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Heating with wood...but

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Sandhill Crane, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Sandhill Crane

    Sandhill Crane AS Member

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    But...
    Our kids live on the urban, large city edge. Two cars, two jobs, two young kids, etc., and a natural gas fireplace.
    Their power went out.
    Prediction was five days. It was out for two. A rather crazy, worrisome, long two days of shuffling work, kids, and trying to come up with a workable solution. House temp dropped to 48º, outside temps 12-16º and strong winds. 157,000 customers without power.
    We borrowed a 5k generator and lined up an electrician late yesterday, all family ties scattered over fifty miles of poor driving conditions. Power came on before we got the generator to the house.
    I would never have been on board borrowing a generator without an electrician to hook it up.
    I know enough to know, you do not want to backfeed the grid as is all too commonly done.
    One local box store ordered thirty six generators. They said twelve were sold (at $800. each) before they were delivered to the store.
    We of course have wood heat and enough firewood, but no back up plan for electrical, and therefor no well water. We could melt snow and still use the plumbing, but no drinking water beyond the bladder tank pressure or hot water tank drain spicket.
    We have natural gas available at the road (350' away) but never hooked up, as we use a ground source heat pump that predated natural gas here. The heat pumps water is supplied by the wells pump.

    So what electric supply provisions have you made for yourselves to supplement wood burning heat?
     
  2. 4seasons

    4seasons ArboristSite Guru

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    I am surprised that the natural gas fireplace let it get to 48°. My parents house has propane logs in the living room and can keep it pretty warm except for the back bedrooms when the power is out.
     
  3. farmer steve

    farmer steve outstanding in my field, 5150

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    I have a generator that I can hook up to run the well and furnace as well as the fridge and microwave. I have all those circuits tied into a separate breaker box that is separate from the main box so I don't get backfeed to the grid. I cut the furnace and well wires and put plugs inline so all I have to do is unplug them from the main breaker box and plug them into my generator circuit box. I did have help from my neighbor electrician.
     
  4. MontanaResident

    MontanaResident Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I am all wood heat, but a small heater in the bedroom. For water I have a creek across the street, that I can draw from. Years ago I did have a transfer switch installed, so I can hook up the genny, and have done it a few times. In the 7 years I have been here the longest outage was 6 hours. An inconvenience, but minor compared to what you went thru. I can do without for a good spell, but the only real concern is the freezer, hence the genny, and I don't even need the transfer switch for that.
     
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  5. Duce

    Duce Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I use a Yamaha 6600watt generator to power everything except water heater (owb covers that), electric range, dryer. Takes care of lights, water pump, tvs, frig, freezer, owb, air handler, etc. Neighbor has a 10,000watt Honda, very nice. We have been just short of 5 days without electrical service. Squirrel farts and we lose power.
     
  6. Duce

    Duce Addicted to ArboristSite

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    When purchasing a generator need to look at surge watts, run watts, brush or brush-less stator and hp. Not all generator are created equal.
     
  7. NSMaple1

    NSMaple1 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have a 3000w inverter generator. Run extension cords as needed. You don't necessarily need an electrician if you only want to get by in infrequent outages, and you don't need to power your whole house. Key things to assess are exactly how much juice do you need to get by, and how much fuel will your generator need to do that for how long. Most people waste a lot of fuel running a gennie.
     
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  8. 4seasons

    4seasons ArboristSite Guru

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    I used to work for 2 different companiescompanies, one sold Generac generators and the other installed and serviced them. They can be set up to power the entire house or just certain circuits and can be ran on either propane or natural gas. It may be the simplest solution although it can also be expensive. Any generator can be used to do this but a dedicated standby generator can do it automatically rather than you having to start the generator and throw switches.
    You are right about breastfeeding power concerns although by throwing the main breaker in your house, generator power can't get out of the house. We did this back in 1998 but the power was back on for 2 days before we knew it.
     
  9. greenskeeper

    greenskeeper ArboristSite Operative

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    I've got a detached garage with 100amp sub panel. I have a 50 amp inlet on the wall that I plug the generator into after throwing the main breaker on the house panel. The generator stays inside the locked detached garage (no theft) and the garage quiets the noise while running. Sending 240 back to the main panel of the house I can power anything I'd like.

    Ideally I should have a transfer switch but this setup has worked fine for 11+ years.
     
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  10. Streblerm

    Streblerm Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have it pretty good in the burbs. I have city water so no problems there unless something MAJOR went down. The water heater is gas with a pilot light and the stove is gas. Power is pretty reliable around me but I do have a little 2smoker 1000w generator that I could use to power the fridge on and off. I’ve never had to use it. The woodstove needs no power and will heat the whole house more than enough to keep the pipes from freezing and the house somewhere between livable and comfortable depending on your proximity to it. The phone and internet is on a battery backup so that works for quite a while.

    Pretty much the only thing that really bothers me about losing power is when it comes back on in the middle of the night and it wakes me up. In my situation doing much more to prepare for loss of power wold verge on doomsday prepping.
     
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  11. bowtechmadman

    bowtechmadman Addicted to ArboristSite

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    9kw Generac running on propane that kicks in automatically. I appreciate the peace of mind, if we are away nothing is freezing and/or spoiling b/c we couldn't flip the switch etc...
     
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  12. sb47

    sb47 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    The question is it important enough to you to be able to survive off grid.
    I have 2 generators with 2/ 100 gallon fuel tanks plus I have a wood stove/heater that I can stay worm and cook on.
    I keep plenty of dry wood ready. I have enough squirrels running around the yard and chickens so I don't go hungry.
    Plus I have a nice BBQ pit to cook on as well.
    If I could change one thing is I would go diesel on the generator so I could store fuel longer.
    Back when I set everything up gas didn't have ethanol in it so it would store longer.
    I also have a power back up supply for my PC/TV so if the power cuts out, I have time to safely shut down or switch to gen, power.
    I also put in an 8 camera security system that can run on battery back up for up to a week recording 24/7 that I can access from the internet. I also switched to all LED lighting that saves big on energy cost and saves gen power usage when I'm on gen power.
    It's called prepping. I like being able to not depend on grid power to survive. I'm not set up for long term off grid survival but I can run independently for awhile.
     
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  13. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    I have a spring on my property that runs nine months a year. I have two generators. One is a portable 6,000 watt welder. With a couple of batteries not many problems arise. I can still run my laptop with out much interruption. In forty years have only had wood heat. Like to keep the house at 68 to 70. When I am running low on wood that means I am down to 10 cords. Once in a while power is out for three to four weeks. I keep plenty of ice on hand for those times. Some times gasoline can be scarce. Thanks
     
  14. Marley5

    Marley5 ArboristSite Operative

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    I live in the mountains 1/2 mile off state maintained so it's important to be prepared for power outages.....I am.
     
  15. CentaurG2

    CentaurG2 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Gen panel and a honda eu6500 will power all of the house except the dryer and the stove. Back up is a honda eu2000 suitcase. A 10k Iwatani butane stove is used for cooking inside with a breville smart oven. Propane gas grill and BGE for outside. A Berkey water purifier and several Pure Water distillers if things get ugly with H20. Have more coleman, petromax, alcohol, paraffin lamps, burners and stoves than I can shake a stick at. Last resort is the old pot belly in the shop with 100+ cords and 200+lbs of stove coal.

    Wood/fireplace aside, without electricity, inside heat is a big problem without proper ventilation. The only things I know that can sort of do the job are the “Buddy Heater”( 8KBTU) or a good old kerosun (23KBTU). Some states do not allow either and I would keep a window open with battery CO monitor if I was using either one.

    On generators, if you are in the market, take a good long look at the Honda EU series. Pricey but worth every dime in both quiet and fuel consumption.
     
  16. sb47

    sb47 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have 2 eu3000i's. One I have had for 10 years or more. Both have ran flawlessly. I run each once a month to keep them ready to go. There supper quiet to. No one wants to listen to a noisy gen running all the time.
     
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  17. Bobby Kirbos

    Bobby Kirbos Scrounger of Cellulose Based BTUs

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    5500 watt generator that runs on gasoline or propane (reduce power output capacity by 10% when on propane). It's wired into the main panel (200A Square D, QO) with a mechanical lockout so I can't have the generator breaker and the main breaker closed at the same time. It will run the essentials - boiler (DHW and heat if we have no wood to burn), refrigerator, lights, coffee pot, hair dryer, small burner on the stove. In the summer, it can run 2 small window shaker A/C units.

    The trick is to have your 120v loads broken out as evenly as possible across the 2 phases. The A-B lables in my panel let me know what breakers are on what phase so I can load accordingly. Example, if the wife wants to run the hair dryer while the refrigerator is running (plugged into the A phase), I will tell her to plug into an outlet on the B phase.
    1549761576011-2122579125.jpg

    1549761657829692334706.jpg
     
  18. rancher2

    rancher2 ArboristSite Guru

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    When we lived on one of our other farm years ago we were on the end of the line for that power company and we were out of power a lot winter and summer. We had wood stoves over there and had a PTO gen. Later they put a new line in our area and we were hardly ever out of power then. On this farm the power that feeds this area is under ground and very rarely do we lose power. I do have a disconnect at the pole and a 10,ooo Watt gen in the shed if needed. I need power to make my wood heat work with the Garn.
     
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  19. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Don't really "need" power at my house.

    Can drag the freezer outside worse case, or put the food out in the shed. The fridge... meh, don't keep that much in there anyhow.

    Keep a few cases of water in the pantry. Can drain the 50 gal water heater to flush the shitter.

    Has lanterns and flashlights.

    Cook on the gas stove or use the grill.

    The earthquake we had a few months ago had people freezing. It was pretty much life as normal at my house.
     
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  20. James Miller

    James Miller Addicted to ArboristSite

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    We have solar with multiple large cell tower batteries as back up to run the essentials if the power goes out. For water theres a spring close enough to walk to that you can drink right out of if we can't run the well pump. Wood stove can keep the house at 68 without working to hard and we can close of non essential parts of the house if we have to. Also have solar hot water which is at least warm even in the winter if the water heater isn't working.
     
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