First off, I don’t want to minimize the true tragedy that goes along with the loss of life and property resulting from the recent Superstorm or Hurricane Sandy that hit the east coast this week. flood restoration Gold coast There’s nothing funny about losing your home, pets, place of business, or God forbid, a loved one. Having lived through every Hurricane that’s hit southeast Texas since Carla, I know a little about storm prep. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, my home was without electric power for two full weeks. I THOUGHT that I was prepared for that potential event, but in the aftermath I learned that I made a number of serious preparedness mistakes and the oversight resulted in great discomfort and hardships for my wife and children. Hopefully, I can relay some of those mistakes here and you can avoid them the next time disaster strikes.
Before diving into a postmortem of my experiences, I will say that after many days of research, I did find that you can be prepared for a disaster without bankrupting your family, you just have to scale into the purchases over time. Ask anyone in lower Manhattan this week if $2,000 spent on a generator is a waste of money? They’d probably offer to buy it from you for $4,000! Speaking of generators; let me give you my opinion of what best suits the needs of your average disaster victim.
Generators come in all shapes, sizes and prices. office fit out Go down to the local Lowe’s or Home Depot and they’ll give you the details but most of what they sell falls into the category of a lawnmower engine attached to a generator with a fuel tank attached. IMHO this is not the type generator you want in an emergency situation. Most of these run at a constant speed of around 3,500 RPMs, no matter what load you place on them, they drink gas like it is water and they are loud enough to make it hard to sleep at night, even if running in your back yard. What’s more, very few are built or rated to run more than a few hundred hours. They typically run from $400 to $1,200 and they are affordable so they are better than nothing, but not much. During Hurricane Ike I ran a 5700 watt 11 HP generator about 12 hours a day and consumed an average of 5 gallons of gasoline per day. On the 8th day, the generator burnt out a capacitor and would no longer run. I replaced the capacitor (don’t ask how) and got it back up and running but most of my free time was spent trying to find gasoline, changing the oil and building a sound proof enclosure so I could sleep at night. Nothing about this machine was easy and I rarely needed more than 25% of the power I was buying gas to generate.
So, how much generator do you need? before you can accurately answer that question, you need to measure how much electricity your home would consume under emergency conditions. home renovations melbourne I suggest you start with your light bulbs and add up the wattage. I would also suggest you purchase a wattage meter and the Kill-a-watt is cheap and easy to use. After calculating the total watts of lighting (and replacing any incandescent’s with CFLs or LED’s) measure the minimal appliances you need to stay running like the refrigerator, ceiling fans, clock radio, small TV, margarita machine, Etc. In my case I ended up with around 1,200-1,400 watts minimum consumption. At this point we need to exclude any electric Air conditioning or heating, washer/dryers or other non-essential appliances. With your known wattage in hand, you are now ready to size a generator that will meet your BASIC electrical needs AND consume as little fuel as possible. Speaking of fuel, did you see the news stories about fuel lines in New York? Same thing happened here because whether a gas station has fuel in the tanks or not, it takes electricity to pump it out safely and now electric, no gas. It is important to oversize your generator to account for small additional loads and the start-up spike from appliances like the refrigerator and fans. My generator has a running load of 1,800 watts and a max load of 2,000 and I have few problems keeping the fridgerator, lights, TV and fans on since usually all are not on at the same time. My fuel consumption can get a low as 12 hours to a gallon or high as 6 hours a gallon, but it is nothing like the 5700 watt generator running at full power all day.
OK, so now for the generator recommendation; Knowing your minimum operable wattage needs, I suggest you seek out an INVERTER type Generator mananufactured by either Honda or Yamaha. Inverter generators use a small motor to generate DC power that is inverted to AC power. The tfour most important advantages they have on the other types of generators is that (1) with a smaller motor they consume much less fuel (remember gas lines?); (2) They adjust the engine speed to the load being powered so you don’t generate more power than you need (remember gas consumptiion?) (3) they run much quiter (remember sleep?) and (4) my favorite reason; they have a running life that is littlerally thousands of hours longer than the lawnmower style generators (remember saving money?). As is the difference between 30,000 mile tires and 100,000 mile tires, you will pay a premium price for the inverter generator, however, you will not regret the purchase when the lights go out (remember $4,000 for a $2,000 generator?). Personally, I like the Honda EU2000i inverter generator. Advantages include the fact it’s light and my wife can move/start it and it can be combined with up to two more EU2000i generators to increase power output (I have 2, one for backup or combining). Honda makes a smaller and larger inverter generators and I understand the Yamaha brand is also as capable and highly regarded. Unfortunately the Honda 2000 watt generator sells for around $1,100 in non-disaster dollars where as the big box brutes can be had for about half that with 2x the output. Still, I’d rather pay once for only the power I need and take two times as few trips to the gas line than buy the lower priced models (if I can avoid it).
I hope that this helps you if you’re now thinking about investing a bit more on preparedness. Remember, you WILL be in a disaster at some time, the only question is will you be prepared to help yourself and others or will you risk greater loss and hardship by not planning ahead today. Please join my family in praying for the families and victims of the storm on the east coast and for the sincere hope that conditions improve swiftly. My next blog will cover my personal experiences rekated to long term power outage and the psychological effects it can have on your family. In summary, the longer it drags on, the problems mount exponentially. Please feel free to comment on your experiences or ideas related to disaster preparedness as we all know that nobody in lower manhattan right now is regretting being too prepared.