Should I purchase a whole house generator?

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go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:48 am
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:39 am
willthrill81 wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:57 pm Most refrigerators today only draw 100-150 watts while running and maybe up to 500 watts when the compressor first starts but generally not even that much.
My refrigerator is only 10 years old.
I tried running it with a Duracell Inverter rated for 800 watts ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DZLLZY ) and I got the E03 error which means the refrigerator exceeded the inverter's capability. The inverter shut down.
Granted I did not have my car engine running.
Either the Duracell Inverter is wrong --- a review of their newer model claims it won't run a 600 watt peak air conditioner ---
or the refrigerator draws more than 800 watts.

.
The problem there isn't the wattage of the refrigerator. It's because the Duracell inverter is a modified sine wave inverter instead of a pure sine wave inverter. Modern compressors rarely operate well or even at all on modified sine wave power.

This company-specific write up visually demonstrates the difference. There are many brands of pure sine wave inverters out there. Xantrex seems to be one of the more popular ones.

Also, air conditioners have larger compressors and need significantly more wattage to start. An AC that draws 600 watts while running may need 1,800 watts to start.

So if you tried again with a quality 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter, it should definitely work.
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?

.
neilpilot
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by neilpilot »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm

What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?

.
Might be fine for a camping trip. I don't think it's a serious contender for continuous or semi-continuous backup power.

Even if there was nothing but clear and sunny weather following the power grid shutdown. And that's a big "if".
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:48 am
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:39 am
willthrill81 wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:57 pm Most refrigerators today only draw 100-150 watts while running and maybe up to 500 watts when the compressor first starts but generally not even that much.
My refrigerator is only 10 years old.
I tried running it with a Duracell Inverter rated for 800 watts ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DZLLZY ) and I got the E03 error which means the refrigerator exceeded the inverter's capability. The inverter shut down.
Granted I did not have my car engine running.
Either the Duracell Inverter is wrong --- a review of their newer model claims it won't run a 600 watt peak air conditioner ---
or the refrigerator draws more than 800 watts.

.
The problem there isn't the wattage of the refrigerator. It's because the Duracell inverter is a modified sine wave inverter instead of a pure sine wave inverter. Modern compressors rarely operate well or even at all on modified sine wave power.

This company-specific write up visually demonstrates the difference. There are many brands of pure sine wave inverters out there. Xantrex seems to be one of the more popular ones.

Also, air conditioners have larger compressors and need significantly more wattage to start. An AC that draws 600 watts while running may need 1,800 watts to start.

So if you tried again with a quality 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter, it should definitely work.
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?

.
That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
learningtime
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by learningtime »

We just got power back after losing it during the storm Isaias. 5 full days!

We have small generator that DH kept going to power a couple of refrigerators, power some phones/laptops, wifi, and a couple of fans.

The full backup generator is def. going on our list for the coming 12 months. We'd get it sooner but we have a driveway and an addition already of the list about to start.

I've have my share of power outages for now. Two years back in March snowstorms, we lost power for 5 days and DH was out of town. I stayed in the house for 3 nights and then checked into a hotel with the kids. Had the nanny come there while I juggled work.

Earlier this year, we lost power for a day or two.

Where we live in NJ, we have a "ton" of tress and all exposed power lines. With any summer or winter storm, it's a disaster waiting to happen. That's what sways my opinion on whether we really need the automatic backup generator.

If we had underground power lines, I'd probably feel ok sticking with our current/small gasoline powered generator.
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

learningtime wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:53 pm The full backup generator is def. going on our list for the coming 12 months. We'd get it sooner but we have a driveway and an addition already of the list about to start.
If you have natural gas, then you might be interested in this 7,500 watt tri-fuel generator available right now from Costco. It runs on gasoline, propane, and natural gas. While on natural gas, it will output 5,500 watts continuously and 6,500 watts peak, enough to run anything in your house, just not two major appliances simultaneously (e.g. only one at a time between electric stove/oven, electric water heater, electric furnace, central air conditioner). It's only $900, which is a good deal for one like this. It can be easily connected to your existing natural gas lines, and you can connect it to your home with a transfer switch that any electrician should be able to install. The total cost for the generator, natural gas connections, and installed transfer switch should definitely be under $2k, far less than a standby generator, you can take it with you, and you can also operate it on gasoline or propane if needed.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
learningtime
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by learningtime »

thanks! I have a feeling this FIRMAN is what we presently have. I know it's a firman but don't know which model etc. Pretty sure we got our from Costco too. DH is a Costco fan.

We do have natural gas. I guess we have a lot to look into.
go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:52 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?
.
That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:47 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:52 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?
.
That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
Regarding 'putting it in a close then pull out to use', that's a recipe for trouble on several fronts.

First, the lead acid batteries used in these self-discharge at rate of 3-5% per month, and every moment that a lead acid battery is not at a 100% charge does some amount of irreparable damage to the battery, damage that can ultimately lead to the battery's effective death. So it should be kept plugged in to a power source as much as possible, something that many who buy those kinds of units don't realize or do.

Second, your mom's 80 year old friends probably wouldn't realize how little power is actually in that battery, roughly the equivalent of about a quart of gasoline run through a standard sized generator. For instance, a refrigerator, something that many obsess about running, would drain it completely in no more than about 10-12 hours.

Truth be told, I think that integrated systems like the Jackery are almost worse than nothing because they often create a false sense of security, like insurance that barely pays anything.

Getting a pure sine wave inverter that just clamps on to your vehicle's battery, starting the vehicle, and then running items like a refrigerator is about as simple as backup power solutions can be unless (1) you have an operational standby generator and/or (2) you have something like a Tesla Powerwall.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:18 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:47 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:52 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?
.
That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
Regarding 'putting it in a close then pull out to use', that's a recipe for trouble on several fronts.

First, the lead acid batteries used in these self-discharge at rate of 3-5% per month, and every moment that a lead acid battery is not at a 100% charge does some amount of irreparable damage to the battery, damage that can ultimately lead to the battery's effective death. So it should be kept plugged in to a power source as much as possible, something that many who buy those kinds of units don't realize or do.

Second, your mom's 80 year old friends probably wouldn't realize how little power is actually in that battery, roughly the equivalent of about a quart of gasoline run through a standard sized generator. For instance, a refrigerator, something that many obsess about running, would drain it completely in no more than about 10-12 hours.

Truth be told, I think that integrated systems like the Jackery are almost worse than nothing because they often create a false sense of security, like insurance that barely pays anything.

Getting a pure sine wave inverter that just clamps on to your vehicle's battery, starting the vehicle, and then running items like a refrigerator is about as simple as backup power solutions can be unless (1) you have an operational standby generator and/or (2) you have something like a Tesla Powerwall.
As long as they know to keep the Jackery plugged in, it won't be a problem.
The key is to run a few hours as others in this thread mention doing with a generator. Run it enough to keep the refrigerator cold.

I know for a fact my mom considers the inverter attached to the car battery then running a heavy-duty extension cord into the house to a major pain the butt.
.
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:18 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:47 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:52 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:30 pm
What do you think of something like this : https://www.jackery.com/products/explor ... er-station ?
.
That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
Regarding 'putting it in a close then pull out to use', that's a recipe for trouble on several fronts.

First, the lead acid batteries used in these self-discharge at rate of 3-5% per month, and every moment that a lead acid battery is not at a 100% charge does some amount of irreparable damage to the battery, damage that can ultimately lead to the battery's effective death. So it should be kept plugged in to a power source as much as possible, something that many who buy those kinds of units don't realize or do.

Second, your mom's 80 year old friends probably wouldn't realize how little power is actually in that battery, roughly the equivalent of about a quart of gasoline run through a standard sized generator. For instance, a refrigerator, something that many obsess about running, would drain it completely in no more than about 10-12 hours.

Truth be told, I think that integrated systems like the Jackery are almost worse than nothing because they often create a false sense of security, like insurance that barely pays anything.

Getting a pure sine wave inverter that just clamps on to your vehicle's battery, starting the vehicle, and then running items like a refrigerator is about as simple as backup power solutions can be unless (1) you have an operational standby generator and/or (2) you have something like a Tesla Powerwall.
As long as they know to keep the Jackery plugged in, it won't be a problem.
The key is to run a few hours as others in this thread mention doing with a generator. Run it enough to keep the refrigerator cold.

I know for a fact my mom considers the inverter attached to the car battery then running a heavy-duty extension cord into the house to a major pain the butt.
.
As long as those using such systems understand their limitations, they are fine for what they are, albeit unnecessarily expensive for most IMHO.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:21 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:18 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:47 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:52 pm

That would work, but because it's an integrated system, you're paying a big premium for it. You could buy a Xantrex 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter for $300 (available on this site and many others), clamp it on to your vehicle's battery, then start the car, and you're good to go and for a lot longer than the Jackery will run. Granted, the Jackery has an integrated battery (one that you could buy of an equivalent size separately for about $120) and some other bells and whistles, but you may not need all of those, and you're still paying a premium for an integrated system. There are some other minor issues with it that I'll address in the next few days when I start a battery system thread.
Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
Regarding 'putting it in a close then pull out to use', that's a recipe for trouble on several fronts.

First, the lead acid batteries used in these self-discharge at rate of 3-5% per month, and every moment that a lead acid battery is not at a 100% charge does some amount of irreparable damage to the battery, damage that can ultimately lead to the battery's effective death. So it should be kept plugged in to a power source as much as possible, something that many who buy those kinds of units don't realize or do.

Second, your mom's 80 year old friends probably wouldn't realize how little power is actually in that battery, roughly the equivalent of about a quart of gasoline run through a standard sized generator. For instance, a refrigerator, something that many obsess about running, would drain it completely in no more than about 10-12 hours.

Truth be told, I think that integrated systems like the Jackery are almost worse than nothing because they often create a false sense of security, like insurance that barely pays anything.

Getting a pure sine wave inverter that just clamps on to your vehicle's battery, starting the vehicle, and then running items like a refrigerator is about as simple as backup power solutions can be unless (1) you have an operational standby generator and/or (2) you have something like a Tesla Powerwall.
As long as they know to keep the Jackery plugged in, it won't be a problem.
The key is to run a few hours as others in this thread mention doing with a generator. Run it enough to keep the refrigerator cold.

I know for a fact my mom considers the inverter attached to the car battery then running a heavy-duty extension cord into the house to a major pain the butt.
.
As long as those using such systems understand their limitations, they are fine for what they are, albeit unnecessarily expensive for most IMHO.
The Jackery which sells for $1000 has lithium battery not lead acid.


.
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:38 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:21 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:18 pm
go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:47 pm

Excellent.
Looking forward to your post.

For me the Xantrex would be fine, but for my 80-year old mom's friends, the Jackery looks simple to use. Put in a closet then pull out to use.
Regarding 'putting it in a close then pull out to use', that's a recipe for trouble on several fronts.

First, the lead acid batteries used in these self-discharge at rate of 3-5% per month, and every moment that a lead acid battery is not at a 100% charge does some amount of irreparable damage to the battery, damage that can ultimately lead to the battery's effective death. So it should be kept plugged in to a power source as much as possible, something that many who buy those kinds of units don't realize or do.

Second, your mom's 80 year old friends probably wouldn't realize how little power is actually in that battery, roughly the equivalent of about a quart of gasoline run through a standard sized generator. For instance, a refrigerator, something that many obsess about running, would drain it completely in no more than about 10-12 hours.

Truth be told, I think that integrated systems like the Jackery are almost worse than nothing because they often create a false sense of security, like insurance that barely pays anything.

Getting a pure sine wave inverter that just clamps on to your vehicle's battery, starting the vehicle, and then running items like a refrigerator is about as simple as backup power solutions can be unless (1) you have an operational standby generator and/or (2) you have something like a Tesla Powerwall.
As long as they know to keep the Jackery plugged in, it won't be a problem.
The key is to run a few hours as others in this thread mention doing with a generator. Run it enough to keep the refrigerator cold.

I know for a fact my mom considers the inverter attached to the car battery then running a heavy-duty extension cord into the house to a major pain the butt.
.
As long as those using such systems understand their limitations, they are fine for what they are, albeit unnecessarily expensive for most IMHO.
The Jackery which sells for $1000 has lithium battery not lead acid.
Good catch. That certainly makes it not a bad deal, though they've sacrificed something in the battery's chemistry since it's only rated for about 500 cycles. Most lithium ion batteries are rated for several thousand cycles.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

I am tempted to buy the Jackery. Maybe if there is the next round of $1200 stimulus checks.
$1000 vs the $350 for the pure-sine-wave power inverter.

decisions decisions :happy
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

go_mets wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:26 pm I am tempted to buy the Jackery. Maybe if there is the next round of $1200 stimulus checks.
$1000 vs the $350 for the pure-sine-wave power inverter.

decisions decisions :happy
It's not a slam dunk either way, IMHO. Having a lithium battery, pure sine wave inverter, charger, and outlets all contained in one unit is convenient, if nothing else.

But the recharge time on the battery is long, 7 hours on AC power and 14 on vehicle power. Relying on their solar in a disaster isn't good since Murphy will insist that it be cloudy and it takes even longer to recharge unless you have a large solar array. Generally speaking, most areas of the U.S. don't get more than about five mean solar hours per sunny day (i.e. you will only get about five times the rated wattage of a solar panel in a typical sunny day); and there are some inefficiencies in the process too.

Another issue with all of these battery pack systems is that they have many single points of failure with very limited or no opportunity for post-hoc redundancy (unless you buy multiple units). In the preparedness community, the saying 'two is one, and one is none' is used frequently to describe the need for redundancy when it comes to items needed for one's health and safety.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
Luke Duke
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Luke Duke »

learningtime wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:53 pmThe full backup generator is def. going on our list for the coming 12 months. We'd get it sooner but we have a driveway and an addition already of the list about to start.
You should have the slab for the whole house generator poured while you are having your driveway replaced. Concrete guys charge a huge premium for small jobs. I had a shed foundation poured for $300 when my neighbor was getting his driveway replaced. The guy said that he would have charged me $1200 if he wasn't already next door.
tomd37
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by tomd37 »

Adding on more comments to my previous post. The September issue of Consumer Reports just arrived in the mail today and it has a one-page article on home standby (small and large) and portable generators. For small homes they consider Champion, Winco, and Kohler. For large homes they consider Champion and Cummins. For portable generators they consider DeWalt, Generac, and Champion.

My only comments is that for small home generators the claimed output (watts) ranges from 7000 to 7600 NG and for large home generators the claimed output (watts) ranges from 11,000 to 13,000 NG. For the portable generators the claimed output ranges from 6250 to 8000 watts.

I can't see running a 5000 square foot home (not mine but my next door neighbor) full bore with a/c or heating and everything else in the house on such small units. Even my home at 2200 sq ft would be pressed. We have a larger Generac whole house for which the NG maximum continuous power rating is 19500 watts. I got a better deal in the 22kW than a smaller one because the dealer had a number of them in stock and wanted to exhaust his inventory. The automatic transfer switch is part of the installation so we can run everything in the home at one time, just spacing the introduction of the larger units so they don't try to come on at the same time. We have a total of 5 tons in our two cooling systems.

As the CR article said, you can count on professional installation cost to be about the same cost as the unit itself.
Tom D.
neilpilot
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by neilpilot »

tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:05 pm
I can't see running a 5000 square foot home (not mine but my next door neighbor) full bore with a/c or heating and everything else in the house on such small units. Even my home at 2200 sq ft would be pressed.
Some of us are apparently happy to not run the whole house, but can get by with a lot less. My home is 4800 sq ft, but I'm perfectly fine with a 3500 watt portable unit. Even though it gets hot here in Memphis in the summer, open windows and box fans work for me in an emergency. In the winter, I can easily run 1 or 2 of my 3 NG furnaces as well. That, along with the fridge, a TV, the coffee maker, some lights and the modem/router and we can rough it.
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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:05 pm I can't see running a 5000 square foot home (not mine but my next door neighbor) full bore with a/c or heating and everything else in the house on such small units. Even my home at 2200 sq ft would be pressed.
It's simply unnecessary and actually pretty rare for all major electric appliances in a home to be running simultaneously during a power outage. 10 kW is enough to run two major electric appliances and still have power to spare. The premium that must be paid for a 22 kW unit vs. a 10 kW for the ability to run everything at the same time just isn't worth it to most people. I've heard that standby generator salespeople will insist that you need such a unit though, for obvious reasons.
neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:14 pmSome of us are apparently happy to not run the whole house, but can get by with a lot less. My home is 4800 sq ft, but I'm perfectly fine with a 3500 watt portable unit. Even though it gets hot here in Memphis in the summer, open windows and box fans work for me in an emergency.
Precisely. A 6 kW unit is capable of running anything in the house, just not everything simultaneously.
neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:14 pmIn the winter, I can easily run 1 or 2 of my 3 NG furnaces as well.
Wait, what?? You have three furnaces?? In Memphis at that?? I've never seen a house with more than two, and even that was rare in North Dakota, where -50 F is not rare in the winter.
Last edited by willthrill81 on Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
tomd37
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by tomd37 »

Willthrill - You quoted the wrong person regarding the three furnaces. Don't have and don't need.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by lazydavid »

willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:57 pm Precisely. A 6 kW unit is capable of running anything in the house, just not everything simultaneously.
This is exactly right. I use an 8 kW portable generator, and provided I avoid using the pool pump, steam oven, air compressor, and brewery (each of which have dedicated 240v circuits of 20A or more), it can run everything in the house normally except for the 2.5 ton AC. If I throw the breakers for most of the refrigerators, it will also run the AC just fine. I have no problem with this scenario, given the cost of my solution vs. that of a 20/22kW standby.

If I had a more “normal” house with just one fridge and without some of those other high-current items, my little 8 kW would be enough for normal life with no changes. Just cut the whole house over and move on.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 7:24 pm Willthrill - You quoted the wrong person regarding the three furnaces. Don't have and don't need.
Fixed. My apologies.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by neilpilot »

willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:57 pm
neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:14 pmIn the winter, I can easily run 1 or 2 of my 3 NG furnaces as well.
Wait, what?? You have three furnaces?? In Memphis at that?? I've never seen a house with more than two, and even that was rare in North Dakota, where -50 F is not rare in the winter.
We have 3 HVAC systems and 3 fireplaces. In Memphis, where it sometimes goes below freezing during the day! Of course they get more use on the ac side.

There are a few homes in my subdivision that have 4 systems.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:00 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:57 pm
neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:14 pmIn the winter, I can easily run 1 or 2 of my 3 NG furnaces as well.
Wait, what?? You have three furnaces?? In Memphis at that?? I've never seen a house with more than two, and even that was rare in North Dakota, where -50 F is not rare in the winter.
We have 3 HVAC systems and 3 fireplaces. In Memphis, where it sometimes goes below freezing during the day! Of course they get more use on the ac side.

There are a few homes in my subdivision that have 4 systems.
That's a new one on me! Do you need 3 HVACs due to having three stories? Even though most of the homes I saw in North Dakota had multiple levels, I rarely saw one with more than one furnace.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by tomd37 »

I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:36 pm I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
Multiple ACs, especially in the South, makes total sense. Multiple furnaces is a new one to me.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by neilpilot »

tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:36 pm I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
Home is only 4800 sq ft. One unit each for 1st and 2nd floor, and a small 3rd unit for 2 rooms over the 3 car garage.

This is my first home where all 3 units as well as 2 50-gal hot water tanks are in attic. That’s common in this area.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

neilpilot wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:42 pm
tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:36 pm I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
Home is only 4800 sq ft. One unit each for 1st and 2nd floor, and a small 3rd unit for 2 rooms over the 3 car garage.

This is my first home where all 3 units as well as 2 50-gal hot water tanks are in attic. That’s common in this area.
That makes total sense. Thanks.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by tomd37 »

Willthrill - It does get cold in TN. Nashville is about 200+ miles east of the Memphis area and about the same latitude. In January 1985 Nashville recorded 14 below zero. I remember it well as I was visiting in East Tennessee and remember some of the car issues I was experiencing on a brand new 1984 Nissan Stanza because of the same bitter cold weather.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by ResearchMed »

willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:41 pm
tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:36 pm I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
Multiple ACs, especially in the South, makes total sense. Multiple furnaces is a new one to me.
I'm not sure about "new house builds", but for older homes, it's not so much of a surprise.
The now almost century old house we purchased already had 3 separate heating systems. Not "3 zones", but 3 separate systems. The main and upstairs level have steam radiators, and they are still going strong. When a previous owner almost completely finished the garden level (except for a small area for all the utilities and washer/dryer), they added another heating system, with hot water baseboard, and a separate furnace. It was almost the full footprint of the house, and electrical probably would have been expensive over time. And later when a small addition was added, for an office, there was electrical baseboard put in there. It was on the opposite side of the house from the furnaces, so I can understand why they didn't want to run new pipes.

Only one AC system, for the main and second floors.

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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by pwill112 »

Forgive my ignorance. If someone had a solar roof:

1. Would not the electricity still be on during a power outage if solar roof panels were installed?
2. If one had solar roof panels, what purpose would a backup generator serve?

I know a solar roof is expensive but let's assume that it was a house with a solar roof already installed.

Thanks!
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

pwill112 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:51 am Forgive my ignorance. If someone had a solar roof:

1. Would not the electricity still be on during a power outage if solar roof panels were installed?
2. If one had solar roof panels, what purpose would a backup generator serve?

I know a solar roof is expensive but let's assume that it was a house with a solar roof already installed.

Thanks!
Sorry, but no. Normally, solar production does not provide useable electricity when the grid is down. This is to protect electrical workers in the field. Exceptions to this usually require a battery and hardware/software that creates an “island” of power when the grid is down. I installed it, and it’s not inexpensive.

ETA: I kept my old backup power generator as suspenders to go with my battery belt.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by hudson »

How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by Chuck107 »

.....
Last edited by Chuck107 on Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:41 pm
tomd37 wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:36 pm I've seen some neighborhoods with three a/c units. Just depends on how big the home is and how it's footprint is. Since he is in Memphis, maybe "Elvis has come back into the building!" :wink: Graceland is quite large.
Multiple ACs, especially in the South, makes total sense. Multiple furnaces is a new one to me.
When we bought our house, it had 3 AC units feeding 5 zones and 1 furnace feeding 5 zones and some baseboard and radiant. When we installed Ground Sourced Heat Pump (usually called geothermal), it made sense to use the zones and ducting and replace the radiant heat with electric.

The house is large, but not huge, and it doesn't feel like overkill.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by hudson »

Chuck107 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:55 am
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
My setup for my portable is to run the extension cords under my closed garage door in the basement or the garage on the first floor.
My interior door for the basement and the upstairs have rubber weatherstrip attached to the bottom of the doors so that the doors can close over the cords without leaving a gap or damaging the cords.
Thanks Chuck107!

What about having an electrician run one cable going through the wall or floor from the generator that feeds say a four-gang-dedicated-generator-only receptacle? Maybe that centrally located four gang receptacle could be used to power a freezer, refrigerator, and other devices?

We don't have that many power outages. My plan has been just to muddle through. If the outage just lasts a short time, the frozen and refrigerated stuff is OK. If there's a long outage, we get to clean out the freezer and refrigerator and start over....much cheaper than a generator. If there's a really long outage, we go on a vacation. We haven't lost the contents of the freezer since September 1989.

After saying that, I realize that having a generator available could really save the day. When trouble arrives, generators are hard to get.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by lazydavid »

pwill112 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:51 am 1. Would not the electricity still be on during a power outage if solar roof panels were installed?
I don't know about in your area, but in mine the power usually goes out during storms, and typically these storms are in the mid to late afternoon. There isn't typically a lot of sun during storms, or overnight.
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:41 am What about having an electrician run one cable going through the wall or floor from the generator that feeds say a four-gang-dedicated-generator-only receptacle. Maybe that centrally located four gang receptacle could be used to power a freezer, refrigerator, and other devices?
What you are looking for is called a power inlet. I have this one:

Image

You could certainly have this go to a 4-gang box, which could supply two independent 120V circuits. You would want to do your best to have an even load on both circuits.

Mine goes into my breaker box, where it terminates on a 240V/30A breaker that has an interlock with the main breaker. When the power goes out, I start the generator, attach it to the inlet, turn off breakers for stuff I know I don't need, turn off the main breaker, slide the interlock out of the way, and turn on the generator breaker. The house lights up and I'm good to go.
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:41 am After saying that, I realize that having a generator available could really save the day. When trouble arrives, generators are hard to get.
This is true. One of my coworkers lost power late Tuesday afternoon during a storm (like I said at the top!), and the initial repair estimate was Saturday at 3 pm. He tried 6 stores yesterday (Wednesday) and came up empty handed, finally calling a store 90 minutes away and finding one for $1300. As he was getting into his car, the power came back on. :)
Last edited by lazydavid on Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by Chuck107 »

.....
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by ddurrett896 »

hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
Shut off your main and backfeed the house thru any 30 amp outlet. Everything works minus central air unless you have a massive portable generator.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by glock19 »

This debate could go on endlessly. It appears it come down to "convenience". It's kinda like "should I get a Honda Fit or a nice luxury car".

I have an 8KW portable NG generator that served me well for years. I could run the entire house except for my A/C units. Yes, when the power went off I had to get the unit out, connect to NG, and then connect to the house. Then reverse the process when the power came back on. Not really a big deal.

Now I have a 22KW Generac and ATS. When the power goes off I wait for the generator to automatically come on line. If I'm away from home I know the food in the fridge won't ruin, and my security system and camera system will continue to work past the backup battery time.

Is the whole house generator a necessity? Absolutely not! It is costly and more expensive to maintain. Is it convenient and fun? Absolutely! The Honda Fit (my 8KW portable) will get you to your destination safely and effectively, but if you have the funds and enjoy the comfort, go for luxury.

One could debate all day long on what devices a generator can and cannot run. Common sense says size the generator to keep you as comfortable as possible. No need to turn on multiple A/C's and fire up every electrical appliance in the house. Even with a large generator there is no need to load it down 24/7. I have a 3500 sq ft house and I can remain comfortable and let my 22KW Generac loaf while powering everything that is essential.

I did a DIY install on mine, and I assure you the money most installers charge is pretty reasonable. My electric service entrance and gas meter are very close to my generator install, and it's still a LOT of work. I would not want to do it for a living.

As a side note, I don't recommend Generac. Mine runs fine now but initially had lots of issues. Generac as a company is a great marketer but has exceptionally poor customer service abilities. YMMV.
Last edited by glock19 on Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by neilpilot »

Chuck107 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:55 am
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
My setup for my portable is to run the extension cords under my closed garage door in the basement or the garage on the first floor.
My interior door for the basement and the upstairs have rubber weatherstrip attached to the bottom of the doors so that the doors can close over the cords without leaving a gap or damaging the cords.
I typically use 2 heavy duty extension cords. I run the generator on the rear deck. One cable goes in via the back door's rubber weatherstrip directly into the downstairs kitchen. That powers the fridge, a TV, a floor lamp and internet modem/router assuming the ISP is still up. When one of my attic HVAC's was replaced years ago, I had the installers run a high quality HD extension cord parallel to the new refrigerant lines that run to the outside compressor. This cord remains in place all the time, typically sits unused, and can be connected to 1 or 2 of the NG furnaces if needed. I've only run 1 furnace during a couple of extended winter outages. The power draw on the generator was trivial.

If the weather is temperate, I shut down the generator overnight. In hot weather, I throw a cord out the 2nd floor MB window to run a box fan and recharge our phones, and disconnect the kitchen cord to load shed over night. That way, the generator barely runs and will not need to be refueled. If it's cold, at night the furnace continues to run but once again I disconnect the kitchen to load shed.

The main challenge is to have sufficient gasoline on hand to refuel if the outage last many days and is extensive enough to shutdown area gas stations. That's very rare here, but it's happened a couple of times. Another reason to load shed and only run what's necessary.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by neilpilot »

ddurrett896 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:50 am
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
Shut off your main and backfeed the house thru any 30 amp outlet. Everything works minus central air unless you have a massive portable generator.
Extremely dangerous since that relies on proper operation without any mechanical safety interlock.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by glock19 »

neilpilot wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:04 am
ddurrett896 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:50 am
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
Shut off your main and backfeed the house thru any 30 amp outlet. Everything works minus central air unless you have a massive portable generator.
Extremely dangerous since that relies on proper operation without any mechanical safety interlock.
I won't debate "backfeeding" a portable generator, but EVERTHING depends on proper operation when dealing with powering a house with a generator.
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by lazydavid »

glock19 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:09 am I won't debate "backfeeding" a portable generator, but EVERTHING depends on proper operation when dealing with powering a house with a generator.
True. But if your backfeed outlet is connected to an interlock-protected breaker, it is completely impossible to have both it and the main breaker both in the ON position at the same time, unless you physically remove the entire front panel of the breaker box (where the interlocks are typically mounted).
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by Chuck107 »

.....
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by glock19 »

lazydavid wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:14 am
glock19 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:09 am I won't debate "backfeeding" a portable generator, but EVERTHING depends on proper operation when dealing with powering a house with a generator.
True. But if your backfeed outlet is connected to an interlock-protected breaker, it is completely impossible to have both it and the main breaker both in the ON position at the same time, unless you physically remove the entire front panel of the breaker box (where the interlocks are typically mounted).
I completely agree with you. I installed an interlock-protection device on a relative's breaker panel, and it will be impossible for him to backfeed into the power company's grid. I have my own opinion on the various forms of backfeeding, but I just feel everyone should exercise extreme caution when working with portable generators. Whatever method used to backfeed, know you are ultimately responsible!
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by willthrill81 »

ddurrett896 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:50 am
hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:47 am How do you run extension cords into the house? Do you just leave the door open?
Shut off your main and backfeed the house thru any 30 amp outlet. Everything works minus central air unless you have a massive portable generator.
NEVER BACKFEED YOUR HOUSE. I don't mean to shout, but it's extremely dangerous and illegal to do so.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by willthrill81 »

Chuck107 wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:45 am As far as if a Gen is needed or not, it's up to each person to decide.
For me, 27 yrs ago we lost power do to a really bad ice storm, no power for over a week. We had no generator.
10 ish years ago I decided it may be time for another outage, so I bought a 3500 watt Propane gen.
It sat in the basement for 10 yrs covered in plastic till a few months ago, wind storm put us out for 2 days.
Fired right up from propane tank also sitting outside for 10 yrs, kept Ref and 2 chest freezers going.
Along with a few led lights, phone charger etc.
Was it worth it? Not till I needed it. :wink:
In some areas of the country, a generator is almost a necessity. I've heard from several people that after a hurricane in Florida, for instance, you can hear the whir of generators running throughout the suburbs at least. Other areas are prone to wind storms, and it's typical for power to be lost for several days out of the year at least. We've lived in places where having a backup source of heat, which often necessitated at least some electrical power, could literally be a matter of life and death. But in many places, a generator is rarely needed at all, and even then it's much more a matter of comfort than necessity.

Just a month after we brought our quite prematurely born daughter home, our area had a record heat wave, and it reached 114 F. One of the local power circuits failed during the early afternoon, and our minds instantly went to our daughter and fear of SIDS as sudden temperature changes are believed by some to lead to it. I pulled the travel trailer we had parked at a nearby storage facility around, and we powered its AC from our generator. Yes, we could have checked into a hotel in this instance, but that's not always possible. Later that year, we had a massive wind storm, and we knew several people whose power wasn't restored for two weeks, and all of the local hotels were full. And this was around Thanksgiving, when heat was needed, and few homes here can be heated without any electricity since wood and propane heat sources are uncommon.

Like many safety and security measures, you may go all your life without any need for it, but when you need it, you really need it.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
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Re: Portable Generators and running extension cords?

Post by hudson »

lazydavid wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:42 am
What you are looking for is called a power inlet. I have this one:

Image


Mine goes into my breaker box, where it terminates on a 240V/30A breaker that has an interlock with the main breaker. When the power goes out, I start the generator, attach it to the inlet, turn off breakers for stuff I know I don't need, turn off the main breaker, slide the interlock out of the way, and turn on the generator breaker. The house lights up and I'm good to go.
I like the above solution. A relative has a setup like that. Let's say that I choose a manual system like the above. Then I add a portable generator...maybe this: https://powerequipment.honda.com/genera ... els/em6500. I'm sure that I'd need to figure my load. I don't know if this generator is one of the quiet ones.

Then I put in a concrete pad....or maybe one of those plastic bases they now put under heat pumps. Then I put the generator in a good place so that the exhaust isn't a problem...not sure where that would be. I don't know how far the generator can be from the interlock....voltage drop problem? I want to leave the generator there; I don't want to store it or move it; I want easy access for maintenance. What kind of enclosure would be optimal and look good? I would hire an electrician and maybe consult with the appropriate engineer before finalizing this plan.

From my army truck company days: it seems like they always used two portable generators to keep the reefers (refrigerators) going while in the field. They would run the generators in 12 hours shifts. I've never heard of that being used in the civilian world.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by linuxizer »

That is not a quiet one. You want an inverter, which is more efficient as well.

You can parallel two inverters together for twice the amperage. That gives you backup options as well since one will run the essentials.

Not sure how far the cord can run before it's an issue but with a beefy enough cord, pretty far I imagine. Long low-gauge cords are not cheap but not insane either.

There are kits out there to convert the Suncast plastic sheds for generator use - they have ventillation, cord outlets, etc.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by lazydavid »

hudson wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:14 am I like the above solution. A relative has a setup like that. Let's say that I choose a manual system like the above. Then I add a portable generator...maybe this: https://powerequipment.honda.com/genera ... els/em6500. I'm sure that I'd need to figure my load. I don't know if this generator is one of the quiet ones.

Then I put in a concrete pad....or maybe one of those plastic bases they now put under heat pumps. Then I put the generator in a good place so that the exhaust isn't a problem...not sure where that would be. I don't know how far the generator can be from the interlock....voltage drop problem? I want to leave the generator there; I don't want to store it or move it; I want easy access for maintenance. What kind of enclosure would be optimal and look good? I would hire an electrician and maybe consult with the appropriate engineer before finalizing this plan.
Here is what I did:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8ipgel07vg6q5 ... 155642.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w7hea496aar5p ... 155614.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vwwsjxorfwlo2 ... 155610.jpg
linuxizer wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:29 am That is not a quiet one. You want an inverter, which is more efficient as well.

You can parallel two inverters together for twice the amperage. That gives you backup options as well since one will run the essentials.
You are correct, but now you are talking about him spending Five Grand for an equivalent inverter generator, or $10k for two. At that point you should just get a standby generator and forget the whole portable bit. My entire setup above was about $1500 all-in, including the electrical work. And though I don't have a quiet inverter generator, the noise isn't that bad with the shed closed.
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