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Do you have a generator


DawnM
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for a power outage.

we have discussed it for years but have never actually gotten one.

 

If you have one, did you just get a small one or one to power the entire house?????

 

Just curious.

 

We may look into getting one after this winter, when they are on sale.

 

Dawn

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We have one and it's been a life saver a couple times.  The power grid got a significant upgrade by our house and since then, we rarely loose power.  Before, that happened, it wasn't unusual to lose power and it was usually in the dead of winter.  Our generator isn't the type that you'd likely want as it's run by a tractor.  I love it though as it can run the entire house, no problem. 

 

ETA.  I grew up having a generator that would run the entire farm/house so when we bought our current home, we set things up so we could very easily shut the power grid down to prevent back feeding and have a generator hook up. 

Edited by Sharpie
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DH's background is commercial power and air conditioning. We live in a semi-rural area with a lot of power outages and bought one just before a tropical storm that put the power out for seven days. Good timing!

 

For that storm, we ran it outside with extension cords to just a few appliances and our well pump. 

 

Later we set it up with the power panel so that we could power part of the house by flipping switches and starting it up. Doing it that way is a larger project than just buying the generator, but it's also much safer. The generator stayed in a small shed that held only the generator outside so no carbon monoxide risk. With that arrangement, we ran it probably 3-4 times a year, sometimes for several days. We did all of the maintenance ourselves including running it monthly and changing the oil, etc. We still have that generator 12 years later as a backup.

 

If you just get one that you're going to wheel out and use extension cords, keep in mind that you have to maintain it like any other equipment and keep gas on hand.

 

Now we have a whole house generator that runs on our propane tank. We have critical medical equipment, and I work from home, so we decided to go the whole way. It runs it's own testing sequence every Saturday. DH checks it periodically, and we have professional maintenance once a year.

 

 

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No, but I would like one even though the only thing I really have to worry about is the fridge and freezer.  We have a gas grill with a burner so we can make some food (if I have the right things available).   We can manage to live without heat for a few days. 

 

My neighbor has a whole-house generator attached to her home's gas line.  She may never even notice that the power is out because it just comes on automatically.  When we had an outage for several days one year, we took our devices over to her place to charge.   

Edited by marbel
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No, but I would like one.  

 

My neighbor has a whole-house generator attached to her home's gas line.  She may never even notice that the power is out because it just comes on automatically.  When we had an outage for several days one year, we took our devices over to her place to charge.   

 

I love that idea.  Then I wouldn't have to futz with getting fuel for that thing.  Which could be highly problematic in the dead of winter!

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No. Our grid was upgraded after the NE 2003 blackout. We have only lost for hurricanes and ice storms since then and its not widespread...we can easily drive and get ice or power.

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Yes. It is sized to run the refriderators and freezer, lights, the blower on the gas furnace, one eye of the stove, but not the oven or clothes dryer. Dh is a power engineer, so he wired an outlet to the load center and the generator plugs into that. We just have to be careful to restrict the load ourselves. Ask me how I know that.

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Yes. We need one to run a fire pump and for us no power means no water. The one we have will run fridges and freezers and the pump and lights but nothing too power hungry like aircon or heating etc. it has saved us losing a freeZer full of food twice in three months.

 

 

Good point.  We wouldn't have water either, it is all on an electric run pump.

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We have a big generator that runs on propane. It won't run the whole house, but it will keep the important things going, like our well, the furnace, the fridge and freezers, some lights, etc.

 

Early in our marriage, DH and I lived in NY state and there was a huge ice storm. We were without power for something like ten days. I never want to repeat that experience, so having a generator was tops on my list when we built this house.

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Early in our marriage, DH and I lived in NY state and there was a huge ice storm. We were without power for something like ten days. I never want to repeat that experience, so having a generator was tops on my list when we built this house.

 

Early in our marriage, this exact storm was the defining factor to why we own a generator!  We no longer live in that area but it was a storm I'll never forget!!

 

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Ours runs everything except microwave and dryer. You have to be extremely careful about carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure that the main breaker is turned off so that you don't feed power back down the lines and potentially injure or kill a repair worker. We had ours professionally set up.

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Yes. We have a fairly large duel fuel one. We plan to only use propane in it, as that is cleaner and requires less maintenance. 

 

Our power rarely goes out, and when it does, it is generally for less than an hour or two. But a few years ago, when we had that derecho up here, we were without power for a week in the hottest part of summer. We had to drive a couple hours to borrow a small generator from DH's boss, and we just plugged in things as we needed to use them. We plugged in the freezer during the night and it stayed cold all day. We have a septic pump, so had to plug that in to pump it out several times a day. 

 

We are planning to get our electric upgraded soon, and the generator will be good to use if it takes a couple days to do that. 

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My neighbor has a whole-house generator attached to her home's gas line.  She may never even notice that the power is out because it just comes on automatically.  When we had an outage for several days one year, we took our devices over to her place to charge.   

This is how ours is.

It powers up every Sunday to make sure it is in good condition.

It will come on automatically if the power is out for a few minutes.

We have 3 freezers, 2 refrigerators, and our water table is high here so we have sump pumps in the basement that need to be able to run.

It runs on propane so we have to make sure we have enough in our tank.

We installed it ourselves which was quite an undertaking.

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Yes. We don't get snow and ice often, but our state isn't prepared for it, so that can mean a several day power outage. It is portable (can be wheeled) but is large enough to run lights, refrigerator, heat, stove, tvs, and a few other things at the same time. I don't think it runs the dryer, but it might run the oven. We had an electrician install a specific type of outlet for it and it does something with the box thing. (I am pretty clueless about this stuff!)

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If you have one, did you just get a small one or one to power the entire house?????

 

We have one which is somewhere in between: 6500VA.

 

Since I've previously detailed our plan for providing for our needs during emergencies elsewhere, I thought I'd post it here in case anyone is interested.

 

To me, this is the key thing to have in place. I have a similar array of options for our home:

 

Heat:

- Air-source heat pump: Strictly grid-tied. I do not even have this set up to run from the generator.

- Wood pellet stove: We used to heat the entire house for the winter with this unit, but the price of pellets has doubled and we now have net-metered photovoltaic electricity that cover our heat pump's consumption. The fans and auger only consume about 120W of electricity when operating.

 

Cooking:

- Everything is electric except we have a propane cooktop (and a propane oven which draws about 300W for its igniter).

 

Water:

- We have a well pumped by a 1/2 HP submersible. The pump is 240VAC, but I added an autotransformer after the pressure switch to allow it to be run from 120VAC if needed. It has a high starting surge, but only draws about 1000VA when operating.

 

Hot Water:

- We have a heat-pump water heater that only draws 600W when running. It is also 240VAC, but I do not have it set up to run from 120VAC through an autotransformer since we sometimes (but rarely) use the 4.5kW resistive heaters. I have a couple of autotransformers kicking around here, so I certainly could wire it for 120V if needed.

 

Dryer:

- We have BOTH a propane dryer AND an electric dryer. We used to use propane when the house was off-grid, but I switched it for an electric unit when we decided to move to a grid-tied arrangement. The propane unit could be switched in if needed for emergencies (or we could simply hang the clothes to dry).

 

Electricity:

- Our house is powered by grid electricity with just over 100% of our consumption offset by net-metered, grid-tied PV.

- We have a 6500VA Honda generator which is connected to run everything except our heat pump and our electric double oven. It can simultaneously run the wood pellet stove, the well pump, the water heater and charge the LEAF.

- We have 800Ah (nameplate) of 12V AGM batteries. I got them for free because they were badly sulfated down to only 200Ah of capacity. My little BatteryMinder 1500 is dutifully pounding away on them to try to recover their capacity. Last time I tested them, they were up to 300Ah! Since there's no hurry, I just let that thing continue to do its work of recovering capacity.

- To go with the 12V batteries, we have a 2000VA Outback inverter that puts out 120VAC. This should be able to run any of the loads which the generator is connected to, although I have not tested it with the surges of the well pump or water heater yet. The most important load for these batteries is the pellet stove, which it should be able to run for a day with the current capacity of the batteries or three days if they ever get fully desulfated.

- In a pinch, I could rewire one or more PV panels to charge the 12V batteries.

- Then there is the LEAF. I have a couple of 120VAC inverters which work with it. Since there is a fridge and deep freeze in the garage, those are its primary loads, but I have used it to run the pellet stove in the past, since it is easy to set up.

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We have one which is somewhere in between: 6500VA.

 

Since I've previously detailed our plan for providing for our needs during emergencies elsewhere, I thought I'd post it here in case anyone is interested.

 

To me, this is the key thing to have in place. I have a similar array of options for our home:

 

Heat:

- Air-source heat pump: Strictly grid-tied. I do not even have this set up to run from the generator.

- Wood pellet stove: We used to heat the entire house for the winter with this unit, but the price of pellets has doubled and we now have net-metered photovoltaic electricity that cover our heat pump's consumption. The fans and auger only consume about 120W of electricity when operating.

 

Cooking:

- Everything is electric except we have a propane cooktop (and a propane oven which draws about 300W for its igniter).

 

Water:

- We have a well pumped by a 1/2 HP submersible. The pump is 240VAC, but I added an autotransformer after the pressure switch to allow it to be run from 120VAC if needed. It has a high starting surge, but only draws about 1000VA when operating.

 

Hot Water:

- We have a heat-pump water heater that only draws 600W when running. It is also 240VAC, but I do not have it set up to run from 120VAC through an autotransformer since we sometimes (but rarely) use the 4.5kW resistive heaters. I have a couple of autotransformers kicking around here, so I certainly could wire it for 120V if needed.

 

Dryer:

- We have BOTH a propane dryer AND an electric dryer. We used to use propane when the house was off-grid, but I switched it for an electric unit when we decided to move to a grid-tied arrangement. The propane unit could be switched in if needed for emergencies (or we could simply hang the clothes to dry).

 

Electricity:

- Our house is powered by grid electricity with just over 100% of our consumption offset by net-metered, grid-tied PV.

- We have a 6500VA Honda generator which is connected to run everything except our heat pump and our electric double oven. It can simultaneously run the wood pellet stove, the well pump, the water heater and charge the LEAF.

- We have 800Ah (nameplate) of 12V AGM batteries. I got them for free because they were badly sulfated down to only 200Ah of capacity. My little BatteryMinder 1500 is dutifully pounding away on them to try to recover their capacity. Last time I tested them, they were up to 300Ah! Since there's no hurry, I just let that thing continue to do its work of recovering capacity.

- To go with the 12V batteries, we have a 2000VA Outback inverter that puts out 120VAC. This should be able to run any of the loads which the generator is connected to, although I have not tested it with the surges of the well pump or water heater yet. The most important load for these batteries is the pellet stove, which it should be able to run for a day with the current capacity of the batteries or three days if they ever get fully desulfated.

- In a pinch, I could rewire one or more PV panels to charge the 12V batteries.

- Then there is the LEAF. I have a couple of 120VAC inverters which work with it. Since there is a fridge and deep freeze in the garage, those are its primary loads, but I have used it to run the pellet stove in the past, since it is easy to set up.

 

 

Is that English?

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Not a dedicated one for the house. But our RV has one. Plus the RV has a 75 gallon fuel tank. The genny will run until the tank gets down to about a quarter. That gives us approximately 110 hours of genny run time depending on load and assuming we start with a full tank. The RV also has a stove, oven, fridge/freezer, water heater and heat that all run on propane. We eventually are either going to buy a separate house genny or get BIL (licensed electrician) to fix it up so we can run things in the house using the RV genny. We just bought this house last spring and that particular item hasn't made it to the top of the "to do" list yet.

Edited by Pawz4me
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When we lived in a more rural area we talked about it regularly, but never bought one. We would fill the tub for water, had a propane heater for one room, and the range was gas so I could light it with a match. That covered the necessities for winter. We didn't have a stand-alone freezer, so summer outages weren't a big deal.

 

We went multiple years between 10 day power outages, so it was never enough to top the balance for a generator.

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Yes we do, a medium-ish one that will run the fridge, the chest freezer, the stove, a section of outlets and lights in the kitchen, and the furnace. (Hot water heater is the only gas appliance.)

 

We had an electrician wire it into the box. It lives outside in its own little shed dh made.

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Our next door neighbors have one.  If you get one, try to get one that can support your Refrigerator and the house lights.  Our electrical service is normally very reliable, but  about 7 days ago, there was an issue,or a series of issues, much of the day. Highly unusual for us.  The neighbors did use their generator off and on that day, during the intermittent  power interruptions.  

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No.  I have always wanted one, but I'm not sure I can justify the cost because we really don't lose power often.  Just, when we do lose power it's usually at a very awful time like the dead of winter and we freeze!

 

This, sort of. Since moving to NY 4 years ago, we've lost power I think maybe 3-4 times, the longest of which lasted 25 min or so. I just would suck at rotating keeping a fuel supply for the generator. The hooked up to the house's gas line idea sounds neat, but we're renting, so not sure how practical that is. We mostly would need to be able to power the thermostat and the fan of the heater, since the gas heater is in the basement, but it's not going to work if a) it doesn't know it needs to be on, and b) the heat isn't going anywhere without the fan. We might be able to just tell it to be on, but the fan thing... that's going to require power.

 

When we lived in DFW we'd lose power all the time, and it would often take hours to get it back. In fact, the afternoon/evening we moved there there was a thunderstorm and we didn't have power for hours, so it was "stick boxes in apartment, go to store to buy flashlight". When we bought a fixer-upper an hour north of Dallas, we did buy a power inverter for the car. We could power a circular saw etc off of that. Or, later, heat formula in one of those bottle warmers for picky baby who refused to drink anything but perfectly temperatured formula (that's what I got for breastfeeding the kid the first few months - the next baby only got tap water temperature formula, because we were not amused by first baby's pickiness). We should still have that inverter in the basement.

 

ETA: we do have a sump pump, so if it's pouring we might need to be able to power that or the basement floor will get wet, but our tap water doesn't require electricity.

Edited by luuknam
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DH says he thinks ours is about 8kw, but he wasn't quite sure.

 

DH says it needs an appropriate transfer switch and really should be installed by an electrical contractor if you're going to power your whole house. If you're just wanting to run an extension cord to power a fridge, that's less important.

 

Ours can run most of our house, but maybe not all at once. We have an outdoor wood burning furnace that heats our first floor, so we have the generator to provide backup electricity for that so our pipes don't freeze. Our upper floor is heated by electricity, and I am not sure we used the generator for that. I know we have run it from time to time during a power outage to keep the furnace going, keep the freezer/fridge going, run the septic and well pumps so we have water and toilet flushing, charge phones, etc. but maybe not all of them at once. I think we have used the electric stove with the generator but probably not other things simultaneously. We don't run the generator continually.

 

ETA: In ten years here, we've lost power for multiple days only two or three times. We've had a couple of outages that have lasted a few hours but haven't used the generator for those. If we have a big storm pending, DH drags the generator from the barn to our porch and fills the fuel cans for it.

Edited by happypamama
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Our next door neighbors have one.  If you get one, try to get one that can support your Refrigerator and the house lights.  Our electrical service is normally very reliable, but  about 7 days ago, there was an issue,or a series of issues, much of the day. Highly unusual for us.  The neighbors did use their generator off and on that day, during the intermittent  power interruptions.  

 

 

We have a full size deep freeze and two full size refrigerators.  We also have our sump pump and without electricity, we have no water.

 

A

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Our next door neighbors have one.  If you get one, try to get one that can support your Refrigerator and the house lights.  Our electrical service is normally very reliable, but  about 7 days ago, there was an issue,or a series of issues, much of the day. Highly unusual for us.  The neighbors did use their generator off and on that day, during the intermittent  power interruptions.  

 

 

We have a full size deep freeze and two full size refrigerators.  We also have our sump pump and without electricity, we have no water.

 

We would need to do that, at a minimum.  

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when I lived on the coast I learned quick to have one.  We usually lost  power for a few days but it was around 3 weeks post Katrina.   We were on a bayou so it took longer.   The gas station and stores it took a bout a week.  So we make sure to have a weeks worth of gas and enough cans to fuel a car.

 

We did not have one during the Blizzard of 93 but we had wood burning stove and camping stuff so we were fine.  We lived rural so it was around 10 days before power.

 

I now live about 4 hours from the coast and currently sititng here during a Ice Out.  We have not lost power but all roads are closed. My dh hit ice last night on way home, truck was 4 wheel drive but the truck got stuck on sapling and he walked home 4 miles. 

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If you get one, try to get one that can support your Refrigerator and the house lights.  

 

You must live in a warm climate, Lanny. ;)

 

In cold climates, by far the largest need is for heat.  This need was best demonstrated during the massive ice storm in January (and February) 1998 which left many without power in 0F temperatures in northern New York and the Montreal area of Canada.  Some around Montreal lost electricity in this extreme cold for FOUR WEEKS.  Selkie was likely referring to this storm in her comment above.

 

(As an aside, I learned from engineers responsible for designing the power grid around Montreal that the laws required them to design their equipment to support 18 mm of ice.  They had overdesigned everything to support 36 mm of ice.  Unfortunately, that storm deposited 45 mm of ice!  Quite a few of the large structures which carry the high-voltage power lines simply bent down to the ground under the incredible weight of the ice.  That's why it took so long to restore power to some areas.)

 

Unfortunately, many newer houses are heated ONLY by electricity, which leaves them extremely vulnerable to power outages in the wintertime.  In cold weather your water pipes can freeze within a day if you have no heat.  This can cause massive water damage.

 

For us, water is the second greatest need and that is ONLY provided via electricity since we have a deep well.

 

Cooking is also an important need.

 

Refrigeration is only an issue in warm weather.  We have other options for keeping food cold during this time of year.

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We have an inverter, which is a lot cheaper than a generator; it runs off of any vehicle.  When a storm is predicted, we make sure our van has a full gas tank, set up the inverter, and run an extension cord into the house.  It can power the fridge/freezer and charge our various electronics, which covers most of our needs.  We have hot & cold water without power, so no worries there.  We have a few oil lamps, camping lanterns, and flashlights with rechargable battery pacs.  As part of my pre-storm prep, I catch up on laundry and make sure we have food on hand that doesn't need to be cooked.  The only thing we don't have is heat, which we can live without for a day or two (and which isn't an issue if the outage is during hurricane season).

The flaw in this plan is, of course, the potential for an outage without prior notice of a storm, though even in that case we can likely muddle through for a couple of days.

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We live very rurally and lose power rather often and it takes awhile to come back. We have a small generator that runs our refrigerator, chest freezer, and can charge something. We have a gas stove so can cook by lighting the burners with a match.

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We have a small one. A few years ago, we lost power for a few days and one of our children was medically fragile and his life was dependent on equipment that required power. We had to move him and all of his equipment (basically a hospital room) to my in-laws' home in the middle of the night. We got a generator after that to avoid a similar situation in the future. It doesn't power everything in our house but can power the refrigerator and any medically necessary equipment. 

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We have a small one. A few years ago, we lost power for a few days and one of our children was medically fragile and his life was dependent on equipment that required power. We had to move him and all of his equipment (basically a hospital room) to my in-laws' home in the middle of the night. We got a generator after that to avoid a similar situation in the future. It doesn't power everything in our house but can power the refrigerator and any medically necessary equipment.

Oh goodness, how scary! And now I just realized why it's good that we have the outdoor furnace that requires a generator for backup so our 1830s house's pipes don't freeze -- because there's a high likelihood that will be us next winter if our nicu baby makes it through this one. At least we will be prepared already.

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That's cool that you still have hot water without electricity!  I thought pilot lights were a thing of the past, but clearly they are not.

 

That was an interesting article - thanks!

We are old school and like to repair rather than replace, when we can, and when we can't repair, we've taken to choosing simple appliances that are easy to troubleshoot and designed to be repaired.  

We've also got a landline with a basic phone that doesn't need to be plugged in - handy for calling in the outage to the power company when, like in our last outage, cell phones aren't working either.

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We live off grid, so a generator is essential to our power system. Our electrical needs are modest compared to folks in town. Our generator boosts our batteries when solar gain is nonexistent.  

 

For winter power outages you need to look at your household usage. What runs on electricity? If the power goes out, what can you live without? Maybe you want to convert your hot water to a on-demand propane hot water system. We have a propane refrigerator. Woodstove for heat? You best bet would be to get a propane generator hook-up to run your house in the event of a power outage. 

 

If you cannot afford a propane generator hook-up, then get the biggest generator you can afford. Have the forethought to buy gas, lots of gas, before a storm, and limit your generator usage since it is a direct draw of energy with no storage. Invest in candles. 

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We've also got a landline with a basic phone that doesn't need to be plugged in - handy for calling in the outage to the power company when, like in our last outage, cell phones aren't working either.

Yep, we have one of those too. Same here. Last outage, when everything was down, I could still call others who have a land line (my mom does). 

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Yes, we have one. It can power the heater, fridge, and all the freezers. We get at least one massive storm per decade that knocks our power for a week or so, on average. A generator is a cheap and very useful appliance.

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We have a small one. Our state gets very high wind storms every fall. A couple years ago there were 100mph winds that must have been quite a bit more wide spread than many years before because it cleared out ALL the weak trees lol. We were without power for 7 days in the main part of the city. Many people were out longer. We ordered the generator on Amazon on day two and got it by day 3 or 4. We have needed it a few other times since to save our freezer so it has been worth it.

 

I'd love to get a whole house generator. Definitely on my list now that we own again. We also have a well now and I think DH said he can hook up the generator to run the well (alternating with the other things) but it would be much better if we didn't have to worry about water interruptions at all. The gallons I keep in the basement will only last a couple days used sparingly.

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In cold climates, by far the largest need is for heat.  

 

 

Yup!

 

Looking through my memory files, I don't think we've ever lost power in the summer.  (I know it's possible, and we have some plans for that emergency, but the closest we've come that I recall is our fridge dying during warm weather.)  It would stink if we did, but it wouldn't be life-threatening.  No heat, on the other hand, would mean having to leave our home.  And we came pretty close to that with Sandy, when it technically wasn't even winter.  After 24 hours, our house was VERY cold.

 

Our balcony makes a very nice hillbilly refrigerator in the cold, lol.

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