Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:11 pm

BTW, I'm not handy at all and had problem starting snow blower or lawn mower in the past, so the inverter is a decent alternative from a gas powered generator.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:31 pm

Found it in Coscto site for $199 but it comes with cable to connect to the car battery, not the cigarette lighter. Got good reviews.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:33 pm

htdrag11 wrote:Well, I found one alternative for about $230 power inverter that could run my 1/3 hp sump pump and/or 1/2 hp well pump from my car's cigarette lighter:

http://www.powerbright.com/pw2300-12.html

PW2300-12 2300 watts continuous/4600 watts peak

I don't think so. A car's cigarette lighter fuse is about 10 A, at 12 V that's 120 W max. Download the manual. We're talking 2.5 kW of power (4.5 kW peak), they recommend AWG #2 wire to handle the current - a size used for electric welding. What you need is a battery to handle the load and how to keep it charged.

Update: I missed your last post. Bear in mind that your car's battery capacity (Ah, amp-hours) should match or be larger than what you need.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby umfundi » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:19 pm

You need a whole house generator based on your chance of losing power, not on the chance of a 100-year storm.

After things calm down, your minimum investment should be about $300 for a 1.3 kW gasoline generator. It will run your fridge, a few lights, and even your furnace in the winter. Good for a few days. Forget about air conditioning or electronics like TVs or computers. The power quality is too poor.

I have a $1500 solution, based on our being without power for 20 days in the great blackout. It is a 3 kW gasoline generator I got on sale at Sears for $1000, plus a transfer box for $250 at Home Depot that I wired myself. Plus a couple of hundred dollarsfor some really heavy copper cables that go 40 feet from the electrical box to the generator, which is in a plywood enclosure in an alcove next to the garage. It will run everything in the house except the air conditioning and the oven.

It was a great excuse to get a stove with gas burners and an electric oven. I cook all the time, and I love that stove! Plumbed the gas myself, but the stove was not cheap.

The $1000 generator is a pretty slick and relatively inexpensive solution, but I have never had to use it. I have used the $300 generator a few times, for outages of a few hours. If I did it again, I would have purchased a propane generator and a couple of 40 lb tanks, rather than deal with gasoline. The propane option was not available at the time.

I did look into the whole-house generator plumbed into the utility gas line. Started out at $4500 (10 years ago). Then, I needed a $1500 upgrade to my gas service. And, another $1000 because my gas meter and electric box are at opposite ends of my house. That quickly became a $7000 solution.

We're talking a 2500 sq ft house in the midwest. Some premium for being lakefront, $300k in my dreams.

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:30 pm

umfundi wrote:You need a whole house generator based on your chance of losing power, not on the chance of a 100-year storm.
true enough. In the past year or so, ive lost power three times for a total elapsed time of 9-10 days. Too often and for too long. It seems to me that our infrastructure is not being well maintained and that severe weather is becoming more common.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:38 am

Ouch!

I felt your pain. With Irene, it was 4.5 days, so surprise to see Sandy ONLY 5 days. Wife wants a solution.

Still has no cable yet; only 24% of the town has cable as of this morning.

Good luck.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby MathWizard » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:05 am

htdrag11 wrote:Well, I found one alternative for about $230 power inverter that could run my 1/3 hp sump pump and/or 1/2 hp well pump from my car's cigarette lighter:

http://www.powerbright.com/pw2300-12.html

PW2300-12 2300 watts continuous/4600 watts peak


I'd suggest a pure sine wave inverter at about 1000W. This should have cables with
clamps to attach to your battery. The pure sine wave will not heat up and
harm your motors.
Cheaper modified sine wave inverters are fine for chargers, laptops, etc.

800W was good enough for my sump pump.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby pshonore » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:02 am

umfundi wrote:You need a whole house generator based on your chance of losing power, not on the chance of a 100-year storm.

After things calm down, your minimum investment should be about $300 for a 1.3 kW gasoline generator. It will run your fridge, a few lights, and even your furnace in the winter. Good for a few days. Forget about air conditioning or electronics like TVs or computers. The power quality is too poor.


Ypu may want to check the power requirements for frigs and furnaces. This website http://www.briggsandstratton.com/~/medi ... ge_WS.ashx claims it takes 3KW to start a refrig (800 watts to run) and almost the same for a furnace fan. Doubt a 1300W generator is going to handle that for long. Also kind of difficult to run a furnace without a transfer switch if you're doing it to code. I like your $1500 solution better although $1000 for a 3KW generator seems high. I think $600 - $700 is the norm for 5KW units (at least before the storm)
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Sam I Am » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:31 am

Message deleted.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby hicabob » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:40 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
umfundi wrote:You need a whole house generator based on your chance of losing power, not on the chance of a 100-year storm.
true enough. In the past year or so, ive lost power three times for a total elapsed time of 9-10 days. Too often and for too long. It seems to me that our infrastructure is not being well maintained and that severe weather is becoming more common.



My European friends are shocked at how often we lose power in the US - but at least our electricity is relatively cheap! I expect there is a correlation?
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:53 am

hicabob wrote:My European friends are shocked at how often we lose power in the US - but at least our electricity is relatively cheap! I expect there is a correlation?

I was in southern Chile a few years ago. There wasn't a pothole in sight.
I'm over 60 years old. Our roads, bridges, power infrastructure, etc. have declined quite noticeably during my lifetime. You can especially notice this when coming back from overseas.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby THY4373 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:35 pm

umfundi wrote:
After things calm down, your minimum investment should be about $300 for a 1.3 kW gasoline generator. It will run your fridge, a few lights, and even your furnace in the winter. Good for a few days. Forget about air conditioning or electronics like TVs or computers. The power quality is too poor.

I have a $1500 solution, based on our being without power for 20 days in the great blackout. It is a 3 kW gasoline generator I got on sale at Sears for $1000, plus a transfer box for $250 at Home Depot that I wired myself. Plus a couple of hundred dollarsfor some really heavy copper cables that go 40 feet from the electrical box to the generator, which is in a plywood enclosure in an alcove next to the garage. It will run everything in the house except the air conditioning and the oven.


I think 1.3 KW is pretty small to run both a fridge and furnace. My fridge as measured by my kill-a-watt pulls 175 running until you open the door then all the lights in it cause it to pull 700+ watts. Most furnace blower motors are pulling several hundred watts themselves I think mine is around 500 watts. So you would have to be constantly swapping power to different things in my opinion so I would go for 2.5 KW minimum. Also I think you prices on generators are a bit high at least for the Chinese made Honda clones some of which are quite good. I see 3.5 KW units pretty regularly in the $300-400 range. My 3.5 KW Champion (Honda clone) generator cost me $150 (it was quite a deal where the retailer accidentally had two valid rebates at the same time but its pre-rebate price was $300). It ran for 5 days straight last year when we were without power due to Irene. Monitoring it with my kill-a-watt showed it to be producing the right voltage and cycles.

Also computers use switch mode power supplies and I have been told they can deal with non perfect sine wave power. I will say I ran multiple computers 24x7 on my generator no problem and they are still going strong today.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby THY4373 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:41 pm

pshonore wrote:Ypu may want to check the power requirements for frigs and furnaces. This website http://www.briggsandstratton.com/~/medi ... ge_WS.ashx claims it takes 3KW to start a refrig (800 watts to run) and almost the same for a furnace fan. Doubt a 1300W generator is going to handle that for long. Also kind of difficult to run a furnace without a transfer switch if you're doing it to code. I like your $1500 solution better although $1000 for a 3KW generator seems high. I think $600 - $700 is the norm for 5KW units (at least before the storm)


My experience is that guides like that dramatically overstate the power requirements for most things. My circa 2003 fridge which is a large one (I think 25.5 cubic feet) pulls about 500 watts to start (1 or 2 seconds), takes about 175 to run and 700+ when you open the door because of the all the lights. This is all measured with my kill-a-watt. The guide that came with my Champion generator pretty much overstated everything other than pure resistive loads at least when compared to what I measure with my kill-a-watt. That said I agree 1300 watts is too small, 2500 is probably my minimum and I would really recommend something closer to 3500 watts.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:48 pm

hicabob wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:
umfundi wrote:You need a whole house generator based on your chance of losing power, not on the chance of a 100-year storm.
true enough. In the past year or so, ive lost power three times for a total elapsed time of 9-10 days. Too often and for too long. It seems to me that our infrastructure is not being well maintained and that severe weather is becoming more common.



My European friends are shocked at how often we lose power in the US - but at least our electricity is relatively cheap! I expect there is a correlation?


it's become clear to me, here, that it seems a relatively high incidence-- enough that you talk about it.

What I don't know is how you benchmark against Ontario, say, because:

- the US is relatively low density (the urban areas, taken as a whole, are not especially so, although your downtown cores are much less concentrated-- US cities are big, but much more suburban)

- the US has a relatively difficult climate from a power transmission and distribution viewpoint: heat waves, tornados, hurricanes and ice storms. Parts of Europe have those sorts of issues (Sweden, say) and heavy snow in many places (Switzerland, Austria, Germany). But I cannot think of too many places in Europe that have as much as what the North American continental climate throws out (Russia of course, but that doesn't count for comparison)

But Ontario would be a decent benchmark. Same climate, same issues. Relatively well endowed with hydro electricity and nuclear. Or consider Scotland in the UK which has a widely spread population and relatively bad weather.

I do believe that it is the case that the regulatory environment in most European countries is very unfriendly to power outages.

The US one may be less so. It seems some of this is utility specific, as utilities with similar service territories have widely varying incidences of outage.

Cheap electricity is not simple-- I've not seen any studies cross comparing nations in that way. One reason your electricity is cheap is Mother Nature. There's quite a lot of hydro power in the USA and the dams tend to have been built a long time ago hence very cheap rates (only Scandinavia has that kind of hydro resource). Coal is cheap and your railways are efficient.

Another issue is relatively high productivity-- partly that is geography, partly that is the USA. Including Social Security costs (which can run 40%+ of salaries in many European countries) labour is expensive in Europe. Crowded cities mean getting lines in and power distributed is expensive.

Another factor is your gas price is much lower than ours. Like less than half as much. Shale gas has had a huge impact, much of our gas comes from Russia on oil price linked contracts other gas comes via LNG terminals at prices 3-4x US domestic levels.

Even setting that aside our coal and gas come from a lot further away than yours- -we have limited domestic supplies. Transport costs are bigger, generally.

Those countries that have focused on self sufficiency, like Denmark (wind) and France (nuclear) have paid a price for it. Conversely the highest electricity prices are in southern countries like Italy that import virtually 100% of their energy.

Parts of the USA that have similar constraints to us (eg California, New England) tend to have much higher electricity prices.

Whether there are additional grid charges on top of that I do not know.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby pochax » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:03 pm

didn't read all the posts but since i am in northern NJ and lost power due to Sandy (today is day-7 without power with the utility co. estimate power-back-date to be 11/11) and in early september had a 20kW Generac home generator installed with transfer switch for <$10k. i can tell you that i am VERY PLEASED. the generator is clearly not quiet, but not so noisy to disrupt life at all. It is wonderful to have heat, light, internet, tv, phone and even the ability to run the dryer and electric oven as needed. my brother-in-law's family has reaped the benefits as well during his stay due to Sandy taking his power out as well. we have been able to be a source of hospitality for friends and family alike (as well as a charging station for their electronics) and we are happy to do so.

do i think i will make out financially on this "investment"? no, not at all. the maintenance requires an oil-change every 200 hrs of generator operation or once/year - which could be done by oneself at little cost or through your licensed electrician/installer for ~$150-200. but the generator itself has a timed "self-start" for ~10-15 mins weekly to keep it in shape/tuned. i've costed out the natural gas use and it seems to cost ~$40-50/day which beats a hotel room in the area.

Having experienced prolonged blackouts before, this has changed the whole experience and allows my family to switch from "self-preservation" mode to "how-can-we-help-others" mode which to me is so much more important than the $ itself.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby SteveB3005 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:51 pm

^ Good story, thank you. I think it was a fine investment, 10k to be a hero in your family and neighbors eyes, you can't put a price on that partner!
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby serbeer » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:01 pm

newstreetnj wrote:Most of the families on our block now have generators so the noise issue isn't a big one.

Now that's funny
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Aptenodytes » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:13 pm

serbeer wrote:
newstreetnj wrote:Most of the families on our block now have generators so the noise issue isn't a big one.

Now that's funny

Evidently, according to a hacker friend, the portable generators can be retrofitted with mufflers to significantly reduce the noise. I may look into that.

It is a bit surreal to walk around the neighborhood and hear that pervasive roar. I do a lot of work in Haiti, where virtually everyone who can afford electricity does so through a personal generator. The noise isn't nearly so bad there because people connect their generators to an array of 12-volt batteries. The batteries provide electricity to the house/clinic/etc, through an inverter, and the generators run just enough to keep the batteries charged -- a few hours a day is usually enough.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby SteveB3005 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:20 pm

^ Same deal on Smith Lake in Alabama, Cullman and Walker counties were tornado alley and power could be out for days at a time. It would go black and within minutes you would hear a hum carrying across the water from all points, there was no way those good ole boys were going to let them freezers go down with all that venison and catfish fillets in there.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Epsilon Delta » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:18 pm

Aptenodytes wrote:I do a lot of work in Haiti, where virtually everyone who can afford electricity does so through a personal generator. The noise isn't nearly so bad there because people connect their generators to an array of 12-volt batteries. The batteries provide electricity to the house/clinic/etc, through an inverter, and the generators run just enough to keep the batteries charged -- a few hours a day is usually enough.


There is a difference between an emergency generator and a full time off-the-grid generator. An emergency generator runs for relatively short periods so most of the cost of ownership is the capital cost of buying the generator. For a full time off grid system most of the cost of ownership is for fuel. So for an off grid system you should be willing to pay for better fuel efficiency. You can find different generators that are optimized for the different requirements of these different uses. The 12V batteries are just part of it.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Flashes1 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:46 pm

hicabob wrote:
My European friends are shocked at how often we lose power in the US - but at least our electricity is relatively cheap! I expect there is a correlation?


I think it depends where you live in the U.S. I live in the Midwest and haven't lost a second of power in over 10 years. But if you live in hurricane alley, then yes, you should expect to lose power occaisionally.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:22 pm

My other half convinced me that we need a portable generator (3rd option) of decent size and hired an electrician to wire the transfer switch, rather than going whole-house. This will be no more than $1,000, depending on the electrician whom I need to price out and find.

So far, the northeasters has been gentle other than occasional flickering.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:31 pm

Fingers crossed re 'nor'easter.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Valuethinker » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:50 am

SteveB3005 wrote:^ Same deal on Smith Lake in Alabama, Cullman and Walker counties were tornado alley and power could be out for days at a time. It would go black and within minutes you would hear a hum carrying across the water from all points, there was no way those good ole boys were going to let them freezers go down with all that venison and catfish fillets in there.


Freezers, at least here, have a rating on how long they can stay within temperature (if not opened) without power.

That's probably something to consider when buying one. Easy to imagine one has $1,000 worth of food in a freezer at certain times of year (end of season).
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby NateW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:24 am

If I were to guess, from a pure financial standpoint, you probably will recoup little of the $20,000 cost when you sell the house, but it may make your house sell much easier among the competition, so in essence, you may get a good portion of your investment back in an indirect way. But in the big scheme of things, given the value of your house, its not a large cost outlay and having your and your wife's piece of mind is worth something.

If it were me, the length of time I planned to stay in the house would be a big factor as to whether or not I'd buy a whole house generator. I'd need to be there 10 years. Heck, it took me over 10 years to decide to buy a $1000 Honda invertor generator.

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby NateW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:39 am

Random Poster wrote:You have to maintain the generator, and that costs money, so figure those ongoing expenses into your "does it make financial sense" calculation.

To me, the answer is "no."
If one were to do their own maintenance, the cost is not significant. The unit should be self-starting on a set basis to ensure it is working properly (its probably programemd into the control unit), so other than an occassional oil change and possibly a new air filter once (it the generator will not see much use, hour wise), there should not be much to maintain. There is no gas or diesel that will go bad and have to be drained. This is a major hassle factor that you won't have with natural gas. Shure, the installer will ask that you sign a maintenance contract, or state for a valid warranty the unit must be maintained and they may go as far to imply that an at least yearly visit from them is needed. But you have the right to just say "No" (if that's how you feel about it and can do it yourself).

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby NateW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:24 pm

LadyGeek wrote:
johnny72 wrote:Used about 3 gallons of gas in the 21 hours - if I would've run out of my 5 gallons I had a siphon hose ready to tap the 34 gallons in our two cars - we made sure to fill up Monday night.

On a side note, try to see if you can actually do that. I also had fuel in my car planned as a backup - except that the siphon tube was blocked when I inserted it inside the tank, no go.
Our Buick has an anti-siphon device installed in the filler tube. I tried to siphon some gas out of it for the lawnmower once and I could not get the clear plastic hose to go down the filler to the gasoline level. I then noticed in the owner's manual it stated that there was an anti-siphon device installed. Even though I work on cars on a regular basis, I decided it was too much trouble open a fuel line on the engine and wire the fuel pump to pump the fuel out (bypass the safety that prevents the pump from running if the fuel line is open, preventing pressure from building). So some of you may not be able to rely on your car as a gasoline supply for the generator. If you plan to use gas out of the car, attempt to siphon the gas before you have a storm.

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby NateW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:42 pm

htdrag11 wrote:Well, I found one alternative for about $230 power inverter that could run my 1/3 hp sump pump and/or 1/2 hp well pump from my car's cigarette lighter:

http://www.powerbright.com/pw2300-12.html

PW2300-12 2300 watts continuous/4600 watts peak

An automible's electrical system can not supply the 2.3 KW inverter output. An automible alternator's maximum output is 14 volts at approximately 120 amps, which is 1680 watts maximum and some power is needed to run the car's electrics while the engine is running. This will also shorten the life of the car's alternator and necessitate an elevated engine RPM, above idle.

Also, the wiring of an automobile's power plug will not suppport the load. Here is the wire sizing requirements from the instruction manual for the 2300 watt inverter posted in the link:

"When connecting the inverter to a battery bank use the thickest stranded insulated copper wire available in the shortest length practical. If the inverter & the battery are positioned within 4 FT of each other, a minimum of #4 gauge wire should be used to make the connections. When the distance between inverter & battery bank is 4-6 FT, a minimum of #2 gauge wire is required."

#4 electrical wire has a conducter of about 1/4 inch in diameter, similar to what you may see in automotive jumper cables.

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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby swaption » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:37 pm

pochax wrote:didn't read all the posts but since i am in northern NJ and lost power due to Sandy (today is day-7 without power with the utility co. estimate power-back-date to be 11/11) and in early september had a 20kW Generac home generator installed with transfer switch for <$10k. i can tell you that i am VERY PLEASED. the generator is clearly not quiet, but not so noisy to disrupt life at all. It is wonderful to have heat, light, internet, tv, phone and even the ability to run the dryer and electric oven as needed. my brother-in-law's family has reaped the benefits as well during his stay due to Sandy taking his power out as well. we have been able to be a source of hospitality for friends and family alike (as well as a charging station for their electronics) and we are happy to do so.

do i think i will make out financially on this "investment"? no, not at all. the maintenance requires an oil-change every 200 hrs of generator operation or once/year - which could be done by oneself at little cost or through your licensed electrician/installer for ~$150-200. but the generator itself has a timed "self-start" for ~10-15 mins weekly to keep it in shape/tuned. i've costed out the natural gas use and it seems to cost ~$40-50/day which beats a hotel room in the area.

Having experienced prolonged blackouts before, this has changed the whole experience and allows my family to switch from "self-preservation" mode to "how-can-we-help-others" mode which to me is so much more important than the $ itself.


+1

Saved me a lot of writing as this pretty much describes my situation in Westchester, but with a 17 kw Generac. About $8k all-in and runs on propane. Not sure if people mean permanent stand-by when they say whole house, but I think getting something that runs everything is somewhat of a waste. Just got power back yesterday, and this was the third time in the last 1.5 years where we lost power for 5+ days. I don't really understand the outrageous quotes I sometimes hear. The generator runs you about $4.5k. After that it is an electrician, maybe a plumber, in my case some propane tanks, and town approvals, etc. Not sure how you could get to those higher numbers. In terms of noise, it's an engine so a bit loud. But it is located below my bedroom, and never any issues watching tv or sleeping.

We would turn it off for about 6 hours overnight and for some stretches during the day. Went through about 16 gallons of propane a day and when full the tanks hold 200 gallons. Covers heat, some lights, refrigerator, computers, internet, tv, and even the bedroom zone of air conditioning.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:54 pm

Got a proposal for a natural gas Generac at 10kW for about $7k (made in China; the high end is from Wisconsin) covering 100% of the well, ground floor and basement (not the 2nd floor), but installation is February. Whole house is about $10k at 18kW.

Still not quite convinced yet.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby CountryBoy » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:05 am

by htdrag11 »
Still not quite convinced yet.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????
My Town of Somers, NY was the hardest hit by Sandy in Westchester County. We were out 8 days; some people for 2 weeks.

If you were not hit, fine, but if you were out for 8-14 days you definitely would be a believer and get a generator. If you were out that long and did not become a believer you would be one tough hombre. The temps here today are in the low 30s....think hypothermia and members of your family. Have you ever had hypothermia? Once is enough for me.

enjoy the journey
cb
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Rattlesnake » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:17 pm

I did not read the entire thread however, here's my $0.02.... It's nice to have a generator. Moved in to our current house in 2004 and noticed we lost power maybe once a month. We decided to install a 15KW Generac. Bought a used one locally, moved it with the help of my Son and friends, and did the gas hook up myself. Hired an electrician to do the wiring. I'm guessing it was about $3K - $4K total. I installed an hour meter so I would have an idea how much it ran because we spend a lot of time at our cottage in the Summer and I wanted some sense of how much it was running when we were away. Current reading on the hour meter is 280 hours so what's that... like 11+ days that we have been without power in 8+ years (minus the 10 minutes a week it exercises). Glad we do not have ocean storms here and it's great to have a sense of comfort that when we are away the sump pump is going to run, the food is not going to spoil, and the pipes aren't going to freeze. I still remember that Thanksgiving morning when we had about 10 people coming over for dinner and the power went out at about 9AM and did not come back on until about Midnight. The look on my Wife's face that morning when the generator came on was priceless and we were able to enjoy another day on the planet and be thankful for all of the blessings....
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:22 pm

cb,

We were out about 5 days from Sandy and 1 day from the Nor'easter. It's that there are other alternatives besides the natural gas option but I've not ruled it out yet. Been in this house for over 20 years; this one was worse than Irene. Need to pay for cutting the trees 1st.

At this time, ROI is NOT part of the equation; it's just what kind of "insurance" do I want to pay for.

Thank you for your inputs.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:42 pm

CountryBoy wrote:if you were out for 8-14 days you definitely would be a believer

We were out less than 7 days for Sandy, but every summer we're out. Enough for us. Electrician and plumber preparing our house while we wait for permits and the actual generator.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:29 pm

Is it a Generac or other brand?
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:12 pm

Our neighbors have a Kohler, and it seemed to be less loud than Generac, so that's what we went with. Our neighbors are pleased with e generator and installation, so we're also using the same electrician.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby CountryBoy » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:40 pm

I own a Generac 8kW but I hear that HONDA are the best and quietest.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:45 am

After months of research and inertia, my wife had it.

Comparing Kohler, Honeywell (Generac OEM w/ remote monitoring) and Generac, I decided to go with a 17kW Generac and a 12-circuit auto switch panel. Everything is done except the final blessing from the town's electrician. In my area, the town wants $350 for the certificate plus another $50 for the zoning permit. The local company charged me $7,181 for the whole deal since I did not want to play the role of a general contractor, keeping it simple. Now half of my house (1st floor) will have heat and a/c, as well as my basement with the sub-pump and well pump all working.

In terms of generator, I would have considered the Kohler but decide not to stay in this house for the long term. NJ is not retiree friendly. Kohler would have been about $1,500 more.

Of the 6 contractors/estimates, the one I dealt with was the only one wanted my business. None of the others called back or email. It's a small 3-generation business that has been around for over 40 years.

Now my wife actually does not mind stay in this house but it's way too big for the 2 of us.

Thank you all.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby bltkmt » Fri May 10, 2013 10:59 am

Our generator installation was just completed. We are in southwest CT and power was out for a week post-Sandy. That was enough for me to bite the bullet and pay $15k for an installation. We went with the 20kw Kohler - it will power everything and then some. Ours is propane powered as we had converted our stove and heat to propane a few years ago - natgas is not available. We now have four 120lb tanks on one side of the house - same side as the generator (avoid that side of the house). Our propane company installed a cellular tank monitor that will alert them when levels get low.

In a winter storm event, finding a hotel room in a 50 mile radius is not possible. With my luck, we will never need this generator but I still feel good about the purchase.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri May 10, 2013 12:15 pm

I (OP) am still waiting for permits since we switched from natgas to propane. What a PITA.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Fri May 10, 2013 1:54 pm

In Central/South Jersey, $400 is about the norm to have the privilege of all the permits (fire, plumbing electrical and smoke), plus the zoning permit. It was all "approved" in one week. The on-site visit was 5 minutes.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Blues » Fri May 10, 2013 1:59 pm

We've been giving thought (off and on) to doing this as well. We have a 500 gallon in-ground propane tank and live in an area where we can expect electrical outages a few times every year or two...usually just for a matter of hours.

So far it's never been too lengthy but one never knows.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri May 10, 2013 2:11 pm

htdrag11 wrote:In Central/South Jersey, $400 is about the norm to have the privilege of all the permits (fire, plumbing electrical and smoke), plus the zoning permit. It was all "approved" in one week. The on-site visit was 5 minutes.

They were fine with natural gas, and gave us those permits quickly (the plumbing and electrical were already inspected when it was a natgas installation). However, they are having issues with propane. We might have to bury the tanks. In addition to that, there are weeks lost to "missing surveys" and such. It's been quite frustrating.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby pochax » Fri May 10, 2013 3:17 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
htdrag11 wrote:In Central/South Jersey, $400 is about the norm to have the privilege of all the permits (fire, plumbing electrical and smoke), plus the zoning permit. It was all "approved" in one week. The on-site visit was 5 minutes.

They were fine with natural gas, and gave us those permits quickly (the plumbing and electrical were already inspected when it was a natgas installation). However, they are having issues with propane. We might have to bury the tanks. In addition to that, there are weeks lost to "missing surveys" and such. It's been quite frustrating.

any particular reason why you switched from NatGas to Propane considering the inconvenience?
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby 3wood » Fri May 10, 2013 3:24 pm

To the OP. just do it. I am n a very similar situation as far as my house value and I installed my natural gas whole house generator last spring. We were without power for 12 days during Sandy but did not even notice because of the generator. Small gas powered generators were useless after a few days because no one could get gas. Btw, my generator cost 10k. If you are in NJ pm me.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby l2ridehd » Fri May 10, 2013 3:35 pm

I live in VA and have had a number of power outages. I purchased a 7000 watt (10,000 peak) Toro electric start generator from Lowes and had it hooked into a whole house bypass switch. When on generator power it will run refrigerators, furnace, lights, fans and a few other things. It will not handle AC, ovens, or cloths dryer. So I just throw those breakers to off so they won't come on. Cook top in gas so we can cook most things. Just can't bake anything. We try to manage the number of things like lights and TV's running better when on generator power but it handles this 5000 square foot house fine. We have oil heat so it just has to handle the oil burner and fan which it does. So for a $750 generator, a $250 transfer switch and about another $200 in a 50 amp cable and install I am covered enough to sustain minimum requirements. I use stabil in the gas for it and change it out once a year. I leave the battery on a trickle charge and start it up once every two months for twenty minutes. Not a perfect solution but a very cost effective one.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby frugaltype » Fri May 10, 2013 3:44 pm

I don't have time to read the many replies.

What happens if your power fails in winter, are you going to be freezing in the house? It was miserable here during almost a week without power after Sandy. The house was almost unlivabley cold.

Yes, having natural gas to run it is a win. One reason I haven't gotten a generator is they apparently use a lot of gasoline if they run off that, so you have the restocking and storing problem for that.

I don't think the neighbors would complain about the noise. They'll be lined up with extension cords. My neighbor had a portable generator about fifty feet from my house, and due to the winterization of my house, I did not hear it.

If I could afford it and if I weren't reluctant to spend big money on a house that will be under water in a couple of decades, I would get one, except probably not if I were going to move within five years.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Blues » Fri May 10, 2013 3:49 pm

What happens if your power fails in winter, are you going to be freezing in the house? It was miserable here during almost a week without power after Sandy. The house was almost unlivabley cold.


I never cared for the three propane fireplaces we have in our home until our first power outage in winter.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Qtman » Fri May 10, 2013 4:08 pm

We've been through several week long periods with no electricity. Just had the Generec 20kw put in with auto switch on propane, starts itself weekly to run. I'll need to do some maint every so often. Total package with new generator, all hook ups, trenching cables, gas line was $8400 with local electrician. This will run my entire house, A/C, heat included.

It's a peace of mind thing for the family.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby statsguy » Fri May 10, 2013 5:45 pm

We just got a bid for a 20kW whole house generator from Cummins Oman unit. The price is $9300. This system is completely automatic and runs off propane. Looking at a few other options, this is first estimate. While replacing/repairing our basement discovered mold from at least two previous basement floods. Now our $25k loss is about $5k more; at least our insurance is paying it.

Anyone know anything positive or negative about cummins generators?

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