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OT: Home Power Generators


b3keys

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Kinda of OT, but, I am thinking of purchasing a home power generator for the winter to have on hand. In February of this year, we lost power for a week and ended up in a hotel. I don't want a repeat of this!

 

Any recommendations on what to buy, what to be aware of, etc., etc.?

 

Thanks! Stay Warm!

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Kinda of OT, but, I am thinking of purchasing a home power generator for the winter to have on hand. In February of this year, we lost power for a week and ended up in a hotel. I don't want a repeat of this!

 

Any recommendations on what to buy, what to be aware of, etc., etc.?

 

Thanks! Stay Warm!

 

Portable or (permanent) standby? If permanent, auto or manual switchover?

 

What's your budget?

 

FWIW, there are lots of good portables, and I agree with Kevin's Honda recommendation. If you're looking for a permanent standby installation I've heard that the Briggs & Stratton $2,500 - $3,000 (7 - 10 kilowatts) models running on a natural gas hook-up (no LP bottles to keep replacing) and an autosensing switch are a pretty good buy.

 

Larry.

 

 

 

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I've been thinking about the same thing. For me something to sit in the garage and roll out onto the driveway during times of need would be sufficient. I'll run a couple chords under the garage door and into the house.
This post edited for speling.
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I'll run a couple chords under the garage door and into the house.

 

Spoken like a musician! :laugh:

 

My brother lives in an area where the power goes out fairly often. When he built his house, he did the natural gas, autosensing, hardwired into the house thing.

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b3keys,

I got fed up just like you and bought a portable 5500 watt I think, AC Tech, 10 hour run time or something like that.

 

What I would recommend is a sub-panel for the generator. You'll need an electrician to put it in, but you can run your critical circuits to that. They make panels specifically for that. Mine was made by GenerAC.

 

I was lucky my house already had one. But I can run my well water pump, furnace, fridge, microwave and a bunch of lights. The sub-panel has five circuits and each has a three way switch: main, off and generator (the circuits get power from either the main panel which is normal, they are off, or they get it from the generator - it's really just a switch box). The good thing is you can leave your main switch on and because you aren't energizing the main panel with the main switch off, and when the power comes back on, you'll usually be alerted by a light or something that comes on that isn't running off the generator.

 

If you want to be more economical about it, you can turn your main switch off so you isolate your hosue from the grid, then you energize the whole panel from say, your 230V dryer outlet. Then select what circuits to run via the main circuit panel; but you have to be actively switching things on and off like your water and heat and fridge and stuff while keeping almost all of them off - PITA. And you won't know when the power comes back on.

 

Good luck! :idea::)

 

Regards,

Joe

 

Edited to add: Add up the circuits you want/need to run to calculate your wattage requirements. Power (watts) = Amps x Volts. In my case it was 5 circuits, 15 amps each, 230 volt = 4300 or so Watts, therefore 5000W - I think, that's what I ended up with.

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+1 to what Joe P recommends..

 

I have a Lowes 6KW portable that I purchased a natural gas conversion tri power kit for and installed..

 

I dont have to worry about refueling the generator, but you still have to shut them down every two to three days of constant running to change the oil..

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After the twin hurricanes of 2004 left me without power for 10 days, I used the FEMA money to buy a generator. It's a Coleman 6500. Will run for 12 hours on a 5-gallon tank of gas. Has a 2-cylinder B&S engine.

 

I'll run it for 5 - 10 minutes every couple months to make sure it will start when needed.

 

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I also have a portable Coleman 6500Watt from Home Depot that I use in occasions as you mentioned.

 

If you are handy (and if the local code allows you to do it) you might want to put a transfer switch into your critical circuits so that all you have to do is throw some switches and have your house circuits go through the generator (and with zero chance of the power going back into the grid, which is a huge safety issue.)

 

I did this several years and it rocks.

 

 

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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We've been thinking about this too. Like Ronnie, it's mostly for the tropical storms/hurricanes here. But I'd definitely want to run on natural gas. Trying to find gasoline after Ike was a bad deal as most gas stations didn't have power and those that did quickly ran out. (I know you get gas before the storm, but there are huge lines then, and sooner or later you'll need more.)

 

The cost and locating of a permanent standby unit seems to be too prohibitive for as little use as it would get for us. I would get the direct panel for the generator to not have to run the cords and all that.

 

Is it possible to get a Honda portable that can connect to natural gas, perhaps after a conversion kit? IIRC, I had trouble finding exactly what I thought I was looking for.

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I run mine with the garage door half open. I have an external garage so I don't get exposed to the exaust. When your not using it be sure to siphon out the gas. Gas nowadays is 10% ethanol and will gum up you carburetor if left longer than a month. If had to have my lawn mower and motorcycle carbs rebuilt because of it.

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Remember these generators can be very loud and you're going to run it 24 hours a day most likely. I went with one of the Honda "Super Quiet" models. If you're on a large lot and the neighbors aren't close, it's less of a problem but you'll still hear it. They don't have tons of output but it's enough to keep several rooms lit, plus two TVs and more.

 

http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/products/models.aspx?page=models&section=P2GG&category=sq

 

Running cords into the house is OK but providing heat is the issue. I have a gas furnace but the thermostat is electric of course, so I had the sub-panel put in.

 

One problem with my particular Honda is that it has electric start but there is no trickle-charge available for the battery. So unless you start up the generator every 4 - 6 months, the battery will go dead in a year or two and they're expensive to replace. Maybe Honda has improved this.

 

BTW, once you invest in a generator you won't need it for at least five years. Almost a guarantee.

 

Busch.

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I don't have much experience with them, but we used a little Honda generator at an outdoor gig and it powered the whole band and was super quiet. You could hardly hear it 25' away.

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BTW, once you invest in a generator you won't need it for at least five years. Almost a guarantee.

 

+1

 

Not in my case. Although the power distribution in my area has gotten exponentially better, I still need to drag out the generator at least once a year.

 

A couple of thanksgivings ago the neighborhood transformer blew and the subdivision was out of power for 12 hours. Not us--we had a glorious day (furnace working as well) and were very thankful for the generator and the transfer switch I personally installed earlier on.

 

Update: and yes, the Detroit Lions lost that game as well.

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

--------

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I have a Honda portable which has served me well through blizzards and ice storms. Plus, where I live, if a camel sneezes in Afghanistan, the power goes out here. The Honda is about the most stable in terms of putting out a nice 60hz wave, but even so, I use a power conditioner. I had another model before, and I couldn't run any sensitive electronics while it was on. And, yes, the Honda is fairly quiet. This past year, I installed solar panels on the roof -- which tie into the grid when I produce more power than I use. It also charges a large bank of batteries, which instantly kick in during a power failure and give me about a day of super clean power. So the generator is now used for theose power outages that last more than a day -- and there's usually one or two of those during the winter.

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Bought a 5500 kva generator back in the 90's when we lived in Chesapeake, VA. Ice storm there - Saturday morning as it was just starting, we went to several places, all sold out - finally found one at an industrial supply place. Wanted the Honda, but it was about double the price. Went home, rewired my fuel oil furnace so I could plug in the blower - kept us warm and the refrigerator cold. Made a place in the garage where the exhaust could be run outside. Didn't even want to think about frozen water pipes all over the area, and the difficulty and expense of repair. As it turned out, the power came back on before nightfall.

 

But - a couple of summers later, a fairly small hurricane came through, and sat on Hampton Roads area for 3 days - power lines all over went down, we used the generator to keep the stuff in refrigerator and freezer right, and run a microwave oven - for the 6 days it took to get power back on.

 

Since we moved, this home has a heat pump, but also a set of gas logs - they wouldn't keep the house comfortable, but hopefully, with fans in the hallways, would keep all above freezing.

 

I stick it in the garage, on a dolly. When needed, place it at the front of the garage, and prop the garage door open enough for very good ventilation.

 

I never have put in a transfer switch - but in the 15 or so years that we have had it, it has been used a half-dozen times, sometimes for several days of intermittent running. Keep fuel stabilizer in the fuel supply, and a can of ether to help start it. Well worth the investment.

 

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