When The Power Goes Down: Why We Chose A Portable Dual Fuel Generator

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

A power generator can help power your home in the event of an emergency electric outage. But we don’t rely on just one fuel option for emergencies. A dual fuel portable generator offers many benefits when the power goes out. We’ve researched it all for you – check it out.

Portable generator - dual fuel Westinghouse remote start emergency electric power. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)

Many times a power outage will only inconvenience you for a short time before power is restored.

But in some circumstances there may be a more widespread power outage. In those cases your electricity might be out much longer. Such things as:

      • Ice Storms

      • Tornado

      • Hurricane

      • Aging Power Grid Failure

A portable generator helps you be prepared for damaging storms. #TexasHomesteader

How To Survive Being Without Electric Power

RancherMan & I have suffered several instances over the years when our power was out for several days. And I’ve written about our experiences with unexpected power outages.

In those articles I share ways to stay warm when the power is out and also how to prepare in advance for an electric power outage emergency.

So I encourage you to read both of these important articles:

Be Prepared For Electric Outage Emergency

How To Stay Warm When The Power Goes Out

Why Buy A Portable Power Generator?

Due to the extreme conditions of those days-long power outages we decided to get a portable power generator to power our home in the event of emergency. The main reasons for us were:

* To keep freezer charged and food solidly frozen.

* Maintain the cold in our refrigerator to keep food at a safe temperature.

* Keep cell phones charged to stay in contact with family & emergency personnel.

* Lights during short winter days – it gets dark here at 5 pm in the winter, y’all!

* Run emergency propane heat on our furnace overnight. (We have a cast-iron fireplace for warmth too)

What Size Generator Will Power A House?

There are many variables to decide what size generator you’ll need to power your home.

Many organizations estimate between 5,000 & 7,000 watts will run many important things in your home on a temporary basis. 

Electric meter electricity power generator grid #TexasHomesteader

Consumer Reports has an article to help you determine what size power generator you may need based on your circumstances. (reference link at the bottom of this post)

But keep in mind you’ll want to run only necessities and even then, only as needed.

The more electrical items you run at one time the higher wattage will be required, the larger generator you’ll need and the more money you’ll pay.

What Are Different Kinds Of Power Generators?

  • Choosing The Right Generator

When looking for generators there were several different sizes & styles we considered for our home.

*Small Power Station– This is helpful for running only a few things such as a lamp, cell phone charger, etc. But it’s inexpensive and helpful for those short-term power outages.

*Rechargeable Battery Generator. Runs off of battery power, some are solar charged. They feature quiet operation but run time is shorter when running a heavy load. And it’s more expensive than other like-sized portable generator options.

*Gasoline Powered Generator – least expensive of this size generator, but in rural areas gas station locations may be few & far between (or understocked in an emergency).

*Large 12,000+ Watt Generators – would easily run everything in our home including a power-hungry central air conditioning unit. But for us the larger generator was cost prohibitive.

*Generac Automatic Full-Home Generator – The crown jewel of home power generators. It monitors your electricity & automatically turns itself on when it detects power outage, then off when your home’s power returns. Very hands-off and convenient, but expensive and requires more extensive professional installation.

NOTE: If you don’t already have it, you can totally *Try Amazon Prime For FREE for 30 days. Then place your order & get your free shipping, etc. Keep prime for 30 days FOR FREE & try it out – streaming movies, music, free shipping – the whole 9 yards! If you don’t want to continue you can cancel within 30 days and pay nothing for the Amazon Prime membership trial run. But you’ll probably want it anyway – we’ve gotten lots of use from our Amazon Prime by streaming videos & TV shows, streaming music, free next day shipping option on many items, etc.

What Portable Power Generator Did We Buy?

We opted for this *Westinghouse 7500/9500 Dual Fuel Generator. It was the perfect choice for us in our circumstances for several reasons:

Portable power generator for electric outage storm grid emergency #TexasHomesteader

Two Fuel Options

The duel fuel option on this Westinghouse generator allows us the option to use gasoline if we have it available. That is if we have notice or if nearby gas stations still have fuel in an emergency situation. But that’s not always the case.

With this dual fuel generator we also have the option to hook into a propane fuel source such as a typical gas grill propane bottle.

NOTE: A full 20-lb gas grill propane bottle such as you use for gas grills will typically run a generator at half load approximately 12 hours.

We can also use our home’s large 250 gallon propane tank.

250 gallon home propane tank to fuel dual-fuel portable generator. #TexasHomesteader

RancherMan purchased a *Propane Hose to hook into a propane line stub-out we had placed on an outside wall when we built our home.

That way we can fuel our portable generator using our home’s 250-gallon propane tank for much more supply & significantly longer run time.

Generator Portability

This Westinghouse generator is portable. And it moves around easily with large wheels and an extendable padded handle.

Bluetooth Remote Start

This model has a Bluetooth remote start. Which means in a power emergency (provided the generator is safely outside) RancherMan can stop and start the generator from inside the house as needed.

NOTE: Bluetooth technology is usually about 15 ft distance, plus or minus.

Push-Button Convenience

The Westinghouse model generator we bought has an electric push-button start. No recoil start is needed.

Westinghouse portable generator simple push button electric start. #TexasHomesteader

If you’ve ever pulled and pulled on that rope trying to get a lawn mower or chainsaw started, you know how big a plus this is! 

3 year warranty

RancherMan liked that there is a whopping 3 year warranty on the Westinghouse Duel Fuel power generator we bought. 

Optional Automatic Monitoring Switch

This is an optional purchase, but RancherMan’s considering an *Automatic Monitoring Switch which will automatically start the generator when a power outage is detected. It also will shut off automatically when power is restored.

This is a nice option if your generator has a permanent protected and ventilated space outdoors.

What Do I Need To Do Before Getting My Generator?

There are a few things you’ll need to do before using your new power generator. Don’t worry, they’re easy!

Special Generator Plug

You’ll first need to have a special *Generator Power Inlet plug installed for your generator. It will be wired to your electric breaker box.

Generator next to electric panel breaker box and generator plug next to propane bottle. #TexasHomesteader

This is not a difficult installation but it does involve caution as always when working around electricity.

So it’s best to have a licensed electrician install this plug.

Can’t I Just Backfeed My Generator Through My Dryer Plug?

No, you CANNOT back-feed a generator through your existing 220 volt dryer plug! It’s dangerous and may be against the law too.

And it’s forbidden by the U.S. National Electric Code. Safety is important y’all – don’t take dangerous shortcuts here!

Electric Panel Generator Interlock Switch

An electric panel *Generator Interlock Switch assures the power is OFF before operating your portable generator.

Generator safety - Panel Off power interlock switch for safe use of a portable power generator. #TexasHomesteader

This is important because if you don’t turn off the house electric main first, the generator will also backfeed into the utility power lines.

This can cause possible damage to yours or your neighbor’s homes as well as injury to utility workers who may be working on the lines, because the lines will be electrified!

RancherMan installed this simple switch himself. But you do have to remove the cover from the breaker box.

So if you’re uncomfortable in any way of working around electricity or don’t know the safe way to do so, always opt for a trained electrician to install. 

Proper Cords For A Portable Generator

It’s important to use the proper sized cords when running your portable generator. You’ll want to match the plug to your generator.

RancherMan bought a special *30-amp Generator Cord to go from our portable generator to the special generator plug installed at our electric panel. (but some might require a 50-amp cord. Be sure to check!)

Dangers When Using A Portable Generator

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Dangers

Carbon Monoxide is deadly! Never run a portable generator in the garage or any other enclosed space.

Run a generator only outside and as far away from your home as you can reasonably get. It’s important to keep a running generator completely away from doors & windows.

Generator safety graphic - Electrical Safety Foundation International #TexasHomesteader

Safety Graphic Courtesy Of Electrical Safety Foundation International

Running A Generator In The Rain

Water & electricity don’t mix. So if you must run your generator in the rain, make sure it’s covered to keep it dry.

There are special *Generator Protective Rain Covers that are a well worthwhile purchase.

Keep Generator On Level Ground

It’s important to run your generator on level ground. The gasoline in the fuel tank can be more thoroughly used if the tank is level.

Plus even a smooth-running generator will have a little vibration. So a running generator could vibrate enough to slip down a slope or turn over if it’s running on unlevel ground. 

Portable Power Generator Safety

All portable power generators have subtle differences. So before firing it up for the first time be sure to read the manual & familiarize yourself with all the features and functions.

Be prepared for emergencies before emergencies hit!

~TxH~

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Tagged in   All our Texas weather-related posts. #TexasHomesteader         A list of all our self-sufficiency posts. #TexasHomesteader

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REFERENCES

Consumer reports – How To Choose The Right-Size Generator 

Electrical Safety Foundation International – Generator Safety

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