Be prepared

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  #1  
Old 08-29-15, 11:27 PM
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Be prepared

The wind started blowing early this morning, actually all over western Washington. Lots of downed trees across roads and power lines. Then the rains came. At 11PM I have more than 3/4 of an inch.

My power went out at 11:34 this morning. I just turned off the UPS on my television and went back to bed. A little after five I rolled out the generator and fired it up. Very little info on the TV so I got out my laptop and went on line to check the power company website for any updates concerning the power coming back.

Well, my utility is one of the smaller ones in the area and doesn't do a very good job on disseminating information but they did have links to their Facebook and Twitter pages (I don't do either) and I learned that just for my power company there were more than 175,000 people without power. A few hours later I learned that number was down to 105,000. But some of the "tweets" were simply insane.

One person wrote that they were in even worse shape as they also lost their water. They stated that there were only SIX houses in their area and the PUD always waited until the last to restore their power. Well, gee, if you KNOW that power outages are going to mean no water because of no electricity for the well pump wouldn't it make sense (not since, Joe) to be prepared and have a generator for the well pump? The tweet wasn't clear if there was a community well for all six houses or if each home had their own well. Even if it is a community well the cost per homeowner to have a generator would be well worth it.

I went through two, three-day outages in the dead of winter, the first while I was still employed and the second after I retired. Urban camping with outside temperatures into the mid twenties and inside temperatures in the mid forties is no fun for this kid so I bought a small generator. I figured that being prepared would invoke the corollary of Murphy's Law in that I would likely never need the silly generator. Well, that has pretty much been true until today. I have put six hours on it today and that is more than any outage since I got the thing. I AM glad that I have it as I am able to get on-line, watch television, cook some food and in a bit take a shower not in the dark.

No word yet when the power may be restored but since I live in a fairly urban area (read, lots of people around) I should be restored long before the people in the sticks. I'll probably shut down the gennie around midnight and go to bed.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-30-15, 12:00 AM
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After the last big storm here when I personally didn't have power for 12 days and some were without power closer to two weeks, I always keep a generator on the ready. I could install a permanent one but I can't justify the expense when I always have some rentals kicking around.

As an electrician we were getting hammered with calls for permanent generators. Most people were turned off by the cost for an item that would get so little use.

We're about due for another biggie.
 
  #3  
Old 08-30-15, 01:41 AM
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We bought our generator years ago at the Home Depot in Laurel as our store had its roof taken off during the storm and the Silver Spring Home Depot was out of them. Once we got home though all of the power had been restored and we never had to use it at least not then. We have used it I guess about 5 times since we first bought the generator. During one storm we were without power for about a whole week so it sure saved our food and helped the neighbors too. I would be lost without the generator but I can't see buying a permanent one for about $5000.00 to $8000.00.
 
  #4  
Old 08-30-15, 04:01 AM
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Our electricity is the most reliable of any place I've lived although there have been several snow storms over the last 25 yrs that have knocked the power out for a significant time period, not in the last 7-8 years .... we're probably overdue

I have a portable generator but it's buried in the barn I know I ought to drag it out and make sure it starts but seems like there is always more to do than I have the time/energy to get done
 
  #5  
Old 08-30-15, 12:17 PM
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24-1/2 hours after losing power and it is still out. News says that about 70k still without power and some of the outlying areas (not me) will likely be out for several days.

Thankfully it is warm, although my gennie can power my furnace I am thinking of others in this regard. I started my generator about an hour ago and the refrigerator just now stopped.

I'll probably take a shower and then shut down the generator and bring it inside as it needs the oil changed, I only had about 15 hours on it (after some eight years of ownership) and now with more than 25 it is time. I might add that this is the first time I have run the machine in at least 18 months and it started right up. I do connect the battery maintainer every couple of months for a 24 hour period but since I have to drag it out to the natural gas connection to actually run it that part gets neglected.

And Mark, my power is also very consistent, I think that over the last few years I have only experienced a couple of outages of maybe 20 minutes each and most of the time they are when I am sleeping and I only know about it because the clocks are wrong.
 
  #6  
Old 08-30-15, 01:29 PM
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Hope all is good Joel. Stay safe..

Keep us updated...


As you say be prepared. If you all remember I had my gen 5 years before sandy hit the east cost. Everytime I ran the gen to exercise it, a few neighbors chuckled at me stating I wasting my time and money..

During sandy the scariest part were some neighbors congregating around my house wondering why I had lights. Asking if my fridge worked, and if I had water.. ( We are all wells here) I tried not to give too much info. I kept the gen locked up at night..

Generators were selling for 1500 buck for 3000 watt units. Crazy!!

Gasoline was none existent for at least a week, and if you did get to a station with power the lines were way too long.

When you are one of 5 with a gen, in a 200 home dead end street 3 block community , with one way in and out from the main road you get somewhat worried.

In summary my neighbors were not laughing anymore.

Those with pools were able to flush their toilets with buckets.Those without? well who knows..

I had shopped 3 days before and had a fully stocked fridge and pantry. Plus 15 gallons of gas. ( I used 12) If I needed more my truck had a full tank and I would have siphoned.

We showered daily and ate well.

I did feel bad when it hit 30F on the last week of the outage and I was sitting in my 74F house with the front light on.. ( Light was on for security purposes)

Sorry to ramble and hijack your thread Joel....
 
  #7  
Old 08-30-15, 02:01 PM
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Hi, Mike. Good info and don't even think it was hijacking.

Generators were selling for 1500 buck for 3000 watt units. Crazy!!
I dunno, I paid about $1700-$1800 for my generator. Of course it IS a Yamaha inverter type. I spent at least another $500 to convert it to gaseous fuel and all the fuel and electrical installation but now I have a generator that won't succumb to bad gasoline, varnished carburetor or running out of fuel as long as the natural gas distribution system is functioning.

The last time we had an outage of more than 20 minutes I ran the generator and a few days later my next-door neighbor mentioned something about it. I suspect he thought I was a little nuts. I think I am the only one in this cul-de-sac with a generator (about 12 homes) but my unit is very quiet AND there is a generator for the storm water pumping station located on a little island right in the middle of the street. The city did some upgrades on the pumping station last year and in the process replaced the old really noisy generator (propane fired) with a new Honeywell unit that is much quieter but still quite a bit louder than my Yamaha. They also ran in natural gas and got rid of the propane tanks. Of course it would simplify everyone's lives if we coould simply take turns running an extension cord to that generator but the city keeps the fence gate locked.
 
  #8  
Old 08-30-15, 02:47 PM
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Latest tweet from the PUD: https://twitter.com/SnoPUD This is very close to my neighborhood, maybe within a mile.

I can't believe some of these tweets. When I lived in Mountlake Terrace it was common for my power to go out for three full days. I didn't lose power all that often but when it went out it often took three days to return.

Also, the Edmonds (city) and Woodway (inside Edmonds) area are right on Puget Sound and get the runt of the wind. Mountlake Terrace is quite a bit elevated from Edmonds but is also in the middle of a "convergence zone" where the winds from the south meet the winds from the north and create a big whirlwind effect.
 
  #9  
Old 08-30-15, 04:21 PM
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wow nice equipment they have Joel..

Our PSE&G crap is way outdated..

Yours

[ATTACH=CONFIG]55394[/ATTACH]

Ours

 
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Old 08-30-15, 04:25 PM
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You need to see the PSE&G equipment they have in the Essex and Bergen county areas.... clean and new.

Converting that generator was the best thing you could ever done Joel.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 04:29 PM
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You need to see the PSE&G equipment they have in the Essex and Bergen county areas
Thats where the wealthy live and all the politicians probably why...
 
  #12  
Old 08-30-15, 04:30 PM
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You have power back Joel? Only 4:30 pm there so they have lots more time to work..
 
  #13  
Old 08-30-15, 09:13 PM
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9:04 PM and still no power. PUD tweeted five hours ago that they were down to 55k without power and had 50 crews in the field. When I went out to start the gennie I noticed the neighbor across the way had some lights as well as someone up the road a ways. The neighbor obviously has a generator, don't know about the other.

All those trucks looks fine to me, just because it is old doesn't mean it can't do the job. Back when I worked for Seattle City Light the Bonneville Power Administration would tell us that our steam plants were too old (constructed between 1906-1919 and 1914-1921) but they never failed to produce when needed.

I'm going to cook something to eat.
 
  #14  
Old 08-30-15, 09:29 PM
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Here is something else that EVERY home or apartment needs, a big LED lantern, preferably with a rechargeable battery. I have a Streamlight "Lite box" that is similar to what firefighters use. Yes, they ARE expensive but they are built like a tank and the LED model lights up my living room almost like the fixed lighting and can run for several hours before needing a recharge. Recharge is by either a wall wart or a car charger cord. Added benefit, at least for the one I have, is that it is also a power failure light that comes on when plugged into the charger and the power fails.
 
  #15  
Old 08-30-15, 10:03 PM
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PUD is now reporting only 25k outages. I'm still out but doing fine.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 10:36 PM
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the LED model lights up my living room almost like the fixed lighting and can run for several hours before needing a recharge
I have a few Colman LED lanterns rechargeable that run 160 hours... Runs about a week,,,

Im an off grid camper...

PUD is now reporting only 25k outages. I'm still out but doing fine.
Good to hear Joel. stay safe....
 
  #17  
Old 08-31-15, 10:58 AM
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Almost 48 hours and still no power. I've seen some news pictures of the main road about a mile north of me having lots of downed trees across the wires.

I've been up all night watching movies. Although I'm pretty much wired now I think I will watch the news at 11 and then shut down the gennie and go to bed.
 
  #18  
Old 08-31-15, 11:16 AM
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Id like to see your NG bill after this compared to your regular bill. 10,000 BTU per HP..

Like running a 50k boiler non stop on full fire..
 
  #19  
Old 08-31-15, 12:14 PM
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Luckily it is an inverter generator so it doesn't run at high speed most of the time. I haven't actually put a meter on it but I think the load is pretty low except when I am cooking, maybe a hundred watts, maybe two hundred watts.

No one is making any predictions now about when power will be restored to these last 24,000 customers. Also, the winds are coming up again.
 
  #20  
Old 08-31-15, 08:35 PM
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57 continuous hours without utility power. The latest tweet, 7 hours ago, states still 23k customers out. I might take a drive later tonight to see how far my local outage extends.

Also starting to cool off a bit. 67 degrees inside, I might have to fire up the furnace for the first time in almost three months if it drops any more.
 
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Old 08-31-15, 08:41 PM
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Id like to see your NG bill after this compared to your regular bill. 10,000 BTU per HP.
Like running a 50k boiler non stop on full fire..
It would still be less costly than running on gasoline.... right ?

Welcome to Furd's Freezoree
 
  #22  
Old 08-31-15, 10:49 PM
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Yes, the natural gas is less expensive than gasoline would be.

I went out for a drive to see how extensive this outage is. As I have mentioned in the past I live right on the county line. I found that people south of the line have power (different power company) but going north it appears to be about a mile and a half north before getting power and at least the same in the east-west direction. This is a suburban area but most of the lots are only about 10,000 square feet so while not high density neither is it sparsely populated. I suspect that there are at least a couple of thousand customers in this area.

I did see where there were several line-construction trucks, and a really bright array of work lights but I didn't actually see anyone working, maybe between shifts or maybe they need to wait until daylight to do the work. It appeared that several poles had been set and new transmission lines on the top with distribution wiring ready to set lower on the poles.

I found a few houses with the characteristic light from LED lanterns as well as a couple that obviously had generators running. Often I could hear the generator (over the noise of my car) even though no lights apparent. I did notice that the junior high school right in the middle of this area had some lights on, I assume they were running on a generator.

So, it looks like at least another night without power. I turned up the thermostat to warm up the house before I go to bed...if I go to bed as I slept from about 1PM through to 6 PM.

Off to cook something in the toaster oven.
 
  #23  
Old 09-01-15, 09:25 AM
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8:55 and the power is back on! 9:03 and the generator is shutdown and back in the garage. Total outage time is 69 hours and 59 minutes. Generator hour meter now at 61.0 total. Total generator time on this outage 46 hours.
 
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Old 09-02-15, 05:42 AM
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Out this way in the shake and bake state of California being prepared is like an insurance policy. You buy it but hoping never to need it. Best known as peace of mind. An earthquake can strike at any time. Now with newer upgrades the electric power is suppose to automatically shut down. And in many cases it now does. Prior it did not. Power was lost only as a result of damage to lines etc.

Having a generator just incase is a good idea for many but not everyone. Like any gasoline engine it requires upkeep. Which over time wears off. Longer and longer time spans between servicing like running it and replacing old fuel, etc. reduces it's reliability. Good peace of mind insurance that needs constant attention.

Out our way generators are nearer the bottom of the list. Survival supplies and food rank nearer the top of the list of supplies needed. City preparer specialist offer classes to get the public motivated to be prepared for three days to two weeks before any help might arrive. All in public awareness messages and handouts along with classes and training, etc.

The flaw in it all is when there isn't a need for a long time duration. Until a time might arrive when you wished you had remained prepared and now find yourself lacking due to your own neglect.....
 
  #25  
Old 09-03-15, 08:10 AM
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Sharp, are you trying to tell us that in California that all power lines are underground and therefore impervious to damage? That you NEVER lose power at a residence?

Automatic devices that shut off the power in case of faults (they are called circuit breakers) are for the protection of the SYSTEM, not to ensure a constant supply of electricity to the users. And it is not just natural disasters that can cause a power outage, I have seen it happen from a car hitting a utility pole and knocking out a fuse and until the fuse is replaced the area served through that fuse is without power.

Did you not read where I pointed out that my generator does not use gasoline and is therefore immune to the problems that are common with gasoline such as stale fuel and clogged carburetor jets? I can go at least twice as long between oil changes (more likely three to five times as long) than the gasoline-powered model. Other than changing the factory battery at about two years I have done ZERO preventive maintenance on my generator with the exception of plugging in the the battery maintainer for 24 hours once every three or four months. Yet, it starts right up when needed.

Now I agree that not everyone "needs" a generator. The house where I grew up continued to be the residence of my father and mother until they both died. In some forty years they lost power ONCE for a period of more than just a few minutes. That one time was a huge storm, just like happened to me this past weekend, although in their case it made no difference at all since they were coming to have Thanksgiving dinner with my wife, her folks and myself. Amazingly, while there were widespread power outages that day we somehow never lost power. For my parents to have had a generator would have been folly.

In my case, however, during the first six years I lived in this home I twice lost power for three day periods. The first time wasn't so bad as I was still working so I was away for ten hours a day but the second time was after I retired and living in a house that has an indoor temperature of under 50 degrees is no picnic. About all I could do was to huddle in bed with the blankets pulled up to my nose and with Douglas, my blue-eyed fuzzy cat to help keep me warm. I had a propane barbecue and camp stove so I didn't go hungry but a goodly portion of the food in my freezer did thaw and had to be tossed. It was after that event that I made up my mind to get a generator and NEVER go through that experience again.

As for all those "disaster preparedness lists"... If I actually had a disaster kit containing all the recommended items I would have to have a van to hold it. In sixty five years of life I have NEVER had to abandon any home where I lived. I almost always have several days of dried or canned food in my pantry along with perishables in the refrigerator. Sheltering in place is not unknown to me and with the generator I can easily go for several days to maybe more than a week without leaving home.
 
  #26  
Old 09-22-15, 02:02 PM
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lawrosa

Id like to see your NG bill after this compared to your regular bill. 10,000 BTU per HP...
Just got the bill. Total Therms for this year was 27 and for last year was 17.1 so about 10 Therms for the generator. Total cost for last year was $28.80 and for this year $41.10. (Both include the customer service fee and all taxes.) Average daily temperature for the month was 65 last year and 62 this year. I DID have to turn on the furnace the last few hours before power was restored so that might skew the gas consumption a bit higher than last year.

So, about $12.30 to run the gennie; I would have paid at least double that if burning gasoline.
 
  #27  
Old 09-22-15, 02:59 PM
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So, about $12.30 to run the gennie; I would have paid at least double that if burning gasoline.
How many days again or hours of use?

Id like to calculate what 30 days would cost non stop.

Then compare that to electric rates.

What wattage gen again?

I pay .40 cents BGS and .47 cents del charge.. lets say 88C a therm? Therm content .072.

( Uggg never mind.. I was trying to see if I can run my gen to power my house 24/7)

A lister would be the only way IMO.. ( My dream to own one day...)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=sXvB3Z6wchU
 
  #28  
Old 09-22-15, 03:43 PM
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From post #23
Total outage time is 69 hours and 59 minutes. Generator hour meter now at 61.0 total. Total generator time on this outage 46 hours.
2800 watts continuous, 3,000 peak for 20 minutes. !20 volt only.

I could only make a WAG as to how many watt-hours or kilowatt-hours but I KNOW it was far more expensive than my power company. Under normal (whatever normal is) conditions I use on average about 12 kilowatt-hours a day so for three days it would be 36 kilowatt-hours at ten cents a kWh would be about $3.60. Taking into account oil changes and other maintenance the cost of generating my own power is probably more than four times the cost of utility power.

Even with that Lister you would have to be running biofuel and get the feedstock for free to beat the utility.
 
  #29  
Old 09-22-15, 03:48 PM
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You have to assume that when you generate your own power that is will cost you, at least, more than double what the power company charges...... but it's well worth it.
 
  #30  
Old 09-22-15, 04:21 PM
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... but it's well worth it.
When compared to sitting in the dark, eating lukewarm food, losing all the food in the refrigerator/freezer and reading by candle light along with possibly shivering from the cold ...you said it brother!
 
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Old 09-22-15, 04:32 PM
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When that storm hit here last year I didn't have power for two weeks. I used approx. four gallons of gasoline a day. So that would be maybe $12-15 a day for electricity. Two weeks would be approx. $185. My electric bill would be about that for the entire month as I'm all natural gas appliances here. Was it worth..... you better believe it.

The only problem is my neighbors. Sitting home in the dark and cold. I felt guilty.
 
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