I came to the conclusion last week that I need to improve my own backup power situation. Here in the Northeast, we've had the following weather events in the past 14 months:
- Hurricane Irene
- Tropical Storm Lee
- The Halloween 2011 ice/snow storm
- The June 2012 derecho
- Hurricane Sandy
I have been really lucky in that my power wasn't out for more than a couple hours at a time. I've lived in the same neighborhood since 1979, and up until Sandy I can't remember any of my neighbors being out for longer than 12 hours. Well, some of them got power back just yesterday after being out for 5 days. At some point my luck is going to run out.
On Friday I ordered a Champion 3500 running watts/4000 surge watts generator from Cabela's. This will allow me to power the 'frige, some lights, and charge batteries. Fuel consumption will be more than a smaller generator but it's the right choice for my particular situation.
(Amazon.com also carries this generator, but it's currently out of stock. Not surprising considering that the most populated part of the country just had a major storm come through.)
Don't forget that electrical motors, as found in refrigerators, may need up to 3 times the running wattage when they startup. Your generator needs to be sized for this surge.
They have it on sale through 11/5/12 for $429.99, which is $110 off the normal price. If you have any Cabela's bucks or promo codes you can get it for less. I had a promo code for $20 off any Internet order over $150, plus $6.70 in Cabela's bucks, which brought my delivered price down to $469.
I also have on order from Amazon a Black & Decker VEC1093DBD battery charger/jump starter pack. My main purpose for buying this is to recharge the 70 ah gel cell that I have as backup power for my ham radios, but it can be used to recharge lead acid and AGM batteries, and jump start cars. The gel cell is currently charged and maintained by a PWRgate from West Mountain Radio, but it provides only 1 amp for charging, which would take forever to recharge the battery if it gets depleted. (It looks like WMR no longer carries the specific model that I have, only the Super PWRgate.)
The next thing to get will be a source of backup heat. We have a gas fireplace in our den downstairs that does work when the power is out, but we should have something for upstairs to augment it. I'm looking at propane and kerosene heaters.