Thursday, April 23, 2009

When the Lights go Out

How Much Power Do I Need?

There are two basic power measurements for generators: peak power (also known as startup power) and continuous power. Both are measured in wattage.
• Peak power is the wattage required for appliances at startup or when they are running at their highest levels of power consumption.
• Continuous power is the wattage required for operation of those appliances under normal load.

Standby Generators: Standby generators create from 5,000 to 25,000 watts or more of power. You’ll have to choose a generator that supplies sufficient peak and continuous wattage for the appliances on the circuits you need to power.
You can choose between an air-cooled and a liquid-cooled model standby generator. Generally, liquid-cooled models are bigger and create more power.

Portable Generators: A small 1,000-watt portable generator may be all you need for recreational purposes. And you may use up to 8,000 watts if using a generator to power tools on the jobsite. Because you plug appliances directly into a portable generator, you’ll also want to make sure that your model has the number and type of outlets you need. The size of the fuel tank also is crucial. The bigger the tank, the longer your generator can run without refilling and produce power. If you want to use a portable generator to power specific circuits in your house–or the whole house–follow the guidelines for choosing a standby generator.

What Features and Accessories Do I Need?
Aside from pure power production, there are some useful features and accessories to consider when buying a generator.

Transfer switch: If you want to use your generator to power your home, you’ll need a sufficiently sized generator and a transfer switch. The transfer switch safely closes off the utility power line to your house’s electrical system and opens a direct line to the generator and reverses the process when utility power is restored. Standby models can work either with a manual or an automatic transfer switch. The benefit of an automatic transfer switch is that it senses when utility power has been lost and automatically switches to generator power.

Wheeled Frames: As the name suggests, portable generators can be transported to different locations. The smallest portable generators are comparatively light–perhaps 50 pounds–and can be carried. Larger models can weigh as much as several hundred pounds, making a wheeled frame essential for transportation.

Other Considerations:
• Noise: Generators aren’t necessarily quiet. Some offer extra features to reduce the noise created during operation.
• Weather Protection: Make sure the generator you purchase is suited for the climate in which you’ll use it.

How Do I Install and Operate a Generator
Standby Generators: Installing a standby generator by yourself may void the unit’s warranty or violate local building codes, so research these issues before you begin. The basic steps are as follows:

First, mount the unit outside your home on a concrete pad or plastic mounting pads that come with the generator. You may need a expert to pour the concrete foundation and mount the generator.
Next you’ll need to contact your gas or propane company to connect the unit to its fuel source.
Last, you’ll have to call an electrician to hook the generator up to your home’s electrical system. Some generators come with pre-wired kits that make it easier for the “do-it-yourselfer” to do the wiring. In most cases, it’s probably safest and best to have this work done for you.
Once installed, operation depends on whether you’ve used a manual or an automatic transfer switch. With an automatic transfer switch, if the generator senses a disruption in utility power, it turns itself on and takes over power production until utility power resumes. With a manual transfer switch, you have to handle these chores yourself. On a standby model, you’ll have to change the oil and filters on a regular basis. Many manufacturers provide maintenance kits to make this easier.

Portable Generators: If you’re not planning to hook your portable generator into your home or building’s electrical system, there is not a lot of setup involved other than finding a safe place outside your home for the generator. Because portable generators create carbon monoxide, you should never run them inside a building, beneath a window, or near any opening to your house (doors, vents, etc.). Once situated, fill the generator with the required type of gasoline and oil and start the unit. Startup can be as simple as pressing a switch, but on some you’ll have to yank a manual recoil pull-cord. Of course, you will have to plug the appliances you want to power into the generator, refuel it as necessary, and shut the generator off when you’re finished with it.

If you want to connect your generator to your home’s electrical system, you’ll need a manual transfer switch. Make sure your generator’s manufacturer supports connecting your model to a transfer switch. If supported, comply with your model’s safety and warranty guidelines as well any local building codes during the installation. In general, it’s best to hire an electrician to handle the wiring of your home to the generator and transfer switch.

However you use your generator, over time you’ll have to change filters, oil, and spark plugs. Plus, you should not store raw gasoline in the generator when you’re not using it. Either run the generator empty or add a gasoline stabilizer that will prevent the gasoline from “gumming” up. Many manufacturers sell tune-up kits for their models.

How Do I Run a Generator Safely?
• Do not operate generators indoors, in enclosed spaces, or near a window. Make sure there is proper ventilation for all exhaust.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, operation, and maintenance.
• Do not operate generators near combustible materials.
• Operate portable generators on a level surface.
• Do not plug a portable generator directly into your house circuit.• Do not attach a generator’s transfer switch to your circuit box yourself unless you’re very sure of what you’re doing. Check all applicable local, state, and national codes and the warranty information before you do this.

Monday, April 20, 2009

When the lights go out what do you do? Part #2: Long-term power outage

With hurricane season right around the corner, we have been thinking lately about generators and the need for portable power. As I did some research, I actually found some great information from an article on Amazon.com that I will included in the body of the next post.

My recommendation is that each person should have in their Shelter in Place supplies a portable gas generator to give them needed power in case of emergency. A serviceable machine will cost around $500 and you will be happy you have it when you need it. Some people with a larger budget might opt to have an electrician install a standby generator at their home so that it kicks on when power is lost. In the next article you will find everything you need to know about both portable and standby generators.

What Types of Generators Are There?
Generators come in two basic types: standby and portable. There also are inverters, which are not generators but may meet your needs. The source of backup power you ultimately choose will be determined by many factors, including your power requirements.

Standby Generators: A standby generator is permanently installed outside your home or commercial building and wired directly into the electrical system to provide power to some or all of your home’s circuits during a disruption of normal utility power. Standby generators are fueled by liquid propane or natural gas. The number of circuits to which a standby generator can provide power–and the number of appliances you can run on those circuits–is determined by the power capacity of the generator. Standby generators are about the same size as, and look similar to, a standard central air conditioner. A standby model may cost as little as $1,500 or as much as $15,000 or more–the greater the power capacity, the higher the cost.

Portable Generators: Portable generators are versatile and can be employed for a variety of valuable uses:

• Emergency power at home,
• Power in remote locations where utility power is unavailable, or
• Recreational purposes, like boating or camping.

Portable generators are fueled by gasoline and include 120-volt power outlets like the ones in the walls of your home. When the generator is running, you can plug appliances and tools directly into these outlets. Some generators also include 240-volt outlets (that is, the kind of outlet for an electric dryer or for other large appliances). Portable generators range in cost between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the capacity and features.

Inverters: Inverters turn DC power into AC power, the type of current that powers everyday appliances. A common use of an inverter is to connect one into a car’s cigarette lighter and then plug small home appliances into the inverter. Inverters have added features over the years, and today many inverters include emergency radios, lights, or their own internal battery to store power. When you purchase an inverter, you need one that can handle the wattage of the appliances you intend to connect to it. Some inverters are made specifically to power low-wattage appliances, like portable phones or digital music players. Others can handle heavy-duty power tools. If you’re buying an inverter that’s powered by its own battery, you’ll have to consider how many hours the inverter can provide power before needing a recharge.

I will be posting more on this topic in the next day or two.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Canning Green beans

Green Beans

You will need:
 2 lb green beans per quart
 Water
 Salt, optional
 Glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:
1.) PREPARE pressure canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) WASH and rinse beans thoroughly. Remove string, trim ends and break or cut freshly gathered beans into 2-inch pieces. Place prepared beans in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes.
3.) PACK hot beans into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1 tsp salt to each quart jar, 1/2 tsp to each pint jar, if desired.
4.) LADLE boiling water over beans leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) PROCESS filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Note: The processing time given applies only to young, tender pods. Beans that have almost reached the “shell-out” stage require a longer processing time. Increase processing time 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What do you do when the Lights Go Out?

When the lights go out what do you do? Part 1:

Short-term power outage, This info will be broken into two installments covering short-term power outage (less than 12 hours) and extended power outage (more than 12 hours).Interesting title and I wish the rest of this post were that exciting. Power outage is a serious problem for many people across the United States. Every day people lose electrical power to their homes and businesses for a variety of reasons. Many times these power outages are short and only last for a few hours.

But on occasion, there can be a serious loss of power for extended periods of time due to extreme weather or after a disaster. For those of you that have experienced it, you will never forget it.It is amazing how much we rely on electricity to maintain our comfortable lifestyle. If you want a challenge, try going without power for 24 hours and see what you notice. Now, try going without power for days, weeks or even months. Any exercise like that will give you tremendous insight into the comforts that electricity gives us.For short-term power outages (less than 12 hours) you should have what I call “Lights Out” supplies. In my house they are in a cupboard and that is where we keep flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and a radio. Make sure you have a small stash of “Lights Out” supplies in an easy to find location. Here are some ideas on how to manage short term power outages:

Know where your flashlights are – I know this seems obvious, but . . . you would be surprised how many people have no idea where to find a working flashlight in their house at a moment’s notice.

Make sure your flashlights work! – Again, obvious, but you need to have a flashlight that works. I LOVE my Lumin-Flash Rechargeable Flashlight. It plugs into the wall and turns on when the power goes out so I can find it when I need it. Very cool and very easy to use. I use it every time my power goes out
.
Have light sticks and lanterns available – I use our light sticks as night lights for our kids when the power goes out. Bedrooms can be very dark and scary for kids so our light sticks have been an awesome way of keeping them happy and (most importantly) asleep. A good camping lantern can be excellent as well. It will help give light to a larger room where your family will gather. One thing I know about power outages is my kids do not want to leave my side. Having a nice lantern has helped. Check out our GE Steel beam Krypton Lantern. It has been great.

Watch out for Carbon Monoxide – Remember that any equipment that burns fuel will produce exhaust. That exhaust is deadly and will contain carbon monoxide. Many times when the power goes out, people will use portable heaters to stay warm. They then go to bed and suffocate overnight from the exhaust produced by these heaters. Any equipment that burns fuel and produces exhaust needs to be used in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.

Don’t leave candles burning all night – We sell a wonderful 115 hour Ready Candle which is great, but never go to bed with a candle burning. In my case, I have kids that seem to get up throughout the night and they might play with it and get burned or tip it over.

Have dynamo radios in your lights out supplies – Keep a wind-up dynamo radio where you keep your flashlights and other lights out supplies. This will help you stay informed with local information.

The next installment of this series will address extended power outages and specifically, portable and standby generators.

To find all of these supplies go to The Ready Store where you can get all of you survival supply needs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Must Read

GARDEN HOUSEKEEPING

By Kathy Anderson

Most gardeners, myself included, would much rather be outside working in the garden than inside doing housework. Gardening also requires some housekeeping, but plant lovers generally don’t mind being outside fussing with their plants.

Garden housekeeping is done for two reasons. Keeping the garden neat and clean is done to maintain the aesthetics of the garden, and also to maintain the health of the plants in the garden.Keeping the garden free of weeds is a simple step that will improve both the beauty and health of any garden. After all, it’s difficult to enjoy your beautiful flowers if they are hidden amongst weeds. Weeds also attract and harbor plant diseases and insect pests, both which will happily spread to your garden plants. Not only that, weeds will also compete with your desirable plants, using more than their fair share of water and nutrients.

The best way to keep weeds out of the garden is to eliminate the weeds even before you plant anything. At http://www.freeplants.com/ you’ll find an excellent article on weed control that explains how to eliminate weeds from your garden. Of course, more weed seeds will constantly be blowing or carried in to the garden, but you can stay on top of the problem by pulling or hoeing the young weeds weekly, before they get a chance to grow large and set deep roots.While you’re weeding, remove any trash and debris that may have blown into the garden. Watch for over-ripe fruit and vegetables and discard them before they rot and attract insects or rodents. You can also take this time to examine your plants for insect or animal damage. After determining what insect or animal is damaging your plants you can take appropriate steps to prevent further damage.

Try to walk through your garden every day that you can, not only to admire blossoms that have opened that day or to harvest any ripe vegetables, but also to keep an eye on the overall health of your plants. This way you can identify and deal with any problems immediately and not give diseases or pests the chance to become established. Carry a pruning shears with you whenever you’re in the garden and deadhead any faded flowers, especially on your annual flowers. Deadheading simply involves removing flowers that have already bloomed and are no longer attractive. For many annuals, this will encourage more blooms.

It is very helpful to keep a garden notebook for a number of reasons. In your garden notebook you can keep track of the names of all your plants and make a map showing where each one is planted. This is especially useful when you want to share plants with friends so you can tell them the name of the plant they’re receiving. It’s also helpful if you sell your property. The new owners will be grateful to have that information about the plants on their new property.In your garden notebook you can also make notes to remind yourself when each plant blooms or is ready for harvest, what vegetable varieties you planted and which of those performed best or weren’t worth planting again, and how you dealt with any insects or diseases that attacked your plants. If you found that your garden was too cramped, make a note to create wider paths between the rows or beds when you plant again the following spring.

It’s particularly important to make a map of your vegetable garden each year. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, a simple sketch would be sufficient. The purpose of your vegetable garden map is to remind you where each crop was planted the previous year so that you can rotate the current year’s crops. Since many plant diseases and even some insects are harbored in the soil, moving your crops from one area of the garden to another will help reduce disease and insect damage.
Some vegetable crops should never be planted in the same area two years in a row. Tomatoes, corn and potatoes are good examples of crops that should be rotated. Several common tomato diseases will overwinter in the soil and will infect tomatoes again if they’re planted in the same spot as the previous year. Colorado Potato Beetle larvae overwinter in the soil and will have more difficulty finding a potato meal if the potatoes are on the other end of the garden when the larvae emerge in the spring. Corn is a heavy feeder and depletes soil of nitrogen. Where the corn was planted the previous year, beans or peas should be planted the following season, as these legumes will fix nitrogen in the soil, replacing what the corn depleted.

Finally, garden housekeeping involves cleaning up the garden at the end of the growing season. Any diseased plants should be removed from the garden and discarded. Do not add diseased plant material to your compost pile unless you are confident that your compost pile heats up enough to kill any pathogens. Woody material such as cornstalks and sunflower stems should be removed from the garden and composted. You may want to break these down into smaller pieces as they tend to decompose very slowly.

Vegetable plants that are not diseased or infested with insects can either be removed and composted or tilled into the soil in the fall, where they will break down over winter and add organic matter to the soil.Blooming annuals can be pulled from the flowerbed after the first killing frost. Perennials should be allowed to go dormant before the dead foliage is trimmed back close to the ground.Garden housekeeping is an important step towards a healthy and bountiful garden. It does require a little effort, but garden housekeeping is still more fun than vacuuming and dusting in the house.

Kathy Anderson has been an avid gardener for many years and has grown tomatoes by the acre, along with many other vegetables, flowers and landscape plants. Kathy recommends http://www.freeplants.com/ as a great place to learn more about gardening. Article provided by http://gardening-articles.com/. If you use this article the above links must be active.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Ready Store



This is a place you should take a look at if you
want to stock up on food and supplies in case
of an emergency.






Thursday, April 2, 2009

Growing Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple in the diet of many people all over the world. Potatoes are a nutritious, versatile vegetable, and they’re very easy to grow. But before you run out to the garden with your tiller and hoe, there are a few things you should know about planting potatoes.

Do not plant potatoes too early, while the ground is still frozen. If the ground is too cold and wet, the seed potatoes will delay sprouting until the growing conditions are more favorable. This is usually in early March to late April, depending on the climate. Potatoes do tolerate cool soil and a light frost, but not much growth will take place until the soil warms up a bit.

You won’t find potato seedlings or packets of potato seeds for sale at your local garden center. Instead, potatoes are grown from seed potatoes. A seed potato is nothing more than an ordinary potato, with at least one “eye”. The “eye” is the small white growth on the potato that you usually take off when preparing potatoes to cook.

Way back when, before supermarkets, when gardens supplied most of the food put on the table, the last of the potatoes in the storage bin come spring were used for seed potatoes. Wise gardeners set aside their blemish-free, healthiest potatoes for seed. Seed potatoes can be planted whole, or they may be cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece. Seed potatoes with more eyes will grow to produce a larger quantity of potatoes but the potatoes will generally be smaller. Seed potatoes with fewer eyes will produce fewer potatoes, but those potatoes will tend to be larger.

This allows the cuts to heal over slightly, which helps to prevent soil-borne diseases from infecting your potato crop. Always choose seed potatoes that are free from blemishes.
Plant your whole or cut seed potatoes two to three inches deep in good, rich soil. Rows of potatoes should be about three feet apart and the potatoes within the row should be planted If you choose to cut your seed potatoes into smaller pieces, divide them a day prior to twelve inches apart. If your potato crop has suffered from scab in the past, toss a small handful of dry pine needles in the holes beneath your seed potatoes. Along with moving your potatoes to a different section of the garden each year, this will help prevent further scab infection. Potato scab appears as rough patches on the skin of the potatoes.

Depending on the warmth of the soil, potato plants will begin to emerge from the soil anywhere from one to three weeks after planting. When the plants are about a foot tall, use your hoe to mound six to eight inches of soil continuously along the entire row of plants. This is called hilling. Hilling ensures that the potatoes will grow deeply under the soil, away from sunlight which would cause them to become green. Potatoes that suffer from greening will be bitter and the inedible green parts must be discarded.
Keep the potato plants evenly watered while they are growing. A dry period followed by a rainy spell will cause some potato varieties to develop a hollow core.

Another potential problem with potatoes is the potato beetle. The larvae and adult beetles will feed on the potato foliage, and a heavy infestation can damage the foliage enough to reduce your harvest considerably. Watch for the beetle’s yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves and crush the clusters whenever you see them. Larvae are a deep orange color with a row of black spots on both sides, while the adults are a paler orange with black stripes on the body and black spots on the head. The larvae and adults can be picked off the leaves and crushed if there are only a few. An infestation can also be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Bt is an organic control that is very safe to use. Look for Bt that is specifically for potato beetles. It is sold in many garden catalogs and garden centers.

Once your potato plants have bloomed, you can begin to harvest small “new” potatoes. Depending on the variety of potatoes you’re growing, this is about eight weeks after planting. In the fall, after the foliage has begun to dry and die back, the entire crop can be dug. Before storing them in a cool, dry and dark place, make sure the surface of your freshly dug spuds has dried a bit. Spread them out in a dry spot out of direct sun, such as a garage or shed, for a day or two before putting them in storage.