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Home Generators (or How DTE Energy Ruined My Holidays) 695

We are among the thousands without power in the northeast. Day four actually, and we've decided to look into generators so that next year's New Year's doesn't involve fears of frozen pipes bursting and hypothermic babies and cats. At the very least we just need enough juice to run the furnace blower, but if we're going to lay down the cash I'd like to know what it would take to get a little more power ... like enough to run a fridge, router, laptop and lightbulb. I know nothing about this sort of thing, but figure there are more than a few experts out there so I call out to the wisdom of the mob. What am I looking for? How difficult is the wiring? What will it cost me? On the extreme edge, what would it take to get off the grid entirely? (And on a side note, thanks to DTE Energy for telling us we had power when we didn't, for losing the ticket for our neighborhood, for telling us it would be back every single day when it wasn't, and for the helpful DTE representative who warned us that our pipes might burst. Thanks.)

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison