Texas after action report

Posted by: TeacherRO

Texas after action report - 02/19/21 07:39 PM

What worked in Texas? What went wrong? How could they have prepared better?
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Texas after action report - 02/19/21 09:18 PM

I find this article informative and useful. Written by an engineer who actually knows the system --

Daniel Cohan, What So Many Of The Misleading Narratives About Texas Miss
Posted by: roberttheiii

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 01:09 PM

The linked article is great in terms of explaining the grid situation. In terms of what individuals could have done, I think there are a few things.

Prepare yourself for a freeze. Have a great sleeping bag, good clothing, and other equipment to stay warm even in a "colder than expected" situation.

Prepare your home for a freeze. I live in the northeast and I have a plan in place for protecting my home from freeze damage (yet untested) if we lose power and I can't keep a generator running. It involves draining pipes and using RV antifreeze in things that can't be drained completely (drain traps, washing machine, dishwasher, etc. etc.).

Understand that housing varies by region. Homes in Texas may have underpowered heating systems, less insulation, and water pipes outside the home. Take these into account when acting on items above.

My last "big thought" is having a generator and stored fuel supply (or if you can swing it, solar and onsite batteries...) capable of powering your home (including heat) for some fixed amount of time. A generator that relies on natural gas can't be relied on in many situations (earthquakes, flooding, etc.) including this one.

This is a long way of saying prepare for the weather/natural disaster EXTREMES of what could happen where you live, not the averages, if you want to be less impacted.
Posted by: brandtb

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 03:39 PM

Originally Posted By: roberttheiii
. . . .

My last "big thought" is having a generator and stored fuel supply (or if you can swing it, solar and onsite batteries...) capable of powering your home (including heat) for some fixed amount of time. A generator that relies on natural gas can't be relied on in many situations (earthquakes, flooding, etc.) including this one.

. . . .


I also have been thinking about a generator, but I was considering propane. It seems more reliable than gasoline. Any thoughts on propane?
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 04:55 PM

We can also take this opportunity to think about power grid failure during the opposite of a cold spell -- a heat wave. Texas regularly reaches 100 degrees and more during the summer. What if you get the summer equivalent of what's going on right now? How do we prepare?
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 06:18 PM

Propane: less power for given weight of fuel, but fuel essentially never goes bad. Burns cleaner than gasoline.

Gasoline: more power for given weight of fuel, more available than propane. Even stabilized, gasoline doesnít last more than three years in storage, and Iíve been sticking to rotating it annually.


The generator I have now is gasoline only; when I replace it Iíll almost certainly get a dual-fuel model.

My gas generator could be converted to run on propane, and propane/dual-fuel generators can be converted to run on natural gas.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
We can also take this opportunity to think about power grid failure during the opposite of a cold spell -- a heat wave. Texas regularly reaches 100 degrees and more during the summer. What if you get the summer equivalent of what's going on right now? How do we prepare?


Generally speaking one needs a very large generator to power a whole-house AC.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Texas after action report - 02/20/21 07:39 PM

For spells there is lots of traditional guidance.

Be an early riser, like 4 AM. Do the heavy labor before it heats up. Take an extended break during the heat of the day - generally around 3 PM or so There are good reasons for siestas - it has nothing to do with laziness.

Keep hydrated and watch others for signs of dehydration. Drink water, not booze. Watch your electrolyte balance.

Seek shade and let any breeze circulate. Take advantage of any awnings, etc. and consider temporary fixtures.

Watch the relative humidity. it is much easier to be comfortable when RH is low. Then dousing clothing and surroundings with water is extremely effective. If RH is high, e really cautious because sweating does not cool you.

A broad rimmed hat is really vital if you are in the sun.

I remember a project in the Grand Canyon near phantom Ranch. We were on the job at 4AM, knocked off at noon, working on notes, etc. until after dinner, and then returned for about two hours. Temps regularly exceeded 100F. All survived....
Posted by: Blast

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 12:25 AM

Winter Storm 2021 AAR - Spring, TX
Minimum temperature reached was 5F
Three days below freezing.
Power out for 13 hours.
Only damage was rain gutter getting torn off house by weight of ice.

Had Done Right:
1. Filled up vehicle gas tanks.
2. Had some bottles of HEET on hand to add to gas in case of water condensation.
3. Filled every thermos and insulated water bottle with boiling water to use as needed.
4. Taught daughters how to flush toilets by adding water to the bowl.
5. Covered outdoor faucets and pipes. Pool noodles worked for that.
6. Charged up ham radios.
7. Charged up backup deep cycle batteries.
8. Replaced house air filters to minimize strain of furnace.
9. Made sure living room ceiling fan is turning clockwise.
10. Trickled water to minimize risk of frozen pipes.
11. Had almost 100 gallons of water stored.
12. Used only 2 gallons of stored water.
13. Moved water bottles out of vehicles before the froze and split.
14. 60 Watt incandescent bulbs put out a LOT of heat. Put one in lamp in attic
15. Kept a flashlight in pocket at all times even when power was on.
16. Make sure each family member has a flashlight.
17. Plugged in vehicle batteries.
18. Checked generator (oil, placement, CO monitor)
19. Had 5 days worth of propane for generator (Generac LP 3250)
20. One 20# tank of propane lasted about 6 hours but we could have used a LOT less electricity.
21. Neighbor traded bbq of propane in exchange for electricity.
22. Lent neighbor walkie-talkie so we could communicate.
23. Never lost fiber-optic internet connection.
24. Had spare spark plugs, oil, and heavy-duty construction grade power cords for generator.
25. Ran gas fireplace for heat.
26. Everyone had heavy cold-weather sleeping bags.
27. Everyone had warm clothes.
28. Moved everyone into one bedroom to sleep to maximize body heat.
29. Lots of chatter by local ham radio operators.
30. Monitored the county and city emergency dispatchers using a Baofeng UV-5R radio. LOTS of trouble around us.

Had Done Wrong:
1. Let myself get really wet while getting generator set up.
2. Had forgotten the proper steps to start generator.
3. Didnít cover plants well enough.

Next Time:
1. Buy more sheets to cover plants.
2. Check fire extinguishers. They were fine but I didnít check them until it was too late to replace them.
3. One of my 30-watt solar panel wasnít working. 100 Watt panel ordered and will arrive in a few days.
4. Get spare pull rope for starting generator, just in case.
5. Dig out 12vdc battery-to-MacBook power cables.
6. Get 12vdc power cable for WiFi router
7. Get 12vdc power cable for fiber optic modem.
8. Make styrofoam block for running power cord through the window
9. Couldnít move generator to the back yard where I had planned to use it.
10. Get big chain to lock generator to porch.
11. Put eggs, cheese, bread, and other often-used stuff in a cooler rather than leaving in fridge.
12. Get slip-on, waterproof footwear.
13. Buy cherry Jell-O
14. Buy more cup-a-soup
15. Buy more packets of instant potatoes
16. Buy hose clamps and flexible hose big enough to slide over broken pipes. No pipes actually broke.
17. We always had water but in a future event if thereís no water then turn off the water heater.
Posted by: Blast

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 12:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
We can also take this opportunity to think about power grid failure during the opposite of a cold spell -- a heat wave. Texas regularly reaches 100 degrees and more during the summer. What if you get the summer equivalent of what's going on right now? How do we prepare?


Texas power generation, public works, houses, and commercial buildings are generally built for hot weather rather than cold. We have weeks of +100F weather every summer without a glitch, even this last one where everyone was home running their AC units, a bunch of computers, and the microwave non-stop.

*Knocks vigorously on wood* A hurricane could damage power plants along the coast like hurricane Harvey did in 2017 but that storm caused little issue with the TX power grid outside to the high-wind zones. In the case of this 2021 TX Snowpocalypse, numerous power generators, using different fuels, ended up going offline because they froze up. Heat doesn't have the same effect on equipment.

Now, imagine a historical, high heat event somewhere like Minnesota. The houses and buildings there are designed for cold weather, not hot. Most private homes rely on window-mounted AC units rather than the whole-house AC systems down south. If the heat shoots up and stays up all those MN window ACs will draw a lot of power and maybe trip some circuits but the bigger issue will be all the people who don't have easy access to cooling. A quick search showed a MN heatwave in 2019 killed six people when the temperature reached the mid-90s for several days and a few hours above 100F.
https://www.winknews.com/2019/07/20/massive-heat-wave-blamed-for-at-least-6-deaths/

We live in a complex world...which makes it fragile. Thankfully there are groups of people to talk to who understand this. smile
-Blast
Posted by: Blast

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 12:46 AM

Originally Posted By: brandtb
[quote=roberttheiii]. . . .

I also have been thinking about a generator, but I was considering propane. It seems more reliable than gasoline. Any thoughts on propane?


I absolutely LOVE my Generac LP3250 propane-powered generator. [u=https://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/02/emergency-preparedness-generators.html]Let me count the ways![/u]

Pros:
1. Fuel Storage - these generators use a standard, 20lb propane bottle like your propane grill which are readily available (most of the time). Propane doesn't degrade so you can store multiple bottles for years if necessary.
2. Fuel Cost - Propane is generally much cheaper than cost of gasoline or diesel needed to produce an equal amount of power.
3. Fuel Safety - while propane is highly flammable it is non-toxic. If you accidentally release some it'll quickly dissipate without causing an environmental or health risk.
Runtime - a 20lb bottle will give 6-10 hours of run time depending on how much power you need from the generator. Three bottles will often be enough for most situations...but you can usually trade your neighbors electricity in exchange for their BBQ grill propane tank if the situation lasts longer than three days.
4. Power Output - propane is a high-energy fuel so it can produce a lot of electricity. They usually start at 3000 Watts and can be found up to double that.
5. Maintenance - since propane is a gas, when it evaporates it doesn't leave behind the gums and resins that gasoline or diesel do. This means lower carburetor maintenance! The carburetor is where the propane and air mix before going into the piston's ignition chamber (the part where propane is burned). Since the fuel is still unburned in the carburetor, when you turn off the generator fuel remains there. Gasoline and diesel will eventually evaporate form there, leaving behind goo which can prevent a carburetor from working the next time you need to run the generator. Propane doesn't leave goo behind!

But to be fair:
Cons
1. Size - to take full advantage of the power produced by propane the resulting generators are physically large. They will be up to 2-3 feet long and 2 feet wide.
2. Noise - most propane generators are made for construction sites where noise isn't a problem. They will be as loud as a standard gas-powered lawnmower so running them is noisy! This is especially problematic at night...or when you don't want thieves to know you have a generator.
3. Fuel Storage - keep in mind while propane tanks are safe to keep filled for long periods of time, the valve systems on the tanks have an expiration date. If the tank valve has expired, propane refillers won't refill it. This is really only a problem with the big, 50lb propane tanks that can't be swapped out for regular tanks at tank exchange locations, though.

-Blast
Posted by: Famdoc

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 01:40 AM

I have thought it odd for some time that Texas has its own utility grid that supplies most of the state, apparently having chosen to go it alone, rather than link with either the grid in the Eastern US or the Western US. The word hubris comes to mind.

If a different decision had been made decades ago, I strongly suspect many fewer power outages would have happened, the natural gas that was available could have gone more to where it was needed for heating homes.

ERCOT will be in the hot seat (not dependent on gas or electricity supplies) in the immediate future.

This avoidable disaster makes a very strong argument for doing away with ERCOT, and the go it alone in Texas mindset, and proceed to make the Texas grid interconnected with the grid outside of Texas, and mandating oversight of the Texas portion of the grid by FERC.
Posted by: Blast

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 02:12 AM

Hmmm, a quick search confirms that the FERC oversees the California power grid. That doesn't inspire a feeling of confidence. eek

The base issue was money wasn't spent to winterize the TX power grid. Considering how for the last 20+ years we've been warned about the uncontrolled heating of the Earth, any power company executive suggesting making the grid more cold-hardy down to 0F temperatures would have been branded a science denier and driven out of the company.

The population of Texas has been growing about 1.2% per year for more than the last ten years. This is actually a huge jump in people one you add up the yearly totals. Add to that the associated businesses. This sort of population growth requires a lot of power. However, building a new power plant takes over ten years of planning, studies, and finally building it. Frankly, I want fewer people moving to Texas. Maybe this current disaster will redirect them elsewhere...but then all the hurricanes never did. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
-Blast
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 02:18 AM

No interest in politics, but from what I've read the necessary systems were all in place -- and froze up. Natural gas suppliers and power plants alike. And wind turbines without ice-control heating loops at the tips.

The thing is, these systems are the same ones we use in the Great White North. Perfectly reliable in any temperature, but there are many practical and design tweaks to make that happen. These adjustments are not free, and when this event passes it will be a hard sell to harden the Texas grid against a once in a lifetime event. Unless people are willing to pay a surcharge ...
Posted by: haertig

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 02:45 AM

One thing indirectly related to the power problems - some folks in Texas are on "variable rate" electric power (e.g., my sister!) Meaning they are buying wholesale and are subject to wild fluctuations in price. During normal times, variable rate is cheaper than the more common "fixed rate". With fixed rate, the supplier is taking on the risk of wild price swings. With variable rate, the end customer is taking on these risks.

During this electrical disaster, there are reports of these variable rate customers getting socked with multi-thousand dollar monthly electricity bills. $10,000+ monthly electric bills!!!

For me, if I were a variable rate customer (we don't have that here in Colorado to my knowledge), I would get off of that billing method immediately.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 03:20 AM

Don't worry. Happiness is Big D in my rearview mirror. Arizona es mas mejor....(Reply to Blast).
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 04:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Blast
The base issue was money wasn't spent to winterize the TX power grid. Considering how for the last 20+ years we've been warned about the uncontrolled heating of the Earth, any power company executive suggesting making the grid more cold-hardy down to 0F temperatures would have been branded a science denier and driven out of the company.


Looks like the energy execs might not have been keeping up with the latest --

Heating Arctic may be to blame for snowstorms in Texas, scientists argue, The Guardian

An interesting idea, though it looks like further research is needed before they know.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 07:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Blast
Hmmm, a quick search confirms that the FERC oversees the California power grid. That doesn't inspire a feeling of confidence. eek

The base issue was money wasn't spent to winterize the TX power grid. Considering how for the last 20+ years we've been warned about the uncontrolled heating of the Earth, any power company executive suggesting making the grid more cold-hardy down to 0F temperatures would have been branded a science denier and driven out of the company.



That's an oversimplification that's a bit wide of the mark. The more accurate way to describe the situation if Anthropomorphic Climate Change. "Global Warming" was easier for the talking heads on cable news to pronounce so we're stuck with that term. But the science clearly predicts not only higher average temps but changing weather patterns, hence the "Change" part of the phrase. Some wet places will get drier but some dry places will get wetter. Global average temps have trended upwards for at least a century but winter will still happen for a while, and disruptions in the normal currents- both air and the Conveyor in the seas- will lead to more "freak weather". Stronger and more frequent storms. Downright hot days in the winter along with freak cold snaps.

Besides, it's not like Texas never gets cold! When it comes to weather and geological events everything that's not impossible is inevitable! We use terms like "hundred year flood" to help us get our minds around the frequency of such events. If you're near a subjection zone or fault line there will be an earthquake. Maybe not this year and maybe not in your lifetime but it will inevitably happen.

Politicians plan things on the basis of while I'm in office or before my term ends. Ideally though civil engineering should have different metrics, goals and time frames. I don't think freezing temps in Texas really qualify as a "Black Swan" event that no one could have foreseen; plenty of people that live there now have described seeing snow and cold temps in the past. There has to be some balance between a huge expenditure to winterize on the one hand and completely burying one's head in the sand on the other.

Not everyone can drop everything and head to Cancun when a big storm hits. grin
Posted by: quick_joey_small

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 01:36 PM

Blast wrote:
'Hmmm, a quick search confirms that the FERC oversees the California power grid. That doesn't inspire a feeling of confidence. eek'

Since Texas which is NOT overseen by FERC, is the place having the problems, I don't see why.

And has been pointed out; no one is saying all the world is heating. Shifting air patterns are causing some places to get colder.

But we best drop this subject; pointing out climate deniers are wrong is banned on ETS.
This is a site for people who like to base their survival on advice from people who deny reality :-).

qjs
Posted by: brandtb

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 02:27 PM

Thanks, Blast & Chaos, for the propane info. Several questions -

For something for the Generac LP3250, how much does it weigh?

Can it be tied directly into the house power system by having an electrician install a transfer switch?

Does it have computerized components that would be fried in a solar storm or EMP?

Run periodically to keep from freezing up (mechanically, not temperature)? How long?

Other than oil and filter, what maintenance?
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 04:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Phaedrus
The more accurate way to describe the situation if Anthropomorphic Climate Change.


I think you mean "anthropogenic," right? Anthropogenic means caused by (or "originating" from) human activities. Anthropomorphic means looking like human beings.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 05:58 PM

Great AAR and well done sir.

Originally Posted By: Blast
1. Let myself get really wet while getting generator set up.


The best way to get warm is to stay warm.

Quote:
2. Had forgotten the proper steps to start generator.


I have an inexpensive home laminator purchased from Costco. I used it to protect the Generator Operation Checklist I wrote and attached to our generator. This makes the generator operable by Mrs. Magnet or the Offspring.

Quote:
4. Get spare pull rope for starting generator, just in case.


My generator has a section in the manual describing how to start it with a cordless drill.

Quote:

5. Dig out 12vdc battery-to-MacBook power cables.
6. Get 12vdc power cable for WiFi router
7. Get 12vdc power cable for fiber optic modem.


This is a very good idea. You can also use a relatively inexpensive UPS to provide power stability for your network equipment. It's low draw and if sized correctly you can get a day or more out of it. Since this gear is sensitive to power fluctuations I have mine in place to keep my internet working if our power "bumps" more than an hours-long outage.

Also, keep in mind that any use of a transformer reduces efficiency. If you take 12VDC power and use an inverter to bring it up to 120VAC, then plug your Mac power brick into that, you'll use significantly more watt-hours transforming the power than you might have to. Going direct from 12VDC to 20VDC (which is what my Mac uses, be sure to know the right voltage for your machine!) is going to be a far more efficient use of your limited power budget.

Quote:

8. Make styrofoam block for running power cord through the window
16. Buy hose clamps and flexible hose big enough to slide over broken pipes. No pipes actually broke.


Really good ideas, these had not occurred to me. You can also use PVC pipe couplings for this.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: quick_joey_small
But we best drop this subject; pointing out climate deniers are wrong is banned on ETS.


Correct.

Originally Posted By: The Survival Forum Rules and Courtesies
Politics, religion and philosophy can be stimulating to discuss and debate, but this is not the place to do it. Discussion of "Climate Change" inevitably descends into ugly divisiveness that is essentially political, so that subject is also not allowed.



chaosmagnet
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
Originally Posted By: Phaedrus
The more accurate way to describe the situation if Anthropomorphic Climate Change.


I think you mean "anthropogenic," right? Anthropogenic means caused by (or "originating" from) human activities. Anthropomorphic means looking like human beings.


Bingley is correct regarding the word choice.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 06:15 PM

Originally Posted By: brandtb
Thanks, Blast & Chaos, for the propane info. Several questions -

For something for the Generac LP3250, how much does it weigh?

Can it be tied directly into the house power system by having an electrician install a transfer switch?

Does it have computerized components that would be fried in a solar storm or EMP?

Run periodically to keep from freezing up (mechanically, not temperature)? How long?

Other than oil and filter, what maintenance?


The Internet tells me that specific unit weights 137 lbs. Mine (a Champion) has a pair of wheels and a folding handle on it that makes it relatively easy to move around on flat surfaces. It's not as easy to move on steps.

Any generator that outputs 120VAC (in the USA at least) can be safely and legally used with a properly installed transfer switch.

My generator doesn't have any semiconductors in it and I expect that it would start and run after an EMP. I imagine the Generac model you mention is similar. I don't begin to have enough fuel on hand for that to matter to me, for more than a few days using the generator sparingly.

My generator has a long-term storage procedure and starts within 2-3 pulls after a year of storage if I follow the procedure correctly. If you don't follow the manufacturers' long-term storage procedure and the manual doesn't suggest an interval to run it periodically, I'd guess at running it for an hour a month.

Oil, gas, air filter, rare spark plug changes (I have a couple spares), and mine allegedly needs a new fuel hose every five years. I've always done that pre-emptively, never having had a fuel hose failure.

If there's a model you're particularly interested in, I bet you could download the manual for it before making a purchase.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 06:24 PM

With any generator:
  • They emit carbon monoxide and other gasses that can kill you. Always run them outside and away from air intakes and windows.
  • They run hot. Don't fuel them when hot. Don't let the exhaust hurt someone or cause a fire. Use a spark arrestor on the exhaust.
  • Ideally you'll have a flat, paved spot out of the rain to operate it. I'd be comfortable operating mine on a flat spot that's unpaved but away from anything flammable. Mine is not designed to run in rain or snowy conditions.
  • Remove all electrical loads before starting, and if you possibly can let it run for at least a few minutes before adding electrical loads. Remove all electrical loads before stopping, and let it run for a minute or so without a load before stopping.
  • Don't let the fuel gum up. Either run it completely dry, or stabilize the fuel and log when you fill it up so that you don't let it gum up after the stabilizer expires. I like to run mine on a 50/50 mix of stabilizer and gasoline for at least a few minutes until it runs dry, then restart it until it won't run any more at all. After that I change the oil (while it's warm or hot) and squirt some oil into the cylinder, as per the long-term storage procedure for my unit.
  • I use expensive full synthetic motor oil for the four small engines I own (lawnmower, snowthrower, generator and gas chainsaw). A local small engine mechanic gave me a thorough butt-chewing over how I maintained the lawnmower that he had just fixed for me a couple decades ago. I've seen him only very rarely since and (when I had him fix a cable on my lawnmower) joked with him again about that incident.
Posted by: Blast

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 06:29 PM

Originally Posted By: brandtb
Thanks, Blast & Chaos, for the propane info. Several questions -

Q1. For something for the Generac LP3250, how much does it weigh?

Q2. Can it be tied directly into the house power system by having an electrician install a transfer switch?

Q3. Does it have computerized components that would be fried in a solar storm or EMP?

Q4. Run periodically to keep from freezing up (mechanically, not temperature)? How long?

Q5.Other than oil and filter, what maintenance?


A1. 137lbs without a 20lb fuel tank

A2. Yes, along with four 120VAC/20A outlets it also has one 120/240V twist-lock outlet that can be connected to the house.

A3. Good question. It doesn't seem to have a computer and looking over the manual, nothing jumps out at me that would need a computer.

A4. Nope, that's the main reason I went with propane over gasoline. The carburetor doesn't get gummed up. Once I'm done using it I follow the instructions to pull the spark plug, pour 15cc of the oil into the cylinder, and pull the pull start four times to spread the oil around. Then reinstall the sparkplug and shove it into the garage until the next disaster.

A5. Change the spark plug every season or before use...which I haven't actually done. Check the air filter before each use, replace if overly dirty. Also note, propane cylinder valves have an expiration date and once it expires propane refillers won't refill it. It's easy enough to swap an expired 20lb tank but I'm not sure what to do with my two 100lb tanks. smirk
-Blast
Posted by: brandtb

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 08:15 PM

O.K., Blast & Chaos, great info. I will have to build a little wooden shelter or put it under the deck to keep it out of the rain.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Texas after action report - 02/21/21 10:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
Originally Posted By: Phaedrus
The more accurate way to describe the situation if Anthropomorphic Climate Change.


I think you mean "anthropogenic," right? Anthropogenic means caused by (or "originating" from) human activities. Anthropomorphic means looking like human beings.


Hahaha, good catch! That is the word I meant to say. blush
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Texas after action report - 02/22/21 04:09 AM

Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
I have an inexpensive home laminator purchased from Costco. I used it to protect the Generator Operation Checklist I wrote and attached to our generator. This makes the generator operable by Mrs. Magnet or the Offspring.

This is a really good idea. I have such checklists attached to different pieces of equipment. You don't want to make a simple mistake like skipping a step, wondering whether your equipment is broken during an emergency. Reading a machine manual by candlelight is just not as romantic as it sounds. I know from experience.

Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
This is a very good idea. You can also use a relatively inexpensive UPS to provide power stability for your network equipment.

UPS for everybody! For those who work from home, an UPS should be able to protect you from brief power interruptions during a Zoom meeting. If a hurricane knocks out local power, you may still have internet access through your router as long as you can power it. Don't count on cell service.

Is this how you start a generator with a drill?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIqsh4aXFPs
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Texas after action report - 02/22/21 04:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
Is this how you start a generator with a drill?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIqsh4aXFPs

Haha, that's hilarious! "I already have a bad injury, and I had a brilliant flash so I'm going for a second!"

Personally, I would want some sort of slip clutch mechanism in that starter drive train. I'm trying to cut down on wrenched limbs and shrapnel.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Texas after action report - 02/22/21 01:11 PM

Originally Posted By: brandtb
O.K., Blast & Chaos, great info. I will have to build a little wooden shelter or put it under the deck to keep it out of the rain.


Just make sure that thereís plenty of airflow, both for the engineís well-being and your own.

My deck is a sieve when it comes to rainwater, so that wouldnít work to keep the water off my generator.

I do keep a dedicated chunk of plywood on hand ó I can set the generator outside, and place the plywood on its metal frame. Neither high-tech nor perfect, the one time I needed the generator to keep the sump pumps running, it did work and stayed dry. The wheels and front stand were enough to keep the engine out of the water on the ground.
Posted by: LesSnyder

Re: Texas after action report - 02/22/21 08:31 PM

I've posted this before, but since we are talking about small generators and fueling... I've converted both my generators to work with bulk fuel cans, supplied by a 5/16" squeeze bulb siphon system... the older Honda does not have a fuel pump, so must be fed with a true siphon started by the squeeze bulb, with the fuel above the height of the carburetor (an advantage is if multiple families are using the generator, they can supply their own fuel) the smaller inverter has a fuel pump, so is fed with a T fitting tapped between the shut off valve and fuel pump, with the shut off closed the pump draws from the external tank after the line is primed... an external plug shuts off the line when not used with the external tank

to improve the water proofing of fuel line to the external cans, a snorkel of 1/2" pvc is used to allow the drop tube to extend to the bottom of the can, through the pour spout... the pour spout opening is 1/2" so two elbows and a short connecting section, and a tail piece... seals the top opening, and U shaped drop down so the rain will not follow the fuel line... the factory spout had an internal cast channel to allow air to flow, and was tediously removed with a narrow wood chisel... the pvc elbows were not glued to allow the fuel line to be more easily snaked through...

I don't rely on external information tags, and just put the spark plug numbers, V belt number (the old Honda is belt driven) and oil filter numbers on the outside of the case with a good permanent marker
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Texas after action report - 02/22/21 09:00 PM

Funny story, but sorta sad. Friend's cousin in Austin calls and they are discus suing that she's a wee bit inconvenienced becuase the power and gas are out. She especially misses her hot tea. He reminds her that she's always sending photos of them BBQing on their propane powered grill. DUH! Never occurred to them to use the BBQ to cook or heat water.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Texas after action report - 02/23/21 12:28 AM

The knack to improvise - think outside the box - is critical in unusual circumstances.....
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Texas after action report - 02/23/21 04:57 PM

Originally Posted By: hikermor
The knack to improvise - think outside the box - is critical in unusual circumstances.....


It is. And yet so few people study how to do it...
Posted by: MartinFocazio

Re: Texas after action report - 03/03/21 12:51 AM

There are two major generators in my life:

1) At home. I have a portable gasoline generator & a transfer switch that keeps the "essentials" (water pump, septic pump, refrigerator, freezer and some lights and outlets) running. I have a rotating store of 20 gallons of stabilized gasoline that gets renewed regularly (every month, the oldest 5 gallon fills a vehicle, and is refilled and sent to the back of the line of 4 five gallon-cans.) This method works well - we were able to run the house for 2 weeks this way in 2012, and have run the house for 24 to 72 hours quite a few times since then. Run the generator every month and look after oil changes and so on and this works find.

2) At the Firehouse. There we have a much larger whole-building system and that runs on Propane. Propane is much less efficient than gasoline, but we have a massive tank there, and we have yet to determine the run-time possible - it's likely at least 7 days, maybe more. Propane has some big advantages though. Does not gel like diesel and does not "go stale" like gasoline. As long as the generator is well maintained, with propane, it WILL PRETTY MUCH ALWAYS START IN COLD WEATHER unlike with gasoline and propane, which may run into challenges.

The main issue with propane in a long-term situation is resupply. While there are portable generators that can use propane and gasolone, when you have a huge in-ground tank and you need a refill, the truck has to come to you, you can't go get enough propane to refill your big tank. This can be a problem when supply lines are down. You can drain a variety of other gas-powered devices if needed to get a few hours of run time.

I love solar, am a HUGE advocate and want everyone to have solar everything. But. But. If you have to generate HEAT directly from electric, solar is going to require an epic amount of battery storage. I mean kilo-dollars of battery. It's possible, but over the last few years, I've gotten into RV Solar power retrtofits and learned that solar electric is not ideal for heat. I've set up an RV with a pair of 100 amp-hour batteries that are charged by an array of solar panels on the roof and watched a toaster oven just obliterate the stored energy in the batteries in a weekend. For solar heat, a better solution is a closed loop hot water system. We installed one of these on a freind's house using two panels and it consistently generated far more heat than expected.