Automotive and freedom blogger Eric Peters recently considered the problem of keeping the lights on when the lights go off. At EPautos.com, he wrote, “Having a generator for back-up power is great – unless you don’t have the fuel to run the generator. The irony of the portable back-up generator – most of them, at least – is that they run on gas. And what’s the item that’s usually hard to get when the power’s down? Gas.” More from his post, “Don’t Depend on Just Gas…,” used with permission: About two weeks ago, a violent storm line called a derecho passed through our area; thousands of people lost power – not for a few hours, but in some cases, for a week or more. The lines queued up real fast at local gas stations – the ones with still-operable pumps, anyhow. You could not even buy a portable five gallon (or 1 gallon) gas jug at any Lowes or Home Depot in the area.
Many people had generators. But sometimes, they couldn’t get gas for them. Which meant they might as well not have had the generator, for all the good it did them.
And this was just a relatively minor (and known-to-be-temporary) situation. Imagine a more serious – and longer-term – SHTF-type of scenario. Just when you need gas the most – so will everyone else.
Which means you probably won’t get any gas.
No Gas = No Power
Well, you could store up some gas. I’ve done that myself. One problem with that idea is that gas—especially ethanol-adulterated “gas,” which is in fact 10 percent alcohol—does not store well, even with fuel stabilizer added and even if you keep the stuff in a sealed container kept in a dark and fairly cool place. Three months or so at the outside is the longest you probably want to leave gas just sitting around. After that, you risk bad gas—and a gummed-up carburetor in your generator. Which means it might not run.
Which means—once again—you won’t have power.
That’s why I converted our generator to operate on multiple fuels—gasoline, propane and natural gas. This has several advantages, functionally as well as practically speaking.
The obvious one is I am not entirely dependent on gasoline for back-up power. If the juice goes out for a couple of days, or longer, I don’t have to worry about queuing up with everyone else down at the gas station, and hope the gas station’s open.
I keep about 100 pounds of propane in storage, enough to operate the essentials (most especially the well pump, so we have drinking water) for weeks. A month or two, if need be, if I limit the time the generator runs to a couple of hours per day.
If your home already has a large propane tank—or even better, a natural gas hook-up—you could run a generator almost indefinitely. Or at least, for a long time. Long enough, probably, to make it through all but complete SHTF-type scenarios.
This is peace of mind gasoline cannot provide…
There are no downsides, and lots of upsides, to multi-fuel operation. So, I went ahead and got a multi-fuel kit – from U.S. Carburetion for about $180. The kit included all the components needed to convert my 8,000 watt portable generator to multi-fuel operation. They probably have a kit available for whatever you have, too.
I just finished doing the install – and thought I’d share the experience.