When imagining the emergency prepper– or survivalist (is there a difference? Not sure.)– you might think of a thick-bearded misanthrope in a rural or semi-rural environment, with a steel-reinforced cabin, a bush-camouflaged bunker, gas masks hanging from coat racks and arsenals stashed in hollowed-out redwoods– kind of like John Malkovich in “Red,” but not as eloquent. He recites the Pledge of Allegiance with his family every day in their basement and teaches his kids CB slang in case the power grid goes down.
On the most part, this perception is way off. Closer to the norm are the legions of ordinary families in all types of settings– rural, suburban and, yes, even urban– preparing for what they feel will be an inevitable disruption in society, either by social upheaval or natural disaster. They store food, water, fuel, portable wealth, clothing and blankets, alternative power, communication and first aid supplies. History has shown what can happen when the system breaks down, and these Americans don’t want to fall victim to the consequences. It’s all good fun, watching them on cable reality shows, going through their drills and stockpiling their tarps… but then something else sinks in: a lot of what they’re saying makes uncomfortable sense.
Which brings me to that survivalist of the urbane world, the Apartment Prepper . The city-dwelling survivor can prepare for emergencies, much like their more countrified brethren, save it be for some environmental modifications. One thing they do share is the need for sustainable power in the event of a crisis. If you’ve ever experienced a blackout or disaster, you know how quickly the wheels can fly off the wagon around the neighborhood.
Recently, Harbor Freight Tools delivered a Predator 420cc, 8750 Watts Max/7000 Watts Rated Portable Generator to the good people at The Apartment Prepper so they could put it to the test. They published their findings on their blog in “Setting Up a Generator”, an extremely helpful guide for a fledgling survivalist to choose and set up their generator for those SHTF moments.
First, deciding which one you need:
Every generator includes the wattage it is rated for, and the maximum watts you can use with it. In this case, the Predator Generator is ’7000 rated watts; 8750 maximum watts.’ What does this mean? This means there is a bit of calculation involved when deciding which devices you will be using with the generator. This is to make sure that the items you want to plug in are below the rated and maximum wattage ratings of the generator. The manual included a Wattage Calculation Table, along with Wattage Calculation Charts, which gave the “Running Watts” and the “Additional Startup Watts” for common household appliances. For example, you want to use a combination of appliances:
- computer with monitor, it will need 800 running watts, but 0 additional startup watts.
- A refrigerator/freezer needs 700 running watts, and 1500 startup watts.
- Window AC needs 1200 running watts and 600 additional startup watts
If you wanted to use these three things at the same time, you add 800+700+1200=2700, well under the 7000 rated watts of the Predator Generator. For the Startup Watts, you only take the highest startup watts, in this case, it’s 1500. 2700+1500=4200, which is under the 8750 maximum wattage the generator can handle.”
Great information to have when you’re getting ready to shop. They then offered several pointers on setting up before you operate the generator. These included:
- Determine a well-ventilated spot to park the generator.
- Ground the unit before you start using it.
- Get the proper fuel and oil for the unit.
- Get a battery for electric starts.
- Drain the gas and oil from the generator when not in use.
There’s obviously a lot more to each step, but I didn’t want to hijack all the good stuff. Click through to the article and prepare to be educated.
After setting up, they proceeded to test the generator on a microwave oven, and then the hijink ensued! You can read all about it on The Apartment Prepper blog site.