Home Electric Generator Test

Yesterday I tested my home backup electric generator for the first time and created a 16.5 minute video about the experience. In this article, I’ll share some of the highlights and key points from the video, which focuses on what it means to be a “Communitarian Prepper,” why it’s important to prepare and TEST your home setup for emergency power generation, and some of the next steps I plan to take for our family.

Emergency Backup Generator Test: Furman WHO3243 (3 June 2023 by Wes Fryer)

1: Understanding Communitarian Prepping

Being a communitarian prepper means taking proactive measures to prepare for emergencies while considering the well-being of your community. It goes beyond individual survivalism and embraces the idea of supporting and assisting our neighbors during challenging times. As I’ve watched numerous YouTube videos in the past few years relating to prepping as well as firearms / guns, it seems like a large number of people are imagining some kind of hypothetical “zombie apocalypse” scenario where they will have to become “lone wolf survivalists.” That is NOT my perspective on emergency preparedness, so that is why I’m defining myself as a “communitarian prepper.” There is NO WAY any of us can survive or thrive in a significant emergency situation without the help of others in our community. While none of us has or can have unlimited resources to help a huge number of people in an emergency, all of us have some resources which ideally can help some of our neighbors and community members, as well as those in our immediate family. That’s the kind of prepper and “good human” I aspire to be and continue becoming.

2: Introducing the Furman HU-3242 Dual Fuel Generator

I recently acquired a Firman WHO3242 Dual Fuel Generator, which I purchased on sale at Costco. This generator caught my attention due to its impressive features and capabilities. It offers backup power for essential appliances during emergencies and serves as a reliable energy source for camping trips. While it features both standard 20 A 110 outlets (2) and a larger RV outlet (TT-30R 120V 30A RV,) it does NOT output 220 volt power. This means it’s more capable than smaller units, but may not be suitable as a “whole house” power replacement generator.

Firman WHO3242 Electric Generator” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

3: Past Power Generation Experience

Throughout the years, I’ve had several experiences with generators, from using them during camping trips to enduring power outages caused by severe ice storms. These encounters have motivated me to invest in a reliable power backup solution for my home and outdoor activities. Since I’ve used a CPAP machine for several years now, I’ve needed “off grid” capabilities to use mine when we’ve been family camping. As with many aspects of being a “communitarian prepper,” I think having (and practicing the use of) a backup electrical generator can have multiple benefits for our family in addition to emergency preparedness. Being better prepared and equipped for family camping is one of those benefits!

Colorado Camping July 2019” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

4: The Benefits of Dual Fuel Capability

One of the primary reasons I opted for the Furman HU-3242 Dual Fuel Generator is its dual fuel capability. It can run on either gasoline or propane, providing flexibility and addressing the challenges associated with the shelf life of gasoline. As I discussed in this video, however, the SPECIFICS of how long your generator can operate is dependent not only on fuel type and capacity, but also the LOAD you are putting on the generator. the load is based on the number of household appliances / devices you are powering. One of my “next steps” is to obtain a home electricity usage monitor to determine exactly how much “load” our refrigerator and deep freeze require, to calculate how long I’ll be able to run my generator and power our essential home appliances in the case of a prolonged power outage / power grid failure. I also want to calculate the excess electrical capacity I’ll have, since we may need to power a portable heater, fan or air conditioner (depending on the season) as well as chargers for our various electronic devices. We’ll also want to power our home Internet router and WiFi network, to continue accessing the web (as well as powering our smart home devices) if Internet access remains available during the emergency.

5: Selecting the Right Location for the Generator

Determining the optimal location for the generator requires careful consideration. I prioritize protecting it from the elements while ensuring that the extension cords reach the appliances I intend to power. Safety and security are paramount in deciding where to position the generator. You never want to operate an electrical generator indoors (like in a garage) and you also want to be careful to direct exhaust fumes away from windows and household air inlets.

6: Starting Up and Testing the Generator

With the generator properly fueled and oiled, I demonstrated the startup process in my video. It’s crucial to allow the generator to run for a brief period before plugging in electrical devices. This ensures a smooth and stable power supply, and also avoids damage to the generator or the devices you are plugging in. This particular generator features an “electrical start” option, which is super handy and easier than using the “lawnmower-style” pull rope starter. However, you need to charge the internal electrical battery in advance, and be sure it’s kept charged as part of your regular generator maintenance plan.

7: Assessing Power Output and Load Capacity

During the test, I connected my refrigerator and deep freeze to the generator using extension cords. By monitoring the generator’s readout, I hoped to determine its load capacity and assess whether I can power additional appliances simultaneously. This information (eventually) will help me plan for various emergency scenarios effectively. I need to read more of my generator’s operating manual to learn exactly what the different readout options mean. I hope to record and share another video soon where I share more about this, also using data from the home electricity usage monitor I’m going to order soon.

Generator Panel Readout” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

8: Overcoming Challenges and Considering Future Needs

In my video I acknowledged some of the challenges associated with emergency preparedness and generator usage. Additional supplies such as stabilizer for gasoline, extension cords, grounded power strips, and a thorough understanding of electrical load calculations are essential components of effective preparedness too. Yesterday’s tests highlighted several additional items I need to purchase and create (like a sized foam insert to put in my sliding sunroom door) as well as a custom sized dowel to lock / secure the partially opened door.

9: Expanding Emergency Preparedness Efforts

Beyond powering crucial appliances, I recognize the need to consider other electrical needs during emergencies. Charging devices, maintaining internet connectivity, and preparing for various contingencies are all part of a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan. I plan to continue to adapt and enhance my preparedness efforts as time goes on, I’m able to allocate more family resources to these needs, and technologies continue to improve.

One of my long term goals (which I did not mention in this video) is obtaining a large home battery for electricity backup purchases, like a Tesla PowerWall. I’m interested in tracking the development of new “solid state battery options” which promise to be easier and safer than other backup battery options now available on the market. Eventually, I want to have home-mounted solar panels, as well as portable / mobile solar panels (which we can use camping or I can use to setup a mobile HAM radio operating station) that can charge our solid-state batteries used to power appliances and charge our devices.

10: Embracing a Faith-Based Approach

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that while emergency preparedness is crucial, it should never be accompanied by fear and anxiety. I firmly believe in the power of faith and the assurance that proper preparation, combined with trust in a higher power, can alleviate unnecessary worry during challenging times. This is a topic I address in more detail on my Christian blog, “PocketShare Jesus,” and in social media posts (including Instagram, Mastodon, and Twitter) using the hashtag #dw4jc, which stands for “digital witness for Jesus Christ.” (I’ve almost finished a book with this title.)

In my original video, I shared my experiences and challenges, encouraging others to embark on their own preparedness journeys. By documenting and sharing my progress, I hope to inspire individuals to explore their own emergency preparedness endeavors.

Emergency preparedness is an ongoing journey that requires continuous learning and adaptation. I encourage you to share your own tips, suggestions, and experiences in the comments section below. Together, we can build a strong and supportive community focused on preparedness and resilience.

Remember, the key to effective emergency preparedness lies not only in tangible resources but also in the faith we have in God and His provision. By combining practical preparations with a steadfast belief, we can face uncertainties with confidence and peace of mind.

Thank you for joining me on this communitarian prepper journey with a dual fuel generator. Stay safe, be prepared, and let’s face the future with optimism, resilience and faith. 🙂

Home Electric Generator Test” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

AI Disclosure: I accessed the auto-generated YouTube transcript of my video using youtubetranscript.com. I then used ChatGPT 4.0 (ChatGPT+) to create this multi-section article version of my video transcript, which I then manually edited and refined. Lastly, I used ChatGPT to create a short video summary (included as the video description on YouTube) as well as the hashtags to use sharing this video on social media.

I’m a Communitarian Prepper

I’ve decided I’m a “Communitarian Prepper,” and I’ve started a new website to share related resources. This aspirational journey started this past summer, but connects with different skills and dispositions I learned about in Boy Scouting as well as my brief years at the US Air Force Academy and in the USAF, and through my lifelong journey of faith following Jesus Christ. My introductory ideas about this, which I’ve added at the top of the website, are:

I have a “slow hunch” we are living in a season of life and history in which we are called to become “Communitarian Preppers.” While some preppers may “incline toward individualism and competition,” I believe we are called (for both practical and faith-based reasons) to prepare for emergencies and even catastrophes so that we can not only take care of our own families, but also help take care of our neighbors. For me, this is the essence of being a “communitarian prepper:” Building strong relationships among our neighbors and in our own community, and developing both our resource base and skill sets, so that we can better weather and survive the storms of life together through all the forms they might take.

We need to prepare to take care of ourselves, take care of our families, and take care of each other.

From commprep.wesfryer.com on 13 Nov 2022.

The backyard video on “Prepping and Preparation” (38 minutes) I recorded in Oklahoma City this past Fourth of July addressed many of these topics, themes, and underlying motivation. In our society and culture today in the United States, I believe we need to do a much better job “taking care of each other.” We need to prepare for emergencies of all types not only to care for ourselves and our families, but also to better position ourselves to care for others. This is the “slow hunch” which now has a clearer title which hopefully communicates the ethic of neighborly care I believe is simultaneously a self-interested requirement in a catastrophic emergence “at scale,” is a secular responsibly for our fellow human beings, and is also a theological mandate.

Back in 2016 I listened to Ted Koppel’s eye opening book, “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath”on Audible. The Amazon description explains:

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before. 

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.” 

After that, I read “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. The Amazon description is:

New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real…a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages…A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

Both of these books, paired with my experiences serving as the Director of Technology for a midwestern private school for 4 years, greatly increased my own awareness of the growing hostility of our cyber environment and the dangers those aggressions can pose in our kinetic, face-to-face world. The COVID-19 global pandemic revealed many things as well, including our universal vulnerability to supply-chain disruptions. The ongoing war in Ukraine with Russia seems like a surreal event at times, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s just a matter of time before that conflict is “brought home” to us in North America in very tangible, painful ways.

We live in extremely perilous times, and we take so much for granted. In addition to reliable electricity, cell phone tower connectivity, and clean flowing water, we assume our space-based GPS system and representative democracy are constants which will remain our “status quo” forever. We also may naively assume “that one password we’ve always used for everything online is secure. Alas, that may not be so.

“Technology Fear Therapy” by Wes Fryer at TEDxUCO (March 2022)

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed today by current events, political polarization, and just the deluge of information which washes over us in our polluted and fractured media environment. There are a great number of things I do not know, but here is something I’m confident about: I want to live in community with others who have both the motivation / desire to care for each other as neighbors, and (hopefully) are well-prepared to care for each other in the event we experience a catastrophe, either a natural disaster or a human-initiated debilitating event.

Those are some of the reasons I’ve decided I’m a “Communitarian Prepper.” I invite you to join me. Hopefully my website can provide you with some helpful resources and suggestions on your own journey of preparation and community care.

Remember the BEST TIME to prepare for an emergency is BEFORE anything bad happens!

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