Generators wont always work. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

A couple of minutes ago a transformer blew up a mile from here. Whats interesting is not the transformer explosion, but the fact that the firehouse, a 1/4 mile away, lost power and their generator wont work. Its happening right now !

The fire departments computers are not Y2k ready and now we find out the hard way the generator wont work on demand.

No remediation, No contingency.

-- Fat Tony (, August 04, 1999


Generator may have been sitting there for years with (1) no gas, or (2) the gas is old, (3) the battery is dead, (4) no maintenance was done (5) no oil in the generator who knows? People think that just because they have a generator that all their troubles will be solved. I don't have one because it takes fuel to run a generator and spare parts. And what your experiencing now is another reason I don't own a generator, you can't depend on them to work all the time.

-- (, August 04, 1999.

Its important, for those who have electric generators, to fire them up every 3-4 weeks, just to keep them active for a few hours, and to have the confidence that they will work when you need them to.

-- Jack (, August 04, 1999.

I deliberately chose not to purchase a generator. I decided I could "drop back" to pre electric easier and much cheaper than dealing with the problems and dangers inherent in buying and keeping the generator as well as storing the fuel.

If things go bad, do you want to be the only lit house on the block?

-- Jon Williamson (, August 04, 1999.

I agree. I bought a generator, then I realized that it was a bad decision.

1. They are expensive.

2. Hooking them up to your household current is more expensive.

3. Gasoline storage is one HELL OF A BIG PROBLEM in a suburb. Gas vapors alone with ANY spark can cause an explosion (most people don't realize how explosive Gasoline is). You could blow your house up and your neighbors houses up as well. It makes me shudder to think of people with their 55 gallon cheapo drums of gasoline stored up in a suburb.

4. Run time and reliability are short.

5. Being lit up like a christmas tree with a noisy generator is an invite for trouble.

You are much better off with a good (newer) wood insert and oil lamps. Wood always burns and the newer inserts work much better than the old ones did.

-- Bryce (, August 04, 1999.

FIRST: if you own a generator, you SHOULD run it once a week and put about 50% load on it.

SECOND: Why is it that people make so many ignorant assumptions about generators?

Look, I researched these damn things for MONTHS before I placed an order. The one I got is powered by natural gas, with propane as a "secondary" fuel. I also installed a 500 gallon propane tank in the back yard. When I had the unit plumbed, I instructed the heating/cooling people to valve it so that I could turn off "city gas", and re-route the propane into the house NG plumbing to run the furnace. A propane conversion kit for the furnace completes the picture.

The unit is as quiet as a central a/c unit (ordered with a "hospital- grade" muffler), and very reliable.

Was it expensive? You bet. (What would you EXPECT to pay for a 20kW dual-fuel generator?) Wiring was also pricey, but well worth the cost. I live 15 minutes from Minneapolis. In January, it is COMMON for the temp to be 20 deg BELOW ZERO, with a -60 wind chill. Do you REALLY want to be living without power, and trying to stay warm from a fireplace, in a climate like that??? I wish you the best in that scenario. I chose a different path. Wood heat will be my tertiary position, and will only be used if there is EXTENDED infrastructure collapse, which I sincerely hope does NOT happen.

In the mean time, with judicious use, I can run "off the grid" for 4- 6 weeks without resupply. Hope that's enough.

Check out the Juice Page for the straight skinny on generators. And do your research. (BTW, lead time on my model is now 18 weeks, so you better hurry. And you'll NEVER find one of these at Sam's Club, Home Depot, or Costco!)

-- Dennis (, August 04, 1999.

i think both of you came to a bad decision by not exploring all of the answers. if you think there will be more than a bump in the road and you want to protect your life style and family comfort and health.. i installed a diesel gen. and a 4000 w. inverter with 12 industrial L-16 batteries. i just got it going 2 days ago. the whole house works fine including vcr,tv, micro wave, and now i am checking out the computer to see if it works. have been on it for 1 hr. and all seems to work fine. i also have 1500 gal of diesel fuel and 2/500gal tanks of propane. this mite sound crazy but i started this in 1995 not because of y2k but because i live on a cattle ranch in no where in texas and the electrical was always out for some reason or another. y2k has come at a good time for me. if y2k in nothing i am still doing what i was going to do anyway bob

-- bob (, August 04, 1999.

Dennis, not knocking your preps, guy, but isn't it awfully expensive to use a generator to run your heating system? My neighbor used to be hooked up to my house's current while he built his place, but once,when the power was out, he had to run his generator for three days, and it cost him forty-five bucks worth of gasoline (and this was twenty odd years ago) just for basic lights and stuff, and for the fan on his propane furnace. (J.B., I know you're lurking here, please correct me if I've got the figures wrong)

How much propane does your generator burn per hour? How often do you plan to run it?

I am happy to say that I live in a rather mild climate, and I have been happily heating with wood for twenty-four years; however, I have heard from others who live in Minnesota and other cold places that their wood stoves (as opposed to fireplaces) heat their houses just fine. Anyone here who can verify that?


-- jumpoffjoe (, August 04, 1999.

i agree, generator is for strictly short-term plans. we have one, but our electrical service is prone to 4-hour to 4-day losses in winter anyway. woodstove for heat and oil for lamps. if things look to go bad at rollover, first priority for the generator is to can all the food in the freezer, then just pump water as needed (shallow well, we can use a hand pump or even drop a bucket when the gasoline runs out).

-- Cowardly Lion (, August 04, 1999.

Are there embedded chips in generators?

Just wondering.

-- R (, August 04, 1999.

Since I live in a warm clime, there was a time when I thought "If the power goes off, might as well get used to it." But then, horrors! I was tormented with the idea of being stuck with warm beer!

Plus my buddy at the equipment place got me a great deal on a Honda, so I bit. It is big enough to to start the motor of a chest freezer, which I will keep stocked to the gills with ice (bagged and frozen 2 liter bottles) which I will replace as used. I will cover the freezer with a box made from hard insulation after the electric motor kicks off. If the juice goes out for any length of time I will only have to fire up the genny for a couple of hours a day, at the most. Gas will last a long time that way, and unless we are totally doomed to extinction, I should be able to drink a cold brew whenever required.


-- Uncle Deedah (, August 04, 1999.

My genny uses about 90 CFH of natural gas at 25% load (5kW). Yes, it would be expensive to run the house full-time on it. I estimated that cost to be about $500-$600/month. Propane is currently at about $0.65/gallon. NG is whatever the utility charges.

If we needed to run off the grid, I would assume that we'd only run it 4-8 hours/day, unless it got really cold. (?!?)

We do have a fireplace insert, and will get wood for it in a few weeks. I am hopeful that: 1) we won't lose power at all, or 2) if we DO, it'll only be for a few days or a week. BUT, you just don't know....

Highest on our current list is 2 GOOD pair of night vision goggles, another 1000-2000 rds of .223, another 300 12g shells, and another mini-14 & Mossberg shotgun. Also, another 2 months' food. Then comes 3 cords of firewood.

Here's to not needing ANY of it!!

-- Dennis (, August 04, 1999.

I have a deisel genset and will be using it to charge the deep-cycle batteries I have. This way, every little bit of juice will be used. I need electricity to power the well and the furnace (also oil based).

If my calculations are correct I should only have to run it once every 2-3 days for about 8 hours. That gives us water, heat, and I have propane for cooking. Deisel is easy to store (same as home heating oil) and the genset only burns about 3/4 gal per hour at full load (5000kw). If the lights go off, it'll be worth every penny to my family.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), August 04, 1999.

JOJ, I live not too far from you, up I-5 from Jump Off Joe Creek in Azalea. I'm installing a dual-fuel generator primarily to run my well pump. With water and stored food, we can live pretty well here in the woods, and take care of ourselves and our animals. The generator will allow my DWGI "Virgo" wife to do laundry and keep the house clean ...which is especially vital if we have to take in her relatives from Grants Pass... which I suspect may be necessary, as they aren't preparing. I'm also converting my electric tank water heater and stovetop to propane units, so we'll be grid-independent in that respect, too.

These are things I'd planned to do sometime in the future, as money became available. Y2K is just forcing my hand sooner than expected. Good luck with your preps!

-- Norm Harrold (, August 04, 1999.

Dennis is loosing it. We are talking about generators and he is going nuts with getting thousands of rounds of ammo.

Someone said something about him imploding a few weeks ago, I think its happening soon.

-- Cow (, August 04, 1999.

Actually, Cow, I know Dennis, and he is quite sane.

-- MinnesotaSmith (, August 04, 1999.

Cowardly lion -

You have a hand pump on a shallow well, and you're gonna use gasoline, even a little bit, to pump water? You are cowardly - afraid of work.

Do you have any idea how many people wish their wells were shallow enough for a hand pump? Or wish they had wells?

And I hope you didn't mean "as needed" literally. It is far more efficient to pump a lot of water into a drum or buckets than to run the pump whenever you need water.

P.S. If you are really old or handicapped or something then I apologize.

-- biker (, August 04, 1999.


sorry if i didn't elaborate enough on plans. gen will run infrequently, to keep some batteries charged up, and to fill 55 gallon drums with well water. hand pump is currently on (second) well used for livestock, will be transferred to main well as needed. when hand pump is transferred, second well goes to 'bucket on rope' method.

just because i'm trying to minimize manual output doesn't mean i'm scared of work. thanx for the thoughts, anyway.

-- Cowardly Lion (, August 05, 1999.

Lets look @ some issues:

1) generators are horribly expensive - so build yer own!

2) generators burn lots of gas that has to be stored - so use the smallest, cheapest ,and do up a budget of what you NEED - not what U want. I agee with the author who says Shelter, warmth, water & food are NEEDS - everthing else is WANTS

To survive - even in VERY cold Minnesota/North Dakota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan etc winters - you need a way to keep the house from freezing & bursting pipes (thus rendering your shelter useless!). If it is -40 out there, you don't need to run the freezer, right?

Being all lit up, and esp being the only well-lit place around may invite some "new friends to drop by"

Try a 12 Volt rig for absolute basics - and an inverter for the "stuff" that just has to be 110V - and keep that stuff to absolute minimum. DO NOT use your car to recharge the 12 V. Use your old lawnmower engine to power an alternator (GM ones with internal regulator work best!) to charge batteries

Build it yourself, save a bundle, operates for long periods on very little gas (after all the lawnmower goes about an hour or so on the tiny (about a quart/liter) tank, right?

-- Dave (, August 05, 1999.

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