The Backup Plan

Blog entry by ReubenD posted 10-02-2014 03:01 PM 8501 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Every good plan has one important aspect- a backup plan for when thing go wrong and something changes. I feel the same way about my house. Living in a place that routinely gets 60 plus inches of snow across a winter and has January nights hitting minus 20f, having a backup heat source and power source is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

While I heat mostly with wood pellets because I like the idea of “carbon neutral” and sustainable heating plus it is much cheaper than oil or electric heat in this area, there are some things to remember about it. First, if the electric goes out because of an ice storm, we have no heat. Also, there are lots of augers and fans in a pellet stove and while they are reasonably reliable, they are not as reliable as electric heat or oil furnace. They can and do break down and most often you need to order parts so when they break down it is several days.

I have several larger electric infra-red heaters for the bedrooms and living room in case they are needed, plus I have 2 fireplaces that while are made for ambiance will keep areas of the house warmer in a pinch. The important part of the backup plan is the electric generator. We are in a rural area so when we lose power, though it is infrequent, 12 plus hours is the norm. A few years ago we lost power for 3 days in the dead of winter.

It was that winter that I figured out just having a generator in the garage was of little use. For a real backup power supply, it has to be hard wired into your electric box. The way we had ours installed after that, as soon as the power goes out I flip a switch and I have power back to the whole house again. While it is not enough to run every appliance, heater, and vacuum in the house full bore, it is more than enough to have lights, heat, telephone, and even basic comforts. It is so simple my wife or 15 year old daughter can do it. There is even an upgrade available where it does it automatically.

The trick to this system is adequate ventilation for the generator, and to remember to have a reasonable supply of gas or diesel as appropriate on hand to run it for a few days. It does no good to have a generator capable of running everything but only a gallon of fuel that will be gone in 3 hours. Between the generators, a supply of wood for the fireplaces, and keeping a good supply of food and stuff on hand, as we go into the winter months the backup plan is ready. Now if only I could convince myself I was ready for the colder weather.

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169 posts in 1010 days

posted 10-03-2014 11:20 AM

If you have fuel oil heat, go with a diesel generator. They both run on #2 diesel. The thing that you have to be careful of, as soon as you loose power, call your oil supplier for more fuel, it does not take long to go through 100 gal of fuel. The other option is to go to the service station and get some diesel oil. The only differences are the color – to denote whether the highway taxes are paid and price – the highway taxes.

Same with LP gas, if you put in a LP gas powered generator, put in a bigger tank for LP, you will be glad you did and again, when you run that generator a few hours – other than the normal charge cycle, schedule to refill.

Remember this, fuel (gasoline and oil) have a shelf life and is worse than worthless when sitting in a can for too long. When your area has been knocked out from a storm, you can bet the local gas station has too.

-- Love woodworking and fixing most anything

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29 posts in 817 days

posted 10-29-2014 07:19 AM

Having an actual flame power and heat source – I think it’s such a homely and rustic idea! Thanks for the ideas on the kinds and types of generators that we should be looking at. I would really be a lot more concerned about the by products of the burning and moving and removals of all the smoke generated though, and it’s definitely a good idea to get things tested out before using it as the sole source of power in winter.

-- Marcio Wilges @ http://www.platinumremovals.com.au/

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posted 05-26-2015 08:38 AM

First of all having a backup plan in you case is a necessity yea. Then considering a wooden pallets is easier, but not so reliable. I would suggest using a generator, but having him power only the basic or the most important technique. There is no point for using only for a few hours.

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