– Ben Martens

Power Outage Debrief 2

WP_20160313_17_18_50_ProAfter our previous multi-day power outage, I wrote a post talking about what I learned from my first real test with the generator and gave myself a B-. Unfortunately, I had another test recently when the third windstorm of March knocked out power for 175,000 people. Thankfully, this outage only lasted 11 hours so it was easier to deal with, but I’d still bump us up to a B+. Here’s a breakdown of what I learned this time around:

  • We need to have a plan of what to do when there is nasty weather coming. This time around, I remembered to set the fridge to Max Cool (dropping the fridge and freezer temps to 33 and -6), I moved ice from the freezer to the fridge and had it refill the ice in the freezer, and bumped the furnace thermostat up a couple degrees. That was all great but I forgot that I should also have been keeping our phones charged up.
  • After the power went out, I remembered that I never got around to building a better shelter for the generator. Fail. The last time I tried to use the pop up tent but it was difficult to deal with in the wind and it took a lot of time to set up. So I headed off to Home Depot, but because I only had my little Subaru, I had to plan something that was quick to build and could fit into my car. I had them cut a sheet of 3/4″ OSB into two 40×48 pieces and I bought a couple of metal 90 degree straps. I made a quick “tent” out of those two pieces and it worked really well. It was heavy enough that it wasn’t going to blow away and it provided shelter for the generator while giving the exhaust an easy way to exit. It will also be easy to unscrew and along the wall in the shed.
  • Last time I was nervous about the dirty power from the generator ruining the fridge so I would only run the fridge every ~2.5 hours and then unplug everything. That was a lot of work and I was exhausted after a couple nights of that. This time I just let it run and everything was fine. Much easier.
  • We used VERY little gas. The generator ran for a total of 7 hours and we used well under two gallons. The supply I had on was sufficient for a full day so that was a win.

Given that we’ve had three outages in the last nine months, we are ready to look into a manual transfer switch so that the generator could run right into our electrical panel. Depending on the, cost we might go ahead with that. A neighbor put one in and within 10 minutes of the power going out, he had his generator and started and plugged into his house.