Adventures In Disaster Preparedness 

Power is still out, over 72 hours later. The latest restoration estimates range from Thursday night to Sunday night. FaucetCompany decided to stay closed yesterday, so I spent the morning locating and acquiring what seemed to be the last portable generator in the nearest eight counties. 

Round trip travel time was right at three hours. Cost was seven hundred fifty federal reserve notes for a 6250W unit. My last model was 8500W, but I figured I could get by with less by powering only certain circuits at a time. The second half of the day didn’t go at all as planned. 

There were no cords to be had, or even cord ends, so I had to tie the wires from the panel directly into the generator panel. Only there was no easy way to get to the guts. So I tied in at the alternator output. Everything went well after that until I actually tried to start running things. 

Something is amiss with the wiring in my house. The breaker for the hot water heater also turns off the electric range and most of the lights. All of which can also be turned off by turning off their respective breakers. As long as the water heater breaker is on. The kitchen circuit that includes the refrigerator also controls the circuit in my office at the back of the house. 

So, the only way to run anything besides the refrigerator and my office was to also power the hot water heater, which alone nearly maxed out the generator. So, I left everything else off except a couple lights and waited for the water to get hot. 

After about an hour, the lights started looking weird. I put a meter on the generator and found one leg at 165VAC and the other at 150VAC. You guessed it. The voltage regulator had fried. I throttled back the engine until I got 112/130VAC, hoping to get it to run the refrigerator and the lights in the office. 

At first, it did okay. Until I tried to turn the TV on. Voltage dropped into the nineties, and the lights went out along with the TV. Amazingly, it ran the refrigerator, though. Which is why I let it run all last night. 

I have a pair of voltage regulators on the way, but expedited shipping was unavailable for any price. In other words, power will almost certainly be restored before they arrive. 

I did get a warm-ish shower yesterday, and I hope that Duke Energy gets me back up and running before I get home tonight. Cold showers suck. 

Learn from me. Have backups in place before you need them. Test them regularly. Have backups to your backups, because Murphy lives. Think about more than just power. I’m working on a medium scale water backup. Nonperishable food that can be prepared with minimal heat or eaten cold is essential, in case all your backups fail. 

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8 Responses to Adventures In Disaster Preparedness 

  1. Steve says:

    I was wondering how you were doing with the power situation. Also a thought, at the hot water heater, could you have disconnected the power lead? That would have left cold water, but powered the rest of the house.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Thanks for the concern. Power came back on late last night, thankfully.

      I could’ve disconnected it, and would’ve had the generator given any indication of struggling, but since it didn’t, and I really wanted a hot shower, I let it run. Instead, I got a lukewarm shower and a busted genny.

  2. lpcard says:

    Lukewarm is better than nothing I guess, and at least you have the spare regulator now. Let me know when you’re ready to do some rewiring. I once shorted out an entire side of my berthing on the Forrestal, I’d be glad to help. 😉

  3. bbuddha says:

    so glad I don’t live in an area prone to hurricanes (at least not full strength by the time they make it up here) We do have to deal with power killing ice storms every few years but the outages tend not to last more than a day or two. Glad you got your power back. Now you
    should have some time to get your generator fixed. 🙂

    • alaskan454 says:

      This area seldom gets more than we got this time. It’s just that sustained 35MPH winds are eventually successful at wreaking havoc when accompanied by a foot and a half of rain in just over 24 hours.

      Genny is fixed. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Johnny Reb says:

    Sounds like we have similar luck with things.I blew the capacitor on my gen in 2011. Fixed it next day. bought extra capacitor.
    Drove to Greenville SC the day after an ice storm to buy it.(100 miles one way). Had to gut a 460v 3 phase plug to get something to plug into the gen. It worked.☺fml.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Closest place with the voltage regulator I needed was PA, so that wasn’t going to happen. I did order an extra, so next time I won’t have to wait. Just my luck, everything else will fail on it before the regulator does again.

      I have all the wiring done properly now (kinda – the box that the genny cord plugs into is wired straight into the breaker box, I have to remember to flip the breakers in the proper sequence since there’s no interlock) so I’m going to run it an hour a month to keep it exercised, and hopefully that will expose any issues before I need it again.

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