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Old 12-29-2008, 07:11 PM   #21
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A small section of the heat pipes on the north wall will partially freeze if the outside temps are way below zero and I don't keep the thermostat cranked up overnight. This happens in that one rate week when temps drop to -10.
After the last time many years ago that I had to crawl under the house with a hair dryer to thaw out a frozen radiator pipe, I have since been stuffing insulation in the foundation vent openings (with those vents closed of course!) and then covering them with a piece of plywood with a concrete block or bricks against it to keep everything well sealed against any drafts! So far, so good....have never had to go back down there for a repeat performance....which is good because I'm getting to old (and rotund robust!) to be crawling around like a lizard in that 18" high crawl space! If something needs to be done done there (maintenance of some sort, etc.) I hire the skinny (and much younger & more agile) neighbor kid to do it!

And btw, freebird, I think that would be wimpette for you anyway.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:32 PM   #22
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About 250,000 customers here in SE Michigan are without power now following a day of 60+ MPH wind gusts that brought down hundreds of trees (damn that emerald ash borer that killed millions of 'em in this state). Some folks won't have power back until "09" according to the news accounts.

Yesterday on the news they showed a totally blacked out neighborhood except for one house equipped with a whole house natural gas generator. Every light was on -- including all their outside Christmas lights -- and the home owners were complaining that their neighbors were asking for help...which they refused.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:52 PM   #23
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Wow the responses are all over the map.
I was wondering about how practical it would be to hook up a battery to a solar cell and it doesn't sound like a smart idea. I guess in the future I'll look at putting in a PV and then even if Hawaii Electric is particularly slow I'd have power during the day. It would at least keep the food in the freezer from spoiling.
It works, and it can be designed for reliability, but it is a relatively expensive hassle. (I'm personally biased against lead-acid battery-storage systems from all the years of stupid submariner tricks we had to contend with.) The bus-voltage problem can be worked around with UPSs or special equipment like propane fridges or 12v/24v appliances. One homeowner on an East-Coast island has a multi-kilowatt PV system with his air-conditioning compressors tied to generators-- the thermostat clicks on the A/C, a gas-powered generator fires up and ties into the circuit, the A/C compressor starts up on the generator's regulator, and once the house's voltage/frequency has stabilized then the generator shuts down. But IIRC he spent an extra 50% on his system.

I'd recommend talking with Cully Judd or Ron Goodman at Interisland Solar Supply, or Keith Cronin (although I hear his business was shut down after he sold it). They all know how to install off-grid applications on sailboats or in places like Fiji or Kiribati, Ron also used to be the net-metering guy at HECO, and Keith is a licensed electrician who used to run Island Energy Solutions. They're genuinely interested in designing things like this (Cully is a local legend) and they're never too busy to talk to us retail customers.

Personally I'm nervous about being the only guy in the neighborhood with electricity. Nervous as in not telling the neighbors and not even showing a light at night, let alone wandering the streets on day #8 sucking on a popsicle. As for the fridge food, I figure it's a couple hundred bucks of inventory that can be barbequed in a few hours with $10 of charcoal or propane. I'm not sure how cost-effective it is to build an off-grid system to keep it chilled.

Of course the economics are different for a patient on a respirator or some other medical electronics.
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:13 AM   #24
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When I still lived in Midwest, I installed a couple of ventless propane heaters and kept 2 weeks+ of propane in a "pig". When electric went off - not common but not unheard of - the heaters kept the house toasty warm and kept pipes from freezing. The whole purchase and installation of 2 heaters cost less than $500. Back before propane got ridiculously expensive, I would do a back of the envelope calc. to see whether to heat w/natural gas or with my heaters. Ventless heaters are, essentially 100% efficient. May sound a little scary, but they worked and I even checked CO levels from time to time and found essentially no buildup during operation. But, YMMV.
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:46 AM   #25
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After an ice storm in 1999 left us without power for four days I bought a Honda EX4500 "super quiet" generator. It'll run a gas furnace, refrigerator, TV, computer, and a few light bulbs. They don't make that model generator anymore but the newer ones are better. DW thought I was nuts but on the first day I had the transfer switch (separates the house from the grid so I wouldn't fry a lineman) hooked up she got home from work and the conversation went like this:

"Dear, did you notice anything unusual?"

"No."

"Did you notice that this is the only house on the block that has lights?"

"Oh."

We used it about twice a year in the DC suburbs but haven't used it at all since moving to WV. Nonetheless, I'll keep it since Murphy's Law dictates that the day after I sell it the power will be off for a week.
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Old 12-30-2008, 10:17 AM   #26
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I'd love a Honda generator, but BIG bucks. DW and I can usually tough it out, but 3yo DD gets cold quick!
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Old 12-30-2008, 10:47 AM   #27
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To clifp's question: The time it takes to get the power back on varies by how big the problem is, bt it is fair to say that it takes longer than it used to here in the Dayton area. The guy who helped me install a new home electrical panel is a retired DP&L lineman, and said they have cut back their repair capability to the bone. The regional power comapnies appear to have effective agreements to provide mutual assistance when there is a widespread local outage, but it can take days for the trucks to arrive from distant states. Plus, sometimes the weather outfoxes the planners: This year the DP&L crews mobilized to help folks in a neighboring region, then a windstorm hit Dayton while they were gone. That resulted in an extended outage for many.

We've got a large manual-start gasoline generator (it had to be big to run the well pump). We haven't used it yet. I also bought some small propane heaters for use indoors, along with lots of 16 oz propane bottles. It's not a very elegant solution, but we should be able to keep one room comfortable for a week or so, and I will run the generator briefly every few hours to allow the furnace to run (keep the pipes from freezing), pump some water into the bathtub and sink if needed, and keep the food cold in the 'fridge.

I know people in FL who have a small generator and a room AC unit as part of their hurricane kit. I'm sure the AC would feel great for a few hours, but I don't know how practical it would be to run the generator and AC all the time.
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Old 12-30-2008, 11:05 AM   #28
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I know people in FL who have a small generator and a room AC unit as part of their hurricane kit. I'm sure the AC would feel great for a few hours, but I don't know how practical it would be to run the generator and AC all the time.
We're not in FL and don't have a hurricane kit, but we do have a separate room (converted screened porch) with it's own AC/heat pump. We can power it and the refrigerator, the freezer and a small TV with our gas generator. Worked great a few years ago when an electrical storm destroyed a major substation and 6,000 homes had no electricity for 36 hours - in July.
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Old 12-30-2008, 11:55 AM   #29
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Worked great a few years ago when an electrical storm destroyed a major substation and 6,000 homes had no electricity for 36 hours - in July.
After Katrina, a guy at work circulated E-mails about people in New Orleans got what they deserved for living in hurricane prone areas.

With us being all Arizonans, I told them to imagine the following scenario. Phoenix in a 120 deg day. Total power black out due to unforeseen demand, and unpredicted equipment outage with insufficient reserve capacity. Older people were dying in their homes due to heat stroke. Citizens fleeing for cooler climates face gas shortage due to gas stations not being able to pump. General panic due to food spoilage. Lack of running water causes home owners with swimming pools to guard their houses with guns.

Far fetched, maybe. But it surely shut him up.

Anyway, here's the record temperature in Phoenix

122F on June 26, 1990;
121F on July 28, 1995;
120F on June 25, 1990;
118F on July 16, 1925, June 24, 1929, July 11, 1958, July 4, 1989, June 27, 1990, June 28, 1990, July 27, 1995, and July 21, 2006.
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #30
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...And btw, freebird, I think that would be wimpette for you anyway.
hey, I heard that!!!!
I'll start a new fragrance line "Eau du Wimpette".
I'll use the proceeds to pay my electric bill - heehee slightly stayed on topic.
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Old 12-30-2008, 08:18 PM   #31
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Anyway, here's the record temperature in Phoenix
No wonder you post under that name...
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