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Old 03-04-2022, 09:16 AM   #1
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Using my MH at home during an extended power outage

We live in NW Connecticut and winter storms, or spring tornados can bring down power lines and although we have never experienced an outage of more than a few hours, anything can happen. So, I have given it some thought below and would like to hear the views of others on how to deal with long term power outages.

I keep my Thor Axis at a storage lot ten minutes away, so it is fairly easy to pick it up and bring it to our house, unless the storage yard has a foot of snow on it. So, I have made arrangements with the yard owner to plow a path to let me out.

Our HOA doesn't allow MHs but heck any port in a storm so I will gladly ignore that restriction during a power outage. I will park the Axis in our driveway just outside of the garage.

If the power outage occurs in mild weather, I will just run an extension cord from the Axis into a window where I will plug in the fridge, LR light fixtures, the TV and cable modem/router. I will run the Axis' generator a few hours in the morning and several hours at night which should be fine to keep the fridge cold and with lights, internet and TV (but maybe not) we should be fine.

I have a portable Honda generator and could do the same thing with it at least for a few days with a 5 gallon jug of gas which i can refill if the neighborhood gas pumps are working. Probably depends on how long I expect the power to be out. With a full tank of gas in my Axis I can probably last for a week and drive to a working gas pump if longer.

If it happens in the winter, then things get interesting. I have thought about setting up a transfer switch next to my home's breaker box and setting up the kitchen, LR circuits on it as well as the furnace burner, blower and controls. This will let me keep the house heated so we could live in it. I am still debating this but probably won't do it.

What we will probably do is move into the MH and live there in dry camping mode until power comes back on. I can last 3-4 days on batteries and maybe a little longer on water. I will run the generator a few hours every other day to keep the batteries up. When the water tank gets low I can run a hose to the house and fill from an exterior spigot as long as the water stays on. I have a sanitary system manhole out on the street in front of the house, so I can move the MH over every 3-4 days and dump grey and black water there.

Propane may be a problem though. Not sure how much propane I might use in the dead of winter, but I suspect it will be several gallons a day. That will last 4-5 days. There are 4 propane filling stations within 20 miles of our house and I hope at least one of them will be in operation. If not, I may just pull up stakes and head south until the power comes back on. In fact, that might be my first choice.

What are your plans?

David
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Old 03-04-2022, 09:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidEM View Post
What are your plans?

David
Sit back and enjoy life while the automatic transfer switch starts my whole-house diesel generator and transfers all the load to it, and thank it all when the power comes back and the automatic transfer switch again transfers the whole load back to the utility company.
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Old 03-04-2022, 09:50 AM   #3
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We lived in ours after hurricane Rita came through in 05. This was at the end of summer (90s during the day) so no icy temps to contend with. We made it work but had to be thrifty at first with our use of food, water, and gasoline.

The local MUD got water restored to the main house after about a week. This helped immensely but electricity, on the other hand, didn't come back for almost a month. Gasoline was in short supply so we had to be careful how long we ran the genset. This of course, caused us to have to be careful with our 12 volt usage in the motorhome. Running the genset for a few hours, mostly at night, supplied power to one leg in the main house, charged the coach batteries some, and allowed us to run the A/C some so we could sleep better during the hot nights.

It was tough but we worked it all out using the two 12 volt wet cell house batteries. We have other vehicles as well which I siphoned gasoline from to keep things going. I was able to hook the house up to the genset (pulled the meter) to run some lights, the refrigerator and the washing machine when needed.

These days, especially when hurricane season approaches, I top off the propane tank and keep all our vehicles filled with gasoline. I have everything needed to do genset oil changes when needed as well. The fresh water tank gets filled when a storm is known to be heading our way.
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Old 03-04-2022, 10:24 AM   #4
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I do something similar to your plan. A whole house generator is alot of expense for a temporary situation, imho, especially when you have 5-8000 watts of generator in the rv. I mean really, if you cannot live without your blow dryer for a few days, you got other problems. Some need power to run their medical equipment, like CPAP and such, but again, 5000 watts of power and a 100' extension cord will likely do it. I run two 100' extension cords into my house under the closed garage door and thru the man door into the house. I limit each to 15 amps. This runs an oil bath heater on each leg and phone chargers.

My generator needs an oil change every 100 hours. So, I keep extra oil and an oil filter at the ready. Even with this, I plan on less than 8 days of running the genset. If the power outage is longer than 4 days, I'm out!
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Old 03-04-2022, 10:50 AM   #5
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We also lived in ours when Rita came through. We had an RV cover at the house and when the electricity went out we just backed it into the driveway, put out the slides fired up the generator and at the time thought everything would be fine the next day. Well we were without electricity in the house for 7 days and by extension, without water since we were on a well at the house. After a couple of days with the fresh tank getting low I made up a special extension cord to run the house water well from the generator in the coach. Our rig was a Newmar Kountry Star pusher with a diesel generator and had plenty of capacity to supply the needed electricity for the deep submersible well pump. Being a Class A pusher it had a huge fuel tank with enough capacity to run the genset 10 to 12 hours per day for the whole week. I was so glad to have the Newmar when that happened she never let us down in the 17 years we had her. It sure made life easier for us.


Since we lived near the gulf in Texas for more than 20 years we got to test that procedure multiple times. LOL Hurricanes, gotta love em.
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Old 03-04-2022, 10:56 AM   #6
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I have full hook up on the side of our house where we kept our travel trailer (just sold). In the 10 years we owned it the refrigerator has been turned off exactly twice - once to defrost and then when we sold it. Everything was kept fully stocked so we could move in or leave town depending on the emergency. I've also got three portable generators and keep about 50 gallons of gas on the property at any given time.
The new 5er comes with a 12V fridge and solar, so it's even better equipped to use than the old TT.
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Old 03-04-2022, 11:13 AM   #7
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Guys:

I am impressed with the DIY ingenuity described above. Keep the ideas coming!

David
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Old 03-04-2022, 02:06 PM   #8
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I lived in NW Connecticut for almost 40 years. We only lost power one time that was for more than 5 or 6 hours, that was the October storm Albert, and that was 3 days.
Woodstove or fireplace was all we really needed.
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Old 03-04-2022, 03:06 PM   #9
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Hi Jay:

Actually, our power is very reliable here in Litchfield, Ct. Apparently, we are on the same circuit as the nearby State Troopers barracks, so we get high priority .

All of which is why I may think about what to do, but I am not willing to put any money into it.

David
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Old 03-04-2022, 04:25 PM   #10
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Well.....God Bless California....every time there is a fire, anywhere in the State, they find a reason to shut down our power. Two years ago, they shut down our power for 78 hours. No fires anywhere in the area (So Cal) but the wind was blowing.

Our coach is stored at our hose. During long power outages, we run two cords off of the coach and power the refer, TV, cell phone charges and some lights. Last time it ran for 75 hours.
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Old 03-04-2022, 04:36 PM   #11
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My parents did when I was young. Hurricane Gloria hit us in 1985. We were without power for 2 weeks. 2 days into it dad made a back feed plug and plugged into the dryer plug in the house. We would use the motorhome genny to power the house. The motorhome at the time was a 26’ GMC Kingsley. Not very many people had generators back then so this was a real treat to have power in the house.
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Old 03-04-2022, 04:42 PM   #12
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Last year we finished a garage to store the RV so it is close. I did run power, water and sewer to the garage so we could just move RV and/or back feed power and water from the garage to the house.

One thing I did when i build the house was install two safety switches between the meter and the service panels in the house. I can easily isolate the house. I also allowed to install a transfer switch if I wanted to.

But if it was a short term situation I'd rely on extension cords to keep the refrigerators cold. I have a small generator periodically run the well pump to fill up all the tubs and RV tank with water. I keep the RV full of fuel so we could go weeks if we ran the generator conservatively or just simply set it up for auto gen start and let it do it's thing. I also keep enough gas for the small generator to last the same amount of time running it sparingly.



Needless to say I've run this scenario though my brain a couple times and am confident we could get by for a little while.
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Old 03-04-2022, 04:48 PM   #13
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I have my trailer plugged into my home utility power with a dedicated 30 amp circuit that goes to my Victron Energy Multiplus 3000VA inverter/charger. I my house 10 circuit manual transfer switch plugged into my trailers inverter/charger.

The trailer has 1440 watts of solar on the roof and 700 amp-hours of LiFePO4 batteries.

The system acts as a 8.4 kilowatt-hour UPS for circuits on the house manual transfer switch. I have a relay on the 30 amp feed from the house to the trailer. When the batteries reach 73% state of charge from solar charging the relay opens and the inverter/charger carries the load of the circuits on the transfer switch. When the batteries go down to 70% the relay closes and power from the house flows to the trailer transfer switch and back to the house.

The longest outage I have experienced since setting up the system was 11 hours. During the day I did nothing. I checked the estimate on power restoration about 10 hours before sunset and the forecasted restoration time was midnight. I sent my son to fill the 5 gallon can of gas for the generator and started running the generator from about 6PM until power was restored near midnight. The next day I put the rest of the gas from the can into one of our cars. I avoid storing gas because the need is infrequent.

Most other outages are short enough that the batteries and solar are enough to carry the load until power returns.

The system keeps the important circuits such as refrigeration and lighting going while the sun shines. I can also run an evaporative cooling when it is hot or the furnace if it is cold. The inverter/charger can surge to 6000 watts so it handles motors startup better than the generator can do on its on. The inverter/charger is a hybrid and can synchonize to the generator to add capacity using stored energy in the batteries.

I run this system when ever the trailer is parked at home. I power shift about $15-30 dollars a month to the trailers solar system. The main benefit of the system is its automatic standby power function. In 12 months the solar has generated about 2 megawatt-hours of power used by the house circuits.
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Old 03-04-2022, 08:04 PM   #14
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Our MH was the safety net at our house for power outages. Just pulled it in the driveway and could camp there for a week if needed. I also always kept the gas topped off and made an option to be able to switch the gas line to a 5 gallon gas can if needed. That way I didn't need to have 1/4 tank of fuel sitting in the gas tank that was not usable for extended periods of time. I could just keep the fuel can topped off and run the generator.

Now I sold that MH last Saturday and bought a TT. Need to come up with new plans, I have a 1k and a 4500k generator. But need to do some math for run time vs demand needed.
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