Saturday, January 31, 2009

Generator Fuel, How Much to Store for 30 Days of Power?

Great! You’ve just bought a generator to supply power when the grid is down. Well, now you need to know how much gasoline you actually need to store to run the generator for 30 days of power.

The 30 day window is a reasonable example and should be enough time to get past a blizzard, ice storm, hurricane, forest fire or an earthquake. During this 30 day window you can assess your situation and make a decision to continue to stay or leave your home for a safe area and wait out the rebuilding and restoration of utilities. Also during the first 30 days most people will have used up all the food in the refrigerator/freezer.

The average generator size used for back-up power is on average between 4kw and 5kw with a 220 volt outlet for powering fresh water well pumps under 2 HP.
These units on average like my Onan 4kw burn ½ gallon per hour and near maximum output.

Second, what do you want to provide power to?
Lighting at night and most importantly, refrigeration while there is still food in it. On average to keep your food frozen you will need to run the refrigerator/freezer a minimum of six hours a day.
Two hours first thing in the morning, two hours during the day and two more hours around bed time. During the early morning and in the evening you will at the same time have power for lights, battery charging, radios/TV’s etc. so you have double duty going then. During the day would be for the refrigerator/freezer, battery charging and common communications, radio and TV.

Now, you know you need at least 180 hours of generator run time for a 30 day off grid survival period.

180 hours of generator run time burning ½ gallon per hour of gasoline equals a whopping 90 GALLONS OF GAS!

I honestly know of no one that stores that much gasoline. That’s 18 five gallon gas cans full of treated gas, most of us have only 2 to 4 five gallon cans on hand or just 3 to 6 days of run time @ 6 hours a day……

To sum it up; you need to have in storage two, 55 gallon drums of treated gasoline for just a 30 day period.

How much fuel would you need to run your generator 24 hours a day because of medical issues or it’s freezing outside and you must run the furnace to keep from freezing water pipes and yourself? It works out to be 12 gallons a day times 30 days equals 360 gallons of stored treated gasoline or seven 55 gallon drums. In this case I would suggest a propane or natural gas fueled generator with the next best being a diesel fueled generator.

If you are thinking about using 55 gallon drums keep in mind that a full drum weigh’s nearly 400 pounds. Getting them off a pick-up truck bed can be a chore. Also don’t forget you will need a transfer pump to get the gas from the drum to the generator tank.

Using a 12v low pressure, low volume fuel pump (one made for generators or small engines) plumbed between the drum and the generator’s carburetor would make using 55 gallon storage drums very convenient. For safety do not store the drums in the garage or near the house. This is no time for a fire and this fire would be catastrophic.

1 comment:

  1. www.frombeyondthegrid.comJanuary 17, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    Hi Yuon Mike,

    I really enjoyed your blog on Generators and How Much Fuel To Store.

    I have a web site which caters to the reading enjoyment of homesteaders. I know they would learn a lot from this article as well. Would you be so kind and give me permission to feature your blog on our front page?

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    Diane and warren McMillan
    Ontario Canada
    email address:


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