Since I have a well pump, I am entirely dependent on the grid for even water. In the past, the only disruptions of supply I had to be concerned about were from a fallen tree limb, someone running into a utility pole, or a suicidally curious rodent exploring a transformer. These days there are a few more things to consider that could concievably disrupt supply: an aging electrical grid, increasing demand for electricity without corresponding increased investment in supply, terrorist attacks, and the potential for disruption based on a cratering economy combined with ineffective (if not destructive) political leadership.
Since adopting coal for heat I need little propane (cookstove and hot water only), and given that I already have a submerged (500 gal?) propane tank outside, I am considering getting a propane standby generator to reduce my dependence on an intact grid. For wattage generated, ease of use, and cost I think standby propane is the way to go. I'd still be dependent upon a delivery service for power, but instead of continuous dependence a la the electric company, it'd be only intermittent dependence on a propane delivery service, for which there are numerous local choices/more competition.
I haven't yet tried to estimate precisely how much wattage I'd need, but we used 981 kWh in one month from mid November to mid December. I suspect that summer AC would be the biggest electricity hog, and although I don't have a bill from last summer, our electric bill during the height of last summer was just under 3 times what it's running now--so, maybe 2500kWh for a month in the summer (does this sound about right?).
So, my questions are:
1) Based on the above data on monthly usage, is there a way to estimate how large a generator I'd need? Or do I need to add up the wattage estimates on individual components, which I'm not sure I'd be able to do very accurately anyway.
2) Not that I'd be using it when I had electricity, but I'd like to estimate how much propane I'd be using in, say, one day of continuous use. As an example, this Guardian 14kW generator ( http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com ... p1815.html
) states it uses 1.56 gallons of propane per hour at 50% load. Such a load should generate 7000 Watts. Can I assume that, at 25% load, 3500 Watts generated, that I'd use 0.78 gallons of propane? Or, is there not a linear relatioship between propane consumed and power output?
3) General thoughts about using standby propane for generation?