Generators & Batteries
Re everyone who suggests using an inverter & batteries - its not as simple as it seems!
We moved to a house with no supply in the middle of a field. I fitted a generator, deep-cycle batteries, sinewave inverter, and clever charger. What I found was...
1. Batteries deliver nowhere near the capacity they're supposed to. No idea why, but they hold maybe 1/10 the rated charge.
2. Inverters won't run fridges unless they're very high output ones, ie more than 1500W. That's because the compressor motor draws a huge amount of current at startup, which it does several times an hour, compared with about 50W after its started going. That's why the lights dim slightly in most houses when the fridge starts. The only way to run fridges and freezers is directly off the generator.
3. If you have a large output inverter, you'll need bloody massive cables off the battery to carry all that current. 1500W + 15% converter inefficiency = 143A out of a 12v battery!
4. Charging the batteries requires the generator to be running for hours, because you can't charge them too quickly or they'll boil all the water off.
5. Maintenance. If anything breaks, you're in the poo till you personally fix it. Never mind if its raining and you can't quite fit in the generator shed so your back gets wet, never mind if its freezing and you've been at the lager, never mind if you have to be somewhere. YOU have to fix it.
6. You can't go anywhere. If you do, the freezer will defrost and all that lovely steak is ruined.
7. You can't trust anyone else to run the generator. When they forget, your steak is ruined, they'll titter apolgetically then walk away as if its some kind of joke. You'll never trust them again.
8. You can't skimp on kit. If you buy a modified sinewave inverter, all of your electronics will self-destruct. Cheap battery chargers will wreck the batteries. Cheap batteries are even worse than deep-cycle ones. You have to suffer expensive and crap, or suffer slightly cheaper and too-crap-to-use.
9. Running costs are huge. Generator petrol is taxed at the government's maximum nose-bleed rates in case we melt the planet. You can choose gas if your generator will run off it, which reduces fuel costs by 3/4 - but its nowhere near as cheap as mains electricity.
10. Whatever you do with the power system, cooking with electricity just isn't viable. You put in gallons of fuel, and you get out a tiny bit of heat in the cooker. Much better to cook with gas. Therefore you'll need an LPG cooker and boiler on top of all the power gubbins.
On the plus side, now we've got proper power, we have a large online UPS which kicks in whenever the mains fails - like it did last winter when an overhead line pole snapped off in the wind. Essentials like the TV, cooker and boiler (you need mains for the oven valve and boiler pump + control system) and some lights use the UPS, while everyone else in our area stumbles around looking for candles. Ha!