Learning to live with less than 2K a day
Hurricane Sandy has knocked out power all around us here in central NJ. Two years ago before Hurricane Irene I purchased a Champion 2000 watt inverter type generator, similar to a Honda in concept. For $350 I couldn't pass it up. However my wife was pissed that I had bought a toy we didn't need. A couple of months ago during the summer the power was out for a day and it kept us from losing a freezer full of food, paid for!
Last night around 8 PM the power went out, and after driving around today I'll bet it will at least a few days possibly a week or more before it comes back.
I have an electrical background, so my house was converted to virtually all flouresent lighting in the first couple months that we were here, 25 years ago. The stove, water heater, and dryer are natural gas. I've been slowly converting to LED, because we never liked the warmup period for fluorescents, so my wife used that as an excuse to leave them on! So our power use, and bill is really quite low. When our heater was replaced about 10 years ago I popped for a variable speed inverter blower. So it comes up to speed slowly as the burner heats, no big inrush.
Lots of people went out and bought much larger generators, 5500 to maybe 8000 watts. Wouldn't want to be inconvenienced you know. Well the first thing is how do you connect it? Unless you had a transfer switch installed you'll be trying to run everything on extension cords, including stuff like the heater that don't have a plug.
These big generators that will run everything have a big problem. They run at full speed all the time, just to keep the 60 Hertz frequency. They have tanks that typically will run them for about four hours. That is typically about 2 gallons per hour. So every four hours you'll be refueling this thing, day and night at about $7 per hour for fuel! Try that for a week!
Running from 8:00 this morning until we turn in around 10 tonight used about 3 gallons of gas. All the lights in the house work. The heater works, the big screen TV works, my laptop and FIOS work, the refrigerator works, and a couple of times a day we turn it off for a few hours to let the big freezer run instead. I can't run the microwave, unless I turn everything else off. However I still have gas cooking and an oven.
This generator, like the Honda can be paralleled too. If I got a second one I could occasionally run them both, and then life would be very much like normal. However I think we can easily get by for a week on just this little bugger. I pity the people in the huge lines at the few open gas stations with the trunk full of five gallon gas gans, trying to get enough for just one day!
For those of you with generators. You change the oil in your car every 5000 miles don't you? That's 100 hours of run time. If you want your generator to last at all, change the oil at least that often!
Gary H. Lucas