The Joys Of Homeownership: Part 7: Time For An Off Grid Electric Coffee Maker

An hour later I got another text; “The power is down here too!”

Mrs. Curmudgeon had driven from our house, where the power was down and therefore the coffee maker was kaput, to her office, where the power was down and therefore the office coffee maker was kaput. Ouch!

That’s that, I thought. No coffee meant civilization was over. In a week we’d be living in mud huts. In a month we’d be dead. Well actually that didn’t apply to me. I was 700 miles away. I considered myself “pre-bugged out”. I stopped off at Starbucks with a feeling of gratitude, tanked up on caffeine, and got back to work. I had shit to do and there was nothing I could do for Mrs. Curmudgeon but hope for the best.

On a practical note, power down over a radius that large meant things were more serious than just coffee. Interruptions normally measured in hours would now be measured in days. I started thinking about our freezers. Was the bacon safe?!?

We have a generator but it’s a very old and tiny piece of shit that never runs and couldn’t power a freezer anyway. Getting a “real” generator has been on my “to do list” forever. Like many things in life, it just hasn’t happened.

Meanwhile, somehow somewhere Mrs. Curmudgeon managed to get coffee. I have no idea how. Then, by mid afternoon the power at her work site kicked on. From there she got online and got back to her routine. The gradual slide into savagery was arrested.

Back at our homestead the power stayed down much longer (which is entirely reasonable and not something I hold against the power company). The dog didn’t mind. Mrs. Curmudgeon kept the freezers shut and bought coffee in town. An ad hock solution that’s fine for a few days.

Well before the outage might threaten our freezers the power came back on. Bacon disaster averted! Whew.

I consider it a shot across the bow from fate. “Hey there folks, I’m the power grid. Remember me? Never forget me. I could bail on you any time! This is my third big outage in two years. Are you paying attention? Are you getting the hint dumbass?”

I decided to move “generator” up my list of priorities. (Note: I’ve got adaptations that don’t include generators that are still in place. Fortunately, much of the year is so cold that the whole world is a freezer. Heat is something we’ve got nailed down. We’ve got oil lamps and rechargeable lights. Etc…)

Given a new sense of urgency (I really don’t want Mrs. Curmudgeon or myself going without coffee!) I’ve been rethinking my generator plans. By that I mean rejecting my original aspirations to a huge, stationary, full house, automatic start, generator. I’ve never been able to afford one and never will. I’ve let “perfect” be the enemy of “good enough”.

It’s time to scale back and adapt. Even so I refuse to punt with one of those cheap ass overrevved lawnmower engines on a frame. Especially the new ones, they’re prone to shrieking away until they die after 150 hours. That is, if they start at all.

When I “gear up” I’ll blog about it. A quality generator on a budget won’t be easy.

A complication is that I’ve learned “emergency priorities” includes an electric coffee maker. Who knew? I’ve fretted over furnaces, communication, freezers, and well pumps (and now sump pumps) but I’d planned on percolators or a French press and a Jet Boil. Now I know better. Mrs. Curmudgeon must have her coffee maker. “Coffee pot stays running or we bug out no matter what” is officially added to our zombie plans. I can get behind that. I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong. Planning isn’t just about “staying alive” it’s about “maintaining civilization” (at least for your family). If my wife can put up with my shit and all she wants is an electric coffee maker I shall endeavor to provide one. (And yes, we have one or more “spare” electric coffee pots stashed in case one breaks. Duh!)

Stay tuned because as soon as the power came on a new and totally unrelated emergency emerged. Thus the coffee pot was immediately forgotten.

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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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26 Responses to The Joys Of Homeownership: Part 7: Time For An Off Grid Electric Coffee Maker

  1. Steve says:

    AC, that’s a mighty fine flair for cliffhangers you have there. I’ll be here, cleaning my gutters and counting ammo as I await the next installment. Since I can, I might just brew a pot….

  2. Weisshaupt says:

    Gas or diesel Driven Welder = Generator. They are typically built like tanks, have electronic starts, and start every time. Something like this

    https://www.millerwelds.com/equipment/welders/engine-driven/bobcat-225-engine-driven-welder-m90334

    Found used, is reasonable, reliable, and you can – you know – weld with it.

    • Nice idea but they ‘aint cheap. I think they’re out of my league price wise.

      I have a good 6.2 Diesel engine that cries out for a kit to turn it into a similar stationary engine / generator… but I’ve found no such kit.

      • Mark Matis says:

        Sounds like what you might really need is a used gas or diesel driven welder with an engine that doesn’t work…

      • That would be perfect. Certain military generators (like a trailer on wheels) came with my exact engine. I’d love nothing more than that sort of setup with or without the welder part. (Having a welder is never bad.) The 6.2 diesel is a great engine for that purpose I’d think.

        Ideally it would come with a mechanic who knows how to do the engine swap.

        I’d provide the donor engine, expenses, and all the beer a mechanic could need. Plus bacon. I’d pay in bacon too!

        Any takers?

  3. Robert says:

    “one or more “spare” electric coffee pots”
    Two is one, one is none, as they say.
    I can boil water on stoves with: propane; any petroleum liquid; alcohol; fuel-tabs; carbon-based whatever. Dog help us if I’m reduce to rubbing two sticks together to make coffee.
    I do hope we don’t get to live in interesting times.
    Glad you made it through whatever emergency emerged in part eight.

  4. B says:

    diesel or propane. Gas doesn’t store.

    I have a listeroid diesel (google it) not auto start, but they run frikkin forever (plus 24 minutes) and they burn any oil type fuel. (kero to motor oil plus veggie).

    • You have a Listeroid?!? OMG I wanna’ be cool like you!

      I read about them years ago and love the idea.

      If you don’t mind me asking; Where’d you get it? How much was it? I can get more or less unlimited WVO but I wasn’t sure how “plug and play” a WVO Listeroid can be. (I’m trying to avoid taking on a “project”.) Then again if it’s “do-able” on my budget I’d go for it. Did you get it with a powehead pre-installed?

      Oh man if you were nearby I’d buy you a six pack of beer and trade it for a quick Listeroid demo! Drop me a line please if you want to talk Listeroids. I’ll e-mail you a beer. If you don’t want to respond publicly send an e-mail to adaptive.curmudgeon@gmail.com and I’ll gush about Listeroid fandom in private.

      • Joat says:

        Please don’t just reply in email, I want to hear about it also, I need a better backup generator, I’d love to have a Lister run generator. I bet more than half the people reading this blog want more information

  5. p2 says:

    living in a place where a power outage for 7-10 is a regular thing, i’ve found a decent, fully charged 12 vdc jump box with a outlet for adapters is an amazing thing. coupled with a 12 vdc coffee maker, they’re a godsend. useful for running small floodlights in flooded basements, small truck fans for drying out flooded cabinets under sinks and freezers, and even for running the winch to get the boat back on the trailer…. and theyll power the portable winch that you attach to your next girlfriend’s rig when you rescue her after she slides into the ditch in january at – 35. “what do ya owe me? how ’bout dinner friday night?…”

  6. Edward Pitka says:

    I found a great place to compare coffee brands and coffeemakers and learn more about coffee.

    • OK folks this person added the link. I’m posting it. I haven’t shopped there yet because “one simply does not change from the Death Wish preference of Mrs. Curmudgeon”. Check it out if you wish. YMMV.

  7. abnormalist says:

    Just make sure you understand, most electric coffee makers run in the 1000-1200w range… and can directly impact your generator choice.

    • I know…. doesn’t it suck!

      Frankly all generator shopping does is fill me with awe at how excellent and handy it is to have “the grid”.

      • abnormalist says:

        Lot of truth. I run a very small offgrid teardrop camper for family outings, and the only practical coffee solution I could come up with was the propane stove and french press.

        The kids understand. In the morning, the first thing we cook on the stove is water for coffee. Before pancakes, before cereal can go in the bowls, yes even before bacon. Coffee exists so dad doesn’t kill everyone.

        After that, yeah, whatever…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Consider dry ice chips for the freezers. Bring them home in an ice chest, dump them in, they will last for several days. Find vendors in the yellow pages. Make coffee with a percolator on a propane BBQ grill side burner, does it have to be electric?

    • I’ve done the dry ice thing. That was the plan if the power stayed off another day.

      Mrs. Curmudgeon seemed to indicate electric or die trying. I’ve got no problem with the percolator on propane but I wasn’t there.

  9. jon spencer says:

    Have you thought about a PTO driven generator for your tractor? Most of those make more than enough watts for about any household.
    Another thing, having second smaller generator that would be used when your power draw is minimal, instead of running one that is consuming fuel at multiples of gph, when all that is needed is a few hundred watts.

    • My tractor is 72 years old and doesn’t always run. Nor could (or would) Mrs. Curmudgeon mess with it.

      Small generators appeal to me. Mostly I’m all about them being quiet. I’m thinking of dual matched 2,000 watt Powerhorse inverter Generators with a parallel kit. They’re a Northern Tool ripoff of the 2,000 watt Hondas I can’t afford. I checked one out a few weeks ago and it was pretty sweet. Dirt simple, very quiet, electronics friendly, fuel efficient. I think Mrs. Curmudgeon might not shy away from them. They seemed much more “domesticated” than the machinery I usually own. The only issue is 4,000 watts is not a huge amount of power for a guy with two freezers and a fridge. I think I can work it out with some elaborate switching but am still scheming. A good point would be that I could shut down one of the two at night and it would be whisper quiet… then go back to dual generators when more juice is needed during the day. Note: this is all theory so far.

  10. Joat says:

    Have you priced a bank of lead acid storage batteries and an inverter? I don’t know how much it would cost but a giant UPS for the coffee pot and and a few lights you would have power with no need to go start a generator. Add a small generator to charge it if power is off for more than a day or two.

    • There is storage and there is generation… two sides of the same coin but storage is necessary finite. When planning for grid interruption (or coffee interruption) I’m not sure I want anything overtly finite. Solutions based on batteries and an inverter (unless you added charging by solar or something) would be brilliant for an hour, decent for a day, OK for a couple days, and dead flat dead after a week. Suppose the power goes down for two weeks. Not common but not impossible. I think I don’t want too many eggs in the battery basket.

      • Joat says:

        I wasn’t thinking about the battery plus inverter for a week, or even necessarily even for a full day, but long enough so coffee is ready before going out to start the generator to recharge. Or enough for morning coffee when you are out of town like the last emergency. If the bank is big enough and the power use is low enough you might be about to get by with running a generator for a few hours a day.

        I’ve got a little generator with a briggs motor, I got it really cheap slightly used. My last multi day power outage I ran it for about 3 hours twice a day to keep the fridge and freezers cold and recharge the UPSes that powered a TV(helped keep my wife and 8 year old happy) and my computer. I had working internet for 24 hours until the phone companies UPS died.

    • I will go into detail but I’m not posting until I settle on my choice and implement it. I’ll overthink it as usual. One difficulty is that it’s not just for me. I’d love a Listeroid streampunk/tractor PTO churning out eleventy zillion watts of awesome that’s based in an underground lair but that’s a solution that won’t suit Mrs. Curmudgeon. This can’t be a “project”. For domestic tranquility it would be better as a simple and cuddly solution… plus coffee. If it requires a box full of spanner wrenches, a manual in German, and six valves it might as not exist unless I’m there to administer it. I’m also ruling out cheap stuff that can’t handle a long outage… say 3 weeks with grid down. I postulate a high revving lawnmower engine type would tear itself apart if run 24/7 for a week. Plus I want to spend under half of what might be needed for the usual off the shelf ideas.

      (There’s probably no way I’ll get all of what I want. Life is like that.)

      So…the usual.

      I promise to tell all about whatever dipshit solution I go for. Be patient and I’ll tell how it works in actual practice too. Ideally I’ll be able to link to components as I buy them from Amazon. (Not a lot of good shopping in my local area.) So you’ll know I’m not bullshitting about prices I paid. 🙂

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