighborhood, operating a noisy generator around the clock won't go over well with your landlord and neighbors. A neighbor could use law enforcement to force you to shut it down during the night and early morning noise ordinance hours. Generator noise is like running a lawnmower at full throttle. Another solution for getting through the power outage is to take a trip out of the country the day before and return a few days later, just in case the power is not successfully restored. A simple answering machine connected to your wired phone can tell you if your power is on when you call it from out of town. Driving is better than flying if you live near the Canadian or Mexico borders. Then you can return whenever you want without paying airline ticket penalties.
Unlike other extended power failures lasting more than a few hours, with the national grid test there may not be a hotel to stay at which still has power. If any hotel has backup power you can be sure all remaining rooms will be booked up quickly. You must leave the country BEFORE power goes out if not staying at home is possible. If the grid goes down then airports, bus stations and train stations will probably be shut down as well. As of this writing, word I recently received states this drill is still scheduled to happen. Like any planning for any disaster, it's always best to plan for a worst-case scenario. Preparation provides a measure of comfort.
Living off the grid indefinitely and generating 100% of your electrical power needs with a generator is prohibitively expensive. Later in this article, I'll share with you the actual costs to power a home for a week during a Virginia ice storm using a gasoline generator. Power companies provide relatively cheap power (compared to home generators) by using economies of scale. As homeowners, you and I cannot possibly utilize those economies of scale.
There are several ways to power your home after a power failure:
1. A fuel-powered generator (gasoline, LP or natural gas) to provide SOME of your home power requirements when power fails (recommended)
2. A fuel-powered generator (gasoline, LP or natural gas) which provides ALL power to run everything in your home when power fails (far more expensive)
WIND POWER - THE REAL COST
Most people don't realize that buying a wind generator to replace local utility power is far too expensive. A nearby family installed a 3 blade wind turbine just a few years ago. I stopped to talk with the couple recently to get real-life experience, facts and cost figures from them; not hyped-up sales nonsense from the web. They told me the cost of the tower and installation was $35,000. Generator and turbine cost was another $35,000 for a total of $70,000! State subsidies and other breaks reduced the net amount they had to pay down to $15,000. Big deal.
Actual power generation capacity is regulated by the state when receiving a state subsidy. For example, generator maximum output capacity can not exceed 90% of the home's total requirement in NY state if you are planning to receive a state subsidy. This is what determines the maximum generator size when receiving a state subsidy. This means BUYING the remaining 10% of your power requirements from the utility company. Looks like the utility companies had a big hand in making this ridiculous regulation to keep people connected to the grid. Annual turbine maintenance requires that someone climb the 80ft. tower and do cleaning/lubrication - another on-going expense over the life of the turbine.
Any extra power generated is metered as it is pushed back into the grid by special synchronization electronics you must also purchase, at a far lower rate per kilowatt hour. There is no battery backup.
For example, if your electric bill averages $150/month, it can take more than 8 years for the tower and turbine to break even after paying the $15,000 up front cost. That figure does not include annual maintenance costs or repairs.
Someday the turbine will either wear out or be hit by lightning and require replacement. By then turbine replacement may exceed the original $35,000 price tag. This just doesn't look like a good investment from any angle. There are probably increased insurance costs for this monster, which I didn't get into with the homeowners. Again, we see what happens when economies of scale are absent.
A solar power system is not initially as expensive as a wind turbine, but has different on-going operating costs that may end up costing you about the same amount money over time. Expect to pay about $45,000 or more for enough panels to run your home with about 5KW of power. It will also need a bank of lead-acid batteries to provide power on cloudy days, as well as DC to AC inverter and battery charge controller electronics. Solar panels degrade slowly year after year, putting out less and less power as the years go by. This method of generating power works well only if the sun is available most of the time. Battery banks have a limited lifetime and lose capacity over time, just like a car or truck battery does. Eventually you will have to pay to dispose of all the lead-acid batteries and buy new batteries. In November and throughout much of the year, solar panels in most states probably see more clouds than sunlight. In the northeastern USA, the wind blows more often than the sun is out during fall and winter.
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT TRY TO COMPLETELY DISCONNECT FROM THE GRID
Here are some things to consider why you should not generate all of your own power and get completely off the grid, unless you are wealthy or your lifestyle is very different than most people:
a. All natural gas, LP or gasoline powered generators can only run tens of hours before they must be shut down to change the oil filter and/or oil. Changing oil and a filter is not fun in boiling summer heat or in the dead of winter every few days - for the rest of your life! All engine-type generators have spark plugs, too. Not fun at all if you have to shovel snow away from the generator to gain access throughout the winter.
b. Fuel costs to generate 1 kilowatt of power compared to buying 1 kilowatt of utility power are miles apart. Even using clean natural gas to run a generator, your gas bill alone could exceed $1,000 a month. Operating costs can be higher for LP (propane) when not all the fuel can be used (more on that later.) Even with a near zero wattage load, generators continue to run at full speed to keep the output at 60 cycles. There are inverter-generators which vary motor speed with load, but these machines usually do not have enough output power to run a home.
c. Consider what happens if you disconnect from the grid, and make your home power-thrifty enough to run on solar or wind. If anything happens to your power generating system such as a lightning strike or electronics failure, you will be TOTALLY without power until you can fix it or can afford to fix it. In the dead of winter this can result in frozen pipes leading to flooding, spoiled food, no hot water, no running water, etc... Any home running off-grid should be able to optionally connect to the local grid as a backup power source until repairs or maintenance work can be finished.
d. I'm no fan of utility companies. But in reality it all comes down to the cost/kilowatt to generate power.
It also comes down to how much money you want to spend (or can spend) for a backup power generator. Increasing generator size allows more appliances and other items in your home to keep running when power fails. Your fuel bill will increase for each added item, too. With our aging electrical power grid and power failures increasingly becoming commonplace, obtaining a generator is a wise investment. If you have a oxygen concentrator or other medical equipment at home, power backup IS a necessity with today's aging power grid causing increasing outages.
Some readers may think, "With a generator I can watch cable and see my games and favorite TV shows when the power is out. All my neighbors will be begging to come over to watch games and wait out the failure!" Wrong! When power goes out, all the cable amplifiers on telephone poles that bring your cable signal into your home will go dark. Same thing happens to broadband internet, too. Wired VOICE telephone equipment and cell towers are only required to run a few hours after a power failure.
The same telephone equipment for voice provides the DSL carrier to your modem, too. However, your DSL or cable modem can have all the lights lit but still have no internet access. Why? Because power has failed at the server facility miles away. You will be watching DVDs instead of cable television or over-the-air broadcasts. In the event the entire grid goes down, satellite dish programs and local over-the-air broadcasting can also go dark. As the outage continues, only ham radio operators will be communicating with each other.
It might be wise to invest in a automatic defibrillator. These wonderful portable devices have a lithium battery which lasts for years, and have saved many lives over the years until help can arrive.
AUTOMATIC BACKUP GENERATORS - Usually installed on a cement pad
Here are the facts about these machines:
* These machines are about the size of a central air conditioner and must be installed outdoors. Fuel is either natural gas or propane (LP.)
* Typical weight is about 350lbs or more depending on power rating. They must be mounted on a slab.
* Building codes require these machines are located at least 3ft. or more away from your home. Check local codes for actual spacing and location requirements.
* Automatic backup generators must be connected to a transfer switch box, which is controlled by the generator. When the generator control system detects utility power loss the engine is automatically started. When output voltage and frequency (generator speed) are correct, the engine controller activates the transfer switch. A transfer switch is a high current switch with a small circuit-breaker panel, all in one box. Loads and appliances you previously decided to keep powered up during a power failure (fridge, lights, furnace, computer, etc...) during generator installation are wired into this box. The high current switch automatically switches the source of power to all the circuits/appliances you want to keep energized from the utility company over to the generator. Any other circuits in your home will not have power during a utility outage. When utility power comes back on, the generator control system detects this and switches power back to utility power. The engine is then cooled down before it is shut down automatically.
* Expect to pay from $1,800 to $8,000 or more plus installation costs for a automatic backup generator with a transfer switch. Price is mainly determined by generator capacity. Generator capacity is dictated by how many items you want to power during a power failure. Begin your required power keep-on list with the refrigerator, sewer or sump pump if you have one, water well (if you have one) and furnace and add onto the list from there. Lighting is minor compared to these major loads. Usually a dryer or electric range load are the biggest loads in any home and are not included - unless you are planning to spend about $5,000 or more for a whole-house generator.
* Do you live in a climate where temperatures drop below freezing? Be sure you or your contractor purchases a cold weather kit for the standby generator from the same manufacturer. This kit contains a special electric heating pad for the battery. It also has a heated dipstick which prevents generator oil from thickening to insure a reliable self-start in winter. Heater kits from the same manufacturer will have connectors which mate with existing connectors in the generator.
* Automatic standby generators start the engine once a week or once a month (called a "exercise cycle") for about 10 minutes. No loads in the transfer switch are switched over to the generator while the exercise cycle is running, unless power fails. Exercising keeps the battery charged, and internal engine parts from sticking. Even if you never have a power failure, over time you will still need to change the oil and oil filter periodically due to oil aging, temperature extremes and automatic exercising engine running time. Buy oil by the case to save money. Spark plugs eventually need changing, too.
* Automatic backup systems have a lead-acid battery to auto-start the engine. Some users have stated they added a trickle battery charger in cold climates to insure the battery can start the engine. Extended below or near freezing temperatures over a month's time can cause the battery to be unable to start the engine once a month. It seems something must be wrong with any generator design, if the generator controller is not trickle-charging the battery all the time.
* You can set when the exercise cycle is allowed to run using a simple LCD display and a few buttons. If the battery goes dead some generator controllers lose these settings.
* Usually you have to locally purchase a specific lead-acid battery for these generators. Manufacturers provide the exact model number for you to buy which will fit in the generator enclosure and connects easily.
* Check reviews and number of stars by people who bought the same generator you are interested in. Reviews can tell you which products to avoid.
* After you select the right generator (and add to or more kilowatts for reserve power, for a future freezer or other load) look closely at how the enclosure is designed. How hard is it to access the oil plug, dipstick, oil filter, add new oil, change spark plugs, etc..? Do you have to stand on your head or lay on the ground to reach any of these items? In winter?! Some manufacturers make access easy with removable panels, while other do not.
* Most people put these machines on a slab at ground level. Why do that? Most frequently accessed items like oil plugs are close to the ground. Why not build a taller platform so it won't get buried in snow, or be submerged in heavy standing rain water and allow you to service it easier? While it is brutal to lift one of these generators, you only have to do it once to save your lower back for years to come! None of us are getting any younger! See what your local code will allow and where you can place it. Often there are regulations about the minimum distance (measured in feet) from the nearest door or window because of carbon monoxide risk.
PORTABLE GENERATORS - Usually have wheels or skid frames
* These can invite theft. Construction contractors use these generators all the time. These machines are ready-made to be stolen with wheels and handles. Like putting wheels on a bank vault or ATM and expecting no one to steal it. But during a power failure, your generator becomes priceless and literally irreplaceable. Use a portable generator in a secured area, or a backyard and out of sight of the street. Honest people get increasingly desperate the longer power is out and may take desperate measures. A thief may park down the road and wait until they are sure no one is at home. Then back in with a pickup truck or van, load it up and you'll never see it again. You will not find a replacement anywhere to buy within a round-trip tank of gas when power is out.
* It is not a good idea to brag to everyone you know that you have a backup generator. That is just inviting theft.
* Factory deliveries to stores will be back-logged when power goes out. No generators will be available for hundreds of miles around when power fails. Now is the time to buy the one you want.
* Do not operate these machines close to the back of your home or building for fire and carbon-monoxide reasons. Allow as much as space as possible.
* Like permanently installed generators, portable generators also need oil changes (and for some oil filters) after tens of hours of operation.
* Prices range from about $200 to well over $3,000, depending on the number of kilowatts you need. These machines can weigh about one hundred pounds or more. Don't let wheels and handles in product photos fool you into thinking a given model is light and portable. I have seen some generators in showrooms with handles and wheels. Some of these machines are so heavy you would think they were bolted to the showroom floor when you try to lift the handle.
* Never forget to consider how winter and cold weather affects all gas engines - all generators have some difficulty turning over and starting when oil thickens. A older person pull-starting a 8HP gas engine can damage their hand, shoulder or arm. Few start on the first pull unless they are still hot. If you have arthritis forget about pull starting a gas engine in cold weather. Don't just focus on cost and output power - get one with electric start. If you cannot afford a electric start generator or already plan to use a machine which has a pull start, get a tarp that will cover the entire machine. Use a 60W incandescent light bulb (like a automobile trouble light used by mechanics) lit around the clock, suspended off the ground. This will help stabilize temperature above freezing. Keep the bulb from touching the tarp. This will make a huge difference by keeping oil from thickening.
* If you are a senior citizen living alone, consider having a younger friend or relative stay with you throughout the outage to help with re-fueling and re-starting it.
* Worst thing about pull-start portable generators? Re-starting a typical 8HP portable generator out in the cold after refueling. This is especially bad if the gas tank has been allowed to run dry, so don't let that happen!
* Smaller engines (like those in Honda power generators and others) are often far noisier than bigger engines. Bigger generators may have better muffler systems and can afford to lose a horsepower or two through the muffler, while smaller generator engines may only have a flame-arrestors. Smaller generators are intentionally designed to work extremely hard near their maximum capacity, which can make them deafeningly loud. Use hearing protection (such as ear plugs) for high sound pressure levels around these machines.
PREVENTING A DEADLY SHOCK WITH ANY GENERATOR
WARNING - Prevent electrocution by using proper grounding
Electrical code and good safety practice requires generator frames, chassis and electrical grounds to be connected to a copper rod ground stake driven into the Earth to prevent electric shock. Most people do not realize that a generator sitting on rubber wheels or rubber feet or on a insulated pad can have deadly 120V or 240V present on exposed metal if a wiring short occurs. You will not know lethal voltage is present until you get shocked. Imagine this happening while standing on wet grass.
What happens: Grabbing a live wire or metal part at line voltage automatically causes finger and arm muscles to contract. AC Electricity uses all of a conductor, so it can pass right through your heart. Another bad part is that you may not be able to let go. Depending on various factors leg muscles can violently contract at the same time. This violent action can propel you through the air with a bad landing, forcing you to impact your head with a wall, tree or other object. Your heart can go into fibrillation. This is a fluttering state when it stops pumping blood properly. This is as bad as a full-blown heart attack when your heart suddenly stops. Suddenly you are in serious trouble.
If you are seriously hurt from electric shock, you can die in minutes if there is no one to help you. Even with a cell phone in your hand and you are still conscious. Why? When power is out, wired telephones and cell phone towers can go dead in a matter of hours. Without power and communications we are all suddenly thrust back in time over two hundred years. How can you or someone near you call for help? They may not be able to. Even if you or someone trying to help you can reach 911, emergency services may be unable to get there in time. The deadly end result will be the same as though 911 was never called...
No one plays with C4, dynamite or TNT. Everyone knows what explosives can do. Electricity is no different. Line voltage electricity and explosives have one thing in common - both are lethal forces just waiting for the opportunity to kill you. So don't forget proper grounding!
Again, a automatic defibrillator in your home can save your life or the life a relative, friend or neighbor until help arrives. Even if you never had any heart problems, you don't know when, where or if you will have one.
GENERATORS ARE STILL A WISE INVESTMENT AND A MEASURE OF COMFORT
By now you're probably saying, "I'll just get some candles and lanterns, and forget about it." Fact is, by taking simple precautions any backup generator or portable generator is perfectly safe when grounded and wired properly. These machines provide a certain measure of comfort when power goes out. If you have line-powered medical equipment in your home or refrigerated drugs like insulin, then you need a generator. Don't count on your local fire department to supply a generator for you to use. They may not have one available.
People with breathing problems like MS, COPD, pulmonary diseases or heart problems who must use home oxygen concentrator machines may be faced with a bigger problem in November. These machines usually require a continuous 200 to 400 watts of power. This is equivalent to operating a microwave oven in cooking mode non-stop, around the clock. Concentrators have a air compressor inside which consume the most power. Power can go out for 2 days or more, anywhere, anytime. For home oxygen backup, the largest tanks oxygen companies usually last about 6 to 24 hours at a 2 liter flow rate, depending on the flow rate the patient requires.
Two days without utility power is far too long for one backup oxygen tank. A small portable oxygen tank with a breath-sensing valve (known as a conserver valve) can be used during the day while the patient is up and around. However, oxygen patients must NEVER sleep with a conserver-valve system. They MUST have continuous oxygen flow during sleep.
CPAP MACHINES AT NIGHT
People who use CPAP (Controlled Positive Air Pressure) to prevent sleep apnea episodes during the night have a bigger problem during power failures. Although CPAP machines are small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, they require about 100 watts of AC power CONTINUOUSLY all night long. While that may not seem significant, battery backup for these machines can be problematic given the power required. Even if a CPAP machine has battery backup, don't expect that battery to last more than a few hours. A backup generator is still required to recharge the backup battery the next day. If a portable generator is used to power the CPAP machine, be sure the generator tank is full just before you go to bed so it will safely run all night without re-fueling.
Bi-PAP MACHINES AT NIGHT
Bi-PAP uses a combination of a CPAP machine and a oxygen concentrator. Concentrated oxygen is injected into the tubing connected to the patient's mask. Some patients require both machines whenever they sleep. A 400 watt oxygen concentrator running all night along with a 100 watt CPAP machine, requires approximately 500 WATTS of power to run continuously all night long. This continuous power requirement must be added to the power required for refrigerators, freezers, pumps, furnaces, lighting, etc... that often turn on and off by themselves all night long.
Forget relying on a battery-backup UPS system when this much power is required for your home. The cost/size of a battery bank to power a CPAP or Bi-PAP system and appliances items along with the cost of a 5KW or higher DC to AC inverter is prohibitive. On top of that, there is no way to re-charge the battery bank during the day for the next night without a generator or other power source.
For medical issues or protecting food in refrigerators and freezers, it's not wise to count on either wind or solar. In gloomy November you can have many cloudy, calm days. Or days without sufficient wind to generate enough power. Neither wind or solar will re-charge batteries when this happens.
RUNNING A GASOLINE GENERATOR AFTER A ICE STORM
A relative in Virginia lost power about 8 years ago when a ice storm hit. While we were half-way down driving to Virginia, she told me on the phone what her utility company told her: "Power will be back on in 2 to 3 days." I knew they were lying and warned her about it. I quickly designed a plan to rescue Christmas day the next day. My family had already been through a ice storm back in the nineties which lasted for six days. On our way to Virginia, I stopped and purchased the largest gasoline generator that would fit into our car - a 5KW, 120v/230V unit. After doing some quick load calculations it appeared this amount of power would be sufficient to keep everything in the home running.
Along with the generator, I purchased 50ft. of 30A cable - 2 conductor w/ground along with twist lock connectors, a junction box, etc.. just before a hardware store closed on Christmas eve. This allowed the generator to run as far as away from the back of the house as possible. We arrived on Christmas eve about 10PM to see ice encrusted lawn, trees and the glow of kerosene lamps. Under the light of a kerosene lantern I wired up the cable to make a safe, solid connection into the breaker panel through two unused 30 Amp dual circuit breakers. Not being a stranger to electrical issues, I knew how to safely power the entire home through the breaker panel. This was not intended to be a permanent connection.
After making all connections I turned off the main dual breaker from the street at the breaker panel, started up the generator, went into the house and pushed the 30 Amp dual circuit breaker to on. The entire house came alive - fridge and freezers and lights came on everywhere, oil burner kicked in. It was the only home with a post light lit for miles around. Everyone was happy! No other home on the street had full power. Some had generators and a light or two in the living room, but no other home had everything running. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with relatives over the next day. Neighbors came over to get boiled water to make coffee.
Having the luxury of AC power while surrounded by darkened homes comes with a price. The required 10 hour oil change after engine break-in was made the next morning. Approximately every 11 to 12 hours, I shut down the generator and added about 4 gallons of gasoline before it ran out of fuel. Twice a day this ritual was performed about 11AM and 11PM. Oil was changed as needed. Generators eat more fuel the bigger the load. Fortunately, she does not live far from a large airport where just one single nearby gas station still had power. Perhaps the store/gas station was on the same utility power line as the airport. A store clerk told me no generator was being used to power their store. It was just pure luck that we were able to continue to purchase gasoline throughout the week to keep power on. We know that this will not happen again if the entire power grid is taken down.
We filled up several gasoline cans almost every day. When I shutdown the generator during the day to re-fill the tank, I switched-off the generator's circuit breaker pair and turned on the breaker to the utility company in the breaker panel to check if power had been restored. After about 6 days power was restored and we returned home.
That generator was a BIG noise generator. Like having a riding lawnmower in your yard at full throttle. At night, the glowing cherry-red exhaust system showed the tremendous amount of heat the machine was creating. Even with almost no load late at night it drones on at full speed. Why? Engine speed determines the output frequency of the alternator. It must run at 3,600 RPM to generate accurately controlled, 60 cycle line frequency.
During the outage gasoline to run the generator was approximately $28.00/DAY. This kept a relatively small 5KW continuous output rated gasoline generator running 27/7.
The ice storm in Virginia was a great experiment for running almost a week without the grid, using a modest size generator. It cost $28/day for gasoline is $840.00/month! That figure does not include time spent "generator baby-sitting" or the required two quart oil change every few days, automotive fuel to go buy the gas, etc... In reality, we found ourselves spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about the generator, when power will come back on, going out to get gasoline and caring for it. Generator care became almost a full-time job. There was no television either. Food in the fridge and freezer was at stake if we didn't keep the generator running. A few months after the storm was over, a larger electric start generator was installed to run everything in the home, including central air.
If that outage had occurred in summer and bigger loads were required such as central air-conditioning, a bigger generator would have been required. The cost to run a 12KW generator 24/7 would have doubled to about $1,680/month. If the generator was a automatic backup generator running on LP (propane) which could power the everything, operating costs could exceed that of a gasoline generator.
LP is delivered by truck under high pressure in liquid form to customers and metered in 1 gallon increments.
Automatic backup generators designed for permanent installation run on either LP or natural gas, but usually not gasoline. Generators running on LP have an extra kilowatt of power output. This is because LP burns hotter. Only run your automatic backup generator on more expensive LP if natural gas is not available in your area. With LP, you are depending on a truck to show up and fill your tank as needed. This could be a problem in very bad weather. When propane delivery is not available this will limit how long you can power your home without running out of fuel during a extended power failure, such as failures caused by ice storms which take down miles of utility poles and cables.
Perhaps the intentional November drill will only last two days. Supposedly it will not interrupt your power according to power companies. But consider that taking down the separate grids of Texas, east and west coast power grids at the same time and bringing power back up again has never been done before. Every power plant must be precisely re-synchronized and re-phased to one of the three grids to within a fraction of 1 AC cycle. This is accomplished by regulating the speed of giant alternators in each power plant. It does not matter if the power plant is nuclear, hydro, coal or gas. Synchronization is always accomplished by altering turbine speed. This must be done before any power plant can re-connect to the grid again.
Regardless of the type of generator you use, don't forget to buy a case of oil! Stores usually shut their doors when power goes out and you won't be able to buy oil. Make sure you do that all-important, required first oil change when the manufacturer specifies. Your first oil change may look like liquid aluminum as mine did. Don't forget to do successive oil changes at required intervals to keep your generator running reliably.
A important word about using propane - when tank temperatures drop near freezing or below, not all of the fuel will be usable in the tank. Generators depend on fuel evaporation in the propane tank, which in turn generates positive pressure in the fuel line to the engine. Generators cannot "pull" propane gas from the tank. One national generator distributor recently told me this about using propane: "About 1/3 of the fuel will remain in the tank forcing the generator to shut down, when temperatures of the tank are near or below freezing."
Specs for generator running time are often given at 50% electrical load. If a generator is specified for 5,000 watts continuous load, running time will usually be given for 2,500 watt load. For a propane-fueled generator running in cold weather, subtract about 1/3 of the hours from the manufacturer's running time for 50% load. For example, if running time is specified at 9 hours for a 2,500 watt load, expect to get about 6 hours of running time in cold weather. This limitation does not apply to natural gas or gasoline fuel sources.
For homes which are not all electric with a gas range, gas or tank-less water heater and gas furnace, a 7,000 watt generator with 9,000 watts peak is a good choice. Gasoline or natural gas fuel will provide the longest running time, unless you have a huge propane tank. Regardless of fuel used, every 2 days or so you must shut it down and change the oil and/of filter per manufacturer's requirements.
If you are seriously considering a backup or standby generator and want to read more about regulations, power requirements for common home appliances and other items visit Home power generation . This website has additional helpful info. After looking at power tables for household items on that website, you may discover you need a much bigger generator than you previously thought to power essential items in your home.
Hopefully, this article will help you to prepare for any future outages.
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