Better Living through Electricity


Better Living through Electricity

by rdpecken on Mar.20, 2011, under Cooking

One of the real chores to working and living in a temporary semi-primitive setting is the cleanup involved with cooking.  Without a sink and hot water handy, you have to heat water on the camp stove, and wash things in a plastic bin.  Then you have to pour heated water over the dishes/utensils to rinse them, all the while trying to conserve water, so you don’t have to heat more up making this a long cleaning process.

We had tried using a 1100 watt microwave before with our generator, but due to the length of the extension cord, the voltage drop was too much, and the microwave didn’t work unless we plugged it directly into the generator.

So I went to Kmart and found a very simple 600 watt microwave to take to the ranch.

600 watt microwave

This microwave only draws about 6 amps of AC current, which does not drop the voltage too much, even over a 50 ft extension cord.  I measured the voltage at the end of a 15 amp circuit with the microwave off… I was surprised to find such a high voltage from the generator.  I would have expected maybe 120 volts, but we have 125.  A nearby neighbor says his voltage from his larger Honda is also higher than expected.

No load voltage from Honda Generator

When the microwave is cooking, the voltage drops to about 117 volts. That is at the end of a 15 amp circuit.  It should be even better at the end of a 20 amp circuit in the future kitchen.

Voltage with microwave cooking

It’s really nice in that we can leave the generator in idle-down power conservation mode.  When the generator senses the higher load, it ramps up the generation.  That way we don’t have to go outside and flip a switch on the generator to make it ready for the high load.

So I was able to just bring along easy cleanup stuff like TV dinners, pot pies, etc.  They were slightly frozen from the store, and over the 4 days, thawed out almost completely, but that didn’t affect their safety or quality.  They still tasted the same when they were cooked.  With them being kind of thawed out, the cooking times work out to be about the same as the box instructions, even though we are using a smaller microwave.  And best of all…. very little cleanup!


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