Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

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

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri May 10, 2013 6:27 pm

pochax wrote:any particular reason why you switched from NatGas to Propane considering the inconvenience?


We were committed to NatGas, but the utility said that we didn't have sufficient service and would have to place a new line. The logistics of that are made difficult because of landscaping (and especially hardscaping), we'd have a lot of internal plumbing to do also (since we'd have to enter the house in a different location). All told, it was more money to upgrade gas service than the generator and installation.

We tried to get the utility to change its mind. For example, the gas clothes drier is not even going to be hooked up to the generator, so obviously that isn't going to factor into the utilization. I offered to remove a gas furnace from the generator also (more than half of our house is heated by oil). They just kept repeating the mantra that we needed more capacity.

Maybe we'll go nuclear :D
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Qtman » Fri May 10, 2013 6:29 pm

statsguy wrote: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?

Stats


The people at Electric Generator Direct are very knowledgable and sell all makes, I talked to them twice, even though I got my generator through my electrician.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby htdrag11 » Fri May 10, 2013 7:56 pm

statsguy wrote: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?

Stats


I got a quote from Costco with similar engine and price but did not pursue since I did not want to sink add'l money to our house. However, our 2 previous installation using Costco suppliers have been positive (sliding doors and Lennox AC/furnace). Costco stands by its work.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Sam I Am » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:43 pm

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

Postby LadyGeek » Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:14 pm

^^^ My neighbor is in a similar situation (needs 24x7 power for a medical condition). He told me that you get priority service from the utilities when you have a medical need. So, check with your power utility and see if there's anything you can do to get priority service in the event of unplanned outages.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:24 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
pochax wrote:any particular reason why you switched from NatGas to Propane considering the inconvenience?


We were committed to NatGas, but the utility said that we didn't have sufficient service and would have to place a new line. The logistics of that are made difficult because of landscaping (and especially hardscaping), we'd have a lot of internal plumbing to do also (since we'd have to enter the house in a different location). All told, it was more money to upgrade gas service than the generator and installation.

We tried to get the utility to change its mind. For example, the gas clothes drier is not even going to be hooked up to the generator, so obviously that isn't going to factor into the utilization. I offered to remove a gas furnace from the generator also (more than half of our house is heated by oil). They just kept repeating the mantra that we needed more capacity.

Maybe we'll go nuclear :D


And, we're back to Natural Gas. It will be expensive to upgrade to 2" service, but it's our only remaining option.

We were thwarted at every turn in trying to go the propane route. Interestingly, at the same time we were being denied, the town was in an uproar because apparently they were powerless to prevent dynamite blasting in a residential area. They did finally shut it down, but not before a half dozen blasts (to clear a building site).
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Sam I Am » Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:53 pm

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

Postby Default User BR » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:37 pm

LadyGeek wrote:^^^ My neighbor is in a similar situation (needs 24x7 power for a medical condition). He told me that you get priority service from the utilities when you have a medical need. So, check with your power utility and see if there's anything you can do to get priority service in the event of unplanned outages.

We've been dealing with the aftermath of tornadoes here, and the lo-cal news had a story about a guy with ALS who has no power. The guy's wife has to tote batteries across the street for a neighbor to recharge. She said they had signed up for the priority thing, but Ameren told them that it was only for planned outages, not emergencies. She was not happy.


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

Postby ResearchMed » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:39 pm

We've been "planning to do this soon" for a few years.
Last year, we finally got a quote.
Our main concerns are 1) year round, the sump pump, or our finished basement will flood, and 2) heat in the winter, so pipes don't freeze, and neither do we.

We watched as Sandy caused catastrophe beyond belief. We aren't near water, but the water table is high, and with heavy rain, the yards here can become ponds. And the basement WOULD flood without the sump pumps. (It's happened in the past, before we moved in, with less dramatic weather systems.)
One bad extended storm with lots of snow or rain, and electrical outage, and our house is in big trouble.

So two weeks ago, we got everything ordered.
We have natural gas, so as long as the underground gas lines function, we should be okay. (And if the gas lines fail, there is a lot more to worry about.)

We've gone with a minimum nat gas powered Generac, with automatic switching, to power the sump pump, one of the fridge/freezers (if we are home, we can move most food to that one), a small microwave, the ignition for the furnaces (the furnaces have electric ignition; the older pilot light would have been a saving grace... UNTIL the failed sump pump caused water to flood the pilot light, so that wouldn't have helped anyway without power), the garage door opener (THANKS to Allan for mentioning this!), the alarm system, lights in a few places, and a few outlets for our computers and an extra lamp or two.
And we should still have nice hot water.
We'll do without the A/C, ovens, the clothes dryer, or full power throughout the house.
[Not sure who would "respond" if our alarm went off, as the emergency services would have bigger problems to deal with, but hopefully it would be a deterrent.]

Before that last big storm, we had our regular supply of flashlights and batteries (and extras for the laptops), hand-cranked radio/light combos, but we waited anxiously, realizing we really should have installed that generator after all.

We'll feel a lot better when this generator is in soon.

ANYTHING ELSE to consider, from those who have already installed nat gas generators?
Thanks!

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

Postby Epsilon Delta » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:47 pm

Sam I Am wrote:
LadyGeek wrote:^^^ My neighbor is in a similar situation (needs 24x7 power for a medical condition). He told me that you get priority service from the utilities when you have a medical need. So, check with your power utility and see if there's anything you can do to get priority service in the event of unplanned outages.


Our little 17 home subdivision is physically at the very end of a run, so we have so much in the line in front of us that can cause us problems. To add insult to injury, my neighbor across the street works for the electric company. Poor guy rages when we lose power! :shock:

OTOH, my oldest daugher's rental unit is on the same power line as city hall and the police station, and her tenant hardly ever suffers an outage.

Fortunately the O2 company supplies MIL with plenty of cylinders. I need to check for a home-fill device, perhaps, as I cannot run a generator 24X7 without fear of running out of LP.

Sam I Am

You might want to consider a battery UPS. For a $1000 or so you can probably get a UPS that will run the O2 for 10-12 hours. This would allow you to run the generator intermittently rather than continuously. Of course you should check with the O2 company to make sure everything is compatible.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby rallycobra » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:25 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
We were committed to NatGas, but the utility said that we didn't have sufficient service and would have to place a new line.


That doesn't make a lot of sense. Usually NG pressure in the street is like 50 psi and inside the house is like a 1/2 psi. You may need a larger gas meter that the utility company should replace at no charge. How big is the service to your house? What town are you in and what utility company do you have? Are you trying to deal with the utility company directly or did you find a provider that will provide a turnkey solution?

We went with a Generac 22kw whole house solution and have PSE&G in central NJ. It is a liquid cooled 4cylinder Mitsubishi car motor that runs on NG. I went on the Generac website and picked the top three premier dealers and got prices. I think our whole install including the generator was about 15k.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:09 pm

rallycobra wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:
We were committed to NatGas, but the utility said that we didn't have sufficient service and would have to place a new line.


That doesn't make a lot of sense. Usually NG pressure in the street is like 50 psi and inside the house is like a 1/2 psi. You may need a larger gas meter that the utility company should replace at no charge. How big is the service to your house? What town are you in and what utility company do you have? Are you trying to deal with the utility company directly or did you find a provider that will provide a turnkey solution?

We went with a Generac 22kw whole house solution and have PSE&G in central NJ. It is a liquid cooled 4cylinder Mitsubishi car motor that runs on NG. I went on the Generac website and picked the top three premier dealers and got prices. I think our whole install including the generator was about 15k.


Yes, it's PSE&G here also. They totaled up all the natural gas devices in the house and decided that our low pressure system would be inadequate. I told them that the clothes dryer and the nat gas furnace would not be hooked up to the generator so they would never both be using gas, but they said that they had no assurance that we wouldn't sell the house and the new owner might change the wiring. I agree that it doesn't make a lot of sense, but there it is.

It is mostly the electrician dealing with the utility, although I've spoken to them also. If the utility doesn't sign off, the town won't either. I think the current service to our house is 1 1/4"; we need 2".

AFAIK, the new gas meter (a couple of grand from what I hear) is for me to pay for.

Well, I wish we had just stuck with plan A instead of taking the detour to plan B. So, we've wasted some time, but hopefully now things will move along.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Hexdump » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:44 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.


You're in New Jersey, correct Tomato ?

Were these outages a result of weather, cause that seems like a lot.
We get outages in Houston, but since Ike, not for more than an hour or two.
Regularly, I would estimate that we get a lights out at least once every two weeks, but usually for a short duration. Just enough to have to reset all the clocks.
The longest I can recall in the past few years was for 4 hours when the transformer on the pole behind our house went out.

Has anybody considered a solar solution ? I have a lot of roof space on my garage and Houston gets a lot of sun.
Just a thought.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:21 am

Hexdump 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.


You're in New Jersey, correct Tomato ?

Were these outages a result of weather, cause that seems like a lot.
We get outages in Houston, but since Ike, not for more than an hour or two.
Regularly, I would estimate that we get a lights out at least once every two weeks, but usually for a short duration. Just enough to have to reset all the clocks.
The longest I can recall in the past few years was for 4 hours when the transformer on the pole behind our house went out.

Has anybody considered a solar solution ? I have a lot of roof space on my garage and Houston gets a lot of sun.
Just a thought.

Hexdump, the longest outage was weather (Sandy) related (7-8 days). However, since I've been here, the small cul-de-sac that I live on has gone from 7 to 8 houses, there have been 2 pools added (with heaters and such), people have added central air, the houses have been expanded (ours, for example, doubled its square footage), and there has not been an upgrade to the transformers. So, we lose power for 4-12 hours periodically.

Solar wouldn't work here. My house is an old Tudor with very steep rooflines, and while I possibly could afford solar, I can't afford a divorce.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby dratkinson » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:19 pm

Hexdump wrote:...
Has anybody considered a solar solution ? I have a lot of roof space on my garage and Houston gets a lot of sun.
Just a thought.


The solar solutions without battery backup do not operate during a power outage.

Englishgirl has a solar/battery system and described it here:
viewtopic.php?p=911204#p911204
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Hexdump » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:40 am

dratkinson wrote:
Hexdump wrote:...
Has anybody considered a solar solution ? I have a lot of roof space on my garage and Houston gets a lot of sun.
Just a thought.


The solar solutions without battery backup do not operate during a power outage.

Englishgirl has a solar/battery system and described it here:
viewtopic.php?p=911204#p911204


Dratkinson, that is what I was referring to, I just forgot to fill in the details :oops:
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Sam I Am » Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:54 pm

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

Postby Sam I Am » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:18 pm

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

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:08 pm

Sam I Am wrote:Tomorrow my new, but unable to be cranked generator will be returned to Home Depot. As things have turned out, I'm actually glad the generator wouldn't crank.

I have found a better solution, after scouring the 'net. I found a propane-fueled Honda generator.

Although Honda has a line of portable generators, they are all gasoline. However, I found a company that converts new Honda gas generators t to tri-fuel, NG, LP, and gasoline. So I ordered one.

http://www.generatorsales.com/order/03369_alt.asp?page=H03369

I arranged for my old generator to be modified on my own, and while it worked fine, I would rather the modifications be done by the people who also sell the generator. That prevents finger-pointing if you have a problem.

Honda small engines have about as good a reputation as their cars. There was a wee premium to pay, but I don't mind paying for quality. Sometimes I even get it. :D

I think if Honda started rolling out portable generators that ran on LP or even tri-fuel, they could make a killing. China has the market on cheap generators, but with Honda's reputation they could still get a premium if they wanted to move beyond just gasoline models.

Hopefully my old generator will see us through the waiting period for my new one. Then I'll give my old on to my BILs, for their workshop, as I promised. They can certainly keep it running as they are very mechanically inclined.

The best thing that could happen is we never need it, but that isn't likely to happen.

Sam I Am


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

Postby Sam I Am » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:33 am

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

Postby Ron » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:22 am

Just a bit late to the discussion, but I'll just add my story.

We have always had electric outages - a few hours at a time, until the October 2011 (Halloween Storm) and October 2012 (Sandy) when we had multi-day outages.

After the October 2011 storm, I purchased a 5500 KW portable unit (along with a bunch of extension cords :wink: ) and figured that's all I needed.

When Sandy hit, I was still out of luck since I had no protected area to run the unit (can't run in the rain) and I did not want to risk putting it into the garage - with the doors open - as others have done in my area. In fact, one guy a few blocks away had it in a shed, but the shed caught fire since he had the exhaust directed too close to the frame :oops: .

Anyway, we had a 20 KW unit installed this past March to handle the entire house. We're in our mid-60's, both retired, and spend +95% of our time in and around our home. It was different when we were both employed. At least if we lost power we probably had it at our respective places of employment, and we didn't go the entire 24-hour day without heat and/or AC.

Additionally, during the 2011 storm, we were thinking about going to a hotel/motel out of the area. However, with two dogs and not having a place to put them (along with worrying about melting frozen food and raising water levels in the sump pit) leaving the house was not a simple option to execute.

Our HVAC firm (used them for two decades, since we built our home) became a dealership for Honeywell (e.g. Generac) backup generators. They did a study of our home electric use (peak loads) along with getting the records from our electric utility (we've always had a digital meter) which shows the highest KWH used every hour, on every day for the last 24 months.

With the information at hand, they recommended the 20KVA unit, which is the largest air-cooled unit on the market (regardless of maker). To go above 20KVA, you need to go to a 4 or 6 cyl. automotive type engine; it's quieter, but it also doubles the price since you are now including water cooling (radiator, water pump, etc.)

Upon running the installation stress test, we had all our appliances turned on and the unit did not trip the main breaker. In other words, it could handle the load even without dropping any of the four "controlled" 220v circuits that drop off (one at a time) if a possible overload is sensed.

It comes on automatically every week and does its self-test, a ten minute run to keep the seals lubed and to ensure that all portions of the system run as normal. And power outages? We've had three since early July (a total of 5-6 hours), and 15 seconds after a failure, everything starts running without a hitch. In fact, we've been unaware of when the power comes back on-line since there is no interruption and the unit (as placed at the back of our home) is fairly quiet and hardly noticeable while we are in our home.

We leave for our China trip next week (for 3 weeks). For the first time, I won't be worrying about what may happen if the "lights go out" 8-) ...

BTW, we're number four in our area (I can see the other three from our back deck) that have a similar size unit installed. We may be the latest, but I don't think we'll be the last to have one installed.

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

Postby frugaltype » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:04 am

ResearchMed wrote:the garage door opener (THANKS to Allan for mentioning this!)


I thought garage door openers all had manual overrides?
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby ProfessorX » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:00 am

Why not just invest in Solar power with a battery backup if your house is a candidate? Seems like a similar cost with benefits that can work for you every single day...
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby jebmke » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:56 am

Ron wrote:one guy a few blocks away had it in a shed

That's one way to get rid of the mice in the shed.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby LadyGeek » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:21 am

frugaltype wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:the garage door opener (THANKS to Allan for mentioning this!)


I thought garage door openers all had manual overrides?

Nope. I have a two door garage, but only have one with an opener for this very reason. Otherwise, I would have no access when the power goes out.

They do make battery backup garage door openers, but I'm not planning to install one (for now).
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby pshonore » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:34 am

I've never seen a garage door opener without a feature to disconnect the mechanism and raise it by hand but nothing surprises me these days. Now if thats the only door to the garage with no other access, thats another problem. That would be unusual.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby WendyW » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:38 am

Sorry, mis-post
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby LadyGeek » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:44 am

pshonore wrote:I've never seen a garage door opener without a feature to disconnect the mechanism and raise it by hand but nothing surprises me these days. Now if thats the only door to the garage with no other access, thats another problem. That would be unusual.

Yes, they do have a way to release the mechanism, but it's on the track itself. IOW, you need to be inside the garage to disconnect it.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Hexdump » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:48 am

Ron wrote:Just a bit late to the discussion, but I'll just add my story.

Anyway, we had a 20 KW unit installed this past March to handle the entire house. We're in our mid-60's, both retired, and spend +95% of our time in and around our home. It was different when we were both employed. At least if we lost power we probably had it at our respective places of employment, and we didn't go the entire 24-hour day without heat and/or AC.
- Ron


Ron, would you mind saying how much this cost you ?

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

Postby Ron » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:59 am

LadyGeek wrote:
pshonore wrote:I've never seen a garage door opener without a feature to disconnect the mechanism and raise it by hand but nothing surprises me these days. Now if thats the only door to the garage with no other access, thats another problem. That would be unusual.

Yes, they do have a way to release the mechanism, but it's on the track itself. IOW, you need to be inside the garage to disconnect it.

This made me laugh. While we certainly have the pull rope disconnect, the "short one" (DW :twisted: ) can't reach it when her car is parked in the garage and she needs to leave.

In her case, the backup dosen't work (unless I'm around, the backup to the backup - before we got the generator)...
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:12 am

LadyGeek wrote:
pshonore wrote:I've never seen a garage door opener without a feature to disconnect the mechanism and raise it by hand but nothing surprises me these days. Now if thats the only door to the garage with no other access, thats another problem. That would be unusual.

Yes, they do have a way to release the mechanism, but it's on the track itself. IOW, you need to be inside the garage to disconnect it.

We had one like that ourselves, and since we don't have a door from the garage to the house, it was just asking for trouble. I got a handyman to install a cable from the track release to the door (it requires a key to use).
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:20 am

An update: after going around in circles, I held my nose and decided that we'd dig a new service trench and upgrade our gas service. To the everlasting credit of the landscaper, he did a good job of not completely destroying the hardscaping (well, he did destroy it, but he also put it back together). Then, the plumber routed the new service to the generator and to the old service entry point (on the other side of the house).

Inspection Thursday. New meter for new service whenever the gas company decides. Turn-on shortly afterwards. Whew!

All in, with the required new service and associated plumbing, the cost has escalated to $28k.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Ron » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:43 am

Hexdump wrote:
Ron wrote:Just a bit late to the discussion, but I'll just add my story.

Anyway, we had a 20 KW unit installed this past March to handle the entire house. We're in our mid-60's, both retired, and spend +95% of our time in and around our home. It was different when we were both employed. At least if we lost power we probably had it at our respective places of employment, and we didn't go the entire 24-hour day without heat and/or AC.
- Ron


Ron, would you mind saying how much this cost you ?

thanks

Not at all. The genset (generator/motor), transfer switch (switches between electric utility and generator to the 200-amp panel), 56R wet cell battery (like one you would use for a small car), wireless remote (sits inside on the desk in my study - monitors all gen functions and starts flashing/error messages if it detects a fault), four DLM's (Load Control Module - which manages four circuits to start "sheding" circuits if the gen is reaching its limit), two circuit lockout switches (to lock out non critical loads - for example the four strip heaters in the (unimproved) basement that I run on low in the winter just to take the chill off), the cost of additional wiring/conduit along with the labor for an electrician (and helper) for four days (includes .5 day stress test) came to a total of $9K.

In our case, it did cost more. We don't have natural gas in the area we live in (house is all electric) so we decided to go with propane. While I have a 200 gal tank on the side of the house (for the fireplace insert), we wanted to go with a solution that would ensure we had 5-7 days of 24-hour electric with propane as the fuel (the units will run on propane or NG; however NG reduces the output by 10% since the fuel is not as "potent" as LP). We wound up buying a 500 gal underground tank and had it buried in our back yard. This eliminated the 200 gal tank on the side of the house (which I was required to buy a full load every year from the gas vendor, since it was their tank). Since we own the underground tank, we can fill it using any LP dealer having the best current spot market LP price and are not forced to buy unless we want to. BTW, the weekly tests and the 5-6 hours of outages did not move the gage on the tank at all, thus far.

At the same time they ran the gas line trench (from the tank to the genset, with a spur line to the fireplace), I had the (landscape) contractor also run a PVC line from my sump pump to a storm drain inlet (authorized by the township). They could use the same trench for the gas/water lines for the longest part of the run and this eliminated a long time problem of just letting the sump drain into the back yard (we're in a high water table area).

The entire project was done with three contracts; one for the genset/electrical work, one for the propane tank and running of LP lines, and one for the landscape company who dug the trenches (Ditch Witch) and did landscape work (also added a berm for controlling storm run off in the back yard).

The entire project was double just the genset contract, but then again we did a lot more than others in our area. One of the homes (that I can see from my back deck) is in the next development, which has natural gas. They installed a Kohler 20KW but did not have to do much of anything. It sits on the side of the house where the electric/NG lines tap in, and were able to do it without all the extra work I had to do, due to lack of a convenient fuel source along with all the landscape work I had done.

You can certainly go less expensive (hey, I still use my 5500KW unit when I have outside work to do - easier than running a 300' line to the back of my property when I want to trim the overgrowth :shock: ), but not having to buy/store/use gas and worry about running extension cords (unless I had it wired into the house panel) is much easier. BTW, propane does not "go bad", and it is considered a clean (e.g. "green") fuel.

However at our age and desire to eliminate an ongoing problem we went this route. Sure, it cost the price of a compact car but since we don't really use our cars that much in retirement (a few K-miles a year) we decided to go this route.

Hey, it certainly was less expensive than what we spent on doing a kitchen "refresh" (new floor, counters, backsplash, appliances) at the same time as the genset/landscape work (yes, it's been an expensive year with home improvements), but then again this is where we live - and expect to for many years, and we are retired.

Just to show that sometimes a LBYM lifestyle in your accumulation years does pay off :mrgreen: ...
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby dratkinson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:19 pm

ProfessorX wrote:Why not just invest in Solar power with a battery backup if your house is a candidate? Seems like a similar cost with benefits that can work for you every single day...


I believe solar systems are more expensive per installed KW than fossil fuel generator solutions. From Englishgirl's description of her system: viewtopic.php?p=911204#p911204

Englishgirl wrote:... 2kW grid-tied system with battery backup. ... inverter is 3kW ...

The cost to install was high. I did this at the beginning of 2009, and solar panels are coming down in price all the time. Total cost was about $26k. I then got about $16k in rebates - $8k each from the federal government and the state. ... The battery backup system was about $7k of the $26k, ...


So after rebates available then, her 2KW solar system ($26K) cost her $10K.

    A 2KW portable generator is not that expensive (~10 cents/watt on CL, so $200). That leaves a lot left over to buy fuel ... in the future.

    A new Honda EU3000iS generator is ~$2K, but is quieter than most other generators (generator noise gets old, fast): http://powerequipment.honda.com/generat ... s/eu3000is

    Note: neither of the above generators is large enough to produce 220V, which you would need if you wanted to hook directly into your house's main panel without installing a generator sub-panel.

The installed ~20KW automatic generator systems described in this topic seem to cost $9-28K, depending upon installation difficulty.

So for residential use, it appears that a small installed solar/grid-tied/battery system is ~10 times the cost of a large installed automatic generator system---ignoring rebates: 2KW/$26K vs 20KW/$28K difficult install; accounting for rebates: 2KW/$10K vs 20KW/$9K easy install.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Sam I Am » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:27 pm

Message deleted.
Last edited by Sam I Am on Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby frugaltype » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:50 pm

Ron wrote:
LadyGeek wrote:
pshonore wrote:I've never seen a garage door opener without a feature to disconnect the mechanism and raise it by hand but nothing surprises me these days. Now if thats the only door to the garage with no other access, thats another problem. That would be unusual.

Yes, they do have a way to release the mechanism, but it's on the track itself. IOW, you need to be inside the garage to disconnect it.

This made me laugh. While we certainly have the pull rope disconnect, the "short one" (DW :twisted: ) can't reach it when her car is parked in the garage and she needs to leave.

In her case, the backup dosen't work (unless I'm around, the backup to the backup - before we got the generator)...


Extend the rope. What am I missing here? It's not like you have to be Godzilla to operate it. If an old lady like me can do it, your DW can do it.

Are there really garages with only the big garage door for access? No human sized door? Also, there is a key operated manual access in the outside center of my big garage door.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:30 pm

frugaltype wrote:Are there really garages with only the big garage door for access? No human sized door? Also, there is a key operated manual access in the outside center of my big garage door.

No human sized door in our house. It was walled over hen we remodeled in order to provide closets in our mud room.

Outside center is where our key operated manual access is also.
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby dratkinson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:57 pm

Sam I Am wrote:
dratkinson wrote:
ProfessorX wrote:Why not just invest in Solar power with a battery backup if your house is a candidate? Seems like a similar cost with benefits that can work for you every single day...


...
So for residential use, it appears that a small installed solar/grid-tied/battery system is ~10 times the cost of a large installed automatic generator system---ignoring rebates: 2KW/$26K vs 20KW/$28K difficult install; accounting for rebates: 2KW/$10K vs 20KW/$9K easy install.



My fear of solar is seeing my panels stripped from my roof in a storm! Not sure I would trust the mountings, would they survive even a low rated hurricane? They seem like a risk to lose part of your roof if the wind was able to get underneath them just a little bit. I could be 100% wrong, however. My fear isn't based on factual info, just an mental picture of very expensive panels sailing away in a good blow. :shock:

And, at least the portable generators can be moved around, as needed.

Sam I Am


I heavily snipped Englishgirl's description of her system. She was told by her installer that her solar panels will stay up during a hurricane, so that should be secure enough.

I'd worry about needing to remove the panels to install a new roof. For that reason, I'd rather have a ground-mounted solar system. And as long as we are wishing, I'd also want an earth-sheltered home with an open center atrium and a southern exposure for winter heating. :)
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby astrohip » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:17 pm

Hexdump wrote:Ron, would you mind saying how much this cost you ?

thanks

I have a similar unit to Ron. 20kW whole house, runs on NG, transfer case, etc. Generac. Permits, etc. $8K installed.

I'm in Houston. And have no desire to ever go w/o elec again :annoyed
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby 3wood » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:41 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:An update: after going around in circles, I held my nose and decided that we'd dig a new service trench and upgrade our gas service. To the everlasting credit of the landscaper, he did a good job of not completely destroying the hardscaping (well, he did destroy it, but he also put it back together). Then, the plumber routed the new service to the generator and to the old service entry point (on the other side of the house).

Inspection Thursday. New meter for new service whenever the gas company decides. Turn-on shortly afterwards. Whew!

All in, with the required new service and associated plumbing, the cost has escalated to $28k.


Congrats on getting it done. Now you will never loose power. :D
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby Ron » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:18 pm

Just a current update. From 5:30 PM Tuesday through 5:30 AM Wednesday, we had five separate electric outages with a total of just under three hours.

It turned out to be cross wiring at a substation that took out power at around 2000 homes, also causing massive traffic problems since all traffic lights were out (I thought some of the newer ones had a battery backup? :oops: ). Techically, that's eight occurances of losing electric since July 3rd.

Anyway, the four homes in our neighborhood that have automatic backup gensets kept the (outside) lights on for everybody else to get around :twisted: ... I/wife were sitting in the family room around 10PM when one of the outages occured. My wife "forgot" herself and was going to go looking for a flashlight (most of our outages had been during daylight hours). I told her to sit down as I simply started counting "1001, 1002", etc. When I got to 1015, the lights turned on :sharebeer

It's been a good test of the system (both genset and auto transfer switch) in "real world" conditions and I was able to see how the load shedding worked. All the 120 lines, along with the 220 Heat Pump line came on immediately. The four controlled 220 circuits (microwave/oven, cooktop, clothes dryer, hotwater) came on in sequence - with a 2-3 minute delay for each. BTW, for those that are unfamiliar with load shedding, the genset controller will not allow the controlled circuits (in sequence), if the startup would exceed the generator capibilities. I've mentioned before that we "stressed test" the system when we installed it and had all the controlled circuit devices running and the genset did not shutdown (e.g. pop the generator breaker). However, this was the first time that I've seen the system in action from an actual electrical loss and system start. I learned the hard way when I went to the microwave to reset the clock and the entire microwave/oven had no power. I was in a bit of a panic, but then I realized that the system was controlling the startup of the circuits. As soon as I saw the microwave clock come on, I turned on the cooktop (in/on the kitchen island) but of course it did not work. Waited for a couple of minutes and it started. I went to the basement to check the hot water heater and it too came back "on-line" a few minutes after the cooktop (clothes dryer was not being used at the time, but it too would have had a delay).

During the last two outages of about 20 minutes each (at 2 and 5:30 am) were not even noticed. We were in bed and were unaware of any outage. The outside unit is that quiet (yes, we planned the placement that it was far from our bedroom) we were unaware of any problem. I didn't know about the additional outages until I checked the remote log in the morning.

The more it gets used, the more I feel that I made the right decision - even though it was an expensive one. It will be interesting to see if we lose power during our trip to China this month. At least the housesitter (to watch the house, and the dogs) probably won't have to call us to let us know that an outage caused our sump pump to fail :moneybag ...
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:51 am

Thanks Ron, that was a great description that makes me feel that I made the right choice also. Only electrical inspection, new gas meter hookup, and system startup to go. Bad weather, hold off for just a few more days, please :beer
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Re: Is it time to install a whole-house generator?

Postby ResearchMed » Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:10 pm

Up and Running, finally! :)

We've just had the first self-test. What a relief it is to know we (hopefully, if all goes as planned, which isn't always what happens) no longer have to worry about the sump pump and flooding, or heat (electronic ignition for both gas furnaces) and risk of frozen pipes, etc.

It is noisy, however.
Next step is some nice bushes around one side of it (not where hot air is expelled), but that won't help much with the sound.

There is a neighbor on that side of the house, unfortunately.
If we ever have another serious power outage, we guess we'll invite them over first.

But if the "carry an umbrella and it won't rain" rules are in effect, now there won't be any more serious power outages, and that's fine, too.

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

Postby Ron » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:51 pm

ResearchMed wrote:But if the "carry an umbrella and it won't rain" rules are in effect, now there won't be any more serious power outages, and that's fine, too.

RM

It's a bit like the sinkhole coverage we have on our home (we're in a sinkhole area). We probably will never collect - and we hope we never do :wink:
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