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This is my first post here, so I thought there is no better introduction for a generator forum but to tell a generator story. I thought someone may be interested in how one guy handled power outages from a hurricane. So here goes:

I live in Louisiana where we were hit with Hurricane Laura, a Cat 4 monster which came ashore this August 27 with winds of 150mph.

My inventory for power outage protection consists of two generators:

My main "storm" generator is a 5000/5500W unit with a Japanese-made Yanmar diesel engine powering a USA-made Gillette generator head. I bought this unit new in 1995 as my only source of outage relief. It has served very well during many outages suffered in these past 25 years.

My backup "storm" generator is a 4000/4500W Japanese-made Honda EX4500S with a gasoline engine. I bought this unit new in 2003 to power my mother's home during outages. When she passed away a few years later, I kept it as my home backup unit. Prior to that, I had no backup option except for perhaps the little Honda 1000 which I bought in 1995 for RV trips, but being rated at 900W continuous, it represents woefully inadequate backup for home service.

This year during the hurricane outage, I'm really glad I had a backup unit able to power my house because if I hadn't, I would have been out of service for most of the 7.5 days outage that we suffered.

The rest of the story:

Hurricane Laura's "eye" crossed Louisiana's coastline about 1 am on August 27, moving north from the hot Gulf of Mexico. I live about 130 miles northeast of where it came ashore. The winds began really affecting my area about daybreak. At 6:30 am my utility power failed, so I went out to my little metal "barn" in the back yard to fire up the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel.

A day before the storm, I had extended 50 feet of cable comprised of four 8-gauge wires from the barn, where I have my generators and fuel supplies, to the transfer switch on my house. My transfer switch is configured to only power the 120V circuits in my house. I don't have and don't want enough generation to handle everything in my all-electric house, so my transfer switch doesn't power any 240V circuits. To me, the big advantage of this configuration is less demand for fuel during long outages, since I don't have natural gas service and I don't want a big propane tank. So, I depend on liquid diesel and gasoline that I haul home myself.

My generators each use about half-a-gallon per hour when serving a normal household load of about 2500 watts, which goes up momentarily when motors start up. So, I use about 12 gallons during each 24-hour-per-day of continuous running. Since I only run one generator at a time, that's how much fuel I need to keep power flowing.

My on-site fuel supply consists of:

Diesel: 80 gallons in a transfer tank installed in the bed of my diesel pickup truck, and 40 gallons in 5-gallon cans in the barn, for a total of 120 gallons. This represents about 240 hours of continuous generator operation, which gives me 10 days from the Yanmar-Gillette. This is my main outage option. If I really had to, I could also siphon another 30 gallons or so from my truck's fuel tanks for another 60 hours or 2.5 days.

Gasoline: 40 gallons of gasoline in 5-gallon cans in the barn, representing a total of about 80 hours, or 3.3 days, of continuous operation from the Honda. Again, if I had to, I could siphon another 40 gallons, or about 3.3 days worth from my three gasoline vehicles hanging around the house.

Although siphoning fuel from vehicles is doable, it's a slow hassle to mess around with. It would be considered only as a last resort. I've never used it.

So, with these preparations in place I began generating with the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel at 6:50 am on August 27. All went well for the next eight hours until I installed an 8000 BTU window air conditioner that I use for such hot-weather outages to cool one bedroom of my house, which is especially good for comfortable sleeping. I didn't put the air conditioner in the window until about 3 pm that first day because the temperature didn't become uncomfortable until then.

But my heart sank when I introduced the air conditioner load to the Yanmar-Gillette along with the other loads, and the voltage faltered and the generator tripped off line. I tried a couple more times to get the generator to carry the air conditioning load along with the others, but again and again it failed to hold. My diesel generator had problems with adding that air conditioner to the load group for some reason.

Darn.

On to Plan B with winds now howling at 100mph.

I pulled out my Honda backup, which had not been run since 2012. I'm not disciplined enough to test my generators every month, so I had this backup generator in "mothballs" until needed, and then crossed my fingers that it will start and run when needed. My version of mothballing the generator is to drain the fuel tank, carb and sediment bowl, change the oil, service the air filter, pull the sparkplug and put a little engine oil in the cylinder and turn the engine turn to distribute the oil before reinstalling the sparkplug, and then cover the genset with a tarp. In addition, I also put a couple of little 120VAC "Goldenrod" heater / dehumidifiers inside the generator's housing case to keep moisture away while it's in storage in the unheated barn. Louisiana is well known for high humidity, and so I have these little 40-watt heater/dehumidifiers to keep temperatures just slightly above ambient within the housing case, just enough to keep the air warmish and circulating by convection in order to keep things from rusting.

And so it was with fingers crossed that I filled the four-gallon Honda tank with fresh gasoline, connected the 12 volt battery, and turned the key. After a few revolutions, the faithful old Honda caught and fired for the first time in eight years, and continued to faultlessly run for the next 7 days, air conditioner and all, until the utility power came back on.

I ran the Honda 24 hours a day, refilling it on a schedule of every 6 hours to make sure I had at least a gallon's cushion so I wouldn't run out of fuel with a load on the generator. This made my refueling schedule easy to remember, consisting entirely of fours and tens: 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm, 10 pm. I only failed to follow that simple schedule one time, missing my 4 am fuel call the first morning due to my failure to wake on a timely basis. When I finally did wake up around 6:30 am to find the power off, the air conditioner quiet and the temperature rising, I quickly got up and refilled the tank with the requisite four gallons of petrol, and she fired right up. I began setting an alarm clock for the 4 am call after that.

By the way, I refill my generators fuel tanks with a couple of 12VDC electric fuel pumps, one for gasoline and one for diesel. This cuts down on spillage because I don't have to lift and balance a 35- or 40-pound tank of volatile fuel while pouring it into the hot generator. At 77 years old with a bad back, using a pump really helps. I just stick the suction hose of the pump into the fuel supply can, put the pressure end of the hose in the generator tank, and push a button for several minutes until the generator tank is full. With a push-button pump control switch, I can't walk away with a running pump and so have to be there watching, because as soon as I remove my finger from the "dead-man" button, the fuel flow stops. I configured it this way for safety. I also have fuel filters fitted the pump hoses, so any contaminants in the fuel supply cans are filtered out before reaching the generators.

Since I was running my gasoline backup and not the diesel, I only had a little over three days of fuel reserve that I could use. I knew from the widespread damages that we would be out much longer than that. I was afraid I'd have to join the parade going out of town to replenish my gasoline supply. Or, I would have to begin shutting off the generator at night and just let the temperature rise, sweaty sheets and all. Fortunately, utility service was restored to some local gasoline stations during the third day, so this was just in time to enable me to get gasoline at a station just a mile from the house without having to travel to distant supplies and/or to wait in the inevitable long lines with the rest of the fuel-less.

Had my Yanmar diesel performed as it always had in the past, I would have had more than enough fuel to last the entire outage without worrying about having to replenish it. But it was not to be, so my backup Honda had to save me. And it did.

Incidentally, I just picked up my Yanmar-Gillette diesel from a generator repair shop today. They tested it several times under rated load and said it held the load, so they had no recommendations for fixing what they can't find broke. So, I paid them for their trouble and put it back as first call option of the fleet. It may have been some type of transient voltage situation that was knocking it off line, some type of weird interaction between the air conditioner motor requesting startup amperage along with the two refrigerators and two freezers doing the same all at the same time. You can bet I'll be watching it in the future.

So, that's my story of the great hurricane outage of 2020. I've put the Honda back in mothballs with an oil change, a new air filter, fuel drained, and Goldenrod dehumidifiers.

The newly confirmed Yanmar-Gillette is now back in place, refueled and ready again for first-call service. I also keep the Yanmar covered with a tarp and with Goldenrods inserted at its base to keep the humidity factor down. It's easy to do, and I believe worth the effort. It's certainly easier than running it out and testing it every month or so. On the other hand, I will admit that testing might have caught the failure that I just experienced, but on the other-other hand the service shop couldn't get it to fail so why would I? Electricity in general and electric generators in particular can present mysterious gremlins that keep you on your toes if not on your heels.

I'm hoping my generators now will be able to rest for a while, but it may not be too long. The next eligible "outage event" for us is a couple of suspicious tropical storms brewing in the Caribbean as I type, and the hurricane season doesn't end until November 30. Or perhaps the next outage will come from one of those rare-for-Louisiana ice storms this coming winter that can emulate hurricanes in terms of service outages. Or maybe it will come from a tornado like our community got hit with just a year ago, causing the commensurate intense damages and outages. Or maybe it will come from a regular ole thunderstorm that can disrupt service just about anytime for a day or so. Or...well, I need to quit thinking about it and go chain-saw some firewood from that big hickory laying by the house. Oh, I didn't mention that hickory:

I was extremely lucky that my home wasn't damaged during Laura, but it came very, very close. As the storm passed through, high winds from the south pushed over an enormous 75-year-old hickory tree which was growing 20 feet northeast of my house. The tree fell northwestward away from my house and so caused no damage. But had the tree fallen when the winds were blowing from the north side, which they did part of the time as the eye moved along, it would have caused massive damage to my home. No generator could have helped me through that.

And one last observation: Hurricane Laura took about the same tract as Hurricane Audrey did in 1957. I sat through a long power outage from Audrey as a teenager, but my folks didn't have a home generator and we were days without power. The really important difference between those two storms is, Audrey killed over 500 people due to storm surge on the coast and lack of evacuation by many of the residents. Laura was much more kind in that regard and the residents were much more willing to evacuate and the forecasts were much more accurate. Nevertheless, there still were more than 30 souls lost in this latest 150mph iteration of Mother Nature's violent ways. May they rest in peace.

My thoughts and prayers go to the thousands who suffered Laura's highest winds, who lost homes and businesses, and who will be struggling with the devastation and damage for months and years to come.
 

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on to the air con issue have you tried a soft start on the air con yet?
click here for the generator section with a link for the soft starter
those units rock!
the state fair folks swear by them here in Iowa!
they let a good sized ac compressor start on a smaller gen set.

you might look in to extended run fuel tank systems for your gen sets.
it sure saves a lot of messing around with refueling during an BIG event like you get down there.
the last thing you want to do is be out in it..
think a fuel tank for the 50 hour oil change. if you are doing a gen with out a spin oil filter.
and 200 hour for the gens with a spin filter setup.

gillette is a good company!
we have a few of the honda twin powered gens in the fleet.
watch the caps... if they are over 10 years old replace them.
I just rebuilt 4 of the older units this summer.
the new caps brought them back up to full power!
 

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This is my first post here, so I thought there is no better introduction for a generator forum but to tell a generator story. I thought someone may be interested in how one guy handled power outages from a hurricane. So here goes:

I live in Louisiana where we were hit with Hurricane Laura, a Cat 4 monster which came ashore this August 27 with winds of 150mph.

My inventory for power outage protection consists of two generators:

My main "storm" generator is a 5000/5500W unit with a Japanese-made Yanmar diesel engine powering a USA-made Gillette generator head. I bought this unit new in 1995 as my only source of outage relief. It has served very well during many outages suffered in these past 25 years.

My backup "storm" generator is a 4000/4500W Japanese-made Honda EX4500S with a gasoline engine. I bought this unit new in 2003 to power my mother's home during outages. When she passed away a few years later, I kept it as my home backup unit. Prior to that, I had no backup option except for perhaps the little Honda 1000 which I bought in 1995 for RV trips, but being rated at 900W continuous, it represents woefully inadequate backup for home service.

This year during the hurricane outage, I'm really glad I had a backup unit able to power my house because if I hadn't, I would have been out of service for most of the 7.5 days outage that we suffered.

The rest of the story:

Hurricane Laura's "eye" crossed Louisiana's coastline about 1 am on August 27, moving north from the hot Gulf of Mexico. I live about 130 miles northeast of where it came ashore. The winds began really affecting my area about daybreak. At 6:30 am my utility power failed, so I went out to my little metal "barn" in the back yard to fire up the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel.

A day before the storm, I had extended 50 feet of cable comprised of four 8-gauge wires from the barn, where I have my generators and fuel supplies, to the transfer switch on my house. My transfer switch is configured to only power the 120V circuits in my house. I don't have and don't want enough generation to handle everything in my all-electric house, so my transfer switch doesn't power any 240V circuits. To me, the big advantage of this configuration is less demand for fuel during long outages, since I don't have natural gas service and I don't want a big propane tank. So, I depend on liquid diesel and gasoline that I haul home myself.

My generators each use about half-a-gallon per hour when serving a normal household load of about 2500 watts, which goes up momentarily when motors start up. So, I use about 12 gallons during each 24-hour-per-day of continuous running. Since I only run one generator at a time, that's how much fuel I need to keep power flowing.

My on-site fuel supply consists of:

Diesel: 80 gallons in a transfer tank installed in the bed of my diesel pickup truck, and 40 gallons in 5-gallon cans in the barn, for a total of 120 gallons. This represents about 240 hours of continuous generator operation, which gives me 10 days from the Yanmar-Gillette. This is my main outage option. If I really had to, I could also siphon another 30 gallons or so from my truck's fuel tanks for another 60 hours or 2.5 days.

Gasoline: 40 gallons of gasoline in 5-gallon cans in the barn, representing a total of about 80 hours, or 3.3 days, of continuous operation from the Honda. Again, if I had to, I could siphon another 40 gallons, or about 3.3 days worth from my three gasoline vehicles hanging around the house.

Although siphoning fuel from vehicles is doable, it's a slow hassle to mess around with. It would be considered only as a last resort. I've never used it.

So, with these preparations in place I began generating with the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel at 6:50 am on August 27. All went well for the next eight hours until I installed an 8000 BTU window air conditioner that I use for such hot-weather outages to cool one bedroom of my house, which is especially good for comfortable sleeping. I didn't put the air conditioner in the window until about 3 pm that first day because the temperature didn't become uncomfortable until then.

But my heart sank when I introduced the air conditioner load to the Yanmar-Gillette along with the other loads, and the voltage faltered and the generator tripped off line. I tried a couple more times to get the generator to carry the air conditioning load along with the others, but again and again it failed to hold. My diesel generator had problems with adding that air conditioner to the load group for some reason.

Darn.

On to Plan B with winds now howling at 100mph.

I pulled out my Honda backup, which had not been run since 2012. I'm not disciplined enough to test my generators every month, so I had this backup generator in "mothballs" until needed, and then crossed my fingers that it will start and run when needed. My version of mothballing the generator is to drain the fuel tank, carb and sediment bowl, change the oil, service the air filter, pull the sparkplug and put a little engine oil in the cylinder and turn the engine turn to distribute the oil before reinstalling the sparkplug, and then cover the genset with a tarp. In addition, I also put a couple of little 120VAC "Goldenrod" heater / dehumidifiers inside the generator's housing case to keep moisture away while it's in storage in the unheated barn. Louisiana is well known for high humidity, and so I have these little 40-watt heater/dehumidifiers to keep temperatures just slightly above ambient within the housing case, just enough to keep the air warmish and circulating by convection in order to keep things from rusting.

And so it was with fingers crossed that I filled the four-gallon Honda tank with fresh gasoline, connected the 12 volt battery, and turned the key. After a few revolutions, the faithful old Honda caught and fired for the first time in eight years, and continued to faultlessly run for the next 7 days, air conditioner and all, until the utility power came back on.

I ran the Honda 24 hours a day, refilling it on a schedule of every 6 hours to make sure I had at least a gallon's cushion so I wouldn't run out of fuel with a load on the generator. This made my refueling schedule easy to remember, consisting entirely of fours and tens: 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm, 10 pm. I only failed to follow that simple schedule one time, missing my 4 am fuel call the first morning due to my failure to wake on a timely basis. When I finally did wake up around 6:30 am to find the power off, the air conditioner quiet and the temperature rising, I quickly got up and refilled the tank with the requisite four gallons of petrol, and she fired right up. I began setting an alarm clock for the 4 am call after that.

By the way, I refill my generators fuel tanks with a couple of 12VDC electric fuel pumps, one for gasoline and one for diesel. This cuts down on spillage because I don't have to lift and balance a 35- or 40-pound tank of volatile fuel while pouring it into the hot generator. At 77 years old with a bad back, using a pump really helps. I just stick the suction hose of the pump into the fuel supply can, put the pressure end of the hose in the generator tank, and push a button for several minutes until the generator tank is full. With a push-button pump control switch, I can't walk away with a running pump and so have to be there watching, because as soon as I remove my finger from the "dead-man" button, the fuel flow stops. I configured it this way for safety. I also have fuel filters fitted the pump hoses, so any contaminants in the fuel supply cans are filtered out before reaching the generators.

Since I was running my gasoline backup and not the diesel, I only had a little over three days of fuel reserve that I could use. I knew from the widespread damages that we would be out much longer than that. I was afraid I'd have to join the parade going out of town to replenish my gasoline supply. Or, I would have to begin shutting off the generator at night and just let the temperature rise, sweaty sheets and all. Fortunately, utility service was restored to some local gasoline stations during the third day, so this was just in time to enable me to get gasoline at a station just a mile from the house without having to travel to distant supplies and/or to wait in the inevitable long lines with the rest of the fuel-less.

Had my Yanmar diesel performed as it always had in the past, I would have had more than enough fuel to last the entire outage without worrying about having to replenish it. But it was not to be, so my backup Honda had to save me. And it did.

Incidentally, I just picked up my Yanmar-Gillette diesel from a generator repair shop today. They tested it several times under rated load and said it held the load, so they had no recommendations for fixing what they can't find broke. So, I paid them for their trouble and put it back as first call option of the fleet. It may have been some type of transient voltage situation that was knocking it off line, some type of weird interaction between the air conditioner motor requesting startup amperage along with the two refrigerators and two freezers doing the same all at the same time. You can bet I'll be watching it in the future.

So, that's my story of the great hurricane outage of 2020. I've put the Honda back in mothballs with an oil change, a new air filter, fuel drained, and Goldenrod dehumidifiers.

The newly confirmed Yanmar-Gillette is now back in place, refueled and ready again for first-call service. I also keep the Yanmar covered with a tarp and with Goldenrods inserted at its base to keep the humidity factor down. It's easy to do, and I believe worth the effort. It's certainly easier than running it out and testing it every month or so. On the other hand, I will admit that testing might have caught the failure that I just experienced, but on the other-other hand the service shop couldn't get it to fail so why would I? Electricity in general and electric generators in particular can present mysterious gremlins that keep you on your toes if not on your heels.

I'm hoping my generators now will be able to rest for a while, but it may not be too long. The next eligible "outage event" for us is a couple of suspicious tropical storms brewing in the Caribbean as I type, and the hurricane season doesn't end until November 30. Or perhaps the next outage will come from one of those rare-for-Louisiana ice storms this coming winter that can emulate hurricanes in terms of service outages. Or maybe it will come from a tornado like our community got hit with just a year ago, causing the commensurate intense damages and outages. Or maybe it will come from a regular ole thunderstorm that can disrupt service just about anytime for a day or so. Or...well, I need to quit thinking about it and go chain-saw some firewood from that big hickory laying by the house. Oh, I didn't mention that hickory:

I was extremely lucky that my home wasn't damaged during Laura, but it came very, very close. As the storm passed through, high winds from the south pushed over an enormous 75-year-old hickory tree which was growing 20 feet northeast of my house. The tree fell northwestward away from my house and so caused no damage. But had the tree fallen when the winds were blowing from the north side, which they did part of the time as the eye moved along, it would have caused massive damage to my home. No generator could have helped me through that.

And one last observation: Hurricane Laura took about the same tract as Hurricane Audrey did in 1957. I sat through a long power outage from Audrey as a teenager, but my folks didn't have a home generator and we were days without power. The really important difference between those two storms is, Audrey killed over 500 people due to storm surge on the coast and lack of evacuation by many of the residents. Laura was much more kind in that regard and the residents were much more willing to evacuate and the forecasts were much more accurate. Nevertheless, there still were more than 30 souls lost in this latest 150mph iteration of Mother Nature's violent ways. May they rest in peace.

My thoughts and prayers go to the thousands who suffered Laura's highest winds, who lost homes and businesses, and who will be struggling with the devastation and damage for months and years to come.
Good story. I remember Audrey, She blew on up north and I was about 12 years old that year. We lived in W. Monroe, La, and the house had an attached carport, with a small storeroom on the south end and about a 4 or 5 foot wide pass through to the back yard. I do remember rain coming through that opening and going the length of the long carport and out the front. That was my first hurricaine. I now live in E. Texas and the way they were predicting Laura I got my big 11KW Honda out and connected to the house in case, I did not want to have to move it across a wet yard to my storage shed now being 75 years old, that's a job and that thing weighs 400+pounds. I do have a trailer hitch custom made for it and a long drawbar so I can pull it behind my lawn mower, but did not need it. After all threat was past, I did start it up and ran the house on it, I have a big double throw disconnect with an inlet for the generator wired in, and control load via my breaker box. I turned off the electric hot water and ran it about an hour main load being central air. Then drained fuel tank and put in fresh fuel, also drained oil and replaced, even though it only had an hour running time, figuring oil is cheap 25 hp engine is not. I have been treating it like that for the 18 years I have had it and it has allways performed well. I store it in the mentioned shed, which is insulated, and I keep one of the electric radiator heaters on low in winter to control humidity and help prevent rust on other tools, works well. The only downside of that generator is that it is thirsty, I keep about 60 gal of gas during hurricaine season on through winter when we might get the occasional ice storm, running that gas through the mower during summer, so keep it in constant rotation.
 

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Good story. I hope you tested the diesel on the house to confirm their repairs. Good luck with Hurricane Delta It’s going to be catagory 3 at landfall.
 

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Good luck with Delta. Hope it goes more east. SW Louisiana had enough a couple of weeks ago without another big blow. Hope you got your diesel unit up and running if you need it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yo folks, thanks for the kind thoughts!

Yep, we've got another hurricane looming towards ole bleeding, battered and tired Louisiana. This time she's named a Greek alphabet letter that's shaped as a triangle, named Delta. You can bet that we're battening down the hatches again in order to be as ready as we can for whatever lies ahead.

In reference to generators on this generator forum, I only burned three or so gallons of diesel during Laura due to the mysterious fault on my Yanmar-Gillette generator, so I've still got about 10 days' worth of diesel on site if the outage should go that long, heaven forbid.

In the event the generator shop was wrong and there is an still undiagnosed problem with the generator that shows up in this oncoming storm, then I've still got 38 gallons or so of the gasoline stash for the Honda 4500 that I bought during Laura. Although the Honda is already mothballed, it takes only half an hour to get it ready should I need it, just as happened in August during Laura.

I appreciate the good wishes! I'll try to update the forum about what happens after this upcoming blow.
 

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Great sory and thanks for sharing. You folks are a lot tougher than us. We live in Eastern WA state and the only thing we get is a cold winter.
 

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The worst we usually have here in mid E. Texas is outages due to the rare ice storm, getting more rare. and those due to wind storms, trees taking out power lines. We had one such outage and we were out less than 24 hours. One neighbor on opposite side of street coming into our area was out about ten days. Power fed from a different direction and they had big problems. That's what convinced me to get a generator.

About 3 years ago we were at our house over in N La. when what they called a straight line storm blew threw, funny I had trees down in different directions. We saw something about the storm, and finally got through to neighbors who said power was out and it was very difficult getting into neighborhood, so we delayed coming home for twodays, figuring with house closed and no one bothering refrigerator and freezer they would be ok, which was the case. We started seeing power lines down about 12-15 miles out of town and when we turned off onto the side road leading to our subdivision it looked like a war zone, power and phone lines down in the road, and it was blocked to a narrow one lane. Got home and no real damage, just a couple of trim pieces on free standing carport, lucky there. I dragged the generator out and used it off and on for about 3 days before we got power back. No fun and had we had a lot of damage it could have been worse.
 

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This is my first post here, so I thought there is no better introduction for a generator forum but to tell a generator story. I thought someone may be interested in how one guy handled power outages from a hurricane. So here goes:

I live in Louisiana where we were hit with Hurricane Laura, a Cat 4 monster which came ashore this August 27 with winds of 150mph.

My inventory for power outage protection consists of two generators:

My main "storm" generator is a 5000/5500W unit with a Japanese-made Yanmar diesel engine powering a USA-made Gillette generator head. I bought this unit new in 1995 as my only source of outage relief. It has served very well during many outages suffered in these past 25 years.

My backup "storm" generator is a 4000/4500W Japanese-made Honda EX4500S with a gasoline engine. I bought this unit new in 2003 to power my mother's home during outages. When she passed away a few years later, I kept it as my home backup unit. Prior to that, I had no backup option except for perhaps the little Honda 1000 which I bought in 1995 for RV trips, but being rated at 900W continuous, it represents woefully inadequate backup for home service.

This year during the hurricane outage, I'm really glad I had a backup unit able to power my house because if I hadn't, I would have been out of service for most of the 7.5 days outage that we suffered.

The rest of the story:

Hurricane Laura's "eye" crossed Louisiana's coastline about 1 am on August 27, moving north from the hot Gulf of Mexico. I live about 130 miles northeast of where it came ashore. The winds began really affecting my area about daybreak. At 6:30 am my utility power failed, so I went out to my little metal "barn" in the back yard to fire up the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel.

A day before the storm, I had extended 50 feet of cable comprised of four 8-gauge wires from the barn, where I have my generators and fuel supplies, to the transfer switch on my house. My transfer switch is configured to only power the 120V circuits in my house. I don't have and don't want enough generation to handle everything in my all-electric house, so my transfer switch doesn't power any 240V circuits. To me, the big advantage of this configuration is less demand for fuel during long outages, since I don't have natural gas service and I don't want a big propane tank. So, I depend on liquid diesel and gasoline that I haul home myself.

My generators each use about half-a-gallon per hour when serving a normal household load of about 2500 watts, which goes up momentarily when motors start up. So, I use about 12 gallons during each 24-hour-per-day of continuous running. Since I only run one generator at a time, that's how much fuel I need to keep power flowing.

My on-site fuel supply consists of:

Diesel: 80 gallons in a transfer tank installed in the bed of my diesel pickup truck, and 40 gallons in 5-gallon cans in the barn, for a total of 120 gallons. This represents about 240 hours of continuous generator operation, which gives me 10 days from the Yanmar-Gillette. This is my main outage option. If I really had to, I could also siphon another 30 gallons or so from my truck's fuel tanks for another 60 hours or 2.5 days.

Gasoline: 40 gallons of gasoline in 5-gallon cans in the barn, representing a total of about 80 hours, or 3.3 days, of continuous operation from the Honda. Again, if I had to, I could siphon another 40 gallons, or about 3.3 days worth from my three gasoline vehicles hanging around the house.

Although siphoning fuel from vehicles is doable, it's a slow hassle to mess around with. It would be considered only as a last resort. I've never used it.

So, with these preparations in place I began generating with the faithful Yanmar-Gillette diesel at 6:50 am on August 27. All went well for the next eight hours until I installed an 8000 BTU window air conditioner that I use for such hot-weather outages to cool one bedroom of my house, which is especially good for comfortable sleeping. I didn't put the air conditioner in the window until about 3 pm that first day because the temperature didn't become uncomfortable until then.

But my heart sank when I introduced the air conditioner load to the Yanmar-Gillette along with the other loads, and the voltage faltered and the generator tripped off line. I tried a couple more times to get the generator to carry the air conditioning load along with the others, but again and again it failed to hold. My diesel generator had problems with adding that air conditioner to the load group for some reason.

Darn.

On to Plan B with winds now howling at 100mph.

I pulled out my Honda backup, which had not been run since 2012. I'm not disciplined enough to test my generators every month, so I had this backup generator in "mothballs" until needed, and then crossed my fingers that it will start and run when needed. My version of mothballing the generator is to drain the fuel tank, carb and sediment bowl, change the oil, service the air filter, pull the sparkplug and put a little engine oil in the cylinder and turn the engine turn to distribute the oil before reinstalling the sparkplug, and then cover the genset with a tarp. In addition, I also put a couple of little 120VAC "Goldenrod" heater / dehumidifiers inside the generator's housing case to keep moisture away while it's in storage in the unheated barn. Louisiana is well known for high humidity, and so I have these little 40-watt heater/dehumidifiers to keep temperatures just slightly above ambient within the housing case, just enough to keep the air warmish and circulating by convection in order to keep things from rusting.

And so it was with fingers crossed that I filled the four-gallon Honda tank with fresh gasoline, connected the 12 volt battery, and turned the key. After a few revolutions, the faithful old Honda caught and fired for the first time in eight years, and continued to faultlessly run for the next 7 days, air conditioner and all, until the utility power came back on.

I ran the Honda 24 hours a day, refilling it on a schedule of every 6 hours to make sure I had at least a gallon's cushion so I wouldn't run out of fuel with a load on the generator. This made my refueling schedule easy to remember, consisting entirely of fours and tens: 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm, 10 pm. I only failed to follow that simple schedule one time, missing my 4 am fuel call the first morning due to my failure to wake on a timely basis. When I finally did wake up around 6:30 am to find the power off, the air conditioner quiet and the temperature rising, I quickly got up and refilled the tank with the requisite four gallons of petrol, and she fired right up. I began setting an alarm clock for the 4 am call after that.

By the way, I refill my generators fuel tanks with a couple of 12VDC electric fuel pumps, one for gasoline and one for diesel. This cuts down on spillage because I don't have to lift and balance a 35- or 40-pound tank of volatile fuel while pouring it into the hot generator. At 77 years old with a bad back, using a pump really helps. I just stick the suction hose of the pump into the fuel supply can, put the pressure end of the hose in the generator tank, and push a button for several minutes until the generator tank is full. With a push-button pump control switch, I can't walk away with a running pump and so have to be there watching, because as soon as I remove my finger from the "dead-man" button, the fuel flow stops. I configured it this way for safety. I also have fuel filters fitted the pump hoses, so any contaminants in the fuel supply cans are filtered out before reaching the generators.

Since I was running my gasoline backup and not the diesel, I only had a little over three days of fuel reserve that I could use. I knew from the widespread damages that we would be out much longer than that. I was afraid I'd have to join the parade going out of town to replenish my gasoline supply. Or, I would have to begin shutting off the generator at night and just let the temperature rise, sweaty sheets and all. Fortunately, utility service was restored to some local gasoline stations during the third day, so this was just in time to enable me to get gasoline at a station just a mile from the house without having to travel to distant supplies and/or to wait in the inevitable long lines with the rest of the fuel-less.

Had my Yanmar diesel performed as it always had in the past, I would have had more than enough fuel to last the entire outage without worrying about having to replenish it. But it was not to be, so my backup Honda had to save me. And it did.

Incidentally, I just picked up my Yanmar-Gillette diesel from a generator repair shop today. They tested it several times under rated load and said it held the load, so they had no recommendations for fixing what they can't find broke. So, I paid them for their trouble and put it back as first call option of the fleet. It may have been some type of transient voltage situation that was knocking it off line, some type of weird interaction between the air conditioner motor requesting startup amperage along with the two refrigerators and two freezers doing the same all at the same time. You can bet I'll be watching it in the future.

So, that's my story of the great hurricane outage of 2020. I've put the Honda back in mothballs with an oil change, a new air filter, fuel drained, and Goldenrod dehumidifiers.

The newly confirmed Yanmar-Gillette is now back in place, refueled and ready again for first-call service. I also keep the Yanmar covered with a tarp and with Goldenrods inserted at its base to keep the humidity factor down. It's easy to do, and I believe worth the effort. It's certainly easier than running it out and testing it every month or so. On the other hand, I will admit that testing might have caught the failure that I just experienced, but on the other-other hand the service shop couldn't get it to fail so why would I? Electricity in general and electric generators in particular can present mysterious gremlins that keep you on your toes if not on your heels.

I'm hoping my generators now will be able to rest for a while, but it may not be too long. The next eligible "outage event" for us is a couple of suspicious tropical storms brewing in the Caribbean as I type, and the hurricane season doesn't end until November 30. Or perhaps the next outage will come from one of those rare-for-Louisiana ice storms this coming winter that can emulate hurricanes in terms of service outages. Or maybe it will come from a tornado like our community got hit with just a year ago, causing the commensurate intense damages and outages. Or maybe it will come from a regular ole thunderstorm that can disrupt service just about anytime for a day or so. Or...well, I need to quit thinking about it and go chain-saw some firewood from that big hickory laying by the house. Oh, I didn't mention that hickory:

I was extremely lucky that my home wasn't damaged during Laura, but it came very, very close. As the storm passed through, high winds from the south pushed over an enormous 75-year-old hickory tree which was growing 20 feet northeast of my house. The tree fell northwestward away from my house and so caused no damage. But had the tree fallen when the winds were blowing from the north side, which they did part of the time as the eye moved along, it would have caused massive damage to my home. No generator could have helped me through that.

And one last observation: Hurricane Laura took about the same tract as Hurricane Audrey did in 1957. I sat through a long power outage from Audrey as a teenager, but my folks didn't have a home generator and we were days without power. The really important difference between those two storms is, Audrey killed over 500 people due to storm surge on the coast and lack of evacuation by many of the residents. Laura was much more kind in that regard and the residents were much more willing to evacuate and the forecasts were much more accurate. Nevertheless, there still were more than 30 souls lost in this latest 150mph iteration of Mother Nature's violent ways. May they rest in peace.

My thoughts and prayers go to the thousands who suffered Laura's highest winds, who lost homes and businesses, and who will be struggling with the devastation and damage for months and years to come.
Thanks for the story Airstreamer. I can relate - I live down the coast near Mobile, AL and I've got friends in Lafayette. They faired pretty well during Laura but had some minor damage from Delta a couple of days ago. Hope you made it through that one ok.

I've been trying to come up with a simple way to refuel on the go also. It's a pain to turn all my breakers off, shut the generator down, refuel it and then reverse the process. I've got two generators, one with a 5 gallon tank and one with only a 1.6 gallon. I try to run the bigger one at night so I'm not up and down all night refueling. Don't mind it too bad in the daytime so I use the smaller one. I've been thinking about getting a little 12v pump and follow your example. Only thing that worries me is the vapors off the gasoline finding their way to a heat source (like a gas powered generator directly below where I'm putting in gaso_Oo_O). I may put a little fan closeby to hopefully disperse the fumes away from the generator.

Please let us know how you fared when Delta blew through south Louisiana.
 

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I have been without power for up to 2 weeks at a time in the past due to hurricanes. When I was dependent on gasoline generators, I picked up a 13 gallon portable boat fuel tank and 10' of fuel line. I put the fuel tank approx 6' from the generator on a table that was higher than the generator and bypassed the generator's fuel tank. No additional fuel pump was needed - gravity feed. I could keep the generator running while I was refueling without the danger of the gasoline coming in contact with the hot generator. I also only had to refuel twice a day. I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night or worry about the generator running out of fuel. This reduced the stress during a stressful time.
 

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Thanks for the story Airstreamer. I can relate - I live down the coast near Mobile, AL and I've got friends in Lafayette. They faired pretty well during Laura but had some minor damage from Delta a couple of days ago. Hope you made it through that one ok.

I've been trying to come up with a simple way to refuel on the go also. It's a pain to turn all my breakers off, shut the generator down, refuel it and then reverse the process. I've got two generators, one with a 5 gallon tank and one with only a 1.6 gallon. I try to run the bigger one at night so I'm not up and down all night refueling. Don't mind it too bad in the daytime so I use the smaller one. I've been thinking about getting a little 12v pump and follow your example. Only thing that worries me is the vapors off the gasoline finding their way to a heat source (like a gas powered generator directly below where I'm putting in gaso_Oo_O). I may put a little fan closeby to hopefully disperse the fumes away from the generator.

Please let us know how you fared when Delta blew through south Louisiana.
see the page below
click here for the gas can and fuel pump page
also see the extended run page below
click here for the extended run fuel page
we use the marine fuel tanks with honda quick couplers for no fuel spill when swapping out the tanks.
easy to refuel the remote tank too!
 

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Thanks BobS and Iowagold. The generator I would most like to extend the run time on is a Champion 100233 - 3400 watt inverter. It does not have a fuel pump so I can't feed it in through the cap like a Honda. Any of the transfer systems could be used but again, I'm concerned with gasoline vapors so close to the hot generator. I kinda like the idea of gravity feeding gas directly to the fuel line on the generator but I think all boat tanks are connected to the top of the tank and rely on a siphon effect, at least to get it started. If I could find a tank that fed out the bottom I think I'd like that better.
 

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Just read this. So sad.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana officials have announced a death from Hurricane Delta.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday an 86-year-old man from St. Martin Parish died in a fire that started after he refueled a power generator in a shed. The governor said it didn't appear that the man had let the generator cool down before refueling it
 

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yup sad story!
you can do the t valve on the current fuel line and use an external tank that is remote mounted.
and then use the marine quick couplers for safety.
they make larger gravity tanks.
pm me of you need links for good mfg's on them.
I have one client that has a 20 gallon remote tank as gravity.
there are in line safety valves for line brake issues.

yup all fuels are a big hazard if it is not treated with respect!!
closed in and no vents is not the way to go..
trapped fuel vapor is a BIG bang!!

same on LP and NG fuels..
 

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Discussion Starter #18
This is the OP here who reported about generator stuff that happened during Hurricane Laura and its aftermath in August and September. I'm back to do the same with Hurricane Delta in October.

Despite the sorry odds, Delta took virtually the same route as Laura did here in Louisiana. Fortunately, Delta was not as intense for us. Although Delta had gotten as high as Laura's Category 4 in its long path over water, fortunately Delta was down to a Category 2 by the time it came ashore in Louisiana. You might remember that Laura hit us as a Category 4 at landfall.

It is heartbreaking that many folks who had roof and other damages from Laura and who had blue tarps installed to limit future rain damage until permanent repairs could be made, watched Delta tear the tarps off and pour much more rain down onto the damaged roofs and into their homes and businesses. It's terrible.

Many folks who evacuated from the coastal areas are still in shelters. It will take months and years to repair all the damage.

I was one of the lucky ones who had no further damage in Delta except, of course, for the inevitable power outages. Only this time, I was out of grid electric service for just 22 hours in Delta instead of the 7.5 days in Laura. I had plenty of gasoline left over from Laura because I had just refilled my stash when the power came on in September, so I used my Honda 4500 gasoline generator in Delta. The Honda performed flawlessly during the outage as it always does, so my generator story is a mundane non-event.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks in Louisiana who are still out of electric grid service, so we still have a lot of generators operating in some areas.

I'm very thankful it wasn't worse.
 

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Two hurricanes within a month is nuts. Rough stuff. Did you get your diesel generator straightened out?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm beginning to look into the problem with my Yanmar diesel. After 25 years and hundreds of hours of faithful service during storms, it did falter during Hurricane Laura as I described in my first post. The generator shop couldn't find a problem when I brought it to them, but after I got it home from the shop, I was able to get it to fault just like it did before I brought it to the shop.

That's what I get for depending on the pros :-/

So, I'm going to see if I can find the problem myself, but I need to take it slow. It's the only speed I have at my advanced state of decay. :) Besides, hauling a 250-pound genset back and forth to a shop ain't a casual job for me anymore.

I'll report on what I find later. Thanks for the interest!
 
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