So this protracted wrangling of mine, over car/battery inverters vs. trad'l gensets, has been solved: I ordered BOTH.... LOL But the "real working solution" seems to be a genset, in this case a tri-fuel.
The inverter thing *could* work, but from other recent threads, it seems that this strat just turns into a bear. I did order two inverters (1500 and 2500 W cobras) to experiment with, but not nec. for house power -- altho when I set it up, I'll screw around with that as well.
What I finally did was order one of these: http://www.generatorsales.com/order/Honda-16kw-Propane-Generator.asp?page=H04599 and one of these: http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/CatalogItemDetail.aspx?R=EXH40001_0306020503
so's I can run the unit inside. The unit I ordered is actually a tri-fuel, but it has no gas tank, but can siphon from any container, which is pretty neat.
The total bill is $3K, MUCH more than I wanted to spend (PLUS my stolen $1K BlackMax -- goodgawd), but bottom line, this Sandy thing just spooked me big time, PLUS this being the 3rd major weather event around here in 1.5 years. I've lucked out in all three, but that's all it was, luck.
Now, this unit may not be for everyone, and here are some of the pro's/con's.
Like virtually all "affordable" units, this thing will sound like a goddamm lawnmower -- don't listen to those bullshit decibel claims. A true automotive muffler might help (either replacing the original, or placed in series with the existing) can help a bit, but a sound-proofed enclosure box is a better (albeit more troublesome) solution. If you want an intrinsically quiiet unit, quiet will double, triple the price at a given wattage, eg, the Honda EU series. Or buy an Onan.... lol But actually, you can find them on craig's list, rel. cheap. Just have yer fork lift ready..... . The above unit is a very compact unit, with no wheels, but then that's why God invented dolly's. Not that heavy for the wattage, about 240#.
You can make it fully automatic, like the Generac standby's, but to me that's just pita complexity, UNLESS it's for a second home or sumpn. Btw, you can get a 8 kW Generac (7 kW continuous, then de-rated for nat gas) for considerably cheaper ($1800-2000), but at half the watts of my unit. And the generac is a fairly big box (almost like a small storage shed, you can see them at HD), vs. the above unit, which is like a large suitcase. And generac reliability seems to be iffy. The above unit is Honder-powered.
Tri-fuel, imo, is Da Bomb, makes the unit very versatile, I can throw it on m'truck anytime, for whatever -- not for camping, tho, too noisy, unless you build a really good box. Car inverters would proly be better for camping, it would seem. But for long outages, natural gas is *by far* the best way to go, followed by propane, then gasoline.
15 kW is proly more than most people need, but I have sizable sq ft and a shop, so I figgered I might as well just take the plunge.
Vic Smith is very right about the cost/benefit/probability considerations, and no doubt I "overpaid" in this regard, but I really got spooked this time, and the utilities are telling people, flat out, they're not getting power 'til Nov 15...... at best. Holy shit.... Dat easily coulda been me. My rich fuckhead neighbors (bunches of them) were without power for a full week. The MAYOR is without power, in a city of 200,000++ ... !!!! I believe that like the Halloween snow storm, some people will be without power for a month.
So, I overpaid, probability-wise, but at least now I can sleep, and if shit happens, at least I'll be able to keep the shop going.. AND I got those inverters coming.... lol
Sam's club BlackMax (8750 peak, 7500 continuous) is a good unit, and the above site sells them, in both gasoline AND tri-fuel models. The BlackMax at Sam's is $1K, the tri-fuel from the above site is about $1500. You could modify the blackmax yourself with tri-fuel kits ($150-200, many sites, incl the above), but if I had it to do over, I'da ordered the tri-fuel version, pay the difference for peace of mind, no futzing around.
Before the blackmax walked, I tested it fairly extensively, with CNC machining equip, pyooters, compressors, you name it, wow, what a stable workhorse, very impressive. The only thing that made it really hiccup was starting a 5 hp rpc., whose hiccup I think I could have reduced by starting a 2 hp rpc first. But overall impressive.
So for half of what I paid, most people would do very very well with that modified blackmax (with the wheels, etc). Noisy tho, and doesn't have an "automotive type" muffler, like the one I just ordered, which means it will be more difficult to put another muffler on, but not super-difficult, just a pita. You would not, without some kind of custom adatper, be able to install that flex hose above, whereas on the unit I ordered, it (theoretically) clamps right on the muffler flange.
I believe the car inverter strat is workable, but the Q is how workable, AND at what risk to the car, alternator. After much flipflopping, I just decided to bite the $3K bullet. Oh, and another thing, in a real shit scenario like what we have now -- no power AND no gasoline!!! -- the car inverter fails as well, another consideration.
If you have a nat gas generator, AND an electric car, yer pretty much set. I was seriously contemplating trading in one vehicle for a Chevy Volt, but just too much dough, AND an interim solution is real simple: Just store oodles of gas. None of these electrics pay for themselves, vs. the economy gas equiv. The new Pruis C proly does tho, if you get the base model, $18k, 50+ mpg.... one forum was talking about 65 mpg.... which gives it, like, an 800 mile range!! Holy shit....
So, inyway, just the wranglings of another struggling home-moaner, taking it in the ass, along with the (w)hole of working Merka..... which of course will get lots worse, regardless of who wins today. I believe, tho, that Romney actually ENJOYS fucking the working class (since he made a career out of it at Bain), while Obama just accepts a fucked working class as "collateral damage". Still, we're fucked either way.