Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Brandon asks: I’m interested in getting your thoughts (and everyone else’s) about what kind of generators make the most sense. Not sure what fuel is best (propane, diesel, natural gas, gasoline) or what brands I should avoid. I was thinking about getting a dual fuel gasoline and propane model, so we could share fuel with the lawn mower and grill respectively. And of course gasoline is everywhere. This isn’t something that needs to power our house for a year, just something to provide a small amount of electricity in a non-SHTF situation.
My reply: First, determine your power needs – total watts. As a general rule, a portable unit that can produce around 5,000 (steady) watts will serve. They cost around $500 new. I have one like that and it powers my well pump, refrigerator, most of the house lights and my WiFi. Mine is converted (by me) to run on propane, too. I did an article about this a few years ago. I keep five five gallon jugs of gas on hand at all times plus two full propane cylinders. This is enough to provide intermittent power (I shut down at night) for a week or more.
You may want to consider wiring up a generator panel for your house. This means that rather than run individual power cords from the generator to the appliances, you plug one plug into the generator and to your house, then throw the switch from “utility” (i.e., grid power) to your generator. You select the vital circuits, such as the well pump and so on.
A diesel generator is the ticket, both for power and for the ability to use both store-bought diesel and homebrew. But they cost a great deal more than a gas-powered gennie.
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