Episode-1005- Steven Harris on Everything Generators Part 2 of 2

Steven Harris – CEO of Knowledge Publications

Special Note – If you don’t get over to Solar1234.com during or after this interview you are cheating yourself out of a HUGE range of resources that Steven Has Made Available to you that go along with an clarify many things in these two episodes.

Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss generators and I mean everything generators. As is typical with Steven he did so much research and prep that we had to break this into two episodes. Today we cover fuel options and multiple ways to set up fueling and tie your generator into your home to power your critical needs.

Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.

Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.

Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception. Today he covers generators with us in part two of a two part series.

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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84 Responses to Episode-1005- Steven Harris on Everything Generators Part 2 of 2

  1. Great show. Can you fill propane tanks with natural gas?

    • Good question. I think you would need a compressor to do this. I know a guy who uses one of those exercise balls to fill with bio-gas he makes from his decomposting kitchen scraps/grass clippings/straw ect. mixed with some manure. Then can hook it up to his grill, sits on the ball to pressurize it wile grilling.

      Steve are you going to do a show on making your own bio-fuels, I bought 2 of the books from your website and wondering if you have first hand experience with it.

    • yes, but not very much of it, propane is a liquid under pressure, natural gas is not. You can only put natural gas into a propane tank up to 200psi… that’s it. Normally natural gas is stored at 3000psi.

      A 500 gallon propane pig with (500 gallons) of propane in it would be
      45,750,000 BTUs (that’s 45 MILLION)

      with natural gas at 200 psi in a 500 gallon pig would be
      67,560 BTU’s. or about 3/4 of 1 (ONE!) gallon of propane or
      about the same as 1/2 gallon of gasoline !!

      Steve

  2. Dustin Pianalto

    Great show as always. Although I’m not sure what calendar you are using but on mine it is Wednesday…

  3. I couldn’t agree more when it comes to buying garden hoses and/or extention cords. I bought a garden hose when I first moved into my house in 2002 and I am STILL using the same one.

  4. IF you decide to make a suicide cord, I recommend a short one, approx 10-12″ long. You will ALWAYS see both ends of the cord. Anything shorter may stay too stiff and “rock out” of a wall socket.

    Also, there are very inexpensive ( <$30) conversions that can be made right at a home forced-air furnace. This method essentially puts a plug on the furnace so it can be run via generator and creates a poor man's transfer switch. One can convert the ON/OFF switch at the junction box (usually screwed to the side of the furnace). One installs a standard outlet with an ON/OFF switch on the grid side of the outlet. The ON position is marked "GRID." The OFF position is marked "GEN." Then when the switch is thrown to the GEN position (essentially cutting grid power connection), a short 10-12" suicide cord can be plugged into the outlet. Now the furnace has a cord and plug. This can be plugged into an extension cord plugged into the generator, just like any other appliance. The ON/OFF switch still works the same as it did before in non-emergency situations – to control the power to the furnace. And when there is grid power, the outlet will be just another convenient wall outlet for everyday use!

    I highly recommend taking all the other backfeeding precautions such as throwing main and local circuit breakers to OFF positions. This above described method does not backfeed the home. One would still use standard extension cords for all other appliances.

    • Hank Curmudgeon

      PG,
      Go to http://www.mcmaster.com and do a search for the following p/n’s…

      8001K12
      (High-Amp Toggle Switch DPDT, on-on, 30 Amps, Screw Terminal)

      8036K1
      (Industrial-Grade Flanged Receptacle NEMA 5-15 Male, 125 VAC, 15 Amp)

      The receptacle listed totally removes the need for a suicide cord.

    • Hank !!! ! Thanks for putting McMaster parts up….

      This is a lot safer and better but now you end up with a suicide socket rather than a suicide cord. If you have grid power and you throw the switch and energize the socket, then you can stick your fingers in and get electrocuted… more like children can do this. I’m not going to stick my fingers in, but I like your solution and it will benefit a certain set of people who wont go poking their fingers where they do not belong.

      I like what you suggested so much that I found the same parts on amazon a lot cheaper and put them up on the suicide cord page. McMaster wants $27 for that very very nice switch. Its also 30 amps, the one I have on amazon is 20 amps, but that is still more current than a normal 15 amp circuit will handle.

      AGAIN FOR ALL OF YOU… . this is NOT a perfect answer, its still dangerous, its just less dangerous because the cable does not have the exposed prongs on it that are energized.

      http://www.solar1234.com/suicide_electrical_calbes.htm

      Steve

      • Hank Curmudgeon

        Steve,
        The “suicide” receptacle is safe as it never sees grid power. The switch has 6 terminals in an on-on configuration:

        The center pair of terminals go to your load, say a furnace blower or boiler circulation pump.

        One outside pair of terminals go to your normal grid circuit.

        The remaining pair of outside terminals go to the “suicide” receptacle.

        This switch is a “break before make” type switch so when you throw it from “Line” (your power grid) it disconnects the grid circuit BEFORE it makes contact with the “On Gen” (suicide receptacle) side thus the receptacle’s prongs and the grid shall never meet. The only way the receptacle ever sees power is if it’s input into it’s prongs from an external source i.e. the cord running from your generator. Additionally the receptacle itself is flush with the prongs submerged in a kind of a well so once you start pushing the extension cord receptacle into it the prongs are completely enclosed and can’t be touched.

        I spec’d that 30 amp switch simply based on the fact that, in an emergency and under an electrical load, such a robust switch could be thrown with far less possibility of the contacts welding due to arching.

    • HANK !!!

      Steven Harris had a BRAIN FART…. you are 100% Correct. Hooking up the switch in that configuration would 100% keep it from being a suicide socket.

      MY MISTAKE…. I’m glad you put this up here.

      Steve

  5. If many of you had a hard time understanding the parts and the pieces of the different things I was talking about on the show today, I took a lot of photos of the individual parts so you can see them.
    http://www.Solar1234.com

    Just scroll down and look for the Suicide Cord link and the Emergency Natural Gas hook up. There is a photo and a link there that takes you to a page that is dedicated to each subject.

    I also have some of the parts for you to hook this stuff up the CORRECT WAY legally. You can look at the photos up there and buy stuff locally…. or have your local certified electrician or certified plumber do it for you.

    Stay safe guys.

    Steve

  6. Steven thanks for all the extra work and study you put into these shows. They are awesome.

  7. Hey Steve, Great show. I would add another precautionary note when backfeeding with many of the small, cheap inverters. I used a Vector 3000 watt inverter to backfeed my house panel but BOTH LEGS WERE HOT. There was no neutral, just two hot legs that made 120 ac together. It works but turning off the breaker only disconnects one leg. The entire neutral side stays hot. I had to remove the neutral grounding screw to keep the inverter from getting a ground fault. I also had to remember to shut off the inverter if I was working on the wiring. I’m off grid so I don’t have a grid backfeeding issue. Until I got a real whole house inverter, I just jumped across the two panel legs to power the whole panel

  8. Duncan MacDuff

    My Father taught me that machinery performs its function to the best of its ability, regardless of what gets in its way; and it does so without mercy.

    Stay Safe.

    Best, Duncan

    • I had a similar talk with dad many years ago. He can’t understand why the guys he works with get offended when he shuts off the lathe/ milling machine / etc when they want to chit chat and he’s concentrating on using a machine that will relive him of his fingers / hand/ arm/ life.

    • I had a similar talk with dad many years ago. He can’t understand why the guys he works with get offended when he shuts off the lathe/ milling machine / etc when they want to chit chat and he’s concentrating on using a machine that will relieve him of his fingers / hand/ arm/ life.

      If you happen to become the path of least resistance, you will rapidly become very attractive to millions of electrons.

  9. Steven,

    No questions here , due to the incredible amount of coverage and detail on each topic of discussion.

    I just wanted to take a moment and thank you very much for the time and effort you put in to these podcasts. It is truly appreciated.

  10. Thanks Steve & Jack for yet again another great informative show… I’m looking into getting my wife a try-power inverter genny for christmas!

    • Hey, let me know how this works out. If it goes well, I’m gonna get mine a kimber 1911 and a new craftsman roller ball bearing tool box.

  11. Jack is ‘forward-looking’ as usual. The last 2 shows have been a day ahead!!! ;)

  12. Jack, you have the twang meter pegged out today! Loving this show.

  13. Steve THANK YOUas always GREAT INFORMATION
    Remember your neighbor may not have this info and may not turn off his main and back feed to your house. Causing damage to electronic equipment in your home, happened to me.
    To be on the safe side check with your neighbors and share this info with them.
    Like a pre flight check off list for a plane you should have one for your power set up ( fastened to your emergency power source) so that no mistakes are made under stress.

  14. Did anybody break the bad news to Jack? The 24th of October is a Wednesday, not Thursday. Sorry Jack!!

  15. Does anybody know how to hook up a 240 volt clothes dryer with a 3 blade plug to a 240 v. generator receptacle?

    • I cover that in todays podcast, generator show #2, or are you looking for a diagram ?? Its L1 from the generator to one of the blades, L2 to the other blade, neutral from the generator the 3rd more round peg in the plug.

      Steve

  16. Steve, thanks for the prompt reply.
    On my dryer plug the top blade is vertical & the two bottom blades are angled out at 45 degree angle – no round peg l . A diagram would be great.
    \ /

  17. Thanks Steven, this has to be one of my favorite couple of episodes ever. So much informtion in so little time.

  18. Crispy Critter

    Excellent show guys!

    I haven’t seen (nor have I heard) anybody mention this must-have wall receptacle tester -
    http://www.amazon.com/ELECTRICAL-RECEPTACLE-TESTER-OUTLET-PRONG/dp/B002Q3R7HI

    I also keep a voltage detector like this one in my electronics kit –
    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/electrical/electrical-test-meters/klein-tools-non-contact-voltage-tester-ncvt-1sen.html

    These two tools HELP me to stay safe, but they are not guarantees unto themselves. I use as many tools at my disposal to insure a safe workplace before I pick up tool 1. That also includes safety goggles … you never know if a stray spark might find its way to your eyeball.

  19. Crispy Critter

    Steven,

    Could you address the issue of electricity QUALITY?

    I am referring to unwanted spikes, dropouts, surges, etc.

    I live in the boondocks and am on a co-op electric grid. I lost several pieces of audio-visual equipment and my microwave due to very dirty power from my co-op. I have since invested in an APC J10 AV Power Conditioner / Voltage Regulator / Battery Backup / Surge Protector –
    http://www.apc.com/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=j10blk

    This unit creates a “step-approximated” sine wave output. I am pretty certain that if I owned a piece of equipment that needed a “pure sine wave” output, I’d already know it.

    Could you (Steven) also address what applications might need a pure sine wave output?

    p.s. Thanks for the quick shipping of the books and fuel still! I mean, they arrived insanely fast.

  20. I’ve been waiting for the generator series from Steve Harris since he talked about it way back in the episodes about car-based inverters! This really made a 5 hour drive for work bearable yesterday.

    I see Steve Harris commented here and maybe he’ll answer two things he didn’t cover in his podcast that I’ve been wondering. If not, I’ll try to get on by calling them in for a call-in show:

    1) Steve talked about oil for whole-house generators but not small ones. A generalized question is how interchangeable is SAE30 and 10W30 in generators? My Generac Centurion’s manual states that SAE30 should be used in temperatures greater than 40F but 10W30 should be used in temperatures lower than 40F. Following that guidance, I may have to do a complete oil change on the generator during an emergency just to get the oil “right”. I thought the “10W” part of 10W30 was that the oil acts like 10 weight when it’s very cold and 30 weight once it warms up a little? If that’s the case, why does this matter in temperatures over 40F? I’ve thought about stocking Mobile1 for my generator, but they don’t even make a straight SAE30 oil in that so I’m stuck. Any thoughts?

    2) Do people widely use the grounding rod connector? My generator is a bonded neutral and has a nut for ground on the front. The manual makes a passing reference to “must ground for safety”, but doesn’t really explain anything beyond that. I was looking to get some sort of grounding stake and some 10ga wire to make a grounding path that I can deploy on-demand. However I know many people with portable generators and I’ve never seen anyone hook up such a thing. Is this a “real” thing or a CYA for the generator manufacturer?

    • OMG… 5 hour DRIVE !!! WOW. I’m glad I helped in your drive.

      I’d go with 10w-30 Mobile 1 for the generator and grounding rods are not used. Even on the generac Q&A site they say themselves, that no one does it and its not needed.

      Only advantage of a grounding rod is it might make it harder to steal the generator…which… is something we all should think about. how to secure our generator so its not stolen.

      Of course…these are 3 of my favorite warning signs.

      http://tinyurl.com/cgrdqda

      http://tinyurl.com/8w6t54y

      http://tinyurl.com/95klaqq

      Steve

  21. Thanks Steve! I can’t tell you how valuable I’ve found the inverter and generator podcasts. I’ve been waiting for this series because I need to install some sort of transfer switch to power the furnace (it gets cold here in Western PA) and this had some helpful information.

    Regarding generator security…. I’ve never run the generator all night, however I have wondered what I’d do about security if I needed to. And, obviously, in any sort of persistent civil unrest simply “being home” probably wouldn’t deter theft.

    Fortunately, the 5 hour drive isn’t a common thing. :)

  22. Where are the links for generator sales company and tri-fuel kits mentioned in the show?

    • http://www.GeneratorSales.com Look on the website, us code TSP after your name or in ADDRESS LINE 2 or in COMPANY NAME on the order form to get a discount on shipping.

      Or call them and ask for Bill…tell him Steven Harris and TSP sent you, you’ll get the discount

      Steve

    • I called Bill today and told them Steve and TSP sent me. They are very busy I guess, I was on hold for 15min. I have a Yamaha EF2000iS that I bought last month from Amazon and now I want the tri fuel kit. The cost is $179 + $14 for shipping. You need to send them your carb at:
      Central Maine Diesel
      29 Carey Circle
      Hampden, ME 04444
      I don’t know if the $14 is the discounted shipping price.
      I asked about just getting the kit because where I work we have a full machine shop and he said he guess they could do that. He said the kit doesn’t come with any instructions were to drilling and tapping the carb. I have two gens, but I don’t want to be without my small gen for long so I’m not happy about sending my carb. I’m going to start looking for instruction on drilling and tapping and a material list to do it myself.

      • THAT PRICE INCLUDES drilling and TAPPING your carb from them…. I DO NOT suggest you try to go to the wilds of the internet and try to find some bad instructions on drilling and tapping your carb when they will do it for that price and it will be done correctly, you are putting at risk your $1000 generator to save money on something that is included in their fee, and they do it perfectly the 1st time.

        I, Steven Harris, will not drill and tap my carb myself (on my Honda EU2000i) . I don’t suggest you do it either.

        Steve

        • It’s not the money, but the time needed to do this. I should have asked him the turn around time.
          I’m also interested in the shipping cost of the 2000 watt gens and should have asked him that. It looks like a good deal if shipping isn’t to high.

      • Thanks Steve and Jack for these podcasts. I have a 120v and a 220v generators. I back feed a sub panel that has our most important breakers using a Square D generator Interlock kit QOCGK2 and 220v 30a outdoors inlet plug. I wired a cord with a 120 male plug and 220v 30a female and jumped the two hots in the 220v plug to power all the 120v in my sub panel when I don’t need my AC or well pump.

      • Muddy,
        Call Bill and ask him the turn around time. Its probably a week. THEY ARE NOT going to let you down. NO way in hell would I be sending TSP people to GeneratorSales.com or any place that was not professional and that was not going to take care of you 100% as you would expect.

        Its my name and my reputation on the line here as well. Put a little faith in them, send in your carb and you’ll get back a kit 100% ready to go with all the parts and pieces. It is NOT hard to install on your own. I did mine. It comes with instructions….they have been doing these conversions for years.

        Steve

  23. Southwester Butler County, just north of Pittsbugh.

  24. Steve,

    Since your an all type of engines man. Have you ever messed with Stirling engines combined with a permanent magnet motor to produce electricity for charging 6 volt golf cart batteries? Or do you think its unachievable?

    • 100% UNACHIEVABLE because there is NOT ONE working stirling engine out there you can BUY.. .. NONE… The great Dean Kamen tried to bring one to market and FAILED …crashed and burned ( the guy who invented Segway). WhipsterGen tried and FAILED…..

      You’ll find some engines that are stupid little toys that do nothing but move in a circle when a candle is put under them…these are worthless toys and cannot make any power.

      The only people who make a working stirling engine are the people who make them that cost MILLIONS of dollars and are selling them to people with tens of millions of dollars of government grants to do things that will never be made available to the public.

      I can show you a stirling engine in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan, but you can’t buy one for all of the love or money you have, and you really are not going to make one either. Not unless you are a walk on water machine shop…and even then many of them have failed.

      Steve

  25. Steve and Jack — The two-part program on generators was awesome, just as your previous shows have been. But, man, you’ve got me still salivating for the battery bank installment information! I have a Yamaha 2400 inverter/generator, and the way I want to use it is to feed into a battery bank in my double-wide mobile home that allows me to recharge when most convenient. I also want to be able to move the batteries to my bugout van, to power with the same generator. Hope you can address a “transferable” battery bank in your next episode — and won’t leave us hanging too long!!

    • Why do you want to ‘bug out’ and leave your nice safe home, with a roof over your head, toilets, heating and cooling and all of your food and water supply to only put a miniature version of this in a van…and where are you going to head ? What part of the country are you in? Are you affected by hurricanes ? wild fires ? floods ??

      Steve

  26. I took a little different approach to avoid the suicide cord. I opened the junction box on my furnace and isolated the supply wires and the wires going to the furnace. I wired a regular single outlet to the supply lines, and a short pigtail of 14/3 service cord with a regular grounded plug to the furnace side.

    In normal on-grid use, the pigtail is plugged into the outlet. When I need to go off-grid, I plug the pigtail into a regular extension cord, and the furnace runs off the genny or inverter. Another use is to plug my Kill-A-Watt inline to determine the furnace’s draw. Nice bonus.

    Bear in mind this is totally non-Code, even though I used best practices, like strain relief on the pigtail. I can’t recommend this to anyone else, but it works for me.

  27. 1: I heard that natural gas produces a lot of water vapor itself when it burns. Is this this something i need be concerned about using natural gas a generator?

    2: Can I convert my cheapo 2-cycle generator ($90) to natural gas?

    • ALL hydrocarbons make water vapor when its burned .. ALL OF THEM. NO.. this is NOT a problem.

      NO… you are NOT going to convert a 2 cycle generator to run on natural gas, not unless it was a bottom oiler, and they are not, you have to run oil in your fuel mix and you are not going to do that with natural gas. You’ll have to be happy with the performance you are getting from the wonderful $90 generator. That is about as cheap as they get. It certainly beats having NO generator. :)

      Steve

  28. Steve: Actually, calling it a “bugout” van IS a bit melodramatic. Main use will be to visit my far-flung children and grandchildren and be self-contained. Thus I’d like a pair of batteries that could provide power in the van and also back up some essentials in the house during the power outages we get here in NH from hurricanes, t-storms, and snowstorms.

    • DowTech…like the hurricane / perfect storm barreling down at you right now..

      If you guys thought I covered generators in detail, I’ll be covering batteries in MORE detail on my Battery show on TSP in December !!! Look for it. Its coming.

      Steve

  29. Can’t wait! Meantime watching Sandy closely.

  30. DowTech… I know what you mean about Hurricane Sandi. I just put out an update on Hurricane* Sandy do all of my people and with links to all of my classes….but most of you TSP people already know this.

    http://www.USH2.com/10262012.htm
    Steve

  31. Got an interesting, likely unusual, problem. Hoping you could offer some advice. I’ve got too much generator. I’ve got a 60KW diesel hardwired to both my house and my in-laws approx 500′ away. Prior to your shows and any long term outage, it seemed like a great setup, however I realized that I can’t really afford to run it for any length of time. I don’t have good numbers yet, however I suspect it burns upwards of 20gals of diesel a day. Any ideas on efficiency? Not sure about cycling it off/on, being a sizable diesel engine and all. NG not available, worth it or possible to go propane?

    • Tim,
      That *IS* an interesting problem.

      1st. There is no GUESSING here… 20 gallons a day ? forget it. MEASURE IT. Have it run the power to both homes for 24 hours, summer and winter, and measure the fuel usage… that way you know. Just 24 hours in summer with AC on, and one 24 hour period with NON-AC and measure it.

      Lets say it was 20 gallons a day. that’s $80 per day.
      SO WHAT. You OWN the generator. $80 / day would be considered CHEAP for 2 homes for emergency power.

      If it was going to cost you $4000 to replace the generator, $4000 / $80/day is 50 days of operation to equal $4000. Do you really want to spend $4000 on a generator just so your diesel cost is $20 per day instead of $80 per day ??

      So ok… maybe that is too much, and you want to do better. 1st find out how much it really is using. Then sell the generator, and get a 20 KW diesel to power both homes…maybe a 10 to 15 on the very low end.

      I’m sure the 60 KW would be worth at least 2x as much as a 20KW one.

      Best solution would be to find out what the market is, buy a 20KW, set it up, make sure its perfect, then sell the 60KW during peak storm season.

      Please consider what I wrote, and then ask me a more narrow question and I’ll try to get you helped out. I did mention a USED generator site on my podcast with jack, it was ‘show #12′ on solar1234.com and it was where I was talking about trailer generators.

      I am NOT going to suggest you run propane in with your diesel generator. It would just end up eating up a lot of propane instead of diesel.

      Send me back a more narrow question based on what I said above…

      Steve

  32. Steve, any experience with using a Power Inlet Box like seen in the image (http://www.gen-tran.com/eshop/transfer-switches-manual.asp)?

    Also, is this parallel kit better than the Honda parallel kit?
    http://www.gen-tran.com/eshop/parallel-power-kits.asp

  33. Steven, I was troubled by your extensive details on the usage of highly dangerous, illegal … use of “suicide cords” despite your emphatic disclaimers. Yes, obviously people have and will continue to do this stuff, but I saw that as giving folks more “ammo in the chambers” with which to play Russian Roulette.
    “Don’t do this” but then giving the how to “if you reeally want to” just seems too likely to get someone hurt or worse. Jmtc.
    I have my house set up with a a anti grid backfeed transfer switch and a pigtail cord that plugs into the 240 outlet on my genset. That way i can power my kitchen, great room, master bed/bath sockets (1/2 panel) as you mentioned. Yes, it cost more $’s and electrician time but to me, it was worth it.
    What’s the most expensive power? The stuff that can get someone killed. I just pray that our TSP community keeps the “suicide cord” for informational purposes only and we don’t lose anybody to an f up.

    Other than that, your shows continue to be awesome.

    • Brian,

      Do you know what is really dangerous and KILLS people dead ?? Ignorance.

      FEMA so UNTRUSTS the American people and worried about extreme safety they will NOT even tell you to have candles for an emergency because they might start a fire.

      I’m sorry if you feel this way but I will continue to entrust and empower the TSP audience…. where do I draw the line… heck with my Battery Show coming up, I might have to talk about sulfuric acid.

      Its a dangerous world out there…and that’s why we are preppers.

      Steve

      • Modern Survival

        @Steve, agreed! Let me add this, the entire time you were describing what to do do you know what I was thinking?

        —begin adult language warning—

        There is no fucking way in hell I am ever going to fuck around and try that!

        —end adult language warning—

        So it got though to me, the more you explained it the more I thought, you have to be a complete dumbass to do it that way.

        I will also point out to everyone that Steve’s outlines come 90% from questions from the TSP audience so that means a lot of people asked how to do this and I would think at this point such people feel largely the way I do. Get a switch put in, be safe and rock on. If you can afford a generator big enough to run your house you can afford either extension cords or a installed switch.

        • Thanks Modern, I appreciate your input greatly.

          Also… you never know when you might need a dangerous talent. What if your parents oxygen machine needs power, not powering it can kill them. Sames thing goes for nebulizer machines for asmatics. They need electricity to run their machine.

          Preppers are always training for things that are dangerous that they might never do. Some of you guys have taken medical trama classes where you learn to sew up a wound by doing practice suchers (stitches) on cut chicken breasts. You are learning on a piece of chicken, but the skill for being able to do it IN AN EMERGENCY on a HUMAN family member or friend who is cut and bleeding.

          Doing stitches on someone can be dangerous, have to stop the bleeding, have to clean the wound, get foreign material out of the wound, infection is a risk and everything else, but what is the cost of not doing the stitches? When you take the class you learn all of the risks, you learn how to mitigate them, how to prevent them and you walk forward with knowledge that I CAN DO THIS or just like Modern says,”NO way in hell am I going to do this.” and now… if someone after a hurricane says, “Hey Neighbor, I got a cord here and we can power your house” you’ll be able to make an informed intelligent decision.

          Now you know you can say, “no way in hell” or you can say, “thanks!” and you can go kill all of your breakers, plug into the house, THEN plug into the generator and then only run some lights, a fan, small TV and maybe your refrigerator on a partial circuit. Or you’ll be prepared with extension cords that can reach your neighbors gen set. Knowledge and the truth will set you free.

          Brian… I DO THANK YOU for making your comment. It in no way is a stupid or bad comment. I KNEW I was going to get comments like yours before I did the show, and that’s why I said its the most dangerous show I have ever done.

          Learning about electricity is no different than learning about guns…. and most all of us know all about guns. One mistake with a gun, and you’re dead. Funny how having a gun and not having a gun can be a deadly situation. Funny how having electricity and not having electricity can be a deadly situation.

          You have made me a little bit more determined to bring even more dangerous content to TSP and to present it to everyone so they know ‘what end of gun the bullets come from’. If preppers are not going to hear it from an expert on TSP, on any subject, then where are they going to hear it ?

          Thanks a lot to Brian & Modern.

          Steve

        • Modern Survival

          Steve good points on danger. In the Army we trained with live rounds from M-60 machine guns fired over our heads in the dark with tracer ammo. If you had been dumb enough to stand up you would have been cut down. I repelled out of helicopters, jumped out of many types of aircraft and did service (though briefly) in a combat theater.

          In the civilian world I have taken a lot of live fire combat training, I hiked about 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail alone, rock climbed and repelled including free fall repelling off high bridges. I hunt from climbing tree stands and have spent days in the wilderness out of any communications rage as well chasing Elk and Bear. I’ve water skied, jumped out of fairly fast moving boats and taken kayaks down some pretty harsh whitewater.

          Danger is relative! In spite of all the above I am probably more at danger driving down the road to my office every day with the constant coming and going of 10 wheeler gravel haulers on that narrow winding road.

          I still am not back feeding a house, but yet I now could. If the power was off and NOT coming back for months or more I could do it without frying myself.

  34. @ Steven – I felt basically the same as Modern while listening to your lecture, ie “no f’ing way/ have to be a complete dumbass to do it that way” and I’m thinking to myself; “Why does Steven want to empower such a dumbass?” Yes, ignorance DOES kill, but so does just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

    Don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand “risk”, especially as it comes to prepping and having ‘secondaries”. My secondary source of heat (but actually the one I use the most) and cooking is a wood stove. How many folks have been burned/injured as a result of one of those? I have to use a chain saw, a tractor/skidder, a splitter, maul etc to get the wood ready. Definitely “dangerous” stuff there.

    Steven, you certainly have the right to put the “dangerous” information about “sc’s” out there, I sure hope the audience has the WISDOM to use that knowledge correctly. Imo, there’s just too many “McDonald’s hot coffee drinkers” out there.

    Looking forward to learning more about batteries/backups soon. :)

  35. I have an ETQ 6000 watt generator which I had been thinking of replacing with a Honda eu200i or yamaha. Since I got the ETQ at a steep discount, I’m sure I could get pretty closed to what I payed. I’m not running much more than a fridge, small freezer and various lights during our powerouttages. I”d like to hear your thoughts.

    • Some people taught me that you go to war with what you got, not what you wish you had. You have this, it works. Its got a nice size fuel tank and its
      (1) 120 Volt 20 Amp duplex(1) 120 Volt 30 Amp twist lock L5-30R(1) 240 Volt 30 Amp L14-30R Which means its 240 volts.

      it’ll cost ya a grand to get a yamaha or honda and the only advantage will it will be more quiet, and it’ll be a lot less power and it won’t be 240 volts.

      SAVE YOUR MONEY… spend the extra money you would of on the honda and have an electrician install a transfer switch and hook this baby up to power your entire house, spend any remaining money on the battery bank I’m gonna tell you all about in the battery bank show in December.

      That’s what I’d do.

      Steve

  36. Steven…I have a honda eu2000i generator…if I convert it to a tri-fuel, and i get a companion eu2000…can I choose to convert it as well and run all 4000 watts on propane or natural gas? Thanks…it was two awesome shows that I fired off to many other people to listen to as well!

  37. Russel,

    As I talked about in the show, your generator will output about 75% of full power on natural gas and about 85%-90% on propane. The generators don’t care what fuel they run on, don’t care if they hooked up together with a honda kit or not, if there is fuel going into the engine, its spinning.

    Thanks for the comments on the show, I’m glad you are enjoying it. We’re getting a lot of emails from people who are in the path of Sandy and they are all prepared and ready to go with extra fuel in barrels, inverters, batteries food water medicine etc. and their neighbors are freaking out, can’t find stuff, store shelves are getting empty. I just saw the red cross idiot on TV telling people (noon on Sunday) for people to go to the store and buy a gallon of water per person per day. I don’t think there is any water left on the shelf by now and meanwhile everyone still has plenty of running water coming out of their faucets and the red cross would never tell you to store it in soda bottles, or to put it into a clean-new-unscented trash bag and to put that bag into a box, a tub, a basket, a bucket, a drawer or your bath tub etc…

    I really think there are people who are dead, and who are going to die, because the red cross can’t put out accurate, detailed information for people to help themselves.

    I see only one solution. Jack Spirko should be the director of the Red Cross or FEMA.

    Steve

    • Could someone run an eu2000i tri-fuel generator on natural gas hooked up together with an eu2000i generator running on gasoline? Or would the fact that each has different power limitations somehow screw up the load-balancing between them?

      • the generators don’t care or know what fuel they are running on. All they generator knows is that fuel and air is going in and its going BANG and the cylinders are moving up and down.

        Steve

        • Thanks for your reply. Good to know. I’m considering picking up a second Yamaha 2000 inverter and will probably get the tri-fuel version. Just wanted to make sure I would still be able to use it with the unmodified gasoline version I already have.

  38. I heard you mention that you are going to do batteries in a future show. If that’s not already recorded, I’d like you to discuss an option I have been considering.

    A little about my setup: I have a 7500 watt “mobile” (frame on wheels) propane generator. I have a 1,000 gallon propane tank in the backyard (which is only connected to my furnace and my generator) as well as 2 30 lb portable tanks that are always topped off. I run this into the house during emergencies through a transfer switch that runs into the top of the box “as God intended” ;-).

    I would like to expand the emergency power options available to me. First, I would like to add a bank of deep cycle batteries, a charger and an inverter. Later I would like to add solar panels and wind to charge the batteries.

    My questions:

    1 – what’s the best value in batteries? I’ve seen everything from golf cart batteries to gigantic 2v cells. Not sure what to get if I want maximum long term use.

    2 – should I have the batteries and generator in series (generator to charger then batteries then inverter) or in parallel – not feeding at the same time obviously, but with another transfer switch for either or)

    3 – is there an inverter that has 240 /4 prong output so I can use the same transfer switch setup I already have.

    4 – can I use any old charger to keep the batteries topped of when the power is on or will one particular that will extend the life of the batteries further?

  39. Chris,

    >1 – what’s the best value in batteries? I’ve seen everything from golf cart >batteries to gigantic 2v cells. Not sure what to get if I want maximum long term >use.

    You’ll have to listen to the battery show !!! :)

    >2 – should I have the batteries and generator in series (generator to charger >then batteries then inverter) or in parallel – not feeding at the same time >obviously, but with another transfer switch for either or)

    A normal inverter is NOT going to feed the house. You have too much load in the house, and despite what people think, those big batteries are NOT light sabers of infinite power. A 1000 pounds of batteries is not even equal to 1 gallon of gasoline in a generator. You can feed the house with the inverter, but I don’t really suggest it, unless like you said…you are going off grid…but see what I say about inverters below.

    >3 – is there an inverter that has 240 /4 prong output so I can use the same >transfer switch setup I already have.

    Yeah…they cost well over $1000 and closer to $2000 each. Look at Outback inverters.

    >4 – can I use any old charger to keep the batteries topped of when the >power is on or will one particular that will extend the life of the batteries
    >further?

    OH HELL NO….you are going to have to have a damn good charger, and I’ll be covering damn good chargers in my battery show.

    note: having a propane generator and a 1000 gallon pig is the WAY TO GO!! and good work on the transfer switch.

    There are inverters out there ($2000 +) that are whole house off grid inverters that will even start your propane generator for you when you need more power or the batteries need a charge. In this case, the inverter is also a kick ass charger as well.

    If you are going to do this like you said you might, you’ll probably be needing those very expensive GIANT 2 volt TELECOM batteries. These can be 2000AH each, 200+ pounds EACH and cost $800+ EACH.

    Steve

    • Yep, understand I will not power entire house off of batteries and inverter. To clarify, was merely thinking about re-using transfer switch / internal house wiring and power certain circuits from fuse box when on batter power. Thinking about it now that sort of answers my second question – if I wanted to do this I would have to wire them in parallel with another transfer switch (mains or alt with alt wired to second with batteries or generator) if I wanted the genny to be able to power the whole house.

      Will stay tuned for the battery show and ask any lingering questions after that.

      Thanks for giving so much to the TSP community.

  40. Hi Jack and Steven,
    I need a recommendation on a 30 amp power cord to connect my 7000 watt generator to the transfer switch on my house. I have a Troy-Bilt XP 7000 generator. Unfortunately it did not come with a cord to connect it to the house. Thanks.

    • Kevin,

      the exact cable you say you need.

      Reliance Controls PC3040 40-Feet 30-Amp L14-30 Generator Power Cord for Up to 7500-Watt Generators $99.99

      is listed on
      http://www.Solar1234.com

      I have a HUGE number of resources up there for you to look at and places where you can buy them.

      Steve

  41. Thank you very much.

  42. Steve – question on the items you posted on solar1234.com. The transfer switch you linked to from Reliance is only $100. I thought on the show you had said something about them being $300-400. Is that one just a really good deal or are they apples and oranges?

  43. Steve – you didn’t address grounding your generator in either of your shows. We always used grounding rods on our gen sets in the army. There are a wide variety of generators and manufacturers and recommendations but I don’t believe most people using portables have them grounded when they use them. What do you recommend and where can we find a suitable grounding rod?

    • I did not address them because they are NOT needed… if you really want to pound a 4 foot copper rod into the ground you can get them at home depot… rebar from then will work as well.. no one grounds their generator nor is it needed. Thus….why I did not cover it in the show. I did not cover little green men from mars either, because they are not relevant to the show. We do not ground our inverters either.

      Steve

  44. Steve-

    Your “battery bank” show sounds just like what my prep group and I need as we work on a team build of genverters. Do you know when the show will air? Any chance you can give us a little preview on what you’ll be covering?

    Thanks!

  45. My father who is a Master Electrician pointed out that a person might get away with using a 3 phase motor starter as a transfer switch. Its basically a huge relay. Any comments from anyone on this, especially comments from Steve Harris. You can get rebuilt starters too, cheaper.