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Old 08-29-2008, 09:45 AM   #1
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Back-Up or Emergency Generators

This is what I'm looking for - a back-up generator. My needs are simple. I want to cool about 120 square feet that I can shut off from the rest of the house. I don't need to have the lights on, I don't need a computer, I don't need a television, and the food can rot.

Uncle Bob, you said you had gas generators. I'm not sure this is practical for me. I have no means to transport a 55-gallon drum and gas is not available when there is no electricity, so I'm thinking of propane. Is that a better alternative for me?

Your ideas and any others will be appreciated.

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Old 08-29-2008, 09:57 AM   #2
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Propane is a good choice. Do you have natural gas available? You can get generators that run on that. Natural gas is avilable even with no power and you do not have to refill it.

I presume that you know about or have access to information in transfer switches, etc.
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:12 AM   #3
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I'm up against a time table this AM...So I will be brief right now...

You don't need to transport 55 gallons at a time....A couple of 5 gallon cans would work....Finding gas can be a challenge during major power outages... however more and more gas retailers are installing generators themselves to run the pumps. Here during Katrina, some stations were sitting on 10,000 gallons + of fuel...but could not get it out of the ground...Propane is certainly an option...most gas generators can be converted to propane...or better still...Natural Gas. I have been tempted to convert one of my generators (the largest) to Natural Gas...The generator when hooked to my transfer switch, is right by my gas meter...it would be a perfect fit for me. Just hook it up and go....no gas cans...waiting in lines for gas...no theft worries.

Your first decisioin...what size....Most are sold in watts of power...the larger ones Kilowatts....For your stated purpose, I do't think you will need anyting as big as a KW.
I would recommend buying one a little bigger than you think you need however...it seems we always find something else we want to run....

More later........
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:22 AM   #4
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But what will you do if the food rots?
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplicity View Post
This is what I'm looking for - a back-up generator. My needs are simple. I want to cool about 120 square feet that I can shut off from the rest of the house. I don't need to have the lights on, I don't need a computer, I don't need a television, and the food can rot.

Uncle Bob, you said you had gas generators. I'm not sure this is practical for me. I have no means to transport a 55-gallon drum and gas is not available when there is no electricity, so I'm thinking of propane. Is that a better alternative for me?

Your ideas and any others will be appreciated.
Hmmm, keeping a body cold?


Seriously, how long do you need to keep the room cool for? Some gas generators are quite efficient, so you might only need a couple 5 gal cans to see you through.
What are you using to keep the room cool with? Window unit, existing central air, fans and dry ice, something else you were thinking of?

Lots of variables. And the gas issue you mention is a vaild one. I know someone in Tulsa who had a heck of a time finding gasoline for her three generators in their last ice storm earlier this year. I have two gasoline generators and now wish the last one I bought was a PTO generator for a tractor. I have a diesel fuel tank and wouldn't need to worry about finding an open gas station if the power was out for days. That's an option too, if you have a tractor (I don't know).
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Old 08-29-2008, 11:12 AM   #6
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We have a generator. We had to use it for several days during the ice storm that pacanis mentioned. I never had a problem finding gas for it, though, as by the time we got it, several days after the storm, most of the stations in town had power. WE DIDN'T get power back until the 9th day after the storm.

The generator we have will power the fridge, the TV, and a couple lights, and that's about it. It sucks down about 10 gallons of gas a day.

I really like the propane or natural gas bit. If/when I get a lot of money, I might look into getting one that takes that.
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Old 08-29-2008, 11:32 AM   #7
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I have natural gas. I know nothing about transfer switches.

Nearby gas stations have not installed generators. There is no gas available during power outages.

If my food rots, it rots. I will cook what I can outside.

Yes, I want to keep the body cold - MINE - well not cold - I'd be happy if I could keep a single room under 85 Deg. The only room I can shut off and keep cool is a bedroom.

What I'm thinking is a small window A/C unit (I have central A/C which will not work)- to be powered with a generator.

The most time I've spent without power is 7 days. During difficult times we cannot buy ice, nor dry ice, nor almost anything - that's why I don't bother about food rotting.

Of course, Hurricane Gustav brings all this to mind, but it was Hurricane Rita before it when I slept on the tile floor in the kitchen - the coolest spot in the house. And the storm before that...and before that. It gets tedious.
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Old 08-29-2008, 02:44 PM   #8
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I have natural gas. I know nothing about transfer switches.

A transfer switch is not mandatory. You can do what you want to do with out one. The transfer switch simply shuts off the power from your service provider to your house while allowing power from your generator to “feed” the circuits in your house. The transfer switch will not allow power to be fed back into the service provider’s lines causing a danger to linemen working to restore your power. It also will not allow power to feed back into your generator (destroying it) when the service provider restores your power unexpectedly. It allows you to simply attach the generator to your power panel (outside & this will require an electrician to install)
to “feed” your whole house, or rather a small portion at one time. Obviously if you have a 5000 watt generator you can’t run 9000 watts of TV’s light, refrigerators etc. While your whole house is “hot” you have to pick and choose what you have on at any one time so as not to overload the generator. The advantage of the transfer switch is you can go from room to room turning on, and turning off lights without having extension cords running all over the floor. Without a transfer switch, you can simply fire up your generator (OUTSIDE) and run an extension cord to a power strip, and run shorter lines from the power strip to the things you want to run…lamp, TV. Refrigerator, fan, etc. This is what I do during short (2-3 hour) power outages...Run a small generator, to provide, a couple of lamps, a fan, TV, and run the vent hood over the stove if needed.


If my food rots, it rots. I will cook what I can outside.


A small to medium size generator will run your refrigerator…or a freezer

Yes, I want to keep the body cold - MINE - well not cold - I'd be happy if I could keep a single room under 85 Deg. The only room I can shut off and keep cool is a bedroom.

What I'm thinking is a small window A/C unit (I have central A/C which will not work)- to be powered with a generator.


This is a good plan….a small 10,000 BTU A/C will only requires around 1000-1500 watts to run depending on the make/model etc. It may require 1800 + watts to start the compressor, but this is just for a very brief time. Most generators have a surge rating that is higher than the run rate….A 5000 watt generator may have a surge rate of 7000 watts to help with brief power surges caused by electric motors starting in refrigerators, freezers etc.

So, with a medium, portable size generator you can create a “cool” zone in your house to run a Small a/c window unit, a light, TV, and quite possibly your refrigerator.


If your house is all electric then an outside propane grill is nice….as is a propane cook stove with two burners etc.

Most Gasoline generators can be converted to run on propane or natural gas…expect to pay between $100-$200 + for the conversion kit and labor.

CAUTION: NEVER RUN A GENERATOR INDOORS. CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS!!!
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Old 08-29-2008, 05:16 PM   #9
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Thanks for your input. This is something I've been thinking of for a long time - to keep one small cool room - if I could keep the refrigerator going, it would be a big bonus! I don't need a lot of extras.

I need to start checking. Again, thanks.
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Old 08-29-2008, 05:28 PM   #10
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You're welcome....look for something in the 5000 watt range...it may seem over kill now...but.....Also I personally prefer Generators with either Honda or Kawasaki engines...Honda brand generators are pricey...there are others that are just as good with Honda engines on them....
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