Monday, December 9, 2013

Out Go the Lights

It had to happen sooner or later: a reality of country life involves hooking up a generator.

I just wish it had not been a thirty-something day, with very cold rain coming down, for me to bring current back to a dark house. At 6am, the icy power lines must have sagged just so, and the transformer up the road exploded in three large blasts that sounded like a raid by WW II fighter-bombers.

At least we have heat, I thought, considering our well stocked woodpile and warm stove.

Even with surge protectors, once the power begins to flicker, it's time to race around and unplug all the electronics. Then it's time to get some power running through the wires again.  We never planned on an expensive whole-house unit, figuring that well-pump, refrigerator, and lights were first priorities, hot water second. Our generator is a wheeled unit I was push or pull up a slope with some huffing and puffing, and I opted for propane because it can be stored almost indefinitely.

Those without generators need to understand that they can't operate indoors and can't be left uncovered in wet weather. That means 20 minutes to erect a canopy we've used for camping, then tucking the generator under it. After 30 minutes of trial-and-error, and tripping the generator's breaker a few times in the process, I had lights and a working refrigerator. Then I took careful notes about which of our labeled, but not exactly informative, breakers controlled which banks of lights.

Within an hour the power company phoned: the transformer had been replaced. With a little reluctance I shut down the generator and brought the outside world back in.

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