Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let there be light.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ~Genesis 1:3

One thing for sure out where we live, the power company ain't God.  We have a half-dozen momentary power failures or brown-outs per month and have extended power outages at least two or three times each year.  We spent almost 72 hours without power earlier this week, two days of which the weather service issued heat advisories.

Over the years we've purchased a lot of different flashlights and lanterns to keep things lit up.  The old Coleman florescent lantern eats D-size batteries like candy.  The propane camping lanterns aren't safe indoors and are bulky to transport and store.  Candles are OK, but I've found there are modern variations of the old wax and wick like the little candle lantern that work great.  When it comes to flashlights, I'm kind of a flashlight hoarder.

My experiences with various flashlights over the years have led me to my three favorite brands consisting of Maglite, Streamlight and Surefire.  You can't hardly go ten steps around here without a flashlight close at hand.  We've been swapping out the old Maglites and Surefires over time for the LED versions.  The Streamlight TLR-1s weapon lights have proven reliable for us and we have those on several firearms.  Just remember to not use them for general illumination as you are pointing your muzzle at whatever you are illuminating.

There are Maglites and Surefires in the barn, house, garage, cars, truck, motorcycles.  We tend to prefer the 3-AA and 3-D battery LED Maglites and G2/G2X series from Surefire.  We've been very pleased with their reliability and relatively inexpensive costs to purchase and operate.  I even used a Maglite 3-AA flashlight for a hitch-pin to pull the hay wagon once.  Not sure the dents and dings are covered under warranty, but it's still in the toolbox and working fine.

Traditional candle light is still not out of the question, but we prefer the UCO Candle Lanterns.  They are compact, safe, and easy to hang with the built-in hanger or set on a table.  We picked our first one up at Walmart a few years back and now have several.  I timed how long the nine-hour candles lasted during the recent power outage and one lasted over ten hours and the other lasted almost eleven hours.  That will give you some basic area light in your home for the entire night.

There is a large, 4000-watt Briggs & Stratton powered generator out in the barn we still use occasionally.  It weighs about 130lbs and pull-starting the loud, vibrating beast isn't easy for the Gals.  Over time, as finances allowed, we picked up a pair of Yamaha EF2000iS generators.  They use an inverter to produce the AC, so it has a near perfect sine wave and is safe for all the computers and electronics on appliances which is just about everything these days including the refrigerator.  The Yamaha's only weigh 44lbs each, are VERY easy to pull start, are extremely quiet, and best of all, you can get a kit to connect the two together and basically have a 4000-watt system.

During our recent three-day power outage, we used one of the Yamaha EF2000iS generators to run our refrigerator/freezer, two fans, rotate the charging of the laptops and cell phones while only filling the 1.1 gallon gas tank every ten to twelve hours or so.  That's less than 2.5 gallons of gas to run for 24 hours and we ran that little generator for almost 70 hours straight.   The older generator in the barn has a five-gallon tank that needs filled three-times every 24 hour period.  The Yamaha's are a bit pricey, but they have been worth the expense for us and the Gals can carry and start them with ease.

We have neighbors with a huge $1000 chest freezer in their garage who lost around $600 of frozen food.  If you have that much invested out here in the country, you better pick up generator.  One thing about traditional canning of vegetables and jerking meat, you don't need electricity to preserve it, but that is a discussion for another day.  So, I guess I'll just leave you with one thought:

Are you ready if the power goes out for two or three days?


  1. I just wanted to second that Yamaha generator praise. A friend keeps an eye out for them on Craigslist.

    I hadn't much faith in the candle lanterns so thanks for giving them the thumbs up! Will add to the list...

  2. @Laura: The interesting thing is that you can purchase two of the Yamaha EF2000iS generators and connector for a 4000-watt set-up for less than the larger Yamaha EF3000 generator.