One of the things I have seen that went through the roof during Hurricane Sandy is the price of generators.
SInce then there have been a couple of people that have asked me about them and I have a different tack than most. To me there are two routes and no real in-between and for good reason.
One way to go is a plain and simple permanant fixed system that is affixed to a concrete pad next to the house in the 10 KW or greater, preferably run on natural gas. However, I suppose diesel would work if the tank is big enough and the person using it has access to diesel fuel.
Such a unit is too big and cumbersome to easily steal.
The other alternative is to go with the smallest, quietest rig that you can find that will run the essentials which in my case consist of a furnace, a refrigerator, a laptop and maybe a pair of 7.5 watt light bulbs.
I look at this project as a case of something to use just to get by an emergency of say, 10 days or less. Generallly power outages are a lot less than that and all the average guy need to get by with is a unit that will keep the furnace and refrigerator running.
In my case my furnace, stove and hot water run off of natural gas so there is no reason for me to run anything much bigger than something to keep the refrigerator and furnace running and that's good enough for me. Adding a pair of 7.5 watt bulbs and the laptop and I think I am good to go to tough out a few days. I'll have a warm home and cold food and that is enough to get by comfortable in.
By now if you have read this far you are wondering why I specifically advocated such a small pair of light bulbs and such a small generator and the reason for this is simply stealth.
I do not want anyone to know I am running a generator because one ot the things I saw occur during Sandy. There were quite a number of generator thefts and unfortunately the present system of government prohibits shooting generator thieves. Six or seven stiffening corpses with bullet holes in them laying around a generator are likely to make even the most hardened thief think twice but it is not to be under the present legal system.
A small generator with the exhaust running through an inexpensive automotive muffler is pretty quiet and running a 7.5 watt bulb or two will make it look like a house is being illuminated by battery powered lights.
Potential generator thieves will will likely see a dimly lighted house running on what appears to be battery power and move on until they find a house advertising generator availability with a loud racket outside and co-advertised by a Griswold-like glow in the sky. They will likely go there try and ply their dishonest trade.
Besides, a smaller generator can run a whole lot longer on a whole lot less gas and if there is, and likely there will be, an accompanying gasoline shortage than not. Gas will probaby be harder to come by and a smaller engine that sips it instead of gulping it can be run a lot longer on a limited amount of what will likely become liquid gold.
Of course, there are a number of special conversion kits out there that permit small generators to run on natural gas and this is actually more desirable as gasoline then becomes unnecessary. In addition to not having to chase down gasoline or store it, with a natural gas conversion kit you do not have to shut down the rig and refill the gas tank when it runs low. Incidentally, if you do this make good and sure the unit comes with a low oil level shut down.
Oil is the life blood of machinery. Without it it will not run very long. Best to check it every time you refill the gas tank or three times a day (minimum) if you are running it on natural gas.
Some of you readers likely have electric ranges to cook on and if I were in your shoes I would simply opt for a camp stove of some type. Stoves run on 220 volts and will require a much larger generator to provide the extra voltage to run them. While a camp stove is an inconvenience to some, this isn't the end of the world.
Anyway, this is the way I look at the generator in case the power goes out issue.
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