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Michael H

Preparing for power outage in cold climate and how to provide proper care?

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I am anticipating some power outages in the next few weeks as winter storms are arriving. I have about 50 celli and would like some recommendations as to preparing and surviving these elements without power while avoiding instrument damage. 

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My unheated basement is 54 degrees and 46 percent humidity right now.  In the path of heavy rain, ice, and wind in Michigan. My biggest concern is the battery backup sump pump.  The water table is so ridiculously high already, without rain. I will just make sure that everything is off the floor.

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It's always good to have a backup power plant and fuel, if you can afford it. Where we live on the prairies, power outages due to ice and snow are rare, because we don't get that much precipitation, more extreme cold temperatures than anything.

I have an old Onan 2 cylinder water cooled 3kW  plant, from WWII  that will easily power the furnace fan, fridge and some lights in the event of a long term power outage.

If you have that many valuable instruments, a power plant is cheap insurance.

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1 hour ago, Bill Yacey said:

It's always good to have a backup power plant and fuel, if you can afford it. Where we live on the prairies, power outages due to ice and snow are rare, because we don't get that much precipitation, more extreme cold temperatures than anything.

I have an old Onan 2 cylinder water cooled 3kW  plant, from WWII  that will easily power the furnace fan, fridge and some lights in the event of a long term power outage.

If you have that many valuable instruments, a power plant is cheap insurance.

Diesel generators are your friend.  If you are a business, check with your CPA about the best way to handle it financially.  :)

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They are in display at my workshop/shop with no basement. I have about 15 Hardcases, or so. No backup generator. My humidifiers are electric.  About a dozen are student grade, 25 intermediate and the rest a nice. Nothing over $20k.  My several personal keepers are at my home and can go with me wherever. Most of the beginner and intermediate have manufacture coverage for cracks and such, but it’s the nicer bunch I’m worried about. We tend to lose power if a branch rubs a power line the wrong way.

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In a sealed container the relative humidity will go up as the temperature goes down, and the relative humidity outside during a snowstorm is likely going to be pretty high. My experience is that cold temperatures by themselves rarely cause issues and people often shoot themselves in the foot trying to protect their instruments from the cold. The biggest concern I would have would be the humidity in the shop when the power comes back on and you're heating the shop back up. 

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2 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Diesel generators are your friend.  If you are a business, check with your CPA about the best way to handle it financially.  :)

While we have had many electrical power interruptions, including some where "gas stations" could not deliver either gas or diesel, we have never had an interruption in natural gas.

That may vary, depending on the severity of an earthquake or volcanic zone.

40 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Put the best ones in the cases with Stretto Cello humidifiers. That should keep them somewhat humidified if it doesn't freeze.

I'm thinking that the challenge with high humidity, high rainfall or flooding would be to keep the humidity down, rather than raising it.

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I am absolutely not an expert on this but here is what I did:

We are in the Northeast and a couple of years ago I had an electrician install a transfer switch and purchased an 8000W mobile generator. When the power goes out, I can hook the generator to an outside receptacle and then switch the house supply from the grid to the generator. It works really well and the generator has enough power for the furnace, air handlers, water pump, refrigerators and lights. This was a much cheaper solution than a fully installed backup system. The downside is that you have to be home to set it up when the power goes out. 

The generator runs on regular gasoline which I also use for my lawn mowers, so it doesn’t get very old (plus I add a stabilizer). The cheapest solution just for emergency heat may be an indoor approved kerosene space heater. I have never used one myself but have seen them at Home Depot.

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1 hour ago, Geigenbauer said:

I am absolutely not an expert on this but here is what I did:

We are in the Northeast and a couple of years ago I had an electrician install a transfer switch and purchased an 8000W mobile generator. When the power goes out, I can hook the generator to an outside receptacle and then switch the house supply from the grid to the generator. It works really well and the generator has enough power for the furnace, air handlers, water pump, refrigerators and lights. This was a much cheaper solution than a fully installed backup system. The downside is that you have to be home to set it up when the power goes out. 

 

That's how I am currently set up too. The downside is that when there is a widespread power outage, there is no electricity available to dispense either gasoline or kerosene from the typical underground storage tanks.

At least in my area, the natural gas supply has large natural-gas-powered backup pumps, which do not rely on electricity from the grid, diesel, or gasoline to keep the supply going.

So as I get older, I may eventually want to convert to an automatic natural gas-powered generator. Around seven thousand bucks, plus maintenance.

I'm not as good at hauling a 200 pound generator out of the garage to the back yard through three feet of snow as I once was. :)

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2 hours ago, Geigenbauer said:

I am absolutely not an expert on this but here is what I did:

We are in the Northeast and a couple of years ago I had an electrician install a transfer switch and purchased an 8000W mobile generator. When the power goes out, I can hook the generator to an outside receptacle and then switch the house supply from the grid to the generator. It works really well and the generator has enough power for the furnace, air handlers, water pump, refrigerators and lights. This was a much cheaper solution than a fully installed backup system. The downside is that you have to be home to set it up when the power goes out. 

The generator runs on regular gasoline which I also use for my lawn mowers, so it doesn’t get very old (plus I add a stabilizer). The cheapest solution just for emergency heat may be an indoor approved kerosene space heater. I have never used one myself but have seen them at Home Depot.

I did have a 60 amp charger installed at both my house and workshop to charge my car.  Anyway to run a generator in through that with a male-to-make connector and just flip the main breaker off so it doesn’t feed back into the outside lines?

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4 hours ago, Michael H said:

They are in display at my workshop/shop with no basement. I have about 15 Hardcases, or so. No backup generator. My humidifiers are electric.  About a dozen are student grade, 25 intermediate and the rest a nice. Nothing over $20k.  My several personal keepers are at my home and can go with me wherever. Most of the beginner and intermediate have manufacture coverage for cracks and such, but it’s the nicer bunch I’m worried about. We tend to lose power if a branch rubs a power line the wrong way.

How many violas do you have?  Ideally you should have enough to get through several days without power.

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I leave a number of cellos and basses in an unheated space in a very cold climate every winter and have never had any problems.

I believe the most important thing is slowing the rate of change of temperature and humidity with insulation and low

air infiltration.

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28 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

How many violas do you have?  Ideally you should have enough to get through several days without power.

Have always loved your sense of humor. You are such a treasure, and I really mean that! spacer.png

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

How many violas do you have?  Ideally you should have enough to get through several days without power.

 No violas, but a several broken violins, kindling and flint.  It should be enough. 

 

1 hour ago, donbarzino said:

I leave a number of cellos and basses in an unheated space in a very cold climate every winter and have never had any problems.

I believe the most important thing is slowing the rate of change of temperature and humidity with insulation and low

air infiltration.

I’ll monitor the humidity and increase the heat in small segments in that scenario. Thank you for the info. Relative humidity is a tricky beast for my basic understanding of the matter. 

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2 hours ago, Michael H said:

I did have a 60 amp charger installed at both my house and workshop to charge my car.  Anyway to run a generator in through that with a male-to-make connector and just flip the main breaker off so it doesn’t feed back into the outside lines?

There is, but it's illegal.  You would have to absolutely make sure your main disconnect at the utility service is disconnected, otherwise you end up trying to back feed the power grid. This is why they require transfer switches.

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7 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Diesel generators are your friend.  If you are a business, check with your CPA about the best way to handle it financially.  :)

They are more fuel efficient, but diesel is not your friend when it's -35C.

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WHAT DID STRADIVARI DO WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT?

" I did have a 60 amp charger installed at both my house and workshop to charge my car.  Anyway to run a generator in through that with a male-to-make connector and just flip the main breaker off so it doesn’t feed back into the outside lines? "

No, you can't backfeed through the charger!!

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42 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

WHAT DID STRADIVARI DO WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT?

" I did have a 60 amp charger installed at both my house and workshop to charge my car.  Anyway to run a generator in through that with a male-to-make connector and just flip the main breaker off so it doesn’t feed back into the outside lines? "

No, you can't backfeed through the charger!!

I think he was suggesting connecting a generator to the  60A AC receptacle used for his charger.

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10 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

WHAT DID STRADIVARI DO WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT?

" I did have a 60 amp charger installed at both my house and workshop to charge my car.  Anyway to run a generator in through that with a male-to-make connector and just flip the main breaker off so it doesn’t feed back into the outside lines? "

No, you can't backfeed through the charger!!

Yes, I meant back feeding into the outlet 

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16 hours ago, David Burgess said:
16 hours ago, David Burgess said:

That's how I am currently set up too. The downside is that when there is a widespread power outage, there is no electricity available to dispense either gasoline or kerosene from the typical underground storage tanks.

At least in my area, the natural gas supply has large natural-gas-powered backup pumps, which do not rely on electricity from the grid, diesel, or gasoline to keep the supply going.

So as I get older, I may eventually want to convert to an automatic natural gas-powered generator. Around seven thousand bucks, plus maintenance.

I'm not as good at hauling a 200 pound generator out of the garage to the back yard through three feet of snow as I once was. :)

As far as I can recall we've only had a widespread power outage in this area during my lifetime.

David, the next time you have three feet of snow AND have to haul a generator though it, let me know,  I'll be happy to help.  :D

But to the point of the post, I would not be concerned about lower temperatures and resulting higher humidity during the outage causing damage.  I would keep an eye on the humidity level once the power is restored and the heat is back on just in case your humidification system has a hard time keeping up.

 

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7 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

As far as I can recall we've only had a widespread power outage in this area during my lifetime.

David, the next time you have three feet of snow AND have to haul a generator though it, let me know,  I'll be happy to help.  :D

You are such a trooper!  :)

In my neighborhood, we have such frequent power outages, that it's hard to figure out what to do. If I spend a half hour hooking up the generator, grid power tends to come back in 32 minutes. And if I wait 4 hours to hook up the generator, grid power tends to  come back  in 4 hours and 30 minutes.:lol:

At least the power company is starting to trim trees which contact power lines. Several times, when I asked them to come out and look at the tree/power line interference in my own back yard, I was told that it wasn't an issue. :wacko:

A bit later, they were aggressively trimming trees interfering with power lines. It does make one wonder about the skill levels of those in charge of our power supplies.

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On 1/10/2020 at 6:42 PM, FiddleDoug said:

WHAT DID STRADIVARI DO WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT?

I suspect he just re-lit the candles.

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17 hours ago, David Burgess said:

You are such a trooper!  :)

In my neighborhood, we have such frequent power outages, that it's hard to figure out what to do. If I spend a half hour hooking up the generator, grid power tends to come back in 32 minutes. And if I wait 4 hours to hook up the generator, grid power tends to  come back  in 4 hours and 30 minutes.:lol:

At least the power company is starting to trim trees which contact power lines. Several times, when I asked them to come out and look at the tree/power line interference in my own back yard, I was told that it wasn't an issue. :wacko:

A bit later, they were aggressively trimming trees interfering with power lines. It does make one wonder about the skill levels of those in charge of our power supplies.

Something tells me it's not about skill as much as it is looking at the "news" about PGE

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