Radio Preppers

General Category => Tactical Corner => Topic started by: cockpitbob on February 06, 2014, 09:50:40 AM

Title: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 06, 2014, 09:50:40 AM
Reports are finally surfacing about the April 2013 attack on a CA power sub station:  52 minutes with 100 shots fired knocking out 17 transformers.  They are saying it looks like a dress rehersal and that it wouldn't take many simultaneous attacks to bring down most of the grid ('cept you Texans who have your own).
 
I have a generator and transfer switch so I can run my house.  It's only 6KW but will run a lot of lights, the fridge and the 2 basement sump pumps in the summer huricane season and will keep the furnace going in winter to keep the pipes from freezing.  However I only maintain 25g of fuel in the shed.  The generator burns 0.4g/hr so that's only 63hr of continuous operation.  In winter I figure I can get by running it 3 times a day for 1-2 hrs which would stretch the fuel to 2 weeks, but mother nature has put people out of power for longer than that in the US.
 
I have 2 fire places but even if I kept more than the usual 1/2 cord of wood, all the fire places do is heat one room and suck the house's heat up the chimney.  I think this needs to be my next focus.  Our 2 cars usually have 15-30g combined fuel in their tanks but I'm not sure I can siphon from them.  That's the first thing I'll check. 
 
How would you fare without power for, say, a month?
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: madball13 on February 06, 2014, 10:47:19 AM
Bob,
Important thing to note is the substation was down for 26 days and power was re-routed from Silicon Valley. This prevented a long term blackout but a coordinated attack on both substations would have black the area out for at least a month. I work in renewable energy and parts are not kept on shelves and are usually made to order.

I have a generator that i would use to power the fridge and freezer until we could cook, can or eat everything in it. I have an insert wood stove that keeps the heat above 50 and usually have 2 cords on hand most times. Luckily my neighbor cuts and sells wood so in a long term outage i would get an extra cord from him.

If heat is a concern i would look to get a couple of insert stoves to plug into those fireplaces and keep a few cords of wood handy. Emergency aside we were able to cut our oil usage down to 3 fill ups a year and they only dropped off 150 gallons at a time.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: gil on February 06, 2014, 11:18:03 AM
Well, heat is not a concern here in Florida. If there was no civil unrest, I see no reason why just having the power out would change anything. It can get uncomfortably hot in the summer, but that's about it.. The problems would not come from the lack of electricity but people's reaction to it. My neighborhood isn't the greatest, so I would have to be vigilant. Other than that, a week or a month would make no difference to me. Now, if it lasted more than a week, I would assume there would be food preservation problems and looting. It would get worse very quickly, but that's another new set of problems...

As far as communications and power, I have a small solar panel which can power my radios indefinitely, even with daily use.

Gil.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: Jim Boswell on February 06, 2014, 12:18:51 PM
     Interesting subject, where I work we have to order big power transformers (12470 volt step down to 220) and that takes a 1 year lead time. Without power there would be no water after the tanks are dry, as they have no power back-up for the pumps. Good luck trying to buy gasoline as there is not a gas station in the county that has a back-up power system to power the gas pumps.
     At our casa I have 10 LP bottles and have a LP grill and camp stove for cooking. I have a convection LP stove I can put inside the house and run just enough to keep the pipes from freezing. If I had too I could purge the water lines to protect the pipes. Since that stove is not vented I could not use the stove when we are sleeping.
     For the radio shack, I have solar panels and I would take the batteries from the boat and use them in the radio shack. I could take gasoline from the boat and add that to the car and pick-up truck.
     For food we could empty the freezer, guess you could say we would have a big BBQ. I live in the poorest county in one of the poorest states in the USA. I figure 60-70% of the people live paycheck to paycheck. Since this is a rural area Guess we could buy meat on the hoof, butcher a steer calf and and share it with our neighbors. I need to stock up on basic supplies, rice, beans, flour, dried fruit.
     For many years I have been worried about the safety of the electrical power system. The lose of power is only part of the problem, over voltage spikes and lose of one leg of the power system can cause major damage to all equipment connected to that system.  Talk about a world of hurt.  73'S  KA5SIW
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 06, 2014, 07:25:07 PM
I think I need to look at inserts.  I was in a boy scout cabin a few weeks ago.  It was 20F outside and it didn't take much wood to get that large drafty cabin up to 75F inside.  I live in MA where trees are just like weeds.  They will grow anywhere you don't pave, plow or mow, except the trees get 60' tall around here.  Lots of wood for long term warmth.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 13, 2014, 10:18:40 PM
Well, the power went out.  After 20 minutes and no indication on the power company's web site that they were working on it (love my new smart phone), I walked my 15yo son through firing up the genny in the shed, connecting it to the house and throwing the transfer switch in the basement.  I feel both snobby and guilty that our house is all lit up and all our neighbors are in dark houses that are getting colder by the minute.  I guess I feel more snobby than guilty because I turned on the driveway lights just to rub it in (http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o170/cockpitbob/Emoticons/DevilGrin_zps64271c50-1.gif) (http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o170/cockpitbob/Emoticons/DevilGrin_zps64271c50-1.gif)

We have the heat turned way up and are hot-soaking the house because I will shut the genny off before going to bed.  And even though the local power is out our cable and internet still works!  ;D
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: madball13 on February 14, 2014, 09:37:55 AM
bob, I'm out in Idaho heading home today but reports from home say we never lost power.

just think how long you could run that generator if you had insert stoves and you were only keeping the fridge going
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: Archangel320420 on February 14, 2014, 11:06:13 AM
Sump pumps take a lot of power when they start up. Two years ago after high winds and tornados came through power was cut off. I had a small 3.5kW gasoline Generator running. I had two sumps running pretty often so I shut down one and got by. I have since stopped most of the water problems and the pumps do not run at all now. The little generator would bog down and growl in protest when those pumps came on especially at the same time. With only one pump running, I could also have some lights and of course I had the fridge and freezer running, and charging batteries.  Me and the dogs lived in the basement which was nice and cool in the aftemath of extreme hot muggy weather that moved in after that storm. I had plenty of prep food and water. We were liv'n high on the hog  :)  It sure pays off to be prepared. Wife went where there was power and left me to keep the house going and protected. She had to go to work and I did not. Lasted about a week for me, but some here had weeks of no electric power. Thanks to Glock and Remington 870, and my dogs for keeping me safe on those lonely nights! We had only one home invasion, though, through this entire ordeal in my county. I felt my education in prep had paid off, but I am not fully prepared for extended grid down and I'm working on it. This storm helped me learn my weak points at this location.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 14, 2014, 11:52:48 AM
Madball, it turned out to be a local outage.  I drove around and it was just our street.  They had the power back on before I went to bed. 

I had a 5" diameter branch come off a 60' tall maple and take out some bushes by the driveway, and my yard is covered with twigs.  I'm gonna have a big bon fire this spring.  It was a real sticky snow.  For a while my 22 gauge wire antenna was about 1" in dameter.  I've never seen snow stick to a wire like that before.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: medic photog on March 19, 2014, 08:23:44 PM
Don't know.  I have a 10KW diesel generator with a 50 gal tank and twenty extra gallons of diesel then twenty gallons of kerosene.  I'm guessing my house will be the last one standing.  I have the fridge, freezer, oil burner, stove, washer, and five outlets on the generator so I'll have food, heat, radios, computer, charging capabilities and sparse lights.  I'm going to guess maybe three or four weeks depending on the time of year and if I need the heat on. 
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: Geek on March 22, 2014, 12:47:32 PM
I have owned an insert and they are great.  They turn a drafty fireplace into something that really throws off heat.  I have a natural gas generator tied into the house now and during Hurricane Sandy it was great.  The power was out for 8 days, but we had electricity the whole time.  As for how long I could go, well I'd say indefinitely if the gas continues to flow and then I'd have to start roughing it a bit.

The interesting thing about that sort of terrorist incident is that unlike a Carrington event, the situation would be long term, but not permanent.  It would be very apparent what needed to be fixed and how long it would take to fix it.  I think you would get a different response from people if they knew they had to go 18 months without power as opposed to forever without power.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: vwflyer on March 22, 2014, 01:52:40 PM
I don't know if anybody else saw this but this thread reminded me of this article. This might get more people thinking about life without the grid.

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/03/19/massive-solar-blast-that-almost-wreaked-havoc-on-earth/?intcmp=features
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: mdmc on March 23, 2014, 03:05:19 AM
We are just hearing about this now? I don't remember hearing anything about this before. Am I out of touch that bad, or did any one else not hear about this at the time it happened?

I have been signed up for alerts from spaceweather.com for some time now. Maybe I wasn't signed up then.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: KC9TNH on March 31, 2014, 03:52:56 PM
I feel both snobby and guilty that our house is all lit up and all our neighbors are in dark houses that are getting colder by the minute.  I guess I feel more snobby than guilty because I turned on the driveway lights just to rub it in.
A reminder for those just perusing that this might not be the best thing in real civil breakdown or extended outage. There are people who will be like moths, wondering what else you have that they don't...
jes' sayin'.

Glad to see the site's still trucking along; had some false-positive web-forgery issues to work out.
:)
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: s2man on April 03, 2014, 05:17:14 PM
I've got a generator with 20gal of gas in cans, plus we fill the cars when they are 1/2 empty. so there should be an average of 60 more gallons in them.  In a long-term outage I could keep the freezer going until we got all the food canned or dehydrated.

With power outages in mind, when I bought this house, I put in a wood stove for heat and a 600 gallon propane tank for cooking (~5yrs worth).  12V silent fans move warm air from the great room to the bedrooms.

I've finished my emergency power system since the last time I was here, following the path someone documented here; Batteries on a smart charger and solar panels stored in case the grid goes down.  I've got four golf cart batteries, IOTA smart charger, Xantrex 1500W MSW inverter (overkill, but at a good price), and 12V LED lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and great room.  Since I didn't want to pay for an inverter I can hook to the house wiring, I ran three separate 110V outlets in the great room, from the inverter, for TV, Fridge and grinding coffee ;-) .  I put a four-cigarette-lighter-outlet charging station by the batteries, and I also ran a 12V outlet in the kitchen for convenience.

Pic's start at the bottom of this page
http://www.backwoodshome.com/forum/vb/showthread.php?t=28741&page=7
and continue on the next.

As I gained more knowledge of alternative energy systems, I learned my 400W of PV is not enough to charge my 400Ah bank properly.  So I am about to pull the trigger on 400 more Watts.  Of course, that will mean new cables, breakers and charge controller.  Sigh.

Oh yeah, I didn't like the sound of my coffee grinder on the MSW and certainly wouldn't want to run the fridge on it.  Plus, their are issues with MSW and some transformers.  I just got a 600W PSW inverter, this week.  Need to get that wired up and tested out...
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: KK0G on April 03, 2014, 06:29:23 PM
That's a nice looking homebrewed 12V system.  ;)
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: N0AMT on May 13, 2014, 01:55:38 AM
Hi all!

While I was Active Duty Air Force stationed out in Oklahoma, we had an ice storm that knocked out power to most of the region for 14 days. One thing I quickly learned was that all "expectations" go out the window.

I had "expected" that I would be able to run over to the next town over and buy a generator at Home Depot if I needed it. Wrong -- roads closed due to ice on the highways, and a collapsed bridge.

When I finally did get my hands on a generator, I "expected" that I would be able to go buy gas from Walmart, or one of the mom and pop gas stations in town. Wrong -- no power, no fuel pumps. When fuel was available, the city took first priority on all fuel for necessary generators such as sanitation, hospital, EOC, etc...

When I finally did have the opportunity to get gas, I "expected" that I would be able to use my bank card to get it. Wrong -- no power means debit card machines and long haul communications are often out as well.

I learned alot from that experience. Primarily:

1) You don't have enough fuel. No really.
2) You are never REALLY prepared.
3) Radio is vitally important when cellular sites start running out of juice.
4) Natural gas fueled appliances (to include gensets) would be GREAT investments
5) Be fluid.. That which you expect to be able to do will probably change. Resourcefulness, and knowledge are paramount.

-Max
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: RichardSinFWTX on May 13, 2014, 09:29:37 AM
Max,

You definitely bring up some valid points.  I learned similar lessons in an ice storm and a hurricane. 

Having a generator, even a gas powered one, is good as long as you're able to feed it on your own.  Storing gasoline and propane brings up it's own set of logistical problems.  Another option is solar.  If you live in an HOA area the bastards (I mean HOA board, sorry) may not let you put solar panels on your roof.  Mine won't, the bastards, sorry!  I have a fold-out solar panel that I use just for my radios and to charge my laptop batteries for use in my digital radio ops.  You've got to test this stuff though.  Your power options, grid or off-grid, should be just that, options.  You need to be equally adept at both.

Something else to add to your supply list is good ole, American cash!  Do like I do; put about $25 a week in a lockbox or fireproof box somewhere where you can get to it if you really need it; but it's not right there in your wallet.  If I have it in my wallet, I'll spend it.  For me the $25 a week is just what I spend on coffee so it's not really noticeable.

An option for keeping things like medications and some food cool is something known as a Zeer pot.  There are lots of examples on YouTube!
Take a look here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNLPeb3qIhc

Best of luck to ya!

Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: N0AMT on May 13, 2014, 01:02:56 PM
Hi Richard,

I too live in an HOA. It has been most pleasant, no seriously, LOL! We live in an area way west of town near the farmland.  The goal of this development was to give bigger lots, and have more of a "Ranches" kind of feel. Due to that, our HOA is very lenient - allowing many unheard of's such as: chickens/horses, solar panels, large sheds/garages, etc...

Interestingly, our HOA doesn't allow antennas without approval. The beauty of it is that I live in Utah. The ongoing joke about Utah is the number of Mormons, and, well... it's true. I'm not one, but one of the great things about Mormons is their Emergency Preparedness mindset. Due to that, getting approval for an antenna for "emergency communications capability" is about the easiest process ever. Don't go trying to put up a 150 ft tower with 6 stacked beams, and they're pretty much okay with it!


I digress... I've been wanting to try solar for some time now. I have had my eye on our new shed with the hope of setting it up with solar for interior/exterior lighting, and a small store for power tools on an inverter. The hard part has been justifying the investment. I know first hand how important power becomes when you have none, but solar isn't cheap and buried romex is. :)
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: gil on May 13, 2014, 01:24:09 PM
I use solar for charging AA cells only to power various devices, including radios. Trying to power anything big in my opinion is a waste. What are you going to use in an emergency? You'll eat your refrigirated foods first. Lights? Sleep at night, use candles. For cooking I'd use wood and liquid fuels. I can't think of anything in my house I would absolutely need to power up with 110V, save the occasional small items. That can be done with an inverter and 12V battery. My first concern wouldn't be electrical power. Security and organizing the neighborhood, that would be a priority. Here we are only a few blocks from a large concentration of armed EBT card users... Keeping these guys out would be a major concern. The first thing I'd do if the power went out for more than a day is go see the neighboors I haven't met yet. Radio would of course let me know if we were facing a long tern outage or not.. I think the main problem with the lack of electricity is far from being the lack of electricity...

Gil.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: N0AMT on May 13, 2014, 02:06:52 PM
In my experience with prolonged outages, things don't turn to anarchy as fast as most would believe, (although I'm talking about Oklahoma and Utah, not Chicago or Detroit here..)

For me the generator/power is to have as little impact on lifestyle as possible until the power comes back on. If it were a SHTF kind of nasty situation, I wouldn't want to draw attention by running a generator or having lights on anyway.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: gil on May 13, 2014, 02:12:16 PM
Quote
things don't turn to anarchy as fast as most would believe

As long as people believe power will come back soon...

Gil.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on May 13, 2014, 02:30:48 PM
I wouldn't want to draw attention by running a generator or having lights on anyway.
I'm having some regrets with my Briggs & Strattan generator.  It's half the cost of an equivalent Honda, but 3 times louder.  The frame is almost vibration free, but the engine vibrates on its mounts so much that if I were to put on one of those big aftermarket mufflers I'm sure something would break quite quickly.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: N0AMT on May 13, 2014, 04:08:35 PM
I had a "Titan Industrial" 9kW genset that was extremely loud too. I sold it before our move. I wouldn't mind a new one -- quieter of course.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: gil on May 13, 2014, 04:50:33 PM
You can get a lot of solar panels for the price of a generator, and they don't require gas, nor to they break, usually. Just make sure you have spare charge controllers.. Of course I am in Florida here, so what works for me might not work for you!

Gil.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: N0AMT on May 13, 2014, 04:53:15 PM
I'd be very interested in solar as well. Why not both? ;-)
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on May 13, 2014, 05:00:42 PM
I'd be very interested in solar as well. Why not both? ;-)
Yes.  Diversify.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: Quietguy on May 13, 2014, 06:29:39 PM
so what works for me might not work for you!

That should be printed in bold and pasted on everyone's bathroom mirror.  One size has never fit all and never will. 

I live in a semi-rural area (not farmland, but lots of larger properties and trees everywhere) in the Pacific NorthWest (AKA Pacific NorthWet).  My well pump requires 220v power and without it I don't have water other than what is stored or can be collected from rain (which is little to none during July and August).  I have a 300 gallon water storage tank I can fill if I can run the generator to run the well pump.  So, running the generator a couple hours per week will give me plenty of water and charge batteries.  It will also keep freezer stuff frozen until it can be used and the freezers shut down.

A friend of mine bought property a few miles away with no utilities available.  His plan was to build a homestead/cabin with solar and batteries for electricity.  He called one of the major solar suppliers and told the guy what he was planning... the rep asked him his zip code... and when he got done laughing, he told my friend the best he could do is a small panel to charge a couple of little batteries.  Even during peak periods the best he could hope for was about the equivalent of one hour per day of full output.

During the fall, winter, and early spring the sun never gets above the trees on the south side of our property.  Only now is the sun getting high enough to give decent exposure, but during the peak it is only for a fairly short time.  I could mount panels down at the lower part of our property but that would put them quite a ways from the house - not a good situation.  This summer I plan on converting the generator to propane, because propane is safe to store and (supposedly) lasts forever.  Apparently, the new formulations have ruined gasoline's storage capability and, even with extenders like PriG, storage isn't as feasible as it used to be.

With our lower population density - mostly people who are not particularly adverse to taking responsibility for themselves - security is lower on my list of things to worry about than some other issues.  Sure, there can always be a stray Zombie that got lost, but I can't see our area being a target of opportunity for hordes of them.

My point is people need to analyze their specific situation and make their plans accordingly.  Even my problem with solar doesn't apply to a good friend who lives about 100 miles north of me - he has plenty of solar access and can get more reasonable daily output from panels.  On the other hand, the reason he has solar access is because he lives in an older neighborhood in a large city.  That means his Zombie Index is far higher than mine - he and I are only 100 miles apart but we have completely different circumstances to deal with.

Wally
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: gil on May 13, 2014, 07:05:29 PM
Another solution for sunless regions is a Peltier thermoelectric generator. Basically, these devices produce electricity from a difference in temperature between two sandwiched metal plates. So, if one side was exposed to the cold outside, and the other in contact with a stove inside, you'd get a nice amount of electricity out of the temperature differential. All with no moving parts or anything that could potentially wear out or break...

Gil.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 12, 2016, 04:58:15 PM
We had 6" of very wet snow a couple weeks ago and the power went out for most of a day.  My 6KW generator swigs fuel at about 3/4gallon per hour so my 25g fuel stock wouldn't last long.  I just spent about $150 on a dual-fuel natural gas conversion kit for the generator.  The house has natural gas plumbed out to the back deck for a grill.  Once I install the conversion kit and get a long flexible gas line I'll be able to run the generator 24/7 ;D.  I'm told the natural gas utility is one of the last to go down in a SHTF situation. 

It may be a month before I get the conversion done and tested I'll post when I do.
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: K7JLJ on February 12, 2016, 05:09:08 PM
Natural gas will be one of the first to go in my area considering the biggest threat is the Cascadia fault.

Having perished this thread  I see a huge reliance on gensets which are temp solutions. I sold off my large 240v genset last year and will be taking Gil's  advice and selling my Honda 2000 for solar panels this year.

Solar and wood are the best alternatives to grid IMO.

I'm applying as a solar installer (after 25 years as an industrial electrician) with a local company so there might be a chance to actually know what I'm doing with solar in the near future


- Jim
Title: Re: How Long Would You Last Without Power?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 12, 2016, 07:20:05 PM
Point well taken about generators being a temp solution.  I need to get some solar if I want to think of myself as prepared for really long term $hit.

I got the generator because here in MA an ice storm can knock power out for a week if you are out of town.  My pipes would freeze.  Plus, in the summer we usually get at least the edge of a hurricane that goes up the coast.  My basement has a french drain system with 2 sump pumps.  With a hurricane, power will go out when I most need the pumps to keep my basement from flooding.

I have to say, when the snow knocked the power out and my neighbor's houses were getting cold and they were eating cold food by candle light, I got a little evil pleasure by turning on the driveway and porch lights. ::)