Of power outages and generators

Three power outages in the past few weeks, and the current one looks like it is going to last for a few days — or more.

It seems to come with the turf when you live in the mountains of Quebec. A few huffs and puffs from Mother Nature, and the hydro infrastructure flickers and dies.

Today’s so-called wind storm, with gusts between 50 and 75 km/h, caused hundreds of power outages across the province, leaving many people — about 160,000 paying clients — in the dark, some for days, apparently.

My home has a fireplace, wood stove, lanterns etc. But living without hydro electricity is still a nuisance.

I have been thinking about buying a generator for years, but have put it off one too many times. Now I want to buy one — and I also want to sell the house.

Selling the place could take a while, though, so I have been exploring my options for generators. I’ve learned that what I need is an inverter generator, with as many watts as I can afford. But I don’t really understand how to use one. For example, say I want to hook up a satellite dish and TV to my generator: do I need a power cord with two plug-ins?

Yes, I’ve been checking on the web, but I am still pretty unclear on the concepts.

So, feel free to share your generator experiences with me here.

P.S. It may be tomorrow sometime before I can acknowledge your comments, given that I am leaving the office now and heading back to a dark house.

— Jillian

Photo: Hydro linemen in action. Photo credit: kiwinky via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

4 thoughts on “Of power outages and generators

  1. We rarely have power outages in our neighborhood because our utilities are all underground. The utility companies don’t like to bury the power lines because it costs more than power lines between sticks.

    If I lived somewhere that received frequent outages, I would buy an Onan Generator that runs on Natural Gas.

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  2. Your generator should be fitted so that in the event of an outage you throw a switch and the generator supply replaces the mains for the whole house, not individual appliances. Because you won’t be getting the same level of supply you’ll have to cut back on how much you switch on, but background items such as fridges shouldn’t be a problem. What you’ll notice is that switching on a high-use item like a kettle will dim the lights.

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  3. A few recommendations:
    1) 7,500 watt or larger generator, depending on how much “stuff” you want to be able to run at the same time, with the appropriate transfer-switch.
    2) Have the transfer-switch wired into your home by a licensed electrician. It is NOT a DIY job unless you know what you are doing. I was able to wire my own, but I have been doing electrical work for many years.
    3) Keep plenty of fuel on-hand at all times, stored in a SAFE place, and if the fuel is gasoline or diesel, either treat it with STA-BIL or rotate it through your cars and buy fresh fuel at least every six months. Treat any fuel left in the generator with STA-BIL. You need to keep your fuel fresh. Gasoline and diesel need to be rotated at least annually, even when treated with STA-BIL. Propane or LNG can be stored indefinitely.
    4) An automated system is nice, but far more expensive.

    Happy hunting!
    Steve

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