Viking survival – making electricity!

1-2-3 … Start Your Generators

  • Can we really survive in the modern world without power?
  • How long before we panic and seek out fast food options?
  • What do we do when we can’t focus on our social media walls?

When people first created fire, it was a huge celebration and achievement.  We have not looked back since and the fire is still a primitive tool that many cannot start without matches.

So, how do you adapt to a world where the power has been knocked out due to a crazy storm or some other angry outlets by mother nature?

During the latest storm, Isaias, I quickly learned how dependent we are on power, and how little interaction we (families) have when we stuck to our computers and TVs.

Part of me did not want to create electricity as I actually enjoyed the quietness and family interaction we suddenly had.  I could see the faces of my kids, and not with some strangely illuminated shine from the iPhone or iPad.

We have an obsession for creating stuff, and self-gratification when we accomplish amazing things.  Our first incline is to post it on our social media platform to gloat.

In my case, I created electricity and couldn’t post it on Instagram!?

Yes, I cheated slightly as I used a modern-day tool called a generator, which is rapidly becoming a common household appliance in the US.

Generators don’t actually create electricity.  Instead, they convert mechanical or chemical energy into electrical energy.  They do this by capturing the power of motion and turning it into electrical energy by forcing electrons from the external source through an electrical circuit.

To be honest, before moving to the US, I thought I would need a generator.  There simply wasn’t much of a reason ever use/own one, probably because we very rarely experienced power outages at the same rate as we do in the US.

poweroutage
NYC partially without power

Generators are something that we mainly encountered at the local fair, construction site, campsites, or some remote building needing electricity.  Not within a typical residential neighborhood.

In Denmark, for example, they’ve been burying electrical lines since the 70s.  It could’ve been earlier or later, but I have some childish recollection that it started happening in that timeframe.  Today, the majority of customers get their supply from underground lines.

In the US, the majority of electricity is distributed as it was 100 years ago; poles and wires that are easy targets for winds, debris and other weather inflicted incidents.

Anyway, back to my story about generators, and how we survived the latest outage, testing our Viking scouting and survival skills.

A mental note – a teenager with iPhones can be dangerous, but kids with no access to phones, game consoles, or binging on Netflix can be right out scary.  There’s only so much they can handle, and then they unload on their surroundings, most often their parents.

Combine a power outage with COVID restrictions, and you have a natural phenomenon that resembles the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse.

When we moved to the mountain areas 5-6 years ago, the previous owner had built a small shed to park his generator.  He sold the generator before we bought the house, but I did not really care too much.  How often would we even lose power?!

Over the past few years, we’ve had some minor flickering.  AC/DC playing tricks on us, and we would have to reset the clocks on some appliances.  Nothing major, unless you are my parents who constantly have clocks blinking on their VCR (yes VCR!) they never use.

However, I got the opportunity to buy a generator from a colleague, and thought, why not?  It may come in handy one day.  To be honest, I had (and have) no clue on how to connect it to my house and run some of the outlets and appliances.

The only obstacle.  I have not tested or operated the generator I bought … ever.

Oh well, it is a pull motor, so how hard could it be to get this sucker started?   Said the not-so-wise homeowner as he rolled the 191lbs out from the garage in his flip-flops.

  • Petrol –
  • Oil –
  • Battery –
  • Pull cord –
  • Triceps, biceps, and trapezius –
  • Flip flops –
  • Determination –

I spent the next 3-5 minutes pulling the cord, only to hear and see the engine splutter.  It had no interest cranking.  Something was clearly not right.  To make matters worse, I had been pulling so frantically that it felt as if my should was going to boycott the relationship with the socket.

Mental note – be mindful not to dislocate your shoulder!

After a few minutes pretending I know how to troubleshoot engines, I did notice that the battery was not even connected!  That would explain the reluctance.  I quickly connect the wires, hooked it up to my portable jump start kit, and pulled once.

VROOOOM – the sucker started right up!

I realized that I had to move it out of the garage to avoid suffocating from carbon monoxide poisoning.  There’s a reason the manual tells you to keep the generator outside.

A running generator in your garage can slowly kill you!  Please make sure you do not kill yourself or your family by keeping the generator indoors.

Once it was running, I moved it into position and hooked up a proper extension cord and connected my fridge through the window.  Food was saved which was a big win.

Secondly, I connected my Traeger to the other outlet on the generator, so now we could BBQ food and feed the offsprings.

house generator
Not my garage – way too tidy

Priorities make the difference to a positive survival experience.

Later I called my electrician friend, who came over to hook up the generator to the house, safely, which then allowed us to turn on a few lights and make my Black Rifle coffee– we need fuel too.

The only challenge with running a generator is that you are now dependent on running to the local petrol station daily.  Well, if you have multiple large canisters, then you can spread it out, but you need to refill the generator daily.

And, this thing is bloody loud, so after a few hours listening to this crazy thumbing/bumping/chucking engine, you almost wish you could turn it off.

My 10-year-old daughter was so enthusiastic about some electricity that she was convinced we could watch Netflix again and play Xbox.  The look of disappointment tore through me as Wolverine’s claws when I told her that was not the case.

Oh well – we win some and lose some.

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