Most preppers think of solar panels and wind generators when they talk about emergency power or off-grid power. Gas-powered generators are often dismissed as something only “amateurs would use”.
Even so, emergency management professionals still need generators to power their police stations, emergency operations centers, and stores.
The main problem with fuel-powered generators is that they require fuel to run. This fuel won’t be readily available in a long-term survival situation. What about short-term survival? Wouldn’t that be useful?
Let’s face it, few people have enough solar panels for more than their cell phones. And that includes keeping the fridge in operation. It would be nice to have our fridge working instead of letting all the expensive meat spoil.
A generator is not necessary unless you have a lot of solar panel roofs. They aren’t very expensive so they can be a great addition to your prepping inventory.
Is that all? Is it enough to just buy a generator? It’s not. There are some things you can do to ensure that your generator is ready to use when you need it.
Make a plan
Before you buy a generator, plan how you will use it.
Also, which are your most important electric devices? Once you have decided this, you will need to determine how much power those critical electric devices consume.
Finally, you will be able to determine where the generator should be placed to maximize its benefits and how the generator’s power will be distributed to various devices that require it.
Without a sufficient supply of gasoline, a portable generator will not be able to work. This can prove problematic, however, because gasoline doesn’t last for long. Six months is the limit without additives, and additives can only increase the shelf life by six months.
Rotating your gas stock is the obvious solution. This follows a first in, first out (FIFO) plan. To burn the gasoline, you can pour it into one your cars. Fill the container with gasoline again, ensuring you have enough.
If you plan to do this, I recommend you avoid using plastic gas cans to store your stock. Gas cans contract and expand depending on the temperature. These cans can leak.
It is better to use metal drums, as they can be damaged by expansion or contraction but won’t start leaking. You can also buy a 55-gallon used steel drum and place it on a stand so it is on its side.
Place a non-sparking plug in the small hole. The large bung hole can be used to fill the drum. The gasoline can be used by adding some gas each month to the drum and then refilling it with new gas.
Protect the Generator against EMP
EMP is one of the main reasons why we are concerned about our ability to generate electricity. It is important to protect the generator against EMP. This will ensure that the generator is able to continue functioning even after an EMP attack.
There are two ways to do this. Both versions of the Faraday Cage idea can be used. First, store the generator inside a metal shed. The generator will be protected from EMP damage by the metal shed, which is basically a Faraday Cage.
Make sure the generator is not touching the shed’s metal and that they have a layer of nonconductive insulation between them.
Even if you don’t own a metal shed, you will still need a Faraday Cage to store your generator.
Either you can go to the effort of making something that works, or you can just buy EMP-proof cloth.
They are using this material to make EMP-proof pouches for mobile phones and other electronic devices. You can also buy the fabric by the yard to cover your generator.
Extension cords for sale
If the electricity isn’t getting to you, then a generator won’t do any good.
However, most people don’t have the necessary heavy-duty extension cords or splitters to accomplish this task.
Either we will have to move them from their current location to the generator’s new location or we will have to place the generator in an incorrect spot so that it can be used.
Extension cords can be expensive. I understand that. But good extension cords will last you a lifetime. It is easy to start an electric fire by buying cheap extension cords and joining them together to cover a large distance.
It is better to invest in quality cords of heavy gauge than to take this risk.
Install a Generator Interlock
A generator interlock can be installed at your breaker box to make it easier to get the electricity to your appliances. This interlock and circuit breaker allows you to plug the generator into your house’s wiring. The existing wiring will then distribute the electricity.
The interlock will also disconnect your home’s wiring to the grid. This ensures that the electricity generated by your generator doesn’t get lost in the grid.
A generator interlock is much cheaper than installing a whole-house switch. If you aren’t comfortable working in your breaker box, an electrician would still be a good choice.
Replace the Muffler
You’ll face other problems than running out of gas when you need to use the generator.
All your neighbors will know it is there as soon as you turn it on. It’s impossible to prevent this, but it is possible to reduce the number of neighbors who hear it.
Generators’ mufflers don’t really do much to reduce their noise. They can do some, but not enough.
A small muffler can be added to improve the sound quality.
Attach an elbow to the output port of your existing muffler to make it act as the mounting adapter. Attach the new muffler to this elbow, or through a piece of tailpipe.
Although it won’t make the generator go completely silent, it will reduce its noise. It will still be heard by your neighbors, but it won’t be heard by the guy living one block away. It will make a big difference.
You can make a difference by creating a fenced-in space in your backyard where the generator can sit when it is in use. The fence will absorb any sound generated by the generator and reflect it upwards.
You can reduce the generator’s acoustic signature by using the muffler and this combination will hopefully make it invisible to your nearest neighbors.
Make a secure generator area
You might want to make sure it is secure while you are building the fenced-in area. This could be as simple as putting a lock on the area so that no one can get in.
However, I believe I would go one step further and create a concrete pillar that is buried in the ground.
Install a large U bolt at the top of the concrete while it is still wet. This will make it easier to steal the generator by providing a strong anchor to attach it to.