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Old     (wakecumberland)      Join Date: Oct 2007       10-30-2012, 7:25 AM Reply   
So for the last couple years I have been meaning to buy a generator to add to my family preparedness gear. This storm in the northeast has brought it back to top of mind, so I was hoping the good folks of WakeWorld would have some good insight to share. Here are some thing I need to figure out...

Stationary whole house unit/portable?
What brand?
Dual fuel? Which fuels?
What if I move in 5 years?
Ability to run a heat pump?

I at least want to cover the basics so I need enough power to run the Fridge and freezer, hot water heater, and a few lamps. TVs would be a bonus but not a necessity. Instead of trying to generate enough power for a heat pump, I'm thinking I would be better off to install a gas powered ventless fireplace.

According to the Generac website, I would need 12-15kW if I dont run the heat pump, and 19-25kW if I do use it.

Old     (wakeboardingdad)      Join Date: Aug 2008       10-30-2012, 8:49 AM Reply   
In my mind you have a couple of choices. Spend a lot of money installing a generator with its own transfer switch, foundation, and power the whole house. However, you would have to keep in mind that you do not turn this or that on. Like a dryer, heat pump or maybe the oven. Eyes (on the stove) may be okay. Or you could buy a big portable and install some dedicated wiring within the home. Maybe 5-6 strategically located outlets. Maybe even less and plan to use extension cords to feed fridges and such. 5500 watts would probably be big enough if you are not worried about whole house AC and electric heat. Again, eyes on the stove could be okay. The downside to a portable is fuel and keeping it flowing. The downside to portable is the same. It is probable that gas mains will rupture in an earthquake.

Another option could be that you rewire your box to a main house box and essential house box and only have your generator feed the essential. This could be through a manual or auto transfer switch and it could be (manual) portable or (auto) fixed generator. I have thought about this a lot but no execution yet. I already have a plug in in my detached garage and I could use this plug to back feed my main panel and have color dotted breakers (stickers beside them) for the breakers I would trip or leave closed while using the generator. Your main panel would need a main breaker (some do not have a single, but multiple for panel house main and big appliances) to ensure you did not back feed the utility. Unfortunately, when I built the garage, I double tapped the lower side of the meter to do so. This means that I will have to pull the meter so I do not backfeed the utility. This pulling of the meter would be something that I would do and not something I would entrust the wife to do. Not to mention the consideration of the colored dots.

FYI - you typically load a generator at 75% and when natural gas is used, it's rating is decreased. Can't remember how much just now. Maybe 80% of that. I just went back and looked at your list. Your hot water heater could be the sizing requirement (I think) for the generator.

One more thing. There are two types of portables. Inverter type and synchronous. The inverter type provides for cleaner power (like for your expensive TVs) and is typically quieter but they cost 3-4 times as much.
Old     (crypted1)      Join Date: Jun 2009       10-30-2012, 10:25 AM Reply   
What ever you decide to get (stand alone or portable) you should get the inverter type. Like Akadirtbikingdad (great name by the way!!!) said inverters produce cleaner power. This not only saves your expensive TV's and such but with the new freezers and refridgerators, they want "clean"power. A few years ago we had a huge ice strom here in KY and I can't tell you how many freezer and fridge compressors went out because people used generators without inverters.
I have a Generac. I forget the model number buts its 10k. I also set it up on tri fuel. (There are companies that sell carb mods or replacement carbs.) Gas, natural gas, and propane. This way if its a short outage i can just use gas. Gas get very expensive to feed a generator for days. If its longer and the natural gas mains didn't break, i just hook it up to the new fitting I put in my natural gas line feeding my house. If that goes I have tanks of propane in storage for an outage.
Something to think about...
Old     (wakeboardingdad)      Join Date: Aug 2008       10-30-2012, 1:59 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by crypted1 View Post
e Akadirtbikingdad (great name by the way!!!) ......... I also set it up on tri fuel. (There are companies that sell carb mods or replacement carbs.) Gas, natural gas, and propane. ................Something to think about...
Thanks, but it's way too long.

I did not know they had tri fuel variations. Thanks! I would believe the owners manual speaks about derating on certain fuels. A tri-fuel portable sounds like the way to go.
Old     (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-30-2012, 3:21 PM Reply   
I have a larger portable (6k running 8k starting i think) that I got from Lowes. It has plenty of power and starts real easy. but it's loud as hell and costs about $20/day in gasoline (at today's prices) to run. and that's for about 10-12 hrs (basically thru the night)
They don't really seem to make a one genset fits all needs (kinda like handguns, lol) but this would be my shopping list to do it over:

for back-up power only, i'd have one professionally installed on natural gas.
but for portable power only, a quieter inverter type with electric, remote start. but as others have mentioned, be prepared to pay thru the nose for that.

I bought mine to run our camper out on our property away from the power pole. It's annoying as hell, but in an emergency it would be a life saver. Seriously, they're loud... think of a riding lawnmower on full rpm in the dead of the night.... lol. I even put it inside a pre-fab portable building facing away from the camper w/the doors open for ventilation. That helped... unless you happen to be on the other side of the property that the noise was now facing. and going back there at 10pm in the cold dark to re-fill the dang thing so you could make it to at least 8am the next morning...
After a few trips, we've moved the camper up near the power pole. ahhhh, peace and quiet. Now it collects dust in my garage waiting on the next hurricane to hit the gulf coast.
Old     (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       10-30-2012, 3:57 PM Reply   
I have a honda EU3000i. Pretty quiet compared to my last two used mainly for construction tools but in emergency I'm guessing I could keep the fridge and freezer running.
Old     (wakeboardingdad)      Join Date: Aug 2008       10-30-2012, 4:08 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by norcalrider View Post
I have a honda EU3000i. Pretty quiet compared to my last two used mainly for construction tools but in emergency I'm guessing I could keep the fridge and freezer running.
Last post - or consider them free bumps.... I have the Yamaha equivalent. Nice and quiet. It had a remote start option, but since it has a manual choke, I wondered how well it would work.
Old     (sw)      Join Date: Nov 2012       11-04-2012, 6:26 PM Reply   
I have an electrician buddy that has shown me this.

It seems like a good choice and easy to install.
Old     (skull)      Join Date: May 2002       11-05-2012, 7:48 AM Reply   
I need one. I also want to get a couple solar chargers with enough juice to charge our phones and flashlight batteries in a SHTF situation.
Old     (blindmnkee3)      Join Date: Aug 2001       11-05-2012, 10:09 AM Reply   
Another vote for the Honda. We bring an EU2000i on houseboat trips to Lake Powell. The generator in the houseboat gets used to run high energy stuff like the hair dryers, microwave, etc but it burns through a gallon of fuel in like half an hour and is way too loud to run at night. The portable Honda uses about a gallon of gas over 8-10 hours of use, is super quiet and much cleaner energy. It runs the fridge, freezer, lights, tv, charges phones, camera batteries etc etc. I find it pretty reasonable at about $1000.
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       11-05-2012, 4:03 PM Reply   
Think about how often you'll use it on avg. Couple x a year maybe, few hours to a few days at the most (aside from Hurricane Sandy or another natual disaster like that which you could still handle witha portable generator).
Doesn't seem cost effective to get a huge genset to me. Yes it's loud, but not too loud sitting on the far side of the house, better than melted ice cream and cold feet! Used 8? gal gas a day running 24hrs.
Just moved to the Northwest and noticed most houses have generator hookups including the house we bought.
I bought a John Deere 6kw, 8kw start power (used Craigslist, like new $400) last year just incase. Needed it once last year for a few days after an ice storm.
The house has a separate panel and transfer switch already installed, but you could acheive the same by turning off all the circuits you didn't need and turning off the main breaker so it wouldn't back feed the power lines.
I ran the kitchen outlets, 3 refrigerators, kitchen lights, furnace(gas forced air), well pump, septic pump, microwave and TV off of it no problem. Probably not ALL on at the same time, but for sure the furnace and well pump were running at the same time along with some minor stuff, lights, TV.
I did put a surge protector on the cord run to the TV.


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