Fishhawk Lake Full Time Living in Winter-Alternative Power

Real Estate Agent with John L Scott Market Center 700512026

Fishhawk Lake Full Time Living in Winter

Alternative Power

After having lived in this community full time for over 11 years, one of the learning experiences that I can pass onto my buyers who want to live here full time, is to think about potential power outages and what you can prepare for when those do happen.

Because of storms, winds, trees falling, ice on powerlines, etc. there are any number of opportunities for you to lose power while you live here at Fishhawk Lake. One sure way to combat this in a matter of seconds upon losing power, is to set your entire home up on a generator system. 

We've done this a few times and found that it behooved us to have our whole home connected to the generator instead of just part of it. We have the Generac 22KW which services our 1500 sq. ft home very nicely.

When (not if but WHEN!) we lose power, it takes all of about 15 seconds for the system to kick in and we go on living, not missing a beat! It runs off propane, so we installed a ridiculously large tank--1,000 gallons, but you don't have to go that large. We are set up to be able to be "off the grid" for days upon days with no worries. Many vacation properties at Fishhawk Lake have propane tanks in varying sizes, 250 gallons being common. That size is too small for having a generator powering up your full time home, so you will want to think larger. 

We worked with a great company to create alternative power, Pacific Northwest Electric Inc.-John Ramirez-(503)657-1188 Ext. 1 who took the whole process start-to-finish under control with some coordination with my husband. That  included working with an electrician and a certified propane plumber to set up the electric panel and put in the propane lines. We did this in early fall, and it just so happened that about 2 weeks after installation, we lost power and I was so thankful, because I was by myself! 

It can be somewhat costly depending upon a variety of things: how much propane line has to be run, whether or not you have to put a foundation under the generator itself, if you need a separate electric panel, etc. It is definitely an added value to the improvement of your home if you should ever sell. 

A generator has to be started regularly and this system is set it up so that it automatically starts by itself on Saturdays, weekly and runs for about 10 minutes. We don't have to worry about it! 

Having propane is also an efficient alternative heat/power source. When you lose electricity (which happens more often here than in urban areas), you can still run a propane stove, propane range and have cooking as well as heat availability. It offers peace-of-mind and is more reasonable a cost than electricity through West Oregon Electric Cooperative, which is the highest priced electricity in the state. 

This is just one of the many bits of guidance and information I can offer my buyers as the local expert, having lived here myself both as a weekender and a full timer. My Resource List has options for other improvements or repairs that my buyers might need after purchasing property at Fishhawk Lake--my way of paying it forward to good businesses who come out here. 




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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Gayle, you're smart to set up your alternative power source!  Even here in the DC area, a lot of people have generators, although we rarely lose power for more that a few hours at a time.  But when it is longer, it isn't fun!

Jan 08, 2017 02:12 PM #1
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

We strong-armed our son into installing a Generac this year. He's out of town more than he's at home, and his house is on a different power company than ours  - so we wouldn't even know if his power was off and his pump house freezing up.

We all have propane to keep our houses warm - and my husband and I cook with it as well. We also have a wood stove we can fire up if necessary.

Unfortunately, our old generator doesn't come on automatically - so if the power goes out late at night I either have to wake him up to start it or go without lights for the night. (He's only shown me how to start it a dozen or two times.)

Jan 08, 2017 02:29 PM #2
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Gayle - That looks like a great state-of-the-art set-up, and if I lived out in the boonies, I'd definitely want something like that.

Jan 08, 2017 02:59 PM #3
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Gayle-Our mutual friend Debb is experiencing a power outage due to an ice storm but it doesn't sound like they have a generator. That is a nice set up.

Jan 08, 2017 03:09 PM #4
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Somehow, Patricia Kennedy, when I think of "power" and DC, I don't think of "outage", I think of "oustage"!!!

Jan 08, 2017 03:46 PM #5
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Marte Cliff they ARE expensive, but soooo worth the price and peace that comes with it. Isn't cooking with it a dream? Hard to go back to electric once you've had it. And you bring up a good point, out at our ranch, a half mile from Fishhawk Lake, we do have a well and pumphouse, so it too needs to stay warm. So, my dear, when are you going to get YOURSELF one? (I recall the days of hand-pulling our old generator to get it started...oy vey, what a pain)! 

Ya mean you DON'T live out in the boonies, Dick Greenberg ?? Here I thought you did. Silly me. Do you guys have natural gas? We don't have that here. 

Oh, Sharon Lee , I know that  Debb is having that problem right now. 

Jan 08, 2017 03:56 PM #6
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Lots of generators here Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 since Hurricane Sandy when everyone lost power for days!

Jan 08, 2017 04:06 PM #7
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I live in the trees and I know the importance of having a generator back up system. I have had one for over 18 years and it is and has been a godsend Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 

Jan 08, 2017 04:08 PM #8
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Ms Joanna Cohlan are you on the road to London? I was thinking of you today...didn't know that you have lots of generators there. Heck, you guys have it ALL in NYC--ya don't miss a thing! HOpe you are feeling healthy.

Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, Broker, Tacoma Washington you know, I love getting to know you better since our foray into being judges together! Love your take on life, your photos, your quotes and your dry sense of humor. and I both can love the idea of a back-up system. I say a little prayer of thanks every time it kicks in! 

Jan 08, 2017 04:42 PM #9
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Gayle, you are right on the money. I've installed many of them in our area, and it's one of those things you fall in love with when the neighborhood is dark and your house is not. 

Jan 08, 2017 04:44 PM #10
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

We have lost power for a few days at a time but have been able to get by without the generator.  As we are growing up a little more it might be a practical thing to do as well.

Jan 08, 2017 06:04 PM #11
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Mike Cooper I've been through it generator, old generator that you had to run outside and start, then plug in, THEN put a bunch of cords to and fro, and then the partial generator (the kind that automatically started, but only to some parts of the home) and THEN the whole brainer! Generator for the whole home! Starts automatically! Yes!!!

Ed Silva the worst winter in Oregon history, 2008, we were without electricity for 9 days. We happened to have had a propane fireplace in our main living area that SAVED US. We had snow up past 5'.  We had an old hand-start generator that didn't offer us the chance to use some of the bigger energy-sucking appliances, like the microwave. I choose, after going through that, to have a generator that powers up everything! 


Jan 08, 2017 08:03 PM #12
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Such great advice you have to share!  Luckily, knock on wood, I live in a area that rarely has power outages and when we do, it isn't for very long.

Jan 09, 2017 05:30 AM #13
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thanks for telling us about your alternative power source. 

Have a safe and warm winter.

Jan 09, 2017 06:54 AM #14
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

We're thinking about this, Gayle. We've lost power twice this year. Not alarming since it's such an odd weather year, but after eight hours without power yesterday, we were talking about it. We shall see, I guess. Fortunately, our wood stove and stored water made it pretty comfortable, but if it had gone on for longer, a generator might be the answer. 


Jan 09, 2017 09:20 AM #15
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Gayle -- a very smart post.  While I doubt I could get approval from the HOA for a generator in my condo(lol), yours certainly looks to be quite impressive.   It definitely makes a lot of sense for those living in your idyllic yet secluded part of the world.

Jan 09, 2017 09:28 AM #16
Alexander- Slocum
Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington - Vancouver, WA
Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate

Hi Gayle, looks like you've implemented a great solution when the local electric utility provides less than fully-reliable service in the .winter time.  For most of Vancouver the local PUD has hardened most of the lines thus, the outages have been very few - even in 2008.  I (John) still have some interest in taking an initial step with a battery back-up system.  It doesn't sound like your system has any storage batteries - is that correct?  Thanks!  John and Kat

Jan 09, 2017 07:49 PM #17
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Brian England yes, dear, you are a lucky one! But, then most of us don't swelter here, either. OR need AC. There are trade-offs everywhere.

Roy Kelley we are doing our best!

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD it sure is our insurance for having all of our amenties not go away. Call me if you want to talk about it. 

Michael Jacobs ya know, this has been on my mind for some time to write about this--it comes up so often. I guess this last storm spurned me on. Yeah, those HOA rules can stymie some. 

Alexander- Slocum nope, we aren't battery operated, just propane. I have to say that I haven't heard about battery operated back-up systems. But, we are living with a well, septic and in a very rural area, (about a mile from the lake), so it's a bit of a different situation. No power, no water! 



Jan 09, 2017 08:30 PM #18
VI tori a K Kenworthy

What a treat to experience your generator first hand during my last ranch setting visit in early December. There was a sound of the motor starting ,that's it. The lights didn't even flicker, I didn't even know the power had gone out except for hearing the motor purring on. What a treat, especially as a long time resident of God's country, we get our fair share of power outages but this generator didn't seem to mid it a bit!

Jan 11, 2017 04:28 AM #19
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Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate

"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905
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