Generators

by Rhode

We just experienced our second power failure this summer. In 9 years in RI, we’ve lost power 2 times before this summer. This trend makes me think about generators.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to buy a whole house generator. Is it worth the cost? Could we get away with a generator to run the refrigerator, a lamp, a charger, and maybe a space heater?

Do you have a generator? What type? How large? What appliances or electronics do you run on your generator?

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104 thoughts on “Generators

  1. We used to lose power a lot so we looked in to getting a whole house (or even just a partial) generator. It was going to be crazy expensive, so we never did it and our power lines were eventually buried. Based on our research at the time, we were going to avoid Generac brand. I think we were considering a Kohler one.

  2. We lose power several times a year. If it is from a hurricane or derecho this can last two to four days. Our nieghbors got a whole house generator with an automatic transfer switch but it cost them about $8k to install. Power outages are annyoying, but not $8k annoying. We bought a gas generator (I believe 5500 watts) and had our electriction install an interlock switch with a plug on the outside of the house. Total cost of about $1,200 (and we have to remember to have gas on hand). The downside is if the power goes out, our generator doesn’t automatically go on (obviously) and we aren’t going out in the rain to hook it up. The upside, if we move, we take the generator with us. Once the storm ends, we will be able to run most things in our house with some thought to managing the load on the generator. Full disclosure-we haven’t had an outage since this has been installed, so I don’t have a report on how well it will all work in real life.

  3. DH can barely stand to have an extra propane tank in the garage. I doubt he’d ever agree to having that much gasoline out there too. (And no, we’ve never had a gas lawn mower. We’ve had small lawn and a manual push mower.)

  4. Oh Milo, where are you?

    We are lucky: we seem to be connected to some substation that must have a critical load on it, because it almost never goes out, and when it does, it comes back within a few hours (knock on wood) — we have had times when the entire neighborhood was out, except for our block. So a generator it’s in the category of “annoyance” vs. “reasonable need” for us; every time the power goes out, DH grumbles about getting one for a day or two, but each time the power comes on fairly quickly and he remembers why he didn’t pull the trigger last time ($$$$), and the issue goes away again.

    @Rhode: what about your hot water heater? One of my friends’ power was out for over a week after a big storm last year, and they had to go to the gym to shower — something I had never considered.

  5. We did the same set up as Nap.

    The circuit breaker panel is in the garage. Next to the panel is an outlet for a 220V plug that connects to the 7500 watt generator you’ve just wheeled out into the driveway. There’s a metal plate that the electrician cut and installed so that you can’t shut (connect) the generator breaker unless you’ve slid the plate out of the way. You can’t slide the plate away from the generator switch until the main (grid) power breaker is opened–idiot-proof.

    The 7500 watts is pretty good. Fridge, well pump, septic pump, cable modem/router, and we’re all set. In the winter, it can run the air handler for natural gas heat, and I probably wouldn’t bother with the upstairs heat pump. In the summer, it can run one of the two air conditioning units.

    Generator from a Mom-and-Pop equipment store, plus electrician’s wiring and switch set-up, was all done for about $1,200 total. It’s a nice compromise between freezing pipes in the dark and $8k for whole-house, automatic transfer, no interruption to dancing (recent commercial).

  6. It’s been several years since we had any power outage at all, and that was a few hours. The last extended one was about 12-13 years ago, and that was a day or so. So we haven’t seen the need for a generator.

  7. Prior to Sandy, we only lost power for an hour or two and that was not often. Sandy shut our whole area down for 8 days (12-13 poles came down in a row). Fortunately, we were able to move in with our daughter. Since then my husband has thought about getting a generator – would prefer a whole house, automatic transfer but can’t justify the cost. We will probably invest in a 5000 – 7500 watt range.

  8. Power outages are usually short-lived and generally more annoying than life threatening. Our winters aren’t that cold, so inside with warm clothing and sleeping bags that are rated to freezing we would be warm enough. Summer would be worse, and that is when we have had a few brown outs. We have a small propane stove for camping (with small bottles on hand) and a larger grill in the back yard, as well as supplies for charcoal cooking. We can eat and get some warm water, but no hot shower.

    One benefit of YMCA membership is multiple locations and generally warm showers and hot tub. I have showered at the gym when water heater went out and during one power outage due to work demands. Generally, it is not an issue.

  9. The Nap/Milo $1200 portable generator solution sounds appealing, although I sense that around here it would cost closer to $2500. It sounds relatively simple. From what I remember, gas goes “stale” so we’d have to buy a new supply periodically.

    Our street has lots of trees, and it seems every year we have at least one outage. 24 hours is not bad, but the longer ones are a PITA, with wasted fridge food. That’s really the main thing, fridge and a few lights plus enough power for our router.

  10. We don’t lose hot water in an outage, or water in general as some do. At least not so far.

  11. Do you have a generator? No.

    Sometimes I wish we did, but the fact is the power outages we’ve had have generally been short (exceptions: big ice storm in March 1991, power out 4 days; similar event in 2003, 2 days; and when the total northeast grid blew in summer 2003 and my in-laws were visiting and without power his anti-sleep-apnea device couldn’t work, and also, no a/c and it was hot) For the two longer ones I mention, we really kind of moved into the family room, used our fireplace as the heat source, camping there. We have a gas cooktop, so we could still cook pretty much everything, and since it was still winter weather, nothing spoiled, beer stayed cold, too.

  12. Whatever generator one gets in our colder climate has to run the electric aspects of the heating and hot water systems in winter, but also the basement pump in storms since 8 hour power outages with flooding year round are probably more common and do more damage in suburban locations. In more remote locations an auto cut over full house generator is more common to cover heat hot water fridge and the well in case of being snowed in, and pets that can’t be easily relocated

  13. “$1200 portable generator solution sounds appealing, although I sense that around here it would cost closer to $2500”

    The electrician’s services will cost more in your area, but there’s no reason that the generator needs to.

    http://www.costco.com/Champion-7000-Running–9000-Peak-Watts-Generator-Remote-Electric-Start-Generator-(CARB-50-State-compliant).product.100212753.html

    So the $1200 might become $1500, but not $2500.

    Although, thinking about it some more, I’m guessing your breaker panel (if you have a breaker panel, and not a fuse box) is probably in the basement and less accessible, so that could complicate things.

    The even simpler option is an even smaller generator, and you just run a couple of regular extension cords to your fridge, your cell charger, your modem and TV, a lamp or two, and maybe a space heater.

  14. While we have gas water heater, stove, dryer and heater, these all now have electronic starters rather than pilot lights in the name of safety. The 1940’s house I was renting the last time we had a longer outage had an old wall heater, water heater, and gas stove, with constantly burning pilot lights, so I was warm and could cook. Once the frig warmed up, the outside temp was sufficient for cooling. Our current stove you can light with match, but not the other appliances the location to light them is tucked away for our safety.

    We lose water more often than power – due to aging infrastructure and water pressure that is too high. At least twice a year we are water-less for 2-8 hours. Mostly that means eating out, using a laundromat and/or showering at the YMCA.

  15. LOL Rhett.

    Knock on wood, we are also in an area that doesn’t lose power frequently, so we wouldn’t think about a generator. My parents have one for their vacation home – it is a whole-house one and they have used it for ice storms in the winter (several-day outages are not uncommon) and thunderstorms in the summer.

  16. We’ve never had the need for a generator, except 2008-2009, we had crazy weather from Hurricane Ike and then an ice storm. I was off work a day for each event (which was unheard of). We had no power for a few days.

  17. Our standalone is a Honda EX-1000, rated for 1kW (in practice closer to 700W). It’s pretty old and doesn’t regulate the output voltage as precisely as modern generators. (It uses a tuning fork as a frequency indicator!) Honda succeeded it with the EU10000i at least 10 years ago, which is significantly quieter and uses power electronics for voltage regulation which is more suitable for driving modern electronic loads.

    The camper has an Onan 2.4kW generator that runs on propane (not gas) and is where the family will likely wind up for an extended power outage. We haven’t had one for ~12 years.

  18. “From what I remember, gas goes “stale” so we’d have to buy a new supply periodically.”

    Every few weeks, dump the contents of your gas can into your car, and refill.

    I can see where it would be easy to get out of the habit of doing this.

  19. We used to have power disruptions due to faulty power line. At that time the in laws were suggesting converting to a gas cooktop for cooking in case we lost power. We needed to revive a dormant gas line and change to a gas cooktop. In the meanwhile, the power company fixed the line and the need for a gas stove abated. We don’t have a generator because we haven’t faced a significant outage, otherwise I am sure DH would have installed a whole house generator.

  20. Hondas are expensive, but are well-known for being the quietest of the bunch.

    Mine is a Briggs and Stratton. Ensuring that the neighbors are aurally aware that you are well-prepared and comfortably powered is part of the fun.

  21. Rhett – the pressure is high enough it blows out the meter at the curb and water shoot up about 8 feet in the air. It also wears out some of your plumbing faster. The good news is there is more than adequate pressure at the fire hydrants should we ever need to use them.

  22. If we were going to do something about our power, a higher priority for us would be something like a whole house surge suppression system. We’ve not had a really extended outage since we moved here, but we’ve had stuff die during storms when there were outages.

    Since we have PV, if we were worried about this, we would look at adding battery backup rather than a generator. That might also have some surge suppression effect as well.

  23. “Ensuring that the neighbors are aurally aware that you are well-prepared and comfortably powered is part of the fun.”

    I have one annoying neighbor whose generator can be heard all up and down the block. :) And then he’s usually sitting on his front porch with a smug look on his face!

  24. CoC, the old generators are a lot louder than the new ones, according to Mr WCE. We bought ours to occasionally charge his deep-cycle battery and, in order to pay for it out of household funds instead of hobby funds, run the freezer/refrigerator during a power outage.

    Milo, I haven’t commented on the Duggars much because I don’t follow them and have never watched the show but I have strong emotional reactions to their troubles (and those of other very conservative, patriarchal family leaders.) Mr. WCE and I talked about the situation last week and he agrees that regardless of the choices Baby WCE makes regarding work/family, we want her to have divorce as a viable option. I have tried to help some conservative Christian women in situations where they have no good options due to previous choices so this is kind of a “thing” for me. Mr. WCE is well aware of it- during premarital counseling, the pastor who married us got the long explanation of why, growing up in a dying, working class town, I think divorce is less bad than some alternatives.

  25. We have the opposite problem, very low water pressure. We had to install a water pump so that our lawn irrigation system would work, and even then we have NO water inside while the lawn is being watered. That’s why our sprinkler is set up to run around 3 in the morning.

  26. We often lose power for 8-12 hours, maybe once a year for 24 hours, but rarely longer than that. We just deal with it. i always hear there’s a risk of fires or CO2 poisoning with generators, but none of you seem concerned, so is that not as much of a risk as it seems?

  27. We don’t have a generator, but I would love to have a generator. I hate power outages, but the outages that last longer than 24 hours are rare. We occasionally lose power in big storms during the summer, but then it will be back within 6 – 8 hours. The situation after Sandy and an ice storm in 2005 (3 days) were really annoying. I just go to my parents because they still Iive in apartments in NYC, and they haven’t lost power at the same time. I’ve definitely used the gym to shower when our power is out because our hot water heater also needs an electric start. We can use the water that is in there until it runs out, but then we have no hot water until the power is back.

  28. “CO2 poisoning with generators”

    Cue Finn.

    Benefits Lawyer – You just have to get them way out of the garage. And CO detectors in your house won’t hurt, either.*

    Fires might be from overloaded/underrated extension cords.

    *Buying CO detectors also helps your credit rating, iirc. Big Data watches that kind of thing.

  29. “the pressure is high enough it blows out the meter at the curb and water shoot up about 8 feet in the air. It also wears out some of your plumbing faster.”

    You might want to consider installing a pressure reducing valve. Something like this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Watts-3-4-in-Brass-FPT-x-FPT-Pressure-Reducing-Valve-3-4-LF25AUB-Z3/202922385

    They’re not very expensive, and besides saving your plumbing, I think the bigger benefit is reducing the hassle factor of having plumbing components fail.

  30. We watched a “Living Alaska” the other night, and a couple of the $2M properties were on their own islands, about 15-minute boat rides from town. One had no grid power, but it did have generator(s) and batteries. I think they were heating with wood, but the islands were only about an acre, so that’s going to need to be delivered. And then you still have dishwashing and laundry to think about.

    I guess they’d just schedule regular deliveries to their island of firewood, propane, and gasoline? I like peace and quiet and wilderness, but that might be a little too much for me. Overlook Hotel kind of feeling.

  31. OK, yeah, it’s CO poisoning, not carbon dioxide poisoning, that is a concern with generators, but that’s not a big concern if your generator is outdoors, e.g., Milo wheeling his portable onto his driveway.

  32. We don’t have a generator. In the 12 years that we’ve lived in our house, we’ve only had one power outage that lasted more than an hour or so (knock on wood). It lasted almost two days, and it was in the winter, but it wasn’t that bad. We have a gas fireplace that heated the house enough to keep the pipes (and us) from freezing. Our stove is gas, and we can light the burners with matches, so we had hot food and drinks. We have town water and sewer, so we continued to have running water (albeit cold).

    Our big home-comfort purchase this summer was a couple of Mitsubishi “Mr. Slim” ductless mini-split air conditioning units. They are nothing short of awesome.

  33. Finn – we have installed one between the street and the house, but we cannot control the city side of things. I was mainly pointing out that while most people think it is a positive to have high water pressure, there are some downsides.

  34. Finn – Not as regularly as I should. The problem is its location is behind about 17 bikes and strollers of various sizes. But when I clean out the garage, I’ll take it out and run it, and maybe load it with the Shop Vac as I’m cleaning the garage.

    The other problem is that it’s simply not expensive enough for me to baby it. But at one point, I drained the gasoline that was in there, and added new gas with fuel stabilizer.

    The key thing to do, as I understand it, is to turn it off not with the key, but by isolating the fuel supply. This sucks all the excess fuel out of the carburetor before it shuts down.

  35. Milo, no PV on the island? If your propane and gasoline needs to be delivered by boat, I would think stretching out the times between deliveries with PV would be ideal.

    Around here, most people going off grid use PV and batteries. Generators are typically a backup. As PV costs have gone down, it’s made going off-grid more viable, as has increasing cell phone coverage.

  36. We bought a Honda stand-alone generator after Sandy. Haven’t had to use it yet. We never had a generator before but after Sandy a friend loaned us his after power had been restored to his neighborhood. It was enough for heat, hot water and minor electric power in the kitchen (lights but no stove and I’m not sure about the fridge). DH did the electrical work and our electrician friend checked to make sure everything was done safely. The downside was the unrelenting NOISE, not only from us but throughout the neighborhood. We turned our generator off at night, but during the day it sounded like everyone had an 18 wheeler idling outside their house. And it needed gas daily, which meant constant trips to the gas station (providing you could get gas).

    We spent the weekend at the beach visiting friends in an area that was in the news when it was hit very hard by Sandy. It’s a mixed bag right now – there are a lot of empty lots mixed in with new houses next to houses that are marked for demolition. Our friends tore down their old house and built a new one but they still don’t have a CO, in part due to problems with the builder.

  37. Finn – PV might be fine for Alaska in the summer. But for some reason, I’m thinking that the 20 minutes of daylight they get in the winter might not cut it for PV.

  38. Running solar?

    I realize that PV would be of minimal utility during Alaska winters, but during the summer I’m thinking it would save a lot of propane deliveries.

    I’d also guess that some people who are wealthy enough to own their own islands might also choose to not live there during winter, or parts of winter.

  39. Austin– yes, you’re right. I saw a show on HGTV not long ago in which they had to replace most of the plumbing in a house, with the damage being attributed to the pressure being too high.

    I believe they also installed a pressure reducing valve.

  40. Finn, I should have said “mandating solar” or “mandating renewable energy.” I’m thinking of the non-engineers I talk to who support
    Wind power (that doesn’t kill birds or affect views).
    Hydro power (that doesn’t affect fish or native American burial grounds).
    Green space laws (that don’t affect local housing prices).
    A carbon tax (that won’t affect the affordability of heat/AC/transportation for the working poor)

  41. We don’t have one. The whole house one would be like 10K – that’s a lot of nights at the Ritz! We don’t lose it often. It was a week with the Derecho. What we have is neighbors with generators! You can charge your phone over there and it brings people together. In fact one of my nicest memories is the derecho and we all brought our meat to one house and had BBQs and parties at the generator house each night when otherwise we would have all been in our own homes.

  42. Rhode, we have lost power for a week twice in the past few years (Sandy and a blizzard).

    During Sandy we had three kids under 4 in the house. No generator. No power for miles around. No hot water. No heat. We ate a lot of canned food and used up a lot of batteries. By the end we were stopping at the local shelter each day to charge our phones, and my husband showered there. We heated water on our grill for the kids to bathe.

    Then the blizzard, with only 2 of the kids at home. Same as above.

    After that we got a portable generator, which I don’t know how to work but my neighbor does :) I would strongly recommend against storing gasoline in your garage, because we had some for the snowblower that vaporized in the garage a few weeks ago and it was a minor crisis – had to get up in the middle of the night, figure out where it was coming from and empty and air out the garage. Not fun.

    The transfer switch for the generator cost $800 to install when I got a quote in 2014, so we haven’t done it. If we need to use it, I will probably plug in the freezer and see if I can figure out how to run the oil burner off it.

    Our generator was about $300, and I calculated our power needs using an online calculator based on the appliances I would want to run simultaneously.

  43. We have a generator because DH did some work with a small company that sold and serviced them, and he learned about what kind you need where. He isn’t home now, so I’ll ask him when he gets back!

  44. Ours is a backup generator to be used in case of an earthquake – it is enough to power the fridge and maybe a few lights for a few days. It is a Yamaha small portable generator, and cost around $1000.

    A real back up generator to power the house would be a lot bigger, and would have a transfer that senses when the power goes off and switches to generator power (as others have mentioned!).

  45. We have discussed getting ng a generator, but never did. With the last hurricane that Houston mentioned left them without power for two weeks, we had it back temporarily within 24 hours, and permanently within 36 hours, so I think we’ll continue to procrastinate.

    On Josh Duggar, I think it’s the same quality “rehab” as the counseling he got for molesting his sisters. And I agree with WCE; I would never allow my daughter to enter adulthood so utterly unprepared to take care of herself. I feel really terrible for his wife. Her world is up-ended and she has zero options.

  46. “she has zero options”

    MBT – Anna’s brother, who seems to have separated from the family flock, called Josh a “pig” on Facebook and told his sister that she and her four kids could live with him if she is willing to leave Josh. So she has one option, at least.

  47. I saw that Milo, not sure if it is a long-term option though
    his rehab will consist of prayer and the bible :/

  48. Hurray for her brother. I wonder if she will actually leave or if she is so brainwashed that she will stay with him no matter what.

  49. “his rehab will consist of prayer and the bible :/”

    True, but then again, what does any rehab consist of, really? Sitting around in a circle and crying about your problems to a shrink? Who’s to say that reading the Bible is any worse?

    He’s got four little kids at home, including a newborn. Any rehab–Christian or otherwise–would probably seem like a vacation.

  50. Cat – She’s staying, just like Hillary. The Duggars have been knocked off their pedestal, but they’ve still got money. The last time her parents were on the show, they were still living in a trailer.

  51. Thanks for the suggestions. My in-laws do the “plug and play” method. My FIL advised us to do the same just for ease. He also advised a 5-7kW system… which seems to match up to the online calculator. I’d rather have more wattage than I need just in case.

    Our generator will live in our shed because we have no garage. I imagine leaving one door of the shed open with the generator living in the doorway to protect it from the elements and vent the entire thing. That should reduce our CO risk and noise greatly. The only issue is the winter – we’d have to make better decisions on what lives in the shed and what doesn’t. It’s at capacity now.

    Or buy one of those plastic sheds for garbage bins. We can lean it or secure it to one side of the shed.

    We were looking at Generac, Briggs and Stratton, and Honda. But that was just looking at our price range and system requirements. I need to do better review research.

  52. Semi-related hijack: we have 2 central AC units (Carrier), one for downstairs and one for upstairs. The upstairs (approximately 1200 sf) has been warm for a few days so I had the AC service guy out today. He tried to “jump-start” (my words, not his) the unit but it would not keep going. He says we need a new compressor (approximately $2200) but, because the unit is from 2004, it makes more sense to get a new Carrier unit with a higher seer rating (between $3500-8000). We are staying in this house for the foreseeable future. Ugh. Any advice on pricing this? Wish this had happened 6 weeks from now so I could buy in February when I am sure the prices are better. I have never had to replace an AC unit before. We usually just move. :)

    On topic, no generator here although we lose power frequently. It is usually only for a few hours but it always stinks. I am clearly not of pioneer stock and I hate to be without mod cons for any period of time. My poverty stricken relatives did buy a generator after a particularly bad storm when they lost power for a week. Of course, no significant power outages in the 10 years since then. 5K misspent; another in a series of bad decisions.

  53. Georgia – Is that your state of residence? If so, I would guess that your upstairs unit is also your source of heat upstairs, so you still wouldn’t want to wait until February. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t think the season affects the prices all that significantly.

    We’re facing the same thing, but it’s been holding on well after the refrigerant recharge.

  54. Yes; we are in GA so we will need AC for another 2 months this year. According to the AC guy, our furnace is separate from the AC unit. Bummed that his proposed work around didn’t take care of it.

  55. We replaced 3 entire units this year, to the tune of $20,000. I don’t think there’s any good way around it, just part of home maintenance. One of them required all new duct work (beach), so that was $9k alone, the other 2 combined were $11k. UUUGGGGHHH.

  56. We are shopping for a shop office AC unit and plan to pay with the Citibank card and sign the purchase up for Citi Price Rewind. We’ve never used it before so we don’t know if it really works, but if it doesn’t, we’re not out anything.

  57. We were able to save money on 2 new AC units because we installed in them “off season” for my HVAC guy. It is always unpredictable, but late April/early May can be a quiet period for these guys in the northeast. The weather was in that sweet spot where no heat or a/c is required during any part of the day. He was willing to take a decent amount off his quote because they were sitting around the office. sort of like the airlines and empty seats.

    I thought it was nasty that you compared to Hillary to this poor girl. I kept an open mind and I introduced that show to my family because of your comments. I saw plenty on the show that I couldn’t relate to, but I learned a lot and I had respect for those kids. Hillary stayed for her own political ambition, and possibly for Chelsea. She had a million more options that would have included returning to legal work, speaking circuit etc. She went to some of the top schools in the country, and she could have walked away from her marriage at any time. She could have easily made millions just from speaking or writing a book even if she left Bill that week instead of going to MV.

    Yes, Anna could leave Josh, but she is so young, and she has so many kids. She would need to educate herself, and leave the only type of life she has ever known. I just don’t find this a comparable example.

  58. We live in flyover country, and have had no long terms power outages. Our sump pump has a battery back up that will carry the load if the power is out for a short time. On the Dugger front, she can move home and have the family care for the kids while she gets up to speed on a career. Josh will pay child support and possibly alimony during that period. That may not be her top choice, but, I would hate for women to think they had to stay with a dirt bag. Family and the law will support them in this situation.

  59. Lauren – Just having a little fun with the comparison when people are so eager to say in THIS case, “Oh, she definitely needs to leave him.”

  60. Milo, wouldn’t you want your daughter to leave a child molester as opposed to a cheater?

    It is funny that socially conservative and religious people point out to Hilary staying as a derogatory reference when their own principles often times encourage “forgiveness” and reconciliation under similar circumstances. Not to speak about deciding to vote against her mainly because of her decision to stay.

  61. Dell – I’d want her to leave both Bill and Josh.

    Forgiveness and reconciliation usually require some degree of confessing. Not perpetuating a lie and smearing the victims.

  62. I saw a fascinating interview with Hillary once, where ?Katie Couric? asked her point blank: why did you stay? And in what really seemed to be a genuine moment, she said it was because she truly believed it was a sin of weakness, rather than a sin of malice. She said she didn’t think she could forgive a sin of malice, (or maybe she said she couldn’t stay with a sin of malice) but a sin of weakness she at least understood and could come to a place of forgiveness. She also said she came at it from a place of prayer and no other place.

    It was interesting.

    And oh boy. We know 2 families where husband was on Ashley Madison. What on earth were these people thinking???

  63. Yes, because pretending it did not happen as in Josh Duggars case is so much better.

    Not talking about you Milo, but in general I have seen all Duggar followers being offended that this is being talked about at all.

  64. Well, the teenage thing was different, although we don’t really know enough of the details, imo. 14-year-olds do some crazy things, and I don’t think that should brand someone for life. Doing it REPEATEDLY, that’s a bit more concerning, but OK.

    I haven’t seen anyone defending him after the Ashley Madison thing came out.

    As an aside, I think the Ashley Madison thing being exposed is kind of sad. For those who have not chosen to live in the public eye, I still wish they had the chance to retain some privacy. Who knows what sort of arrangements couples have made with each other in order to make the best of a situation, and they don’t necessarily deserve to have all their neighbors learn about it.

  65. Anon, do you think the family friend was on AshleyMadison out of curiosity or due to interest in an affair? I admit (now) that I was slightly tempted to attempt a demographic analysis based on my experiences in com sci/com engr in the ’90’s. (No, I never visited the site.) I had no desire for an affair but I did wonder, “How many male computer geeks are there who think a beautiful, nubile woman is setting by her computer, waiting for him to have sex with her?”

  66. In this case, she absolutely does need to leave him. I am quite ok labeling a pedophile who went after his 5 year old sister along with others. If a woman wants to stay married to a man who cheats on her, her choice. But when that man is a pedophile and they have children together, she needs to leave. Full stop.

  67. Not that I’m advocating for Anna Dugger to do anything but I can’t help but think of the quote from Vera (the old woman) in the Delores Claiborne movie….

    Husbands die every day, Dolores. Why… one is probably dying right now while you’re sitting here weeping. They die… and leave their wives their money. I should know, shouldn’t I? Sometimes they’re driving home from their mistress’s apartment and their brakes suddenly fail. An accident, Dolores, can be an unhappy woman’s best friend.

    As far as Hillary goes – she opened a can of worms for some people with the I’m not Tammy Wynette “Standing by her Man” type of fool, which made some people think that she was insulting women who were not in her social class. Then she turned around an stood by a man who was doing all types of things, including sexual harrasement and potential assault.

  68. Most of us have at least one or two generators. Ours are often parked in our garage.

    “You can charge your phone ”

    In an emergency, you can use your car to do things like this.

    This could be supplemented with the use of solar panels to recharge or augment your car battery. Those could range from a ~$20 system that might be able to offset the drain of charging a phone, to panels that can produce hundreds of watts of electricity (often used on RVs).

    Using solar panels rather than buying generators could cost less, would not be limited by gasoline availability, and would not be as noisy.

    A while back, Costco had a system for about $300 that, IIRC, had one or two panels that were about 2′ x 4′, and could be plugged into a cigarette lighter. I’ve seen some people using that system, along with a car battery, to power laptops and monitors.

  69. Nope. But raping someone at 14 makes you a rapist forever. Homosexuality is not a crime, despite what the Duggars would have liked us to believe.

  70. I really feel for Anna Duggar, and I doubt she is getting much support from anywhere. Her own family is broke and seems to have the same attitude towards divorce as her in laws, who seem awfully eager to distance themselves from him now (not that I can blame them — if I were one of those new sons in law and had a cretin like Josh for a brother in law, I don’t think I would let him within a mile of my family). And even if she stays with him, it’s not as though he has an education or any skills, and his prospects for returning to his prior “career” as a professional moralizer are dubious at best.

    So yeah, I totally agree with WCE on the importance of getting an education and acquiring at least some basic marketable skills.

  71. his prospects for returning to his prior “career” as a professional moralizer are dubious at best.

    You win today’s Internet.

  72. So yeah, I totally agree with WCE on the importance of getting an education and acquiring at least some basic marketable skills.

    Was there ever really any major disagreement here on the Totebag that education and marketable skills are an excellent idea?

  73. Rhode, thanks for posting this. It got me thinking, especially since this is a very strong El Nino year and a record year for hurricanes and tropical storms (NWS is currently tracking 3 named systems near us), we need to be prepared.

    Our main requirement for electricity if we can’t get it from the grid is to keep the food in our refrigerator from spoiling, and available for consumption. The secondary requirement would be for charging phones and other mobile devices for communication and keeping updated (web surfing). We have camping equipment that we can use for cooking, and lots of LED flashlights, with which batteries last quite a while, and batteries.

    I think our cars can serve as our backup, so a key preparation for us is to keep our gas tanks from getting too low in the runup to a possible hurricane. I have a couple of inverters; I need to check their power ratings, as well as the power consumption of our fridge, but the idea is to connect and inverter to the car, and run an extension cord from the inverter to the fridge. Every so often we could start a car, connect the inverter and extension, and run the fridge.

    For the phones, I’m thinking of getting something like this http://www.homedepot.com/p/Coleman-6-Watt-12-Volt-Solar-Battery-Maintainer-58022/203241530 to charge the car batteries, allowing us to charge the phones off the car batteries while saving the gas in the tank to power the fridge.

    If we have an extended power outage but still have water (although without power, water service will eventually stop, since the BWS uses electric pumps), I’d run an extension cord from the car to the pump of our solar water heater so we’d have hot water available.

  74. Does anyone have a plan for heat during a long power outage? Other than hooking our oil burner up to the generator, which is going to require some luck and McGyver-like skills, I’m not sure what we could do.

    We have a fireplace but have never used it.

  75. “Does anyone have a plan for heat during a long power outage?”

    It’s not really the heat so much as the humidity and lack of breeze that Is most likely to be a problem for us in an extended outage.

    If I were on the continent, especially in an area that gets really cold, I’d be thinking about a propane heater that could be used with the propane tank I already have for our BBQ. but this is also where CO might be a concern, as would any heating via combustion.

    Maybe keep a stock of Hot Hands and Toasty Toes?

  76. How rich are Jim Bob and Michelle? Now that their show is cancelled, a big part of their anticipated income stream has evaporated. They still have a lot of minor children to support, plus maybe Josh and Anna’s kids, too. (I’ve never watched the show, so I have no sense of what Jim Bob did before the family went on TV.)

  77. Back when TLC did the first few specials, Jim Bob had made his living in used car sales and rental properties. He had stopped working years before the TLC deal, MMM-style, and gone into local politics as a hobby.

    Given what they made from TLC and their super-frugal habits, they will probably be fine.

    If Anna were my daughter, I would tell her to leave, but then my daughter would only have married Josh over my dead body :) (I liked Michelle on the early seasons but Josh made a show of his own ignorance and came off as a boor, which it turns out he was.)

  78. It’s not really the heat so much as the humidity and lack of breeze that Is most likely to be a problem for us in an extended outage.

    Lol. The totebag deadpan humor is in rare form tonight.

  79. Finn – Ha!

    I’ve lived here for 15 years & never had a power outage more than 10 minutes, and that has been quite infrequent. Less than yearly. I thought that was the norm. Maybe I should be more thankful for ComEd.

  80. Maybe not here on the Totebag, but could you pray that I’ll have tact this coming Sunday? :)

    @WCE – I’ll pray that you will have the courage to say the right thing. You go girl ! :-)

  81. For extended power outages in the winter, my friends/family have gone to stay in a hotel or with friends. I can’t remember if their pipes froze or not. If we were in an area that lost power more frequently I would be most worried about the same kind of ice storm multi-day power loss (and would also get a generator then).

  82. Sky – Oddly, not worried about the winter… I figure we’d camp out in the main part of the house with an electric heater (the auto-shut-off kind) to heat that room only. I’d just turn the faucets on to a trickle to keep the pipes from freezing. Or, since we have gas, figure out how to plug in our furnace. I don’t think I can light the pilot with a match (though who knows… should figure that out). Of course, my plan runs on the fact that we’ll have a generator! :)

    Finn, I like that solar idea. It would work around here in the summer, not in the winter. That would at least be useful for our short outages (like > 24 hours). I may pick up that an an inverter to at least run the fridge as a temporary solution. We had to use the generator budget to buy a dishwasher…

  83. “How rich are Jim Bob and Michelle?”

    They made a lot of money for 10 years as reality TV stars, authors, and public speakers. And he’s a shrewd businessman–they have all sorts of residential and commercial real estate holdings and little businesses here and there like tow trucks, used car lots, cell towers, public storage. I would be very surprised if their income-generating assets totaled less than $10M. So in terms of living expenses, they’re fine. They don’t have mortgage debt, they don’t have education expenses. Their only real expense is food, and food is cheap.

    However, the question is whether they can successfully transition back to the simple life of homemade dinners, Bible study, sing-alongs, and used clothes. They’ve had 10 years of fully funded national and international travel, Today Show appearances, etc. It’s got to be quite a letdown to have that dry up suddenly. And all of the minor children they still have at home have either no experience in or no recollection of the sort of homeward-focused simple life their parents been espousing, if not exactly living, all these years. They need to seriously readjust their expectations, and they need to do it yesterday. The MMM lifestyle is sustainable on $25k because they seldom venture from the house any farther than they can bike.

    The other major consideration is, as they get different daughters married off, they need to look at earning potential. Derick Dillard, the CPA, was a prize. It’s questionable whether 19-year-old Ben Seewald, whom Jim Bob brought in to work for the family’s various enterprises, was really being productive, or if he was a liability. They need their kids to be earners, and to marry earners rather than leeches.

  84. I suspect the fears of an imminent Duggar demise are grossly exaggerated. There is a huge market for stories of salvation and redemption, especially in the evangelical Christian community for whom that kind of story is a fundamental tenet of faith. Give it a year or two, and a lot of hours of prayer and reflection, and Josh will once again have practically unlimited earning potential as an inspirational speaker.

  85. I don’t know, LfB. That’s an interesting possibility. The problem is that Josh was the ONE Duggar who was never all that likable from the beginning.

    I agree that there is potential for the remainder of the clan, if they can lay low for a while and let the smoke clear. The paradox of the reality show format is that the story, which was growing kind of tired, is suddenly infinitely more fascinating now that they have lost the show.

  86. @Milo – I haven’t watched the show but followed it on here….won’t all of this open the door for any unmarried adult girls to do their own thing if they want (escape from their parents, or maybe they don’t want to…)

  87. Louise – It’s a mystery. You’re saying that before they may have wanted to fly the coop, but they were worried that doing so would hurt the show’s earning prospects, and now that consideration is moot.

    I don’t know. That’s why we need the show to keep tabs on things. :)

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