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What will you do when the power goes out?

In May 2015, Pacific Gas and Electric Company conducted a massive exercise to test its preparedness and response to a simulated magnitude 7.2 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.  According to the PG&E website, the success of this exercise was the result of improvements to their infrastructure initiated after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake and the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. PG&E continues to harden their infrastructure to quickly identify potential gas leaks and to provide sophisticated switching of electrical circuits to restore electrical power quickly to affected areas.

However, in a remote area such as ours, “quickly” may not translate to minutes – we should be prepared for hours and potentially days without power.  Are you prepared to meet your basic power needs such as food storage (refrigerator),  food preparation, lighting, heating, etc.?  Do you have a back-up emergency power source?

The three main types of backup power systems are (1) Solar & Battery, (2) portable gas, and (3) whole home standby. Table 1 compares the two types. Here are some good articles:

Table 1. Comparison of portable an standby generators.

FeaturePortableWhole Home Standby
Fuelgasoline, propanepropane, natural gas
Run time*1 day (12 gallons gasoline, tank of propane)14 days (250 gallons propane)
Typical prosCompact, inexpensiveAutomatic start
Typical consManual start, run extension cords, store gasolineProfessional installation, 250 gal propane tank

* Run time is highly dependent on amount of fuel stored and power consumption of various devices. For instance, an air conditioner during a heat wave will dramatically increase power consumption and decrease run time.