whole house generator different questions

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mouses
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whole house generator different questions

Post by mouses » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:07 pm

I know there's another whole house generator thread, but I have different questions.

I had a Generac dealer out today for an estimate. I want an idiot proof generator that runs on natural gas and goes on and off by itself, and a maintenance contract so it all blissfully works without my getting involved.

I picked the local installer with very good reviews, so that's how I wound up with the Generac people.

Apparently it is not as effortless as I would like. As I understand it, there is some control so that if the AC is on when I ask for too much power, the AC shuts off, but comes back on automatically when I turn off enough other stuff. Has anyone had a problem with this feature?

Otherwise, apparently if I ask for too much power and the AC is not on, the generator turns itself off and I have to go through some reset procedure (probably at 2am in a blizzard :-) to get it running again. I am wondering what experience people have had with how difficult and reliable this process is?

I am also wondering about the problem of snow covering the generator. Large snow drifts form in my yard as it is exposed to a lot of wind. Is there some way around having to go out there frequently and shovel it out? What happens if it does get covered in snow? I also read reports of their having problems in heavy rain, any truth to that?

Thanks.

Bacchus01
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by Bacchus01 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:27 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:07 pm
I know there's another whole house generator thread, but I have different questions.

I had a Generac dealer out today for an estimate. I want an idiot proof generator that runs on natural gas and goes on and off by itself, and a maintenance contract so it all blissfully works without my getting involved.

I picked the local installer with very good reviews, so that's how I wound up with the Generac people.

Apparently it is not as effortless as I would like. As I understand it, there is some control so that if the AC is on when I ask for too much power, the AC shuts off, but comes back on automatically when I turn off enough other stuff. Has anyone had a problem with this feature?

Otherwise, apparently if I ask for too much power and the AC is not on, the generator turns itself off and I have to go through some reset procedure (probably at 2am in a blizzard :-) to get it running again. I am wondering what experience people have had with how difficult and reliable this process is?

I am also wondering about the problem of snow covering the generator. Large snow drifts form in my yard as it is exposed to a lot of wind. Is there some way around having to go out there frequently and shovel it out? What happens if it does get covered in snow? I also read reports of their having problems in heavy rain, any truth to that?

Thanks.
Get a bigger generator if you want to avoid load issues of the AC.

Get a Kohler. Generac engines are Chinese. Kohler are built in Kohler, WI.

Not a Penguin
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by Not a Penguin » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:32 pm

I think the best answer is to get a properly sized generator. What size are you looking at and how much house do you have?

On the plus side, your electricity consumption goes down substantially at night time (no lights, no TV, no one opening the fridge fifteen times an hour to “see what there is to eat”). So even if you’re slightly undersized, the generator will only shutoff to protect itself likely during the day time.

Home this helps.

friareye
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by friareye » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:56 pm

I have had 2 generacs installed at 2 houses in my (short) lifetime. Never had any issues.

In agreement with the first response, if you don’t want to worry about load in the generator with A/c units, get a bigger generator. I have a new 16kw generator for my 3000 sq ft house. We do have the 2 central-air units on the load protectors (I forget the actual name of it). We could have gone with a 22kw generator and no worries about the load share, but we have had no issues. You might have an issue if you ran your A/c with a load of laundry in the washer, another in the dryer, and an electric stove going... but that is what the load protector is for, to avoid overloading the generator.

In snow, yes, you need to shovel it out to that the generator intake and vent are not covered. It literally takes me 2 minutes to clear that.

I have not heard issues about rain... but just don’t locate it where the area could be flooded.

Silver Bullet
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by Silver Bullet » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:05 pm

I'll echo the "get a bigger generator" comments above. The local company should be able to easily size it for you based on what you've just told us (plus looking at the breaker panels). Im a Generac customer and happy with them for the past 5 years.

Make sure you get the aluminum enclosure - NOT the cheaper metal one. This will keep it looking new for many more years.

killjoy2012
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by killjoy2012 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:15 pm

+1 for bigger generator, and +1 for Kohler over Generac.

sixty40
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by sixty40 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:38 pm

Generators should not be lightly loaded, it can cause maintenance problems, you may want to discuss this with the generator rep. There is a load calculation that should be provided to determine the load, this is how generators are sized. This does not mean you can turn everything on in your home at full power and expect the generator to cover all the load, that is typically not how it works. The rep may be just providing you some precaution. Typically generators should be sized for all loads in a home under "normal conditions". You can always increase the size for some added insurance, but then your generator may be too lightly loaded and have other issues. For generators that are constantly lightly loaded, load banks cn be used during maintenance or testing to run the generator at full load.

As for the generator operating in heavy rain, I have never hear of it, so it should not be a problem. Just make sure the intake and exhaust will not be affected by the rain, especially driving rain. You an also elevate it from the ground a little with a taller pad.

When the generator senses it is about to be overloaded, it will/can load shed, which is common. (I did not even know home generators can do that). You can work with the rep to determine what loads are important and what loads can be shed under an overload condition.

lazydavid
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by lazydavid » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:31 am

mouses wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:07 pm
Apparently it is not as effortless as I would like. As I understand it, there is some control so that if the AC is on when I ask for too much power, the AC shuts off, but comes back on automatically when I turn off enough other stuff. Has anyone had a problem with this feature?
This feature is called load shedding. It is a function of the Automatic Transfer Switch, not so much the generator itself. The generator does have to be able to tell the ATS to shed load, but I suspect most can do so. Depending on the switch, you can designate one or more circuits to be disabled (and in what order) if the generator is working too hard. You can also designate circuits that are unnecessary and don't get switched over at all. I'm going the manual generator route, but the circuits to my air compressor, pool pump, steam oven, and beverage chiller in the basement will never be powered when on generator.
mouses wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:07 pm
Otherwise, apparently if I ask for too much power and the AC is not on, the generator turns itself off and I have to go through some reset procedure (probably at 2am in a blizzard :-) to get it running again. I am wondering what experience people have had with how difficult and reliable this process is?
If you overrun your generator's capacity at 2am during a blizzard, it is woefully undersized. Like "towing a 737 with a Honda Civic" undersized. Generally your lights and TV will be off, the furnace setpoint is likely lower than during the day (and as a result your refrigerator won't be cycling as often), you're not using any hot water, running laundry, cooking, and the AC certainly shouldn't be on :P . And that assumes that all of your utilities are electric. If gas, then a 2kW generator would be large enough to get most homes through the night.

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queso
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by queso » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:29 am

+1 to what lazydavid said. We kicked around load shedding in this thread and a couple others - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=233223&hilit=shedding. Bottom line - get a genset with an automatic transfer switch that is big enough to power all the stuff you NEED on at the same time. Wire loads that aren't essential (AC units, etc.) and have big draws that you can live without to load shedding modules so they can be dumped if you exceed the load. This allows you to buy less generator, but if you want to be able to run everything I am sure they will sell you one big enough to do that. :happy We have both AC units and dual electric wall ovens hooked up to our load shedding modules and installed hard start capacitors on both AC units. You don't need to do any manual resetting if the load shedding activates so to meet your criteria of "effortless" you definitely want to either buy a huge genset that runs everything OR buy one large enough to power what you need on during your peak use and add some load shedding modules for the other stuff that would otherwise throw it over capacity. I forget what all the major targets for load shedding are, but they are consumption based so you don't need an EE to figure it out (AC units, elec ovens, elec dryers, etc.).

More links:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=231906&hilit=shedding

http://kohlerpower.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/g6120.pdf

http://resources.kohler.com/power/kohle ... Part_3.pdf

http://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf

mouses
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by mouses » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:11 am

queso wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:29 am
+1 to what lazydavid said. We kicked around load shedding in this thread and a couple others - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=233223&hilit=shedding. Bottom line - get a genset with an automatic transfer switch that is big enough to power all the stuff you NEED on at the same time. Wire loads that aren't essential (AC units, etc.) and have big draws that you can live without to load shedding modules so they can be dumped if you exceed the load. This allows you to buy less generator, but if you want to be able to run everything I am sure they will sell you one big enough to do that. :happy We have both AC units and dual electric wall ovens hooked up to our load shedding modules and installed hard start capacitors on both AC units. You don't need to do any manual resetting if the load shedding activates so to meet your criteria of "effortless" you definitely want to either buy a huge genset that runs everything OR buy one large enough to power what you need on during your peak use and add some load shedding modules for the other stuff that would otherwise throw it over capacity. I forget what all the major targets for load shedding are, but they are consumption based so you don't need an EE to figure it out (AC units, elec ovens, elec dryers, etc.).

More links:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=231906&hilit=shedding

http://kohlerpower.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/g6120.pdf

http://resources.kohler.com/power/kohle ... Part_3.pdf

http://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf
The AC is essential on summer, even if nothing else runs. It and heat in winter are why I'm getting a generator.

I'll read up on the links, thanks. What I understood from the guy was there was just the AC off feature which he described as handled by some wireless control ans the everything off feature which happens when too much is tried to be drawn and the AC is already off.

The snow concerns me. This is a high wind area, and the snow shoveling people have often shoveled out a pathway which half an hour later has a four foot drift on it. I am too old to be going out there every half an hour all day and night to do this. They'd find my body when the snow thawed :-) So I am looking for some way via an enclosure or piping or ? to make the snow not a problem.

ResearchMed
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:22 am

mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:11 am
queso wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:29 am
+1 to what lazydavid said. We kicked around load shedding in this thread and a couple others - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=233223&hilit=shedding. Bottom line - get a genset with an automatic transfer switch that is big enough to power all the stuff you NEED on at the same time. Wire loads that aren't essential (AC units, etc.) and have big draws that you can live without to load shedding modules so they can be dumped if you exceed the load. This allows you to buy less generator, but if you want to be able to run everything I am sure they will sell you one big enough to do that. :happy We have both AC units and dual electric wall ovens hooked up to our load shedding modules and installed hard start capacitors on both AC units. You don't need to do any manual resetting if the load shedding activates so to meet your criteria of "effortless" you definitely want to either buy a huge genset that runs everything OR buy one large enough to power what you need on during your peak use and add some load shedding modules for the other stuff that would otherwise throw it over capacity. I forget what all the major targets for load shedding are, but they are consumption based so you don't need an EE to figure it out (AC units, elec ovens, elec dryers, etc.).

More links:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=231906&hilit=shedding

http://kohlerpower.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/g6120.pdf

http://resources.kohler.com/power/kohle ... Part_3.pdf

http://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf
The AC is essential on summer, even if nothing else runs. It and heat in winter are why I'm getting a generator.

I'll read up on the links, thanks. What I understood from the guy was there was just the AC off feature which he described as handled by some wireless control ans the everything off feature which happens when too much is tried to be drawn and the AC is already off.

The snow concerns me. This is a high wind area, and the snow shoveling people have often shoveled out a pathway which half an hour later has a four foot drift on it. I am too old to be going out there every half an hour all day and night to do this. They'd find my body when the snow thawed :-) So I am looking for some way via an enclosure or piping or ? to make the snow not a problem.
We have the same snow-covering-the-generator problem.
We have our snow plow guy (or one of his crew) walk through the snow about 30(?) feet to clear the snow from both ends of the generator, which should be kept clear for ventilation.

Problem is, the only reasonable place to put the generator is where snow slides off the roof :annoyed

We are going to get some sort of little slanted "shed roof" up against the side of the house, something that will allow the snow to "keep on sliding" so it lands a bit in front of the generator, further from the house.
We'll still have the snow plow folks check that the ends are clear, because, yes, those winds can blow the snow right in there, but it won't be so bad with the "little roof".

I wonder if there is a way to make this somewhat removable, so we only "put it up" in the winter.
Does anyone know of anything where maybe something could be permanently attached to the house, and then this "structure" could be bolted on and off seasonally? Could be tricky, as it's stone wall at that level, and not sure how thick the stone really is or what's behind it...

RM
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queso
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by queso » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:14 pm

mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:11 am
queso wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:29 am
+1 to what lazydavid said. We kicked around load shedding in this thread and a couple others - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=233223&hilit=shedding. Bottom line - get a genset with an automatic transfer switch that is big enough to power all the stuff you NEED on at the same time. Wire loads that aren't essential (AC units, etc.) and have big draws that you can live without to load shedding modules so they can be dumped if you exceed the load. This allows you to buy less generator, but if you want to be able to run everything I am sure they will sell you one big enough to do that. :happy We have both AC units and dual electric wall ovens hooked up to our load shedding modules and installed hard start capacitors on both AC units. You don't need to do any manual resetting if the load shedding activates so to meet your criteria of "effortless" you definitely want to either buy a huge genset that runs everything OR buy one large enough to power what you need on during your peak use and add some load shedding modules for the other stuff that would otherwise throw it over capacity. I forget what all the major targets for load shedding are, but they are consumption based so you don't need an EE to figure it out (AC units, elec ovens, elec dryers, etc.).

More links:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=231906&hilit=shedding

http://kohlerpower.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/g6120.pdf

http://resources.kohler.com/power/kohle ... Part_3.pdf

http://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf
The AC is essential on summer, even if nothing else runs. It and heat in winter are why I'm getting a generator.

I'll read up on the links, thanks. What I understood from the guy was there was just the AC off feature which he described as handled by some wireless control ans the everything off feature which happens when too much is tried to be drawn and the AC is already off.

The snow concerns me. This is a high wind area, and the snow shoveling people have often shoveled out a pathway which half an hour later has a four foot drift on it. I am too old to be going out there every half an hour all day and night to do this. They'd find my body when the snow thawed :-) So I am looking for some way via an enclosure or piping or ? to make the snow not a problem.
That's easy then - just get a unit that is sized so it can run your AC and whatever else you need running without shedding any loads. Only shed loads that are you are ok losing for periods of time if you go over the capacity of the generator. Honestly, our load shedding has never kicked in. I'd have to be running a ton of stuff to reach that level and I haven't yet had a combination where I had everything on AND it was hot enough that the AC was running AND there was a power outage.

dpm321
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by dpm321 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:25 pm

I have a similar setup with my Kohler. The transfer switch has a sense circuit that determines whether or not there is sufficient remaining generator capacity to allow the AC to run. It directly turns the AC on and off without my having to take any action. I have had no problems with it.

bhsince87
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:46 pm

If you're running your air conditioner in the middle of a blizzard, I'd suggest just moving to Antarctica! :happy

But seriously, I've heard of no issues with the automatic load shedders. If you've got an electric hot water heater, that's another prime candidate for load shedding.
BH87

mouses
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by mouses » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm

I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.

ResearchMed
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:25 pm

mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm
I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.
What about a little "shed roof", like we are thinking about.
I'm just not quite sure how to design it, or who would build it.

Hmmm... what about a huge sheet of plywood (or 2 sheets?) set across the top, so all sides are open?
Yes, with some sort of legs at each corner.

We'd still have the blowing snow, but wouldn't have the *thud* of *heavy* snow sliding off the roof, landing in front of the ends, cutting off air flow.

Having that snow piled on top shouldn't be a problem; the ends are what need to be clear.
We could also position it so the bit of outside metal gas pipe is protected, too.
Having it tilt slightly would be good, too, but that wouldn't be as stable.

Thoughts? photos? :wink:

RM
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queso
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by queso » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:50 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:25 pm
mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm
I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.
What about a little "shed roof", like we are thinking about.
I'm just not quite sure how to design it, or who would build it.

Hmmm... what about a huge sheet of plywood (or 2 sheets?) set across the top, so all sides are open?
Yes, with some sort of legs at each corner.

We'd still have the blowing snow, but wouldn't have the *thud* of *heavy* snow sliding off the roof, landing in front of the ends, cutting off air flow.

Having that snow piled on top shouldn't be a problem; the ends are what need to be clear.
We could also position it so the bit of outside metal gas pipe is protected, too.
Having it tilt slightly would be good, too, but that wouldn't be as stable.

Thoughts? photos? :wink:

RM
I was thinking something like that too. Almost like a shed pergola or carport style roof. Then I thought about the blowing snow. You could build something that would get around that issue though. We used to build scuba compressors into sheds with baffle boxes to dampen the noise, fans to keep them cool and exhaust and intake ventilation. You could do a purpose built small shed that had all the necessary plumbing and ventilation for a genset. I just did a google image search for generator shed and got a ton of good ideas.

mouses
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by mouses » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:04 am

The problem is the snow is not coming off the roof or straight down. It is blown sideways into large drifts. I am thinking maybe a vertical board(s) with space between them and the generator on some sides. I have emailed the dealer, maybe they have some experience with this problem, I would think.

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queso
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by queso » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:07 am

mouses wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:04 am
The problem is the snow is not coming off the roof or straight down. It is blown sideways into large drifts. I am thinking maybe a vertical board(s) with space between them and the generator on some sides. I have emailed the dealer, maybe they have some experience with this problem, I would think.
Yeah, I think you could build around that. Maybe a hybrid design with a roof/pergola structure covering the top and then make some "walls" and attach them to posts a certain distance from the generator enclosure to prevent blown snow from drifting against the enclosure. I tend to agree that dealers/installers in areas of the country where this is a problem should have had to deal with it before. We just don't get that kind of snow where I am so it's easy enough for me to clear the generator pad when I am out running the blower.

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lthenderson
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by lthenderson » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:30 am

mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm
I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.
They make electrical mats that embed in concrete or asphalt. Just make an over-sized pad for the generator with one of those embedded into it and hooked to a switch inside your home.

http://www.morelectricheating.com/produ ... XMATS.aspx

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queso
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by queso » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:43 am

lthenderson wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:30 am
mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm
I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.
They make electrical mats that embed in concrete or asphalt. Just make an over-sized pad for the generator with one of those embedded into it and hooked to a switch inside your home.

http://www.morelectricheating.com/produ ... XMATS.aspx
Or rig up a pressure pad that triggers a flamethrower once the snow hits a certain weight. You could probably do some really cool stuff if you calculate the intake and exhaust flow requirements and hook up a Land Rover/Jeep style snorkel on the intake and a similar setup on the exhaust side. Then if the snow was deep enough nobody would know what was under there since they would just see two pipes sticking out of the snow. :happy

ResearchMed
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Re: whole house generator different questions

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:05 am

queso wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:43 am
lthenderson wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:30 am
mouses wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:10 pm
I think my residual question is the snow problem. I was hoping someone had worked out some baffle or something that would keep the snow drifts from the generator but still let the generator have air access. Or some sort of piping from the air intake and exhaust.
They make electrical mats that embed in concrete or asphalt. Just make an over-sized pad for the generator with one of those embedded into it and hooked to a switch inside your home.

http://www.morelectricheating.com/produ ... XMATS.aspx
Or rig up a pressure pad that triggers a flamethrower once the snow hits a certain weight. You could probably do some really cool stuff if you calculate the intake and exhaust flow requirements and hook up a Land Rover/Jeep style snorkel on the intake and a similar setup on the exhaust side. Then if the snow was deep enough nobody would know what was under there since they would just see two pipes sticking out of the snow. :happy
"Generator snorkels".

Shark Tank.

Anyone in?

:D

RM
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