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AT AMAZON, Deal of the Day, WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant.

THINK OF IT AS A PREVIEW OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL: California May Go Dark This Summer, and Most Aren’t Ready.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Get a generator, or at least an inverter, while you can.

I’M EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Earthquake That Wrecked Tennessee in 1811 Will Happen Again, Expert Says.

Tennessee hasn’t had a series of catastrophic earthquakes in more than 200 years, but experts say if such a thing happened before then it will most certainly happen again.

Officials with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency say they’ve spent decades planning for it and say it’s best for other Tennesseans to do the same.

“At that time, the 1811 and 1812 earthquakes formed Reelfoot Lake. The shaking rang church bells in Boston,” said TEMA spokesman Dean Flener.

“In 1811 and 1812 we didn’t have as many people living there as we do now — especially in Memphis. This will affect the entire central part of the United States, if not the entire country if we have a 7.0 magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid Fault line.”

TEMA officials train for such a quake and have emergency plans to mobilize resources and list which federal government or state resources they have at their disposal, Flener told The Tennessee Star.

They also have a plan to check roads, bridges, and interstates, Flener said.

If the big one hits then Tennessee residents, Flener went on to say, need to plan for getting cut off from the rest of the world. That means having five to 10 days’ worth of food and water, backup generators for cell phones, cash on hand, and an emergency supply of medicine, among other things.

“We do encourage homeowners to go in and secure bookcases and tall heavy objects to the walls in their homes. A lot of times it’s not the earthquakes that causes injuries and death it’s the stuff that falls off the walls,” Flener said.

“We tell people the Drop Cover Hold On Technique is the best way to protect yourself during an earthquake. Drop down, get under something heavy and sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops. Don’t run outside because you can be hit by falling glass, especially if you live in a city. If you run out and you feel the shaking in downtown Memphis you’ll run out in the middle of Poplar downtown and could be hit with falling debris.”

I have a backup generator that uses natural gas, and a backup backup generator that uses gasoline. (In lieu of storing gas for it, I have a siphon pump for the car tanks). Plus a couple of inverters, large and small. I keep some food, water, and supplies, and a crowbar, in an outbuilding where they won’t be buried if the house falls down. These are also precautions against the more-likely threat of a tornado, of course.

Thoughts on earthquake preparation, here. But everyone, everywhere, should be prepared for disasters.

And note Insta-Readers’ real-life stories here and here.

AT AMAZON, deals on Jump Starters, Battery Chargers, Power Inverters, etc.

PREP: How the Honda EU2200i Generator Is Getting Me Through Hurricane Florence.

I’m currently on day 4 of Generator Life and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Now that I have some authority on matters of portable power generation, allow me to enlighten you on the finer points of generator selection and operation.

Inverter generators can automatically increase or decrease rpm in response to load. So instead of sitting there chugging along the whole time at 3,600 rpm (the constant rpm that spits out 120-volt AC at 60 Hertz), they can ramp up when a fridge kicks on and then idle back down. That means they’re quieter, use less fuel, and produce much cleaner power. Because the power is essentially filtered through the inverter (AC to DC and back to AC), the sine wave is clean and constant.

Electric devices, especially microprocessors, like clean power. It’s not that a standard generator will fry your TV, but that big Samsung will be happier running off an inverter generator.

This little Honda EU2200i looks like it would fit in a carryon suitcase. From a sheer wattage perspective, it seems dinky. But how much electricity do you need to run, really? Turning on every LED lamp in your house might draw a couple hundred watts. A refrigerator kicking on will momentarily require a lot of power (say, 1,200 watts) but then settle into a constant 200-watt draw.

Depends on whether you want air conditioning.

Plus: “Every time there’s a big storm, people get killed by generators. The main culprit is carbon monoxide: People forget that generators are internal combustion engines and run them in enclosed spaces. The tricky part is that storms that knock out the power also tend to bring precipitation, and you can’t leave a generator out in the rain (see: high voltage).”

You want a battery operated carbon-monoxide detector.

And I have a whole-house generator, but I also have this little Yamaha as a backup.

And as the article says, the time to buy a generator is well before you need one.

AT AMAZON, Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator.

AT AMAZON, deals on Inverters.

AT AMAZON, Lightning Deal, BESTEK 400W Power Inverter DC 12V to AC 110V Car Adapter with 5A 4 USB Charging Ports.

IN RESPONSE TO LAST WEEK’S MENTION of the Water Bob water storage device, Paula Bolyard emails: “This would also be good for anyone with well water. No power means no well pump (and no toilet for that matter. We get three flushes here. Everyone knows the rules). I’m definitely ordering one of these!”

Good idea, though for a well pump you might want a generator or inverter.

AT AMAZON, save on Jump Starters, Battery Chargers, and Power Inverters.

JOHN MOORE: The EMP Threat From North Korea Is Real, and Terrifying.

An EMP disaster from a high-altitude blast seems like science fiction: There is a silent flash high in the sky, and everything using electricity just … stops. Cars stop, power goes out, the Internet dies, satellites quit working, landline and mobile phone systems go out, and computers are destroyed. In a moment, we are back to 1850, as was dramatized in William Forstchen’s 2009 novel One Second After. . . .

To nuke one of our cities, the North needs to master ICBM construction, nuclear weapons miniaturization, precision long-range guidance technology, atmospheric re-entry vehicles, and fusing to trigger detonation at the right time after the hazardous re-entry. In contrast, an EMP attack requires only a small, light nuclear weapon and the ability to launch it as a satellite. Once over the U.S., it is detonated.

Already, two satellites launched by North Korea cross the U.S. every day.

If not North Korea, someone else perhaps. If you’re worried, you’ll want a generator, an inverter, a solar battery charger — and plenty of storable food, water, and water filtration.

IT’S PROBABLY NOTHING: “Total Chaos” – Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures. Sure hasn’t gotten a lot of news coverage, though.

If you’re worried, you’ll want a generator, an inverter, a solar battery charger — and plenty of storable food, water, and water filtration.

DISASTER: Cyber attack would leave East Coast dazed, Energy Dept. says. “A cyber attack on the East Coast’s energy system would result in widespread public confusion as everything from electricity to gasoline supplies would be cut off for as much as several weeks, the Energy Department said Tuesday. The agency released a report outlining the results of a major cyber-attack simulation conducted in December called ‘Liberty Eclipse.'”

You’ll want a generator, an inverter, a solar battery charger — and plenty of storable food, water, and water filtration.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A GENERATOR, OR AN INVERTER, OR SOMETHING: The Latest: 1 Million Without Power in North, South Carolina. At least the temperatures are mild.

IN THE MAIL: From James Colt, Liberty Lost.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator with Parallel Capability, 28% off.

And, also today only: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower, 53% off.

Plus: Top fall Kindle picks, $2.99 each.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

Hey, if you order now you can probably get the stuff before Matthew hits. I believe Popular Mechanics’ Glenn Derene (or maybe it was Joe Pappalardo) ordered a generator from Amazon at the last minute and had it set up just before Sandy arrived.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. It’s hurricane season, and winter storms are coming!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And don’t forget the mosquito control stuff.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And don’t forget the mosquito control stuff.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And don’t forget the mosquito control stuff.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter. Summer storms are coming!

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

And with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

What with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. What with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. What with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. What with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. What with all the Zika news, I’m guessing that the mosquito control stuff will be a big item this year.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG: FBI Warns of Cyber Threat to Electric Grid; DHS intel report downplayed cyber threat to power grid.

Entirely unrelated: The Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power. Also, inverters.

And much more on the subject of preparedness here and here.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. Now it’s time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

Winter’s over. Now it’s time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

With winter storms pretty much behind us, now it’s time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

With winter storms pretty much behind us, now it’s time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

There will be more winter storms. And when they’re over, it’ll be time for spring and summer storms!

UKRAINE AND SYRIA ARE FOR PRACTICE, LIKE SPAIN IN 1936: Inside the Cunning, Unprecedented Hack of Ukraine’s Power Grid.

Well, be prepared. I’ve got a generator, and an inverter.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

There will be more winter storms. And when they’re over, it’ll be time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

There will be more winter storms. And when they’re over, it’ll be time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

There will be more winter storms. And when they’re over, it’ll be time for spring and summer storms!

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Or if a generator isn’t practical, consider an inverter.

There will be more winter storms. And when they’re over, it’ll be time for spring and summer storms!

YA THINK? The leader of the National Security Agency’s hackers says that putting industrial control systems online has made America less secure.

Related: How Long Could the U.S. Go Without Electricity?

Also: Disaster prep using inverters. More here. And here’s a roundup of related disaster-preparedness posts.

SO YESTERDAY, when I wrote about grid failures, blackouts, and generators, some readers suggested that while a home generator is nice, proper disaster-prep involves having more than one source of backup power, heat, etc. They’re right. I also recommend inverters, which you can take with you, or use at home. I’ve had posts on that here and here.

IN THE MAIL: From Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man.

Plus, today only at Amazon: WEN 2000-Watt Inverter Generator.

And, also today only: 40% or More Off Wolverine Work Boots.

Plus: iFIT Vue Fitness Tracker, $49.99 (61% off).

REVIEW: Generac iQ2000 Inverter Generator.

It’s reasonably priced.

IN THE MAIL: From Charles T. Rubin, Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 78% Off Select Schumacher Battery Chargers. Hook this up to a deep cycle marine battery, add an inverter, and you’ve got good backup power if you can’t have a generator where you are.

And, also today only: 60% off on select Men’s Pants.

AT AMAZON, up to 80% off on clothing, for men, women, and kids.

Plus, 25% or more off on Home Generators. Or you could always go with an inverter.

AT AMAZON, hot new releases in Computers & Accessories.

Also, 25% or more off on Home Generators. Or there’s always an inverter.

And, today only: 45% Off ASICS GT-1000 Running Shoes. For men and women.

AT AMAZON: Fall deals and markdowns in The Dockers Store.

Also, up to 25% off on Home Generators. Storm season is coming. Or you could always go with an inverter.

And, today only: Save 60% on the SINGER 14J250 Stylist II Serger. Me, I’m still hazy on the difference between a sewing machine and a serger, but if you know the difference, then this is probably a good deal . . .

AT AMAZON, specials and markdowns on Jump Starters, Inverters, Battery Chargers, and Portable Power.

Also, today only: Borderlands 2 & Season Pass, $24.99.

AT AMAZON, deals and markdowns in the Easter Shop.

Also, 50% off AC/Delco Powersport batteries. Buy one, add a charger and an inverter, and you’ve got backup power.

Also, the Gold Box Deal of the Day at Amazon is this Nest Learning Thermostat that can be controlled by Wi-Fi from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: First, They Came For The Cypriots… Like I said, an enterprising GOP member of the House or Senate would introduce a bill immediately to make such shenanigans illegal — and dare the Dems to oppose it.

Related: It Begins: Confiscation of Private Funds by Government Desperate for Cash. (Bumped).

UPDATE: Reader Michael Smith writes:

The near juxtaposition of the recent Instapundit links to 401K withdrawals and savings confiscations both real and planned, suggests that such a draw-downs could be in part a form of wealth guarding.

A 401K withdrawal might be encumbered with tax consequences, but they might just be a potentially smart move with the risk of inflated markets, food and energy inflation, supply shocks, and government pokes and grabs. Would it not be better to hold years of food, tradable items, and other durable tools and supplies, or risk losing them to outright confiscation? Purchase and storage of the right things is no longer so obviously paranoid or foolish. That this is not obviously wrong and instead very possibly true prudence is what is so disturbing about today’s political climate.

Can anyone be sure that 401K drainage might not be by the ants now—as well as the grasshoppers? Surely mostly grasshoppers still, but maybe that’s not so foolish either—better to maximize the hedonic value of a life’s savings than simply lose them. Maybe it’s the only optimistic strategy left: We’re all grasshoppers now!

This line of thinking is great in rationalizing the purchase of a portable power generator or inverter. You *can* take it with you!

Well, that’s close to the thesis of Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy The Decline. Short of going the full Clarey, it is prudent to think of places to put your money where it will be harder for the looters to get at: Paying off debt, educating your kids, hard goods that you’ll enjoy, etc. People in third-world kleptocracies tend to buy real estate in stable foreign countries, which is why so many Venezuelans now own condos in Miami. But it’s not clear that this strategy is a winner for Americans.

The real concern is that when you get productive citizens thinking this way, you’re already a step further down the road to a third-world psychology, which is not conducive to economic growth. Which is, I stress again, why enterprising GOP legislators should be pushing a non-confiscation law.

MORE ON INVERTERS: Reader Richard Gardner writes:

Folks considering inverters should first check their automobile’s alternator capacity to figure out how much they can power long-term from an inverter without discharging the battery. Making rough calculations, your Mazda RX-8 probably came stock with a 100 Amp alternator (at 13.8V) = ~1400 Watts, so anything much more than that is overkill (not to include peak rating). You can get aftermarket high output alternators, usually in the 160-200A range; my older Toyota only has a 60A alternator. But some of that power is needed to run the car (20-40 Amps), so for a 100A alternator the best case is 1100W available for the inverter. These output ratings are at normal driving engine RPMs and at idle you are lucky to get 75% of the rating (and as low as 50%) so we’re now down to 800W (max, probably lower), which will provide you with ~7A @120V AC, enough to run the refrigerator (130-200W) and more. You’ll need at least a 750W inverter (“peak” 1500W – inverters typically have a peak rating 2x the normal rating) to handle the starting surge current for starting the refrigerator (~1200W) with the extra energy coming from the battery regardless of how much power your alternator produces.

To run a 3000W inverter continuously without discharging the battery you need a 300A alternator, what you would typically find on a fire engine.

Here’s an article on using inverters for emergency power, and here’s some guidance on how much power various devices use. And in response to my earlier post on inverters, reader Mark Wallace writes:

Kathleen Wallace is my sister. She sent me a picture of her inverter and running fridge. I was a little jealous as I was in darkness in NYC. Here’s the Amazon link for the inverter.

Funny, I was looking at that one online. Another note: Some inverters, especially the cheap ones, put out pretty “dirty” power, which isn’t good for electronics. Laptops are probably fine, but other computers and sensitive devices may have problems.

Meanwhile, reader Judith Sears writes:

I read the posts on using inverters with interest. However, I live in a high rise, 6 floors up from the garage, so running an inverter off my car isn’t possible. Any alternatives or MacGuyvers that people know of?

Well, you can’t have a generator — even if you’ve got a balcony you could put it on, it probably wouldn’t be safe with regard to carbon monoxide — and you can’t have an inverter because your car is floors away. So what can you do? Well, you can buy a big uninterruptible power supply — I have several of these with the add-on external battery. One of these will run a cable modem and wifi hotspot for a long time, and charge your laptop and cellphone. And I have a couple in the studio so that if the power cuts out while I’m doing a PJTV show there’ll be plenty to finish it — they even run the lights, which are fluorescent and so don’t hog too much power.

And there’s always this solar-powered phone recharger, with extra solar panels. I don’t know how fast this would charge when it’s cloudy, but it holds enough power to charge a phone a couple of times anyway. Then I’d have a couple of lanterns for light, and possibly a small propane stove, though it’s not safe to use most of those indoors.

Any other ideas out there for apartment-dwellers?

UPDATE: Reader Dave Lemieux writes:

Alcohol stoves are the best alternative for indoor emergency use — no CO problems and the fuel is widely available. You can go cheap for about $30 (typical for a backpacking stove) or better for a couple hundred like you’d find on a boat..

Good point. Here’s one.

And reader Steve Barkmeier recommends this for apartment power backup, adding that it’ll also keep you warm. You’ll be hungrier, though. . . .

MORE: Reader Stephen Skubinna writes:

I live in rural America and have a 3kw Onan. One thing to bear in mind if your potable water comes from a well is that submersible electric pumps have a hefty startup load. Factor in 20 amps at 220v if you’re calculating the requirements for a generator or inverter. Once they’re running they don’t draw much.

Incidentally I worked in IT during the Y2K panic. When people would ask how bad it was going to be I’d say it wouldn’t be an issue, and they’d smile knowingly, figuring that I was simply trying to head off panic at the impending end of civilization. However if they’d ask how to prepare I’d tell them to have extra blankets, candles and maybe an oil lamp, lots of flashlights and extra batteries, potable water and stored food for about a week, and perhaps a hand cranked radio. They’d make notes and ask “So that’s for Y2K, huh?” and I’d respond “No, that’s for ALL THE TIME! You should always be ready for at least a week’s interruption of service.”

People, at least urban dwellers, won’t even countenance roughing it for a few days. So far as their universe runs, if the power or water or phones and internet go out a man in a truck shows up and fixes it within a day. They have no idea of how fragile their urban environment is.

Indeed.

STILL MORE: Kathleen Wallace, mentioned in the earlier inverter post, writes:

Wow, Glenn!! I, my brother AND my husband (who spent half a day online choosing the unit) are over the moon seeing ourselves on the Insta!

My brother sent you the link to the Power Bright 2300; we also purchased these cables:

And these fuses:

All were purchased through the Amazon Instalink, of course.

We had plenty of heavy-duty (critical) extension cords on hand.

We called Power Bright directly, they were fantastic and helped us choose. We originally wanted one that would power a space heater, thus the 2300.

But then, on the third day, we were getting cold. As the family electrician, I went down to the basement to figure things out. I removed the furnace 110 line from the closest junction box, cannibalized a heavy-duty three-prong plug from an air conditioner, and spliced it IN THE DARK with husband holding the flashlight. Plugged it into the inverter. The spark of the furnace pilot was the sweetest sound. The peak draw was surprising low. Cables never even got warm.

Yeah, most furnace fans don’t pull a lot of power. Cool! Er, I mean, warm.

MORE STILL: More advice for apartment-dwellers from reader Paul Clithero:

When we lost power for nearly a week due to an ice storm, I robbed a battery from one of our cars and would charge it using jumper cables from our other car. I realize that this is a bit of a trick for those with one car, or who might need all of their vehicles running, but it is always an alternative to sitting in the dark.

If one lives in a multi-story apartment building, it might be nice to have a dolly capable of hauling the battery up the stairs, unless you can carry the thing by hand. There are straps and battery grabs available at auto parts stores intended for the purpose of carrying car batteries around.

Another alternative would be to hit the Interstate Battery store, Wal-Mart automotive center, etc. and purchase a deep cycle RV battery if it looks like a Sandy/Katrina situation is in the works.

Good advice. And you can get those from Amazon, too. You could even keep it and charge it in your apartment when there’s power.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Reader Kathleen Wallace writes:

I have been an Insta-addict for three years. I appreciated, among others, the recurrent theme of disaster preparedness during Hurricane Irene, and was struck particularly by the role of inverters.

So, when we saw Sandy on the way, we finally got our inverter, set it up, and tested it here in our home in New Jersey. As predicted, our power went out.

We ran the inverter off the car periodically each day, an hour in the morning and the evening. We ran the fridge, the furnace, the modem, charged the phones, and caught up with the Instapundit. We were conservative (of course), and at the end of 5 days, we had well over half a tank left in our Ford Escape, were warm, and knew what was happening. The car ran quietly, cleanly, and safely, unlike the many loud, smelly generators in the neighborhood.

We never needed to wait hours in line with several red plastic containers. The candles and transistor radio made the evenings enjoyable.

I thank you for your blog, and especially for helping us rethink disaster preparedness.

Inverters are pretty cheap, too. You’ll want extension cords, too.

UPDATE: Say, here’s a question: How much power does a gas pump consume? Could you power one with a big (2000-3000 watt) inverter?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux writes:

I second what your reader Kathleen wrote about using inverters instead of a generator. Followed some of your links to arrive at that conclusion. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use anything yet.

One obvious reason to go this route: fridge, a big concern, doesn’t have to be on all the time to maintain, per what Kathleen is doing. I wish she had written what inverters she has.

Yeah. I assume she has her furnace wired with a pigtail connection, too. You can splice into the furnace, of course, but not everyone would want to do that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Alan Gray writes: “How about some rules of thumb on the right size inverter? And can any size be run off a car?” Pretty much — up to 2000-3000 watts pretty easily. There are bigger ones, but they’re best hardwired. Of course, you can run low-power stuff off the battery, but if you’re running more than a few hundred watts you really want the engine running. You want to keep the inverter close to the car — no 12-volt extension cables — and then run an extension cord into the house. You lose a surprising amount of power in cabling, though, so you want to keep things as short as possible.

MORE: Reader Curtis Franklin writes: “If you’re going to try to serve circuits in your house through a generator/inverter (rather than simply plugging appliances directly into the outlets on the power source), then it’s critical to have a transfer switch wired into your main breaker box. They’re not all that expensive (thought they’re a definite licensed electrician job) and they prevent power from your house from back-feeding into the local power lines — a situation that is dangerous for the people trying to restore power and can delay that restoration for hours while they track down the homeowner working so hard to kill them.” That’s true. Not many inverters big enough people would plug them into their house, but yeah.

And reader Allan Pierce writes: “A quick search on Fuel Dispenser Electrical Requirements turned up a gas pump mfr’s brochure, which suggests a gas station pump has one or two 1 horsepower pump motors. Figure about 1000 watts per motor, so the answer is yes. Big issue is safety: wiring the gas station with a power inlet and cutover switch for each pump near its electrical panel. Could be done under disaster-recovery conditions by electricians certified for hazardous area (explosion-proof) work. It’s better not to wait, but gas stations are low-margin businesses so this is unlikely to be done in advance of need unless required by law or encouraged by economic incentive for all stations in the most-vulnerable areas (hint to people doing post-disaster ‘lessons learned’ reviews).”

AN ETHICAL QUESTION: A reader emails:

The power blackout in DC was quick. The storm arrived quickly and took most of us by surprise.

But it was the aftermath that I wanted to ask you about. Wherever there was free “juice” people were plugging in their laptops, cellphones and whatever else needed power.

There was no shyness about using the “juice” at McDonald’s, Safeway or even the mall. It was as if these things are free and use as much as you want.

Do you or your readers have any comments about this issue? Instead of a cup of sugar people now want a kilowatt. This rivals neighbors stealing your Wifi.

Well, personally I think the answer to this is somewhere between “any port in a storm” and de minimis non curat lex. The amount of power consumed by a cellphone or a laptop is quite small, and one presumes that power outlets in public places are there with the idea that they might be used by the public. Just don’t get too greedy — charging a cellphone or a laptop is one thing, plugging in your Leaf overnight is another.

Of course, a modest amount of forethought will make this sort of expedient mostly unnecessary. Here’s a post on generators, and at a much lower level of expense, hand-cranked radios like this one will charge cellphones. I have several big UPS units that will keep a laptop and cellphone going for a long time. An inverter is also a good inexpensive alternate power source. You can also get one of these jumpstarters that doubles as a portable power source.

So while I think it’s okay to charge your laptop at McDonald’s in an emergency, courtesy and good sense dictates that you should do what you can to make such an emergency unnecessary in advance.

UPDATE: Reader James Randolph writes:

The key is to not assume it is free; it is paid for by evil corporate profits. If you don’t like corporations on the good days, don’t rely on them on the bad days. Personally, I love McDonalds and regularly contribute to their profits.

Fair point. And reader Dave Moelling writes:

I read your story about using power at McDonalds ,etc. My first response is that this is OK but a courteous thing would be to buy something (coffee, etc.) when using a commercial venues facilities even if not requested. But it reminded me that the two most prepared companies for disasters are WalMart and Waffle House. (See link). A question to those in the Mid Atlantic, How is waffle house doing?

More on Waffle House here.

Also, here’s another hand-cranked radio that will charge a cell phone.

UPDATE: Advice from reader Johan Bakker:

I’m your reader that installs and services generators, including home-stand-by and portable units.

Further to your advice about generators, UPS’s and inverters, you might want to let your readers know that there are still serious issues with generators and UPS units. Except for the largest and most-sophisticated generators, these two devices do not play well together.

The issue is that the UPS makers have set very-narrow boundaries on the frequency input that their devices will tolerate before calling a fault. They will only tolerate a frequency deviation of perhaps ± 0.5 Hz before they call a defect and disconnect from the input to go on battery power.

In a way, this makes sense, because the utility power frequency is usually incredibly accurate – within 0.1 Hz and usually a lot better than that – and so the UPS makers use the disruption in frequency as a warning that utility power is going out.

But most generators in the size class we are talking about cannot maintain output frequency that accurately. Electronic governors (which control engine speed and so output frequency) are only found on one or two larger, high-end generators at present, most still use mechanical governors, which are less-precise. And even with an electronic governor, most of these generators do not have enough rotor inertia to maintain engine speed (= frequency) during the startup of large load, like a refrigerator or well pump.

Generators based on inverter technology are better because they synthesize their output frequency electronically and so do not depend on engine speed. However, inverter technology is presently restricted to very small generators, not suitable for backup power for a whole house.

Users should be aware that, for most generators that are likely to be found in a domestic application, when the power goes out, any UPS’s will likely switch to battery backup and stay there, even if the generator is energized and providing input power. Since most UPS’s have only limited backup capacity, they will be quickly exhausted and will not be replenished form the generator input.

For those with no generator, or using a portable generator intermittently, for low-level charging needs, like phones and laptops, the best solution is a 12V auto battery and a miniature inverter. The battery can be charged in so many different ways (from a car, from a charger running off a generator, from a lawnmower, from a solar panel, the possible ways are endless) and even a small lead-acid battery (like a lawn-tractor battery) has more-than-enough capacity to charge many cell-phones and laptops before requiring a fresh charge.

Good advice. And another reader points out: “The McDonalds that don’t want people to use their power have already capped the outlets in the public areas. Some newer McDonalds have extra outlets as a convenience for customers.”

Yes, the now-common McCafe setup is intended to be laptop-friendly.

AT AMAZON, warehouse deals in grilling.

Also, generators and inverters.

MITSUBISHI’S MiEV becomes household backup power. This is a nice hybrid feature that should be standard on all hybrid vehicles.

UPDATE: Reader Christopher Fox writes that all cars can be a power source for your house. That’s true, though the hybrids are cool because they have a battery for smoothing and the engine can start or stop as needed. A regular car won’t do that.

96 HOURS TO THE STONE AGE: How Our Connected Lives Crumble When The Power Goes Out.

A few points. First, you don’t necessarily lose wi-fi and Internet when the power goes out — if you’ve got a backup source of power for your cable/dsl modem and router. I use a big honking UPS that’s enough to keep those two low-consumption items going for days. An inverter is another possibility. Also, have some flashlights and plenty of spare batteries. One of those LED room lamps might be nice, too.

Second, what’s this about being “one of the rare people” who owns a battery-powered radio? Everybody should have a hand-cranked / battery/solar radio for emergencies.

Third, running out of gas? If you own a gas station, you should really have a generator so you can keep at least one pump going in emergencies. (This is likely to pay off financially, and in long-term goodwill, too.) Also, for those who don’t own gas stations, it’s a good idea to keep your car tank at least half-full.
Fourth, running out of cash because ATMs don’t work? Keep a couple of hundred bucks around in small bills. (And some change, too).

And you should have extra blankets, and maybe an alternate source of heat, this time of year. Plus more warm clothes, and some wool socks put away against long-term chill.

Aside from the quibbles above, here’s the key point in the piece: “This is a serious threat, and we need to take it seriously. s I’ve thought about our reliance on pervasive connectivity over the last year, I’ve spoken with C-level executives from both the tech side and the utility side. They get it. But they have businesses to run, customers to serve, business targets to achieve to keep their jobs. It is critical to recognize that the pace of our reliance on pervasive connectivity via our wireless devices is rapidly outstripping our ability to deal with the absence of those services. We need to recognize the extent that our wireless infrastructure is increasingly core to our personal, family, and societal existence. For now, it is a fragile core.”

Yes, it is. It needs to be toughened up.

UPDATE: Reader Marc Greendorfer writes: “I recently bought this portable solar power source. It worked well for me on a hunting trip (charging an Android phone, GPS device and providing a steady source of recharged batteries), though some of the reviews are fairly harsh. It’s nice to be able to open up something the size of a file folder and leave it in the sun as you camp/hike/survive and come back to fully charged batteries/devices. I imagine it would be priceless in a 96 hours situation.” Or in hours 97+.

I MENTIONED GENERATORS EARLIER, but if you’re thinking of buying one, read this post. You might also consider going with an inverter.

IN RESPONSE TO YESTERDAY’S BACKUP-POWER BLEG, a lengthy email from reader Harry Lenchitz:

Having enjoyed about one-third of our lives on generator power, we decided to enter the discussion.

I have more than 40 years experience in electric power generation for prime power applications (seagoing vessels, forward operating bases, field hospitals) and critical standby power (healthcare facilities, emergency services, credit card transactions).

My wife has invested a similar amount of time performing research at sea, and in remote locations, on generator power.

We met shortly after 9-11, and we watched the Pentagon smolder for several weeks.

Note to deniers: It really happened!

This e-mail is my contribution to the generator discussion.

First, to all those who want a cheap, convenient way to charge their cell phones and other portable electronics: every motor vehicle includes a one kilowatt (1kw) alternator for battery charging.

Some vehicles are slightly less (a skinny kilowatt) others are quite a bit more (2kw) but all vehicles have a battery charging alternator.

The best way to charge portable electronics is to idle your vehicle and use 12 volt DC chargers.

To charge your cell phone, you do not even need to start your vehicle. Just plug the cell phone charger into your vehicle and let it charge.

To charge larger items, start your vehicle and let it idle.

To operate larger items which require 120 volt AC power, such as your computer UPS, a drip coffee maker, or a small microwave, use a 1200 watt (1.2kw) inverter – available everywhere for less than $100.

Most vehicles today will run a 1200 watt inverter indefinitely while idling, but you may need to turn on the air conditioner (which increases the engine idle) or turn up the idle speed (not legal – do not do this) to make sure the alternator is putting out full power.

Also, the family minivan (or coupe, pickup truck, or SUV) is the best survival pod ever invented – heat, air conditioning, lights, etc. You already own it, and the fuel to run it is negligible compared to buying, maintaining, and feeding a generator.

Even more important, you can drive the vehicle to a fuel point to refuel it, and charge the battery while driving to and from the fuel point.

If you need more power than your vehicle produces, then and only then, consider a generator.

We can discuss how to size a genset for home use, based on how many items you desire to run during a power outage, and how much fuel you are willing to store and consume.

You can use a portable generator, or install a standby generator.

Whatever you do, please follow all safety precautions with respect to electrical hazards, thermal hazards, and fume hazards.

If you use a portable generator, please use extension cords to power your loads – do not energize your home wiring unless you have installed an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed transfer switch!

I will discuss transfer switches later in this article.

If you choose to install a standby generator, and you live in an urban, or dense suburban area, a propane (bottle gas) or natural gas (city gas) powered system is the most popular and cost effective way to go. It is also the quietest.

Note well: City gas is often shut off during natural disasters. Propane is stored on your property, and can be stored indefinitely.

If you live in a rural area, you can go with a propane or a diesel unit, or if you have a tractor, a pto-driven genset.

For almost all tractor owners, I recommend a pto-driven genset. If you buy a Winco, Onan, or similar high-quality pto-driven genset, you can pass it on to your grandchildren. It will never wear out.

The beauty of a pto-driven genset is that many tractor owners are already adept at maintaining their tractors. Also, you can always find someone to repair a tractor, or, if you really need to, you can buy another tractor, new or used, almost any time.

It is extremely important to have a generator big enough to start and run your rotating loads, and to hold frequency and voltage as near constant as possible.

All rotating loads – well pump, pool pump, air conditioner/heat pump compressor and fan motor, refrigerator and freezer compressors and fan motors – require 60 hz alternating current (AC) to operate at the correct, constant speed, and require full voltage (120 or 240 depending on the motor) to operate at the correct current under load.

Incorrect voltage, and incorrect or varying frequency, can lead to failure of rotating equipment.

Let me put that more plainly – a badly regulated generator will burn up expensive motors!

Home electronics (tv, computer, etc.) are not as sensitive to voltage, and are relatively insensitive to frequency (they all have power supplies that convert AC to regulated DC) but they can be damaged by very low or high voltage.

Most important is your transfer switch.

After the transfer switch is installed, and inspected by your county building inspector, send a copy of the electrical inspection to your insurance agent – 2 reasons:

1. Liability – If anyone is ever injured or killed while working to restore power on your distribution grid, you will have proof that there is no way it was a backfeed from your generator.

2. Risk Reduction – If you ever have an electrical fire in your house, you will have proof that the transfer switch was properly installed and inspected.

My advice is to install a 200 amp (or whatever size your home electrical service is) manual transfer switch.

That way you will be able to use any lights, anywhere in your house, including in your basement, regardless of whether you power your house with a 5kw or a 50kw genset.

I do not recommend an automatic transfer switch for home use.

You want to determine that the power really is out, and will be out for more than a few minutes (or hours).

You want to start your genset and make sure it is running right – all engine gauges (oil pressure, battery voltage, coolant or cylinder temperature) and generator gauges (voltage, FREQUENCY, current) registering correctly, and then and only then transfer the load.

If the engine parameters are incorrect, you run the risk of destroying the engine. If the generator parameters are incorrect, you run the risk of destroying expensive items in your home.

Even if you never have a power outage, throw your transfer switch once a year to make sure it moves.

Also, open it once a year and blow out the insects. Leave a piece of no-pest strip or a livestock ear tag with pyrethrins in there to keep it insect free.

I recommend testing a home generator twice each month.

Just connect an electric stove or similar load to it, and run it under load for 30 minutes.

If you can start it and run it every 2 weeks, and it takes a full load, you can depend on it for a power outage when you transfer the house load using your manual transfer switch.

Takeaway – Generating your own power during an outage requires serious investment in time and money, and significant fuel and maintenance expenses.

At present prices, we spend about $90/day for fuel and oil changes during extended power outages.

We can discuss this stuff further if you like.

We have a 200 amp transfer switch to transfer our house between the electric grid and generator power, and a second 100 amp transfer switch to transfer between main generator and auxiliaries. Main generator is a 15kw 1800 rpm diesel. Auxiliaries are 25kw Winco pto unit (more power than either of our tractors can provide, but superior motor starting capability), 8.5kw 3600 rpm gasoline powered welder, 3.5kw 3600 rpm gasoline powered welder, 2kw 1800 rpm continuous rated gasoline powered genset (perfect for overnight refrigeration and entertainment loads, if we don’t need heat or air conditioning).

Well, that’s going big. The small-scale way is with the inverters. The maintenance load for a generator is why I haven’t bought one. The more expensive ones start themselves every month. But they’re more expensive. . . .

A GENERATOR BLEG: Reader Russell Sayre emails: “Have you posted in the past on home generators? I’m in the market, but the selection on Amazon is fairly bewildering. Do you or your readers have tips or suggestions?” A bit, but I’ve never bought one. They can be dangerous, both electrically and from carbon monoxide. (Storing gas is dangerous, too). And my power’s pretty reliable. So even though my house has a transfer box and a generator inlet, I’ve never gotten the generator to go with it.

That said, you can go with a small inverter-based machine like this Yamaha for powering electronics, etc. Or you can get a whole-house standby generator. The key is figuring out what you want it for in advance, and then working backward. As I’ve said before, if I were building a house from scratch I’d put in a big underground propane tank and have a propane-powered backup generator. Then I’d be nearly independent except for getting my tank filled once or twice a year.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Fenton writes: “Please remind folks that they just can’t plug the generator into a convenient plug without an isolation box as power then also flows out into the network. Generators that power the neighborhood slow down restoration as utility crews often go door to door asking to shut off generators before repairing broken power lines.” Yes, that’s why you need a transfer box — or you can just run an extension cord from the generator, of course.

Here’s some generator safety advice. And with any kind of backup power or heat, a battery powered carbon monoxide detector is an excellent idea.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dave Tulka writes:

We have a 5500 watt Diesel and have yet to install the transfer switch. We have a Coleman dual-fuel camp lantern and two Aladdin kerosene lamps. For winter heat, we have been using our Toyotomi/Kerosun kerosene heaters as an almost primary heat source. Even if the gas stays on, there is no heat without the electric blower fan.

When we updated the kitchen, we converted from an electric stove to gas and have a dual-fuel Coleman camp stove as backup. We purchased the Coleman lantern and stove for family camping when our kids were younger.

The cool thing about Coleman dual-fuel units is they run on Coleman fuel or gasoline. Both fuels are far more energy-dense than propane resulting in less space for each BTU stored.

When we first started using kerosene for winter heat about ten years ago, our friends and families looked at us like we each had a third eye. Now, not so much. We’ve had two friends lose their gas furnaces in the winter that were thrilled to borrow one of our kerosene heaters for a few days until they could get their furnaces repaired or replaced.

Our story is about reducing the absolute need for electricity. The remaining critical-path items are the fridge, washing machine and internet access. Assuming the internet stays up, each machine and the network gear has pretty respectable battery backup in place.

Kerosene heaters are remarkably good if used properly, and kerosene — like diesel fuel — is comparatively safe to store. Gasoline is somewhat more dangerous.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Allen Peirce writes:

One consideration not explicitly mentioned: fuel storage time (and therefore the likelihood that you’ll have usable fuel when you need the generator) favors the propane. Gasoline degrades quickly, e.g. in six months or less unless expensive treatments are added. Diesel degrades more slowly unless water (e.g. from condensation) gets into it, in which case algae can grow in it and the life, and cost of keeping it treated and useful, is more like gasoline. Propane on the other hand will still be good years later…but the engines for the generators are likely to be more expensive. (Note, if possible, get one that takes the propane in the liquid state rather than as vapor – much less likely to freeze up in winter!)

And reader James Loftis emails:

When we moved back to the hurricane belt that is Houston, we decided that a stand-by generator was a must. From my research into the subject, and the experience of getting it up and running:

1. Air-cooled generators are smaller and cheaper to buy and maintain, but you are probably limited to 20kV. If you have 2 air-conditioners, like many of the homes here, you will not be able to run the whole house. Some power-management planning is needed.

2. Not every contractor or electrician has installed (easy) and connected (hard) a generator, and some won’t be able to recognize problem 1.

3. If you go with NG, city authorities are likely to require a new gas meter and connection. And, the transfer switch is not “optional”, no matter what the vendor’s website might say.

4. It will take you much longer than planned to get everything done. Much longer. From talks with others who gone down this path, this seems a common complaint.

5. I noticed while shopping for generators that most every website that monitors activity will offer a substantial day-of-purchase discount to convince you to buy from them. No idea whether that’s still going on, but it happened on 3 different sites.

Plus, from Alex Nunez:

Over at ConsumerSearch.com, we have a full report on portable generators. In addition to making recommendations in a variety of product categories (based on what’s being said in published third-party reviews) on the landing page (http://www.consumersearch.com/portable-generators), we include a more evergreen What To Look For section that breaks down some basic shopping tips on choosing wattage, fuel type, and features: http://www.consumersearch.com/portable-generators/important-features. That page may help some of your readers who are beginning their research. I think the genny manufacturers are going to have a nice bottom line this year.

Yeah, me too.

MORE: Reader Teresa Hummel writes:

We have had a generator for years. It was last used during the winter of 2008 when an ice storm took out our power for 3 days. We were lucky, others were out for weeks. Had we not used the generator we would have had frozen pipes and a far greater disaster. You are correct though, using a generator takes some care. After reading your post and the other comments, I have a tip that may save someone a big headache and money in the long run.

Many people buy a generator when there is a crisis, then sell it once the crisis is past. There is one major thing people overlook, or don’t bother with, when they use a generator in these situations. Like all engines, they need to be maintained. If you read the manual you will often find it calling for an oil change after about 25 hours of use and periodically there after. I’m sure many people have no idea they need to do any kind of maintenance that soon, if at all. Even though it is seldom used, my husband does twice yearly maintenance on our generator to keep it in good running condition. In an emergency, it’s too late to find out it doesn’t work.

In the case of a multi-day power outage, such as the recent hurricane, people hurry out, buy a generator, and run them nearly continuously for days. All of this without doing anything other than adding gas when it runs out. While it doesn’t usually cause the generator to stop at that time, it will shorten the life of the machine considerably. It’s something to keep in mind for those who are thinking of buying a used generator. If the seller can’t give you any specifics on how long it was used and what maintenance was done, walk away. No matter the price, it’s not a bargain at that point.

Also they need to be started regularly — like once a month — even when they’re not used. Seems like that could become a pain.

And reader Christine Lanzon writes:

Just this weekend we installed this smallish (3500 watt max) propane-fueled generator. And this transfer switch.

The generator is being kept on the side of the house (away from vents and windows), hooked up to the same kind of propane tank I use on the gas grill (which makes the gas grill propane tank a handy spare), off the ground on a wooden platform that we built for the purpose. It’s mainly to make sure the sump pump and freezer can run during an outage, but we also hooked up the circuits for a few receptacles on all three levels so I can power my router, my laptop, some lights, and other small loads. With a grill cover over it, it’s hardly noticeable; I don’t have to store gasoline; and it starts easily. It seems like the perfect compromise between a full-blown generator and powerlessness.

You can run a small generator off those little tanks, but I believe you’re much better off with a 75lb tank, especially in low temperatures.

STILL MORE: Reader Walter Boxx writes:

You won’t need nearly as big a generator as you probably think. I have a 5500 watt generator and could get by with half that. The less the better since you may be driving 30 miles and sitting in line for an hour or more for gas. All you really need is a refrigerator, a couple of lights and some fans or a couple of small window unit A/Cs. During the recent tornado-induced multi-day power outage I got by with just the fans for a couple of days since it was cool in the evenings and mornings. When the humidity got too high I hooked up the window units and it made a big difference. My refrigerator only pulls 500 watts, as do the window units (6,000 btu) for a total of just under 2,000 watts with a few lights. You’d probably want 3,500 watts to be sure you can start them, but 5500 was overkill. And bigger means more gas to run. I was using 1/2 gal/hr. A smaller generator would have used 1/3 gal/hr. Even so, I was giving gas away before it was over. And having a spare window unit AC or two around is not a bad idea. Not only is it probably cheaper to use a small generator with window units than to buy a generator big enough to run your house unit, but I’ve used mine for backup when the A/C was on the fritz and even loaned them out several times.

And reader Jeff Pttman writes:

I have a “portable” (weighs a ton but can be rolled about on a level surface by one person) gasoline generator with 7800 watts running power and 13,700 watts starting power. The way I figure it, I can run my refrigerator, my portable air conditioner (which rolls from room to room), a few lights and electric fans, and I can recharge the UPSs that power my cable modem, wireless router and laptops. I can cook on my propane gas grill or on my bottled gas hotplate (originally bought for wok cooking). But as you say, you have to plan ahead to buy and store gasoline and you have to deal with the the risks. My problem is that I can’t find a portable propane-powered generator, or an inverter for my car, that will pump out this amount of power at anywhere near this price point (I paid about $1,600 for the generator; similar ones can be had now for half that). If any of your readers have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I dunno. Northern used to have a line of “tri-power” generators (gas, propane, natural gas).

MORE STILL: Reader Jon Bryan writes:

I bought a Generac/Guardian 8kw standby generator that runs from our 500-gallon propane tank.

I thought about gas or diesel, but decided that I wanted something my wife wouldn’t have to deal with if she happened to be home alone. That meant wiring it up permanently with a transfer switch (which was part of the package).

I’ve had it for almost two years now. It really feels luxurious when the power goes out. In a few seconds the generator starts up and voila! we have lights again. I wired enough circuits over to the transfer switch to keep the heat, refrigerator and freezer, kitchen, and master bed/bath on. It could easily handle more, given our modest requirements, but it only has eight breakers. A bigger one with a mains switch would have been nice, but I’d have had to hire an electrician.

I’ve been happy with it. It automatically starts up every Saturday afternoon and runs a few minutes to keep things lubed and the battery charged. The only thing extra that I did was add an hour meter from Digi-Key. I like to know how long it’s run.

I’ll be doing the annual oil and filter change in the next couple of weeks.

Maintenance is key.

AT AMAZON, bestsellers in Automotive. Also, power inverters — “the poor man’s generator.”

UPDATE: Reader Bill Rickords emails:

Glenn, your readers should know that there are two kinds of output from these devices. If you have something that is delicate or needs clean current they need to get a PURE SINE WAVE inverter. Otherwise the cheaper ones put out a SQUARE WAVE and it’s a bit noisy and some motors may not run well with it.

I have some medical issues and have to use an oxygen concentrator to provide additional oxygen to help breathing. The device manufacturer said if I use it in the car to get a PURE SINE WAVE version. Anything delicate or electronic controlled will likely need such.

I have a 1000 watt one in my car to power various 110 volt devices while traveling etc. Works great.

Yeah, we’ve discussed that here before but it bears repeating.

AT AMAZON, bestsellers in Automotive. Also, power inverters.

I keep a little cigarette-lighter inverter in the car and don’t use it much, but on our last trip Helen’s cellphone died and all she had was the 110v charger in her purse. Popped the inverter in and she was charged up in a jiffy. I keep one of the bigger ones in the garage in case we need to charge electronics (laptops, etc.) in an extended power outage, but I’ve never had to do that because our power is pretty reliable. Nice to have, though. Interesting that a lot of them now come with USB outlets.

CHEAPER THAN A GENERATOR: Markdowns on power inverters.

MY EARLIER ADVICE ON HOOKING UP A BIG UPS to power your modem/wireless router is criticized by reader Erik Carlseen, who emails:

Argh!!!!! (Sorry, I see this bad advice followed all over the place). El-cheapo UPSs like this usually give you very little time to work with, then their batteries go bad within a few years and then at that point they’re basically just a very large and heavy surge suppressor. The unit you linked – even when brand new – will give about 10-15 minutes of run-time under a typical home office load (a bit more if a notebook is used instead of a desktop). Most of the time, people plug them in and forget about them, and then when they’re actually needed they don’t do much good.

The following advice is for people who have actual value for their time and data…

You’re better off putting on the correctly-sized, expandable UPS and then adding external battery packs to suit your needs. Buying a “bigger” UPS just oversizes the electronics far, wasting budget dollars on purchasing them and battery power when they’re in use. The value is in the additional run-time, so put your money there instead. Something like this.

Pricier, but the quality is excellent, it’s got more battery (about twice the run-time), less wasted capacity, and it recharges almost three times faster. I typically get 8-12 years of use out of models from this manufacturer, changing the batteries out every 4 years.

You can also slap on up to five of these external battery packs (for a total of about 12 hours of runtime with a typical desktop PC, 40 hours of notebook+cable modem & router).

See the chart here for more info.

Yes, it’s expensive, but if the data and uptime are actually important they get the job done. Figuring out one’s cost and likelihood of downtime combined with the flexibility of one’s time (can I do something else now and catch up on work later?) and making the appropriate trade-offs is left as an exercise for the reader :-)

If you need to power multiple computers (say, for a small office), then size up the electronics (leaving appropriate room for growth), and add battery packs to taste.

I appreciate the advice, but my 1500VA APC Back-UPS unit has run my cable modem / wireless setup for most of a day with lots of power left. I’m sure this stuff’s better, but I’m not sure it’s worth if for most people. Now I’ve got a similar setup backing up the PJTV studio, but maybe that would be worth expanding on. Then again, my power doesn’t go out much.

Meanwhile, several readers suggest getting a big, or a medium-sized, power inverter. Unless you buy a pretty expensive one, though, the power those put out is kind of iffy for some electronics. Of course, if you’re really serious you can go with something like this.

SO YESTERDAY’S POST ON LOW-BUDGET DISASTER PREP has produced still more email. Mostly it’s suggestions for what more people can do. That, of course, goes all the way up to a custom bomb-shelter / retreat in the mountains somewhere. But for most people, resources are limited. What are some things you can do that go beyond just keeping some extra groceries and bottled water? But not too far beyond?

You can keep a case or two of self-heating MREs around. They last a long time, they aren’t bad, and they’re more portable than canned foods if you have to leave home, but they don’t need separate water to prepare them like freeze-dried foods.

You might invest in a water filter, which will let you turn iffy water into drinkable water.

You should stock first-aid supplies and extra needed medications, in case you can’t get prescriptions refilled.

You might want some sort of backup power, ranging from a big uninterruptible power supply (keeps laptops and internet going for a long time, recharges cellphones, etc.) to a generator. Generators take annoying degrees of maintenance; a UPS can back up your computer or modem/wireless router until needed for more. But they put out a lot less power than a generator, and won’t keep your freezer from thawing. But generators cross the line into “more serious” as opposed to “slightly serious” preparedness, which is what this post is about.

Some additional source of heat. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you know how to start it without an electric igniter. If you have a woodburning fireplace or stove, make sure you have plenty of wood, and matches and kindling, etc. (Woodburning fireplaces aren’t much good for heat, really; stoves on the other hand put out a lot). A backup kerosene or propane heater is good, too. Propane is easier to store than kerosene, and there are some propane heaters that are supposed to be safe for indoor use — though I’d invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to go with any kind of backup indoor heat. Also, extra blankets. And wool socks! Maybe even a Snuggie or two. In case the power goes out in the summer, make sure you have screens on your windows so that you can open them without filling your house with bugs. A small battery-powered fan is nice, too — clip it on to the headboard of your bed and it’ll be easier to sleep on a sticky night. Keep plenty of batteries, too.

Backup lamps and lanterns. One nice thing I have are plug-in nightlights that turn on when the power goes off, so that stairs, etc., remain navigable. I have them at the top and bottom of stairs, and in parts of the house that would be really dark if the power went off. They double as flashlights. These look good, too.

A list of phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and various services — plumbers, doctors, etc. — that you won’t be able to look up on the Internet if the power’s out.

A shovel, a crowbar, a water shutoff tool that fits your hookup — make sure you know that it works, how to use it, and where your hookup is in advance — and other simple tools.

A couple of tarps. During the Great Water Incident of a couple of years ago, one of these saved my basement carpet when water started coming out of the ceiling. . . .

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape. And extra plastic garbage bags. Very versatile.

Any other reader suggestions for things that don’t cost too much, but would take disaster-prep up a level from yesterday’s post?

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Leahy writes: “Don’t forget a little extra food for the pets.” Good point.

Reader Peter Gookins emails:

This goes a bit beyond “prep on the cheap,” but you asked…

Generators-most people get one that’s much bigger than they actually need. Back north, I needed a large 240 volt generator (Honda ES 6500) to power the well pump, fridge and freezer when power went out (“locked rotor current,” which is the technical name for the high amperage required to start an electric motor from rest, on a 1 HP deep well pump is a LOT higher than the 8-12 amps (which, at 240 volts, is 1/2 the amperage it would be at 120; figure starting draw on most motors will be about 4X-5X running current; the 6500 puts out 52 amps and at pump start you could tell it picker up a lot of load) it takes to run the pump, and don’t forget that some stuff – like most -but not all- deep well pumps – are 240 volt only); here in Florida I’m on county water. During the 2004 hurricanes I loaned the big one to a neighbor, and it wound up feeding three houses for refrigerators, fans and TVs. I ran off a portable 120 volt 3K watt portable Honda RV generator (EU 3000) just fine, which powered the fridge, fans, lights and and a window AC at night for sleeping. Since then I’ve picked up a 2K watt Honda to use as “an infinite extension cord” at the gun club – it’ll power ONE saw, or a couple of floodlights and a fan, run cordless drill battery chargers, etc, and it weights 47 lbs. so it’s portable. Turns out it will run my fridge, some lights and a fan OR my window AC and some lights, all on less gas than the 3K watt Honda used. The fuel tank is small, but the RV crowd has solutions for that, just Google “EU2000+fuel tank.” And, Honda sells kits (but it’s cheaper to make your own) that allow tying two EU2000s together to get 3200 watts at 120 volts (about 26 amps) steady output. RVers do it all the time.

Remember, the smaller the generator the less fuel it uses. You can get aftermarket propane conversion kits for the Hondas, which I’ve considered doing with the 6500 when I move back north next year, because even with wheels under it it’s not very portable. I haven’t considered doing it with the 3K or the 2000 because having to drag around a propane tank reduces the portability, but if one expected a semi-stationary use, a propane conversion kit and a couple of 70 lb propane tanks would be a good investment. If I were staying in Florida I’d convert from electric water heater to propane tankless, and replace the electric range with a dual-fuel range, and stick a 250 gallon propane tank in the back corner of the yard. All the propane dealers here brag about how their trucks are propane-powered and they never missed a delivery during the hurricanes.

Speaking of well pumps…there is a great advantage to replacing the small well tank ( about 3.5 gallon draw down – one flush with old style toilets, so your pump is starting up a lot) builders always put in because it’s cheap with multiple large tanks. Well-X-Trol makes one that has a 46 gallon draw down from full before the pump needs to start and refill it. I put in two back north; in daily use the pump starts fewer times and runs longer, which extends its life, and when the power went out I ran the pump on generator until the tanks were full, which gave us 92 gallons before we needed the pump again. With water saving shower heads and minimal flushing we could get through an entire day (BTW, with a little judicious circuit breaker adjusting, one can power only one of the heating elements in an electric water heater with one’s generator, preferably the bottom element; takes a little while, but in 30 minutes or so you have a tank full of hot water. Check what wattage the elements are and replace the bottom one with a 4500 watt or 3800 watt (assuming the original is a 5500 watt) to ease the load on the generator. During normal use you won’t notice the difference.

If I were building my house from scratch, I’d consider putting in an underground propane tank and running everything off propane instead of natural gas, with a propane-powered generator thrown into the mix. A couple of deliveries a year and you’re semi self-sufficient.

Reader Anthony Swenson writes with a low-budget point that’s more in the spirit I meant for this post:

One of the cheapest things you can do – it won’t cost you anything but a nice smell in your laundry – is to make sure you always buy plain, unscented, unflavored chlorine bleach.

“In an emergency, think of this (one gallon of Regular Clorox Bleach) as 3,800 gallons of drinking water.”

Yeah, bleach is good for sanitizing stuff, too. I keep extra around — but it’s harder and harder to find plain old Clorox bleach anymore amid all the scented, splash-resistant, etc. stuff on the shelf. Read the label carefully. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Henry Bowman writes:

Another item to consider if you have a hybrid vehicle: a large inverter. I read an article a couple of years ago about a fellow in Connecticut who ran many of his electric appliances in his house for three days off his Prius, with inverter. He claimed it cost him 5 gallons of fuel. Seems like an inexpensive backup, and one for which you don’t need to worry about starting often, as is the case with a portable generator.

My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Houston vicinity, were without power for 13 days after Hurricane Ike. They have two Priuses: they could have used a couple of inverters.

A big inverter is a lot cheaper than a comparable generator, and probably safer, too. And you can use it to recharge your UPS. But the hybrid thing isn’t as easy as it sounds. The guy you mention modded his Prius, because the big honking battery that drives the electric motors doesn’t put out 12v DC, and the 12v power system that starts the motor in the Prius (or in my Highlander) is separate. So I’m not sure there’s any special benefit to having a hybrid unless it’s modified, but correct me if I’m missing something.

Speaking of cars, think about when you’re not at home. Reader Mike von Cannon writes:

A note about disaster kits: I work for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and starting the morning of Dec 26 our dispatch center was flooded with calls from tourists in rental cabins who were stranded and running out of food (it was even worse during the blizzard in 93, which also hit on a weekend), so even on vacation it would pay to buy extra in case we get more snow than you expect. many tourists who thought they’d be going home sunday were stranded til Wed or Thur.

Good advice. And you should travel with at least a bit of helpful stuff. I keep some emergency stuff in the back of the car — some food bars, water, a spare pair of shoes in case mine get nasty while changing a tire, etc., and assorted minor toiletries and hygiene products and, very important, a roll of toilet paper — which helps. (And if you can produce tampons in a pinch, you can be a hero to women everywhere.)

I use these food bars, because they stand up to the heat in the summer better and they’re not appetizing enough that people will snitch ’em just for a quick snack, and these water packets because they don’t burst if they freeze. Most of this stuff never gets used, but being stuck by the side of the road for an extended period just once makes it worth having.

Also: Some survival blankets, some basic tools, and a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. (Make sure it’s one with a can opener/bottle opener). And a roll of duct tape! I keep all of this in a small pack that takes up very little room in the back; there’s one in Helen’s car, too.

Reader Gary Saffer writes:

A couple of things that I didn’t notice in your disaster preparedness posts.

Chemical light sticks. A friend of mine suggested these for general use. They’re cheap, they provide enough light to move around, and they save batteries for more light intensive tasks. And of course, you can get them at Amazon.

Consider that under most circumstances, it’s going to be 48-72 hours before rescue or relief shows up. If you are planning for much longer periods of being off the grid, consider moving to a rural area where you can build you entire house around being off the grid for long periods of time.

Firearms. You don’t mention them, but everyone should have a means of self defense. The veneer of civilization is thin at the best of times, it vaporizes in a real emergency. The predators will be out fairly quickly because their disaster plan is to use your prepared material to survive on. They don’t know specifically who you are, but they’ll keep looking until they find someone who has the stuff they want. Or a firearm they want no part of.

Yeah, light sticks are cool, even if Joe Biden thinks they’re drug paraphernalia. The gun issue is a whole separate post, but a gun (or several) is important disaster-prep, but that moves beyond the “easy steps” focus of this post. And the rural retreat approach goes way beyond it.

Reader Tina Howard writes:

For those who actually have a landline: an old-fashioned, non-electric telephone that plugs into the phone jack & has the handset attached to the phone. Easy to identify because there is no electric cord with it. Our phone lines worked after 2003’s Hurricane Claudette but the cordless phones wouldn’t. Very cheap at Salvation Army Thrift shops.

In the same vein, keep the necessary cords to plug a computer directly into the phone modem, because the wireless router is also electric. We were able to get online and check weather and news reports, as well as make posts to update others.

Good advice. Yeah, an old-fashioned landline phone that uses line power is good to have. Cellphone batteries die. Phone company line power is more reliable than utility power. Some multi-handset wireless phone setups or answering machines have a handset at the base that still works when the power is out. (Mine does). Most don’t. You can also hook the base into a big UPS — they don’t draw much power so they’ll work for days that way if you do. Ditto your cable/DSL modem and wireless router.

Reader J.R. Ott writes:

Three lengths of sturdy rope,5/8 climbing rope,inexpensive clothesline type,for bundling up stuff,para chute chord,All three are handy for bug out 50′ min and a few short hunks.Each bundle of rope has a snap knife taped to it (about a dollar each from the paint dept) . . . . Lastly if folks can afford it a Westie dog or a Shepard,good alarm and a Westie will shred an attacker as they are very possessive Terriers and if the dogs women folk are attacked you would not believe how damaging the dog can be.

Dogs are good to have around. More advice on low-cost preparation here, from a reader.

I should also note that while having extra stuff is handy — if the roads are blocked, and you don’t have enough food, there’s not much you can do — it’s also important to have skills. Most of the survival books are aimed at somebody lost in the woods, but, again, a low-budget approach means being able to deal with home-based small-scale disasters. This book, When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, is a good focus. My own skillset is nothing to brag about: I can do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry stuff, but I don’t really like it because I’m a perfectionist, but not skilled enough to make it perfect very fast so I get frustrated. (Plus, I’ve usually got an article I should be writing, or something) However, it suffices for quick-and-dirty solutions to problems like clogged or burst pipes, etc. Being able to deal with that sort of thing is a big leg-up, and that’s the kind of thing this book addresses.

FINALLY: Good advice from reader Spencer Reiss: Keep some cash around. Preferably in relatively small denominations: “The universal solvent–gets anything else you need. and no power, no phone=no ATM, no credit cards. Post-Andrew desperate Miamians were driving halfway to Orlando to get some (and in some areas systems were down for up to two weeks). Much easier/smarter to keep $1000 stashed somewhere.”

THINGS THAT DON’T SUCK: So I’ve got this Black & Decker jump-starter/compressor/power source and I’ve found it very handy for topping off tires. (The RX-8’s combination of low-profile tires and finicky tire-pressure sensors means that I get an alarm whenever the temp drops significantly). I haven’t used it to jump-start anything, but it looks like it ought to work well. On the other hand, this gadget from Duracell has less jump-start power (300 amps instead of 450) but puts out 110v AC, too.

Related: Power Preparedness.

UPDATE: Reader Brian King offers what he calls a “semi-review” of the Duracell 300:

I bought one of these recently – was looking for a compressor, but this one had the extras for not much more money.

So far, I’ve only used the compressor (which did the job … two tires from about 25psi to 35psi in just over 5 minutes each … the pressure gauge is pretty reliable even while pumping, which is nice) and the inverter (to charge a blackberry – I know, what a waste to take DC and convert it to AC only to have the charger turn it back into DC again, but it did the job, too).

When they add a few USB ports, I’ll buy another one!

Not a bad idea.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bruce Webster writes:

I actually have two of the larger model (B&D Electromate 400):

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-VEC026BD-Electromate-Jump-Starter/dp/B000EJS9IM/ref=pd_sim_auto_3

This model has two 120 volt AC outlets, beside two 12 volt DC (car-style) outlets. I’ve been using them to power the Christmas lights on a live 8′ pine tree at the entrance to our driveway (about 160 yards from our house; it was that or 1/10th of a mile of extension cords). One unit will keep the Christmas lights going 6 to 7 hours; recharge time appears to be roughly 12 hours, but it may be less than that (I’ve been recharging them in the garage, so I don’t really see when they’re done).

Kinda wish I’d bought that one. Or maybe this one, with a USB charger port.

SOLAR, BATTERY, INVERTERS: Lots of backup power stuff on sale.

OMAHA RESIDENTS FACE UP TO A WEEK WITHOUT POWER:

They probably can’t read it, but here’s a blackout survival guide. And here are some home generator safety guidelines.

Or you could get one of these, though at this new, higher price (it was 180 bucks when I linked it before) I don’t think it’s much of a deal. Heck, for that price you can get what looks like a pretty decent little inverter generator, with 1800 watts of clean power.

ANOTHER DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS LIST, with a secondary focus on . . . zombies? I don’t think that 200-watt inverter will be powering a table saw, though.