Our feelings about whole house generators are purely based on our own experience, as well as experiences of those in Louisiana who lived off generator power for weeks after Hurricane Laura, and our level of preparedness.
Anywhere we’ve lived recently, our source of fuel for a generator was propane or gasoline. The only time we’ve had a whole house generator was when we were connected to natural gas.
Take this for what it’s worth – my opinion.
If I have a whole house generator, my thought is . . I never miss a beat. Life goes on as normal and I don’t even realize the power is out. Running a generator like that for several weeks . . we’d go broke with propane. More importantly, if there is a natural disaster (hurricane, ice, roads not cleared) the propane company can’t get here to fill up the tanks plus everyone is going to be needing propane. In Louisiana after the hurricane and in Texas where Vince was after the cold snap, the propane companies ran out of propane.
We are prepared and we wouldn’t miss a beat and other than the food in the freezers, which I would try my best to get canned but that also uses propane, we’d hardly miss electricity. Don’t get me wrong – I do not want to live without electricity but it wouldn’t be totally inconvenient if we had to.
Everyone is different. For those who don’t have all the “preps” we have, it’s probably way less expensive to pay for the fuel to run the generator than to buy the things needed to live without power.
Most importantly Vince has a battery that he can charge that runs his CPAP machine. We have solar ovens to bake outside and even if it’s 20 degrees outside, so long as the sun is shining the solar oven will bake. We have solar powered “banks”, some of which can be charged by plugging them in when there’s power or otherwise, leaving them in the sun if the power is off. These would be used for charging the phone, Kindles or tablets, though we wouldn’t have internet because of the router. We have the gas stove and we can use the burners without electricity. We have propane powered generators. We traded out our 350 gallon propane tank for a 500 gallon propane tank and we watch it to make sure it doesn’t get low, especially during snow/ice season and the time of year we would expect tornadoes. With the basement, it stays comfortable in the winter without heat and comfortable in the summer without a/c. We have a gizmo that you stick in a 5 gallon bucket and it’s kinda like a plunger that you use for washing clothes. There are several more advanced type non-electric gizmos for washing clothes but I’ve used the plunger thing I have and I’m fine with it. I have a clothes line for drying clothes. We also have a rocket stove and backpacking stoves with plenty of fuel. Eating is high up on our priority list. 🙂
We keep a good supply of food that can be consumed without cooking or that can be cooked quickly. We have plenty of homemade canned soups, roast, veggies, plus freeze dried foods that I’ve done and some we’ve purchased. I can make bread in the solar oven if it’s a sunny day or make fry bread or tortillas on the stove. We keep home canned and storebought canned chicken, canned tuna and sardines, which we happen to like. We always have cereal and shelf stable milk.
There are things I would miss if we didn’t have power. I would miss my magnifying lamp. I can sit in front of the window and use just the magnifier without the lamp. In fact, some sunny days I don’t even turn it on and then it starts getting dusk and I feel like I’m going blind and realize the lamp isn’t on. I would terribly miss the internet. We have no cell service out here without our phones being on wifi. I would miss ice! If it was summer and I couldn’t have ice water or cold Dr. Pepper . . but I would survive without those things. I would miss being able to open the garage door with the button but I’m betting Vince could do something to make that work off a battery. I’m not going to ask though.
In Texas, with no basement and the heat in the summer, I’m not real sure how comfortable we could have made ourselves without electricity. Vince struggled to stay warm in the winter with the fireplace going non-stop without heat. Here, with the basement, I don’t even worry about staying cool or warm. It was in August I think when our a/c went out on a Friday and we didn’t have a/c for three days. We slept in the basement and we were fine.
When the solar panel man was here a couple of weeks ago to work on our setup, Vince talked to him about building a separate small array of panels and having batteries that we could hook up to some things. They talked about it all and then Vince and I were talking and we decided, we just don’t need it.
Everyone has to think about their own needs, comfort level and what you’re willing to spend to to meet those needs. For us, we’re as comfortable with what we have, maybe more so, than we would be if we had none of the above items but did have a whole house generator.
Finally, IF the propane ran out, all bets would be off. I hope it never happens but honestly, I’m not nearly as confident as I once was that it will never happen. If we didn’t have propane, we’d lose the stove and the backup heater. We could cook on the rocket stove, grill, backpack stoves, solar oven – we’d be fine but it would be less convenient.
I think you’ll agree that we don’t need a whole house generator and if it weren’t for the cost of the food in the freezers, we probably wouldn’t worry about keeping them running but, especially during the winter, the generators wouldn’t have to run long to keep the food frozen.
Again, everyone decide on your own what you need or want. What works for us most certainly won’t work for many others.