In the Church of the Big Dipper

Sometime after midnight I stopped looking at the outdoor thermometer. The last reading I remember was -24F/-31C. Even with the wood stove blazing I could only get the front of the house warmed up to 56F/13C. The back of the house was ten degrees colder than that. I slept on the couch to feed the fire all night long and stared at the stars through the cathedral ceiling windows– it was like being in the Church of the Big Dipper. Awesome view.

Now it’s -18F/-28C outside. I’ll spend much of the day caulking more joints and seams and putting plastic up on the windows. It’s actually warmer inside than it was on the coldest days last year because of the work I’ve done on the house bit by bit since I bought it a year ago. By next winter, I’ll have this place super cosy warm. Might have to sleep on the couch anyway, just for the view.

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How to Subscribe to a Podcast in iTunes

If you’ve never subscribed to a podcast in iTunes, this video will show you how. (As you follow the steps, search the iTunes store by entering “My Yukon Life” in the upper right hand search field. In the results, choose the My Yukon Life icon with the moose logo.) 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American listeners! If you’re wondering what to play on the way to grandma’s, consider downloading some episodes of My Yukon Life podcast radio. All of our shows are kid friendly and they’re a great way to introduce young ones to the Yukon.

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How to Install a Whole House Portable Generator

Generators are good to have when the power goes out and can help with basic survival. It can mean the difference between all your perishables surviving an extended summer power outage or having heat in the dead of winter when outside temperatures are well below freezing. Knowing how to install a whole house portable generator can improve your quality of life considerably.

A whole house generator provides power through a switching system that enables you to run most of your lights and appliances (computers too) without extension cords. Except for not being able to use your stove, you may not even notice that the power company isn’t keeping your lights going. The only other reason you may realize you’re off the grid is that your neighbours are camped out in your house because theirs is dark.

I recently installed a whole house portable generator to provide power to my house in case of emergency. Why a portable generator instead of a fixed generator? Well, I already owned a portable high-wattage generator so I decided to use that, and it gives me the option of taking it with me if I sell the house. (My generator also has a battery-powered electric starter which not all gas generators have.)

The downside to running a gasoline engine-powered generator is that the gas can go bad even with additives. Because the power goes out fairly frequently here it’s more likely my generator will run through the gas before it can go bad.

Another reason why some opt for a permanent solution– they have propane/natural gas tanks/lines running to their house. I don’t have those.

So, the first choice you have to make is portable or permanent?

The details in installing a generator are very, very important. The last thing you want to do is electrocute yourself or your family so if in doubt, consult an expert. I did. I considered it an excellent investment– and my expert was happy to be paid in beer after the job was done.

One example of an important detail that shouldn’t be overlooked: make sure that when you bury the cable it’s at least six inches (6″) from metal flashing or any other metal. If the cable makes contact with the metal (even if the cable is Trenchencased in plastic pipe) there’s a possibility the outside of the house will become electrified. And yeah, that’s bad.

I was lucky in that the transfer switch and box were already installed on the outside of my house so it saved me a step. (Transfer switches enable you to simply move a lever to switch over from municipal power to your generator.) If you’re really, really lucky your house will already have a transfer switch installed on the inside of your house.

I’d pre-measured and purchased appropriate heavy gauge electrical cable (consult with your local DIY store for the right stuff) and encased it in plastic pipe designed for burying electrical cable. To prevent rust issues, I chose plastic over metal pipe. I also purchased two sets of three plastic brackets for mounting the pipe on the exterior wall for where the pipe rises to the switch and inlet boxes.

My expert connected the cable to the transfer switch for me. Transfer switches can have lots of bells and whistles and be pricey or they can be basic and, well, budgety if that’s a word. (It’s not; I checked.) Mine was the simple version and it works great.

Power inlet boxThe other end of the electrical cable I connected to the power inlet box I’d pre-mounted to the outside wall where I would plug in my generator. Again, check with the DIY folks for the proper inlet box.

You might be wondering where to put the generator. That’s a project in itself. I chose a location out of sight and protected as much as possible from snow sliding off the roof. I built a temporary shed for it until I can build a permanent, larger building in the spring. The main concerns are protection from the elements and airflow for the generator to exhaust fumes and not overheat. The window you see in the photo will never be open when the generator is running or else the fumes will enter the house.

One last thing to remember is the cord connecting the generator to the power inlet box. Not surprisingly, they’re heavy duty as well as more expensive than regular extension cords.

Now when the power goes out I’ve got a running toilet and running water, hot water at that, lights, computers/Internet, and my backup oil stove is ready for action if I fall behind in feeding the wood stove when the power goes out in the dead of winter. And it does, trust me. It does.

This portable generator model is very similar to the one I have: It’s a gas powered 7,000 watt generator with a Subaru engine and removable control panel so you can optionally mount it inside your house.

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Freezing to Death

Intriguing article from Outside magazine about how easily one can find themselves fighting for their life against the cold:–First-Chill–Then-Stupor–Then-the-Letting-Go.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebookpost

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Incredible Woodworking

Photos of some of the beautiful woodwork by special guest Claire Desmarais for Episode 97 of My Yukon Life podcast radio:


Case3 cherry kitchenent-1bclaire kitchen Claire Skiff1 Skiff2

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