Post hurricane power questions:

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by JOhnH, Oct 3, 2022.

  1. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We lost power for 3 days during hurricane Ian.

    The biggest problems we had were keeping the fridge cold and the USB powered devices charged. I found that without power my fridge goes from 37 degrees to about 53 degrees in about 3 hours and the freezer goes from 6 to 27 in the same 3 hours. Therefore, I got up twice in the middle of the night to run the noisy *** portable generator for about an hour. Fortunately, the only neighbors evacuated.

    A whole house generator is out of the question right now (I just checked my brokerage accounts). But I might be able to swing for a battery charge station.

    Question1: What size battery pack would I need to run a 22 CU Ft fridge for 10-12 hours? The data plate says it uses 110 vots and 8.5 amps, but it doesn't run all the time and during the hurricane we were EXTRA cautious to only open it occasionally and for as short a period as possible. I could charge it up during the day with the noisy generator.
    (Can anyone recommend a good battery power station?)

    Question2: I have a 12 Volt battery that came with my ICE BOX swamp cooler for the plane. It has a cigarette lighter type out put device that I could plug a USB adapter in to power my phones, tablets and other devices. Is this a good or bad idea?
     
  2. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    My new hangar has a setup kinda what you're describing... solar -> 100kWh battery -> 1500W inverter. About $500 worth of parts and some wiring.

    I thought the anker/jackery portable batteries would do what you're after, but looks like you may need 10-12kWh per day, and they're a bit light on runtime for a fridge.
     
  3. Spring Ford

    Spring Ford Line Up and Wait

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    You got a 100kWh battery for under $500? That's 8 x Tesla Powerwalls. They are usually a bit more than that - each.
     
  4. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    You may want to check your freezer door seals. Both my freezers could handle 48 hours and keep stuff frozen before needing power. But key is to keep door closed.
    FYI: before I went the generator route I always kept blocks of ice in one freezer during the season and when the power went out would stick a block in the frig and make it a true ice box. This went on for as long as I had ice.
    I don't know how much your brokerage accts are worth but a standby gen cost isn't at those levels. A good battery station will cost $2000 but if watch for sales a 24k standby gen goes for about $5000 with transfer box. However, if you prefer the cheaper route my best set up was a Honda 2200 gen ($1000) connected to one large freezer. I also had a 6 gallon extension fuel tank connected and it would run for 2+ days without fail. Made ice blocks in the freezer and kept frig cool for the duration. Have seen twin H2200s in parallel and sharing same tank which is what I would have done if hadn't upgraded to 24kw standby. Convenience/quality of life does have value even when pinching pennies.

    As a side note, a simple indicator to use to verify if your freezer ever thawed then refroze during power cycles is to freeze water in a small tupperware. Once frozen put a quarter onto of ice and put lid on. If the contents of the freezer ever thawed and refroze the quarter will be at the bottom of the tupperware.
     
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  5. kmacht

    kmacht Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you have the room buy a propane powered refrigerator and just store it in the basement or garage for when you need it. If the power goes out move your food to the other refrigerator, turn it on and just keep a few bottles of propane around. They use very little propane compared to trying to keep a gas powered generator running. It will be much cheaper than a battery setup if you only care about keeping the food cold. The propane refrigerators are common in RVs and large campers if you are looking for a used one.
     
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  6. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I can't imagine why you'd want to deal with a battery bank and whatever other charging apparatus to deal with 48-72hours of inconvenience once every year or two. I'd think a "noisy-***" generator is the perfect solution to that problem. A portable Honda generator would solve most of the "noisy" part of the issue and not be phased if the power outage lasts a week instead of a day or two. The portable generator at least has use at other times of the year as well (tailgating, etc.) where the battery bank is going to be pretty-well single-purpose.
     
  7. Justin Brady

    Justin Brady Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just get a quiet generator?
    I've run the absolute snot out of a 3kw HF Quiet generator (2500+ Hours) and it's basically silent and would do everything you need it to. ~$700 last I checked.
    Solar is great and all, but after a hurricane it's pretty cloudy yeah....
     
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  8. geezer

    geezer Line Up and Wait

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    Propane refrigerators need an outside exhaust vent. My uncle had one on a screened porch, screens 3 sides, which worked fine.

    Detached garage or open carport would work, but not indoors.
     
  9. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    Wheee I fail at math today. Sorry, 100Ah @ 12V. ... "significantly less power" :D
     
  10. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    Also, the fuller the fridge and freezer the better.

    So jugs of water chiller or frozen before the power outage to fill them will help.

    When I have lost power, I run the generator for a couple of hours in the morning and evening, and never had any issues with things getting too warm.
     
  11. ChucktheTruck

    ChucktheTruck Pre-Flight

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    Like Bell 206 said I used a small inverter generator to popper my fridge and a few fans with no issues.. they’re pretty inexpensive and quieter than your standard generator and you can run them in parallel if you need to for more output. I went the whole house standby generator route a few years ago after Irma and this is the first time it’s kicked on for actual use.
     
  12. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    We have two smallish Inverter type (very quiet) generators we use for our hurricane power outages. One is a Honda 2kW generator and the other is a Champion 3.1kW. The Honda is extremely quiet, they're one of the best. Yamahas are nice too. The key is to get an Inverter type generator. The Champion is probably the best bang for the buck though and gets very good reviews... you can get electric start as well. I think I saw a 5500W Champion (inverter type) at Bass Pro for a little over $1k. Our 3.1kW runs our fridges, fans, LEDs lights, USB chargers. The Honda can run a fridge easily too. The Honda and Champion both have the Eco mode that will let them idle down with the current draw isn't too much... then they're even quieter. Then they'll throttle back up automatically when there's a draw.
     
  13. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Whatever generator you have that will power the essentials, a box outside the house to plug into, and a manual transfer switch like this (appropriate to the CB box you have, of course)
    https://www.amazon.com/SD200A-Square-Generator-Interlock-Homeline/dp/B086Q41H4H/ref=asc_df_B086Q41H4H?tag=bngsmtphsnus-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=80195746823003&hvnetw=&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=m&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4583795273866784&psc=1
    W
    orks quite well for us. Switch it over, shut off any circuits that you don’t want to/can’t power, plug in the generator, and away you go. I’ve run mine for about 3 days straight on my previous house. My generator isn’t big enough to run the AC or electric furnace (and probably not the washer/dryer either), but I can run lights, fans, fridge, freezer, etc., fairly normally.

    I’ve also got a power sensor to tell me when the power comes back on, since the incoming power is shut off at the CB box when running the generator.
     
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  14. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've got two neighbors that have whole home generators. One bought the equipment himself and paid someone to install it and I believe he spent ~$9K. My other neighbor just went and had the company provide the equipment and installation and the cost was around $12k. These were both around 22kW units.
     
  15. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    I lost power for 2 days. Ran a 5500 watt old loud generator pretty much non stop for 48 hours. Used about 20 gallons of gas but lived life pretty much as normal. Generator used was $100.00. About $175 to get everything to wire it to the house and make an extension cord. For the 5-6 days a year it’s needed, it’s perfectly fine.
     
  16. catmandu

    catmandu Pattern Altitude

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    Test fly whatever you end up doing for a day or so. We did not. We got lucky after a straight line wind event kept us off grid in Maryland for a week one summer with a most-of-the-house automatic generator. But it took a bit of adjustment of what we thought was a perfect solution during the Irmaria hurricane recovery in the USVI five years ago.
     
  17. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    Prices are still good. I put my Generac 24kw in two years ago. With transfer switch it would have been $5250 delivered. But since I went turnkey he sold me his unit for same cost and the install side was right at $3000. However, I had a long cable run which got the total to $9200 total with tax. If I went the DIY/BIL route the install would have been sub $7000. Friend just bought same gen online last month for less than $5000 w/o transfer switch as he will be installing his himself. May want to check your suppliers? If you like I can ask him where he got his?
     
  18. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    As much as I’d like a whole-house generator, it’s tough to justify the cost. We just lost power for 3 days, and that was the first outage since the 2017 hurricane. I can’t see spending around 15k to avoid a few uncomfortable days every 5 years or so.

    I have an older Generac 7550 with electric start. I wheel it out to our barn, plug it into a subpanel, and I can power most of the house except for the air conditioning. I do have to do a bit of load management, like not running the well pump and the water heater simultaneously, but that’s tolerable. We don’t use the oven, but the stovetop and microwave are adequate for cooking. We have lights, fans, TV, electronics, refrigerator, freezer, etc., so life is reasonably comfortable.

    The Generac is much louder than I like, but placing it away from the house in the barn breezeway helps. I get about 12 hours on a tank of gas.

    What I do dislike is having to haul and store gasoline for the gennie. I’m starting to think about converting to propane.
     
  19. Lindberg

    Lindberg Final Approach

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    Price also depends on fuel type. And that's getting into the range where you have air cooled vs. water cooled (quieter and more expensive).
     
  20. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lots of good ideas and things to think about in this thread. Thanks.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that the battery option is not that good or cost effective. At least not yet. Maybe "someday".

    I'm intrigued about the spare propane fridge, but I do remember when I was a kid we had one on the houseboat. But it still needed a charged 12 V battery for some reason.

    As @Half Fast said, a whole-house generator just doesn't make sense for the few times per decade that we really need it. Besides, I don't really have a good place to install one, nor the place to install sufficient size fuel tanks.

    I'm probably going to go with a "super-quiet" inverter generator, but I would really like to hear one first. The way my house is laid out the generator will need to be near the bedroom, and if we have no AC, then the doors will have to be open and my wife is very noise sensitive when she is trying to sleep. That is why the big, LOUD portable generator we currently use is unsatisfactory to run the fridge at night. Even getting up twice in the middle of the night to run it for an hour disturbs her to the point it isn't worth it to me, and besides that, who wants to get up every 3 hours for longer than it takes to pee.

    Question: Just how quiet are generators like the Honda or Predator? I thought about buying one to try it out, but there is a 20% restocking fee. Are they really quiet enough to sleep near?(20 ft away or so).
     
  21. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Earplugs are cheap, y’know.
     
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  22. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Check and see if you can rent one somewhere and see if you like it. I have been around a lot (I use to roadrace motorcycles) of the smaller generators (< 5kW) and although they are more expensive, the Honda gens are about the quietest. Yamaha is close. As I mentioned above, I also have a Champion (which I'd recommend for sure) and it is a great bang for the buck but is slightly louder. If they're near the side of the house with your bedroom you will still hear it for sure. But it's not an obnoxious loud generator more a medium level hum. I don't know if they have demos but maybe stop by a Camping World and see if they have one they can kick on.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022
  23. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    True in some cases. But now your moving into the commercial side of generators. Most residential standby gens run on either natural gas or propane with no cost difference. Water cooled is more commercial which those models start north of $10k. However, a more realistic comparison on the residential side would be a high end portable to a standby as that is what most homeowners use. For example, a Honda EU7000 inverter generator gives you 5500 watts for $5000 vs 24kw for less than $5000 (w/o transfer switch.) So it depends onhow you look at things.
    As compared to what? For a generator, its super quiet. Perhaps go to a campground or tailgate area at a college and see if any Hondas are running. When I used my 2200 for others things I kept the noise lower by using a plywood screen to channel the noise away. For a first time hurricane gen a small Honda is a great start plus you can take it anywhere the rest of the year.
     
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  24. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have a 6500 watt Honda water cooled.

    When the power is out, I run it for 2 - 3 hours in the morning. That gives me lights, coffee maker, microwave, water pump (for flushing) and cools the fridge and freezers.

    Then I run it 2 - 3 hours in the evening. Same idea, with a shower. I don't need it during the day (sunlight) or at night (asleep). I might fire it up a couple of times during the day if there is a lot of rain to drain the French drain sump.

    But less noise and less fuel used.

    Only problem is, I was on an international trip a few months ago, and the area lost power for an extended time. And I was not home to run the portable.

    I would love to have a whole house, but no natural gas. So either have to put in (and fill) a large propane tank or go diesel (more expensive). And propane, would require tearing up my fairly new driveway to run the line from the tank to the generator.
     
  25. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @Pinecone your mention of being away once when the power dropped reminded me. I'm not sure if a lot folks do this, but if you keep a small cup/glass of water in the freezer and let it freeze then put a coin on top of the frozen water, you'll have a great indicator as to if your power outage was long enough and maybe even came back on and let the freezer refreeze everything. You'll know if you need to dispose of the contents... if the coin is on the top of the ice still, you're good. If the coin is now frozen at the bottom of the glass/cup, not so good.
     
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  26. Steve Costello

    Steve Costello Pre-takeoff checklist

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    We have one of the 1000W Honda inverter generators for the occasional power outage here in St. Louis. It's not a glamorous setup when we lose power, but it works, and as long as the freezer and the fridge don't try to run at the same time, the gennie happily accommodates both, as our Internet equipment (assuming that hasn't been lost, as well) and battery charging. We also use the Ego line of lawn equipment, so I have several of the batteries as well as an inverter for them, so that's what we use to charge up portable devices. The vast majority of the time the Honda operates in eco mode, and in that mode, it's just really surprisingly quiet. You can have a normal conversation without raising your voice when standing directly over the generator, which is impressive to me considering the state of my hearing after spending 5 years on an aircraft carrier flight deck (machinery and crowd noise makes things pretty challenging for me).

    We got ours at a lawn equipment dealer, and most of them would be all too happy to start one up for you. Additionally, you can start small (with the 1000W gennie, which runs ~$1,000) and add on a companion generator later if you decide you need more juice.

    Also, since they have the eco mode, not only are they quiet 98% of the time, but they sip gas.
     
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  27. Steve Costello

    Steve Costello Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Neat tip!
     
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  28. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Why must you place it so close to the sleeping quarters? Get a long extension cord and set it out away from the house and/or use a board to deflect the sound away from the house. Even if it's raining you can generally just use a couple of pieces of plywood to keep them out of the worst of the elements.
     
  29. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    nah, you can water jet the line under the driveway... find a guy who has done it before.

    Paul
     
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  30. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why do you need power when you are sleeping?

    And leaving a generator outside, running, at night, is a beacon to someone who does not have one and wants one. CHEAP. :D
     
  31. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    More money. :D
    But good idea, it is not far.
     
  32. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When we have a hurricane and/or power outage we have ours running 24/7. Too damn hot/humid not to usually... tough to sleep without a fan. I've got a few beacons for someone wandering around in my backyard at night too... not so friendly kind of beacons...
     
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  33. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    I see you are in MD and not FL. When it's in the 80s at night and humid, it's very nice to have a fan running while sleeping.

    Also, overnight I let the refigerator and freezer run so they get all the way down to operating temperature. During the day, they're switched off about about half the time while I'm using the well pump or running other big loads.


    True, but somewhat neighborhood dependent. While we've had crime in the rural area where I live, we've never had a problem with post-storm looting. Everyone is well armed and word gets around not to mess with folks out in the country who have big dogs and big guns. Our Doberman is pretty good about alerting me when there's an intruder like a stray cat or a lost squirrel.

    Besides, the gennie is locked pretty well. For this past storm, we parked the horse trailer near the tack room, put the gen in the trailer and fished the cable over to the panel in the tack room. The trailer was kept locked at night. So a would-be thief would have to come through or over our locked farm gate, break into the locked trailer, shut off the running gennie while hoping that wouldn't awaken me, then wrestle a large and heavy generator back the way he came, all without disturbing the Dobie and without giving me a chance to get a shot off.

    There's easier prey to be found.
     
  34. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    another way to look at it: the generator is already loaded in a convenient mode of transportation...
     
  35. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    ...that was hitched and locked to a locked truck.

    Easier prey can be found.
     
  36. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I put a screw anchor into the ground with a PVC pipe & cap to protect it from the elements (which also makes it a ***** to unscrew), and chain my generator to it during use. Definitely still stealable, but not without bringing tools along.
     
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  37. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    As I've lost power and had it be out a week when it's been below zero and above 90, I went with a standby NG 13kW generator. Most we will be out of power is 20 seconfs so long as the NG is flowing. Yeah, it was 7-8k to have installed, but not really wanting to deal with frozen pipes and a frozen hot tub.
     
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