Installing Emergency Lighting for Power Outages
LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to go to Alaska. Frank, what’s going on out there?
FRANK: Hi, thank you so much.
LESLIE: You sound so close.
FRANK: I do sound close, don’t I? Well, you never can tell. Alaska’s a big state and I have two questions for you if you have the time.
LESLIE: We sure do. What can we do for you?
FRANK: Well, I am building a new house and my first question is about putting in a fire sprinkler system. I understand there’s some type of national or federal code for putting in a sprinkler system. I, however, do not want to spend that kind of money. I want certain areas of the house protected.
TOM: OK. And so certain areas you want sprinkled and some areas you don’t want sprinkler protected.
FRANK: That’s correct.
FRANK: Would that be illegal?
TOM: Well, that’s a question for your local code authority but considering the fact that I don’t think that home sprinklers are required …
FRANK: They’re not.
TOM: … then you probably have the option of putting in a partial system if you choose to do that. People make economic choices like that everyday and as long as an entire system is not required and it’s a residence then I don’t see why you can’t do it on a partial basis.
FRANK: That’s wonderful and that was my logic as applied to that issue.
The second question is we have, as you can imagine, electricity outages from time to time and I would also like to put in an emergency gaslight system; the type they probably still put in motor homes.
TOM: You mean a gaslight for like illumination?
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t …
LESLIE: What about an emergency generator?
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, exactly.
FRANK: Well, that will go in there, too; however, if the outage is long enough there may not be enough gasoline.
TOM: Well, I have a better idea for you. How about a natural gas generator? Have you ever heard of one of those?
FRANK: No, but out here we don’t have natural gas. We only have propane.
TOM: Ah. Well, see …
TOM: … propane may not be a bad way to go, too. I personally have – I have a natural gas backup generator and I, of course, am on this side of the country in the east coast and if the power in my home were to go off it can be repowered within about 15 seconds and we can repower almost all of the circuits in the house. Now, if propane is something that is reasonably abundant there and you have a large tank on your property that might be a possibility.
I am really not familiar with any type of gaslight system enough to recommend it, really. I mean frankly, the only time I’ve seen gaslights is when I’m in the quaint, romantic places like Williamsburg, Virginia or a place like that, you know? I mean I can’t imagine I would really want to have any kind of gaslight inside my house. I mean I would be fearful that it would be very, very dangerous; not to mention the fact that you have the venting issue. I mean look at the propane lights that are used for camping. Those are extremely hot and you can’t use them in enclosed space.
FRANK: Right. However, the propane I would be using would be the same propane that I use to run my kitchen stove and my dryer.
TOM: Yes, but you know, again, you have a venting issue …
LESLIE: But those are all properly vented to the outside.
TOM: Well, not necessarily. I mean a stove and a dryer don’t use so much propane that they have to be vented externally and …
LESLIE: And they’re not constantly using it.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So I would not recommend a gaslight. I mean I would look for backup generation either gasoline, where you can store the gasoline and always keep some available, or propane or perhaps you can use a model that does both. But I would definitely not be very comfortable with any kind of gaslight inside the house in an emergency. OK, Frank? Our two cents for what it’s worth.
FRANK: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.