It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged about gear. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped collecting gear, but I have slowed down considerably. My new goal is to master the gear I already own rather than continue piling up all kinds of neat toys that I may or may not ever need.
Summer is winding down and the conscientious collapsitarian’s awareness is shifting from growing and storing food to hunkering down and surviving the coming winter. I’ll be the first to admit I was dead wrong with my prediction about last winter. It ended up being rather mild and what snow we got fell in small amounts and tended to melt quickly. Does my gut think we’re in for another winter like that? I don’t know, my gut hasn’t decided yet. In the meantime, it’s hurricane season. If you live within a few hundred miles of the ocean and still don’t have a generator, you’re taking a big risk. “Superstorm” Sandy was the biggest storm on the East Coast last year and it wasn’t even a proper hurricane. New Jersey is still cleaning up from the mess. Of course, the North American Derecho of 2012 caused me the most inconvenience (our power was out for a week) and I swore I’d never be without a generator again.
Here’s what I got: a Generac 5500 portable propane generator. It runs off of 20 or 30 pound cylinders like you’d use on a gas grill. It is portable so I can keep it inside when it’s not in use, and it produces 5500 watts – or about the bare minimum you’d need to power most major household appliances (one or two at a time).
Being one of those guys who can’t leave something bone-stock, I immediately customized my Generac with a 12 foot low pressure hose with a built-in regulator. This allows me to skip those small bottles and run directly off my 250 gallon above ground propane tank. For about $30, I just took my generator from a multi-hour power source to a multi-day power source. Considering the tank is never more than 70% full and I also run my pool heater and a fireplace insert off it, I figure I might be able to run my generator for nearly a week if I’m careful. When the tank runs dry, I’ll switch back to my stash of 20 gallon bottles.
You’re probably wondering how the power is distributed.
The former owner was kind enough to run a 30 amp circuit from the dedicated generator sub-panel in the basement to the outside of the house. The gas line from the tank is visible to the left of the connection box.
All I needed to run my generator was a quality power cable.
If I had to pay to have all the infrastructure installed to support my generator, I would’ve paid two to three times more than I did. As it was, I spent nearly a grand. Which isn’t bad when you consider I was fully prepared last year to drop $10k on a permanently installed natural gas standby generator. But as I’m sure you’ll agree; spending that kind of money is silly when you’re a farmer who still doesn’t own a truck!