Saturday, 29 July 2017

08:49 – It was 65.4F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0650, bright and sunny. The peak of summer has definitely passed here. Our highs have been and are to be in the 70’s F (low to mid-20’s C), with lows now dropping into the 50’s F (low teens C).

More kit stuff today. We’re getting perilously low on two or three of the kits, so we’ll be building subassemblies and finished kits today and for the rest of this week.

I’ve been exchanging email with Rebecca Ann Parrish, whose articles on The Prepper Journal I’ve recommended. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn she’s a scientist and a technical writer. I encouraged her to self-publish a book with her combined articles and other writings, but that’s not a project she’s ready to take on at the moment.


Email from a long-time reader, with a question I figured I’d throw open for discussion here:

Big fan of your blog – thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences. Makes me think, see if there is applicability in my plans, and research research research…

Anyway, I have been thinking of alternative sources of light for the house during emergencies. Have a small generator and small solar kit, but would like something else and thought of oil lamps. Which I have zero experience with even with growing up in central Florida and several hurricanes. Do you have any recommendations for oil? Or any “don’t do this” or “don’t buy this” experiences you would share? I am thinking of maybe six small lamps, couple of dozen wick replacements, and maybe 20-30 gallons of oil. With two teenagers and a wife that are jumpy in storms, having light has really helped in the past when electricity was out.

Again, really enjoy the blog and thank you for sharing!

We have two oil lamps, purchased probably 25 years ago from LL Bean, and a gallon of lamp oil. I think we also have a package of spare wicks for them. We haven’t used them in a long time, and perhaps never. I don’t remember ever lighting them.

For emergency lighting, we have several small AA Coleman LED lanterns for task lighting, a couple of larger D LED lanterns for area lighting, a bunch of LED flashlights, and two or three LED headlamps. And a bunch of alkaline and Eneloop NiMH cells to keep them going.

My issue with oil lamps, other than the fact that they don’t provide much light, is that it’s a really bad idea to use open flame lamps, particularly in an emergency. It’s certainly cheaper to store lamp oil than batteries, but for both safety and light level I think you’re better off focusing on LED lighting and some means to recharge NiMH cells to keep them going.

That said, I know many preppers who do exactly what you described. Some of them keep multiple 5-gallon jerry cans of lamp oil, and in a pinch you can burn fuel oil, diesel, or any kerosene in those lamps, at the expense of going through wicks a lot faster.

But I’ll be interested in hearing what my readers have to say about this.


09:13 – Oh, yeah, speaking of making up chemicals, for most of them it’s no big deal. It involves only careful weighing and measuring.

But there are some reagents I despise making up, and put off doing as long as possible. Working with concentrated acetic acid or hydrochloric acid, for example, is obnoxious because of the fumes.

But my least favorite is Kastle-Meyer reagent, which is a presumptive test for blood that’s included in our forensic kits. It has no odor. The issue is that it’s a solution of 2% phenolphthalein in 20% w/v potassium or sodium hydroxide solution, which needs to be refluxed (simmered) over metallic zinc for an hour or so to reduce the bright magenta phenolphthalein to colorless phenolphthalin (note “ein” versus “in”).

A 5-liter flask of boiling lye solution is a fearsome thing, so I avoid it as long as possible. A couple of weeks ago, I started to make up the KM reagent. I got as far as dissolving the hydroxide in water and adding the phenolphthalein powder.

Then I got to thinking. If it takes 30 to 60 minutes to reduce the phenolphthalein at boiling, what would happen if I just let it sit at room temperature for several days or more. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I just stoppered the flask and let it sit. Every couple of days, I look to see if it’s any less intense magenta than it had been. When I checked yesterday, the magenta had faded significantly. Now the solution is yellowish with a slight magenta tint.

So I think I’ll let it sit another day or three to see if it will reduce to colorless. If not, I’ll stick it on a hot plate and warm it up for a while. But this appears to be working, and lets me avoid having a large flask of concentrated lye solution boiling away. And that really is no joke. Boiling concentrated lye solution literally dissolves glass. I always worried when I was refluxing a batch that the flask would suddenly shatter, splashing boiling lye all over the place. This room temperature process really is a lot safer.

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62 Responses to Saturday, 29 July 2017

  1. Greg Norton says:

    About 12 years ago, when hurricanes regularly crossed the Florida peninsula during the active seasons in 2004/5, I had a recommendation for the Dietz Jupiter 2500 lantern. I never followed up on that, however, and, during storm outages, our lighting came from CFL camping lanterns, each using a set of 4 D cells over the course of a night.

    The LED lanterns now are even more efficient than the CFL lanterns we used.

    If your reader is concerned about a temporary event like a hurricane emergency and still lives in an urban area of Florida, camping lanterns and a mess of batteries will be easier to deal with for the week maximum that power and other logistics will be out in the aftermath of a typical storm. I watched the utility crew staging process at work in the parking lot of the McDonalds on Disney property during the last big storm in 2005, and, based on what I saw, the power companies place high priority on getting the AC systems humming again on the FL Peninsula.

  2. Ray Thompson says:

    My vote would be for LED flashlights or lanterns. For long term storage the lights that use CR-123 cells would be best as the cells have a very long shelf life and do not leak. A cheaper alternative is a LED light that uses AA or AAA cells. But swap out the alkaline cells for lithium cells for longer shelf life and no leaking.

    LED camping lanterns will light a very long time on D sized batteries. No open flame, no messing with fuel and the storage, no odor, instant light, no having to find (and store) matches. You have no emissions from LED as you would with oil lanterns. No soot or having to clean the glass.

    Also you can get a couple dozen cheap LED flashlights for the cost of an oil lantern, extra wicks, and the oil. Leave them stashed around the house so one is always available. But still have a quality, highly reliable light available in a known location.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Speaking of FLASHLIGHTS, I’ve been happy with the Anker LED models. They seem solidly built, and they’re much less expensive than the Surefire/Streamlight models (of which we have a couple).

    Actually my experience with Anker in general has been excellent. I have several of their other products, including a folding solar PV charger that’s rated to produce 14W in full sun, a couple of their lithium power packs that connect directly to the PV panel and have USB connectors to recharge USB devices, etc.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Barbara just read my post. Her only comment was that we did use the oil lamps once, and they smoked.

  5. Greg Norton says:

    Actually my experience with Anker in general has been excellent. I have several of their other products, including a folding solar PV charger that’s rated to produce 14W in full sun, a couple of their lithium power packs that connect directly to the PV panel and have USB connectors to recharge USB devices, etc.

    We use Anker USB charging stations, both at home and in my wife’s car for long trips. They just work.

    Sam’s had an Anker USB charging station in the stores around Christmas. They may still carry them, but I’ve noticed the stores thinning out inventory in that section as of late.

  6. MrAtoz says:

    I have a couple Wolfard oil “candles” for ambience. Like it doesn’t get hot in the desert here in Vegas. MrsAtoz wanted a couple for the big dining room table when guests come over. After reading up on oil lamps, the two importants things to know: quality smokeless oil and quality wicks. With those two items, I’ve never noticed a smell or soot. But they are open and definitely a fire hazard.

  7. nick flandrey says:

    I have oil lanterns for the same reason I have the material to build a rocket stove. I consider it just good defense in depth.

    First choice is LED lanterns, even the relatively cheap ones (Costco has a 3 pack, which includes the duracel batteries for about $17 and they are good for the money. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BovJZxYf1i0 They are in the store but not online.) My “best” lantern is a streamlight Siege and it’s awesome. My main use lantern during power outages, including 14 days for IKE was a full size one with a remote control, no longer sold at Costco. Costco also has the small flashlights on sale for the same price as the china ones, and they include batteries.

    https://www.costco.com/Duracell-LED-Flashlight-350-Lumens%2c-4-pack.product.100320474.html

    Secondary and outdoor use, I have coleman lanterns, with one and 2 mantles, in a variety of fuels.

    Tertiary use, I’ve got the oil lanterns. No particular recommendation, just yardsale or estate sale items. They have history of successful use indoors, as well as out. NOT oil LAMPS. Oil lamps typically are for stationary use indoors and have glass reservoirs and fragile glass chimneys. They are widely available at antique stores and estate sales. If you were going off grid, or Little House on the Prairie, you want some of them.

    Wicks are available at walmart and sporting goods stores in camping.

    Oil is widely available at estate sales. I’ve NEVER bought new oil. I buy the quart bottles for $1 at estate sales. Almost every sale I’ve been to has a bottle. I transferred the oil to old coleman fuel cans after the plastic bottles aged out and got brittle.

    I firmly believe in having multiple options for fuel both for lighting and for cooking and consider the oil lantern pretty far down the list. It’s one step above a wick floating in a cup of oil….

    Note that you can’t store the lanterns with fuel in them. At least here, the fuel will evaporate leaving you nothing.

    The light is dim, there is a bit of soot from the wick, no matter how you trim it, and there is heat and flame. But our ancestors used them for a long time….

    nick

  8. nick flandrey says:

    WRT weather, we are under a Heat Advisory. My driveway is 98F with 60%RH and feels like 112F.

    I’m including a link as there is a good summary of the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and some good advice.

    http://mailchi.mp/houstonoem/alerthouston-heat-advisory-issued-for-saturday-tips-for-staying-cool?e=e442cded9b

    The rest of ya’ll must be headed into fall — costco is listing jackets and flannel shirts on sale this month…

    If your community has an Office of Emergency Management, see if they offer alerts. Also get signed up for reverse 911. That is a way for them to push notification to your phone if there is an emergency in your area. It’s area based and an alternate to the Emergency Broadcast System (or whatever it’s called now) since fewer people listen to broadcast…

    nick

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    We SHOULD be under a heat advisory. Our current temperature is 71.6F, but the humidity is 68%. That makes the heat chill almost 74F!

  10. SteveF says:

    -gasp-! There’s only one way for you to survive: have Bowser fetch one of those big, black squirrels from out back. Hollow out its guts and crawl inside. If you’re lucky you’ll survive until the heat chill gets back up to 75 or so.

  11. nick flandrey says:

    Yeah, but! when it’s December, I’ll be getting veg from the garden….

    Speaking of, still getting nice cukes. Citrus still has green fruit (not eaten by possums). Personal sized watermelons now have 3 tennis ball or larger fruits, and a bunch of little ones started. Went from one to ‘a bunch’ in a couple days. Hopefully the possums leave them alone. Onions doing well in the ‘window boxes’ but the pole beans have all died but one. I think it’s just too hot for them. The bush beans never made it above 4″ tall. Grape vines are growing like mad. No sign of grapes though. I guess I’m gonna have to learn something and take a more active role in managing the grapevines. I was hoping for minimal effort, but I’d have expected some fruit to start by now. I’ll call this year a ‘grow the vines’ year. yeah, that’s what I’ll do….

    Sales this week yielded mostly personal and household items. I did get one single mantle lantern (mainly for the reflector/carry handle) and another loose single carry handle/reflector. The lantern was in bad shape, but I can steal the curved glass globe, handle, and other parts for one without a rusty tank. $5, can’t really go wrong. I also picked up some of the “great books” at another sale. I’ve been building out my library, and it’s awesome to get really nice boxed editions for $2. Most of the time sellers want $20/ea for the books in the sort of collections sold in magazines to people who want to fill out bookcases with “the classics.” Man I’d love to get a 30 vol matching set, but that isn’t happening. Instead I buy “collected works” volumes for a buck or two when I see them. It’s really rare that a seller just wants to get rid of the expensive “Collector” boxed volumes.

    n

  12. Dave Hardy says:

    Summer is technically not even at the halfway point yet; that will come around August 7th. And autumn doesn’t staht until roughly September 21st. We’re kinda still waiting for the “peak” of summer here; we’ve had a lot of rain and cool days since the spring and the lake level is up, along with all the rivers, streams and brooks. Everything is GREEN, with temps in the low 70s and high 50s at night. We’ll start seeing red leaves up in the hills pretty soon and any veggies we get in December will most likely come from the supermarket produce section or cans in the cellar. Plus the bags of spuds, carrots, turnips, onions and garlic I’ll have down there. Hopefully growing some of those ourselves next season.

    WRT the library here; it’s quite likely I won’t get around to everything in it that I’d intended originally and will have to start prioritizing for the time I have left on the planet. Meanwhile neither siblings nor kids will be interested in any of it after I croak so I’ll advise Mrs. OFD to simply donate it to local libraries or something. Which will probably trash most of it and/or put it out for sale on the cheap until they get rid of it all.

  13. nick flandrey says:

    And here’s an example of a couple of the traps some preppers can fall into…

    http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/emp-bucket-project/

    The author wants an EMP safe container that is small enough to grab and go. That’s fine, if you think it’s necessary and it probably can’t hurt.

    My objection is the way the author is thinking. For the author this is a CRAFT PROJECT. Masking tape, rubber paint resist, bed liner???? She spent MUCH too long and too much money on a really dubious value proposition, the thin rubber “insulation’ of the bed liner.

    As I understand it, it’s the space between the can and your stuff that is most important, not electrical insulation. I’ve tested it myself that too little space and you get capacitive coupling to your antennas (on a phone for example.) Instead of messing around for a couple days with expensive and inadequate paint, she could have used bubble wrap and spray sticky and been done in 10 minutes. It also has the advantage of spacing the devices out from the can. If she really wanted to be neat and crafty, a cut up yoga mat, $4 at thrift stores, would be almost as cheap and almost as good a spacer. DON”T get ‘precious’ with your preps. Make sure anything you do use actually does what is required (space- not insulation), and be conservative of your resources- both time and money- so you can do more prepping or live more of your life.

    The second mistake (IMO) is caching cr@p. If you need your ‘bucket o stuff’ you REALLY need it to work. Cheap flashlights and dollar store multimeters aren’t a good choice. In fact, very little of what she’s protecting would even be affected by EMP. Where is the Kindle loaded with PDFs? Where is the Baofang or scanner? Where’s the cheap laptop?

    If you are gonna spend the resources, first make sure it’s needed (or the marginal cost of doing it is low) then make sure it’s effective, and finally execute in the most efficient way.

    nick

  14. nick flandrey says:

    @RBT, regarding fumes, why not add a kitchen range hood over your work area? If you use a vented one, it should take the fumes away, and even if you use a recirculating one, you can get a charcoal filter for it. All the big box stores have scratch and dent models. Or there is ebay. For that matter, actual fume hoods are not super expensive used. I’ve got one….

    ‘Course, I’ve got a lot of stuff I can’t and don’t use, but am hoping to get set up some day. Hot plates, centrifuge, stir plates, temperature controller, water bath, glass ware, electronic pipettes, analytic balance, microscopes, sterilizer, lab oven.

    Speaking of, could you use a water bath to heat the lye as an inbetween method? Old fashioned electric roasters are in every thrift store cheap, fill with water, set on low, put bucket o lye in water….

    nick

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “@RBT, regarding fumes, why not add a kitchen range hood over your work area?”

    A hood doesn’t really help that much. My lab in Winston had a sealed exhaust hood and even with it the stuff is obnoxious to work with. Now I just wear goggles and a face mask.

  16. ech says:

    But I’ll be interested in hearing what my readers have to say about this.

    Every hurricane I can remember has one or more house/apartment fires that are caused by people using candles and/or oil lamps for illumination. I’d be wary, especially if there are children in the house.

  17. Dave Hardy says:

    “… I’d be wary, especially if there are children in the house.”

    Or pets, esp. cats, which are intensely curious and will stick their noses into everything and inadvertently (or on purpose) knock stuff over.

    We have several oil lamps around here somewhere but haven’t used them; I’d prefer the big-ass D-cell camp lanterns, of which we have at least one (just gotta find it) and our assortment of FLASHLIGHTS for now but will be looking into other battery options.

    Yet another reminder to consolidate and keep track of our lighting, as we’re doing with our light bulbs and batteries and med emergency kits now.

  18. nick flandrey says:

    One thing I haven’t tried, but is commonly recommended, is to get a set of solar walkway lights, the kind on a short stick. Charge them by day, bring them inside for general low level lighting at night.

    Getting a solar powered motion light should work too, and provide a LOT more light. You can even install the panel outside in the sun, and the lights inside (if there were long term grid down, forex) set them to only turn on with motion and darkness, and you’ve got lights on demand. I’ve got one in the box for just this use…

    n

  19. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    One other thing about lighting. I’m replacing, as far as possible, all the incandescent bulbs and most of the fluorescents with LEDs. We’ve replaced about two dozen 100W incandescents in lamps and ceiling fixtures with 14.5W Luminus 100W-equivalent LED bulbs from Costco. That drops us from 2,400W to 348W for that lighting.

    I also have Shaw Brothers working up a quote to install a cutover switch that’ll isolate our breaker panel from the mains and allow us to switch individual circuits on or off. We’ll be able to feed it with the generator running gasoline (or propane, once we get the gennie setup to use propane) or with our solar array, once I get that installed and working.

    Right now, counting HVAC, we average about 60 kW-hrs per day. There’s no way I’m going to buy enough solar gear to provide that, but my goal is to be able to run lights, comms, TV, as well as the refrigerator and the standalone freezer.

  20. SteveF says:

    Y’all are missing the obvious way to light the house when the power goes down: lots and lots of sex. Haven’t you heard of how people glow after sex? And it doesn’t even need any batteries, not if you’re doing it right.

  21. nick flandrey says:

    BTW, driveway is showing 109, 40%, and feels like 118.

    Even in the shade I’m seeing 98

    yikes
    n

  22. nick flandrey says:

    @RBT, have you checked the LED bulbs for RF noise? Do you notice any flicker?

    Best test for flicker, open your hand, fingers spread, light shining on it from test bulb, darker background. shake your hand side to side, and see if your fingers ‘strobe’.

    I’m very sensitive to flicker and find it causes a low level of annoyance or angst. Like florescent buzz used to do.

    I’m curious about the Costco bulbs….

    n

  23. RickH says:

    In the middle of installing a generator bypass switch to use with my generator. Have identified the 6 circuits that will be assigned to the bypass switch.

    I have also replaced all lighting here (mostly ‘can’ lights, a few bulb-type) with LED bulbs. Have a couple of LED ‘shop lights’ in the garage ( https://www.costco.com/Feit-Electric-4%e2%80%99-Linkable-LED-Shop-Light-with-Pull-Chain%2c-2-pack.product.100284402.html ).

    I note that often your local electric utility will have discounted LED bulbs available, or coupons for same.

    Once the bypass switch is installed, the next windstorm-induced power outage will result in the fridge and freezer on the generator, plus the Den (with DirecTV and LED TV) and bedroom (for the CPAP machine, mostly) on the generator power. A few outlets will also be powered, so I can recharge phones/e-readers.

    I have two D-cell LED lanterns that put out a lot of light. Plus the LED FLASHLIGHTS that are plugged into a wall outlet that will automatically switch on if power goes out. Plus a lot of other FLASHLIGHTS, including some LED headband-type. And lots of batteries. Plus a couple of solar-powered FLASHLIGHTS.

    The solar-powered LED landscape lights are a good resource.

  24. CowboySlim says:

    Well, if it’s not one thing, it’s another, but it’s always something:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4739766/Low-energy-LED-lightbulbs-giving-HEADACHES.html

  25. lynn says:

    “Appeals Court Schools D.C. on Heller’s Meaning, Invalidates “May-Issue” Concealed Carry Licensing”
    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170727/appeals-court-schools-dc-on-heller-s-meaning-invalidates-may-issue-concealed-carry-licensing

    “In a major development in the ongoing effort to restore the Second Amendment in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion on Tuesday that would effectively require D.C. officials to make concealed carry licenses available on a “shall-issue” basis.”

    “The court’s decision comes in the combined cases of Wrenn v. D.C. and Grace v. D.C.”

    “Following the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized a Second Amendment right to have operable handguns in the home for self-defense, the District retaliated by banning carrying of firearms outside the home.”

    My guess is that DC will continue to ignore the Constitution and court opinions. After all, New York state/city, New Jersey, California, Chicago and many others ignore these.

  26. paul says:

    Solar walkway lights…. uh, better than nothing. I’ve yet to buy one that makes light for more than a few hours or works at all 3 months later.

    I’m mostly LED lights here. Other than the light under the kitchen cabinet, what isn’t LED doesn’t gets too little use to be worth the cost.

    A couple of bedrooms and the laundry room have Cree 60w equivalents that use 9.5 watts. A GE softwhite in one socket with a Cree in the other… the /only/ difference I see is the Cree turns off faster. So that’s saving 100 watts per room. I have several Phillips Slim style bulbs. Three are 75w equivalent, the rest are 60w equivalent. Track lights (yeah, I still have Lightolier tracks) and recessed cans are Phillips floods. “65w” using 9w. I swapped the old Phillips floods in the living room tracks for Phillips flood that have “warm glow”. They redden like a 75w GE flood when dimmed. Nice effect. The other floods are not on dimmers.

    I see no flicker from any LED bulbs. One bulb in the living room has a high pitched whiny buzz when dimmed to 50-60%.

    The biggest thing I notice about going LED is the heat. No heat in the summer while cooling is great. In the winter, I have to kick the thermostat up a degree.

  27. nick flandrey says:

    That article has the highs and lows of modern journalism…

    Highs because the mention the eye saccades, almost getting the science right in there, lows because of the editorial “these unpopular lights” repeated a couple of times, and because of the complete confusion of LED characteristics with floros in the final ‘filler’ paragraphs. Oh and conflating the faster refresh rate with more bad effects. More must be bad after all. In fact, it’s the opposite. Faster refresh minimizes the effects of the flicker.

    Also there is no real reason LED lamps couldn’t be made with no flicker, except that switching power supplies are cheaper and smaller, and lower rates are cheaper and simpler to manufacture.

    Eye saccade, refresh rates, and strobing light sources used to be a big part of my professional career, so Trust Me ™ 🙂

    nick

    to see the worst case, look at cheap LED christmas light strings. They often have a simple half wave rectifier and flicker at 60hz with a 50% off cycle. Very noticeable. My costco down light replacement LEDs are barely perceptible unless dimmed. The undercabinet strip lights, with the HUGE RF noise problem are like strobe lights.

  28. Ray Thompson says:

    One time Home Depot had a LED FLASHLIGHT for sale. One LED and used one of those big 6V lantern batteries. The light output is not great, blueish and not a good focus of light. Regardless, a light that is not great is better than nothing at all. I would suspect that sucker may run for a week on that one 6V lantern battery. I only paid $5.00 for the light. Should have bought three or four.

    All the hot wire bulbs in my house have been replaced with LED. The fluorescent fixtures (3 of them) in the garage have been replaced with LED as have the two fixtures in the mower shed. All the security lights (10 bulb) are now LED. Still have some fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling in the basement. Don’t use those lights much so no big hurry to replace those. I would replace the entire fixture.

    I have flashlights scattered around the house and each vehicle has a couple of lights. I also take a couple of flashlights with me when I travel. This is due to an incident in a hotel in Dallas where I was staying that caught fire. It was not the building in which I was staying but another of the buildings. But all power to the entire complex was cut. Finding your way around in the dark was an adventure. I was also on the fifth floor of a Holiday Inn in CA in 1987 when an earthquake struck the area. Threw me out of bed. But I was able to quickly find my flashlight and get out of the building.

  29. lynn says:

    I watched the utility crew staging process at work in the parking lot of the McDonalds on Disney property during the last big storm in 2005, and, based on what I saw, the power companies place high priority on getting the AC systems humming again on the FL Peninsula.

    This is true for the entire continental USA. There are roving bands of up to 5,000 distribution linemen that can fix any problem and will race in large convoys to an affected area. IIRC, there were 60,000 mercenary electrical linemen in Houston following hurricane Ike in 2009 for six weeks.

    But, this assumes that the electrical infrastructure can be restored. In the case of a EMP or CME event, I am very unsure of this.

  30. paul says:

    I would like to install a bypass switch for a generator. Just for safety concerns as I get old and stupid. Er, forgetful. Yeah, forgetful, that’s the word.

    I see no way to make it work without re-wiring the house. The fridge has a breaker. The deep freezer has a breaker. The range, dryer, water heater, central air, and water pump, all have their breakers. The rest of the house is sorta wired like WTF were they smoking?

    I installed a main breaker. I had to pull the meter but that’s not hard. I installed a socket under the breaker panel connected to the dryer circuit. To use a generator, first throw the 200 amp main. Turn the dryer, water heater, range, and central air breakers off. Plug the wire from the generator in to the dryer circuit outlet, start generator and let it stabilize before flipping the dryer circuit on.

    I have two meters. I can do this at both meters. If the house is running on the generator, I just watch for the porch lights on the out buildings to come on to know power has been restored.

  31. lynn says:

    LED camping lanterns will light a very long time on D sized batteries. No open flame, no messing with fuel and the storage, no odor, instant light, no having to find (and store) matches. You have no emissions from LED as you would with oil lanterns. No soot or having to clean the glass.

    I have about eight LED lanterns scattered throughout the house. More at the office. Around a 120+ D cells in stock (I need more !). I have many single and double flashlights and about 600+ AA cells in stock. This is a large version of the lantern that I have bought that is no longer available.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VTJJ5DE/

  32. paul says:

    to see the worst case, look at cheap LED christmas light strings.

    I’ve noticed that. Annoying as all “bad words I know but mostly the one that start with the letter F”.

    I have the sort of cheap LED christmas lights from HEB. Get them after xmas and with the 10% employee discount of Own Brand stuff, yeah, maybe $3 a string. Warm white. They are strung end to end and stapled (w/ a telco stapler) behind the fascia board almost all the way around the house. I flip a switch and it looks great. All of about 40 watts. I haven’t noticed any flicker.

  33. paul says:

    My guess is that DC will continue to ignore the Constitution and court opinions.

    And I will ignore them. What part of “shall not be infringed” is unclear?

    When I hit the road, the glock, unloaded, is in the hole with the spare tire. If I have to change a tire, it’s just a moment to insert clip and cock.

  34. pcb_duffer says:

    Re: emergency lighting. The old AAA size MagLites can be used as low-light-output lamps. Unscrew the lens assembly from the barrel, insert the barrel into the lens assembly, and place on any flat surface. Not great, but enough in a bathroom to be usable, etc.

    And one problem with the utility crews is sometimes they’re coming from quite a ways away. Southern Company provides most of the juice for Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle (a/k/a Lower Alabama). So if a hurricane smashes Miami and then goes ashore in Mobile, no Southern Company crews will be coming to help Miami; they’re headed for Mobile because it’s their own territory. I also seem to remember that when Sandy hit New York / New Jersey, the electric utility up there wouldn’t allow any non-union crews to come in & help.

  35. nick flandrey says:

    Canandaigua – that’s where I’ll be.

  36. RickH says:

    Regarding generator bypass switches. It’s like a separate sub-panel. You take the wire from a circuit (say the 20amp one for the fridge) off of the current breaker. You wirenut that to the wire from the bypass switch. Repeat for 4-8 circuits (depending on the size of your generator). (Do this with the main power off, of course.)

    The breakers in the bypass switch in one position are used when normal power is available. When you need to switch them to the generator, put them in the other position. (There is also an ‘off’ position.)

    The bypass switch has a 30A plug that you connect to the generator. On a power outage, connect the generator-to-bypass-switch wire, fire up the generator, then flip the switches on the bypass switch to switch those circuits over to generator power.

    No need to re-wire the house. Just be aware of the load of the circuits you assign to the bypass switch.

    I purchased this generator bypass switch via Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wa6FfB . It’s a Reliance Controls 306CRK Pro/Tran-2 6 Circuit Transfer Switch Kit , cost $279 plus tax. The Reliance site (http://www.reliancecontrols.com/ ) has some installation videos that show how easy to install. Good info on there; good company also.

  37. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I just want a big Frankenstein DPDT knife switch. One side to mains current and the other to the gennie or solar inverter.

  38. nick flandrey says:

    I’ve actually been in a building in New Orleans, that had the big switch. Gutta Percha wire insulation, hand written oaktag labels dangling from each main line. They had to put a cyclone fence around the panel to keep people off the exposed conductors.

    It was awesome!

    n

  39. paul says:

    A big Frankenstein switch with lots of exciting sparky effects!!! Yes!!!

    Doing Drama in High school at a little 2A school, I did lights. A bit of sound, but mostly lighting. We hit, I forget where, where the dimmers were all variacs. Variable transformers with big lever handles to work. Very cool stuff. I sort of recall one place that had dimmers using a salt bath. But that might have been on a tour in New Orleans. 1975 was a long time ago.

    Anyway, we went to State twice. Won once, ran over 10 seconds the next year by one judge’s clock…. we had a minute left on our clock. Judge started his clock when the house lights /started/ to dim. Never mind the curtains and all….

    And just like having a HS diploma, who cares?

  40. lynn says:

    “Health Care is a System, Not a Goal”
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/163526404616/health-care-is-a-system-not-a-goal

    “Love him or hate him, McCain did what heroes do. He took a bullet to prevent Congress from ignoring the wishes of half the country. Now we have a chance to do it right. Let in some new voices. Consider some new options. Make it a team effort.”

    Interesting perspective from Scott Adams. My view is, let Obamacare die a horrible death. But, people are going to get hurt whereas I am at least covered by my group health insurance that I buy for me and my employees. That will not go away anytime soon.

  41. SteveF says:

    I just want a big Frankenstein DPDT knife switch. One side to mains current and the other to the gennie or solar inverter.

    We had that in our old house. I’d like to say I was doing the whole “It’s alive!” routine when throwing the switch, but in practice I was too busy cursing up a storm at the damned power being out again.

  42. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “That will not go away anytime soon.”

    Wanna bet?

  43. nick flandrey says:

    I missed seeing salt water dimmers at an old vaudville house while I was touring. They’d just ripped them out and replaced them. They were still using them in the early 90s.

    I had a lot of uses of the big variacs in high school. Usually inside a cage, you could twist the handle to lock individual dimmers to the master for the row, and lock the masters together with the grand master. You needed to be pretty big to move a master, IIRC.

    Every old theater I went into, I’d ask what cool stuff they had in the basement. Theatres NEVER throw anything away if they can avoid it. Giant ’20s dynamos spinning huge air handler fans with 1 foot wide leather belts. HUGE pistons that were part of some stage machinery. A giant treadmill for horses… Black lacquered switchboards with brass fittings, switches, and gages….

    COOL stuff!

    n

    Added– old theatres and soundstages are about the only places left where you’ll find huge DC services. I mean MASSIVE capability like 400 amps per drop and multiple drops. You don’t want to break those connections under load!

  44. Ray Thompson says:

    I installed a main breaker. I had to pull the meter but that’s not hard. I installed a socket under the breaker panel connected to the dryer circuit. To use a generator, first throw the 200 amp main. Turn the dryer, water heater, range, and central air breakers off. Plug the wire from the generator in to the dryer circuit outlet, start generator and let it stabilize before flipping the dryer circuit on.

    Be very careful. The generator transfer switch must operate in such a manner that will not allow both circuits to be energized at the same time. Manually throwing one breaker and then activating another breaker is highly against code.

    The reason being that your little generator putting out 240V could put voltage and current through your meter and out to the main lines. That transformer will up the voltage to about 8KV and that will kill a lineman that is expecting the circuit to be deactivated.

    The way you described you could forget to throw the 200 amp main, pull the dryer plug, hook up your generator and you now have placed power on the mains. Not good.

    So please get a proper transfer switch. Don’t risk killing someone. They will find you if that happens.

  45. RickH says:

    What @RayThompson said.

    That’s why I spent the $ on the Reliance generator transfer kit. Not hard to wire into your panel. The Reliance web site has full videos on how to do it. Their transfer kit has everything you need for installation. All wires are clearly labeled, so it’s mostly easy-peasy.

    Expect to spend about an hour on the whole process. They even have parts to put an external plug outlet. (My kit has the plug as part of the panel box.) If you have been inside a power panel before (I have), it’s not hard at all. Or have a licensed electrician do it.

  46. ech says:

    I just want a big Frankenstein DPDT knife switch. One side to mains current and the other to the gennie or solar inverter.

    If you get one, you will need a couple of Jacob’s Ladders and a Van de Graaff generator or two.

  47. Greg Norton says:

    But, this assumes that the electrical infrastructure can be restored. In the case of a EMP or CME event, I am very unsure of this.

    It would take years with an EMP. The transformers are sourced overseas, and, to an EE grad my age or younger, power distribution/generation is looked upon like a CS major looks at COBOL or QA/testing — a necessary evil for someone else to bury their career doing.

    A global CME event? Fuggedaboudit. Not on a large scale at least.

  48. lynn says:

    Every hurricane I can remember has one or more house/apartment fires that are caused by people using candles and/or oil lamps for illumination. I’d be wary, especially if there are children in the house.

    And people running generators inside their homes and dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  49. OFD says:

    In southern New England cities during the winter, it would be kerosene heaters tipping over or catching something on fire and whole families with their apartments gone. Usually recent arrivals from countries south of the Rio Grande.

    Dropped Mrs. OFD off at MIL’s for their drive tomorrow through Maine and NB. She’s worried about our dog, who has a tumor in his mouth which could be nothing much or it could be “violently maglignant.” And her 89-year-old mother, who is pretty sharp mentally, but has some medical issues.

    I will be holding the fort here as point man on everything until August 10th. Peak of Summah!

  50. OFD says:

    From the Virtue Signaling Department:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHnjlQC6Puw

    Speaking of bad language…

    But right on target, per usual. I know it’s a sin to hate but man I hate hypocrites.

  51. Ed says:

    I strongly suspect that, if a CME should hit and wreck the grid, it would be back up in a month. This isn’t high tech stuff unless you are trying to get the last fraction of a percent efficiency out of it. Every good old boy with a welder and drum of mineral oil would be out making things things right…

    I’m getting contrary in my old age. If the media and the government tell me something I tend to assume the opposite.

  52. lynn says:

    _Devil’s Homecoming: A Post Apocalyptic EMP Survival Fiction Series (The Blackout Series) (Volume 6)_ by Bobby Akart
    https://www.amazon.com/Devils-Homecoming-Apocalyptic-Survival-Blackout/dp/1544781113/

    Book number six of a six book apocalyptic CME (coronal mass ejection) series. I read the POD (print on demand) trade paperback. I doubt that there will be any more books in the series as the author has moved on to a pandemic series. These are quick read books in a comfortable format with 50 pages addendums on EMP and CME events. And prepping. I am now reading Cory Doctorow’s apocalyptic book.

    The good people of Shiloh Ranch and Savannah, Tennessee have run the evil county sheriff and his ma out of town in the post apocalyptic world. But the county sheriff and his ma found an unlikely helper in the FEMA camp and came back to Savannah with a lot of help.

    The author has a website at:
    http://www.BobbyAkart.com

    My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (187 reviews)

  53. Gavin says:

    I upgraded all my interior lighting with LED bulbs last year, including the garage, over time as I found the bulbs on sale. I wasn’t too happy when our charming provincial gov’t (I’m in Alberta) tacked on a carbon tax that more than accounted for the energy savings. I used FEIT bulbs, as they were available earlier in my local area. While most of the bulbs are fine, I’ve already had four develop a severe flicker which makes them unusable, out of I think 43 bulbs, in less than a year of operation.

  54. lynn says:

    I used FEIT bulbs, as they were available earlier in my local area. While most of the bulbs are fine, I’ve already had four develop a severe flicker which makes them unusable, out of I think 43 bulbs, in less than a year of operation.

    I am now using GE LED bulbs: 60 watt equivalent, 100 watt equivalent, and the 50/100/150 watt equivalent LED bulbs. Out of the 60 or 70 GE LED bulbs that I have installed in the house and the office, none have failed yet (IIRC). I do have some Feit LED 100 watt equivalent bulbs outside and one of those has failed in five years. But, the Feit’s are my oldest LEDs so, I just don’t know and I run them all night and all weekend.
    https://www.amazon.com/GE-Lighting-92119-150-watt-replacement/dp/B014WMKUDS/

    I still run 65 Watt halogen can lights in the kitchen as I really like them. And I run an incandescent 33/66/100 watt bulb in the daughters room since any flicker makes her migraines worse.

    BTW, by switching to CFLs and LEDs in the office building, I cut our demand charge from 17 kw to 13 kw. And dropped our average electric bill from $450/month to $350/month.

  55. nick flandrey says:

    The LEDs will last a LONG time, but the power driver circuit is built as cheaply as possible, using the lowest cost capacitors. Switching power supplies are notoriously hard on caps. In fact, with most modern electronics, if it doesn’t work, the first place to look is the caps.

    I’ll bet the lamps that fail to noticeable flicker have a bad cap that decreases the frequency of the power supply switching.

    nick

  56. lynn says:

    I strongly suspect that, if a CME should hit and wreck the grid, it would be back up in a month.

    It depends on the magnitude of the CME event. If it is Carrington’s level then the damage might be recoverable in a month or ten. 10X or 100X of Carrington, look out ! Most distribution equipment relies on air gaps to limit damage once the primary breaker / fuse is blown. If that air gap gets bridged, oh man.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection

  57. H. Combs says:

    As a “survivalist” in the 70s, I had several old fashioned oil lamps. Let me tell you that they are a pain, keeping the wicks trimmed and loosing oil to evaporation. LEDs are the wonder of the modern world. Today I have many solar charged LED lanterns in windowsills around the house. I have these motion activated LED bars set on top of most door frames in my home. https://www.amazon.com/Morpilot-Operated-Portable-Wireless-Wardrobe/dp/B01KMCIP3Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1501390650&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=motion+sensor+led+bar&psc=1
    With these, I can walk through the house in the dark and always have light. Yes, I have to replace the batteries every 3 or 4 months but it’s worth it.

  58. medium wave says:
  59. H. Combs says:

    Spent the evening doing laundry and watching YouTube videos on bug out stuff. One guy was packing a “water key” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XDLSZZP/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 What a great idea. I have always seen the water spigots on industrial buildings and gas stations but never gave them a thought. If I were in a situation where I needed water, I would want to have access to these. This simple, cheap, small device will give you that access. I ordered several for by get home bags and to keep at hand. I thought I would pass this on.

  60. Miles_Teg says:

    Does lamp oil go ‘off’ like petrol does after a few weeks?

    As to boiling lye and its risks, how do large scale commercial operations do it?

  61. Nick Flandrey says:

    Lamp oil is good forever but will leak or evaporate if you let it.

    N

  62. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “As to boiling lye and its risks, how do large scale commercial operations do it?”

    Carefully. VERY carefully.

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