PG&E Planning Widespread Power Outages in the San Francisco Bay Area

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KeepingItLight
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PG&E Planning Widespread Power Outages in the San Francisco Bay Area

800,000 customers will have their power shut off today and/or tomorrow in an effort to avoid the sort of catastrophic fires that were caused by PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) power lines in each of the last two years. It's going to be windy for at least a day or two, so most of us can expect outages of about that length. Just to cover its backside, PG&E has announced that some could be without power for up to five days.

Initially, the plans were to close both of the major (1-mile long) tunnels in the bay area: the Caldecott Tunnel, connecting Berkeley/Oakland to Contra Costa County, and the Tom Lantos/Devil's Slide Tunnel on Hwy 1. Late reports say special efforts will be made to keep them open. Evidently, neither tunnel has enough emergency power to keep the lights on in an outage, so PG&E is going to have to route power to them.

I don't have a generator, so I'm planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed! Spent the last couple of hours topping off a bunch of batteries. Looks like I'm going to have oodles of light.

Anybody else making plans?

 

Edited by: KeepingItLight on 10/09/2019 - 02:39
SIGShooter
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I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages. I guess the fact that it’s mostly all concrete with few wooded areas other than Golden Gate park and the Presidio is the reason for that. It’s going to be a mess for folks if power is out for any lengthy period of time Sad

You might want to invest in a portable generator if not for these occurrences but in case there’s an earthquake or other disaster. I bought one several years ago for $500 and it powers my 2 refrigerators and freezer. It’s also quiet enough that nobody knows I’m running it when I have it in my inner fire escape stairwell (vented to the sky).

Time for more BLF Lanterns? Big Smile

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KeepingItLight
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SIGShooter wrote:
I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages.

Sho' 'nuff, you're in the "light," but you're one of the few.

Here's a link to the outage map.

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KeepingItLight wrote:

SIGShooter wrote:
I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages.

Sho’ ‘nuff, you’re in the “light,” but you’re one of the few.


Here’s a link to the outage map.

It’s one of the advantages to living in a heavily built up city I guess Smile

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SIGShooter wrote:
KeepingItLight wrote:

SIGShooter wrote:
I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages.

Sho’ ‘nuff, you’re in the “light,” but you’re one of the few.


Here’s a link to the outage map.

It’s one of the advantages to living in a heavily built up city I guess Smile

Until the lights go out there as well.

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Our power was cut Wednesday night and we expect to be out until tomorrow or beyond. This has happened many times before and for us it is not a big deal. We run a generator for an hour twice each day to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold & cell phones charged. Propane stove works fine. Fire in the fireplace if it gets cold. Life is good; just like grandpa’s days. Except we have lots of flashlights around the house. Solar lights too. Just wish the BLF LT1 was available, but we will have them for next time. Goethe wrote: Continue because you must. Hope you do not have any problems without power.

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We’re in Napa and haven’t had any power issues yet. Went ahead and topped off batteries, gas tanks and filled up all the gas cans. Thought about getting a generator but the wife thought it was overkill but said we should keep an eye out for a sale price for future events. We have a gas stove so I can just connect a propane tank to that if needed.

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KeepingItLight wrote:
I don’t have a generator, so I’m planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed!

You’re going to want to eat the stuff in the fridge first, before it spoils.

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strayz wrote:
SIGShooter wrote:
KeepingItLight wrote:

SIGShooter wrote:
I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages.

Sho’ ‘nuff, you’re in the “light,” but you’re one of the few.


Here’s a link to the outage map.

It’s one of the advantages to living in a heavily built up city I guess Smile

Until the lights go out there as well.

True…but I kind of doubt we’re at risk for outages due to brush fire concerns.

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SIGShooter
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Joshk wrote:
KeepingItLight wrote:
I don’t have a generator, so I’m planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed!

You’re going to want to eat the stuff in the fridge first, before it spoils.

So true. Canned goods and other non-perishables should be last in the queue whenever possible.

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Would a sine inverter run from your car help some of you save your fridge food?
https://www.amazon.com/AIMS-Power-PWRI60012S-Continuous-Receptacle/dp/B0...

How to Run a Refrigerator on an Inverter https://homeguides.sfgate.com/run-refrigerator-inverter-49672.html

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This article was an eye-opener:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/11/california-pge-utility-p...

People with life-threatening disabilities and medical conditions who need power to refrigerate medications or run equipment that keeps them alive were simply left to fend for themselves.

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@brad, it would work, but try to find a way to charge the battery, and not discharge at all below 50%.

TLDR: Damn it PG&E.

TLDR2: We should all start diverting our flashlight money into our own DIY battery pack and solar setups.

secondlifestorage.com

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
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BlueSwordM wrote:
@brad, it would work, but try to find a way to charge the battery, and not discharge at all below 50%.

TLDR: Damn it PG&E.

TLDR2: We should all start diverting our flashlight money into our own DIY battery pack and solar setups.

secondlifestorage.com

Better to buy a generator in my opinion. Solar charging would be painfully slow in San Francisco and hard to quickly recharge large packs.

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That’s why you go overkill.

Next year, I’m planning to put 1-3kW of solar panels during the summer.

Free AC forever!

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SIGShooter wrote:
Joshk wrote:
KeepingItLight wrote:
I don't have a generator, so I'm planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed!

You're going to want to eat the stuff in the fridge first, before it spoils.

So true. Canned goods and other non-perishables should be last in the queue whenever possible.


Yeah, this is good advice. Before the lights went out, I prepared an extra meal from the stuff in the fridge. That gave the fridge time to cool down again before the plug was pulled. Didn't need anything else until the lights came on some 18 hours later. Although it was probably safe to eat, I tossed the small amount of perishables still in there.

Freezer was a different story. Don't want to toss that stuff, unless I have to. There's too much of it. 18 hours with the door shut was probably not a big deal, but I'll be checking when I'm ready to consume some of that stuff.

Next time, I'm going to punch a hole in the top of a two-gallon water dispenser, and freeze.it. Before the power quits, I'll move it into the fridge. Probably do two, and one or two more for the freezer.

SIGShooter
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KeepingItLight wrote:

SIGShooter wrote:
Joshk wrote:
KeepingItLight wrote:
I don’t have a generator, so I’m planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed!

You’re going to want to eat the stuff in the fridge first, before it spoils.

So true. Canned goods and other non-perishables should be last in the queue whenever possible.


Yeah, this is good advice. Before the lights went out, I prepared an extra meal from the stuff in the fridge. That gave the fridge time to cool down again before the plug was pulled. Didn’t need anything else until the lights came on some 18 hours later. Although it was probably safe to eat, I tossed the small amount of perishables still in there.

Freezer was a different story. Don’t want to toss that stuff, unless I have to. There’s too much of it. 18 hours with the door shut was probably not a big deal, but I’ll be checking when I’m ready to consume some of that stuff.

Next time, I’m going to punch a hole in the top of a two-gallon water dispenser, and freeze.it. Before the power quits, I’ll move it into the fridge. Probably do two, and one or two more for the freezer.

If the food in the freezer is still hard to the touch it should be ok. I’ve read that food begins to spoil when the temps reach around 40F so if the freezer is below that I wouldn’t worry about it. If you have a thermometer in the freezer that will tell you what temp rose to when the power came back on. Or a thermal-gun if you have one. I’ve used mine before when our stupid contractors unplugged our freezer when they were working on the building.

Since you live in quake country have you considered getting a generator? I bought one from Costco for $500 and in my tests it will power my 2 refrigerators without any problems.

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Phlogiston wrote:
This article was an eye-opener:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/11/california-pge-utility-p...

People with life-threatening disabilities and medical conditions who need power to refrigerate medications or run equipment that keeps them alive were simply left to fend for themselves.

I’m at a loss as to the purpose of all these articles berating them, though. And I’m no fan of utilities and what they get away with, but still…

Prior years, similar conditions, they didn’t cut power, trees collapsed onto live power lines, sparked the tinder that was lying all around, and wildfires killed people and razed whole towns. Long stretches of dry weather, huge wind gusts… trees falling and knocking down wires will do that. And PG&E got absolutely crucified.

This time, they don’t want a repeat of all that, warn people in advance that they’ll be cutting power, putting out maps and schedules when and where it’ll happen, no one is caught by surprise, and they’re still getting beat up for it!?

Seems like a classic case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

Also,

PG&E set up community resource centers that had power, but for the medically fragile, getting to those places can be more dangerous than staying home. Fortelka and her family had to purchase a generator, which cost $10,000 – and costs $1,000 to $1,200 to run each day on diesel fuel.

Like, f’n wow! They set up places for those who need power, refrigeration, etc., and even that’s not enough??

And wait… 1200bux/day? Even at 4bux/gal for diesel, that’s 300gal per day?? That’s either the biggest load of horse$#|+ I’ve heard in ages, or she’s trying to supply power for an entire neighborhood. My gf spends that much on fuel-oil to heat her entire house all winter.

But y’know? I get it. For some people, life sucks. But Christamighty, what do people expect from PG&E? Someone to come over and power a generator by running in a huge hamster-wheel? Set them up with generators for free? Hey, what about buying them their special-needs food as well as buy them their medications, too?

And then they’d complain their rates are too high and deserve some kind of discount, too.

We had a blackout here for a day or so when a truck ran into a pole and obliterated a pole-pig that powered a few blocks’ worth of houses. That could happen ANY TIME. If I needed constant uninterrupted power to refrigerate my necessary life-saving medications, or special-needs food, or O2-concentrator, or iron lung, or whatever, I’d get my own f’n generator and battery-backup. I wouldn’t want to, like, die, y’know? But hey, that’s not my fault if I don’t. Noooo, I want the mean ol’ utility to buy me one instead.

Facepalm

I give up.

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Internet trick for the freezer. Someone suggested to freeze a small plastic cup of water, then put a quarter on top of the ice and return to the freezer. Even if you are gone during the outage, when you return you can monitor the severity of melting by how far the quarter sunk in the ice. Is that cool or what! There is probably more detail on the net, but I have not checked it out yet.

Actually, I charge my phone with a small solar panel, or with a battery power bank chargeable by a/c or the solar panel, and by the generator…. whichever is convenient.

But for now, power is back on, three days later, so the Liion get charged again. It was fun having such good lights. But not all were good. My wife fried a cheap AA lantern by putting some batteries in backwards. She called to me, “Honey, is it normal for batteries to get so hot you cannot touch them?” LOL. They were alkalines. She doesn’t touch any of my lights.

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These whiny people were obviously not Boy Scouts.

It’s like this;
A LACK OF PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOESN’T CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY ON MINE

If you need a power for your CPAP, have a plan B.
Not rocket science.
Now, I understand not everyone can have a generator if they live in a bird house (Condo highrise, etc.) However, they could have one of the many affordable battery backup inverters to buy some time and then some portable solar panels to help with batt recharge.

Say what you want about Preppers, but they are ready for pretty much anything, hence the word prepared Smile
And you don’t have go all out Waco, few gallons of water, extra meds, first aid kits, batteries and of course Many Flashlights!

At least I have that last part covered. And most of the rest.

The 142 guns some people seem to think they need don’t do you a whole lot of good when you are born with only 2 arms to operate them, so we’ll leave that part out.
Anyway, do like the Amish and just go with the flow man.
Laterrrr

Keith

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Those generator costs definitely look odd, but even ignoring them, I think there’s a legitimate point here.

I’m told that people who receive social security benefits for their disability only get a maximum of $900 a month, and they lose money if they somehow accumulate more than $1000-$2000 in savings. Bear in mind that people with such severe disabilities are much less likely to have jobs and much more likely to be living in poverty.

How do they afford even $500 for a generator?

The “community resource centres” are only open during daylight hours, by the way, and each one only has capacity for 100 people. There’s one centre per county.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the power company to make better provision than that for people whose lives may be on the line. After all, the power company are the ones who’ve failed to clear the trees and scrub away from their power lines in the first place.

The article only scratches the surface, by the way. There’s a lady on Twitter who’s been posting a lot of detail about the disability aspect of this (you’ll need to scroll down a bit):

https://twitter.com/SFdirewolf

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Being prepared for every possible outcome is nice, but really, let's not be condescending d-bags that blame victims that aren't prepared for every possible outcome.  ;)

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PGE is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. It’s been in the news that they would be proactive in cutting off power so it shouldn’t have been a great surprised to anyone that this was happening. Fair or not people should have been more prepared for this. Just like preparing for a natural disaster (hahaha) people should be prepared for relatively short-term power outages.

As to PGE making better provisions for people (and I’m not entirely sure what that entails for everyone) perhaps that should fall more into the government’s arena? It’s a complicated subject though and I can see pros and cons on either side.

Unfortunately this likely won’t be the last outage of this type.

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SIGShooter wrote:

It's been in the news that they would be proactive in cutting off power so it shouldn't have been a great surprised to anyone that this was happening.

Maybe in Northern California.

I watch the news everyday, and I didn't hear that they were going to cut the power until just before they did.

It certainly wasn't enough warning around here, though our power has not yet been cut.

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raccoon city wrote:

SIGShooter wrote:

It’s been in the news that they would be proactive in cutting off power so it shouldn’t have been a great surprised to anyone that this was happening.


Maybe in Northern California.


I watch the news everyday, and I didn’t hear that they were going to cut the power until just before they did.


It certainly wasn’t enough warning around here, though our power has not yet been cut.


It’s strictly been a Northern and Central California thing so far but I think Southern California Edison is also considering it. Highly urbanized areas (like San Francisco) probably wouldn’t be affected since the concern is high winds and heat causing fires similar to what we had the last few years.

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SIGShooter wrote:

It's strictly been a Northern and Central California thing so far but I think Southern California Edison is also considering it. Highly urbanized areas (like San Francisco) probably wouldn't be affected since the concern is high winds and heat causing fires similar to what we had the last few years.

It's in Southern California as well.

SCE cut power to many communities not far from here.

And as far as I know, they gave very little notice.

If they end up cutting our power, we will get a generator, but even then, generators cannot be used when it's very windy.

(And that's exactly when they cut the power.)

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Phlogiston wrote:
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the power company to make better provision than that for people whose lives may be on the line. After all, the power company are the ones who’ve failed to clear the trees and scrub away from their power lines in the first place.

Actually, their responsibility is to provide power for the citizenry en masse. Just like police are not obligated to protect individuals (court cases showed/proved that many times over), utilities are only obligated (in fact limited) to provide bulk power. Same for water, gas, etc. There are zero guarantees, either explicit or implicit. Anyone who ever lost cable for a week or two does not get a pro-rated refund for that time without service.

And clearing trees? The might not even be able to, not without permits, and even then, The County might claim sole power to trim trees and such. And considering how many miles of power-lines go over all sorts of territory (including private property), it’s unreasonable to expect the utility to have a landscaping service on retainer to clear trees and brush.

It was mentioned somewhere that even after all the hoo-ha is over, it’d take quite some time to inspect every bit of cable, in person and via helicopter, to make sure it’s all clear before powering it up. Now imagine how long it’d take to preemptively go and trim trees, sweep out brush (and put all the remnants… where?), and make sure everything’s “fireproof”?

Different topic… here in NYC, there are substations in and around the city that are fired up to provide supplemental power only when it’s most needed, eg, during a heatwave when everyone and his grandmother is cranking up the AC to “blitzkrieg”. No one wants them in Their Neighborhood, so of course they go and protest and sue and keep them shut down. OMGWTF, my kid might develop asthma from the noxious fumes coming from those substations! Keep them off!

And then when overloaded lines, transformers, everything, starts going >pop!< and some neighborhoods get brownouts and blackouts, they demand reparations! Pay me for all my food that went to waste! 2400bux for a fridge’s worth should cover it… (What were they keeping chilled, wild truffles?)

Sorry, but sometimes people are completely unreasonable. They want things to happen by magic, for free, and often in defiance of the laws of physics.

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raccoon city wrote:
Being prepared for every possible outcome is nice, but really, let’s not be condescending d-bags that blame victims that aren’t prepared for every possible outcome.

I just get sick to death of the whole entitlement mentality. Someone loses his cable connection, and then demands that the cableco deliver dvds to his door in the meantime so he doesn’t get bored.

And it isn’t “every possible outcome”. Eg: You’ve known for years if not decades your meds need to be kept chilled. You have this or that equipment that also needs electrical power 24/7. You know that no power means Bad News. Yet you do absolutely nothing but assume Someone™ will provide you with infinite uninterrupted power and bail you out.

You also have days if not weeks notice that there’s some serious fire-hazard brewing that killed a bunch of people just last year, and this time the powerco announces it’ll be cutting power to keep that from happening again. And omgomgomgomgomg, what am I going to do?

These are the same damnfools who clean out stores of milk/eggs/shovels/salt the day before the Mother Of All Blizzards is about to hit, and was alllllll over the news an entire week prior.

This isn’t about “preparing for every possible outcome”, this is about having enough common sense to prepare anything.

NO ONE was blindsided by any any any any any of this. When powerlines sparked wildfires, everyone was bitching that they didn’t cut power to prevent sparking and lighting up all that nice dry tinder. So now they did just that. And people are still bitching.

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SIGShooter wrote:
Unfortunately this likely won’t be the last outage of this type.

And it’s not like Californians never heard of scheduled rolling blackouts, either.

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Did someone say they needed a $10,000 generator ? I’d buy a $400 sine wave inverter and a $9,500 used Lexus .
Does anyone think 10 grand will cover the pain and suffering of missing “The Bachelorette”

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I got a $150 1800 watt inverter generator that can run any small fridge or freezer and an $80 800 watt model that can run small lighting or other aux devices. There’s absolutely no need for $10k to keep food and medicine cold. It doesn’t cost much to plan ahead, but failure to plan can cost plenty. Yes it can sound like victim blaming, but when they use bad examples like that, it’s hard not to.

KuoH

Hammerman wrote:
Did someone say they needed a $10,000 generator ? I’d buy a $400 sine wave inverter and a $9,500 used Lexus.

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