Generators could be the difference from being uncomfortable, foodless, flood damage, and even destitute. This is a quick guide and intro into the world of generators. This is another easy and affordable addition, besides the emergency backup 12V (12 Volt) we introduced last week, to your emergency preparedness kit to handle power shortages or outages.
While generators are a useful and “relatively” inexpensive item for a prepared family, there are a few draw backs to them. The draw backs are namely, storage of fuel, noise, and a little bit of mechanical aptitude to maintain the unit properly. Generators can be used as a standalone unit or in conjunction with a battery bank and inverter for your emergency backup power needs.
Standalone generators will only produce power when the unit is ON. This means your refrigerator/freezer, sump pumps, and all other electric devices will not be of use to you if the generator runs out of fuel, has maintenance problem, or is turned off.
If you use the generator to recharge a battery bank plus inverter; for example, a bank that is sufficient for your house usage for 12 or more hours, then you will only have to run the generator mostly to recharge the battery bank instead of the alternative of running your generator for 13 or so hours to keep your food frozen. This is if you do not have a solar panel array or wind generator to do the recharging for you during daytime hours. You can augment your solar and battery bank with a generator at night for your emergency preparedness kit to make it more complete, if your battery bank and photovoltaic amperage is not sufficient to recharge and offset your daytime usage.
Choosing the right size generator is also important for your emergency preparedness kit and backup energy unit. It is important to add up all the usage you want your generator to cover to determine the wattage generator. If you look on the back of your refrigerator/freezer and other appliances that you want to run, they will have a wattage and consumption sticker. It is important to note, that if you have an electric stove, this may consume a LARGE amount of electricity, so you may want to factor using one burner and the fridge simultaneously.
I would recommend getting a small propane table top burner/stove for emergencies with a 20lb propane tank. Most likely you have the tank for your BBQ grill. You may also opt for just covering the wattage/amperage of your fridge, and turn it off when you would like to run other appliances. This will allow you to get a lower wattage and usually cheaper generator.
You will also want to decide if you want your generator to power the whole house (connecting it to the A/C bus) or just certain items via a good thick industrial extension cord. A general good rule to follow is take your two must needed largest consumers of electricity, and double it to find a generator suitable for your needs. Many homes have high end generator units in their basement for their emergency backup system as there may be storms and other incidences that leave your family with no electricity for days to weeks.
My sister in Auburn, Seattle had that happen when she moved into her beautiful new home and since they didn’t have a backup generator, they lost all their refrigerated and frozen food with a loss of over hundreds of dollars in spoiled food. Many families in their neighborhood have it installed and now they are shopping for one for the next storm that leaves them without power for a week or so.
Now you have the total wattage, your next option is fuel. For example, if your house is heated and you are cooking with natural gas/propane, you may want to purchase a generator that runs on Natural Gas/propane. It is also important that you have some storage tank on property, just in case the public utilities of gas fails to arrive at your home during earthquakes, gas main breakage/maintenance, or civil unrest.
Gasoline generators have their own issues associated with them. Long term storage and proper quantity of fuel is two of the biggest issues. Typically the gasoline generators are smaller, cheaper, and not too maintenance intensive. Gasoline generators are typically small and moveable and highly stealable.
Diesel Generators, if you have the money to spend, are usually high output, high weight, and high reliability. You also have fuel storage and quantity issues, but you can buy additives to get the diesel fuel to last a few years. The high cost for the amount of usage, is one reason I typically recommend a gasoline or propane generators. If you are going to use the diesel once in a year or 2, I would not buy it. If you are going to use it weekly or more, then it may be the device you want for your emergency preparedness kit.
Other things to consider or reference is if you are running a generator to charge a battery bank, a 2000w or 2kw generator will run an output of a 90 amp 12vDC charger. This will be about the highest demand that this generator will handle. I would probably recommend a 2.5kw or 2500w (same thing) generator for the 90 amp output 12v charger.
In the following photos, you can see 2 examples of smaller types of generators.
This is an example of a gasoline powered 2kw generator.
This unit was purchased in 1999 and is being used for approximately 10 years DAILY for 2 hours a day in a MARINE environment on a sailboat. This is an amazing little unit, but expensive as the price of gasoline can be expensive. ROUTINE maintenance, synthetic oil, and used with only a moderate load.
Many sailboats are dependent on generators to have enough power to run all the appliances on their boats, if they do not have solar panels and wind generators.
Step 1: Have the generator.
Step 2: Pour gasoline in the nozzle to power the generator.
Step 3: Plug a cord into the extension to run to your battery bank to charge it.
Some people use an inverter to run their appliances.
This is a gasoline powered generator that appears to be converted to run on propane.
Notice that the last photo appears to be a regulator for the propane. This is the first time that I have seen a generator run on propane so I will have to do more research on how this is done and what the regulator consists of to run on propane.
A generator can meet almost all of your electricity needs as long as you buy one powerful enough with enough wattage. They range in price from a few hundred up to the many thousands to run back-up for a big house. They are an easy piece of equipment as a standard device for your emergency preparedness kit as there is not a lot of complicated setup. In addition to having other types of emergency backup for your emergency preparedness kit, you can run your home for days up to weeks to years (depending on your fuel storage required for your generator).
A generator is the first tool you should have for your emergency preparedness kit and a very handy survival tool.