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Old 11-17-2015, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Southern California
12,722 posts, read 13,043,809 times
Reputation: 35336

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I have never had any sort of backup in the event of power outages but now I'm wanting to get something. My power was out for 36 hours on the coldest 2 days in awhile here. I live in Southern California so it's not going to kill me but I have a toddler so it still wasn't fun. Before you all say I'm a wimp, I live in an old house with nearly no insulation (I rent) and before the power came back on last night it got down to 58 degrees in my house.

So I want to try and find a solution before this happens again. I was looking into generators but they are so loud and dirty so I read about battery backups but none of them probably have power to even start a space heater and if they do it could only run a short time. Does anyone have any recommendations to get some heat if the power goes out again? If I had to do it over, I'd have went to a hotel last night.

I can't get certain types of heaters because CA law doesn't allow certain types of heaters indoors either. Last night we just used lots of clothing and blankets but it was downright cold by the time the power finally came back on.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:24 AM
 
20,684 posts, read 61,862,722 times
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Go to a camping store and look for a catalytic propane camp heater with an O2 depletion sensor.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:27 AM
 
244 posts, read 453,341 times
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Since you rent the home it will be very difficult to have a backup power in that situation. The best backup power I have seen was a generator that ran off of natural Gas and tied directly into the homes Breaker Box, when the power went off it would kick on. Since you rent i doubt you would want to take the expense of buying the generator and having an electrician wire it to the house let alone if the Homes owner would even let you.

If you wanted to buy a small portable generator (Leave it Outside) and run an extension cord to a CA approved heater inside the house that might work.

How often does the power go off in your home during a time that you would need heat or AC? If its not that often it might be more economical and hands down a lot easier just to rent a room from a hotel for the night.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:46 AM
 
Location: Southern California
12,722 posts, read 13,043,809 times
Reputation: 35336
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Go to a camping store and look for a catalytic propane camp heater with an O2 depletion sensor.
Unfortunately the law states (I think?) that I cannot have this legally in my home. Although it doesn't say I can't use but I don't want to mess with the law. Here is the law:

California Health and Safety Code Section 19881 states that no person "shall sell, or offer for sale, any new or used unvented heater that is designed to be used inside any dwelling house or unit, with the exception of an electric heater, or decorative gas logs for use in a vented fireplace."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawekeye2011 View Post
Since you rent the home it will be very difficult to have a backup power in that situation. The best backup power I have seen was a generator that ran off of natural Gas and tied directly into the homes Breaker Box, when the power went off it would kick on. Since you rent i doubt you would want to take the expense of buying the generator and having an electrician wire it to the house let alone if the Homes owner would even let you.

If you wanted to buy a small portable generator (Leave it Outside) and run an extension cord to a CA approved heater inside the house that might work.

How often does the power go off in your home during a time that you would need heat or AC? If its not that often it might be more economical and hands down a lot easier just to rent a room from a hotel for the night.
I've only lived here a year and this is the only time it went off more than an hour but during the summer it would have been worse if it happened on a hot day, not having AC. I don't mind spending some money on a solution just to have peace of mind. Yes, a hotel might be cheaper overall but I'd rather have an in house option if possible.
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Old 11-17-2015, 10:07 AM
 
244 posts, read 453,341 times
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Yea that's the thing you could probably get away with a smaller Generator and run an extension cord and plug in an electric heater during the winter and a generator like that might only run you a few hundred dollars. I would buy a nicer 4 stroke engine so you don't have to mix oil and gas but that's just me.

During the summer power outages are harder because Home AC units need more power to run than you would have not to mention you would have to have an electrician come to wire something up and then you might run into landlord issues. Your best option would be to buy a small portable AC unit that would also work with the small portable generator but that only adds to the overall cost.
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Old 11-17-2015, 10:46 AM
 
20,684 posts, read 61,862,722 times
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Unfortunately the law states (I think?) that I cannot have this legally in my home. Although it doesn't say I can't use but I don't want to mess with the law. Here is the law:

California Health and Safety Code Section 19881 states that no person "shall sell, or offer for sale, any new or used unvented heater that is designed to be used inside any dwelling house or unit, with the exception of an electric heater, or decorative gas logs for use in a vented fireplace."


Crap like that is why I would never live in that idiotic nanny state. Your acquiescence to such idiocy colludes with it and emboldens even more nonsense restrictions.

Note that the code you cite restricts the sale of, but not the use of, unvented heaters. Unvented heaters are safe and are in use throughout the rest of the country. We have an unvented propane wall heater that supplies a large portion of our winter heat.

Honestly, minor inconveniences such as yours followed by responses like the above with such negativity towards a solution that is prudent and inexpensive have always made me turn on my heels and walk away.

58 is not particularly cold. My brother keeps his house at about 50 all winter and is perfectly comfortable. A generator and electric space heater is a p*ss poor solution to heating because of the massive inefficiencies involved and excessive costs. However, you have constructed your own box and have limited your own ways of climbing out of it. My revised advice is for you to go to a motel. It'll be cheaper and have cable tv.
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Old 11-17-2015, 11:22 AM
 
244 posts, read 453,341 times
Reputation: 276
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Unfortunately the law states (I think?) that I cannot have this legally in my home. Although it doesn't say I can't use but I don't want to mess with the law. Here is the law:

California Health and Safety Code Section 19881 states that no person "shall sell, or offer for sale, any new or used unvented heater that is designed to be used inside any dwelling house or unit, with the exception of an electric heater, or decorative gas logs for use in a vented fireplace."

Crap like that is why I would never live in that idiotic nanny state. Your acquiescence to such idiocy colludes with it and emboldens even more nonsense restrictions.

While I agree its no fun living in a Nanny State (Why I love Texas non Nanny State) I would not necessarily disparage the OP for stating that he does not wish to break the law which is his choice even if said law is very minor.

Note that the code you cite restricts the sale of, but not the use of, unvented heaters. Unvented heaters are safe and are in use throughout the rest of the country. We have an unvented propane wall heater that supplies a large portion of our winter heat.

I agree as long as the Unvented heater has a tip over sensor and other safeguards to insure if its knocked over it doesn't start a fire or cause some other accident. For all i know if the OP went and bought the heater that you described and by some accident gets knocked over and starts a fire. Would the homeowners insurance cover the claim since he was using that particular type of heater?

Honestly, minor inconveniences such as yours followed by responses like the above with such negativity towards a solution that is prudent and inexpensive have always made me turn on my heels and walk away.

My response was only one opinion in regards to the OP talking about Generators. As you mentioned there are a lot cheaper options. However, While generators are not inexpensive they can be used for more than just a power outage event so they could possibly have more uses (ie. Disasters in CA or earthquakes).

58 is not particularly cold. My brother keeps his house at about 50 all winter and is perfectly comfortable. A generator and electric space heater is a p*ss poor solution to heating because of the massive inefficiencies involved and excessive costs. However, you have constructed your own box and have limited your own ways of climbing out of it. My revised advice is for you to go to a motel. It'll be cheaper and have cable tv.
While that might be perfectly fine for your brother because he is an adult. Children especially small children do not have the same body mass to keep warm like we do. He mentioned that it was too cold for his child so that part about 58 degrees not being particularly cold is a mute point because to his child that is cold and that's all that matters.

I'm not going to sit here and argue the minutia about heating efficiency with an electric space heater but it would be less of a burn risk with an enclosed electric heat that with the propane heater especially with small children. While you will need fuel for the generator most small generators are very quite to run and efficient now a days in regards to fuel usage.

I will agree with you and as a stated in my post above that going to a motel would be cheaper and probably more economical and more comfortable (Heat/AC/Hot Shower ect. ect.) But the OP wanted something besides a suggestion to go to a hotel and wanted ideas about something he could do at home which both of us provided him options.
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Old 11-17-2015, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Southern California
12,722 posts, read 13,043,809 times
Reputation: 35336
Ok, I guess I've touched a nerve by wanting to keep my child warm. I'll rent a hotel next time. I was just asking a question and looking for suggestions.
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Old 11-17-2015, 11:42 AM
 
244 posts, read 453,341 times
Reputation: 276
Haha don't be afraid OP I don't think anyone is angry at you. the post has only been up a few hours and I'm sure more people will chime in with their opinions it is a forum after all I think so far you a few options one more expensive than the other.

1) The propane heater

2) Some sort of generator solution.

3) Hotel Motel Holiday Inn

I think wanting to keep your child warm is a good reason to come on here and ask your question. But with power outages hopefully knock on wood a rare occurrence and especially in summer a generator might be an expensive proposition, but that's all relative depending on how much money you want to throw that the issue.
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Old 11-17-2015, 12:59 PM
 
2,200 posts, read 1,572,418 times
Reputation: 5068
Just get a 2200 watt inverter generator from Harbor Freight for ~$400 (or even less if you buy used from craigslist) and a space heater from walmart for ~$9. Shouldn't take up more storage than a small suitcase, and you're set. A 1500w heater would easily heat one medium sized room or a couple bedrooms.

I don't know what kind of heat your house has, but if it's hot water or steam you could even power it with the small generator. If you have forced air you would need a more powerful generator than a little inverter generator.

This is assuming you're renting a house and not an apartment.
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