A gusty windstorm apparently damaged the power distribution system; power has been out since 4am Saturday morning. At 11pm it's still out, and no word on when it'll come back on - news reports say that at least a hundred thousand households are without power right now.
It's a remind to me that I live in a rural area, and that the power does go out, sometimes for a long time. A few years ago the neighbors tell me the power was out for 10 days; in the event of a major storm, hurricane or seahawks superbowl win, the power might go out for a longer time. (In the event of a subduction quake, or a corona mass discharge, it could be out for months...)
So power is on my mind right now. I actually have two different needs for power; one for the house, and one for the farm. The farm power backup needs to be 3phase power, the house single phase, and the difference is mostly in cost. 3 phase is more efficient running pumps and heavy equipment -- refrigeration and water pumps being the biggest consumers - but single phase is cheaper to install, and about as efficient when you're talking about normal day-to-day uses.
I installed a 1,000 gallon propane tank a little over a year ago; it's enough capacity that I can run a whole-house generator 24 hours a day for about two weeks. If I ran the generator 8 hours a day this fuel supply would last about 6 weeks. Propane is also used to heat the house, and to heat water. With this large a tank I only have it filled once a year or so. I chose propane because the fuel stores well and is relatively cheap. If it sits in the tank for a few years it won't degrade like diesel or gasoline. I've installed an on-demand water heater to reduce the usage of the fuel, but unless it's a major catastrophe I'm pretty happy with this fuel supply.
I've got a 12,000 watt autostart generator that is propane-fired, and that powers the house. It's primarily the freezers and heaters and hot-water that this powers; a few hours of operation per day keeps everything frozen solid. I have a lot of freezers and I'll typically have a half a cow, a pig or two, and a flock of chickens in the freezer at any given time. Want to make sure that it all remains good.
To power the farm I'm going to need a 3 phase generator, and I've been looking at various options. For that purpose I'm leaning towards a diesel-fired generator. Diesel engines, cared for, last a very long time. And I usually have between 200 and 500 gallons of diesel around the farm, so in a pinch I can operate a diesel generator for several months. The diesel fuel gets used by the farm equipment, and that keeps it from getting too old.
6 hours ago