When Power Goes Out in a Log Cabin
When the power went out, I dragged our heavy generator out the basement door and onto the deck. With a little coaxing, it started and lit our humble abode, allowing us to continue to live our lives with minimal inconvenience.
After running it for several hours, the place fell dark again, indicating that without a steady supply of gasoline, we would not be able to continue to enjoy our creature comforts. I put the last 5 gallons of gasoline in, started it again, and went from marveling over our good fortune to wondering if we would be able to find any place to buy more gasoline. We have a full tank of 15 gallons of gas in our automobile but with one of those fancy anti-siphon devices wedged in the neck of the gas tank, I wasn’t able to get a hose in to access that fuel source.
Although most gas stations were without electricity also and hence not able to pump fuel, we were able to locate a gasoline station up and running a couple of towns away.
Fortunately we got power back in less than two days but the experience makes me realize how dependent we are on gasoline and electricity for our existence. I think if I had it to do over, I’d buy a propane generator and hook it to our large propane tank. Gasoline has a short shelf life but propane will last for a long time. And to store enough gasoline to last for more than a couple of days is not very practical.
Here are a few more considerations if you are looking into a generator.
- Plan ahead how you want to use your generator. Is it just to run a couple of lights and heat? Is it to handle the critical needs such as fridge, furnace, water pump, essential lights, and stove? Or is it to run the entire house? Wiring your home for a generator is not for the inexperienced DIY home electrician. It must be done correctly or you may have high voltage running backwards out to the street and into the lineman on the pole trying to restore everyone’s power. There are special boxes to make sure you can’t accidentally run power from your house to the entire power grid. Make sure you have someone licensed and experienced to do it right.
- Be sure your generator either is, or can be moved out of your log home and far enough away that the fumes (and preferably loud noise) do not seep back inside. During this power outage we had several new reports of people rushed to the hospital after running generators in the basement or too close to the house. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that can send you and your family to the hospital or worse.
- Test your generator before you need it. Do it like it was a fire drill… pretend like you are having a power outage (flip the main breaker!). Stumble through the dark house to the electric panel (which will make you realize you need a reliable flashlight). Place your generator wherever it will be running (are you sure that sagging deck will hold it?). Start it and make sure it is running as expected. Make sure it provides electricity to the areas of your log cabin that you want it to.
Each time we have a power outage, I ponder ways to make life a bit less stressful next time. And each time I hope all my planning for the next time is never needed again. We have all the creature comforts we need now. As long as the power gets restored within 2 days. Or at least the gas stations get theirs back within 2 days. Beyond that and we will again get reminded of how reliant we are on electricity!
Share any tips below that you’ve found that might help other log home residents (and those not fortunate enough yet to have a log home!).