Rural Living Survival Basics: Purchase a Generator

A standby generator can be expensive, but it will make sure your homestead can continue running in an emergency.

| January 2013

Before you pull up stakes and start a rural homestead, there are several things to learn about the realities of rural living that you might never have faced in your city or suburban home. Ragnar Benson grew up on a farm and has lived in the sticks for decades, and he has helped dozens of transplants settle into their new homes in the country. Starting a New Life in Rural America (Paladin Press, 2006) is a collection of personal advice into a manual of introduction to some of the issues you need to know about life in rural communities. One challenge you may face is spotty power. In this excerpt, read about how you should purchase a generator and how to determine what kind would be the best for you.  

You can purchase this book in the GRIT store: Starting a New Life in Rural America.

That Erik Grupp of Kodiak, Alaska, wanted to purchase a portable standby generator might seem strange at first. Grupp lived well within the confines of the city of Kodiak itself, not out in a wild, remote area.

Still, Kodiak is notorious for its sudden, intense storms, so Grupp figured life there was inordinately risky without his own generator. “It’s a miracle,” Grupp reports, “that power interruptions occur as infrequently as they do.” Perhaps because the power company expected such and were appropriately staffed and equipped, outages tended to be brief—from four hours to a day in length, max. The problem was the frequency with which residents had to endure them.

Without reliable power, Grupp’s extensive frozen food supplies were jeopardized in summer. During the bitter cold winter months, he felt he risked the comfort and safety of his family in a power outage of any duration. Homes in his area, subjected to howling winds straight out of the North Pole, have frozen up in 90 minutes without the relatively small amounts of electricity necessary to power the oil furnace and blower. Acquiring a standby generator seemed the prudent thing to do.

Generators are one of those appliances that require a reason, or perhaps even an excuse, for ownership. They are sufficiently expensive that most folks, including rural ones, don’t just go out and buy one. The common reasoning for having one is recognition that rural power is fairly reliable in most areas, but when it does go down, consequences can be severe. There is also the matter of using a generator to run labor-saving power tools in the travel camper or shop, or out on the grounds away from an electrical outlet.

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