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excoastie

A lesson learned the hard way.

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A lesson learned the hard way.

 

We all knew that Hurricane Sandy was going to cause havoc with electricity, food, etc of the folks in her path. But I was ready.

 

Food – check

Water – check

Cooking Contingency – check

Secondary electricity sources – check, (generator 0 gassed, oiled, in postion)

Firearms – check

Ammo – check

 

I mean, we were ready! Everything was available to us.

 

We immediately lost power when the beginning of the storm hit. I mean, we had one gust of high winds and the power went out and a 12 foot limb flew 25 feet from the tree and onto my roof. No damage done but we have no power? Not a problem for me. I have a generator. Generator starts as usual. So I power up the refrigerator, the freezer, etc. However, 150 minutes later, the lights started dimming. Slowly at first but then faster. So I ran to the generator only to be greeted by a hellacious metal-on-metal sound. I quickly turned the generator off. Checked the fluids… no problem. I let the generator cool down a little and pulled the cord to see what would happen. Well, I am a big guy with a ton of upper body strength but I couldn’t pull the cord! Well, I could pull it and all it did was drag the whole generator across the floor. It was, is, and always shall be frozen solid. I mean seized up!

 

So, even though I had all the bases covered, I only had some of the things covered once and as we all know, redundancy is important. So, in the near future I will be buying a newer, better performing generator. However, I think I need to have a backup to the backup. So, after installing the new generator I think I’ll look into a basic, emergency only solar generator so the food stays frozen!

 

Lesson learned… hanging one’s hat on one solution is not necessarily the nest thing to do.

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Coastie, what type of gen was it? Did you run the gen for a 1/2 hour every month or every other month to exercise it? Was it gas, deisel, LP/NG? Sorry for the questions but seeing if I can find out what seized for you. You can PM me any other info you deem pertinent if you want.

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Tinder, the solar will be a backup for the gas generator. So the generator must fail before this would come into play.

 

Reg, don’t laugh at me because, looking back at the entire thing, I should have seen this coming (just being painfully honest). Also by being honest, I might help someone here NOT make the mistakes I made. It was a rather large Champion gas powered. I know, Champion is not a high end generator but – as always – the price was right. I bought it off a relative last year and had it rebuilt before bringing it home. Did the normal test runs but probably only for about 15 minutes each time. In my opinion, it isn’t worth trying to rescue. If someone wants it, they can have it for free but I am not shipping the darn thing. I will help toss it in the back of a pickup, though.

 

I want to buy one of those that monitor the incoming power and auto-starts and auto-transfers the power to generator upon a power failure. It also runs itself every month. I am thinking of LP gas so I can put a big tank in the yard and worry less about having fuel. From what I know, the first year maintenance is free and it’s about $150 for annual maintenance contract. But I still need to do more research on which is best. Do you have any opinions?

 

Matt, I never thought of going to the stores and getting a return. Stupid people return them and hope nothing bad ever happens again. I will make sure it is an auto-start, though. I kind of like that feature in case my bride is home and I am not.

 

ZM, they sold fast here, too. It happens the day before every large storm. Same is true for bread, milk, etc.

 

Also, I want to remind all veterans that both Lowes and Home Depot give veterans a 10% discount if you have an ID or DD-214. When buying a big ticket item, it adds up! I bought the lumber for my mom-in-law’s handicap ramp and it saved me a couple hundred bucks… which was nice.

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Coastie, there are some really good ones. If I had the choice, I'd want a Cummins, but I don't think they make anything below 30k. I would look at the Generac brand. They are very dependable and offer good customer service from everyone I have talked to. Kohler might be considered the best, but they run about 5x the cost of a Generac and I do not see the cost benefit and you'll be better off getting a higher end auto transfer switch then.

I would suggest having a manual switch on hand to install if need be. Even with a service contract, make sure you get a parts list and repair manual. Also find out how often their services are scheduled in the contract. You should get service at least every 6 months, which makes the $150 sound low to me (most service repairmen and installers get that per trip around here).

PM me any particulars you have or if you find some to compare.

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Reg, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the Generac generator you recommended. I can’t find one bad word about them. They have a good track record of performance and they have auto-start versions. So, I think I will buy one of those. I just have to figure out how large of one to buy. I was looking at maybe a 14000. That ought to run everything I use and isn’t totally out of the price range. Again, thanks for your guidance!!

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hey coastie, i'm down here in east bridgewater ma and have an old champion.

maybe we can get together and make something out of both and hook uo someone who needs it or use as a back up to a back up to a back up so to speak. i'm guilty of never throwing that type of equip. out and can and will find something to use either parts or whatever.

allways in your neck of the peoples republic.

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Bumping this thread above some spam.

 

Also thinking that it was pretty funny to see the Colbert Report tonight, where he wound up offering his two guests (David Byrne and St. Vincent) the use of the shower in his office since they still don't have power at their own homes. Stephen said, "Well, since you weren't willing to sell out and move away from the Lower East Side, I guess it's time for you to really suffer for your art!"

 

Anyway, it's interesting to see that there's an actual impact on celebrities, not just "the regular folks." Wonder if that will lead to any improvements in infrastructure and urban planning going forward, since nobody wants to inconvenience the rich and privileged? Others might benefit, at least.

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Generators are a short term/portable power source. I felt pity for the folks who thought they were going to keep warm using their generators with the 5 gallons of gas they had just purchased! (Their ignorance could be fatal to them.) That is why I have a solar backup for my gen (which is only used an hour a day for freezer type things) and am prepared to go with propane for heating/cooking and just enough warm clothes if no power available. I suspect not many of these folks have wood burning capability.

 

I sure hope they don't kill themselves with CO gas from the generators.

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Capt, the sad thing is I can several of these people running TVs and other non essential items with the generator. You are correct about 5 gallons not making it very long. General rule of thumb is the tank on the gen set will last 8-12 hours, depending on load. I always planned for a refuel every 8 hours on the military gen sets when we were in the field. They will also allow them to run out of fuel and that will cause the fuel pumps (if they have them, electrical is the worst) to burn out and then they can have all the fuel they want, but will need it serviced to operate.

 

Another point, is the bulk, in ground storage tanks probably will get alot of dirt and sediment in them if flood waters come in. Having several extra in-line fuel filters will be highly beneficial, as the filters are going to clog up keeping all that dirt out of your engine.

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Cap’n, during last year’s ice storm we lost power for eight full days. Like you stated above, some folks had a whole five gallons of gas in a plastic container in their garage. They forgot that, when the entire area loses power, all gas stations lose power too. We maintain a ‘fair’ supply of treated gasoline on hand. I know we can run the generator for well over a week without needing to make a refill run. We also cycle the stored gas because gas held for a long time can go ‘bad’.

 

Reg, I saw something on the news the other day that I will probably do. Some folks with power put a power strip outside with a sign saying that people could recharge their cell phone batteries. I have eight outdoor electrical outlets (normally used for Christmas lights). I plan to tell the neighbors that they can use them to power their critical electronic stuff. I figure I’ll set up some tables so their stuff is protected from the snow. I know one neighbor will plug in his coffee pot because he was grumpy after going without coffee last time.

 

FedUp, welcome to the board! It’s nice to know there’s another crazy person stuck behind enemy lines! I live in Sturbridge. My wife was thinking of fixing it to be the backup to our backup but I’d rather give the thing to someone that can fix it and use it themselves. But, as I have found in our 30 years of wedding bliss, it is easier to say, “Yes Ma’am” and change plans.

 

O/C, you gave me a great idea. I know that there are propane gas powered water heaters. I am now considering getting one and making that open to the neighbors, too. Being clean always makes being under stress a little better. However, they have to use these heaters used in a well ventilated area, so they’d be taking showers in my garage. Thanks for the idea!

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A generator is a great limited use item but you need to limit its use closely. Mine is for keeping the freezer stuff frozen and to power up the TV and computer to get the news once a day. I run it for a few hours then turn it off.

 

As they have discovered in the North East, gasoline gets nearly impossible to find after a big storm hits you. ALSO over the next month or so you have to be careful about where you buy your gas. Flood waters can contaminate the gas in the storage tanks. MAN, a little water in your gas can make a car run like it is on its last legs! Using a generator just for lights gets tough pretty fast and depletes your stores in a hurry. When I fire it up I have my freezer going and we are online and watching a little news on the TV...then it is back to the dark-ages.

 

The advantage of this is that I use smaller less expensive generators and can afford backup. A 3500 watt will do it if you don't try and do everything at the same time. I turn off everything before cranking and then bring things on one at a time. A freezer only takes a lot of power to START then the amp draw drops from 12 to 15 amps to 2 to 3 amps. After the freezer is going I turn on the fridge then a little later the TV, router and Computers.

 

I own/operate an appliance repair business so I'm not just spouting these figures off the top of my head.

Edited by Danm

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One thing to add to a generator is security. Numerous ones have been "disappearing" in my area.

 

I also question the endurance of small generators. Several folks that have now run them for more than a week have had breakdowns that appear to be caused by them wearing out. An examination of the oil reveals dirt and metal.

 

Besides the high use of gas is the cost. It apparently can run $20, $30 or even more a day to keep them running.

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With my old generator I used about four gallons per day and I have at least a week on hand at anytime and that is without siphoning any gas out of my truck which holds nearly one week itself. I use the generator mostly at night and to take the chill off the house. However, if I get a big one like I am thinking of doing (14,000 watts) then I’ll be able to run the entire house. I plan to hook it up to one of those large propane bottles. Once per month I will run a test to make sure it’s okay. Also, I want to have the incoming power monitored and have the generator take over automatically. I figure it’ll run somewhere in the $5 to $6,000 range. I also am considering putting in a solar backup to the backup generator that will run the refrigerator, freezer and some lights. That is further down the road, though. I just found out that we are getting a Nor’easter storm coming. It will bring high winds and snow with it. I think it’s going to be one of those years… again.

 

Rod, they have come up missing around here, too. I wish I could run the thing in the basement and vent the gasses vented out of the house. I think that might be impossible, though. I’ll find out and let you know.

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