This may have been asked before but I know nothing about generators. I am wondering what kind of generator to buy or make that will cost very little and will have the capacity to run at least most of what a family of 6 needs. Maybe I'm asking for a miracle. Any suggestions. SPECIFIC please I'm totally uneducated on this issue.


-- Hadassah Victor (, October 10, 1998


This type of question seems to come up often. First, are you sure you want to buy a generator? They require a quite a bit of fuel, which is difficult to store for many people. Also consider that gasoline is dangerous to store in large quantities.

Myself, I live in a small city residential neighborhood in the Midwest, so the #1 priority is heat. For this I have a kerosene heater ($130) and 55 gal. of kerosene ($100). Although this is only a few weeks worth of heat (at livable, but not balmy indoor temps) it is much less expensive, difficult and dangerous than the generator route. Light can be provided with lanterns, candles, and battery operated lights.

If you really want a generator, you might consider a used one, to save money. I looked at small ones which started at $350 new, and went up from there. Others here can make more specific suggestions. Good luck.

-- Mike (, October 10, 1998.

Something to think about as we were contemplating a generator, #1 tooo costly to buy and fuel. Like above we live where it is COLD, so kero heater...great idea. cheaper too....ALSO< Consider this VERY HARD>>>>IF u live in the City, Generators are VERY noisy, r u willing to Fight/lose your life for it?? Do as almost all teh rest, look broke, act broke and stay SAFE. hope i helped a lil bit.

-- serious (, October 10, 1998.

Losing your life is an excellent point. If it is dark for days in my area and I had a generator outside, humming away I would think I am just asking for someone to come and make a try for it. Don't take the risk. I'm looking into battery power and a low draw small refrigerator to keep things like my wife's insulin c

-- Michael Taylor (, October 10, 1998.

There are no miracles such as you wish for. There is no such thing as a cheap generator that will supply "most of what a family of six needs."

But more to the point. What is your family of six going to eat? Do you have that handled yet? How about water? Two gallons per person per day, for what, a month, two? Where are you, in the city? Probably, and that is not good, nosiree.

Something tells me that none of these things are done, stocked and locked. Power, my friend is the least of your worries.

Good luck, I hope you are a quick study.

-- Will Huett (, October 10, 1998.

I opened my front door today at 7:00 a.m. i live in the city. The streetlight (just one) was out, MAN WAS IT DARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just imagine the hummm of a generator and seeing light? Imagine some soul searching the nite for the light, and hearing he can see your lights on and hear, but OUT there it is dark....Is IT worth the loss of your life? I do not think so. To see what u may need, test yourself, go one day without electricity, you'll find out real quick what you will need.

-- meagain (, October 11, 1998.

Thanks for the info. I am wondering where one would buy a kerosene heater.

Also I live in a small town near a larger city (100,000) we are right on a large 80 mile long lake which will do for water. Food I have begun storing. Will keep mainly veggies from my garden next year, canned good (fruit and such that I will can myself) and lots of wheat, rice and legumes. Tuna also I guess.

As far a cooking we may put in a wood stove and will cook on that. Keeping our food cold may be an issue. Do you think we are looking at a month without power or more like 6 months to a year? Just bought TB 2000 and started it last night. I am a pretty quick study when Im motivated. Which I am right now.

Any more suggestions would of course be welcome.


-- Hadassah (, October 11, 1998.

Last time I checked, Sears sold kerosene heaters. Seek and you shall find, Hadassah.

-- Amy Leone (, October 12, 1998.

We bought a kerosene heater at Wal-mart.Make sure it doesnt need electricity,we had an old one from sears that had an electronic ignition and fan.Dont think that one would be to useful! Laura

-- (, October 12, 1998.

I found two different sized heaters in a camping goods store; prices were pretty good.

-- Tricia the Canuck (, October 13, 1998.

"I am wondering what kind of generator to buy or make that will cost very little and will have the capacity to run at least most of what a family of 6 needs. Maybe I'm asking for a miracle."

Sorry to say you are Hadassah....but your post brings up some interesting thoughts.

What does a family of 6 really need to survive? If you think this means powering your refridgerator, running a well pump, running the TV, microwave, washer and dryer and 3 or 4 75 watt lights it will take a substanial amount of power and investment to do this. Your needs are also very site/locale specific.

Were I in your shoes I'd be considering what I needed at an absolute minimum for power and what I'd need it for. Clothes can be washed by hand and hung to dry, food that doesn't require refridgeration can be had, food can be cooked on a propane or white gas stove, etc. Certainly not convienient but cheap and doable.

What I really need power for is lighting and newsgathering (radio primarily and perhaps a small TV). Yes, you might use candles or oil lamps for light but, particularly in a home with kids involved, I consider these to be dangerous. I have both of the above but use them rarely.

I live off-grid and make my own power with solar power and a small DC (direct current 12 volt) generator. 25 years ago before the current technology was available I used car tail light bulbs in my mountain top home and a car radio (both scrounged from a junked car). I also used a car battery (a poor choice but they are cheap) which I charged by hooking it up to my truck battery (jumper cables) and then running the motor. I was in heaven compared to the days when I had no power at all; I didn't have to fuel the kerosene lamps, trim their wicks or clean their glass chimmneys. I also didn't have to buy disposable batteries for the radio. I washed my clothes in a tub outside and hung them in the sun to dry and made heat for cooking and warmth with the woodstove. Some would consider this existence terribly draconian but when speaking of survival you either gear-up or make do.

If I had $200 bucks to spend on a power system I'd find a decent used lawnmower (primarily for the engine), remove the blade, put a 7 inch pulley on the output shaft, mount an auto alternator (one with an internal regulator) to the mower deck and find a fan belt of appropriate size to link the two (or take the motor off and mount it and the alternator to a heavy board or piece of metal). The I'd go to my local battery shop and buy a couple used golf car deep cycle batts for $50 ($25 per...they are 6 volt and you'd need two in series...linked positive to negative in-line for 12 volts). I'd use this setup to generate a minimal amount of power each day to get light and power a radio.

In developing countries where power isn't available from the grid and folks are using small solar power systems light, radio and a small DC powered TV are usually the first adopted priority items.

Don Kulha Home Power Magazine, The Hands-On Journal of Home-Made Power

-- Don Kulha (, August 18, 1999.


I, likewise don't have a gasoline powered generator, for all the reasons above (I do have a wind genset, with batteries). I suggest you look in the archives of the prep forum for much specific info.

Also, if you determine thet a generator is essential for your situation, I might suggest you find a small used travel trailer or motorhome. You say you have little money to spend, so finance the thing for as long as possible. If Y2K is recoverable, you sell it to recoup your investment; if it's a 10+, who cares if you don't get to pay it off.

Another advantage of the small RV, is that they usually have both generators, already wired into the system, and a propane system for heat, cooking and refrigerator. You can easily heat it, and easily light it with lamps or candles. And, finally, it offers you a bug-out option, should you need one. Just remember, all of this takes fuel, and that may be the rub if not prepared for.

Best of luck.

-- Lon Frank (, August 18, 1999.

Whoa, I just realized this thread is ten months old! Helloooo, are you still on the line, Hadassah?

(Don, you didn't revive the thread just to plug your magazine, now did you?) :

-- Lon Frank (, August 18, 1999.

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