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I remember my grandmother running for the phone when someone else ring would buzz that she wanted to hear what they were talking about. LOL . Her ring was 2 longs and a short but , she was nosey and wanted to hear what the neighbors were talking about. Like you said to call out you had to ring the operator and she would place the call. They had a 12 volt wind mill generator that charged a couple of batteries and it would power a couple lights and the radio. Always listened to Paul Harvey every day at lunch. When I was about 6 or 7 they got electricity. They had a flushing stool before they got power!
My maternal grandma was equally as nosey as yours but she would never admit to it, lollol

I remember her coal furnace that had a giant register with a seat on it, in her living room. The seat could get pretty warm but none of us grandkids ever got burned from sitting on it. That was the prime place sit in the winter. Grandma kept seat position on a “first come first served” basis along with “move your feet, lose your seat”, lollol

I was probably the only family member sad to see the coal furnace replaced by fuel oil because the seat went down the road with the coal furnace.
 
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So it's not the case that the generator would just cycle on and off as needed? Like, if all I wanted to do was run one lightbulb, it would run in low mode and not produce a lot of energy, but then when the water heater kicked in then the generator would kick into higher mode to produce more energy?
Alternating current, AC, changes flow direction 60 times each second. AKA, 60 cycle AC current. (in the usa)

On most, or at least all that I've had or have, the internal combustion engine driving the generator is a direct connect. In other words, the engine has to turn over 60 times per second to produce 60 cycle current that is required for the proper option of electrical devices in the U.S.A. . That amounts to 3600 RPM (revolutions per minute) for the engine.

Larger generators I believe are gear driven but most and I believe all consumer generators all have engines with governors that regulate the engine RPM at a little above 3600 RPM.

So for proper operation, the engine is running at 3600 RPM at all times even without any load. Now when you come to a hill driving a vehicle you must depress the foot feed to keep from slowing down. More gas, some more wear and tear.

When the generator is running with no load, it's still using a fair percentage of it's maximum fuel consumption. When the fridge or freezer kicks on, the governor will automatically depress the foot feed, gas pedal, or what ever, in order to maintain the proper revolutions per minute. AKA speed.

If you look under the specifications on generators, say online at HomeDepot or some such, it will give you maximum watt capability, or amps. If amp, multiply by 120 and that will give you watts.

Then look under fuel consumption. For propane, they usually give both for gasoline and propane. You should find listed the no load fuel consumption and the full load fuel consumption.

From those specs, you should be able form an educated decision on which size or which size(s) generator(s) to purchase.

You're welcome!
 
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@walkinthewalk , This was my paternal grandmother. They had a coal furnace too and all us kids would gather around it in the morning and warm up. Boy, those were the days. At home we had a gravity fed furnce and the warmest place in the house was at the top of the basement stairs right above the furnace.
 

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If you do get a gas generator be sure to not let the gas stay too long in the tank . After using it tis good practice to close shutoff valve for the gas and let the engine run until its quits. This will help prevent the gas from sitting in the carb and fouling it. Also its good practice to run it every couple of months with some load.
 

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Even if it's ran out of gas there will still be a fair amount in the bottom of the carburetor bows that can get gummy or dried and flake off later.

Some small engines have a bowl drain at the bottom just for that purpose.

Thing is, it's not unusual for a generator to sit for a couple of years without being needed. So how many people will go through either ritual every couple months? Then when the time comes to need it, won't start.
 
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