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On this podcast episode I discuss some possible options to have in place just in case you lose power on your homestead for an extended period of time.
The Modern Homesteading Podcast, Episode 109 – December 11, 2018 – Emergency Backup Power Options.
- Things are starting to really rock in the winter greenhouse even with temp regularly falling into the teens at night. But it comes with a price!
- Pond heaters I purchased this year are working well in the aquaponics system and pond.
Main Topic: Emergency Back-Up Power Options
Why you probably need a backup power source for your homestead.
- To keep essential appliances running.
- To keep the sump pump running.
- To keep you and your family safe.
Power Source Options
12 volt DC to AC Inverter
This is a device you would connect to the battery of your car when the power goes out that you can plug extension cords into which you would then run to the house to supply power for appliances, lights, etc.
- Requires some time and work after the power goes out to supply power to your home.
- You need to idle your vehicle.
Conventional Gas Generator
These generators come in any size you might want from small quiet low-power generators to a large unit that can power your entire house and property directly through the breaker box.
- Probably the most affordable option for generators.
- Fuel is easy to acquire.
- Generally easy to work on and maintain as well as acquire parts for.
- Storing gasoline has safety and longevity concerns.
Like larger gas units these generators are usually large and can be hooked up to a breaker box to run an entire house and property.
- Generally a little quieter than a gas engine.
- Can run longer intervals between maintenance than gas engines.
- Overall run longer and last longer than gas engines.
- Fuel is more stable than gasoline for storage.
- More expensive
- Even though quieter, still pretty loud.
These are essentially gasoline generators set up to run on propane so they have many of the advantages and disadvantages of gasoline generators with the main difference being that propane is more easily stored in bulk and very stable for a very long period of time.
Natural Gas Generators
Like propane, these too are essentially gasoline generators set up to run on natural gas. With these generators come one advantage and one disadvantage. If you have natural gas then you basically have an endless supply of constant fuel going to your generator at all times. The disadvantage is that the generator will need to be in a fixed location so you lose the mobility aspect of the unit, if the generator is wired to your breaker box this won’t matter.
As a side note, the only issue I can see with using natural gas is if you live in an area prone to earthquakes and this might be the main reason you experience power loss then you may want to use another fuel source as natural gas lines are generally shut of after an earthquake to prevent explosions.
Inverter generators are a recent technology, made possible by advanced electronic circuitry and state-of-the-art magnets. The technology generally outputs AC current like most conventional generators, but the current is then converted to DC voltage, and then “inverted” back to clean AC voltage, thus how it gets its name. The advantage of this inversion is that it maintains a constant flow of current to your appliance. Whereas conventional generators have a fluctuating current which “possibly can” damage sensitive electronics on some appliances.
- Major Disadvantage: Much More Expensive.
Military Surplus Generator
These are military used units you can purchase that can be gasoline or diesel engines and can sometimes be mobile units on trailers or sometimes very large fixed units.
I only bring this up because this can be an affordable way to purchase a very large generator that has generally been maintained well. You may in fact be able to purchase one that needs work at an extremely low price.
This is yet another option for fueling a generator. Even thought the fuel would be inexpensive and readily available there is an aspect of whether or not it will be reliable in a time of emergency but I did want to mention it as an option.
Battery Back-Up System
Having a battery backup system to power your home is another option for emergency power. These batteries can be charged by solar, wind, generator or just be kept charged with the grid power and used until they run out.
There are commercial units that can be installed and wired into your home or you can install a system yourself using deep cycle batteries such as trolling motor batteries or golf cart batteries. Probably the best information available for building your own unit can be found from Steven Harris at http://www.battery1234.com/
- Easy fuel rotation system using 12 – 5 gallon gas cans for 60 gallons of fuel storage
- PRI CP123 G Gasoline Treatment Fuel stabilizer – https://amzn.to/2U9TkRl