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.

Residential Water Interruption: Are You Ready?

It’s January 2, 2023, and large numbers of residents of Asheville, North Carolina have been without water at their homes since Christmas Eve, a little over a week ago. As a Communitarian Prepper, this unfortunate current event can provide a case study for all of us concerning the ways we need to prepare for temporary (or even long term) interruptions in municipal water service, as well as other life sustaining services and utilities. Whether or not you have a well on your property, have a nearby neighbor with a well, or start making plans to put in a well, making SOME plans and preparations for how your family can weather and sustain a temporary cutoff in access to purified drinking water through your household taps is important. That’s the focus of this post.

Water Purification System at Sawmill” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

How likely are you to lose water at your house? Hopefully not very likely, but if we consider our experiences living in Oklahoma City for 16 years, it’s a definite possibility. We lost water access a couple of times because of some slab leaks we had in our house, which required us to cut off our city water feed at the street. This was a big inconvenience, but thankfully just lasted a few days. I am in the habit of keeping about six, five gallon plastic water containers full in the garage, so at those times we had stored water to use in our toilets as well as for drinking and cooking needs. See the article, “Best emergency water storage containers for your home” from ThePrepared.com for more suggestions on water containers.

In the case of the current municipal water outage in Asheville, severely cold weather caused breaks in over 1700 miles of water lines, leaving over 38,000 people without residential water service. There are several threat vectors to consider when it comes to an interruption in water service at your house:

Regardless of the cause, when water stops flowing from the tap at your house, you need to figure out:

  1. How can I obtain and store water in containers that I can use at home?
  2. How can I purify water that I either obtain from a neighbor’s well or my own, or another source, that could include your own tap before municipal water purification systems are back online.

This latter situation is now affecting many residents of Asheville, North Carolina. Today, “Buncombe County schools” have switched to “remote learning” for several days because many families are either without water or without purified water, and “boil advisories” continue to be in effect. This means even though water is flowing out of taps at home, the water isn’t purified and can’t be consumed / used for drinking until is been treated with a filter and/or chemicals.

I’m a camper, backpacker, as well as a former Philmont Ranger (summers of 1991 and 1992) and USAF cadet survival instructor (summer of 1990), so I have some experiences with backcountry water purification. My experiences as an Eagle Scout on high adventure treks to Philmont as well as the Minnesota / Canadian boundary waters area on a summer canoe trek also inform my experiences and skills in this area. My former Scoutmaster, Ray Hightower (Troop 74, Manhattan, Kansas) was a fan of “Polar Pure” water purification, which uses super-saturated iodine water to purify (usually) quart sized water bottles. That is still my preferred method, and I keep a bottle of Polar Pure in our garage-stored camping gear. If you’re needing to purify larger amounts of water than quart water bottles, however, a different solution is needed.

In the past, I have kept a large bottle of bleach in our home emergency supply cache, since bleach can be used to purify water effectively. It’s recommended that you wait at least 60 minutes before drinking water purified with bleach. If you boil water to purify it, you also have to wait until it cools off.

One of the important things I learned in Scouting and various survival training lessons was that to be purified, water does NOT need to be kept at a “rolling boil” for 5 or 10 minutes. Once water has gotten to the boiling point, all the “bad stuff” which needs to be killed through the purification process (like the Giardia parasite, which we all DEFINITELY want to avoid, since it STAYS in your gut indefinitely after you’ve ingested it) will be killed.

The other water purification method which is on my “Communitarian Prepper Wish List” is a water filter. These can be drinking straws or larger capacity filters. It’s also possible to get a residential well installed, which has built-in water treatment, purification and treatment included. This latter solution is my “prepper dream,” but it’s not something we’re going to obtain in the near term.

As with all types of emergency preparedness, it’s vital to think about these issues and TAKE ACTION TO PREPARE for these possibilities well BEFORE a crisis starts. What would you do if your residential water supply was cut off today? What would you do if it remained cut off for three days? For a week? For a month?

Any preparation you can do now can pay dividends in case of an emergency. Remember, communitarian preppers are not just interested in taking care of themselves and their immediate family members, they are also interested in providing for neighbors and others in the community who many not be as well prepared for a crisis or disaster, or may not physically be able to provide for themselves and need assistance.

There are important lessons to learn from the recent and ongoing water crisis in Asheville, North Carolina. The question is: What are YOU going to do now to better prepare yourself and your family for an interruption in municipal water service?

Residential Water Interruption: Are You” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Boots and Catalysts

I’m wearing the warmest boots I currently own, a pair of Thinsulate hunting boots I bought a few years ago at Academy Sports in Edmond, Oklahoma, in advance of a winter “Venture Scouts” camping trip I took with our oldest daughter. In this post I want to reflect a little on the severe blast of cold weather that is hitting the United States this week, and how this relates to the idea of being a “Communitarian Prepper.” For some reason, I also just want to reflect a little on these boots. So here we go…

Thinsulate hunting boots” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I’m enroute to visit my parents in Manhattan, Kansas, today, for a short visit. My dad told that later this week the wind chill is going to get down to something crazy like minus 30 or minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That is insane. I really don’t remember many times growing up in northeast Kansas, in the 1980s, when we had weather that cold. Checking out the forecast in the iOS Carrot weather app (my new fav, since “Dark Sky” is going offline in 2023) it looks like Thursday at 3 am the local temperature in Manhattan is supposed to be minus 13 degrees F. That’s WITHOUT wind chill, of course. During the day Thursday, it will warm up all the way to positive 4 degrees F. Yikes.

MHK Forecast” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I love the fact that we live in Charlotte, North Carolina, now, where the weather is generally milder than what I’ve experienced most of my life in the midwest. Charlotte rarely receives snow, although they did last winter. Apparently it was the first time in 4 years they had snow. In Oklahoma, we experienced some pretty brutal ice storms over the years, living there 16 years, from 2006 to 2022.

OKC Ice Storm Oct 2020” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

The worst was in January 2007, when I flew to MacWorld with my cousin, Devin Henley. It was amazing, but Oklahoma City received over a foot of ice and the OKC airport shut down for several days. Devin and I got stuck flying back in Denver, but made the best of it by staying with a family friend, purchasing some ski gear at REI, and taking the “ski train” to spend a day skiing at Winter Park! Stuck at home without power and three young children, Shelly was not super-happy with me.

Just the beginning!” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

When severe weather strikes, wherever you happen to be, you need to be PREPARED NOW. In the craziness of moving from Oklahoma to North Carolina last summer, we left a LOT of stuff behind. Apparently, those abandoned items included my winter ski gloves, because they are not in the large trunk of “stuff” we have in our new garage, where I did pull these winter hunting boots out last night.

Thinsulate hunting boots” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Incidentally, these boots are NOT the ideal footwear for passing through airport security checkpoints. At some point I’d like to pay and enroll in TSA Precheck, but at this point, I don’t have any special privileges when it comes to airport security.

I’m hoping to buy some new winter gloves at the Manhattan WalMart early in this visit. Literally the only gloves or mittens I have to use at this point are a pair of wool hiking socks, which I had to use for this purpose over Thanksgiving break when our Charlotte temperatures fell below freezing.

My level of winter preparedness, living now as a new resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, may be at an all-time lifetime low. I did find my thermal underwear to bring, and a fleece hat, but to not have any winter gloves to use? This is a sad level of preparedness indeed.

Mittens” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

So this brings me back to thinking about emergency preparedness, and living into this idea of being a “communitarian prepper.” We all need CATALYSTS which encourage (or in some cases, FORCE) us to change our thinking and behavior. Most people will not simply wake up one day, sans-catalyst, and decide to change their own mindset and ways.

Sometimes our CATALYST which pushes us to change our ways is traumatic. In the past six months, I’ve had opportunities to interact with different adults taking some self-defense / self-protection classes, and the stories some of them have told about “Why I’m here” have been heart wrenching. It’s always better to “find your why” to “change your ways” in a non-traumatic, more intellectual activity (like reading a blog post, for instance) rather than a life-threatening, “fight or flight” moment of true struggle and survival.

A Challenging Professional Mantra” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I’m not sure what the word for this is, but maybe I can suggest a few creative possibilities and others will chime in with other suggestions. Sometimes we change our ways because of:

  1. Externally imposed, traumatic life events (the death of a relative or a friend, becoming permanently disabled in an accident)
  2. An authority figure in our lives who demand changes (could be a parent or a spouse)
  3. New circumstances which require us to live differently (moving to the northern tier, for instance, which has harsher and more brutal winter weather requiring a different wardrobe and different routines through the winter months)

Maybe we can call those, “externally imposed life change catalysts.” These kinds of changes are unavoidable, given the facts of a new context. To survive, to live, or even to THRIVE (and isn’t that a lovely goal) we have to make important changes.

The other kind of thinking and behavior change catalysts are CHOICE CATALYSTS. These are events, ideas, conversations, or observations we experience which we CHOOSE to MAKE into catalysts. Examples could include:

  1. We don’t have to go on a diet and lose weight, but we notice undesirable changes in our weight, so we decide to make some dietary, lifestyle, exercise and/or routine changes.
  2. We recognize how our thinking and our interactions with others are affected by our use of mobile technologies, so we decide to make some screentime changes to address those unwanted dynamics.
  3. We have to get out all our cold winter clothing for an upcoming trip to the midwest, and realize we are not only poorly prepared for cold-weather activities, we’re also still pretty poorly prepared for a variety of potential emergencies or crises.

This, then, can be a defining characteristic of a “communitarian prepper,” as well as just an individual who wants to be better prepared for the potental (and often unforeseen) challenges of life: Seeking CHOICE CATALYSTS in life and then making an individual ACTION PLAN so those catalytic events / ideas / experiences propel us forward into our better prepared, aspirational future.

Today, I choose to make the four days this week when I’ll be wearing my Thinsulate hunting boots into a CHOICE CATALYSTS event as a “communitarian prepper,” I’ve got some brainstorming to do!

To be continued…

Thinsulate hunting boots” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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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