My sister lives in an area where the power goes out frequently. She
has asked me more than once to "just" come out and add a plug for her
so she can use a generator to keep her food from going bad. This is
never going to happen. Not so much because I would not do it for her,
it is more because after the first season or two of no maintenance on
her generator, it would not crank anyway. I know this from listening
to the kids complain about the four wheelers not working or the
lawnmower is "broke"
If I were to set her up with a generator, I think I would add a lock
out switch to her existing panel. This way, she could use anything in
her house. The only bad thing about doing this would be if she could
not use self control and try to overload the circuit. Having the
breaker trip a few times might give her the message.
When the power goes off, just turn the breakers off to the bedrooms
and huddle in the den with TV and gas heat.
I have suggested that to her. Use a cooler for sandwich meat/milk
and leave the door to the fridge shut.
She lives in Alabama so it doesn't get really cold, but suggested that
she try to put a couple of those cooler ice packs outside and see if
they refreeze. (winter time outages, of course)
My generator plugs into a transfer panel which controls freezers,
refrigerator, well and furnace, few lights and TV. Since not everything
runs or turns on at once, the generator can handle everything it is
connected to. It does not include big ticket items like electric range,
microwave, air conditioner or electric hot water heater.
If all your sister needs is to control refrigerator, a small generator
plugged into an extension cord would do. It is a PITA to make sure
gasoline is fresh and run every now and then to make sure lines are
clean and it works. My wife and I are getting older and I doubt if she
could handle it herself.
Sounds like a case for one of the relatively inexpensive nat/lp gas
fueled automatic backup generator packages. Automatic transfer switch
for the loads it can handle, automatic exerciser, nat/lp fuel so no
gasoline going stale, etc. If you can make sure it gets an oil change
each year with good synthetic oil it should do just fine.
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