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#253126 - 11/10/12 02:38 AM Lessons from Hurricane Sandy
yee Offline

Registered: 12/10/11
Posts: 169
My decision to prepare for 1 week unsupported was correct. In the course of three storms, I was out of power for 8 days, 7 days and 5 days.

My decision to use civilian Sceptre cans instead of MFC was correct. Its advantage is that each and every one has its own spout. The military can shares an admittedly superior spout.
I am also using a a pair of siphons as backup. I suspect I do not need the MFC advantage of being able to be run over with a truck and get shot at.

Supplies of gasoline were adequate. At the expected use of 7.5 gallons/16 hours each day, I had adequate supplies for the planned 7 days. None of the gas was more than 2 months old due to my rotation schedule. Of course, I used the forecast to dump 3-4 jerries into my cars and then promptly fill up the cans to bring the oldest gas to 1 month age. I may need to increase on-site gas supplies to account for my driving needs to get to work. Decision pending since it may be too much work to rotate the additional gas supplies (risk/benefit).

My maintenance schedule of my generator is in question. A generator test was performed the day before the storm. The battery was topped off 2 days before the storm. The oil and filter were fresh. When I lost power, the generator fired up immediately but failed after 3 days of useage. The engine was fine. It is likely an electronics failure afterwards: capacitor, diode failure or rectifier. Examination of brushes (which were never maintained) look OK. Parts are now on order.
My solution is to repair the current generator (a consumer grade Coleman) and purchase a backup generator, likely a Honda. It is nearly impossible to fix a generator during an emergency without parts. It is not an option to purchase the same exact generator so that one serves as the parts for another since Coleman is now out of the business. I will need to change my maintenance schedule to do generator tests while keeping the generator under load.

In a sense, the generator failure was a good thing. It gave me good data on my families' supplies useage in the absence of electricity. I only budgeted 1 gal/person/day as FEMA recomments. It turns out my family uses closer to 20 gallons/ day. I now have to figure out a way to store at least 2-55 gallon barrels of water. My prior solution is a dozen 5 gallon paint cans (food grade) in the garage. Melting a 5 gallon block of ice may be a pain but is likely doable with a hammer. Any ideas how to melt a 55 gallon barrel of ice? Any better ideas on how to store such a massive quantity of water? I would prefer to avoid storage in the basement in case of barrel failure; I don't want to clean up a 55 gallon flood (mold).

Conway Yee

#253130 - 11/10/12 03:22 AM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: ]
yee Offline

Registered: 12/10/11
Posts: 169
Interesting thought. I never thought of purchasing a backup dynamo. I was considering purchasing backup diodes capacitors and AVR. My Coleman is also a Briggs Engine. Where can I buy dynamos?

Conway Yee

#253132 - 11/10/12 04:27 AM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: yee]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1680
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
Conway... a lot of people report using the 275 gallon totes... many are food grade... used ones typically have transported syrup mixes for the soft drink industry...some are stainless caged.. you could store outside, covered with a black cover to retard algae growth... filter if necessary... many are used with a rainwater collection system

#253139 - 11/10/12 04:12 PM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: LesSnyder]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
I doubt a 55 gallon insulated barrel stored in an unheated garage would actually freeze solid in most places. it would not be real hard to put a small strip heater against the outside of the barrel under the insulation to keep it from freezing at all.
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile


#253140 - 11/10/12 04:27 PM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: yee]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
Try to get the water barrels up off the floor, its something about air conducting cold worse than solid - a pallet does the trick. If you see freezing, I might consider a roll of fiberglass insulation from Home Depot. Just like a blanketed water heater can keep the heat in, a blanketed water barrel might keep some of the cold out.

The pallet works out here in the PNW, I store water in an unheated attached room in 15 30 and 55 gallon drums. YMMV for Duluth and wherever you all may live.

#253146 - 11/10/12 06:08 PM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: yee]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
Also Conway, I am interested in your perspective on heating your home after Sandy - I can see the sense in a backup generator(one is none etc), but could you make your home more comfortable / survivable by sinking the money spent on a second generator into adding insulation and windows?

we have gone 9 days without heat in our home in below freezing conditions, but we kept our gas for hot water and our gas fire place for heat. Our house was built in the 60s but is moderately well insulated, and our experience has been that we don't need the generator to stay here.

In times of low or no gasoline to run a generator, this seems like a good thing. Your thoughts?

#253148 - 11/10/12 06:53 PM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: Lono]
yee Offline

Registered: 12/10/11
Posts: 169
I am pretty well set up without a generator. House is fairly well insulated. I actually PREFER colder weather for sleeping. Plenty of sleeping bags and comforters already available for all. For the three nights without power, the kids had a blast: everyone sleeping in same room with sleeping bags, etc.

Hot water is for consumption is available via 3 20 lb propane tanks that can be hooked up to two separate multi-burner portable stoves (two burner, three burner).

My plans include revamping the basement so that the pre-existing (but not currently functional) wood stove can be used.

The 2nd generator is primarily to allow my wife to continue working (internet home based job) during the outage and to reduce marital strife.

I will be purchasing the 275 gallon totes noted above. It will be the perfect cost-effective solution to my water storage problems, particularly I have a well shielded place to store it.

A 2nd portable generator has the advantage for me that WHEN I sell the house, I can take it along.

Conway Yee

#253192 - 11/12/12 12:12 AM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: ]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1416
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
If I lose power I can always head to the folks place nearby or I might pick up one of Hondas super quiet 1,500-2,000 watt genis. I was very surprised recently at a street fair with how darn quiet those tiny Hondas are.

I agree. The Honda Eu1000i and the bigger Eu2000i are very quiet. Both are rated at around 60dB under load and at around 53dB at 1/4 throttle.

Also the Yahama EF1000iS and EF2000iS models are just as quiet and reliable as the Honda's.

I know people who have both brands and I would not have a problem purchasing either brand if I ever wanted a small generator.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

#253194 - 11/12/12 01:46 AM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: yee]
Carl_Theile Offline

Registered: 11/05/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Outside, anywhere
It turns out my family uses closer to 20 gallons/ day. I now have to figure out a way to store at least 2-55 gallon barrels of water. My prior solution is a dozen 5 gallon paint cans (food grade) in the garage.

I took a lesson from my water heater- it maintains somewhere between 20 and 60 gallons of circulated water- always fresh. So to store [fresh] water, one needs a container of sufficient size and a mechanism to circulate that water. I have a poly tank with a city water pressure input and a garden watering valve output, with timer, that waters my garden daily- or, 500 gallons of circulated water. Said tank is insulated against freezing.

All I need do is stop input/output to preserve the water for emergency use.
You are not out of options until you quit.

#253203 - 11/12/12 06:14 AM Re: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy [Re: yee]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 3062
Loc: Big Sky Country
I have long been planning on buying several of the big blue 55 gallon water barrels for long term storage but recently I decided to try a different approach. I've ordered some of these 5 gallon containers instead. Here's my thinking; these are $7 each, so 11 x 5 gals = 55 gallons for $77 (plus shipping...more on that in a minute). The bare 55 gallon drum is about $76 each. But the bare drum doesn't have a bung wrench, spigot or any means of filling the barrel. The deluxe kit is around $88. Now, three of the 5 gallons containers ship together for a total of $6- that's not bad! IIRC the drum costs $12 to ship.

Now overall the cost is about a wash. The real advantage of the smaller containers is the ease of filling, dispensing, rotating and more importantly moving. Five gallons of water weighs around 40 lbs vs 440 lbs for a fify-five gallon drum.

The reviews are good but obviously I'll see how durable and well constructed they are once they arrive next week. If they seem well made and sturdy my plan is to buy three each time I get paid until I have perhaps 150-ish gallons of water stored.
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

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