Category Archives: __5. Energy

Experiences in living without electricity

(Survival Manual/5. Energy/ Experiences in living without electricity)

Tempers flare over 6 days of Connecticut power outages
4 Nov 2011,  Associated Press, By Michael Melia

Hartford, Conn. (AP) — Tempers are snapping as fast as the snow-laden branches that brought down power wires across the Northeast last weekend, with close to 300,000 Connecticut customers still in the dark and the state’s biggest utility warning them not to threaten or harass repair crews.
Angry residents left without heat as temperatures drop to near freezing overnight have been lashing out at Connecticut Light & Power: accosting repair crews, making profane criticisms online and suing. In Simsbury, a hard-hit suburban town of about 25,000 residents, National Guard troops deployed to clear debris have been providing security outside a utility office building.
At a shelter at Simsbury High School, resident Stacy Niezabitowski, 53, said Friday she would love to yell at someone from Connecticut Light & Power but hadn’t seen any of its workers.

“Everybody is looking for someplace to vent – not a scapegoat, just someplace to vent your anger so somebody will listen and do something,” said Niezabitowski, who was having lunch at the shelter with her 21-year-old daughter. “Nobody is doing anything.”
The October nor’easter knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and business across the Northeast, including 830,000 in Connecticut, where outages now exceed those of all other states combined. Connecticut Light & Power has blamed the extent of the devastation partly on overgrown trees in the state, where it says some homeowners and municipalities have resisted the pruning of limbs for reasons including aesthetics.

The company called the snowstorm and resulting power outages “a historic event” and said it was focused on getting almost all power back on by Sunday night. [Note what should already be obvious, ‘historic events’ happen, that’s why you should be prepared. Mr Larry]
For some residents still dealing with outages, no excuse is acceptable.

In Avon, a Farmington Valley town where 85 percent of customers were still without power on Friday, town manager Brandon Robertson said he faulted CL&P for an “absolutely unacceptable and completely avoidable” situation. He said the high school that is being used as an emergency shelter was still running on a generator. Although public works crews had cleared most of the town roads, he said, more than 25 still were blocked as they waited for CL&P crews to clear power lines.

“Our residents are angry. We’re angry,” he said. “It’s just really shocking.”
The person who has taken the brunt of the public scorn is CL&P’s president and chief operating officer, Jeffrey D. Butler. He has been appearing with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at daily news briefings, but he was left to face a grilling by the media on his own Thursday night when the governor left the room after criticizing the slow pace of power restoration.

Butler said he was sorry so many residents have been left without power for so long during the chilly nights. He said Friday that his own house in the Farmington Valley has been without power since a generator failed, and he urged customers to remember the extent of the damage. [Basically, if it’s much more than the average storm, the public may have to fend for themselves. Mr Larry]
“People need to keep in perspective the magnitude of damage,” he said.

The outages have driven thousands of people into shelters in New England and have led to several deaths, including eight in Connecticut.
In North Brookfield, Mass., an 86-year-old woman was found dead Thursday in her unheated home, and her 59-year-old son was taken to a hospital with symptoms of hypothermia, subnormal body temperature. The local fire chief said it was unfortunate they had not reached out to authorities or neighbors for help.

In New Jersey, authorities said fumes from a gasoline-powered generator are believed to have caused the deaths of an elderly couple discovered hours before electricity was restored to their home in rural Milford, near Pennsylvania, on Thursday evening.
For many without power, the past week has been a blur of moving between friends’ homes or hotel rooms with occasional visits to their own houses to feed pets and check, in vain, for electricity.

Glastonbury resident Alison Takahashi, 17, said she has bunked with friends and, for a few nights, with her parents in a hotel 45 minutes away, the only opening they could find after the storm. She said her brother, a high school freshman, also has moved like a nomad between friends’ homes all week, heading to the next when he worried he’d started wearing out his welcome.

“The cellphones are our life lines right now,” said Takahashi, a Glastonbury High School senior. “It’s the only way to know where everybody is, and if you forget your charger and your phone is dead, you can’t reach anybody.”
Some Connecticut residents have vented their frustration through dark humor on the Internet, turning to social media websites to ridicule the utility – often with profanity. One person tweeted: “Really (pound)CL&P? A hamster on a wheel would be a better power source.”

A few particularly irate power customers have taken their anger out on utility crews.
CL&P spokeswoman Janine Saunders said some hostile customers have approached the crews, but she declined to provide details. A police officer posted outside the utility’s office building in Simsbury along with a National Guard soldier said line crews had been threatened and they wanted to make sure people could complain without letting things get out of hand.

The utility urged the public via Twitter not to harass or threaten the line workers.
Saunders said the utility understands what people are going through and has stressed to customer service employees that they need to be empathetic.
“If people want to vent, call us, see us on Facebook,” she said. “We’re doing our best to try to respond to people and answer questions in those medium. But let the folks out in the field do their job.”

In Massachusetts, where tens of thousands of customers were still without power, the National Grid said in a statement that there have been “only a couple isolated incidents” and that most customers have been thanking crews for their work: “They are demonstrating their appreciation by bringing crews coffee and food.”

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked state utility regulators on Friday to conduct a formal investigation into how the state’s major power companies prepared for and responded to the outages.
In Connecticut, CL&P has promised to restore power to 99 percent of its 1.2 million customers by Sunday night. Butler, the president, said more than 1,740 crews were working and the utility was prioritizing schools and polling sites for elections on Tuesday. [Prioritize schools and polling sites ahead of homes?]

Simsbury resident Chris Gauthier, 47, said he was frustrated the power lines weren’t maintained better before the storm, but he said he was too busy to worry about who to blame. Every day, he wakes up before the rest of his family to start a fire in his den’s fireplace. He and neighbors were clearing a dozen fallen trees around his house with hand saws Friday as National Guard troops removed debris from the street.
“I have better things to do than dwelling on who’s to blame and stuff like that,” he said. “There are trees to clear and these guys (his three children) to feed and keep warm.”

First Selectman Mary Glassman, of Simsbury, said many homes are still not reachable by car because of downed trees and power cables, and officials are concerned for the residents’ safety as people in cold houses resort to driving across power lines to seek shelter elsewhere.
“We’re concerned people are getting to their wits’ end,” she said.

Some business owners already were planning to pursue compensation from CL&P for their losses.
In Canton, Asylum Hair Salon owner Scott Simmons filed a negligence lawsuit against the utility to make up for $1,000 in lost business from Saturday to Wednesday. He said other businesses owners who still don’t have power are taking a much bigger hit.
“I just think it was completely mishandled,” Simmons said of CL&P’s response to the outages.
A CL&P spokeswoman declined to comment on Simmons’ claims.

B.  Life Without Electricity in a Semi-Tropical Climate
May 13, 2011 , Lynn M.

We are preppers. I love reading the prep/survival books. There’s so much information out there and so many people involved in prepping now, there’s just no reason to not do it! We learned from experience that you can never be over prepared. Since 2004 I’ve learned how to store food for the long-term, how to filter water (okay, I’ll give credit to my Berkey on that one), I’ve learned about bug out bags and how to build a fire with a flint, but what I learned the most from was living for more than two weeks without electricity after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Even though we were only thinking hurricane preparedness then, we were still leaps and bounds beyond most of our neighbors.

The obvious things that one can’t miss are non perishable food and water. You’d be surprised how many people wait until a hurricane warning to stock up on these basics. Once a hurricane is within 3 days of hitting, the stores get crazy and empty out. Shopping during that time is no longer an option for us, we’re prepared far in advance. The only food I can see getting right before a storm is bread (although we stock up and freeze bread when it’s on sale) and fresh fruits and veggies. When a warning is issued water is the first to go, then canned soups, tuna, Spam, etc. Let me tell you folks, eating soup when its 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity is not appetizing. We have to think about what we’d normally eat and work with that. I stock up on canned meats and fruits and veggies. We have an extra freezer stocked with meat. Unfortunately, during Hurricane Frances the storm lingered for 3 days over our area. We could not run the generator during the storm. The power went out immediately and all of our meat was lost by the time the storm passed. So stocking up the fridge and freezer’s a great idea but in the end you could lose it all. We regularly eat tortillas of all kinds, so I have a stock of masa and a tortilla press. Tortillas can be cooked on a skillet over a grill in no time at all. Speaking of the grill, we have at least four ways of cooking outside and only two of those require gas. We have many propane tanks (I’m not even going to tell you how many, it’s almost embarrassing!). But we also have a charcoal grill and a fire pit, with wood stocked up for fuel if needed. The wood needs to be covered or brought in during a storm so it doesn’t get soaked or blown away.

So food and water, obvious, but how to live without electricity? Well folks, that’s where the rubber meets the road. The everyday little things soon become a chore. Take brushing your teeth for instance. When no water comes out of the faucet it’s a little more complicated. Not only is there no running water, but because we are on city sewer (and remember, no electricity) only minimal waste can go down the drain. Basically because whatever you put down the drain could potentially come back into the home once the power goes back on. This happened to several neighbors, but not us. The water that we store is not just for drinking. After a storm we take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it, halfway or so, cover it and put it on the back porch. This is where we get water to brush our teeth and wash ourselves. All the dirty water is poured into a corner of the yard.

We did allow for toileting inside but only flushing when necessary. Again water is needed for flushing and you can see our supply dwindling as I type. Washing not only ourselves but dishes also needed to be done outside. We set up a table and again a 5 gallon bucket of water for our outdoor wash area. We used a lot of paper and plastic but some things still needed to be cleaned (pans, pots, etc). Whenever possible I used just cold water, soap and bleach, but with very grimy stuff we’d boil water on the grill and wash dishes in that. I added bleach to every wash load just to keep the germs minimal. That’s just breakfast folks. Now, I’m going to admit, after a few days my husband hooked the generator up to the water pump and we were able to bathe and have water from the outside faucet but it’s very hard water, normally used for irrigation only. It’s not potable but can be used for bathing and washing. Again, it had to be done outside which was fine because we actually have an outside shower. Only cold water though. We were able to have a little warm water by hooking up a hose to the faucet and laying it on the roof. The heat from the sun warmed what was in the hose. It was good for a quick shower and I do mean quick.

A normal day was extremely hot and humid, we were inundated with biting flies and mosquitoes and we were typically dirty and very tired. Having decent screens on the windows was crucial as they were open all of the time. Bug spray helped but it made us feel dirty and grimy. I was not up on hand washing clothes at that time and the laundry pile was a nightmare. If I have to go through it again I would do things differently. I’d have two 5-gallon buckets, one for washing, one for rinsing and a hand washer. They look something like a plunger and are sufficient for hand washing shorts, underwear and tank tops. I’d also re-wear whatever possible so not to create so many dirty clothes. Now you may be wondering why we didn’t just hook up the generator to help take the edge off of the misery. We actually had the generator hooked up most of the time. It ran the fridge/freezer and a window air conditioner at night. Generators are great but they’re expensive to run and it’s important to be of the mindset that you may be entirely without electricity. Even the gas stations took several weeks to get up and running.

Being that the inside of the house was miserable, we spent a lot of time on our porch. It’s actually more of a deck, with privacy fencing surrounding us but no roof. My genius husband rigged a shade screen from material we had stored. That worked for giving us a shady area in which to clean and eat but it didn’t help with the bugs. I now have two mosquito nets stored away. If we have to do this again my husband can surely hang those to give us a protected area.

In the end we made it. My neighbors made fun of me when I washed our dishes outside but when the power came back on sewage didn’t back up into our house. We both missed a lot of work but managed to feed our family of four (my husband, myself, young teen daughter and a handicapped adult) and keep us clean and entertained. We played games at night before it got too dark. Bedtime came early. I put cute bandanas in our hair to keep it back and my daughter loved that. We put stickers on ourselves so as we tanned up (in the sun much more than usual) we had silly designs all over. We had a stash of special snack foods and kept our spirits up by joking around and not taking everything so seriously. When the power came back on after the first storm we had been over two weeks living primitively. I have to admit, I cried.

C.  How do you live without electricity
Issue 73 Jan/Feb 2002, By Anita Evangelista
It’s going to happen. Sooner or later, the power will go off, and you won’t know when (or if) it will come back on. This doesn’t have to be the work of evil-doers, either. It could be a sudden ice storm that brings down the power lines. It could result from other severe weather such as a tornado or hurricane, or from a disruption caused by faulty power company equipment, or even something as simple as a tree branch falling on your own personal segment of the grid. The effect is the same: everything electrical in your home stops working.

For most modern Americans, the loss of power means the complete loss of normalcy. Their lifestyle is so dependent upon the grid’s constancy that they do not know how to function without it. How do you cook a meal if your gas stove has an electric ignition? How do your children find their way to the bathroom at night if the light switches don’t work? How do you keep warm if your wood heat is moved through ducts by an electric fan? What do you do with a freezer full of expensive meat? How do you find out what is happening in your area with the TV and radio silent? What will you drink if your water comes from a system dependent on electrical pumps?

These are questions that both the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency are asking people to seriously consider. Both of these agencies have suggested that preparations for three days without power are prudent commonsense actions that all Americans should now undertake.

We’ll look at these issues in the broad context of living without access to the grid, whether you’ve chosen to separate from it or whether the choice is made for you by outside forces. What you can do now to mitigate your difficulties if the power goes off in the future, and what you can do then to help keep your situation under control, will be the focus of this article.

Remember, too, that an important principle in all preparations is that you maintain as much “normalcy” in your lifestyle as possible. For example, if television is part of your relaxation and unwinding process, don’t assume you can easily do without it. The closer you can keep your daily routines to “the norm” for your family, the more easily you can deal with power outages.

There are five primary areas that are easily disrupted if the power goes off. Each of these is critical to daily survival, as well, so when making preparations for emergencies keep these in mind. In order of importance, they are: light, water, cooking, heating/cooling, and communication.

Light:  While living on our Ozark farm without the grid, we spent some time rising with the sun and going to bed when the sun set. This would probably have been a pretty healthy way to live, if everyone else in the world did the same thing. Our children’s bathroom needs didn’t stop when the sun went down, our neighbors figured that nighttime visits weren’t out of the ordinary, and those midnight raids on the pantry for crackers and peanut butter turned into fumble-fests. Sometimes the barking of our livestock guardian dogs meant strange predators were too close for comfort, somewhere in the countryside darkness. Light is the most important item on our Big Five list because without light we are not able to efficiently carry on the other activities of daily living.

The most simple and familiar form of emergency lighting is a flashlight. Do you have one that you could find in the dark, right now? If so, congratulations. You are among a very small percentage of Americans. Better yet if you have one for each member of your family, with fresh batteries, plus three extra sets of batteries for each flashlight. That should be your minimum “safe” number. Store your flashlight where you can quickly reach it in the dark night—under the mattress of your bed, for example. Each child old enough to walk should also have his or her own flashlight, and be taught how to use it.

Flashlights range in price from the 79 cent cheapie to the fancy multi-function $80 special. Consider a small 2-AA battery flashlight with a halogen bulb. These cost about $4-5 each, give an excellent clear white light, and are easily portable in a pocket or purse. Additionally, when we discuss communications later in the article, the most common battery used in these devices is also the AA, so your life will be simplified if you stick primarily to one type of battery and don’t have to buy various odd sizes for different needs.

Batteries wear out rapidly if your flashlights are used continuously: figure two changes per week of regular use. Alkaline batteries last longer, give a more powerful light, but cost more than regular batteries. Most rechargeable batteries are suitable for flashlights, but should be recharged when the light begins to dim a little. Don’t let them get completely drained. This means you would need several sets of rechargables for each flashlight (some would be recharging while you use the others).

Recharging can be done by means of a charger plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter outlet. These DC-powered rechargers can be found at auto supply stores and at Radio Shack for about $30 or less. Solar rechargers work slower but produce the same results for about $30.

Candles are available, slightly used, at garage sales and thrift stores (5 cents to 10 cents each or less), and some outlet stores like Big Lots have new candles for 25 cents. We have a cardboard box weighing 35 pounds that is filled with various sizes and shapes of candles. This would be about a year’s supply for my family. We’ve acquired them gradually, every time we found them inexpensively. They never go bad! Candles are easy to use and familiar. Most of us can adjust to using candles easily. The light is soft and wavering. You’ll need at least three candles if you hope to read by the light. If you have small children or indoor pets, care must be taken where you place them. Metal candle holders that hang on walls are probably the safest. Remember to place a heat proof plate underneath the holder to catch drippings. Save your wax drippings, too, to make more candles later.

Oil (kerosene) lamps produce a steadier light than candles. Department store oil lamps cost about $10 each and come in attractive styles. Lamp oil is about $3 per liter. A typical lamp will burn one to two cups of oil per night, so you would use about two liters each week per lamp. The light from these lamps is not quite adequate to read by unless it is placed very close, and the light does waver a little. A single lamp can provide enough light in a room so that you don’t bump into furniture, but two or three may be needed to provide good functional light. As with candles, if you have children, these lamps need to be placed securely and out of reach. The smell of burning oil (kerosene) can get heavy in a closed room so keep ventilation open. Keep an extra set of wicks ($2) and chimneys ($3) in case of breakage.

The Cadillac of oil lamps is the Aladdin Lamp. These run from $60 up to several hundred each. The light given off is as good as a 60-watt bulb, clear, and unwavering. You can read or do needlepoint by the light of one lamp. These burn the same oil or kerosene as typical lamps, but because they burn hotter, there is much less odor. Position these lamps so that they cannot accidentally be overturned, and so that the intense heat coming from the chimney won’t ignite something. Purchase an additional “mantle” (the light-giving portion of the lamp – $3), and chimney ($15), as backups.

Solar powered lamps ($80-$120) are typically small fluorescents, and can be run off of battery systems. It may take more than one day of bright sunlight to recharge these lamps, so you may need several—one to use, while others are recharging. The light is white and clear, good for area-lighting, and rather difficult to read by. Have extra fluorescent bulbs on hand, too.

Water: If you live in a town or city, the loss of power to homes and businesses probably will not immediately affect your water pressure, but it could affect the purification process or allow reverse seepage of contaminants into the lines. If, instead, your water comes from an electrically-powered home water pump, your water stops flowing the moment the power does. Either way, with the loss of power comes the loss of water (or, at least, clean water). Water that is free of bacteria and contaminants is so crucial to our survival that it should be a special concern in your preparations.

The easiest way to guarantee quality water is to store it right now. The important question is: how much? Both Red Cross and FEMA suggest a minimum of one gallon per day per person. This is an absolute minimum, and covers only your real drinking and cooking needs; bathing is out of the question.

The typical American currently uses around 70 gallons a day, taking a nice long hot shower, flushing the toilet several times, washing a load of laundry, letting the water run while brushing teeth, and for cooking and drinking. In a short-term emergency situation, only drinking and cooking water is crucial, but if that short-term incident drags out to weeks or months, daily consumption would rise to include bathing and clothes washing. And this presumes that the family has prepared a sanitary “outhouse,” so flushing isn’t needed. In that case, 5-10 gallons per day per person would be a more reasonable amount, with a weekly communal bath becoming the routine.

One to three-gallon jugs, direct from the supermarket, run about 60 cents to $2; these store easily under cabinets and counters. A few tucked into the freezer will help keep things cold if the power goes off. You can also store water inexpensively in large, covered plastic trash cans; they hold 36 to 55 gallons each. Refresh the water every two weeks, so it will be ready in case the power goes off. Kiddie swimming pools—a 12-foot wide, 36-inch deep pool holds 2500 gallons and costs about $250—also make excellent above-ground holding tanks. Buy a pool cover, as well, to keep bugs out.

Farm supply stores often sell “water tanks” made of heavy grade plastic. These can be partially buried underground to keep water cooler and less susceptible to mold and bacteria. These run about $1 per gallon of holding capacity, so a 350-gallon tank new will cost $350. Plan to filter and purify the water before use.

Collecting water can be done by hand with 5-gallon plastic buckets if you live near a river or stream (it must be filtered and purified before use). You can also divert rainwater off your roof, through the rain gutters and downspouts into plastic trash cans. If you live in the Midwest, Northwest, or East Coast, rainfall is adequate to make this your primary backup water source. West Coast, high desert, and mountain areas, though, won’t have sufficient rainfall to make this a reliable source.

A drilled well with an electric pump can be retrofitted with a plastic hand-pump for about $400 – $600. These systems sit side-by-side with your electric pump down the same well-shaft, and can be put to use any time the power is off. Typical delivery is about 2 gallons per minute, and pumping strength varies from 11 to 20 pounds—a good but not exhausting workout.

Water can be purified inexpensively. Fifteen drops of bleach (plain unscented) per gallon of water costs less than 1 penny, and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide (3%) per gallon will also destroy bacteria. Twenty minutes of a hard, rolling boil will, too. Bleach is effective against both cholera and typhoid and has kept American water supplies safe for decades. The chlorine taste can be easily removed with a charcoal filter system (such as Brita Pitcher or Pur brands for home use, about $30).

British Berkefeld water filters, along with various other brands, are more expensive ($150-$250), but can filter and purify water indefinitely. Both eliminate bacteria, contaminants, and off-flavors. We’ve used a “Big Berkey” for four or five years, and it is a very reliable gravity-fed system. When shopping for filters, if they only offer “better taste” they won’t protect you from bacterial contaminants.

Noah Water System’s travel companion will work great in case of a power outage, or your water supply becomes undrinkable. The Trekker is a portable water purification unit. With the Trekker you can get water from any river, lake, or pond. It’s small enough to carry like a briefcase.

Cooking:  A person can survive indefinitely opening cold cans of beans for meals, but it wouldn’t be a very satisfying existence. In times of crisis, a hot meal goes a long way toward soothing the day’s troubles. The simplest way to heat a meal is the Boy Scout method: a couple of bricks or rocks set around a small outdoor fire, with the bean can propped over the flames. It’s low cost, and it works. However, the cook doesn’t have much control over the outcome.

Outdoor cooking of all kinds, including grilling and barbecuing, all work during emergency situations, provided you have the charcoal or wood (and matches!) needed to get the heat going. These are familiar methods, too, so family members don’t have to make a huge leap to accept these foods. It’s difficult to cook much more than meats and a few firm vegetables over open heat like this, though. Also, never use these devices in a confined space, as they emit carbon monoxide.

Campfire” cooking can lend itself to some baking, if you also have a cast iron Dutch Oven—a large, heavy, cast iron covered pot. Place a well-kneaded pound of bread dough into a heavily-greased or oiled Dutch Oven and put the cover in position. Make a hole or pot-sized well in the ash near the fire, and line this with glowing coals. Put about an inch of ash over the coals, and place the Dutch Oven into this. Now, pile about an inch of hot ash around the oven and cover with glowing coals, then another layer of ash to keep the heat in. Uncover and check your bread in about 35 minutes, it should be done.

Propane and butane camp stoves are so much like ordinary home stoves that there is no difference in the cooking results. Portable RV 2-burner propane stoves are often available used—mine cost $5 at a garage sale—and can even do pressure canning because the heat is consistent and reliable. A typical 20 pound propane cylinder, the kind used for barbeques, costs around $50 new, and a propane fillup is about $12. This will last for nearly a month of daily use. You’ll also need a feeder hose and pressure regulator for the stove, which can be prepared by your propane dealer for $20 or so.

Butane stoves are also portable and run off of a cylinder of the same kind of butane that is used in cigarette lighters. These stoves are $80-90 new, and cylinders are $5 and last for 8 hours of cooking.

General camp stoves (around $65 at department stores) operate on “stove fuel” (basically, propane in a small 1-pound cylinder – $3). A cylinder lasts for around 8 hours of cooking. You can also find camp stoves that will cook off of unleaded gasoline, and there are some that are “multi-fuel,” using either kerosene or gasoline—handy in case of a shortage of one fuel or the other. Use outdoors or on a covered porch to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Solar cooking is another option, if you have plenty of unobstructed sunlight and someone who is willing to adjust the cooker to face the sun every half hour or so. A solar oven need be no more fancy than a set of nested cardboard boxes painted flat black on the inside with tempura colors, a sheet of window glass, and some aluminum foil glued to cardboard panels. Total cost for this, if you can scrounge leftover glass and cardboard, is about $1.

A solar oven design made with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, and a piece of window glass. Interior of the box is flat black paint.

Place your food in a covered lightweight pan inside the box, prop it so the entire interior is exposed to the sunlight (about a 45-degree angle), cover with the sheet of glass (and tape the glass so it won’t slide), then prop the aluminum foil panels so that they reflect more sunlight down into the box. Move the box every 30 minutes so it maintains an even temperature. It will get hot fast, easily up to 325 degrees, and hold the heat as long as it faces the sun. Remember to use potholders when removing your foods! Our first solar oven had a black plastic trash bag as a heat-absorbing inner surface; it worked superbly until the plastic actually melted.
[I bought a Global Sun Oven with Thermometer for about $250. It’s a very efficient oven, cooking chicken and loaves of bread in the same amount of time as the kitchen stove’s oven. Google ‘Global Sun Oven’ or bring it up in; the manufacturer has a video showing its use. Mr Larry]

Keeping foods cool if the power goes out can be as simple as looking for shade, even under a tree. Some Ozarkers have partially buried old broken freezers in the shade of backyard trees, storing grains and winter vegetables inside. During the winter, your parked car will stay at the same temperature as the outside air—below freezing on those cold nights—so you can store frozen goods there safely. During the daylight hours, the car interior will heat up, though, if it’s in the sun. Park it in the shade of the house, or cover the windows and roof with a blanket to keep the interior cool.

Kerosene refrigerator/freezers are alternative appliances that will continue to function with the power off because they are “powered” by kerosene. Their cooling and freezing capacity is exactly the same as a regular refrigerator, and they come in the same colors. Typically, they are a little smaller than conventional ‘fridges and cost up to $1500, but they’ll last for decades with care.

Portable battery-powered refrigerators that keep your foods 40-degrees cooler than outside temperatures are available at most department store sporting-goods sections ($90). These run off of both DC and AC power, so they can be plugged into your car battery through the cigarette lighter outlet or into a solar power system.

What about that freezer full of expensive meat if the power goes off? First step is to cover the freezer with blankets to help retain the cold. Then, find dry ice (if everyone else in your town hasn’t already bought out the supply). Blanket coverings will keep a full freezer frozen for two days, and the addition of dry ice will prolong that to three or four days.

If power stays off, it’s time to eat and time to can the meat remaining. Canning low-acid foods like meat calls for a pressure canner ($90), canning jars ($6 for 12), a source of consistent heat (like a propane RV stove), and some skill. In considering your time requirements, it took me two days of steady canning to put a 230-pound pig into jars. Each quart jar holds 3 pounds of meat.

Heating and cooling: It’s a funny thing that even though we know winter is coming, we put off cutting our wood until after the first really cold night has chilled the house below comfort levels. But with the instability in the world today, it is sensible, and reasonable, to prepare well in advance of season changes. Putting in supplies a year ahead of time is a traditional farm practice, and it gives a cushion of safety against uncertain conditions.

Woodstove heating is more common, and comfortable to use, than it was two decades ago. New wood heaters run from $100 to several thousands, depending on materials, craftsmanship, and beauty. Better stoves hold heat longer and may have interior baffles that let you use less wood to produce more heat. Even so, the most basic metal-drum-turned-stove also works to heat a room or a house.

Heating a 3-bedroom home that is moderately insulated will use about 8-12 cords of wood throughout the winter. The size of a cord  is  about 8′ x 8′ x 2′, roughly a pickup truck bed loaded even with the top of the sides. Prices will vary between $65 per cord to $150, depending on the region and type of wood. Hardwoods, such as oak and walnut, and fruitwoods like apple and pear, burn better and longer than softwoods like poplar. Don’t use resinous woods, such as the pines, cedars, and spruces for the main heating—only as firestarters—because they burn too hot and fast and generate creosote. Better home insulation and better quality hardwoods will decrease the amount of wood you need to use.

If you plan to secure and cut your own firewood, be willing to acquire a good-quality chainsaw—any that cost below $200 will only give you grief. Keep an extra chain on hand. Use safety precautions, too: wear ear and eye protectors, heavy gloves, and don’t chainsaw alone. Cutting your own wood will decrease your heating costs significantly, but increase your labor. It typically takes us a full week of constant work to put up a winter’s worth of wood.

Woodstoves require heat-proof surfaces surrounding them, an insulated chimney pipe (about $90 per 3-foot section), and some building skills in order to install. Installation costs can equal or surpass the cost of the stove itself. Chimneys need to be thoroughly cleaned of the black crusty buildup, creosote, at least twice each year (and more often if you use the stove continuously).

Propane heaters that don’t need venting to outdoors are a relatively new product. A plain one ($200) can be mounted on the wall in the home’s main room, or more fancy models that look like built-in fireplaces complete with fake logs ($450) are available. You will need a propane tank, regulator, and appropriate copper lines, but these will all be installed by your propane company for a small charge. Propane has varied widely in cost from year to year, but typically runs around $0.95 to $1.30 per gallon.

Kerosene heaters ($120) are freestanding units that burn kerosene in a way that is something like a lamp—it uses a wick system and flames to provide heat. These are best used in areas that can be easily ventilated, because of the potential for buildup of carbon monoxide. Kerosene has a strong odor, as well. Kerosene costs about $1 per gallon or less (in quantity).

Solar heat can be “grabbed” anytime the light from the sun hits your house. Even in the dead of winter, the south-facing walls will feel noticeably warmer than the shaded north-facing ones. You can “store” the sun’s heat in any surface. Ceramic floor tiles, for instance, are excellent at retaining heat. So will a flat-black painted covered plastic trash can filled with water. If these surfaces are exposed to sunlight, say, indoors next to a south-facing window, they will absorb heat during the day. At night, with the window curtains closed, the surface will release heat slowly and steadily into the house.

One of the most efficient ways to heat is something else we have forgotten in the past 50 years—close off rooms that are not being used. If doors aren’t available, you can hang curtains in doorways (or even tack up a blanket, in a pinch), and keep your heat restricted to the room you are actually in. In an emergency situation, you can curtain up a room and set up a tent-like “den” for the family to snuggle in under blankets. Body heat alone will keep the den’s interior comfortable.

A “shepherd” or “camp” stove offered by Cabela’s catalog. It has a detachable shelf on the right, detachable five-gallon hot water tank on the left, and an oven sitting above the stove body. The whole thing breaks down and is portable. It cooks very nicely, too. Costs about $500 for all components, excluding stove pipes, and it can be bought piecemeal. The light in the upper left-hand photo is a lit oil lamp, placed to give light when using the stove.

Cooling a residence during a hot summer requires just as much thought and advance planning as winter heating does. Battery and solar-powered fans help keep air moving, windows can be shaded by fast-growing vines and pole beans, and—planning way ahead—fast-growing trees like poplars can be planted on the house’s south side to shade the yard.

In areas where wind blows routinely in the summer, you can soak a sheet, ring it out, and hang it in front of a breezy window. The air passing through the window is cooled as it moves against the wet sheet, and helps to cool the house. Remember that heat rises, so make it easy for too-hot air to escape from the attic and upper floors by opening windows and vents.

Communications: In a time of distress, keeping in contact with family and knowing about local and national situations is important to maintaining both continuity and confidence. In general, telephone systems are on a different system than the electrical power grid, but they can be disrupted if there are earth movements or as the result of terrorist activities.

During the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, we kept informed about the damages by watching a 4-inch black and white TV set (bought used for $25) that was plugged into our car battery through the cigarette lighter. At night, we heard reports from the BBC via a 4-AA battery-powered shortwave radio ($70 from Radio Shack). I consider these two devices—shortwave and TV—the required minimum communication/ information devices during a crisis, especially if the phone system is down.

Satellite internet hookups, using a battery-powered laptop, could be an excellent communication tool, both for accessing news and for staying in touch with friends and colleagues by email.

Citizens Band (CB) radios are excellent tools, as well. These portable devices can be carried with you into the field and used to stay in contact with neighbors and family when you are away from the house. Basic models run $60—you’ll need at least two—and ones with greater ranges and features are more costly. They’ll run on 6 to 8 (or more) AA batteries.

“Family Radios” are FM-band devices that have a short-range, about ¼ mile ($60 for a pair). These are handy for keeping family in contact during outings, when traveling in a caravan, or when one member needs to go out to the barn during a storm. They run on 2 AA batteries.

Keeping things normal: Even though circumstances may change in the world, we can choose how we wish to react. We can live in a state of helpless anxiety—or control what we can. We can control our responses, in part, by maintaining as much normalcy in our lives as possible.

If your family relaxes in the evenings with a video, plan to continue doing that. Acquire a battery-powered TV/VCR combination, and make sure you have enough power sources to keep that going for at least two weeks. (If things get dicey, you can wean off the system in two weeks.) A cassette player or CD player with external speakers can provide relaxation and entertainment, and they run off of AA batteries as well.

Children have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in their environment, so if you expect them to play board games if the power goes out, they should be comfortable with board games now. Keep routines consistent, arising at the usual time in the morning and going to bed as you have in the past. Prepare familiar meals with foods everyone enjoys. Have “fun foods” and goodies on hand. Remember to reach out to your neighbors and older folks who live nearby, and provide extras to help them, as well.
Use the knowledge you’ve gained, and your experience with non-electric living, to make your neighborhood a more secure and adaptable place.

D.  How To Survive Without Electricity after Doomsday 2012?
22 July 2009, , by Gerard Le Flamand

How to survive in a situation when some major crisis occurs and leave everybody without electricity for months or even years?
The electricity has only been a common household item in the last 50 or so years. Before that, people have survived for ages – so a lack of electricity for any duration of time is something that can be overcome. But for most modern Americans, the loss of power means the complete loss of normalcy. Their lifestyle is so dependent upon the grid’s constancy that they do not know how to function without it. How do you cook a meal if your gas stove has an electric ignition? How do you keep warm if your wood heat is moved through ducts by an electric fan? What do you do with a freezer full of expensive meat? How do you find out what is happening in your area with the TV and radio silent? What will you drink if your water comes from a system dependent on electrical pumps?

These are questions that both the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency are asking people to seriously consider.

There are five primary areas that are easily disrupted if the power goes off. Each of these is critical to daily survival, as well, so when making preparations for emergencies keep these in mind. In order of importance, they are: light, water, cooking, heating/cooling, and communication.

Lighting: It wasn’t too long ago that people were active during the day and simply went to sleep when the sun went down. Candlelight dinners were the norm. So candles or oil lamps and matches are one option. Stock up on oil and have enough candles to get you through the catastrophic event. However they are limited in quantity. After doomsday in 2012 you probably will need to learn how to make candles or lamps by yourself from the natural products.

Another option is to purchase a couple of solar or mechanically powered torches. For example, solar-powered lamps. They are typically small fluorescents, and can be run off of battery systems. It may take more than one day of bright sunlight to recharge these lamps, so you may need several—one to use, while others are recharging. The light is white and clear, good for area-lighting, and rather difficult to read by. Have extra fluorescent bulbs on hand, too.

Water: If you have a rainwater tank, no electricity means that pumps would not work to bring the water to your tap. Sure, having a generator would be handy for a few days, or as long as you have fuel. The easiest way to guarantee quality water is to store it. The important question is: how much? Both Red Cross and FEMA suggest a minimum of one gallon per day per person. This is an absolute minimum, and covers only your real drinking and cooking needs; bathing is out of the question. Another question is: how to get fresh water then the storage is empty? You will need to find a source of water (it must be filtered and purified before use).

Cooking:  You could quite easily cook a meal using a little portable gas stove – either a barbecue style apparatus. But you’d obviously need gas. Outdoor cooking of all kinds, including grilling and barbecuing, all work during surviving situations, provided you have the charcoal or wood (and matches!) needed to get the heat going. Never use these devices in a confined space, as they emit carbon monoxide!

Not having electricity brings the added difficulty of food storage. The old-time refrigerator is a round hole three feet deep. Dig it in your yard (or special place in your bunker) line it with plastic and place a hard cover over it. This hole will keep food from spoiling due to its lower temperature. Most foods would have to be non-perishable, pantry items. For meats you could salt and dry them (also the life important skills after doomsday 2012 ). You could plant some fruit trees and grow your own vegetables (& herbs).

Heating and cooling: All of the heaters obviously need fuel. It can be woodstoves, propane heaters, kerosene heaters…
One of the most efficient ways to heat is something else we have forgotten in the past 50 years—close off rooms that are not being used. You can minimize the heat lost in the closed room (or bunker) so you actually wouldn’t use that much fuel on heating.

Solar heat can be “grabbed” anytime the light from the sun hits your house. Even in the dead of winter, the south-facing walls will feel noticeably warmer than the shaded north-facing ones. You can “store” the sun’s heat in any surface. Ceramic floor tiles, for instance, are excellent at retaining heat. So will a flat-black painted covered plastic trash can filled with water. If these surfaces are exposed to sunlight, say, indoors next to a south-facing window, they will absorb heat during the day. At night, with the window curtains closed, the surface will release heat slowly and steadily into the house.

Communications:  It would be very hard to maintain the communication between a large numbers of people simultaneously without electricity after doomsday of 2012. Communication relates to our phones, cell phones, televisions and the internet. Radios would be the primary source of communication, as they were before television. There are some radios that you can buy which rely on solar or mechanically generated power to operate.

(End of post)

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Emergency & Camp Generator

(Survival Manual/5. Energy/Emergency & Camp Generator)

A.  Which generator to buy?
There are a variety of different generator models available for home use. When it comes to purchasing one it’s important to find a generator that is capable of supplying the right amount of power to match the demand of the load. Any excess usage or power output is a waste of fuel and money.
[Shown at left, a Yamaha 5KW ‘portable’ generator.]
1000 Watt Generator: A 1000watt generator is ideal for homes and small offices. It’s capable of powering practically all the average household appliances – one at a time. This type of generator is highly popular among causal users. A 1000watt generator can be used in cabins, trailers and even in camps.  The 1000watt generator models are small and light weight. Therefore it can be carried to any location without much effort. 1000watt generator models are ideal for areas where there is a constant blackout of power.
2000 Watt Generator: Three popular models of  2000 watt generator are: 1) All Power America APG 3014, 2) Honeywell HW2000i and, 3) Yamaha EF2000iS. These three models have different built-in options and power producing capabilities to consumer needs and pocketbooks .
_1)  The All Power America APG 3014 is the cheapest 2000 watt generator and is a suitable gen set for a home. It is very light and you can even lift it by yourself and carry it in a vehicle whenever you want to carry it to another place. Nevertheless, it is a much louder machine than others and due to this people think it is much suitable for home use, as it could be left in a sound proof area restricting its sound pollution. Another factor that goes against this type is, it is not CARB submissive.
_2)   The Honeywell HW2000i is a smaller than the All Power. It has a few upgrade features that make it better than the All Power America version. When comparing, the Honeywell emits less noise, about 62 decibels. Another plus factor is that the Honeywell is lighter than the All Power America model. It has more sturdy outer cover that protects it from huge impacts. This type is also CARB compliant Unlike APA which was ruled out from California, Honeywell HW2001 is legal to use. This type is ideal for camping.
_ 3)  The most expensive of the three is the Yamaha EF2000iS. You can have uninterrupted power for about 10 hours from one fueling. It makes the least amount of noise out of the three models, 51.5 decibels. It is fuel-efficient and is nationally CARB compliant, with very low emissions. Even though the Yamaha comes with a higher price tag, it’s worth the price, because it supplies more power, has built-in options (discussed below), is much quieter, and has lower carbon emissions.

Other than these 2000-watt generator models mentioned here you may find more machines under various brand names. The Honda EU2000iA, Generac 5793iX2000, Yamaha EF2000is, and Kipor IG 2000 are some of the most popular and best-selling models. Each unit has different features which make them unique from one another.

Yamaha EF2400iS Generator:
Yamaha is a well-known company that produces high quality generators. The Yamaha EF2400iS generator is among the best that they offer in a light weight generator. We can describe the EF2400IS as being completely user-friendly and featuring a very good compact design that boasts much more power than we might believe when we look at the size.
The generator is capable of starting most RV air conditioners of 13,500 BTU. It is powered by a very good 171 cc Yamaha engine that will be able to continuously operate the generator for around 9 hours – the capacity of it’s 1.6 gallon gas tank.
There are many specialists that believe that the Yamaha EF2400IS is the best generator that the company created so far. It features a compact design that is small and yet powerful. It can meet the personal needs of most regular users. At continuous output the device shows a 2000 watts rating and weighs 70 pounds. This means that you can easily transport it wherever you want to go. We are talking about a perfect power source that can be used for running AC in hot days, watching TV or running a microwave oven. The Yamaha EF2400IS generator is suitable for powering sensitive electronics and computers with the use of it’s special inverter system featuring PWM control.
On every refueling, you can expect 9 hours of runtime. This is enough to supply you with the power needed through the night.
A special technology called, Smart Throttle, is used, which varies the speed of the engine on the basis of load. Due to the Smart Throttle, you’ll notice that fuel economy is improved while noise is reduced.
The EF2400IS is campsite friendly only producing 53 db of sound while in operation. The Yamaha generator is simple to use and easy to store.
It has 2400 watts of starting power and is easily accessible with an included control panel. There is a visible gas gage to keep track of how much gas you have left. The oil monitoring system is accomplished by the Oil Watch feature, which will alert you when there is low oil pressure. On the whole, the Yamaha EF2400IS generator is really a smart choice for people that need small generators.
5000 Watt Generator:  It’s not enough to have a backup generator connected to your home’s electricity architecture you need to know just how much power it will give you. Generators come with specifications listed for the maximum wattage they can produce. This information is important because it will help you establish just how big a generator you need. The rule is, the bigger your home, the more the appliances you are likely to have and the more power you are likely to need. A 5000 Watt Generator can suffice, but there are a few things you need to know:  With the many appliances a home has, it’s virtually impossible to have them all running at the same time, unless you are willing to spend a lot on your emergency power energy bill. So it goes without saying, when there is a power outage, your most power-hungry appliances like the clothes dryer, electric furnace-heater should be turned off; if left on, 5000 watt generator will  not be adequate. If you take these energy hogs out of the equation, you will probably have enough power for lighting your entire household. Incandescent bulbs generally consume more wattage than fluorescent lamps, even with the same brightness output. The fridge can stay on, as well as the TV, music system and the AC unit, but that is about as far you can go before exhausting the 5000watt output. If there is still a need to have all the appliances running, you have the option of running one at a time in order to avoid creating a power overload on the generator.
A 5000 watt generator is not particularly large but they are fairly heavy (read: not very portable); it is common to find both “portable” (wheels or skids) and stationary units (meant for mounting). Considering their relatively modest wattage, you are likely to find more ‘mobile’ generators than stationary ones. Choosing one becomes a question of who is offering the best product, the most options, at the best price. A modest budget of $500 can buy a basic, no frill 5000 watt generator, for those willing to spend more, the figure can ascend to $1500 and beyond. Remember, you get what you pay for.  The type of fuel availability  will also matter, as there are units powered by gasoline, propane, natural gas or all three [more about Tri-fuel below].

B.  Generator Notes
•  It’s not necessary to run the generator 24/7, and in a survival situation with limited resources, it should be avoided. We recommend running the generator 2-4 hours in the morning, and another 2-4 hours in the evening. This should be enough to cool the contents of your refrigerator, prepare meals, take showers, heat or cool the house, fill water bottles, flush toilets, etc. Most refrigerators and freezers will maintain temperature if operated 50% of the time, depending on ambient temperature, condition of the door seal, and how often the door is opened.
•  The Yamaha EF2000iS generator was tested on 3 different portable air conditioners and a refrigerator. The generator was able to start and run each of them individually. The portable air conditioners were a; 9000 BTU Haier, 7000 BTU Haier and a 7000 BTU Danby. The refrigerator was a GE 18 cubic foot. •  Generator rentals: A 3000 watt generator rents for $95/day. A 2000 watt generator rents for $60/day.  Therefore a 2500 watt generator such as the Yamaha 2400 would rent for $75/day. •  It is a good idea to install one or more Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms inside your home. If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. Many home fires and deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning have occurred from using a generator improperly.
•  Do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, or use a properly cable sized extension cord.

C.  Campground or neighborhood generator use:
Most commercial and government camp grounds have some form of quiet hours. Most are not overly restrictive and would permit the opportunity to recharge the batteries if you were in the midst of an extended stay and were without electrical hookup.

Most National Parks have ‘generator sections’
•  Texas National Forest & Grasslands: May not operate an electrical generator between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., except on designated loops
•  Most state camping grounds require the sound of a generator to be below a specific decibel level so, find out the details from the management of these facilities beforehand. If your generator gets too noisy, you could be kicked out of the park.
•  I love my generator, but once I start it up I immediately take a walk up & down the road to see if it’s noticeable at the next neighbors camp sites – in most cases I can’t hear it at all, but there are some places where the terrain, ground cover, foliage (or lack thereof) allows the sound to get through and then I’m much more conservative about running it.

Yamaha EF2400iSHC Generator, Tri-fuel, with pure sine wave inverter
[This was my choice for personal wattage needs, portability and options – Mr Larry]
MSRP* $1,479 ($1550 with tri fuel carburetor added, add another $70 S&H fees)

The Yamaha EF2400iSHC Generator advertisement follows:
A great recreational activity companion and perfect for at-home backup in the off-season Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., introduces a High Current version of the top-selling EF2400iS – the new EF2400iSHC. Compact, lightweight and quiet while still powerful, reliable and with low emission, the Yamaha EF2400iSHC generator is perfect for camping, tailgating, powering workshop equipment or at home as back-up during a power outage.
From small power tools to appliances, such as a refrigerator or microwave oven, the Yamaha EF2400iSHC starts appliances quicker thanks to High Current technology and special Field Effect Transistors in the electronic controller. These features combine to increase the surge output, helping the EF2400iSHC respond more quickly for greater big-appliance starting capacity and longer run time for all uses.
A powerful 171cc engine and Yamaha’s industry leading Smart Throttle, which automatically adjusts the engine speed to match the load, allowing the EF2400iSHC to run at a slower engine speed resulting in quieter running and maximum fuel efficiency – up to 8.6 hours at 1/4-capacity load on one tank of fuel.
To ensure the EF2400iSHC retains its portability – small and lightweight (merely 75 pounds) – without sacrificing strength or reliability, a die cast aluminum frame and aluminum flywheel was used.
Additionally, the EF2400iSHC has an actual noise level range of only 53~60 decibels (quieter than normal speech) – giving consumers a lightweight, quiet running and durable generator.
The EF2400iSHC will see most of its work done in a portable shop, at the track, RVing, tailgating, at the hunting cabin and during other recreation or leisure activities, but its real mettle is proven at-home during a power outage.
The EF2400iSHC uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to produce high-quality electricity, which is as clean if not cleaner than the power supplied by public utility companies. PWM means consumers can use this generator with confidence as a power source for computers, variable speed power tools and appliances with built-in computer functions – perfect for charging cell phones and other sensitive electronics.

With a single side-mounted control panel that puts all controls on one surface and a detachable rear panel for easy access to service and maintenance points, the new EF2400iSHC is simple to use and easy to maintain. Like all recently introduced Yamaha generators, the EF24000iSHC meets the strictest emission standards in the country making it legal in all fifty states including California.

•  Type: Brushless Inverter
•  Maximum AC Output (surge-start-up): 2400 watts
•  Rated AC Output: 2000 watts
•  Rated/Maximum AC Current: 16.7 / 20 amps @ 120V
•  12-Volt DC Output (Recharge 12-volt batteries for RV, auto, marine, aircraft, etc.)
•  Engine OHV, Air-Cooled, Four-Stroke, Single Cylinder
•  Displacement: 171cc
•  Dimensions: 20.8”L x 16.5”W x 18.2H”
•  Dry Weight: 75 lb
•  Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.6 gal
•  Continuous Operation at 1/4 Rated Load: 8.6 hr [when fueled by the gasoline tank]
•  Noise Level: 53 – 58 dBA
•  Warranty: 3 Years Limited Warranty
•  Will operate a 13,500 BTU portable air-conditioner up to 110F.
•  Legal for sale in all 50 states – Meets CARB emission regulations.
•  Auto-decompression system – Reduces compression for easier starting.
•  Gasoline pet cock – Helps prevent carburetor contamination during storage.
•  Controls all on one panel – Easy access to controls.
•  Smart Throttle™ varies engine speed based on load – Improves fuel economy and reduces noise.
•  Comfortable grip handles – Easy portability and storage.
•  Fuel gauge – Ability to gauge fuel level without opening cap.
•  OilWatch warning system – Prevents engine damage and provides added peace of mind.
•  Electrical overload breaker – Prevents generator damage in case of overload.
•  Super-quiet muffler with USFS – approved Spark Arrester: Only 53 dBA at 1/4 load…eliminates errant sparks.
•  Die-cast aluminum frame:  Light weight, high strength.
•  Inverter system with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control – Can run products with built-in microcomputers or microcomputer-controlled electric tools.
•  DC outlet:  8A 12V outlet for charging batteries (cables included).
•  Rubber vibration isolation feet: Absorbing feet for increased smooth operation and noise reduction.
•  Multipole alternator: Light, compact design with great power output to weight ratio.
•  OHV engine with cast iron cylinder liner: Efficient, reliable, powerful providing long life and excellent heat dissipation.
•  Easily detachable side panels – For easier serviceability.
* Mr. Larry note: For those of us living in a hot climate, where several hours of air-conditioning is required daily, the generator will power up to a portable 10,000 BTU (maximum) air conditioner.

E.  The National Yamaha Hybrid Fuel Center
[Have the optional TRI FUEL (gasoline, propane, natural gas)  carburetor installed before its shipped]
No other generator brand can offer: 1 carburetor for 3 Fuels, $1550.74

Yamaha Deluxe Engine/Tach Meter
Dial in the fuel mixture for peak performance and efficiency.
Also helps you to maintain your generator at proper service intervals.  Service intervals are preprogrammed into this meter (10 hours initial, every 50 hours thereafter). Upon reaching the specified service interval, the meter displays a flash alert for a two-hour period. Includes hour meter and tachometer functions. Seal lifetime battery.(Battery life is 7-10 years (non-serviceable).
Professionally installed. This is not standard equipment but we know how important this meter is so we include one “installed” with all generators as standard equipment! ($49 value)

When a Yamaha generator is operated on propane and natural gas:
•  It does not give off noxious fumes-which is great for campers and close quarters.
•  The clean emissions are better for the environment-which is great for all of us.
•  The carburetor cannot and will not gum up-for dependable starting every time.
•  Larger fuel supplies (ie. 100 pound propane fuel tank)-can give much longer run times and no dangerous HOT refills.
•  Safer fuel-propane and natural gas have proven to be safer than gasoline.
•  Lower maintenance-with less moving parts and a fuel that CANNOT gum up!
•  Longer engine life-absolutely no impurities in alternative fuel.
•  Remote Starting-requires no choking to start on alternative fuel.

Choose the fuel option you want
You can have propane, natural gas, or gasoline and even use all three on the same generator.  Switch back and forth on the fly.
A portable 20# propane cylinder is equivalent to 5 gallons of gasoline, which equals 3.12 tank fills of gasoline  for a maximum operating time of  26.8 hours generator time at 1/4 load.

You could run the generator from the cylinder while camping and then, when you come home, you can connect the same generator right into a natural gas line or just fill the generators gasoline tank and run.
The generator has a 1.6 gallon gasoline tank capacity.

Fuel conversion factors: (Since the generator runs  up to 8.6 hrs on one tank full of gas. at ¼ load):
•  3.12 refills (per 5 gallon gasoline or 1  #20 pound propane tank) x 8.6 hrs per tank full =26.8 hrs operation.
•  1 ea 20# propane or 5 gallons gas provide about 26 hours electrical power
•  2 ea #20 propane or 10 gallons gasoline provide 52 hours electrical power
•  If you run this generator for 4 hours per day, each 20# tank of propane or 5 gallons gasoline would last almost a week; 2 ea. 20# propane tanks would last about 2 weeks.
•  A 100 pound propane tank = 130 hours continuous electrical power.

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Energy savings

(Survival manual/5. Energy/Energy savings)

A.  Your Household Energy Inventory

Energy Auditing Tips

  • Check the level of insulation in your exterior and basements walls, ceilings attic, floors, and crawl spaces. Contact your local contractor for advice on how to check your insulation levels.
  • Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.
  • Check for open fireplace dampers.
  • Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained.
  • Study your family’s lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and exterior lighting. Look for ways to use day lighting, reduce the time the lights are on, and replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.
    [Pie chart at right: Source of air leakage from a typical home.]

 Insulation Tips

  • Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-value for your home.
  • Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.
  • Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient.
  • Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked “I.C.” – designed for direct insulation. Check for local building codes for recommendations

Weatherization Tips

  • First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather stripping.
  • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows that leak.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic.
  • Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows. Storm windows as much as double the R-value of single-pane windows and they can help reduce drafts, water condensation, and frost formation. As a less costly and less permanent alternative, you can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of the window frames during the cold winter months. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes – 24 hours a day!
  • For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap, taping the joints of exterior sheathing, or comprehensively caulking and sealing the exterior walls.

    Heating and Cooling Tips
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season, if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilation fans wisely; in just one hour, these fans can pull out a house full of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
  • Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents-closing the vents could harm the heat pump.
  • Select energy-efficient equipment when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, modes, and designs to help you compare energy usage. Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The national minimums are 78% AFUE and 10 SEER.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels. ENERGY STAR® is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient appliances and products.

Duct Tips

  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then lock for obvious holes.
  • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and basement walls are insulated, consider insulating both.
  • If your basement has been converted to a living area install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent buildup.
  • Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts.

Heat Pump Tips

  • Do not set back the heat pump’s thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive.
  • Clean and change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 Fireplace Tips

  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly-approximately 1 inch-and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 degrees to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Install tempered glass doors and heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
  • Use grates make of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

Cooling Tips

  • Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
  • Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.
  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.

 Water Heating Tips

  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat.
  • Insulate your gas or oil hot-water tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Install non-aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance.
  • Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it’s best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than seven years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature setting, but a setting of 115 degrees Fahrenheit provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.
  • If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house.
  • Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a five-minute shower.
  • Look for the FTC EnergyGuide label.

Cold-Climate Window Tips

  • Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25 percent to 50 percent. Storm windows should have weather-stripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-E storm windows save even more energy.
  • Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Close the curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.
  • Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.

 Warm-Climate Window Tips

  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Close curtains on the south- and west-facing windows during the day
  • Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.
  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on the south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.

Indoor Lighting Tips

  • Turn off the lights in any room you’re not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  • Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets.
  • Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
  • Use four-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.
  • Consider using four-watt mini-fluorescent or electro-luminescent nightlights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs.
  • When shopping for new light fixtures, consider buying dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures with built-in ballasts that use pin-based replacement bulbs.
  • For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range in wattage from 13-watt to 32-watt and provide a very directed light using a reflector and lens system.
  • Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.
  • If you have lamp fixtures with halogen lights, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps. Compact fluorescent lamps use 60 percent to 80 percent less energy, can produce more light (lumens), and do not get as hot as the halogen lights.

Outdoor Lighting Tips

  • Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a timer so they will turn off during the day.
  • Turn off decorative outdoor gas lamps; just eight gas lamps burning year-round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter.
  • Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold-weather ballast.

Dishwasher Tips

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (115 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
  • Don’t use the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses three to seven gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR® LABEL. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers use less water and energy and must exceed minimum federal standards by at least 13 percent.

Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an “anti-sweat’ heater. Models with an “anti-sweat” heater will consume 5 percent to 10 percent more energy that models without this feature.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37 degrees to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.

Laundry Tips

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If you machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.
Strategy One-time, Up front cost Savings per year
(1) Using ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner ~$100, if you don’t already have ceiling fans $625
(2) Use a clothesline or a laundry rack instead of a dryer ~$20 $150
(3) Washing laundry in cold water instead of hot none $119
(4) Washing laundry in warm water instead of hot none $60
(5) Replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescents $40 $95
(6) Replace 1990 fridge with 2004 model $460+ $45
(7) Replacing a CRT computer monitor in a home office with an LCD display $300+ $21
Total $61
amortized over 15 yrs.

  General Appliance wattages, 2008

Lighting – Emergency= 500 Watts
Lighting – Basic= 1200 Watts
Lighting – Full= 4000 Watts
Furnace – Gas= 750 Watts
Electric Heat= 5000 Watts
Heat Pump= 5000 Watts
Electric Water Heater= 5000 Watts
Security System= 20 Watts
Portable Radio= 15 Watts
Cordless Telephone= 15 Watts
Refrigerator – 20 Cu Ft= 800 Watts
Freezer – 20 Cu Ft= 550 Watts
Sump Pump= 900 Watts
Well Pump ½ HP= 1000 Watts
Well Pump 1HP= 2000 Watts
Garage Door Opener ½ HP= 400 Watts
Microwave Oven 800W= 1200 Watts
Microwave Oven 1000W= 1500 Watts
Coffee Maker= 900 Watts
Dishwasher= 1400 Watts
Toaster= 900 Watts
Computer= 250 Watts
Electric Range-1Burner= 1400 Watts
Electric Range Oven= 7500 Watts
TV – 13″ Color= 70 Watts
TV – 32″ Color= 170 Watts
VCR= 60 Watts
Stereo System= 140 Watts
Clothes Iron= 1100 Watts
Electric Clothes Dryer= 6000 Watts
Gas Clothes Dryer= 720 Watts
Washing Machine= 1000 Watts
Hair Dryer= 1600 Watts
Air Conditioning 1 Ton= 2000 Watts
Air Conditioning 2 Ton= 3000 Watts
Air Conditioning 3 Ton= 4500 Watts
Window A/C= 2000 Watts
Ceiling Fan= 100 Watts
Vacuum Cleaner= 780 Watts
Central Vacuum= 1750 Watts
C.  Electric Cost and kWh Calculations
The cost of electricity varies depending on what part of the country you’re in, and then, it depends on how much you use and when you use it.
There are also fixed charges that you pay every month no matter how much electricity you use. For example, I pay $6/mo. for the privilege of being a customer of the electric company, no matter how much energy I use.

Check your utility bill for the rates in your area. If it’s not on your bill, call your utility company and ask them to send you a rate sheet. (Or look it up on their website if they have one.)

The electric company measures how much electricity you use in kilowatt-hours. We’ll explain what those are in a minute. The abbreviation for kilowatt-hour is kWh. Note that on your bill there can be multiple charges per kWh (e.g., one for the “base rate”, another for “fuel”) and you have to add them all up to get the total cost per kWh.

Most utility companies charge a higher rate when you use more than a certain amount of energy, and they also charge more during summer months when electric use is higher. As an example, here are the residential electric rates for Austin, Texas (as of 11-03): These figures include a fuel charge of 2.265¢ per kWh.

First 500 kilowatts 5.8¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh)
Additional kilowatts (May-Oct.) 10¢ per kilowatt hour
Additional kilowatts (Nov.-Apr.) 8.3¢ per kilowatt hour

What the heck is a kilowatt hour?
Before we see how much electricity costs, we have to understand how it’s measured.

Electricity used at any moment is measured in watts. For example:

  • A 100-watt light bulb uses 100 watts.
  • A typical desktop computer uses 65 watts.
  • A central air conditioner uses 3500 watts.

To know how much energy you’re using you have to consider how long you run your appliances. When you use 1000 watts for an hour, that’s a kilowatt-hour.
For example:

  • Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 1 kWh [ 10 x 100=1000]
  • Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for 1/2 an hour, is 0.5 kWh
  • Ten 50-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 0.5 kWh [10 x 50 =500 watt hours= 500/1000=0.5 kWh] Remember the electric company measures in killowatt hours.
  • One 60-watt light bulb on for an hour, is 0.06 kWh (60/1000)
  • Running a 3500-watt air conditioner for an hour is 3.5 kWh.

The average U.S. household used 10,215 kWh a year in 1997, according to the Department of Energy. The average cost of electricity was 8.3¢/kWh in the U.S. in 1998.

For smaller items we use watt-hours instead of kilowatt-hours. For example, we say a 60-watt light bulb uses 60 watt-hours of electricity, not 0.060 kWh.

 Note that the “-hours” part is important. Without it we’d have no idea what period of time we were talking about.
If you ever see a reference without the amount of time specified, it’s almost certainly per hour.

If your device lists amps instead of watts, then just multiply the amps times the voltage to get the watts.
For example:

2.5 amps   x   120 volts   =   300 watts


D.  Cooking Costs
Most people can’t save much energy by changing their cooking methods, compared to other ways you can save energy.

You’ll save a lot more energy by setting your air conditioner to a higher temperature, or switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or washing clothes in cold water instead of hot. But since everyone wants to know what the cheapest ways to cook are, and for those people who do a lot of cooking and happen to be using the least efficient methods, here’s what you want to know.

Summary of the cheapest ways to cook

Baking (oven)

Heating (stovetop)

•  Microwaves and   crock pots are the cheapest.
•  Gas ovens with pilot lights are almost as good, but ovens with electric igniters are   expensive.
•  Electric ovens   are the most expensive, whether convection or not.
 •  Gas is the cheapest, even though it’s inefficient, because the cost of gas is so low.
•   Electric  burners are the next best option. Microwave ovens are almost as good.
•  Heating water in a microwave is cheaper if you heat only a cup in the microwave, vs. a   whole kettle on the stove.

How much do various baking methods cost? (oven-style cooking)

(degrees F)


Energy Used


Electric oven 350 1 hr. 2.0 kWh $0.20
Electric oven, convection 325 45 min. 1.39 kWh $0.14
Gas oven, electric ignition 350 1 hr. 0.112 therm
+0.35 kWh
Toaster oven 425 50 min. 0.95 kWh $0.10
Gas oven, pilot 350 1 hr. 0.112 therm $0.08
Crockpot 200 7   hours 0.70 kWh $0.07
Microwave oven High 15   minutes 0.36 kWh $0.04

E.  Window Quilts
Your windows are usually responsible for the greatest amount of heat loss in your home-even if you have storm windows or the newer dual pane thermal windows. As a result the window covering you choose has a tremendous impact on energy consumption.

Warm Windows
If you are handy with a sewing machine, I’m told these aren’t too hard to make – and you can save some money compared to the Window Quilts above. I have seen some very nice looking examples and the home owners report liking them. The basic design uses hidden magnets in the curtain and a magnetic strip on the window trim to seal the window. For more information on these, please visit the company web site.

These shades effectively increase the R-value of your window from about R-1.5 to about R-5. But the R-value only tells a small part of the story because the radiant barrier inside the shade actually makes you feel more comfortable because radiant heat is sensible heat – we feel it. (Think about sitting at the table with bright sun pouring in on a hot day.) Another benefit from these shades is that they actually create an airtight seal around the window.

Window Quilt consists of a layered combination of quilting fabric, reflective mylar, and a quilting material which is mounted in a sealed track system on a roller with pull cord. For skylight applications, a balanced, spring-loaded roller allows easy adjustment. The weighted bar on the base of the shade ensures an airtight seal on the window sill while the sides are sealed by plastic tracks.

— end post —

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Filed under Survival Manual, __5. Energy

Emergency Lighting

(Survival manual/ 5. Energy/Emergency Lighting)

For Medium to Long Term Power Outages – Power Grid Failure

1.  Emergency lighting
Power outages seem to be a more and more frequent occurrence. With the electrical grid in need of a lot of maintenance and upgrades and news stories of internet hackers trying to breach the grid online, being prepared for a medium to long-term power outage is a good idea. The preparations needed to have adequate lighting in any scenario are easy and affordable.

The most important thing to remember is that it is very unsettling, especially for children, to be without power for any length of time. The quiet that settles over a house with no electricity is something that we don’t often experience. While an emergency backup generator and gasoline to run it would take care of things pretty well, this requires an investment of hundreds of dollars and the  hazards of gasoline storage. It is much cheaper and easier to focus on alternative lighting.

Candles are not a good idea for anything more than a romantic dinner. They present a fire hazard, especially if you have children in the house. They are not particularly economical and they are not very portable. Small oil lamps have the same drawbacks. [I disagree, feeling that candles are a very good way to provide illumination in an emergency situation. There are candle lanterns (see below) which I’ve used and are very safe. Mr Larry]

Kerosene lanterns are much better than candles, and if you don’t like the smell of kerosene, you can purchase lamp oil for most good lanterns, however it is much more expensive. A good hurricane lantern is durable, safe (they flame out if tipped over) and cost about $30 each. While campers love them, there is still a better way.

The LED flashlight/lamp
With LED flashlights, gone are the days of having to rely on bulky, D-cell flashlights that require a new set of batteries every day. Instead, a lightweight LED flashlight will serve you night after night on a couple double A or triple A batteries. So is it as easy as just making a trip to Wal-Mart to ensure your family has lighting during an extended power outage? Not quite.

First things  – standardize your batteries
Trying to stock up on several different types of batteries is frustrating and expensive and inevitably someone’s flashlight will be out of batteries while others’ are not. Purchase flashlights and a table top lantern or two that all use the same batteries. The flashlights should be rugged and water-resistant, if not waterproof. Get a light color that will be easy to find in the dark – black is not what you want.

Worth Their Weight in Gold
In addition to flashlights and a table top lantern or two, get a headlamp for each adult in the family. Trying to do any tasks while holding a flashlight, which any camper will tell you, is very frustrating and difficult. On the other hand, a headlamp is lightweight and automatically illuminates whatever you are looking at.
Resist the urge to buy the smallest, lightest headlamps, as these use specialty button batteries. Get headlamps that use AA or AAA batteries to be standardized with your flashlights.

About Batteries
If you want the best batteries in your lights that will give you the longest light and function better than any other batteries in very cold weather, then lithium batteries are for you. They aren’t cheap – they will cost you up to $2 per battery, so if your flashlight takes 3 triple A batteries, that will cost you
more than the flashlight!

If you want to be prepared for an extended power outage, perhaps due to a terror attack or societal meltdown, then recharging your batteries is the best option. A small, solar-powered battery charger can be purchased for as little as $35, and will make you truly self-sufficient. A note of caution about rechargeables though: they do not keep a charge very well in storage. Have rechargeables on hand, but
keep good batteries in your flashlights so that they will work when you need them.

A Final Word
Outfitting yourself with at least one flashlight in each vehicle, more at home, and a headlamp for each adult, with all lights using the same batteries is a quick, easy way to be prepared for an emergency. Don’t think that if something happens you can just run to the store and get flashlights then. The store may be out of power too!
Article Source:

 Emergency lighting supplies you should have
Emergency preparedness means you should have backup systems or plans for heat, lighting and water. If you’re lucky, the power won’t be off long, but batteries are gone after a few days, unless you have a way to recharge them. A generator will only work until it runs out of fuel.

One of the more important aspects of urban survival during winter storms is lighting. Without a lighting plan, you could end up in the dark from when the sun sets at around 5:30 p.m. until dawn. The right lighting supplies can make this situation more bearable. Among your lighting back up supplies should be all the items from the following list:
•   A  LED headlamp for each person, this is very important since it frees both your hands for writing, reading, doing dishes, fixing things, going to the bathroom, and other activities done in the dark. When the power goes out for days, you’ll appreciate this.
•  A hand-held LED flashlight for each person— can’t have too much light.
•  Also a lantern per person. Hopefully one of those lights has a red filter or red LED to use at night to preserve night vision.
•  A spotlight/lantern , one per group – illuminate a living space with an electric lantern. The 6V batteries last a long time. Preferably get an LED model, otherwise regular bulbs are fine if you get some spare bulbs.
•  Rechargeable batteries and both a regular  & solar battery charger — another critical item. Get two to three packs each of AA and AAA batteries, depending on the items you
have. Ebay has solar chargers for $25 that look like lunch boxes It takes one or two days to charge a set of four batteries, depending on sunlight availability. Leave the lid open a little, otherwise it gets so hot inside that the batteries are reduced in their lifespan. The most compact chargers are flat ones that roll up into a pouch, used by the military, but they are quite expensive.

The LED Advantage
Red LEDs have been available for decades. Cheap and powerful white LEDs now make LED flashlights clearly superior to traditional incandescent flashlights.

LED bulbs hardly ever need to be replaced. LED design and integration company LED dynamics says that LEDs can sustain up to 100,000 hours (eleven years) of use.

LED flashlights (known as torches in some countries) last longer between battery changes. LED versions are over twenty percent brighter, yet lasts eleven hours on a pair of CR123A lithium batteries versus one hour for the incandescent.

LED Brightness: Lumens versus Watts
More LEDs doesn’t mean brighter. A one led flashlight can be brighter than a flashlight with 3, 4, 9 or even 100 LEDs.
Total flashlight brightness is measured in lumens, with 10 to 100 lumens being common:
•  10 lumens is about the minimum practical brightness.
•  30 lumens will be bright enough for most purposes: lighting up trails when walking,fixing car engines, searching for lost items under the sofa.
•  “Tactical” super bright police/military flashlights start at 90 lumens and can reach a few hundred lumens. They are good for lighting up more distant objects.
•  One of today’s brightest LEDs is the SSC P7. It’s a 10 watt, 900 lumen LED. It is used in a variety of flashlights from different brands.

As a comparison, a list of light bulb brightness from Energy Federation Incorporated
says that:

  • A 15 watt incandescent bulb gives off 122 lumens of light
  • A 100 watt incandescent bulb gives off 1750 lumens of light
  • A 90 lumen led flashlight looks brighter than a 15 watt (122 lumen) incandescent bulb because its light is focused into a narrow beam.
  • LEDs are also measured in watts. This is the input power, not the brightness output.
    Most general-use flashlights top out at 1 watt, while 90 lumen tactical flashlights are typically 3 watts.
  • It is difficult to compare lumens with watts. Manufacturers claim anything from 10 to 90 lumens per watt. Average claim is about 30 lumens per watt. So, brightness is best compared using lumens, not watts. However 30 lumens per watt can be assumed if lumens are not stated.
  • Lux is another measure of brightness. Lux is lumens per square meter, which is less useful for comparing flashlights.

Dimmer can be better
•  The lowest brightness of a flashlight is important. Dim light is
•  good for conserving battery life (super bright also means super battery-eater), especially useful in emergencies,
•  more comfortable for reading at night,
•  less likely to wake up companions when rummaging around in a tent.
•  Premium flashlights have a low and high power setting. Some have more than two levels of brightness. Others have a separate red LED that not only conserves the battery but also protects night vision.
•  An alternative is to carry two flashlights, one dim and another bright (much like carrying a pocket knife and a machete). This is practical with today’s lightweight flashlights. A backup flashlight can be a lifesaver.

 LED flashlight batteries
AA batteries are best.
•  Small, bright LED flashlights can be powered by one or two AA batteries. These are the best all round performers (cost, capacity, availability) for general portable use. A single AA alkaline can power a flashlight for hours.
•  AA batteries have wide market support. Battery types are:
___ Alkaline
___ Lithium (lightweight, last longer than alkalines, work well in the cold, expensive)
___ NiMH rechargeables
•  AAA batteries are the next best. Flashlights with three AAAs are a popular configuration.
•  Specialized batteries such as button cells or CR123A lithiums should be avoided. CR123A batteries may give good performance, but replacements can be difficult to obtain in remote areas.
•   Batteries are part of an overall portable or emergency power supply plan. Equipment that use the same battery type (GPS, camera, flashlight, MP3 player, radio, walkie-talkie) can share batteries in a pinch. Solar chargers for AA and AAA batteries are available, making these batteries even more attractive.

LED features
Brightness and batteries are the most important issues when choosing a flashlight. Additional features include:
•  Regulated power or voltage, to maximize and even-out battery power. Instead of being too bright when the battery is new and too dim later, a more constant level of brightness is maintained.

  • Flashing feature, to attract attention in an emergency.
  • Focusing head to adjust the width of the beam. These are normally available only on single-LED flashlights.
  • Safety switch to prevent accidental switching-on of the flashlight, draining the battery. End-twist switches and recessed push-button switches are also good.
  • Additional red LED for protecting night sight.
  • Waterproofing.
  • Floating (buoyant) body. This prevents the flashlight from getting lost if dropped into water, but increases the size of the flashlight.
  • Hole to attach a lanyard.
  • Flat sides to stop the flashlight from rolling when placed on an even surface.

4.  Suggested
emergency lighting options:

Left to right:
•  Black Diamond Apollo lantern, 3 watt LED, 50 lumen output, 9-1/2 in tall extended, 4 AA batteries, 60 hr. illumination per set batteries. Plenty illumination to work around the kitchen; can read by it if your up close.
•   Black and Decker FSL18 18 Volt Firestorm Light, adjustable beam, shares 18v batteries with other of my tools. Lights up a room but has pretty straight on focusing beam, more for outdoors or close up work in a dark area.
•   Coleman 8D  Square Pack-Away Lantern. 15-watt fluorescent spiral U-tube, 390  lumens on High. Runs 24 hours on Low, 12 hours on High,  8 D batteries. This older technology lantern is something I’ve had for a while, works great. There are newer lanterns available for those who that want to use fewer batteries, ie., see Black Diamond above.

Left to right:
•  Petzl E99 PG Tikka XP 2, LEDs  Headlamp, 60 lumens,, 3 brightness settings, a red light, uses 3 AAA batteries: 160 hrs low, 80 hrs high, lighting out  to 60 meters. A really great headlamp that free’s up both hands allowing you to dig around looking for things or pull emergency equipment out of storage.
•  Similar to my Black and Decker wall light/rechargeable emergency flashlight. Looks kind of like the pic above, has the same plug in the wall and nightlight features. When the household power goes off, the flashlight immediately lights up and is fully charged, ready for use. Great indoors flashlight.
•  Eneloop rechargeable batteries stocked for small  personal electronics;  buy a couple dozen each AA, a nd AAA, also a few plastic C&D adaptors so you can use the AAA to power C& D battery devices; also, La Crosse Technology BC-9009 Alpha Power Battery Charger.[1].

Left to right:
•  LED Lenzer #7736 tactical power flashlight, 110 lumens, beam distance 590 feet., (dangerously bright, focused beam),  tooled aluminum, 4-1/2 “ long, uses 3 AAA batteries. Best used outdoors.
•  Energizer, 1 watt, LED flashlight, 7” long, rubberized grip, uses 2 AA batteries. Right brightness
for ‘in the house’,  45 lumens.
•  Mini LED keychain flashlights, have just a few in supply. Very handy & small, not very bright, internal battery, disposable unit. About 10 lumen light output.

5.  Emergency Candles

In a disaster, it is not uncommon for electricity to be unavailable, sometimes for days or even weeks. Flashlights are an important component of a disaster kit, but flashlights are not meant for long-term use. Emergency candles are an excellent way to generate light when the electrical power goes out.

Candles for use in emergency situations come in a variety of styles and sizes, many of which are similar to ordinary candles. Some of the ways in which emergency candles differ from conventional candles include length of burn time, adjustability of the wicks and wind resistance. There are emergency candles available which can burn for 30 to 120 hours or more.

My candles and propane lighting options

Left to right:
•   UCO single candle lantern, closed and open, 6.5 in. tall & 2 in wide. UCO candle lanterns use 9 hour (non decorative) candles, candle is spring fed to maintain appropriate height in globe, see candles below.
•   UCO, 3 candle lantern,  has a top surface for heating, with all three candles burning, you can heat a cup of liquid in 5 minutes, not to a boil, but useful for instant soup or coffee, spring fed candles.
•   UCO 9 hour candles, each measures 3-1/2” long x 1-1/8”diameter. Wouldn’t hurt to have at least a dozen in supply.

 Left to right:
•   Coleman Quick Pack InstaStart Lantern, 967 lumens, runs 13 hours on low and 7.75 hours on high using  one  16 ounce propane cylinder. Light up the yard for outdoor cooking, dish washing, etc.
•   1 pound propane cylinder, stock a few for light and cooking.

Candle making, (traditional candles, primarily for illumination)
The best candle wax is Petroleum Paraffin wax like used in home canning. It’s very cheap, comes in pre-cut blocks and stores indefinitely. You can also use crayons or pieces of old decorative candle found around the house.

The first step in candle making is to prepare the wax. You do this by melting it in a double boiler. A double boiler is simply one large pot filled with water and placed on the stove top. Another smaller pot that contains the un-melted wax is sat inside the larger pot. Wax will burn when you try to melt it so using a double boiler makes it easy.

Once the wax is melted, hold the wick in place in the middle of the mold and pour in the wax. Allow the wax to cool for about four to six hours before you attempt to remove it from the mold. You can also spray non-stick cooking spray into the mold before you pour the wax into it so it is easier to remove the finished candle.

A.  How to Make Emergency Cooking Candles (for light and heat)
These candles differ from the traditional candle when the mold is preloaded with a stack of cardboard wicks embedded and held in place by wood chips or by a tightly wound coil of cardboard. With the following two procedures, you can make a much more heavy-duty candle than discussed above.
Emergency cooking candles provide both  light and heat, allowing you to cook food in a difficult situation. Make several emergency candles and put them in your long-term storage.

Procedure #1: Cooking candle, Tall can/mold
Things you’ll need:

  • Tin can
  • Candlewick  (see wick making, below)
  • Double boiler
  • Slotted spoon (optional)
  • Paraffin wax, old candles, wax crayons
  • Matchbook (optional)
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • Wood chips
  • Hot glue gun (optional)

Place the broken up paraffin, old candles or crayons in a double boiler, or melt enough paraffin wax to fill the tin can. If you melt too much wax, you can always store it for later once it hardens. Watch the wax as it melts, and stir it to encourage the melting. You should use the double boiler method to prevent the wax from catching fire as is melts.

Cut the corrugated cardboard into thin strips. The strips only need to be as tall as the can. Roll the strips into a tight coil.

Pack wood chips into the tin can. Compress the wood chips tightly around the candlewicks. Fill in the holes and saturate the cardboard to fill the tin can completely with the melted wax.

Pour the candle wax to cover the cardboard and wood chips. Lay a candlewick horizontally across the candle wax. The candlewick needs to be as long as the tin. Light the candlewick in an emergency, and the flame will spread across the top of the tin can.

Optional, so that you’ll have matches, if and when the emergency candle is needed. Cut the top off a matchbook. Cut the strikers off the box, and then tape the matchbook inside the lid of the tin can. Glue the strikers next to the matches on the lid with a hot glue gun.

Procedure #2: Cooking candle, Short can/mold
Things you’ll need:

  • washed out tuna can, make several
  • stove
  • corrugated cardboard hot pads
  • Paraffin wax, old candles, wax crayons
  • water
  • primed candle wick
  • scissors or sharp knife
  • small sauce pan and old heat proof glass jar (for double boiler)
  • pencil

1.  Using your scissors or knife, cut strips of the corrugated cardboard that are the same height as the tuna can. It is beneficial for one or two strips to be slightly taller than the rest to make the candle easier to light after the first time it is used.
2.  Roll a cardboard strip around the pencil. While keeping the cardboard coiled up, slide it off of the pencil.
3.  Place the coiled cardboard into the tuna can, and allow it to uncoil. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the whole can is filled and the cardboard strips are fairly snug against each other.
4.  Cut a piece of candle wick that is about 1/2 inch taller than the tuna can. Place the wick in the hole at the center of the cardboard coils.
5.  Fill the small sauce pan half way with water and put it on the stove over medium heat. Place the wax into the jar and put the jar in the water. The water will slowly begin to boil and will melt the wax in the jar.
6.  When the wax is melted, use the hot pads to remove the jar from the water. Pour the melted wax into the tuna can filled with the cardboard coils. Start at the center near the candle wick and work toward the outer edges. Fill just to the top edge of the can. Do not over fill the can or it will spill all over when the candle is lit.

Allow the cooking candle to cool completely. Store in a Ziploc bag with waterproof candles and tuck the bag into your emergency survival kit or 72 hour kit.

B. Homemade candle wicks
To make wicks the colonial way, soak heavy cotton yarn for 12 hours in one of these solutions:
•  1 tbsp salt combined with 2 tbsp boric acid and 1 cup of  water, OR
•  a mixture of turpentine, lime water and vinegar.

When the yarn is dry, braid 2 or 3 strands together to form the wick. or as another person suggested just, use cotton string/cord/rope soaked in liquid wax, the larger the candle diameter
the thicker or more numerous the wick(s).

[1] The LaCrosse charger includes individual LCD displays for each charging compartment, and
three function keys at the bottom–Current, Display, and Mode. Push the Mode button to choose from four categories: Charge mode to charge the rechargeable battery (automatically switches to trickle charge after the battery is full); Discharge mode to discharge then charge the rechargeable battery to minimize the memory effect; Refresh mode to refresh the rechargeable battery to maximum
capacity by charging and discharging it repeatedly; and Test mode to check the rechargeable battery capacity in mAh/Ah. Also features a heat monitor to prevents overcharging.

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Propane fuel & equipment

(Survival manual/5. Energy/Propane fuel & equipment)

A.   What is propane?
Propane, or liquefied petroleum gas (LP-gas), is one of the nation’s most versatile sources of energy and supplies 3 to 4 percent of our total energy. As opposed to relying on foreign sources, approximately 90% of the United States propane supply is produced domestically. For years, families and businesses have counted on clean, dependable propane for heating, hot water, cooking, and clothes drying.

The advantages of propane?
There are six very good reasons why you should consider  increasing  propane use in your home energy needs:
1)  Propane has a wide variety of uses: heating, water heating, cooking, clothes drying, swimming pool water heating, hot tub & sauna heating and emergency generators. Propane is also used to fuel cars and trucks.
2)  Propane is a clean-burning, environmentally friendly fuel that can be stored safely in residential & commercial underground tanks.
3)  Propane heating equipment is designed to operate efficiently. Some equipment can be as high as 96% efficient. That means for every heating dollar you spend, you get 96 cents worth of heat.
4)  Propane heats water at one-half the cost of electricity.
5)  Propane heating and water heating equipment can be installed with special direct venting systems which do not need a chimney. This will save you money on retrofitting and unnecessary construction.
6)  Unlike competitive fuels, most of the propane used in the United States comes from North American sources.

Propane is one the easiest fuel source to use. All you do is screw it on and light the gas. Because propane is already under pressure you do not have to pump it or do anything special. Propane has to be under pressure because its boiling point (point when it turns from a liquid to a gas) is negative 44 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it is normally a gas. In order to turn it into a liquid you need to pressurize it, which is why it is stored in strong metal containers.


B.  Facts and figures
•  1 pound of Propane = 22,000 BTUs =8.5 cu ft LP gas.
•  20 lb tank of propane holds approx 4 gallons of propane (366,000 BTUs)
•  Your propane appliance will work for x hours= 366,000 BTUs per 20 lb tank propane/ appliance BTU output hrs .
•  Filling a 20lb tanks costs  about $15.
•  100 pound propane tank will hold about 24 gallon. (100 pounds / 4.24 lbs/gal = 23.58 gal.)
•  100 lb tank holds 2,159,400 potential BTU’s, so a 100,000 BTU input furnace could burn 21.59 hours, if your furnace is fired for 25 minutes of every hour (COLD WEATHER), over 8 hours you will get about 6-7 days on a tank.
•  1000 lb propane tank will hold 235.8 gallons. 1000 pound tank / 4.24 lbs/gal=235 gal.
•  Propane contains roughly 20,000 BTU’s per pound, so if you’re using a burner of 20,000 BTUs, a 1 lb cylinder will last 1 hour. If your burner is 2,000 BTU’s you’ve got about 10 hours of fuel in a 1lb cylinder.
•  1 gallon of propane:  weighs 4.24 pounds and produces 91,500 BTUs heat.
•  1 gallon of propane = 27 kWh (Kilowatt Hours) of electricity; this means that one gallon of propane contains the same amount of usable energy as 27 Kilowatt Hours, or we can say that 27 kWh equals approximately 91,500 BTU ( or 4.15 each  1 pound propane cylinders).
•  A 100 watt light bulb left on for a full day (24 hours) will consume 2.4 kWh. If propane were to power the same light bulb (hypothetically remember, we’re comparing energy content) for 24 hours, it would use .09 gallons of propane.

•  The cylinders should be transported in a ventilated area and kept as cool as possible and out of direct sunlight if possible. The best option for 1 lb & 20 lb cylinders is a plastic milk crate with a reflective, white sheet/towel covering the top.
•  Propane cylinders are not rated in gallons. They are rated in weight because propane has been traditionally sold by weight. For instance, a standard BBQ cylinder is called a 20 lb cylinder even though it weighs a bit more than 20 lbs when filled. There is a larger one that is common to the RV world and it is 40 lb.. The taller cylinders that are owned by the propane companies are 100 lb, 250 lb and 500 lb cylinders. The horizontal “hot-dog” ones are 1000 lb units or larger.
•  A 100 lb cylinder is about a foot in diameter. Propane weighs 4.24 pounds per gallon. A 100 lb cylinder holds about 24 gallons of liquefied gas.
•  The 100 lb cylinder is subject to recreational tax, that means it will cost you more per pound to fill the 100 pounder than the bulk tank in your yard. If you lease your bulk tank, when you don’t want it anymore they’ll take it away. There is usually a discount for a ” bulk tank ” refill.
•  Buying your own propane tank vs. leasing/renting: “I bought my own 1,000 gallon tank 4 years ago. The difference in the price of propane paid for the tank by the second refill and I shop around every time I need to fill it.”
• Liquid propane will expand to 270 times its volume when it changes from a liquid to a gas. That’s why you can cook for a long time on such a small amount of propane.
• When your home’s furnace pulls full load on a 100 lb cylinder the vapor will freeze, limiting your 100 pounder to 75% useable volume until it thaws out. The reason is that a 100 lb. tank doesn’t the regulator discharge size to supply the needs of a full house furnace, and starves it for fuel.

C.  My propane appliances:
a)  Coleman PerfectFlow 1-Burner Stove: cooks 2.2 hours on High or up to 9 hours on Low. Lasting 3 days per 1 lb cylinder at 72 min/day [1 hr 12 min]);  5- 1 lb cylinders=15 days, 10 lbs=1 month, a 20 lb cylinder=2 months minimal cooking. 1 each 20 lb cylinder theoretically cooks 74 days of meals at 1 hr/day.
b)  Coleman QuickPack InstaStart Lantern:  illuminates 13 hours on Low and 7.75 hours on High with a 1 lb-ounce propane cylinder; 967 lumens. 1 lb cylinder=4  to 6 days cooking with a
two-burner stove or 3 hours of continuous early morning lighting for 4 days.
c)  MR Heater Big Buddy heater: two 20-lb. cylinders heat up to 400 sq. ft. for up to 220 hrs. (9 days).
The formula for calculating how big of a heater you need is the volume of your tent (LxWxH) x 4. A better insulated space might have a multiplier of 3, or even 2. If you camp in a nice 10×10 Eureka tent, tall enough to stand up in–you will probably need at least a 3000-4000btu heater.
d)  Camp Chef Sport Utility DJ-60LW Sport Stove: two 30,000 BTU/hr low-pressure cast burners, 14.75 inches by 7.5 inches by 28.25 inches, 364 sq. inch cooking surface.

Preview of my propane appliances
(see full  discussion in Warehouse/Equipment/My propane appliances. doc)

1 lb Propane bottles – how long can they be stored? (Answers from the Internet)
 •  The propane can never go bad, only the container. Keep them rust free . I’m using a bottle from 1994 in my shop today. All I originally did was wipe it with vaseline and kept the cap on.
•  ‘I had one that was over twenty years old. Worked just fine.’
•  I’ve been able to find half a dozen credible references for using Vaseline on tank fittings from Propane tanks but none against. Propane and Petroleum will not react with each other.


D.  Read me first: The thoughts and process of refilling disposable 1 lb propane cylinders
At normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, propane is a gas. It’s heavier than air, so it will tend to settle and collect in low spots. That’s what creates the explosion risk when there is a propane leak, and that’s why propane storage locations must be designed to vent outside and not allowed to vent indoors. This is absolutely crucial. Don’t cut corners here.

The propane we purchase is “Liquefied Propane Gas” (LPG), which has been compressed into a liquid and is stored in cylinders designed to keep the propane compressed. The propane is always under pressure, and will tend to escape if you let it. So, the integrity of your storage cylinder is another extremely important safety factor. Don’t skimp. I don’t know what the lifespan of a refilled “disposable” cylinder is, but if it leaks or is visibly damaged, it’s time to get rid of it.

Myth: Larger propane cylinders generate more pressure than small tanks. This is false, they all generate the same pressure, which is dependent on temperature. Lower ambient temperatures produce lower internal cylinder pressures. Higher temperatures produce higher pressures. That’s why one of the guidelines for refilling disposable propane cylinders is not to do it in direct sunlight or on hot days; you could be dealing with very high pressures indeed under those circumstances.

See, what happens inside the cylinder is that the liquid gas vaporizes just until the pressure is sufficient to prevent additional vaporization, which depends on the temperature.

Pressure keeps the propane a liquid. And the vaporized propane gas exerts pressure. So just enough of the liquid vaporizes to maintain the pressure inside the cylinder to prevent any more of the liquid propane from vaporizing.
Now, you come long, open the valve, light your grill, and thereby release some of the pressure inside the cylinder. Propane abhors a vacuum, so the liquid starts vaporizing again to “fill the vacuum” left behind due to your cooking.

So here’s an interesting feature of propane systems: As long as some liquid propane remains in the tank to vaporize, whether it’s 90% full or 10% full, the pressure inside the cylinder remains constant. That’s why you can cook just as well with a nearly empty tank as with a full tank.

OK, back to the subject at hand: refilling disposable propane cylinders. The goal is to move LIQUID propane into the empty cylinder. It does no good to move GAS into the cylinder. The heavier liquid sits at the bottom of a cylinder, and the lighter gas sits at the top-keep this in mind as you continue reading.


D.  Refilling A Disposable Propane Tank from a Standard 20 lb Cylinder

Step 1: Safety First & Disclaimer
The 16-ounce disposable propane cylinders are such a convenient size for camping that sometimes there isn’t any other alternatives, it’s a shame that even the major suppliers such as Coleman don’t provide refilling recommendations. The reason you don’t hear much about it, though, is that these cylinders are not DOT-approved for refilling. This means that you can’t take your cylinders to the local propane-equipped service station and have them refilled, refilled cylinders can’t be sold commercially and commercial operators can’t transport refilled cylinders across state lines.
Disclaimer : Whenever there is propane there is risk. If you decide to refill your propane tanks yourself, you have to understand that you do it at your own risk.

Step 2: What you will need
First thing, though, you need to purchase one of these refill adapters from Mr. Heater or one of their distributors. Cabela’s sells a similar item called the Mac Coupler, it’s worthwhile to read the negative reviews on their site.
The negative reviews, which are by far the minority, describe some of the difficulties people experience using this adapter. This can be helpful, because there are a few tricks to refilling these cylinders. To obtain the best results, it helps to understand a little bit about how propane works.

Step 3: Gather your empty, disposable 1 lb. cylinders
I collect empty cylinders from the campgrounds I visit. Most of the people throw them away in the recycling basket I collect them. I also collect the plastic caps because I always store my cylinder with them to protect the tread and the Shreader valve. Use bottles that don’t have dents or rust.

Step 4: Chill Empty Cylinder
You need to create a pressure differential between the supply cylinder and the cylinder being refilled. There are two ways to do this: The official way is to chill the empty cylinder. Remember how propane pressure depends on the ambient temperature? If you can keep the supply tank at room temperature and chill the empty cylinder in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, you can create some temperature differential, and therefore some pressure differential.
But even so, many users report that they only get about a half-full cylinder this way. It may take some experimenting to get it to work optimally. Chill the empties longer? Freeze them? I’m not really sure.

Step 5: Warm the 20 lb. Cylinder
Put your BBQ cylinder in warm water (not hot) for about 1/2 hour. This operation increase the pressure in the giver tank. If your bottle is under the sun a warm and sunny day, just skip this step.

Step 6: Weight the empty 1 lb. cylinders
Weight the empty cylinders. My results after weighing about 24 tanks:
Type #1- With plastic Base (Coleman Type) average empty weight : 384 g. This mean a 100% full tank will weight 849 g (384 g tare weight + 465 g of propane)
Type #2- With metal Base Average empty weight : 417 g. This mean a 100% full tank will weight 882 g (417g tare weight + 465 g of propane)

Step 7: The refill process
To do the refill process, follow the sequence:
#1  Plug and screw the refill adapter onto the 20 lb tank FIRST.
#2  Then, screw the empty 1 lb cylinder onto the adapter.
#3  Flip the tanks over, so they’re upside down, as shown in the picture. In this way the vapor pressure in the 20 lb tank is forcing liquid out of the 20 lb. cylinder into the empty 1 lb cylinder.
#4  Open the valve on the 20 lb tank. The instructions say to leave it open for 1 minute, but you will hear the flow of propane stop after 30-40 seconds. When the sound of the flow stops no more gas is being transferred, close the valve on the 20 lb cylinder.
#5  Turn the tanks back into their normal upright position.

Step 8: Weight the refilled 1 lb cylinder to check fill results
For example after filling a  Coleman type tank, its final weight is found to be 797 grams total weight. Then  797 g total weight – 384 g empty = 413 g propane weight 413 g propane in cylinder / 465 g empty cylinder = .888 or 89% full cylinder.

Step 9: Check for leaks and store refilled cylinders
Once you’ve refilled a cylinder, place some soapy water on both valves (the pressure relief valve and the regular valve you connect to your appliance) and check for bubbles/leaks. I’ve never had a leak, but it’s best not to take a chance. I store my refilled cylinders outside  to be safe. Protect the valve threads with a plastic cap.


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