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 Post subject: Generator Placement...
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:54 pm 
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So, as some of you may have heard, we had a little storm up here in Maine that caused a bit of a power outage. Prior to the storm, I was sitting there fat, dumb, and happy thinking of the food I had set aside, the generator with plenty of fuel, and the grill available to cook on as needed. The night before I set out my flashlights and we positioned some candles for easy access, and then went to bed. At about three in the morning, with sheets of rain coming down, we heard a nice loud crack and shortly later - no lights! So, I spring into action, throw on my rubber boots, a rain coat, and head out to start the generator.

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.

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Or, maybe not. Standing there in the pouring rain, staring at the generator box I got to thinking. See, we placed the generator box and generator for ease of access to the power panel, so that the patch cable could reach from the generator to the panel without issue, and with enough slack that we didn't need to worry about it pulling out. We measured this out four times, made sure the ground was properly level, and easily accessible in rain or snow, and smoothed out the incline that led to it. What we failed to consider, and what I was staring at, was where the power line that led from the pole to the house would go if, say, the top of a tree broke off and pulled it down. The line was pulled off the house, and was laying right across the access to our fully fueled, ready-to-go, checked-it-out-yesterday generator. I felt like Burt Gummer..."What kind of supreme being would condone such irony?"

Luckily for us, the line being pulled down just tripped a fuse, and they had us up and running about twelve hours later, but friends & family are still without power over a week later, so my biggest prepping priority at the moment is finding a new location for that generator box. And possibly clear-cutting my neighbors side yard...

Lesson learned? Always look up.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:11 pm 
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Could've been worse. It could have snatched the meter box/power panel off the side of the house.....seen that a few dozen times.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:46 pm 
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Howdy from a fellow Maine ZS'er who also weathered our recent freak high wind event. I didn't even bother with the generator the first night and most of the following day; it wasn't that cold, I have plenty of LED lanterns, a camp stove and my freezer is stuffed with frozen water containers that keep my perishable foods nice and frosty for at least 48 hours.

In my mind, it's just not worth trying to do something as mentally taxing as firing up a generator in the middle of the night, at the height of a storm. Houses don't cool down that quick, especially this time of the year. I rode out that first (Sunday) night with a few extra blankets and a headlamp.

The second night my portable generator came out. In my tiny home (not actually a "tiny home", but still quite small), a 4000 watt peak generator and 120 volt NEMA cable running through a window are sufficient for my purposes (I've crafted this styrofoam window insert so I can run the cable into the house without any real heat loss). I use my generator to power the the fridge for a few hours, followed by a few hours running my small Rinnai propane heater. Plus a few electric lights in either application. My Mr. Heater Little Buddy propane heater provided extra heat when I was running the fridge.

My biggest challenge is I'm six weeks post op rotator cuff/biceps reattachment surgery. I'm not supposed to be using my right arm for anything more taxing that lifting it in and out of a sling when showering each morning. So dragging out the genny and gassing it up was quite a challenge using only my (non-dominant) left arm.

Here's hoping that New England storm brought down most of the standing dead wood/drought weakened trees this year. Hopefully that'll mean fewer power outages this winter, when the stakes are a bit higher.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:26 am 
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RickOShea wrote:
Could've been worse. It could have snatched the meter box/power panel off the side of the house.....seen that a few dozen times.


Yeah, that would have really sucked.

majorhavoc wrote:
In my mind, it's just not worth trying to do something as mentally taxing as firing up a generator in the middle of the night, at the height of a storm. Houses don't cool down that quick, especially this time of the year. I rode out that first (Sunday) night with a few extra blankets and a headlamp.

The second night my portable generator came out. In my tiny home (not actually a "tiny home", but still quite small), a 4000 watt peak generator and 120 volt NEMA cable running through a window are sufficient for my purposes (I've crafted this styrofoam window insert so I can run the cable into the house without any real heat loss). I use my generator to power the the fridge for a few hours, followed by a few hours running my small Rinnai propane heater. Plus a few electric lights in either application. My Mr. Heater Little Buddy propane heater provided extra heat when I was running the fridge.

My biggest challenge is I'm six weeks post op rotator cuff/biceps reattachment surgery. I'm not supposed to be using my right arm for anything more taxing that lifting it in and out of a sling when showering each morning. So dragging out the genny and gassing it up was quite a challenge using only my (non-dominant) left arm.

Here's hoping that New England storm brought down most of the standing dead wood/drought weakened trees this year. Hopefully that'll mean fewer power outages this winter, when the stakes are a bit higher.


Yeah, if it was just me or me and my wife I wouldn't have bothered, but with the loudly snapping trees it had my kids (4 and 5) excessively scared while in the dark, so I figured I'd start it up and show them everything was alright. Didn't quite work out the way I planned. I am adding some LED lanterns to my preps though, as I discovered the ones I have manage to overheat themselves and shut off after about 45 minutes. Didn't realize that was possible with LED's. I don't know about bringing down the dead wood, since most of what it did to us was knock over a bunch of the surface-root pines and twist the tops off some other trees. The actual standing dead,wood out back of my house (not on my property or it would already be gone) made it through just fine. I think it was the lack of surface area for the wind to catch.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Depending on your relationship with the neighbor, can you go over and offer to take the dead wood down?
Often people want things like that gone, but there's always a long list of stuff waiting for the money with others taking priority.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:57 pm 
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My grandparents were in a similar situation this last fall. Grandma likes (LOVES) lists, so she has a check list to go through every fall for the winter/spring. Grandpa is in his upper 80's and is going down hill fast, so she asked him how the generator was doing and in his typical fashion "it's fine! It's never had an issue in 15 years!" Well we had a freak spring storm and knocked their power out for 5 days. Grandma went down to start the genny, only to realize neither her nor grandpa could actually pull start the thing. phone lines were down so grandma drove over to one of the neighbors and had them come over to see if he could. Well he couldn't either.

Long story short after about 4 hours of work they realized that the gas in it had been in there for at least 5 years, and the oil and everything hadn't been maintained. Hey had/have a dead genny. Well grandma tells me this story a few weeks ago and said they want to get another one. Well Friday they got 3" of snow (earliest they can remember since living here in '76.

So next week I'm taking grandma genny shopping. Grandparents built the house and put the genny in a place underneath the deck, with a plug in directly to the power panel, in between two pillars for the deck. it is quite secure.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:25 am 
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Can I just ask something?

We all wire our generators correctly to the house I hope, because I've nearly been electrocuted due to a dodgy install.
my storm damage team was turning up to a house to repair the roof, out of curiosity I ran one of those AC voltage detectors over the wall where we were going to put up a ladder, the whole thing was live.

the P.O.S had a patch lead into a normal power socket and wired it wrong, ended up with a suicide plug.

You might have everything set up, but does your neighbour? something to think about

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:58 am 
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I keep mine in the garage. When the power goes out normally the weather is bad. I can start it then roll it outside and shut the door to keep fumes from coming back in to the house. The power cable runs under the door and connects to the box in the garage.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:46 am 
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My experience is that people want (a) easy and (b) cheap. (No ex-wife jokes here) so I'll focus on portable units. :oh:
Where are you going to (1) store your generator (2) set up the generator to use it? Remember, it may be severe weather so, where could you put it to keep it safe and be able to refuel it easily? If you're using power cords, will they be dry and as far out of the way as possible?
Small generators (less than 5500 watts) can only do so much. If you overload the unit and damage it, you won't have any power at all. So be smart! Portable units are made up to almost 20k watts but they're not for people on budgets. :roll:
The bottom line is to add up the load (watts) you plan to connect and size your generator at least 25% higher. When motors like the compressor in the refrigerator start up there is a sudden draw of power higher than the normal running load and you want to compensate for that.
Small appliances will have the wattage marked on them. Lighting circuits will be less than 1200 watts each. Water heater is 4500 watts alone.
Also,you'll truly get what you pay for...unless you buy from one of those guys selling from the back of their pick-up truck (don't do that). Don't wait till the last minute or you'll be stuck with whatever is left in the stores. I got a small cummins in the end. :(
Oh, and the "trick" with connecting the generator to the dryer outlet to backfeed the house? DON'T YOU DARE!! It will result in damage and/or injury...
Hope that helped a little...sorry it's so wordy :twisted:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:47 am 
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It is true that the power situation now is not good. My mom have light every other night but when she moved here 20 years ago it was 6 hours on and 12 hours off in the same area.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:03 am 
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shelleyWanlert wrote:
Oh, and the "trick" with connecting the generator to the dryer outlet to backfeed the house? DON'T YOU DARE!! It will result in damage and/or injury...


:clap: :clap: :clap:
If someone near asks if it is ok to plug into the house, they'll receive a number of slaps to the face equal to the number of volts being supplied to their house.

I'm guessing you've had experience in emergency response/electrical Shellywanlert?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:17 am 
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taipan821 wrote:
shelleyWanlert wrote:
Oh, and the "trick" with connecting the generator to the dryer outlet to backfeed the house? DON'T YOU DARE!! It will result in damage and/or injury...

:clap: :clap: :clap:
If someone near asks if it is ok to plug into the house, they'll receive a number of slaps to the face equal to the number of volts being supplied to their house.


I say the slaps should equal the number of volts that generator current is stepped up to when it's back fed through the closest neighborhood transformer ...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:14 pm 
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majorhavoc wrote:
taipan821 wrote:
shelleyWanlert wrote:
Oh, and the "trick" with connecting the generator to the dryer outlet to backfeed the house? DON'T YOU DARE!! It will result in damage and/or injury...

:clap: :clap: :clap:
If someone near asks if it is ok to plug into the house, they'll receive a number of slaps to the face equal to the number of volts being supplied to their house.


I say the slaps should equal the number of volts that generator current is stepped up to when it's back fed through the closest neighborhood transformer ...


You could just back feed directly into them. I'd get the point across.

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