Project Prepper, Part 43: Standby Generator For Heat, Other Essentials

In last week’s “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

You may recall I talked about how strong winds knocked out power- and heat (electricity needed for furnace blower)- for a couple of hours late last month. I wrote:

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

As we already use a natural gas furnace, I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater would be a good backup heat source. Based on that initial research I did, I still think it is.

However, I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage. David Agrell reported on the Popular Mechanics website on January 25, 2013:

Standby generators offer a steadfast solution to extended outages. Unlike portable generators, they’re installed permanently on a concrete pad in your yard and will provide uninterrupted backup for days. That’s because they’re connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel. Smaller, air-cooled essential-circuit units… are slightly larger than portable generators and can energize just a few circuits at a time. Larger, liquid-cooled whole-house systems will do just as their name suggests—they’ll comfortably power an entire home…


“Standby Generator”
YouTube Video

According to the Generator Buying Guide (February 2016) on the Consumer Reports website, stationary generators range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts and cost from $5,000 to $10,000. Yikes! Add to that the cost of professional installation. Plus there’s this from the folks over at Consumer Reports:

Guess What: You Need a Transfer Switch

What’s that, you say? Well, the short answer is that it links the stationary or portable generator to your circuit panel in one cable. Skipping it could cause appliances to fry, endanger utility workers, and damage the generator.

We recommend that you have a pro install it, and it could cost from $500 to $900, with labor…

Other items that might need to be addressed include:

• Maintenance
• Municipal ordinances
• Noise
• Physical placement

I get it. This would be somewhat of a complex and costly project to carry out.

Still, at first glance a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator looks to fit our anticipated needs better than just a vent-free heater for backup heating.

I’ll bring up the subject again after looking into it some more.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Agrell, David. “Should You Buy a Standby Generator?” Popular Mechanics. 25 Jan. 2013. (http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a8523/should-you-buy-a-standby-generator-14880060/). 3 Mar. 2016.

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