Dear gunner,
From an email today....
Some time ago you mentioned some disaster preparedness tips on the
metalworking news group and I just wanted to write and say thanks.
When hurricane Isabel came through Charlottesville Virginia we
had quite a time but thanks in part to some of your posts my family
and I were somewhat ready. I had taken your suggestion and stocked up
on a number of items you listed that Sam?s club had and we lived on
them for a bit.
Though we live in a small city, we didn?t have power for about
five days: enough time for refrigeration to become a distant memory.
My wife laughed when I bought all the canned stuff but it?s nearly all
gone now. Stocking up on water also proved to be a good thing.
I had some additional thoughts that you might find interesting:
The idea of a small steam plant/ generator has a whole lot more
appeal now for a reason I did not expect. Steam power is quiet
whereas portable gas generators make a whole lot of noise. Also, in a
real disaster, the supplies of gas are going to last about five
minutes. Here in Charlottesville, we never ran out of gas, but there
wasn?t a whole lot of power to pump it either. Most of the city
didn?t have power for about 48 hours.
In a larger disaster, I would find loud gas generators something
of an advertisement that you might not want to make. A small steam
plant would quietly let you continue without irking neighbors. That
might sound minor, but believe me, it?s not. In our typical housing
development, those who ran gas generators got shunned.
Something I used a whole lot: an inverter for the car that let us
have two 500 watt ac outlets for the computer and the gas fired water
heater. We have one of those new on-demand gas hot water heaters. It
needs a small amount of juice to both think and kick off the gas
burner. The inverter cost about 30 bucks at Sams. Best 30 bucks I ever
spent. Idling the car every once and a while was fine.
Thankfully we always had a phone line, so we kept internet
service, and with that up to date outside news. Our local news
station and the local paper was often not so good, probably because
the people writing and publishing it were having to deal with their
own problems.
Anyway, thanks again. You can post this on the RCM if you like.
I?ve not got a news server connection at the moment.
Charles Morrill
Reply to
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A disaster usually makes lots of scrap wood availiable to run a steam boiler, but it's often too wet or green to use. You don't have to have a noisy generator, you can get a Honda that is quiet enough to have a conversation alongside. The cheap generators are VERY noisy.
Reply to
Nick Hull
Why is it that the home generators are so loud? Is it that the backpressure of a real muffler is too great? I've heard of people who put better mufflers and even tubing to route the exhaust out of the garage or where ever and they said they were happy.
Reply to
even w/the steam unit, i would have a gas model on hand as well.
yes, _if_ being 'shunned' makes you a target, by all means get a 600w Honda, put it on rigid foam in the bathtub with the window open. put the gas can in there, too. well, you might wait until there is actually a _storm_. --Loren
Reply to
Loren Coe
Now, THAT is a real post! Thank you!
I've been trying to get an inverter setup to run my furnace, for much the same reason as this fellow mentions.
In my housing project, I can hear a generator a couple houses away. No one said anything to me about it when I ran a genny during the ice storm, but I sure would have prefered an inverter and a battery I could charge with jumper cables.
What items did you suggest at Sam's?
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
Hmm. Brings up a good point. Truism: quiet generators are more expensive. But the noisy ones give you more watts/dollar.
I would like to be able to run the oil-fired boiler in my house during a winter-time power outage (which runs off a 15 amp ckt, not counting the surge loads), and possibly a refrigerator during a summertime outage.
I had helped a friend resurrect an old Onan generator, opposed twin that needed an unstuck valve, and also needed to be re-wired a bit and have the field windings flashed to get it to start. That generator runs at 1800 rpm and is amazingly quite for 3 kw. Does *anyone* still make 1800 rpm generators?
Next idea, buy a less expensive, noisy generator and not worry about the noise because a) even though it will be large enough to run the heating system in the house, this will be done during the winter when the garage is packed in snow. Maybe some foam insulation as a sound barrier around the unit to help. Even then it will only be run periodically to keep the house from freezing. It's a detached garage btw, so I could banish the unit away from the house.
During the summer such a generator would be well oversize for running a light or two and the refrigerator, again every few hours. I suspect that the noiser generators are not too bad if just idling.
Hmm. An inverter large enough to run the refrigerator. Intersting idea. Must look into that, thanks. The 'internet as news' concept makes perfect sense as well.
================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================
Reply to
jim rozen
Real mufflers cost real bucks- like a $150 for a 1200 watt portable Makita. So you're at Home Depot and see two gensets of similar output and one is $150 more than the other...
Reply to
Carl Byrns
You might want to look at the Honda "EU" series. They have a built-in inverter, which allows the engine to run at different speeds, depending on the load. They also have wiring kits available that allow you to connect 2 units in parallel.
I bought an EU2000 last year and like it very much. Very, very quiet and small enough to toss in the truck (one-handed, even) if I need to use power tools away from the house.
They are pricey. Also note that the model number indicates surge power rating, not continuous (the EU2000 is rated at 1600W, continuous)
Some more info:
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R, Tom Q.
Reply to
Tom Quackenbush
It won't take you long to figure out how bad that idea is. What's the wattage of a refrigerator, even a small one? Do the math and discover how much amperage you'd have to pull from your battery to run the refrigerator. Battery life would be very short.
Years ago I built a 12V generator for our boat, which had two small electric refrigerators aboard. I added two batteries to the boat and had to run the generator several hours each day to keep the batteries up. The refrigerators pulled only 5½ amps each, but in the hot environment of Lake Powell, they ran continually.
Reply to
Harold & Susan Vordos
The idea would be to a) run the truck at some speed above idle, to b) supply 12 volts to a large inverter, so that c) the refrigerator could run for a half hour, every few hours or so. Kind of a stop-gap measure, I know.
The downside on this is, in the event of a large scale power failure, it might be better to have the gas in the truck instead of keeping the food cold.
The other trouble I see with generator units is, gas powered ones have the fuel go stale. I would be planning on eliminating that problem by using the fresh fuel in 'all those motorcycles' (wife's phrase) in the garage.
Keep the generator tank and carb empty until needed, then simply tie into a fuel petcock on one of the bikes. I've heard too many recent stories about generators that don't on account of the carb being gummed up when it's needed.
The other possibility is the neighbor who inherited the local radio station backup generator. They had a military surplus willys go-devil motor that was mated to an Onan generator. It's in quite rough shape and would need a motor re-build and a maybe a generator re-wind. Plus I would have to convince him to part with it, somehow.
But a nice 3 or 5 kW Honda unit is going for around $2K or so right now. If I invested in the long term strategy I might be able to have something in a shed by the garage that would run the entire neighborhood.
But then again, do I really *want* something like that??
================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================
Reply to
jim rozen
An inadequate muffler is only part of the problem. The engine itself radiates a lot of noise. This is due to design and materials choices made for the cheap air cooled engines. So while adding a good muffler will help, it won't make as much difference as you might desire.
This is particularly true for gensets like those sold under the Coleman name, where they cut every corner to get the price down.
There are small engines designed with noise control in mind. Onan, Kohler, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha all have engine series designed for low noise. Yamaha in particular has about the quietest "contractor package" available. The difference between it and a Coleman (Briggs powered) is dramatic.
If you look at the engines, you'll notice that the low noise ones have added stiffeners cast into the block and head, and the fan shroud is double walled with sound deadening material between the walls.
Toro specs a "quiet package" from Briggs for their engines. It has the double wall construction, but doesn't have the head and block stiffening ribs. It is quieter than an ordinary Briggs, but still much noiser than the engines which also have the added stiffening.
Reply to
Gary Coffman
Back in the 1900's they used to jack up on side of the model A and attach a hub the blted to the wooden spokes to run such things as washing machines and buzz saws. Would the be possible to do with todays cars? Some kind of bolt on to the driving wheels that could then be belted to a generator. Ofcourse you wouldn't want to do this to some gas hog.
Reply to
Heck, make a little dynamometer(?)-like dealie where you drive up onto it, put chocks under the other wheels, and rev up the engine. It could have a shaft going to other things, or just an alternator or something...
-- "That's for the courts to decide." - Homer Simpson Website @
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Reply to
Tim Williams
Not the supplies of the people who prepared properly. ;)
Shouldn't be too hard to stockpile enough gas to run a generator for 48 hours. It would probably be less work than setting up a steam engine. Not that I'd say a steam engine is a bad thing. It just doesn't look like a better solution for everybody wanting to generate their own electricity in an emergency.
It is easier to fight for our principles than to live up to them.-Alfred Adler
Reply to
Noah Simoneaux
Ive been told that if you bury a 55 gallon drum in the ground and pipe your exaust into it, it will quiten down a bit. ( of course haveing an outlet pipe out of the drum).
Reply to
Bill Bright
Thank you for the explanation Gary. I have a Honda 5HP on my generator and I think I'll do some experimenting before I go and do anything elaborate in terms of routing exhaust down a tube.
Reply to
You only need a length of black pipe, some other fittings, and maybe even a nice large general purpose off the shelf heavy equipment muffler, and wham! Quiet.
You can use a random muffler from a junk yard if you are feeling really cheap...
Carl Byrns wrote:
Reply to
Speaking of steam - how about you metal heads building up a nice sized Sterling engine to rotate a generator?? :- )
Noah Sim> >
Reply to
I once fitted together enough pipe fitting adapters to weld a large car muffler to a brigs 5hp genset. It cut the noise by almost 60%. YMMV.
Reply to
What a marvelous idea! A giant muffler.
Even if it didn't completely quieten the sound it would make it hard to locate.
Reply to

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