Saturday, January 31, 2009

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

Great! You’re ready to invest in a generator to supply power when the grid is down. So how much gas do you need to store for it? Let’s use a 30 day example: How much gasoline do you need to store to run the generator let’s say 8 hours a day (four, 2 hour segments) for 30 days of power.

The 30 day window seems reasonable 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.

Most people buy the common and relatively inexpensive 5,000 watt generators with a 220 volt and 110 volt outlet. If you have your own fresh well water to pump then the 220 volt outlet is necessary for water. These generators use ½ gallon of gas per hour!

What exactly do you want to provide power for?
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 about 8 hours a day. Two hours running segments starting first thing in the morning, two more two hour segments during the day and one more two hour segment at bed time. Do not open the freezer or refrigerator anymore than absolutely necessary, try to limit opening to when the generator is running so it can replace the cold air.

Trial and error testing will tell you how long you need to run the generator for living through your disaster/lifestyle.

During any of the segments you will also have power for lights, battery charging, radios/TV’s etc. so you can have double duty going then.

Based on the above you now know you may need about 8 hours per day of run time or 240 hours of generator run time for a 30 day off grid survival period. That’s 240 hours of generator run time burning ½ gallon per hour of gasoline equals a whopping 120 GALLONS OF GAS! In other words you need to have in storage two, 55 gallon drums plus 10 more gallons of treated gasoline for just a 30 day period.

Another example:
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 nearly seven 55 gallon drums. In this case I would suggest a propane gas fueled generator with the next best being a diesel fueled generator. Propane stores forever and you can buy it in bulk. Diesel fuel store much better than gas plus you can buy AG Diesel (No road taxes on that purchase) and have it delivered and stored in 275 gallon heating oil tanks.

Fire caution:
If you are thinking about using 55 gallon drums keep in mind that a full drum weigh’s nearly 350 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. For safety do not store the drums in the garage or anywhere near the house. This is no time for a fire and this fire would be catastrophic in size.

If you don’t need 220 volts:
Then you can get by with a smaller generator like I do. I have a Honda 2000i, it only uses 1 gallon of gas every day or 30 gallons for the month!   The 2000i is about the smallest you can go because microwave ovens like mine use 1630 watts to run. Worth thinking about…

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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