September 25, 2008

I Want to Buy a Generator, Part 2… Contributed by Rick Powell

Filed under: Guest Poster — admin @ 12:05 am

This is the third and final installment of the ‘preparedness emails’ that my friend Rick Powell sent me recently.

this is what i’ll call,,,,
“i want to buy a generator” Part 2…

a bit less ‘scolding’ and a bit more better usefull advice.

lets establish the starting point…

for the last X many years you have been going thru life in automatic, with just the usual care’s and concern’s…

but last week sucked. you lost a whole lotta food, you burnt thru a whole lotta money, were horribly inconvienenced,
really stressed, and at times,,,,, frightened.

guess what, so was about 600,000 other folks in the greater cincinnati-tri-state-area.

ok, so now that it’s sorta over… you wanna do better next time…..

and you wanna buy a generator…..

sure, look at the current balance in your checkbook…. is it over $10,000?
if so, get down to your local generator store, and go friggin buy the biggest generator you can carry/pull/tow,
go home, set it up, play with it, and stop reading this.

i have no usefull information for you.
you can figure it out on your own, or for that matter,
go call an electrical contractor, and get a whole house generator installed, that runs on natural gas,
or if you don’t have natural gas, get one on a propane tank, complete with a full propane tank the size
of a small nation.
you can even get them that auto start.. the whole system is only about 15-20k, runs fine, don’t forget
to get the service contract, so that a tech will come out and service/test the generator regularly.

now get back to work. the economy needs you…

now, for everyone else….

i’m assuming you have read part 1,,,,,, and also, Thanks Ma,,,,, if not,,, go read them now.
and think about it….


things you MUST have.

fire extinguishers…….
no, i’m NOT kidding, get some.
they are usually available in ‘two packs’, for like $15. at wallmart.

at least START the envelope of ‘oh shit’ money. feed it regularly.

at least START storing up some water, no you don’t need 200 gallons, well, yes you do, but if space is limited,
at least go down to wallmart, and buy a case of small water bottles, for like $4.

get a couple of .5L – 1L plastic bottles of your favorite bevarage, consume them, rinse them out. fill them up with water,
and stick them in the freezer.

first aid kit? yes?, ok,,,, no? they got some basic ones at wallmart for like $10.

flashlights,,,,, just keep your eyes open for cheapies… get at least 2 cheapies for each person in your house.
and have at least 1 GOOD one. and at least some extra battries…

battry powered am/fm radio…… again, garage sales, flea market. etc…

battry powered weather radio….. actually, if you don’t have one, and funds are seriously limited, the am/fm radio will
probably do ya, but at least put out the word to your friends/relatives that you want one for ‘winter gift season’..

scanner. you can do fine without one. but, personally, i LIKE knowing what’s going on around me,,, and also, they can be
a wonderful source of evening entertainment for the whole family.

cooler. you GOTTA have a cooler. it’s REQUIRED… how are you gonna go on picknic’s with the kids, if you don’t have a cooler.
it don’t have to be the size of a small truck. just enough so you can stick a 12 pack in it will do. for now. oh, plan to use
fill it up, grab a frisbe or a football, and take the kids to the park. go. do it this weekend. hell, do it NOW. no kids…. ok,
fill it up, grab the wife/husband, and go have a picknic. outside, in the fresh air. away from tv’s, radios, phones, etc….
trust me, you WILL eventually find something to talk about…….

home protection. a cheap shotgun, at wallmart, is inexpensive. got kids? so what. if you think for a minute, instead of
sprouting off some left wing anti gun propaganda, you will realize quickly, that for a couple of hundred years, folks here in
the states have had guns not only at home, but easily accessable, and still managed to have kids. and managed somehow, to not have
their kids shoot themselves…… believe me,,, it CAN be done. and it CAN be done, without trigger locks, or gun safe’s….
some people would call it,,,,,,,, teachin yer kids what is a toy, and what is NOT a toy. trust me, it works..

fine, you just cant stand it any more, you are about to just stop reading this,,, and go down to home depot, and buy a generator….



you may still actually want one. you may actually still get away with buying one….
but are you familiar with the term ‘Force Multiplier’????? hrm???

no? it’s sorta a military term… it’s descriptive of how to massively increase the effectiveness of the limited number of ‘troops’
‘ships’ or ‘resources’ available..
an example…
take a marine… yes, any marine…
he is a FORCE all by himself… we’ll call that an effectiveness of 5.
now give that marine a rifle…. you have just multiplied his effectiveness by a factor of 5 or so..
naked marine: effectiveness 5
naked marine with rifle: effectiveness 25

add another marine…
2 naked marines with rifles: effectiveness 50,,,, no wait…. not 50, that’s addition.

2 naked marines with rifles: effectiveness 625!

now, add some land mines, morters, maybe some night vision goggles,,, heck, let’s even put some clothes on the marines,
and give them radios…….

now, you have a force that is probably enough, to take over the state of california,,,, (cause lets see, uh, PRK is systematically
disarming it’s population. at least, the law abiding part of the population,,, although the gang’s are still well armed…..)

anyway, you get my point……

force multiplication is good, mkay…

what do you have right now, that could benefit from some force multiplication?????

well, let’s see, if you happen to have a car, truck, or even minivan (yuk), you have a force!

ever heard of an inverter? you can use an inverter to ‘multiply’ the ‘force’ of your piece of krap chebby, and do what???

you can keep your fridge cool!….
at least enough so that you wont loose everything in the fridge/freezer.

here is the details…..

your car. has this wonderfull little accessory,, it’s call a battry.
it also has this other wonderfull little accessory,,,it’s called an alternator.
if you are NOT familiar with the alternator,,, you don’t really need to be. but it would be very helpfull
to be at least marginally familiar with the battry.

at most truck stops (flying j, TA, whatever) you will usually find a wide assortment of CB’s, Inverters, and 12V powered ‘stuff’.
these are wonderfull places. just don’t get pushy, truckers bring you your groceries.
thank them.
anyway, in the ‘inverter section’ you will see everything from a cute little blue one, that MAY provide enough power
to charge your cellphone, to the big, shiney, HUGE one, that could probably be used to light Riverfront Stadium! (oops… no,
that’s gone,,, it’s Cinergy Field now…)
(no, wait,,,,, not Cinergy Field,,, uh, screw it.. the place where the red’s provide batting practice for the rest of the teams in
the league… yeah, that place…)

a good compromise, would be,,, something in the 1500 to 2500 watt range.

Price Check on Isle Inverters please….

ah, flying j, Cobra, 1500 Watt Power Inverter, CPI1575, $149.99

of course, your mileage may vary… but i would say that would be the SMALLEST inverter to get.
it will have enough, uh, ‘testicular fortitude’, to ‘get the job done’. at least for the fridge and freezer.

bigger being better of course, but for what you NEED, this will do.

how to use it?

remember, modern refridgeration is a wonderfull thing…..
they have something called ‘insulation’.. it’s kinda like a big powered cooler. only better.

assuming you HAVE A PLAN when opening the fridge/freezer, you can get away with the following:

get up an hour early in the morning,,,, start the car. hook up the inverter to the battry, run the cord to the fridge.
turn on the inverter,,, SHAZAM,,, fridge runs….

go thru morning routine. all the time, with the fridge on.. for at least 90 minutes….

yeah, car is running (idleing) the whole time…
oh, turn off the lights, air, radio, fog lights, rear window defrogger, wipers, seat heaters,
EVERYTHING in the car that uses power…. turn it all off. you are just letting the engine run, to power the fridge.

when you are all done with the fridge, let it continue to run for at least 30 minutes.
yeah, you are gonna use a couple of gallons of gas. but dammit, we’re talking COLD MILK here……

shut down the inverter, disconnect it from the battry, DO NOT SHUT OFF THE CAR for at LEAST another 20 minutes…
yeah, you can drive it… feel free to go to work now… or whatever,,,, just don’t shut off the car for 20 minutes,
and it does actually HELP if you actually drive it around a bit. (that’s what they are for after all. to drive around in).
if you don’t have to go to work,, then at least go out and score some gas, to keep the tank topped off, and some bread.
oh, and while you are out, would you pick me up some flour tortillas please? yeah, Mission burrito size…

now, if everyone is headed out to work,, fine. don’t sweat it. it will still all be there when you get home.

if not vacating the house… then STAY OUT OF THE FRIDGE…..
(remember the cooler???? and the frozen bottles of water??????? USE THEM…)

otherwise,,,, every time you are going to open the fridge, for whatever reason,,,,,,
start the car.
hook up the inverter
start the inverter,
wait 15 minutes,
open the fridge,
do whatever.
when you are done, wait another 15 minutes.
THEN shutdown the inverter, disconnect it, close the hood, drive around for at least 10 minutes.
then go back to life as usual…

(one modification,,, if you own a crown vic/grand marquis/town car… with a modular 4.6L or 5.4L engine… these things are
sit and idle. the modification is after you shut down and disconnect the inverter, just let it idle for another 5 minutes, then just
shut it off. you dont have to drive it.)

(oh, another modification, if you own a car/truck with a diesel engine,,, just leave it running, with the inverter powering the
it will be just fine, at least until you run out of fuel, which i would NOT reccomend, as its’ kinda expensive to get the fuel

then, assuming you’ve had the fridge powered up, every few hours,,,,
in the power it up, access it,,, let it cool down some more,,, shut it down cycle…..
and it’s coming to the end of the day,,,,

do it one more time, before going to bed….
let it run for at least 30 minutes, as kinda the ‘last thing for the day’

you’ll be fine….

a couple of things you may want to keep in mind.,,,,,,,

1. a FULL freezer stays colder longer than an empty freezer

cause,,,, you can take some of those frozen bottles, put the in the fridge side (or the cooler), to help keep things cooler in
when they are mostly melted, put them back in the freezer…

2. Your Mileage May Vary…
i.e. it may take running it more often…….
or less often…
it helps a LOT to know what the ‘normal’ cycles of your particular fridge is….
i.e. how often does it cycle….. how long does it run for each cycle….

think about it…
when and how long, does your fridge ‘run’ when you aren’t in and out of it?
how long does it take, until it gets back into it’s ‘regular cycle’ after you have been in it???

note: running the car/inverter to power the fridge, when it’s all cooled down, only acts to use up your gas.
note: stopping the car/inverter to power the fridge, while it’s still trying to cool down, only acts to spoil yer milk.
note: keeping frequently used fridge items in a cooler, reduces the amount of times per day that the fridge is opened,,,
thereby reducing the amount of time per day that you have to power the fridge from yer kar…


oh, a 1500w inverter will probably be able to power up your warshing machine, if you run out of clean socks.

oh, a 1500w inverter will probably be able to power up your vaccuum cleaner.
oh, a 1500w inverter will probably be able to power up your sump pump.

ah,, thanks for mentioning it…
the freezer, if you stay out of them:
chest freezer: power once per day for 1 hour or until it’s gone thru two cycles
upright freezer: power twice per day for 1 hour each time, or until it’s gone thru two cycles.

or if you plan on getting in to them,,,, treat the same as getting into the fridge during the day….

yeah, it’s that easy….

i’m NOT going to list all the specific safety measures you must take under these conditions….
cause if you can’t figure out that you must NOT run your car with the garage door shut,,,, well,
can i have first pick of your stuff after you die?

i’m also not going to explain that the power cord for the fridge is in BACK, and YES you are going
to have to move the fridge, you may as well clean under it, since you moved it anyway…

of course, watch your loads,,,,,,, you may be able to run both the fridge and the freezer at the same time,,,
things like that.

you may be able to get away with running it less than i said… it’s just a starting point….

it’s up to YOU to know or at least figure out, how often/long/etc you have to run things.
it’s up to YOU to figure out how to minimize the required run time.

cause i’m ASSuming that since the starting point of this whole discussion is ‘i’m smart enough to know i need something’
so that is a good thing. as opposed to those who are sitting in the dark, with a roast still in the oven since sunday,
with candles sitting on every horizontal surface of the house, with a fridge full of rotting ‘stuff’, bitching about why


oh, yeah, the generator….

i have a 900W troy-bilt. that does just fine. the thing i like about it the most, is that it’s small and light.

UltraQuiet, UltraLight, Generator-Inverter: usually in the 1000W to 2500W range:
i would reccomend avoiding any of the ‘generator inverter’ systems, honda has a whole line of them,, they are small,
light, quiet, efficient,,, but they are small. and they have HARD LIMITS to surges. 1000w is also the usual size.
and for the same price, you can get something a little more ‘indestructable’. hey, if you wanna play with something like this,
and you find one for the ‘right price’, that at least has a 1000w capacity,,, go for it. be my guest, just don’t bitch at me
when it trips offline every time the fridge cycles… or that it will only run for 2 hours before having to refill it.
it’s your money. although, it would be nice to have some ‘real world’ feedback on how well they work.

below 1500w: there is a nice selection, for a reasonable
price, in the 800-1200 watt range, that an old man CAN actually pick up and carry with one hand. that aren’t horribly loud.
with proper care, they will provide many years of service. yeah, you gotta shut them down every 12 hours or so, to
refill the oil, clean the air filter, etc,,, but hey, you can get them for about $250, they are small, easy to store, easy to run,
easy to carry and move,,, all in all, this is the power range I would reccomend.

1500-1800w: nice little systems, kinda heavy sometimes,,,, but nice. generally loud. but forgiving,
and again, with proper maintenance, they will serve you nicely for a long time. although, for me,,, it’s overkill, plus,,, they
take up MUCH more room than what i care to use for storage of a generator right now.

1800-5000: sorry, i’m an old man, i can’t lift one of those without ‘hurting myself’ in ‘tender places’. personally, i
avoid this size,,, don’t get me wrong,,, they are great units,,, BUT, i don’t have the ‘testicular fortitude’ to drag
one of these bad boys out into the yard, in the middle of a thunderstorm, in my skivvies.

5kw-10kw: see above. but,, also, i would consider 8kw the MINIMUM SIZE if you actually worked from home.
cause then, you are talking running a coupla computers, some networking stuff, lights, fax machine, printers, fridge, freezer,
fans, etc…. and still being stable enought to not blow up yer computer….

10kw and above: you are definetly into the whole house generator now,,,,, call Generac, and see above in the ‘what is the
current balance of your checkbook’ section.

there you go.

yeah, really. that’s it

for now,,,,
/rick out….

(oh, wait, it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!)


/Pirate Quinn the Rum-Swiller out

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