We live in a very rural area and experience power outages on a regular basis, especially during the winter months. Over the past 22 years, we've learned how to use a generator during a power outage, plus some great things to consider when using a generator or considering the best way for you on how to use a generator at home.
Because we live so far outside of the city, whenever our area has a power outage, especially one that's widespread, our neighborhood will be one of the very last to get our power turned back on, sometimes days after other people have had their power turned back on.
We've gone through many different kinds of generators and setups, and in this post, we're covering what's working best for us now.
Tips for Using a Generator
- Never use a generator indoors. Not only are they incredibly loud, it's just not healthy! You need proper ventillation.
- If power is out due to a storm, wait until the storm is over (or until it's safe) to get your generator setup.
- Whenever possible, use a transfer switch.
- Quality extension cords matter, especially when running power through multiple cords to reach all areas of your home that are needed.
- If your generator runs out of fuel, let it cool down before refueling.
- Practice when it's not an emergency! Doing a test run with your generator setup when you're not worried about the power being out will help you recognize any oversights.
The Best Generator Setup For You
What Do You Need Electricity For?
In order to know what kind of generator, or even what kind of setup you're going to need with your generator, you first need to know what you're going to need electricity for if/when the power goes out.
For us, we definitely need power for our deep freezers. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a true Pioneer girl and I know how to preserve food at home, but I'm also a modern homesteader, which means I actually like the conveniences of the 21st century.
Because of this, we still keep a good large supply of meat in our freezers since we raise a year's worth of meat here on our property.
I do a good deal of freeze-drying (check out my freeze-dried eggs), dehydrating, and canning, and I do enjoy canned ground beef, canned chicken, canned stew, etc.
But call me crazy, I don't want to can my t-bone, ribeye, and New York cut steaks, nor my bacon (which isn't safe to can by itself anyway), etc. Therefore we still need that freezer!
Once you have experienced meat raised ethically it's EXTREMELY hard to go back to poor-quality store-bought meat. But if you're like me, you might not be raising everything yourself yet.
One of the few things we don't raise are turkeys but I can no longer abide buying a turkey from the store for Thanksgiving, especially reading the junk they inject them with and the deplorable living conditions those poor birds go through.
But that doesn't mean we go turkeyless, instead our sponsor ButcherBox hooked us up with a free 10 lb all-natural young turkey, meaning no basting ingredients, no artificial ingredients, and minimally processed without preservatives or antibiotics.
There's complete traceability to the farm with animal welfare certification, plus you don't have to go to the store. You can get a FREE all-natural 10-14 lb turkey for free with your first box with this link!
Frequency of Power Outages
The next thing you need to know is how often your power typically goes out on a regular basis.
Where we live, we can expect a power outage about once a month during the winter, simply due to weather/storms. And sometimes our power goes out without any obvious reason!
These outages are generally pretty short, no longer than a day or two, but we have had one power outage due to a mudslide that lasted two weeks.
Knowing how frequently you'll be needing a generator will be helpful to know what kind of setup you should have, and whether you need it “at the ready”, or if you can get it set up on an “as needed” basis.
What are your must-have items that will need power during a power outage?
For us, because I work from home, I'm in need of my computer and I rely on having access to the internet for my business.
Beyond that, we also have a private well for our water, and our well is probably the one thing that requires the most amount of electricity at once.
Having a generator large enough to power all your needs is crucial, so knowing the wattage of your appliances and other “must-have” electrical items is key to knowing what generator is right for you.
If you have livestock, you also need to consider their needs. Do you need lights for smaller animals to keep them warm? Do you need power so you can get water for your animals?
Thankfully where we live, in the winter months, we have a natural spring that fills up and provides enough water for our livestock.
What Size Generator Do I Need?
How do you determine what size generator you're going to need to run your home? You first need to know how many watts it takes to run your “must-have” electrical items.
Armed with this information, look at the watts on the generators you're looking at.
Do not look at the maximum watts – this is actually telling you that you can pull up to a maximum amount of wattage from the generator.
Look at the average running watts – this is the amount of wattage that the generator actually can power at any given time.
Setting Up a Generator
If at all possible, I'd recommend you have your generator set up on a transfer switch.
We actually had an electrician come out to our house and set up our breaker box so we had the capability of flipping a switch that would then power our entire home from the generator at the breaker box (no extension cords other than the one from the generator to the box)
Make sure all breakers are labeled so you can easily turn off breakers that will draw too much power.
How to Use a Generator at Home
There is a bit of a difference between what we used to do when the power went out and what we do now. So for those of you just getting started, I want to be sure to share what used to work for us for many years.
We had a smaller generator at the time, and we would set it up outside our back porch. From the generator, we would run a long extension cord into the house via a back window and plug in a power strip to that cord.
On a normal basis, it's not ideal to have multiple extension cords plugged from one to another, but during an outage, you make exceptions. This is also why it's important to invest a little extra and buy quality extension cords… don't skimp here!
We would then plug an extension cord into our deep freezer that's near our kitchen, and another extension cord into our refrigerator, and we'd alternate plugging those into the power strip (because our generator wasn't powerful enough to power both at the same time).
We would also have a few plugs left open on the power strip for things like the coffee pot, toaster, TV, etc. to get us through the outage.
Our old generator wasn't strong enough to power our electric cookstove, my computer, our well, or our hot water tank, so we would predominantly cook on the wood stove during a power outage.
Label all breakers, both in the house and outside at your box if you have more than one building or power source running from it.
Make sure all breakers are turned off both at your electric box and the generator when you first power it up. Let it run for a few minutes to warm up.
Then, plug in your main generator plug to the plug at the box (if you have it wired in). Make sure you line it up and turn it to lock it into place.
Then, turn on the breaker to the LARGEST pulling appliance first. This is the breaker to our pump house and well. That allows it to draw and kick on first without bogging down the motor.
Once that has had a chance to fire up, then we turn on the other breakers for the rest of the house (with the exception of the hot tub and hot water tank).
What Generator Do I Have?
After going through that two-week power outage when there was a mudslide in our area, we upgraded to a DuroMax XP 1200 EH. This is a propane or gas-powered generator that's also RV-ready. (I have no affiliation with them, I just love it and it gets the job done well! Not only that I can move it and get it all set up by myself!)
At the time of this posting (fall of 2021), the cost of this generator is $1,399. For us, it's worth every penny because the amount of food it helps keep frozen would far exceed the cost of a generator.
This generator is quite loud, but that's to be expected as it's a 12,000 max pull, but the actual running watts are 9,500 which is enough wattage to run our well, all our freezers (two deep chest freezers, one upright freezer, and our refrigerator), plus any other lights/electricity needed during the day for our busy household.
For some reason, however, it does not power our electric cook stove burners very well, even if I've turned off almost everything else in the house. I'm not sure if it's just our stove, or if this is a regular generator issue.
I can, however, use the oven to heat foods like lasagna. Because of this, we tend to still use our wood cookstove for much of our cooking during a power outage.
It would probably also run our hot water tank if we needed it in a long-term power outage situation, but we turn it off because we don't want to take the risk of the hot water heater and other appliances switching on all at once and potentially ruining or bogging down our generator.
We also don't power our hot tub, which obviously isn't a necessity, but it sure is a nice perk!
The reason we upgraded is, as mentioned before, I work from home and need to have enough power to conduct regular business, regardless of our power situation.
If power outages weren't such a commonality, we could definitely get away with something smaller. This is why it's so good to know what's “normal” for your area. So if you've just moved somewhere new, it's a good idea to ask the neighbors what's normal in that area.
How Much Gas Does a Generator Use?
We don't use propane for our generator (even though it has propane capabilities), but as far as gas goes, we generally go through 8 gallons of gas in 8 hours time when it's at 50% load, if it's pulling the max running watts you'll go through the gas faster.
Tips During a Power Outage
Keeping Food Fresh
There are a few things you can do to help keep your food fresh for a long period of time, even without a generator.
For deep freezers, you want to make sure you keep the doors/lids closed. Do not go open them and get food out for dinner, just keep those doors shut to maintain as much cold as possible. Food in a freezer should stay frozen for at least 24 hours. If your freezers are in a garage or another outdoor building during the winter months, they may stay frozen for even longer.
For the refrigerator, do not open the doors, just don't do it! If your power is going to be out for multiple days, you may want to consider removing the food and putting it into a cooler with plenty of ice (a great reason to have a large supply of ice on hand during times of possible power outages).
In northern climates during the winter months, it may be possible to just transfer your food to a cooler and keep it on the patio, especially if temperatures are close to 32-40 degrees F.
Depending on the type of food in your refrigerator, you should be fine even if the power is out for 24 hours. Beyond that, you have to use your own judgment on whether to keep the food or not.
It's a great idea to have some backup lighting on hand for times when you really need to see what you're doing.
It's very difficult to cook dinner by candlelight, and in the winter months, it's already dark by dinnertime, so having some kerosene or oil lamps, bright battery-powered flashlights or headlamps, or any other light sources is a good idea.
You can also place a light next to a mirror and it will double the brightness.
Verse of the Week: 1 Timothy 1:12
More Posts You May Enjoy
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- 30 Day Preparedness Resource Page
- How to Cook on a Wood Cookstove
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- 10 Ways to Keep Warm Without Electricity
- Off Grid Living: What You Need to Know
- 11 Ways to Cook Off-Grid Without Power
- Cast Iron & Dutch Oven Outdoor Campfire Cooking
- How to Make Beeswax and Lard Candles at Home
Hey Pioneers and welcome to episode number 325. Today's episode, we are going to be diving into use of a generator when you do not have any electricity, specifically the generator set up that we have now and the pros and cons of what we have done over the past 22 plus years that we have lived in a very rural area that experiences power outages quite often and the different generator setups that we have used and what we are now, how we now have it set up, what we feel is the best for us, but also how to evaluate your needs and your homestead to decide if a generator is something that you need to invest in and what is going to suit you and your homestead best. Welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast. I am your host, Melissa K. Norris. I am a 5th generation homesteader and I help thousands of people every single month learn how to live homegrown and handmade using simple modern homesteading for a healthy and self-sufficient life. And I am thrilled that you are here and joining the many, many people who are turning towards homesteading.
All of the things that we're going to be discussing today in this podcast episode, you will be able to find links and further resources that I will be mentioning at melissaknorris.com/325, because this is episode number 325. Again, full blog post with links to everything at melissaknorris.com/325. Now, with that, let us get on to today's episode at hands.
We live in a very rural area. And what that means is when the power goes out, it is usually out for a minimum of 12 hours. And if it is something that is a large storm that it's affecting multiple spots or multiple power outages in our county and/or state, then we are one of the last ones to receive power back. And simply because larger populated areas, areas that have a larger businesses or just larger people, higher population areas, those are going to be the top priority for the power company to get back on. I understand it from a business standpoint, they're going to put their resources where they can affect the most amount of people in one go. So I understand that, but I also used to get a bit frustrated because we would lose power at the same time as friends or family who would be in a neighboring town. Sometimes I'm not even kidding you literally across the river, we're talking like a mile and a half away from us and they would get their power back and we would still be days, literal days before our power would come back on.
So we are used to living with power interruptions. And over the years, we have adapted and went through different generators and different setups. So one of the things is looking at your homestead and deciding what do I absolutely need to have electricity for? Now for us, what we absolutely need to have electricity for is our deep freezes. Now, please, I just know I'm going to get emails or comments about this. So I'm just going to just, we're going to hit it right on the head right at the get-go. I know how to preserve food. We can a lot of our food, I can hundreds of jars of food every single year. We also have a freeze dryer, which means I can freeze dry and I'm freeze drying a lot of our foods. I use a dehydrator. So all of those forms of food preservation mean that we have food that is shelf stable without any form of electricity.
But that being said, I do not wish to can all of my cuts of meat while I love ground beef canned, stew meat canned, chicken canned, et cetera, I do not want a can my T-bone and my Ribeye and my New York cut steaks. I want those frozen so that I can thaw them and enjoy them as a steak. So there are different cuts and there's not all food is not safe to be canned. A lot of people find that a bit surprising, but it is true, not all vegetables are safe to can, and not all foods are safe to can. Dairy is not safe to can, certain things of fats aren't safe to can, different things like that.
So the food that is not safe to can or use other types of food preservation, where we simply don't like the finished outcome, that is what a reserve for our freezers. So yes, ideally in an ideal world, you would have a way to keep all of your food safe without any need of electricity. But I also like to operate, that's why I call this a modern home setting. We also like to operate within some of the modern conveniences, hence you listening to a podcast, right? Definitely a modern convenience that we have. I use a washing machine. Now most of the year, I actually line dry our clothes. But when we enter the winter months where it is just perpetual rain on end, I do use our cloth dryer. And sometimes there's certain items of clothing that I'll even set up a rack and dry in front of our wood stove. But I still do use a dryer during the off months or the rainy really icky months where I can't dry clothes outside.
We don't have a dishwasher any longer. That would be family members and our two hands or our dishwashers in our home. But I love my hot water tank. So there I'm saying all of this to share with you that there are certain modern conveniences that I am 100% on board with using. I like to have the skillsets and the know-how, however, to operate if those modern conveniences go down or we can't use them. But when I'm looking at a generator in a, for in an instance when the power goes out and stays off for an extended period of time, then I'm going to be, we're looking for a generator that's going to make sure that those systems stay in place so that we don't lose any of our food.
Now having water during an extended power outage, prior to two years ago, we did not have a generator that would operate our pump. So it's going to depend on if you're on a personal well. We are on a personal well. So when the power goes out, there is nothing that is providing power to the pump. So once we have used the water that's just in the pressurized holding tank, the pump can't kick on without electricity, therefore it can't refill that pump. Now I'm fine not having hot water during a power outage. That's no big deal to me. However, having running water is something that is important as you can well imagine. Now we are also on a private septic system. So if there's water in the toilets, they will flush. However, if there's no water in the toilet, it's not going to flush. But we're not really worried about our septic system backing up or anything like that.
Now, if the power is out for 24 hours, and as long as your deep freezers are decently full, if you only have a few items in there, then without power, because there's not the massive frozen food inside, it's actually going to thaw much faster, it's going to get warmer much faster. So if you have deep freezers that are majority filled with frozen food and the power goes out and you do not open the door, this is key, it's also key for the refrigerator, but it's also very, very key for your freezers, do not open the door. Those foods will stay frozen for at least 24 hours depending on the room temperature that they're in. So if you have them in an outside building or a garage or something like that that is unheated and it's in the wintertime and it's cold outside, then they can even go longer than 24 hours and the food inside them will still stay frozen and just be just fine.
Now, your refrigerator, however, and this is one that I have, if you have young kids at home, you have to drill into them when the power goes out is when the power goes out, if you don't have a way of hooking your fridge up to a generator in order to keep it cold, it is imperative that you do not open the door. Now, how long will that food stay cold? Again, it varies on what temperature is your home, how much food is in there, et cetera. But we've been fine. Like if we have food in there and it's stayed shut and there's not been any power to it, I'm fine with 24 hours, I don't really have anything in my fridge that's you going to go bad that fast and we're fine. Everybody can use their own judgment, of course, look, smell, all those things with your items in the fridge, but we've been fine with that.
However, as I shared, we often have periods when the power goes out, if it's affecting large store moves through, it's affecting other parts of our county, neighboring cities, towns, et cetera, it'll be at least three days before it comes on. And in extreme situations, the longest we ever went without power, there was a mudslide and it was too unstable for them to be able to get in and work on the area and get power restored to us, it was almost two weeks. It was just shy of two weeks that we didn't have power. But also the frequency. We usually will lose power at about once a month. Maybe not so quite as much during the summertime, but then we average where it makes up for it, we'll have months throughout the winter that we'll lose it more than once a month. So on average, we lose power about once a month, just to give you some reference there.
So in the past, we had a generator that we would run an extension cord from the generate. You never want to run a generator indoors, right? We don't want to be running any type of engine indoors. That would be very, very, very unsafe. So using common sense or what I would hope would be common sense, don't run a motor inside your home or inside any building that is closed, okay? We want good ventilation. But we would put our generator outside one of our back windows and we would run a extension cord from the generator through the window and then into the house. And we would plug in then a power strip. And then through that power strip, we have our refrigerator that's in our kitchen. And then in our kind of like our laundry room/back pantry area, we have one upright deep freezer. We have a deep freezers in our pump house, but just inside of our house, because those are areas that it's heated, obviously we have a wood stove. So we're not worried about heat. With our generators, our heat source is wood stove. We're good to go if that's an issue.
But we would pull out and put extension cords onto the deep freeze in the house and the refrigerator, and then we would take turns plugging those into the power strip so that they would be able to run, cool themselves off. But we didn't really want them both running at once because it was definitely a smaller generator. So it was not able to run our whole house, it could not run our well, couldn't run any of the appliances aside. And we usually, sometimes we would plug in a lamp, like an LED lamp or an individual coffee pot, and you would just rotate what was plugged in.
And then the TV, it would run the TV, which is not a necessity, but when it's in the middle of winter, it's really dark and it's really nasty out and you're not able to do a lot of the other things, it's nice in the evening when it's completely dark to be able to watch some TV. And usually then you don't have to have as many lamps or other lighting options. We've got like the LED lanterns. I love my Aladdin lamps or they're, it's not actually kerosene, but it looks like the kerosene lanterns. Those work extremely well.
Oil lamps is actually what we use that have the glass shoot. You can actually get really, really good light off that. Candles are actually very ineffective at lighting for the most part. When you really need to see, you can put them against like a mirror and they will help radiate out some light. But when it's dark out, I don't really like having a lot of lit candles around the house because it's really easy to not be able to see very well. And with kids, I don't want them accidentally knocking a candle over and they just don't give off that. The light that they give off is very ineffective. So I much prefer an oil lamp. But in the evening, if the TV is on, you don't have to have all of the other lamps like that you would need for reading or whatnot, we can turn those off and it's easy to watch the TV for a little bit of entertainment in the evening.
So the generator that we had that I said is a much smaller one, we could have the TV on and then either the refrigerator or the freezer plugged in, but you'd have to alternate them. You couldn't run the freezer and the refrigerator at the exact same time, but it wasn't enough to really run, like you couldn't plug in our stove. We have an electric stove that's a cookstove. So we would predominantly do cooking on the wood stove.
Now I've got lots of, actually I've got a wood stove cooking tutorial on the website, as well as Dutch oven cooking. So we will put links to that in the blog post so that you can go and check those out if you're looking for alternative ways to cook when the power is out if you have a smaller generator that isn't going to power your range top and oven.
However, every time the power would go out, it's a pain, especially when it happens frequently to have all of these extension cords. And like I said, we would have to pull our refrigerator out far enough to be able to get the cord behind it, little trick if that is you. Then I put string and would tie a piece of string around the cord so that when I got it unplugged, then the string, I had a little magnet on the side of the fridge that it was looped around, I could unplug it and then I could pull that string and that would make it so that I didn't have to pull the fridge nearly as far out, but I could get the cord out far enough that I could plug it into the extension cord that was then plugged into the strip that the generator was powering. So just a little tip there. However, that means you have to have extension cords and you have extension cords running all throughout your house.
And as I said, once it gets dark, you're not going to have the house lit up as much as you would probably when you have electricity going from room to room. So it's a trip hazard. And mainly, it was like a convenience hazard on me, honestly, because you're having to always keep these extension cords or if the power goes out and it's already dark out, it's like, okay, where did we put all the extension cords so that they get put back where they were supposed to be the last time? And then once the power comes back on, then it's taking all of these cords, putting everything back where they need to go, getting them plugged in. And that sounds like [inaudible 00:15:09].
But if the power comes back on in the middle of the night, we don't run the generator overnight when we are not awake. So if the power came back on, say at midnight, and we had went to bed at 9:30, 10 o'clock at night, then you either got up in the middle of the night when you discovered the power came back on to plug everything back in, because you did have it plugged into the extension cords and so you could potentially just go an extra eight hours or so without having your freezer and refrigerator plugged in. So it just got frustrating. And I was irritated quite honestly with it when the power was out. So we finally got in our budget. And honestly, if I would have realized how much easier life was when the power went out by having a larger generator, we would have prioritized this with the budget years and years and years before we did.
But one of the main catalysts is I now work from home and that means using a computer. I recorded this podcast on my computer. I upload things using the internet, the YouTube videos, the courses for the membership. And I'm also an author. And I was on deadline to my publisher for, I think it was The Family Garden Plan actually. And I had, what was it? I think I had one day left. So it was on 24 hour deadline to turn in, get back all of the edits, turn in the finished product to the publisher.
And when you're traditionally published, you sign a contract and you promise to have things turned back into them at a very specific timetable, especially when it comes to edits, there's a whole production calendar and there is really not much wiggle room on things. And trying to be professional, I try to keep to my deadlines. I treat them they are a real deadline. I'm actually contractually under a deadline, but I also try to keep to deadlines when people have requests for certain things that I've agreed to. And to get that to them on time regardless if there's a contractual deadline or not, even if it's just a word of mouth.
That being said, our power went out, which meant I could not access and upload things without the internet and without power, I don't have internet nor can I get things from my computer, my desktop, because a battery backup does not last long enough for me to be able to work and do the work that needed to be completed on this specific project. So I was able to email, because I could email from my phone using my phone data and my phone was charged. So I could email my editor and explain to them, hey, the power just went out. I don't think it will be back on in time. I may miss this deadline and this is why. They were very, very gracious. They're like, "No problem. Just keep us apprised. Let us know as soon as the power's back on, you can get us everything."
And part of the problem I now, I did learn at the time because I was just using my desktop and not a laptop, I didn't have the file saved to the cloud. So it wasn't like I could take the laptop or to an online storage, I should say, not necessarily just the cloud. I couldn't take the laptop to a neighboring town and hotspot it and get in somewhere and get them at because all of the editing work that I had already done, which was days, days of work was literally on my desktop, which I couldn't get fired up. You see the problem here.
So anyways, we finally, that was, I'm like, "I cannot operate a business from home that is under deadline like this without having some type of better backup power system. This is just too much." So we finally purchased a generator that was a large enough to power our house. So one of the criterias that you are going to want to look out when you're looking at a generator is you need to know approximately how many watts it takes to run the large appliances in your home.
Now, as I said, we have a well and actually your well when it first starts is going to take the most amount of power of probably at any one time of almost anything in your home. So if you are not on a private well, you are on a city water system, then you probably won't need to get as large of a generator. But one thing I have learned is I would rather go larger than I need at the time provided that I can afford it than go smaller and then outgrow the needs of that and then have to go and purchase a larger generator later. I would rather purchase one that will meet our needs as they are right now, but also leave room for expansion in the future.
So when you're looking at generators, one of the things that you're going to see is the watts, but what gets a little bit tricky is they will often lead with the maximum watts of power, meaning allows you to pull up to a maximum of watts of power, but that's not the running watts. What you need to look at is the running watts, what does that actually run on an average basis, not the maximum, because it's that average basis of watts that you need that number to be high enough to power all of the stuff in your house that you want to run on that bad boy. So for example, the generator that we have now, we purchased it two years ago and I did get it off of Amazon. I was not able to find any locally. And I will link to the exact one. It is, we've just paid full price. I have no sponsorship or they did not send it to me for free, anything like that. So I'm not affiliated by DuroMax, but it's a DuroMax XP1200EH generator.
Now what's interesting about this one is it is a gas or propane-powered home backup and RV Ready. We just run it off of gas. So I have never tried where you can try and have it run off of a propane tank. We've not tried that. We just put gas straight up in it. So yes, you do want to make sure that you have gas on hand. That is one thing you are definitely going to need. But it has worked great for us. As I said, have not tried to go the propane route with it, but it has worked well. It comes on wheels. I can move it by myself. It is large and it is loud, but almost all generators of any size are going to be loud. So it is much louder. We have a little 2000 Honda generator that we'll use for our RV or a camper, which is not it's large enough for an RV or camper, but not much else. It's not going to run your house. So this one is louder than that, but that's to be expected because it's a much larger generator.
But we got this one, as I said, it's a 12,000 max pole, but it's actually, it's operating running watts. And that's the number you need to look at is 9,500. So the 9,500 running watts for us will operate our well, it will run all of our freezers. So that is three two deep chest freezers, one upright freezer and our refrigerator. It probably technically according to our electrician friend that helped us set it up, it probably would also run our hot water tank. And that's running lights like we tell the kids as well all the time, but especially when the power is out, please turn off the light when you are not in a room, like, let's not be excessive with our electricity, use that type of a thing. But it will run the television. It will run my computer. It will run my internet, everything that we need it to run, it will run except our hot tub.
So our hot tub is going to pull a lot of power as well. And obviously our hot tub is wonderful. My husband works a very physical job. We're getting older. We love our hot tub, but it is not a necessity to life. It is definitely a luxury. So it is not something that we need to have powered when there is no electricity. So we make sure that the hot tip is turned off.
And we also turn off the hot water tank mainly because only on the off chance if the pump were to kick on at the exact same time as all of the freezers and the refrigerator, which is highly unlikely that all of those items would kick on at the very exact same time, however, I really don't want to take the chance. And if I have cold running water when I didn't have running water for years and years and years when the power was out, I'm like, "I do not care. Any water that needs to be heated to do dishes, I can do that on top of the wood stove, not a problem." So we choose to turn off the hot water tank and not run it on the generator just to be on the safe side.
And I really want this generator to last. Like I said, we're on our second year with it and I've not had any problems whatsoever, but I don't want to put too much drag on it by things that really aren't necessities. So for us, the necessities obviously, freezers, fridge and is my computer and internet when it comes to work stuff.
Now what's been interesting with this is before, as I said, we would run an extension cord from the generator into the house and we'd just have a power strip and extension cords going every which way, which drove me a little bit baddy, this time though, because it's so large and it will run everything, but we didn't want to deal with all the extension cord is we actually out at the box where our electricity, the electrical box and the meter and all those fun things are located at, we hired an electrician to come in and put a plugin out there. And so when the electricity goes out, we go out, or power goes out, we go out to the electrical box and we flip a little switch that turns off the power.
Actually, I have it set so that out there where we actually turn off the breaker box to the hot tub that is manually turned off. And then we plug the generator in and then we turn it on. And so that way the whole house, because our pump house with our well and where our other two main big chest freezers are, they aren't connected to the house's breaker box. It's a separate building out in our field. And so that way we can use one generator and we can power that building and we can also power our house, but it has to be done at the main power box to the entire property.
So we did that so that we could run all of the things and not have to have extension cords anywhere, but we do have to make sure that that breaker is flipped so that the hot water tank one is turned off inside the house and then secondly, that the breaker for the hot tub is turned off as well. But then everything, it's just like, if you had power with the generator running, you flip the light switch and the light comes on. It's not like I have to have a lamp with a cord plugged into a power strip, which is what we had to do in the past if we want an electricity for the light.
So really going through and deciding what are the things that absolutely we have to have power to, especially when the power is going to be out for 24 hours or longer, what are the things that absolutely have to have power that we have to have? How many watts do those use? And then picking the generator that is going running watts wise that's going to be able to handle that and ideally a little bit of extra room in there just in case.
So there was the expense of the generator. And right now, it's right at, it's basically 1400 bucks. It's $1,399, right? $1,399, sorry. Yeah, almost $1,400 basically. And we've had ours for two years and it has been worth every penny. It was amazing to me at how now when the power goes out, it's not nearly so much of an inconvenience and we save so much time and also peace of mind because we are raising even more of our own food ourselves. And that means for our food security, that we are using our freezers. And as I already covered, we do preserve quite a bit of it, but we still do use the freezers when you're getting a whole pig and half a cow and all of those things, they add up and you need the freezer space. And to us, it is worth it to be able to have the meat in that capacity and in the freezers, even though I do preserve some of it via canning.
So I always get interesting. And I use the word interestingly sometimes almost in quotation quotes, even though you can't see me, I always get very interesting feedback on people loving to give advice on chest freezers and electricity and what to do if the grid goes down and how we should be making sure we have other methods up. And like, yes we are, but I am living my life for how things are right now and being as prepared as possible for the future. But I'm not willing to sacrifice my steak cuts in order to can them when I know I can run my generator and keep them in a state that I want them to be in for right now.
Now, if we had a situation where the electricity went down and it looked like it was going to be for weeks on end or even longer, then yes, I would probably go ahead and use the fuel that I had left in the generator and the jars and the other things that we have available to us to preserve that food, and I would probably go ahead and can up a lot of it, but I'm not going to do that right now when I don't need to quite honestly. So anyways, I got a little bit on a soap box right there. So thank you for bearing with me.
Now, I will say with the generator, some of the things that we have noticed that's been interesting is with that 9,500 running watts, it does the freezers in their fridge absolutely fine, any lights, any of the electronics, none of those are an issue. They run just like a champ, just like the regular power was turned on. But what has been interesting is we have an electric stove that I use for cooking. So my oven is electric and then the four range burners on top, those are all electric.
And with the generator, my espresso machine works just fine. I have to say, again, another you could argue it is a luxury versus a necessity, but I am a coffee snob. And I absolutely love my espresso machine. Just putting it out there. And it runs just phenomenally well, perfectly well on the generator, the microwave, the kids have tested that. The microwave works just fine on the generator. And yes, in an ideal world, we wouldn't use a microwave, but you know what? We do use the microwave every now and then. I'm just being honest. And the generator handles it just fine.
What has been interesting, though, is no problems with the well even when we need to run livestock water. That's not been an issue, meaning we're using a fairly large volume of water at that time. But using the electric cookstove has been really interesting because when I turn a burner on, I don't notice any heavy load on the generator because you'll hear it like when something first turns on, if there's a lot of things on, you'll kind of hear it bogged down, you can actually hear it when if you've got too many things on. And that's when we're running run into the kids and we're like, "Turn this off, turn that off." Like, turn that off. It's getting bogged down because you don't want to run it under that much stress or that much power load for too long.
Anyways, I can turn the burner on, like say I went to make oatmeal. Actually, this is how I discovered it. I turned the burner on to do oatmeal and there's nothing wrong with the burners because when we're on the regular power, like just from the electric company, there's not an issue. So it's not like this burner was going out and it just happened to be coincidentally at the same time I had the generator powering it, but I put the pot on top of the burner to make oatmeal, did all of the usual settings and time for cooking the oatmeal. And when it was done, when it normally would be done in six minutes, I use old fashioned oats and it takes six minutes of the water with the lid on down to the texture where I like it.
When I took it off at the six minutes, it was still partially raw. That's weird. And so I put it on for another, I don't know, couple minutes or something, let it finish, let it cook a little bit longer and pulled it off. And it was still, it wasn't all the way done. I'm like, "It's not actually heating when I normally have the knobs selected at what the normal power is for me to cook this. It's not actually getting enough power to operate at the same."
So at that day when the power was out, I already had the wood stove. I had started the wood stove. And so I put more wood in the wood stove to get it up to heat for cooking, because cooking temp is sometimes different, I had to make sure that I had it loaded correctly. And I just finished cooking my oatmeal on the wood stove and just turned off the electric stove. I'm like, "Okay, I'm not dealing with the burners." So it will turn on. And I eventually could get water to boil on the wood stove, or excuse me, yes, definitely on the wood stove, on the electric burner, but it definitely took longer.
So our electric stove and the generator seemed to have a little bit of trouble. It's a little bit too much for it to operate like it would normally. So I will turn water on and heat it if I don't have the wood stove going, because in the middle of the summer, I'm not firing up my wood stove just to heat water, I'll be honest, because we lose power even in the middle of summer too. And if we're in a time of year where there's fire ban on, I'm obviously not going to build a fire outside either. I could use a barbecue and heat water that way, but I just turn on the electric stove with a generator and heated water to wash dishes that way. But it did take it much longer to heat.
So I try to plan on using like the Instant Pot or slow cooker or cooking on the wood stove depending upon the time of year when our power is out and we're using the generator and I try not to the electric so very much, but I have turned the oven on with the generator and the electric stove. And it seemed to bake okay. I didn't seem to, it was, I think it was like, I think I made lasagna where it's more just kind of heating everything through and getting the cheese bubbly and melted on top. It's not like I was trying to bake like sourdough bread or something at a really high temp.
So anyways, just putting that out there because I did notice that our electric stove cooking wise with it, that it did seem to have a little trouble operating as normal, but everything else has operated very normal and it has been 100% worth it. Of course, like anything, making sure that you have adequate fuel on hand in order to operate it when the power is out, et cetera. And we did hire an electrician to help us wire it in outside to the box to make sure that that was done all to code and all done very, very safely.
And our top priorities with the generator was obviously our food source with the freezers. And then secondly, we actually got by without having the well operating with water when we knew that there was storms coming in prior, now we don't have to worry about it, but we would have to make sure like if a wind storm was in or some type of storm that we thought would take out the power on the forecast, it was running the bathtub full of water to make sure that there was extra water there to flush toilets or whatever, it was filling up all the kettles, extra pots, extra pitchers, all the drinking water you can think of, but really from a home setting aspect.
Now in the winter time, we don't have to worry about water for our livestock because we've got a back spring slew type area that has water. And there's usually tons of mud puddles. Now is that ideal? Nah, not really, but there is water for the livestock where we're not super worried about it during most of the year here. However, we seem to be experiencing drier and hotter summers, at least this past summer when we had that 120 degree Fahrenheit a weekend, I should say. And so in those types of weathers and summer months and instances when you have livestock, if you don't have a way to run water for them, it is a very big deal. And so for us having this larger generator that will power our well actually is something for the livestock that has become more and more important to us, even as important or more important than the food that we have in the freezer or just as important, but for slightly different reasons, even though the livestock is going to feed us later down the road, or like with the chickens laying eggs daily.
However, that's a big consideration that you want to think about is if you don't have any type of water source or it dries up during the summer months and the power is out for more than a day or two, how are you going to get water to your livestock? Really big thing to consider that you want to make sure that you've got covered. So that was it for us.
And then some of the other infrastructure, like I said, we know we don't really need to have hot water. We have other means of heating water and we don't have to have hot water as long as we've got some type of running water. And cooking wise, we've got multiple different avenues that we can cook with. So really a generator that can power your water source if need be. And then also keep some of those other food things running.
And then, because it is part of my business and it is part of our business was having electricity that would run the internet and that would also run the computer for those types of projects. Now I realize we're talking home setting. And so for a lot of people having internet when the power is out and/or computer access isn't going to be as high. But if that is your job and you're under contracts to people, then that's going to be a higher priority obviously. So evaluating whatever those priorities are for you and then looking at a generator and a setup that's going to be able to give you access to them if the power is out for more than a day.
Now onto our Verse of the Week, we are in 1 Timothy 1:12, and this is the Amplified translation of the Bible, I give thanks to him who has granted me the needed strength and made me able for this Christ Jesus our Lord, because he has judged and counted me faithful and trustworthy, appointing me to this stewardship of the ministry. And I really liked this verse, especially today.
This was actually one of my verses that I was reading this morning during my devotion and prayer time. And the reason I feel like it spoke to me, and this may be something that you have going on in your life or can relate to is oftentimes we can be presented with opportunities that we're really excited about quite honestly, you're excited about them. And sometimes that's an opportunity where I'm almost in awe in the aspects of, oh my goodness, like I never thought that this would be something I would have the option to do, but at the same time of being excited about that and also very grateful that you are getting the opportunity to do something that you never thought you might be able to do where we'd get to do.
But then on the other side of that, or at least this is how I oftentimes process those times is then it's, oh my goodness, like, who am I to be doing this? I don't have any official training in this, or who do I think I am to be able to do this? And I know deep down that a lot of that stems from the enemy, but it's still things that I feel in wrestle with and you may be in the same bout or same boat, I should say, not bout. I have fun pronunciations for things. Hang out with me long enough and you'll notice that.
But what I learned about this is oftentimes when we start to think that, at least for myself, it's when I start to put the focus back on in my own abilities, right? We start to put the focus back on ourselves, which is very natural. It's very normal. But as Christians, we have to remember that our strength comes through the Lord, comes from the Lord, an inner opportunity that he is presented to us when it is from him, he is going to give us the strength and the ability to get through it because that's where our strength and our equipments comes from.
And so the reason I like this verse so much is because it is a reminder that God, Jesus, has given us the needed strength and he is the one that has made us able for this, not our own actions. And not that that means we should walk into something without doing due diligence and developing the skill sets that we know are going to be needed for it, but to also remember that he has given us the strength and the ability to get those things, and he is faithful and trustworthy, whereas we are not always.
I would love to think that I am always faithful 100% of the time, but there are times when my faith dips. And I think if any of us are being honest with ourselves and with others, there are times when your faith has waned. And I don't mean like your faith in Jesus necessarily or your faith in God, but your faith in the ability to walk out the life that Christ has called us to, there have been times where you have doubted you were able to do something. That's what I mean where your faith will dip. And so it's remembering that God is faithful and he is the trustworthy one. And we just have to lean on him and his strength and not get caught up with what if I don't know how to do this, what if I don't have the strength to do this and all of that, because the more we focus on that and ourselves and our own ability and the more worried and the anxious we get about it, well, then the less it's like the spiral.
So that is why I wanted to share this verse with you to remind you as well as to remind myself that God has given me all of the strength and ability that I need in order to do what he has called me to do or for you in order to do what he has called you to do. My friend, he has given you the strength and the ability, and he is faithful and trustworthy even when we are not. Hallelujah and amen.
Thank you so much for joining me today on this episode of the Pioneering Today Podcast. I can't wait to be back here with you next week. And if you have any questions or episodes that you would like me to talk upon topical wise, that is exactly how this episode came to be. More than one of you actually emailed in and asked if I could do an episode going more in depth of covering using a generator for preparedness and what our setup looked like. So thank you for that. I hope that you found it helpful and I'll be back here with you next week. Until then, blessings in mason jars.
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For lighting, have solar landscape lights in the yard. When power goes out, bring them in and put them In a jar or crock or something for light on a table. I have lights at least 10lumens? The dimmer ones can be placed in doorways to help you find your way around the house. I just got a New set of 5 for $20@ Sams club.
We lose power every summer here on our northern Arizona ranch for several hours. One year we were without power for 48 hours. It helped that my husband was a general contractor and had a big gas generator for his work. We have one deep freeze that is always filled with our grass fed beef plus two refrigerators. So he alternated the generator for 4 hour runs between each appliance. That saved hundreds of pounds of food. Now, I can much of our meat, so, should that happen again, ( now that we have solar but not an $18,000 battery system) I would not have as much to can on the spot if power was off for much longer.
Linda L Mickel
One winter we got hit with a Nor’Easter and lost power for 16 days. We have a generator for that reason and always stock up on gas. During super storm Sandy we lost power for 10 or 12 days. Can’t remember. I do remember we had to drive to PA to get more gas since all our pumps were out due to no power. We have 2 large upright freezers in the garage not including the kitchen. Lost everything one year as didn’t have a generator. a thousand dollars of food wasted. NEVER again.
In Sept. we lost power for 3 days after a storm. Getting a generator large enough to keep things going here was a real blessing. We had just picked up our meat bundle from a local butcher plus had 2 organic turkeys in our 2 freezers. Knowing our food would stay cold & we could keep cell phones charged, and run whatever other items we really needed gave us peace in the mess. We would now never want to be without it.
Great article. My husband and I also had a smaller generator that ran most of our house. It stopped pumping the well this last year and we replaced it this month. We purchase the same generator as you have and we are quite excited. We live in rural Idaho and have power outages quite often. Great way to be prepared
Great podcast. I would add one thing that I wish you had emphasized for whole house generators… I have family members who work as linemen, or in support of the linemen who restore power. PLEASE make sure to disconnect the power to the main line (your normal power pole). With having it professionally done, I’m sure your electrician took care of this with that breaker switch. Doing this prevents the generator back feeding into the power lines. When generators backfeed, and linemen are not aware, then those who are coming to restore your power can be electrocuted and die. It is that important! Just taking the moment to flip a breaker to sever your house’s connection to the line, and instead be connected to the generator can save a lineman’s life. If someone is not having the generator wired in professionally, then PLEASE take the time to properly research how to do this. Thank you!
Good article. For years we’ve tried several different generators to meet basic needs (refrigeration, lighting, fans, etc). Little 2Kw generators are capable to meet that need, but they have small gas tanks, and they have to be protected from the rain, and potential theft. Lately we’ve been using an Ecoflow 1kw power station to keep the fridge running for about 10 hours. Nice solution because they can be inside. And they can fully recharge from a gas generator in about 80 min. But still it’s a big hassle with extension cords, and of course you have to be home to hook it up and save your refrigerated goods. We finally bit the bullet and bought a Generac standby generator for the whole house. Our Christmas present to us. It runs off natural gas. So now whoever the grid goes down, we’re automatically back online in 15 seconds.
Just got done listening to your generator podcast. I own 2 appliance repair businesses and wanted to let you know why the generator had problems with the stove. The stove runs on 220 volts rather than the normal 110 that most things need. You will also possibly have same problem with dryer, water heater, and central air that also run off 220. Really enjoy all your episodes. PS the hot tube is also 220.
I also cringe at the idea of eating a turkey that’s been injected with “brine”, and I prefer certified humaine or organically raised meats. I don’t want to give my money to the factory farms.
Good information. I ha e been reviewing the same brand and needed your feedback for additional assurance of product quality