Sunday, September 28, 2014

Major Power Outages

When our friends from back east came, we got to talking about being prepared for emergencies. The once in a blue moon ones and the more frequent interruptions. Both friends travel a great deal and have thorough survival kits in their vehicles. They also have some experience with the storm Sandy and other emergencies. We got to talking.

Being the last house on the electric grid give us some problems not encountered by those of you in towns and cities. We have power surges big time. Ones that flicker the lights and ones that knock out the power for a few minutes to hours. We are going to be checking that out to see if the power company doesn't have to indeed fix it. The neighbor warned us not to buy any appliances with computers inside. They went through two control panels on their washing machine recently.

Fancy appliances aren't my thing anyway so I'm not so concerned by blowing  computer panels in stoves and washing machines as I am about not having electricity at all. You've probably been there with the power out and your mind keeps saying, "Well I could go do this. Nope, can't do that. I could go do..... nope that needs electricity too." It is amazing just how dependent we really are. When the power went out on the llth it got me to really thinking. We need to set up this house to run for a few weeks without an outside source of power. One of the gentlemen who stayed said he had been without power for 17 days once. Now that is a long time of I could do this, - nope ....sss kind of thing. What would it indeed take to set oneself up? I've been looking into it.

The experts recommend going around to all your appliances and seeing the wattage they use. They cautioned that stoves, refrigerators etc. use twice the power to start up as they do to run continually. The range oven and the clothes dryer use huge amounts of energy I discovered. That makes blow the generator type power if you don't have a big enough one or have too many things going at once. Drying my clothes on racks is no big deal but the oven, I kind of like my oven. Looking at the energy consumption a oven takes, it did give me a whole new appreciation for the crockpot.

One of the main reasons I want the oven is for bread. Anyone baked bread in a crockpot?  Can you bake bread in a crockpot? I had to check it out and indeed you can. In 17 days I know I'm going to run out of bread. I'm out of bread right now and need to bake this morning. The results aren't quite as good I'm told as in an oven but hey, it's bread. I'm thinking maybe I should one of these days get a nice crockpot, one that isn't older than dirt, one that actually has a handle on the lid instead of just a screw where one was. Crockpot cooking could really become a way of life in a survival circumstance. I might just start doing a lot of it now. I've got one of those big oven thingies you use for church and to put the turkey in for a family dinner. It is like a crockpot, a really big one, except it had temperature controls like an oven.

The guys had some tips for us based on their experiences of disasters and being without power. They recommend of course a generator. They had a 8000 watt one with its fuel source as propane with a 1000 gallon tank size since the company will only fill it 80 percent full for safety reasons. After researching I've come up with the same conclusion. We really do need at least a 8000 watt size. This generator needs to be hooked up to the power box of the house with a switch to flip it on to change from the power company to your own power source. Yes, there are fancy models that are automatic back up generators like hospitals have but then you are talking big bucks. I'm just wanting something to power the freezers, the refrigerator, the washing machine now and then etc. Yes, we could do laundry by hand but why? I know how to do it the old fashion way, I once did the family laundry for three weeks but why if I don't have to? The energy consumption for the few loads we'd need wouldn't be that much. The dryer on the other hand, forget it. It takes huge amounts of energy.

 The other concern I have is the stove. I'd like to fix that before we buy a generator. We have a welder that is a generator basically. It can power up the freezers if we need it to but it would require a great deal of gasoline because it has a big motor. Good enough for the moment but not long term. Right now we are just in the planning stages and figuring out what we need and what would it cost. I know we won't be able to afford it all at once. The kitchen stove is where I'd like to start. Ours is on its last leg with the burners wimpy at best and an oven that is hotter on one side than the other plus doesn't put out much heat.

Since the power goes out at least a couple times a month for minutes to hours at a time, I'd like a propane stove. The problem is gas stoves sold after 2012 can no longer have a pilot light. That means electricity is used to light the stove. Some stoves can still be lit with a match but the burners only, not the oven. There just had to be something else out there. So I typed into my computer, off grid ranges. Not everyone has electricity. Someone has got to be building stoves for cabins and people who live in the boondocks. Premier and Summit are just such companies. I'm seeing more models by Premier than Summit so I need to do more research and which company is best I don't know. My question is still about the oven. Premier ovens use batteries to light them. Yes, the batteries last 4-5 years on average and are just 8 AA's but can the oven be lit with a match is my question? I'd rather have options if I can, just encase.

Anyone have a propane stove? I know I want sealed burners but what about this thermocouple thing? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? If we get a stove that is propane, then we would naturally have a tank and the propane would be filled on a regular basis. We'd ask for a keep full policy. Then we could use the welder as a back up for the freezers. That would keep us going until we could buy the generator and hookup system that would also run off the propane tank. How much a propane tank cost and how much will it cost to fill it, I don't know. I don't know if they can put one in in the winter time? Surely they can, can't they? I can't afford one right now but who knows how long this electric stove will hold in there and I'm NOT wanting another electric stove. I can't believe we are the only house in the area without a propane tank.

The other concern is the well. We can store some water but what good is a washing machine without water? The generator should handle the well but I'm going to look some things up. Eventually I want a Bison pump added to the well as an insurance policy. I'd like backup and then extreme basics in my preparedness plan. You know the three week policy and the for months on end policy. The other thing is the toilets. Ours need replaced as they are old and use LOTS of water. Power for the well would mean water for the toilets even when they are replaced with efficient ones.

Any advice from those of you who have had experience with long term power outages? I'm a babe in the wood here and I'd like to get it right the first time.

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