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Old 07-21-2006, 04:14 PM   #1
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Airstream Emergency Lodging

We had a pretty powerful storm (90 mph straight line winds) roll through the St. Louis metropolitan area two nights ago which rendered over 500,000 residences and businesses without electrical power. To make it worse part of northern St. Louis County had a boil order when one of the water plants lost both primary and backup power which allowed water pressure to drop below 20 psi, thus triggering the boil orders.

With about 1,800 linemen, many of which are private contractors and utility workers from other states, they whittled the outages down to about 320,000 as of this morning. Well another block buster storm came through today before lunch and last case I heard the outage numbers I was hearing were now up to 480,000 homes and businesses. So one step forward two steps back. They have called in the National Guard to go door to door in an attempt to get the elderly into cooling shelters. We've had some temps close to 100 for the last couple of days and it looks like it will probably be at least a week before everybody gets restored.

We are lucky and our home still has power, but we talked about what we would have done if were were in this pickle. My first thought would be to get the Airstream out to a local campground that had power and live there until power comes back.

Some thoughts came to mind, have you ever had to use your trailer for emergency lodging? What kind of issues did you have in doing this? How long did you have to stay? Finally was any of it reimbursable by insurance. Especially in situations were you may have been dealing with a lack of power situation but in a condition where it wasn't feasible to stay home.

Jack
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Old 07-21-2006, 05:09 PM   #2
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Jack,
I have used mine as emergency shelter a couple of times, usually in the winter during ice storms. I have a couple of batteries and can run a small generator to keep the battery topped up. FWIW we have a standby generator for our house...just haven't gotten off my keister and gotten hooked up yet As far as the insurance reimbursement, I have no clue. But my opinion of insurance companies puts them about one notch below politicians on the food chain For camping out after the fact...I have been in several campgrounds after severe storms and we were usually the first to lose power and the last to get it back on, usually because of the rural location. Also I suspect that insurance companies are not going to look on a loss of power as an emergency unless you have a verifiable medical conditon.

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Old 07-21-2006, 05:23 PM   #3
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Jack glad to hear you came through the strom alright. If I had to sure I would use mine for shelter, lets pray that never happens
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Old 07-21-2006, 05:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Jack,
For camping out after the fact...I have been in several campgrounds after severe storms and we were usually the first to lose power and the last to get it back on, usually because of the rural location.
Aaron
In this case the storm came down southward through Illinois and made a western turn into the metro area. An extremely unusual event since the prevailing weather always moves from west to east and the storm was originally predicted to head south eastward into Indiana.

In this case the campgrounds west of us received little if any of this storm and probably are ok. I agree with your assessment regarding rural being last to go back on line.

I worry more about the ice and winter power losses also and I'm seriously going to look into a portable generator that would have enough power to run the home gas furnace and the fridge and maybe a light or two. Maybe a Honda 2K could do this?

Jack
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jcanavera
I worry more about the ice and winter power losses also and I'm seriously going to look into a portable generator that would have enough power to run the home gas furnace and the fridge and maybe a light or two. Maybe a Honda 2K could do this?

Jack
Jack,
I would use a Generator Sizing Chart to get an idea. Fridges take a fair bit of current to get going. In the winter I just put the stuff in coolers on the back porch...kind of counter productive to run a fridge on generator when you are trying to keep the house warm. For emergency heat I use the Buddy Heaters I have rigged a milk crate with window box brackets on it so I can hang them on the window sill outside with the heater inside. Worked great the last time around.

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Old 07-21-2006, 06:14 PM   #6
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home back up

Jack,
We run our fridge, computer and assorted lights from our pair of Honda EU 2000's.
I already had a service disconnect to take our house off the grid. So when we loose power I switch the main disconect off, plug in our Hondas and just wait till the power comes back on in the neighborhood.
We don't have any 220 appliances. With the 2000s you only have 110 so only one half of your fuse box has power. I do swith all the 220 breakers off before I connect to generator power. So far we have used our home back up power twice and really love having computer, fridge and assorted lights.
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:42 PM   #7
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Jack,

I had the same thoughts. Our power was out for about 4 hours today. I am not my ususal pleasent self when I get too hot. Since we keep the trailer in storage near Carlyle, I was going to drive out there to see if any sites were available and then go get the trailer.

I was talking with Terri (wife) at breakfast about how lucky we were with the storm missing us 2 days ago and how we need to get a generator (or 2).
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:43 PM   #8
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standby power

jack etal.

since i work for a midwest utility as a lineman i can speak on this with some authority.

if you cannot survive a week without lights for health or business survival consider getting a pad mounted natural gas fired gen set.

utilities are still continuing to downsize available staff.

here is an example, they sell them at home depot.

http://www.onan.com/onan/homestandby...rdid=prod60008

and if you choose to not go this route please make sure you have a transfer switch installed so you don't kill any linemen!

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Old 07-21-2006, 06:53 PM   #9
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John,
That is the basic system we have, but LP powered. Ours is a 25kw unit that we picked up on a bankruptcy/equipment sale along with a bunch of other stuff. Just have never gotten around to gettting it installed. Also plan on a 500gal in ground LP tank too...and the list goes on forever...

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Old 07-22-2006, 12:46 AM   #10
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Red face 2 Honda's can run the minimum?? Yes?

Aaron, John HD -

Thanks for the proverbial 'kick in the pants' I (and we?) often need to do that which is really, in the end effect what is best for us.

I too have often thought that having back-up power really could be critical when stuff get crazy...! Seems more and more likely these days....! Of course, what have I DONE about it. Zip.

So, Aaron - what was that auction cost for the 25K genset, if I may ask? That could run your entire house/ operation right? For how long? fuel use ie length of operation at full utilization?

JohnHD - Could the 2 Honda 2000's be utilized for running the fridge/ freezer/ furnace blower (seperately of course) for a few days running in your opinion? Is there a better 'Dual Use' set up that you could envision? What set up do you have/ would you consider?

Thanks guys for that reawakening of that nether region I have been sitting on for TOO long - tonight and in general.

Carpe Diem! .... tomorrow

Axel
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Old 07-22-2006, 02:32 AM   #11
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axel

yes they would do that nicely, except for the 240volt loads... what you need to do is install a sub panel with all your critical circuits on it. example: furnace, well, minimal lights, fridge/freezer. then you install a transfer switch with a pig tail or inlet for your gen set.

for your house a 120 volt generator may work, but you may need a 240v rig.

when the lights go out you throw the transfer switch and plug in your genny and run the "critcal panel" with no backfeed to the utility system.

simple and safe.

john
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Old 07-22-2006, 07:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverToy

So, Aaron - what was that auction cost for the 25K genset, if I may ask? That could run your entire house/ operation right? For how long? fuel use ie length of operation at full utilization?

Axel
Axel,
I don't know if I could ever arrive at a price...it was part of a lot we bid on that included, among other things a flat bed trailer, concrete sewer pipe and a dump truck...we were going for the dump truck. IIRC the entire lot was about $12k. We sold the dump truck after we were done with it for $16k so I guess the generator was free It is similar to This Unit It will run the entire house with some caveats, like no electric clothes dryer, and only one AC unit at a time. I have no idea what the LP consumption is but we have about 750 gallons worth around here at any given time. So I don't think we would be in danger of running out in a hurry. We are actually looking at splitting the circuits on it to run the two houses we have on the property. Then again we may just hook it up to the bigger house. Descisions, decisons... Given the changes in the major weather patterns, the cut back of employees at the local electric coop, the increase in the number of customers...etc, a stand by generator is a good thing. Our line feeding the houses comes in over a 1/4 mile from the main road. The main road line is one of the first to get fixed due to several large poultry farms that are on it, however the line to the houses is considered a low priority line.

Aaron
Edit: if I were smart I would trade the LP one for a diesel powered one and run it on bio diesel...if and when I get THAT started
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Old 07-22-2006, 07:15 AM   #13
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We've been fortunate enough not to have a real emergency but have gone through power outages. It's really nice to have our AS here to run the fridge, stove, tv and lights and heat, when all is dark we go driveway camping. Having a generator and plenty of propane would be a good idea.

Did you all see Rich c.'s article in Airstream Life about AStreaming in emergency situations? He recommended water filtration, and long lasting flashlights. I know the water thing has been on my mental list for quite some time as is the "shake" flashlight and radio. Don't forget "security" for when the have nots locate you and decide they want to change their status.
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