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FALPhil 10-14-2008 06:19 PM

Emergency power
 
This old geezer in my office (and he is really old, because I am an old fart, and he is older than me) and I were talking about possible scenarios in which we would find ourselves in the future. One of our concerns was power. He has a pretty effective and relatively cheap solution for emergency power needs.

He has two deep cycle marine 12v batteries in his cellar that are hooked up to a solar recharging panel on his roof. The batteries drive a DC/AC power inverter. He thinks this set up will enable him to run his refrigerator for about 8 hours in a 24 hour period, which should be enough if you only open it once a day.

I wanted to bounce this off of you guys and get your opinions.

Quasi 10-14-2008 06:35 PM

I read about a setup like that recently in a zombie novel which I can't remember the name of at the moment. Seems like a good setup if you're in an area that sees a lot of sun.

I'm thinking about getting a propane-powered standby generator, but then again I'm not sure why the gas line would be any more reliable than electricity.

Dillinger 10-14-2008 07:03 PM

I actually put in a Kohler back up generator and it's the Natural Gas type. I chose that over the propane for a couple of good reasons.

One - I work for the power & gas company and all of the "down time" for outages is reported every year. The power always takes major hits during storms because the lines are above ground coming from the source, like Bonneville Dam, so they are susceptible to trees and wind damage. Over half the lines in Washington State are above ground, well over half actually when you factor in the long run Transmission lines that carry the high end voltages.

The gas lines are all underground, and any time they can't go underground, like a bridge crossing, they have to be encased in steel and then that encased in concrete. Down at 36" the temp is always about 68 degrees, so you don't have much in the way of "nature" affecting the gas lines. We get a dig up here or there each year, but for the most part the gas reported outages are usually 1/50th or smaller of the total down time for the power lines just because of the nature of the beast. If a gas line is down for a neighborhood, usually it can be re-routed rather quickly by an automated system. Power lines being down have to be fielded by a crew and the reroutes are usually done by manpower in the field. There aren't many auto-switches on the main power lines in this area, or other parts of the country I have worked.

Second - I didn't have to install a propane tank and worry about it's condition, whether I had enough propane in there or not. The above ground units are ugly and the below ground units are a pain in the rear end because of all the procautions you have to take - unless you want to install them all on private property, out behind the house and just say "screw you" to the local inspectors, which is definitely your right.

So, after doing a lot of research, I went with the Kohler and an Automatic Transfer Switch, so within 10 seconds of the house power going down, the generator comes on line and house stays well lit, warm, and no doubt the envy of some of the neighbors. We live out on a lateral feed, only one pole line coming into our area, so when that one power line gets compromised, we can be out for DAYS.

The area I live in now was not where I was living when we got hit with those two back to back storms in late '06. The residents in my little area were without power for a week because of the house count versus miles of plant passed. There were just bigger areas to get back on for less work.

So far I have had it in for a little over a year, we have lost power twice and the unit came on line, worked perfectly, and I didn't even have to leave the comfort of the living room to make any changes. :D

JD

Quasi 10-14-2008 07:26 PM

That's good info, JD..thanks. We just had an electricity outage of about 2 days due to Ike remnants, so this is getting higher on the priority list.

Dillinger 10-14-2008 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Quasi (Post 45324)
That's good info, JD..thanks. We just had an electricity outage of about 2 days due to Ike remnants, so this is getting higher on the priority list.

Yeah, hit me up if you have some questions moving forward. I did a TON of research into these things before we purchased and I started with Kohler, because I knew the name, went around the horn and ended up right back with Kohler for a lot of reasons.

Lowe's actually had the exact model that I wanted, the 12RESL, with the kit that included the 100A ATS ( Automatic Transfer Switch ) for a year no interest, which was perfect. I was able to work a deal with a buddy ( he's an electrician who also did the home wiring for me ) to exchange the 100A for a 200A and now the whole house is wired into the unit.

The unit is really pretty quiet when it's running full tilt, and it's basically maintenance free. Do a service like once a year, less if it runs a lot, after the first year of service ( one service in the first two years ) and you are good to go.

The one thing that was a question was whether or not the standard gas line to the house would fire the thing off, and after much searching, it turns out the good folks at Kohler know what they are doing and a normal "residential" gas line and manifold will fire that baby off with no problems.

Since I usually have to work during storms in my area of operations, it's nice to know that the woman and the dog are home, safe and sound. A little peace for the mind in not having to worry about them as well. Plus we have satellite and wireless internet, so if the power is out, and the generator is on, she is still entertained and not calling me every 20 minutes wondering if I am coming home soon. :rolleyes:

I'll post a couple of pictures tonight if I remember to bring the camera home...

JD

BigO01 10-14-2008 07:38 PM

Sounds like you found the perfect solution there JD , way to go bud .

Two questions for you how long was the power out and can you recall how much of a difference running the Natural gas generator bumped up your gas bill for that month ?

Dillinger 10-14-2008 07:53 PM

You know, I was thinking someone was going to ask that ( $$ ) question, and I am going to have to say I have no friggin idea. :eek: I don't honestly know because the female unit handles the bills, I just fork over my half each month. I will see if I can find out.

Both times it was out in the last year, it's been about 3 to 5 hours, so definitely nothing to get in a twist over. However, one of the nights was a Sunday and being able to take a hot shower on Monday morning was definitely worth it. :D

I'll check on the financials tonight and see if she recalls the bills around that time...

JD

bkt 10-14-2008 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FALPhil (Post 45315)
This old geezer in my office (and he is really old, because I am an old fart, and he is older than me) and I were talking about possible scenarios in which we would find ourselves in the future. One of our concerns was power. He has a pretty effective and relatively cheap solution for emergency power needs.

He has two deep cycle marine 12v batteries in his cellar that are hooked up to a solar recharging panel on his roof. The batteries drive a DC/AC power inverter. He thinks this set up will enable him to run his refrigerator for about 8 hours in a 24 hour period, which should be enough if you only open it once a day.

I wanted to bounce this off of you guys and get your opinions.

Sounds a little optimistic to me. If I were him, I'd get a bunch more batteries and boost the voltage/amperage. Of course, it depends on the draw of the fridge.

His basic principle is sound: that's how alternative energy set-ups work. You have wind/solar/microhydroelectric units trickle-charging a bank of batteries which run through an inverter to provide a house regular A/C current.

Two 12v batteries may not cut it.

FALPhil 10-14-2008 10:15 PM

Well, we do live in the sunbelt. I was kinda thinking that two batteries were not enough, and that four might be more viable, but at four, you need a battery compartment with spark free ventilation. I don't think that 2 batteries would produce enough hydrogen gas to be too much of a problem.

I like JD's idea of a natural gas powered generator. However, I live in a situation that if civil unrest was the SHTF scenario, gas would be cut off in short order. My county is always butting heads with the city across the river, where the gas is.

Dillinger 10-15-2008 01:56 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Here's a picture of the generator itself & here is a picture of the tie in to the existing Natural Gas Manifold:


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