Texas Freeze - Part 1 - Damage and Plans

Texas Freeze - Part 1 - Damage and Plans

Like a few people noticed, back in February this website was offline for a day or two. That was because like many people here in Texas I lost power (and water) for a good few days and this website is hosted out of my house.

I was without power for a total of 29 hours over the freeze. I was actually lucky, as some people were without power all week long, and had much more damage than I did

This post will be the first in a series of posts about my experience, what got damaged and what the plan going forward is. Those few days was miserable, and I don't want to re-live them.

The Damage

The damage I sustained during this storm was nothing compared to some worse off. When I moved into the house I had the old Galvanized piping replaced with PEX. I never shut off the water, and none of the PEX had any damage.

The only plumbing damage I had was to a single pipe that went to a hose-bib that was CPVC, I never replaced it as it would mean ripping up a vaulted ceiling I turned the water to it off, but I guess there was still a bit of water in there. As when I went back up to the attic a week later to turn it back on, the pipe was completely destroyed. Because it was shut off, there was no water damage. I count myself lucky this was the only plumbing damage

Past that, the only damage I had was to my Fruit Trees. As it stands, I think I have lost an Olive, Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Lime and Grapefruit tree. I am hoping they bounce back, but I think it may have been too much for them even though they were covered

The Plan

The plan to overcome this in the future is long, and expensive. But I am already well underway in putting everything in motion. The plan consists of just few points

  • Get backup power
  • Reduce reliance on Texas Grid
  • Overhaul my electrical system to make the above two points easy

First, I have ordered a Natural Gas Generator. You will see a post detailing the whole install when its done, but I'll give you details. I got quotes from a Generac Dealer, a Cummins Dealer and a Kohler Dealer. The Cummins and Kohler dealers were disappointing and fell short on the sales and planning, despite the fact I think their generators are superior to the Generac units.

In the end I paid to install a Generac RG027. Its a 27kw Liquid Cooled Natural Gas Generator which runs off a 2.4l 4 cylinder Mitsubishi engine, and is rated for use as primary power, unlike the smaller air cooled units.

It will have a 200a transfer switch which will be before my main electrical panel, meaning everything will be able to run from the generator at once, with no load shedding. Since its Natural gas, as long as there is no natural gas outage, I will be able to run it indefinitely. Even during this event, there was no residential natural gas outages, and there has never been one in my lifetime.

The total cost for the the generator and install was right around $20,000.

Next, I wanted to reduce my reliance on the grid. So I tried getting quotes for Solar + Battery storage. In the end, it turns out that Battery storage just isn't quite there yet. To run just my air conditioning unit alone for 11 hours, I'd need 4 Tesla Power Walls, which would cost well over $40,000. And there is very little in the way of systems that can interact with a generator.

I ended up signing up for an install of a 16kw solar array which will be installed in a few weeks. Its grid tied solar, so if the power goes out, so does the solar. But it gets my ready for when batteries are feasible, and it saves me money every month, reduced my carbon footprint, and reduce my load on the grid.

The system will be comprised of 40 x Aptos DNA-144 Bifacial 400w panels, with Enhpase IQ7A microinverters. The total cost with an electrical overhaul (Next post!) is around $50,000

To get the Generator installed without spending a lot of extra money, and to get everything where I want it to be, it means a major overhaul of my homes electrical. This will be the next post. Stay Tuned