Following an incredibly cold snap at the beginning of the year, Max Maxfield decided to invest in a backup power solution.
We were really fortunate that all this happened toward the end of April. As I recall, the daily highs were around 70°F, and the lows were around 60°F (21.1°C and 15.5°C, respectively). By comparison, this winter, shortly after Christmas, the temperature fell to around 5°F (-15°C) for a few days. I started to ruminate and cogitate on how unpleasant things would be if we were to lose power at that time.
I started looking around for a backup generator. Originally, I was aware of only gas generators -- the sort of things you see on building sites.
There were several problems with this scenario. I'd have to store the device in the garage, along with a load of gas. Unfortunately, gas has a tendency to go stale over a period of time. Depending on how it's stored, that period can range from a few months to a couple of years. Common causes of gasoline going stale are lighter chemicals evaporating, components oxidizing, and contamination by water. This means I would need to use my stored gas every few months in my truck and replace it with fresh gas from the pump.
Other problems include the noise associated with a big generator and the chance that naughty people might be tempted to steal it. And, of course, there are the big issues of deployment and utilization. When the power fails, you have to wheel your generator out of the garage, run cables to whatever you wish to power, start the thing running, and make sure it continues to be supplied with gas. This could be a real pain in the middle of a stormy night, and what happens if you happen to be away when the power fails?
While I was rooting around the Internet, I ran across some tri-fuel generators. These little beauties can run on gasoline, liquid propane (LP), or natural gas. I'd never heard of these before, but I must admit I was tempted.
On the one hand, I did like the idea of having all these fuel options available. On the other hand, there would still be issues with deployment, utilization, and nefarious rascals wanting to have it away on their toes with your generator while your back is turned.
I mentioned my ponderings to the guys in my office building. One of them lives out on a farm, and he has a big LP-powered generator. He asked if we had a natural gas supply to our house. When I admitted that we did, he suggested getting a big outdoors natural gas generator installed.
Such a beast weighs in at about 400 pounds. It is attached to a concrete base, is plumbed into the gas supply, and is wired into the house's electric system, so it's not going anywhere in a hurry.
You can actually get really good deals if you purchase your generator directly from the manufacturer, but then you have the problem of installing it. The alternative is to get someone to install it for you. When it comes to gas, electricity, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning, I've been using a local company called H.C. Blake for years, because it does it all. I called H.C. Blake and asked if it installed backup generators. "Of course, we do."
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