I'm at day 7 in Cincinnati off the grid - which is nothing to cry about
considering the carnage in Texas!
I have a 30 year old 3500 watt generator from Sears. So far, it's
working fine. But I've been reading some of the threads about inverter
generators (which I had never heard of) and I would like to get some
opinions. I pulled the battery from my Ford Explorer and I use it at
night along with this:
During the day I recharge the car battery using a separate 12V output on
the generator that provides up to 8 amps. Funny, I used to wonder why
the hell I would need this. Anyway, today I am going to have to run my
business desktop PC for a while. Would I be better off hooking the car
battery to the generator 12V to keep it charged, then also hooking up
the inverter and running the PC off of it? I realize that I have a
cheap inverter but would the power out of it be less likely to feed a
spike or low voltage to my PC than this tired old generator? Or maybe
just charge the battery for a few hours and then just use the battery
and the inverter and do my work quickly?
This is the best photo I've found so far of the generator and the guy
has the engine partially disassembled:
Are the local big-boxes open? If so, go buy a cheap UPS unit, and put
that between your PC and your power, to clean it up at least a little.
This isn't a table saw- you are not only putting the PC at risk if a
power glitch happens, you are putting your data at risk, like if you
happen to be in the middle of a disk write when it all goes dark or
spikes. Laptops are better this way- they have some power filtering
built in. If the big-boxes are closed, inverter from battery, with no
running engine involved, is the safest. When picture starts flickering,
save your work and shut down. My agency has lost a lot of PCs and other
computer equipment, over in the sandbox, due to running them off dirty
If you're running on dirty generator power and you want to have a UPS, you
should go for either low-end or high-end. Don't get anything in the middle.
The low-end UPS won't be very picky. It will let anything through. It could
be rough on your electronic equipment, but that's another issue. The
high-end UPS might have the ability to clean up the power, but you should
read the accompanying literature first to make sure it's recommended for use
with a generator. The middle-range UPS will go into a frenzy, switching back
and forth between battery and mains every few seconds - or it might just get
so horrified by what it sees that it turns itself off altogether.
Hint - you can stabilize the generator output a little bit by putting a
steady inductive load on it - assuming it has enough capacity to carry that
load, along with its other loads. I always run a dehumidifier at the maximum
setting when I'm on generator power. It's not a perfect solution, but it
does help - and the basement smells so clean and dry and fresh afterward.
I've been watching the deal sites for a good price on a quality UPS for
a while now. Eventually I will have one.
The battery from the Explorer with the 1200/3600 watt inverter got me
through my critical processes. But I may be teetering on the brink of
insanity here on day 8. I skip right over ads that have models in
skimpy outfits and drool over the Honda EU2000 pictures.............
While you didn't ask me, I'll be glad to share some lessons learned.
I had a generator and five gallons of stabilized gas. That should, I
thought, get me through the onset of any disaster.
Then came Ike.
NO ELECTRICITY to over 2.1 million customers, including EVERY FRICKIN' GAS
STATION for sixty miles in any direction. The stations HAD gas, but no way
to get it to your tank! Even today, ten days after the hurricane, 34% of
customers in the Houston area (767,000 users, about 2.4 million people) are
Next hurricane, I'm gonna hoard gas, just like beer and strawberry
Strangely, our legislature passed a law mandating gas stations on evacuation
routes stock up to 85% capacity in advance of an impending emergency, but
the law says nothing about emergency power generation for these stations.
There was at least one report of fatalities due to running the generator in
an attached garage. Paramedics found a family of four dead and a generator
with an empty gas tank in the garage. That's four people dead out of tens of
thousands who used generators. Expect legislation mandating CO detectors to
be sold with every generator (like trigger-locks on pistols).
I had mine running outside, in the rain and wind. Inclement weather didn't
bother it a bit. Remember, these things are DESIGNED to be used in hostile
environments - a little moisture or leaves or wind shouldn't bother the
A side benefit of the generator being louder than the Hinges on the gates of
Hell is that the noise encourages the user to keep the door and windows in
its vicinity closed.
I remember once, the owner of a hardware store commenting on all the
people coming to his store during a week of heavy snowfall looking for
snow shovels. He said they should have thought ahead and bought one
before they needed it. I gently pointed out to him, that if he had so
much better foresight, he should have stocked enough snowshovels for
the anticipated rush.
Meanwhile, I'll bet part of the reason they want those gas station
tanks full is so that FEMA and other emergency vehicles can pump it
directly out of the underground tanks using a portable pump.
Can't do that cost effectively...by the time it's certain there actually
will be an unusual event it's too late to get additional stock in. And,
if over stock, that's simply unsold inventory eating up operating
capital. I'm w/ the owner...stock based on long term history.
Possibly, but I think they tend to bring their own fuel reserves rather
than relying on local supplies except for very unusual circumstances, at
least in the very short term.
Well, I'm certain I'm not on the first as a general premise of operating
a retail operation cost-effectively and pretty sure on the second (by
watching FEMA and National Guard in particular in action locally).
What evidence have you to the contrary?
It's cost effective to purchase and store stuff far beyond what is
normally sold, taking warehouse and shelf space away from other
merchandise that could be sold instead?
The problem is as previously noted -- by the time one finds out there's
going to be more than a normal demand, it is almost certainly too late
to receive more before the rush short-term demand is over.
If, otoh, you're so prescient as to be able to do things like that,
you'd be far better off spending your time at the race track or similar
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