...Hubby (who happens to be an electrician, lucky me!) did some wiring work in our house this weekend and put the circulating pump, fridge, freezer, and a couple of outlets on one circuit, with a plug... We then got an inverter, which can hook onto our car's battery.
Un the event of a prolonged power outage, the inverter will basically turn our car into a giant generator, lol... Run a cord from the car to the basement, plug it in, and voila-- power for the essentials.
Total cost, for the inverter and a couple wiring supplies : about $150.
We use an inverter in one of our cars, too. We really only need to make sure the sump pump can continue to run, along with the TV (). We could probably hook up more than those two things, like the well pump so we have use of the toilets, in the case of a really long outage.
The Sandy storm knocked out power for 7.5 hours, but the basement stayed dry (sump was working nearly continuously because of the rain). My Subaru powered it on less than 1/4 tank of gas over that 7.5 hour period.
Ah, if you have passive solar then you probably can do without the furnace being wired in.
I have a Generac too. Not a whole house, although it can power the whole house it's a portable. 17,500 W with 26,000 surge. Best anniversary present a gal ever got.
It has a 15 gallon tank and can run 8-12 hours on a tank depending on season and/or what I have running. I did have all the rewiring done by an electrician, you definitely want a new box and cut offs installed. A running generator can backwash power back into the lines and kill working linemen or even people if the lines are down the power company has them off. So with any type of generator, have it professionally wired if you're not related to an electrician.
I have the furnace, HW heater, almost all interior lights, TVs, all kitchen appliances, AC, internet/computer, well pump, etc wired in. I have enough left over to power the barn too, but the barn is on it's own line from the street. The barn's water comes from the house though, so still have water in there. I don't have exterior lights, the washer/dryer wired in. I also keep 4-8 gas cans full on premises. (and 2 diesels) Regularly keep 4 full, but fill the extras beforehand if sketchy weather is predicted. That way if gas stations go down too, we're okay. I also fill the truck's tank up in case things get bad so I can syphon from there if needed. (39 gallon tank in the truck)
Soup to nuts (generator and hiring for the hookups) was just around $5k. My neighbor got a whole house generator installed around the same time we got ours. Her's is 10,000 W...she started with one propane tank but after we lost power for 5 days once right before her regular fill up (she ran out) she had a second tank installed as a back up. Her main stuff in the house is hooked in and her exterior lights and barn. (furnace, HW heater, well, fridge, some kitchen appliances and lights) Her set up was $10k soup to nuts.
There are more pros to the whole house that justify the extra cost. Having the propane...normally means you're ready no matter what and no gas to go buy. She doesn't have to run hers once a month to keep the engine clean, it runs itself once a week for 15 minutes as a test. It turns itself on and off as needed with only a few second lag time. No worries there and she got it before she retired so if her power went out when she was at work it went on anyway. It's quiet. Compared to mine it's silent, LOL!
Downsides to a portable are that you do need to drag it outside and run it once a month for optimum care. (15-20 minutes is fine) Every 8 hours or so of run time it needs oil added. Every 100 hours of run time you need to do an oil and filters change. It sounds like a Harley in the driveway, it's engine is the same size and noise level. And mine weighs 580 lbs dry, 700 lbs with a full tank. And they only put wheels on one end, which means the other end needs to be lifted and then you push it. That wasn't the smartest design, I'm not Ahnold. However I am going to have tires added to the back end of it to make that part easier.
All in all I adore mine. I'd have liked a whole house, but $5k was the budget and a whole house generator in that price range is small and doesn't power much. And I'm the family gear head and don't mind doing all the upkeep on mine. A whole house generator the size/power of my portable would be closer to $15k. I went with more power instead of ease of use considering the budget. But the whole house ones are fantastic to have.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
We will be looking into a whole hourse generator run on propane. We have a small generator and inverters for the tractor but: You have to be careful with where you put the small generators so you don't asphyxiate yourself, and I think the situation at the Jersey Shore proves you may just have a hard time stock piling enough gas cans in the garage to make it through to the end! Better to save the gas cans to keep the cars running.