One thing we learned during our 13 days without power after Hurricane Charley is that running a generator can be very inefficient if that is your only source of power. The fuel is expensive, especially during an emergency. If you can store many gallons of fuel ahead of time, that is a definite advantage, but there are problems with that as well. If you don’t rotate and keep a fresh supply or don’t use proper preserving additives, the fuel gets old, and money is wasted.
To optimize generator power, it makes sense to store some of that power for when the generator is not running. That is where a battery bank and inverter are very valuable. Our goal was to run our generator only two to four hours each day, just enough to keep the freezer and refrigerator cold enough if we kept them shut when the generator was off. We learned the hard way that a battery pack and other rechargeable batteries and equipment make life less stressful in between times. That crisis was a good learning experience.
Since Charley we have accumulated more hand-powered equipment that we can use any time in the kitchen, for camping, or just to save on the electric bill. Our favorite food choppers and processors are hand operated. We have hand-cranked/chargeable LED flashlights and radios, and several battery powered lanterns. I love my laptop which has a long-life battery. Whenever possible, we choose equipment which has the options of using battery or manual power. The more accustomed we are to using things that don’t require electricity, the less stressful it is when we are suddenly without it.
The last in this series will come tomorrow!