Are you ready for a power blackout? (Just a plain Power outage of a week or more, nobody coming to get you or do you harm in this one).

Are you ready for a power blackout? (Just a plain Power outage of a week or more, nobody coming to get you or do you harm in this one). How would you handle it? what would you do? Do you have enough food and water? How would you cook? how about your cold foods? Just some things to think about! How about your sanity? how do you handle that?

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I have a 10 kW generator and a couple hundred gallons of fuel, so I'm good for a month or so.  That gives me some time to plan for things farther in the future. I already have food and water stored.  Sanity?  I didn't believe that there was a sanity clause!


ED, not to sound completely idiotic.. How does one do the generator to an inside Fridge..I know, I should have already found out.. How do you hook that up?  I never thought of this until just now.. How big or what size Generator would I need for a fridge and small micro?  My fridge is not a double door, slide out bottom freezer. 

ANYONE???    Thanks,  C.  Thanks for shoving this into my brain Twana.

A transfer switch.

for a week ? how much is a transfer switch ? do you have to be licensed to install it?

why not just an extension cord?    or as a bigger plan, why not manually kill the main breaker, turn off all unnecessary breakers and use a male male extension cord to power the breakers you have turned on ie refrigerator, few lights and a radio and for those outside the city a well pump occasionally.

I agree with Ed there is no Santa Claus but we need to know our own sanity clause!

I don't have a transfer switch, but I do have central air conditioning, which operates on 240 Volts.  I have had to use the generator in the past, and it works like this:

Before you do anything, be absolutely sure that your power is off.  Use a voltmeter in the service entrance panel to make certain.  If you don't know how to do this, get help.  If you don't know what you're doing here, you could easily seriously injure or, even, kill yourself.  The next thing to do is to locate the circuit breakers with the highest current rating -- they will all have numbers on them like "15", "20", "50", and so on.  Most houses built in the past fifty years will have a "200-Amp" service, which means that there will be either one "200" breaker or two "100" circuit breakers ganged together with some sort of metal clip.  They will usually, but not always, be the ones on top or separated from the other, smaller ones.

Now, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, turn off the main circuit breaker(s)!  If you don't, the generator will backfeed into the power grid, placing high voltage on the lines that the power company thinks are not working.  IF YOU DON'T TURN OFF YOUR MAIN BREAKER, YOU COULD VERY EASILY KILL A LINEMAN MILES FROM YOUR HOME!  If you have the skill, remove the main breaker(s) from the box (This is the best idea!), but, at the very least, turn it off and make absolutely sure that no one will turn it back on while you have the generator connected.  ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN!

If you haven't done it yet, you now need to remove the panel inside the breaker box which covers the circuit breakers.  It is usually held in by just one -- sometimes two -- screw(s).  Be careful, now; if it "gets away" from you and falls back inside the box and contacts something that is "live", you will make fireworks, probably damage something, and, possibly, get a shock.  Be careful.  Lots of wires, huh?  Notice, though, that they are all black, white, red, or green.  The black and red ones are connected to the circuit breakers, and the white and green ones are connected to two strips, each with a lot of screws; these strips are called, "busses". The white wires ("neutral") go to "the neutral buss" and the green ("ground") wires go to -- wait for it -- "the ground buss".  Each of these buss strips will have several places where there are screws with no wires.

Now, locate the next highest-rated breaker; this will be for air conditioning, central heating, range, dryer, or water heater.  It will also be a "ganged" breaker.  Turn that breaker off.  Remove the wires from this breaker (screwdriver or Allen® wrench, depending upon the manufacturer of the panel).  One will be black and the other will be red (or, possibly, also black).  Connect the red and black wires from the generator to the places where you removed the wires from that circuit breaker.  It doesn't matter which goes where, as long as you connect them to the places you removed the other wires.   Connect the generator's green wire to the ground buss and the generator's white wire to the neutral buss.

Once again, CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MAIN CIRCUIT BREAKER IS OFF!  Post a note on the panel that says, "The main breaker MUST remain off at all times!"  I can't stress this enough; people have been killed because homeowners hooked up generators to their panels without disconnecting from the utility service.  Transformers work both ways, and your little generator can, ultimately, put 500,000 Volts -- or more -- on transmission lines many miles away from your home.  Because of this hazard, this method is not approved in many areas, so, if you do it wrong, you could be liable for second-degree murder!  That's how important it is to disconnect your panel from the incoming service!

Now, start the generator and let it warm up for a few minutes.  While it is warming up, go into your house and turn off everything -- unplug the refrigerator and the freezer.  When it seems to be running well, turn on the breaker you hooked the generator wires to.  NOT THE MAIN!  NOT THE MAIN!  NOT THE MAIN!  Please, note that whatever was connected to the breaker you are using for the generator (A/C, range, or what-have-you) will not work while the generator is running.  That's probably a good thing, because whatever it was was a huge load and would probably "trip" the generator's built-in circuit breaker, anyway.

When you turned on the breaker, you began "backfeeding" the generator's output through the breaker onto the "hot" buss bars (There are two) in your entrance panel/breaker box.  You should now have power available.  Go back into the house and plug in the refrigerator; at this point it will have been off for some time (since the power went off), and it will probably whir to life immediately.  If it doesn't, open the door and see if the light comes on.  If the light doesn't work, you have done something wrong.  Run outside and turn off the breaker you hooked the generator to and turn off the generator immediately.  Check all of your work step-by-step.  Above all, MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE MAIN CIRCUIT BREAKER REMAINS OFF AT ALL TIMES!

When you have found your mistake (If you can't, get help from someone who knows electrical stuff.), start over.

This will provide power to your entire home, up to the rating of the generator.  Use as little electricity as possible; this will conserve fuel, and, if you try to use too much, the generator's breaker will trip and you will be without power once again. 

Now, if you want to run just a couple of appliances, the generator will have a few outlets on a panel somewhere.  Don't operate the generator in the house; it emits a great deal of carbon monoxide, and you will quickly become poisoned, along with anyone else in your home.  Use an extension cord; shorter is better.  As the cord becomes longer, the size of the wire required increases.  A fifty-foot cord should have twelve- or ten-gauge wire.  A hundred-foot cord should have 10-gauge.  Extension cords with wire this large are expensive, but, if you use a cord that is too small, you will very likely damage you refrigerator or microwave because the voltage drop due to the cord's resistance will leave them operating on very low voltage.  Use one cord for each appliance.

To operate just a (modern) refrigerator and a microwave oven, you should probably have a generator rated at 4 kW (4,000 Watts).  Three thousand will probably do it, but, luck being what it is, there will, no doubt, come a time when you push "START" on the microwave just as the refrigerator starts up.  That might be more than a 3 kW device can handle.   When they are running, this is "overkill", but they both require a lot more current for a few seconds every time they start.

great explaination

thank you

You're welcome.

As an additional note, the "green" wires in the breaker box will probably not be "green" in color; this term is shorthand for "earth ground" among electrical folks.  The "green" wires will most likely be bare copper -- without any insulation.

Just to clarify...

If you have a large generator you need to have transfer switches at the outside main or the main panel. Then designated circuits need to be established for those that will be on the generator.

Hope this brief explanation will help.

Add a 2800 watt inverter and ten or so deep cycle batteries and you can stretch that fuel

Been there, done that. 

Open the fridge sparingly, know what you want before you open the door, then close it quickly.  Same goes for the freezer. 

If you have a generator, use it sparingly, so you can keep your refrigeration units cold.  I could also use the generator to provide power for my kitchen appliances.  People will come to steal it, so secure it (the generator).

Power inverter to run off your car battery will provide electricity for a while.  Don't forget to start the vehicle every so often to charge the battery up.

I own a propane camping stove, and a propane oven.  I also have a smoker.


I forgot.  If you have a well, you really should have a generator.  It is nice to be able to drink water, flush the toilet, shower, and brush your teeth.  

If you know a big storm is coming, fill your washing machine up with water.  Clean a garbage can and put a liner in it, and fill it with water.  Fill the bath tub also.  Pools are useful for more than swimming.



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