Should I purchase a whole house generator?

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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

linuxizer wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:10 pm I have heard of hooking both + wires up to a 120V source in the 4-wire plugs. This should power both sides of the panel. Maybe not up to code- would have to talk to an electrician.
I'm pretty sure that you cannot do that because the two 120 volt lines have to be in phase, which I don't believe is normally achievable with two separate generators.
“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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willthrill81
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

smitcat wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:36 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:52 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:36 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:15 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:06 am
"whereas a 120 volt generator can only power one side."
Many transfer switches which work with subpanels will allow one to mix energized circuits from either side of the panel.
Ah, interesting. I've not seen those. Thanks.
It is not a common way to wire them as most of these switches are marketed for larger gensets that already have a 4 wire plug.
I see. To be honest, if I was going to buy a transfer switch and pay an electrician to install it (despite being pretty handy, I'm not going to rewire my panel), I'd only do so if I had a generator with 240 volt output. But that's just me. We have prepared to live on 120 volt power in the event of a power outage. Taking sponge baths with water heated via propane and not drying our clothes in our dryer would be the only real sacrifices we'd have to make, and the expense and fuel needed for a larger generator just aren't worth it to us.

Your earlier point about larger generators having larger base fuel consumption rates is spot on. A Honda EU2200i will only consume .084 gallons per hour at a 25% load (it only consumes .066 gallons per hour at a straight idle). Compare that to a standard (i.e. not inverter) Honda 8,750 generator, which will consume .63 gallons per hour at a 25% load (about 1,750 watts, 25% of the 7,000 continuous watts it's rated for), which is about the slowest speed at which it can operate. That's 7.5 times more fuel consumed at idle. And if you aren't consuming 100% of those minimum 1,750 watts of power, which is well above what most American homes consume on average, you are wasting fuel, which can be a precious commodity in certain power outages.

IMHO, it's vital to know what loads you really need to run during a power outage and to size a generator capable of running those with a little extra capacity, no more than about 20%.
"I see. To be honest, if I was going to buy a transfer switch and pay an electrician to install it (despite being pretty handy, I'm not going to rewire my panel), I'd only do so if I had a generator with 240 volt output."
If you were to purchase a 6 , 8, 10 place tranfer switch and have someone wire it for only 120 they could easily do that with a three wire system if your smaller genset had that output. The 'rewiring' will not be noticeably different if and when you would rewire it for a two pole breaker is that was needed. We do not need 220 to make heat and power (oil heat/domestic hot water) so our small 120 generator can supply all that we need iclduing heat and hot water with 6-8 120 breakers. The fact that many of these switches come with the ability to handle maybe one or two 220 breakers does not limit the ability to use them independently.
But if someone needs larger amounts of amps and/or 220 power then the plan would have to be different.
That was the point that I failed to make: it's easy for us to use extension cords when we lose power, which is very rare where we live, and about the only reason we would want a transfer switch is if we wanted to be able to power our 240 volt appliances (i.e. central AC, water heater, stove/oven, dryer).
“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
Dontridetheindexdown
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Dontridetheindexdown »

You can certainly use a 120V genset to feed your whole house transfer switch.

I use a 120 to 240 transformer with my 1.8kw generator to feed my 200 amp whole house transfer switch during nights when we have a very low load.

That way, whatever lights we need (bathroom, bedroom) and all refrigerators still work no matter which side of the breaker box they are connected.

You can use a 120 to 240 volt transformer with any 120 volt power source (generator, inverter, whatever).

Transformers do not care if you have full sine wave, modified sine wave, or square wave, they just hum along and output 240 volts.
linuxizer
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by linuxizer »

Interesting. Is the transformer then wired to both sides of the panel? What are the power losses through the transformer? Is only half the wattage available for any given circuit to start up?
hudson
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by hudson »

Dontridetheindexdown wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:35 pm You can certainly use a 120V genset to feed your whole house transfer switch.

I use a with my 1.8kw generator to feed my 200 amp whole house transfer switch during nights when we have a very low load.

That way, whatever lights we need (bathroom, bedroom) and all refrigerators still work no matter which side of the breaker box they are connected.

You can use a 120 to 240 volt transformer with any 120 volt power source (generator, inverter, whatever).

Transformers do not care if you have full sine wave, modified sine wave, or square wave, they just hum along and output 240 volts.
Dontridetheindexdown,

Is using a transformer like this for an advanced user? Does it take work, or is it seamless? Is it idiot-proof. :)
A google search showed the following:
https://www.google.com/search?q=120+to+ ... 20&bih=937
smitcat
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by smitcat »

linuxizer wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:10 pm I have heard of hooking both + wires up to a 120V source in the 4-wire plugs. This should power both sides of the panel. Maybe not up to code- would have to talk to an electrician. My preference is for the 200A whole house switch (the GE example above) and for the whole panel to be available. You lose the nice watt meters of the 10-circuit type transfer switches but gain flexibility.

Note the parallel kits (at least Champion and Harbor Freight both do) can be run off a single genset and act as plug converters (including 4 prong options). Since they're intended for 120V gens, maybe they provide 120v down both legs and would allow the 4 pin house jack to be wired correctly so it would remain compatible with any future 240v genset.

N.B. Do not deviate from code here!
"My preference is for the 200A whole house switch (the GE example above) and for the whole panel to be available. You lose the nice watt meters of the 10-circuit type transfer switches but gain flexibility. "
I am unclear what that 200 amp switch would be utilized to do - maybe drop the entire panel to switch it over to a genset?
Then it would need to be placed before the incoming main breaker - 200 amps.
If you ever were to use the switch as described it would power the entire panel which would easily overdraw the genset.
I guess you could switch off all of the breakers in the panel not to be used befoe switching to the genset before using them and then turn them all on after using it.
With all that said I am not sure it would follow our local codes here - I never had a reason to find out.
lazydavid
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by lazydavid »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:25 pm
linuxizer wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:10 pm I have heard of hooking both + wires up to a 120V source in the 4-wire plugs. This should power both sides of the panel. Maybe not up to code- would have to talk to an electrician.
I'm pretty sure that you cannot do that because the two 120 volt lines have to be in phase, which I don't believe is normally achievable with two separate generators.
The main purpose of the parallel kit is to get two generators running in phase so they can power a larger 120V load together than either could alone. Like the AC unit in an RV.

That said, a home 240V system has two 120V hots that are 180* out of phase with one another. That's why Hot-Neutral gets you 120V, but Hot-Hot gets you 240V. So with a parallel kit installed, hooking each generator up to one of the incoming Hots MAY work for the 120V loads. I'm not sure whether there's some wierdness with two independent hots in phase with each other sharing a common neutral. But the 240V loads absolutely WILL NOT work, and may be damaged.
smitcat
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by smitcat »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:00 am
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:25 pm
linuxizer wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:10 pm I have heard of hooking both + wires up to a 120V source in the 4-wire plugs. This should power both sides of the panel. Maybe not up to code- would have to talk to an electrician.
I'm pretty sure that you cannot do that because the two 120 volt lines have to be in phase, which I don't believe is normally achievable with two separate generators.
The main purpose of the parallel kit is to get two generators running in phase so they can power a larger 120V load together than either could alone. Like the AC unit in an RV.

That said, a home 240V system has two 120V hots that are 180* out of phase with one another. That's why Hot-Neutral gets you 120V, but Hot-Hot gets you 240V. So with a parallel kit installed, hooking each generator up to one of the incoming Hots MAY work for the 120V loads. I'm not sure whether there's some wierdness with two independent hots in phase with each other sharing a common neutral. But the 240V loads absolutely WILL NOT work, and may be damaged.
"But the 240V loads absolutely WILL NOT work, and may be damaged."
Yes - exactly.
And if you hook up each one of the two generators to each leg of the panel either one could be overloaded while the other was not being fully utilized.
It appears that this thread is making any of these tasks much more complicated then they need to be.
Start with a reasonably planned goal for your specific situation and get someone to give you the options.
S_Track
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by S_Track »

What I did was use the manual 240v transfer switch linked below. This switch selects a feed either from your main panel or the generator. It feeds a standard sub panel where you move those circuits you intend to run on the generator. In my case I have my well, Fridge, furnace, Disposal and some light circuits. I like this solution since it uses standard breakers and panels inside rather than a multi circuit transfer switch. It ensures a mechanical cut so your generator cannot back feed power onto the grid which is required by code to protect any linesmen working. My generator is a Generac 7500e. It's very loud and consumes about 1 gallon gas /1.5hr at load but easily handles the load.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Co ... /202216484

PS, My guess that the use of two 120V generators mentioned above to produces 240V over complicates the solution and could possibly be a code violation if not done correctly.
Last edited by S_Track on Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
Dontridetheindexdown
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Dontridetheindexdown »

hudson wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:30 am
Dontridetheindexdown wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:35 pm You can certainly use a 120V genset to feed your whole house transfer switch.

I use a transformer with my 1.8kw generator to feed my 200 amp whole house transfer switch during nights when we have a very low load.

That way, whatever lights we need (bathroom, bedroom) and all refrigerators still work no matter which side of the breaker box they are connected.

You can use a 120 to 240 volt transformer with any 120 volt power source (generator, inverter, whatever).

Transformers do not care if you have full sine wave, modified sine wave, or square wave, they just hum along and output 240 volts.
Dontridetheindexdown,

Is using a transformer like this for an advanced user? Does it take work, or is it seamless? Is it idiot-proof. :)
A google search showed the following:
https://www.google.com/search?q=120+to+ ... 20&bih=937
Using a transformer to feed your manual transfer switch requires at least a similar level of expertise as operating an automobile.

You could kill or seriously injure yourself or others, or cause significant property damage.

Having said that, I will add that using any electrical or mechanical power equipment demands a similar level of expertise.

Please take the time to read my lengthy discussion of generators and transfer switches earlier in this thread.

Also please use only UL (or CE) listed components, obtain an electrical permit, and file a copy of the electrical inspection with your insurance provider.

The transformer you will need has a center-tapped secondary winding.

That is how it provides 240 across the output, with 120 from each outer leg to the center tap.

Learning to build and operate electrical and mechanical equipment is no more difficult, or deadly, than many other human endeavors.

I grew up around people who made the transition from horse-power to mechanical and electrical power.

Many of them never felt comfortable around automobiles or electricity.

Those people would think I am insane to send money to people I don't even know, in Malvern, PA, and to believe "online statements" are actual wealth.

To answer the question, yes, using a transformer is not seamless, and things can go wrong.

However, you can learn, and master, the skills required to make it work.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Dontridetheindexdown wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:41 am Using a transformer to feed your manual transfer switch requires at least a similar level of expertise as operating an automobile.

You could kill or seriously injure yourself or others, or cause significant property damage.

Having said that, I will add that using any electrical or mechanical power equipment demands a similar level of expertise.
Experience driving an automobile: many thousands of hours.
Experience using a transformer to feed a manual transfer switch: 0.

That’s not conclusive, since it undoubtedly requires less time to master one than the other, but still ...
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
S_Track
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by S_Track »

Dontridetheindexdown wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:41 am Using a transformer to feed your manual transfer switch requires at least a similar level of expertise as operating an automobile.
I am confused here, why even suggest a transformer when you can find a 240V portable generator at a reasonable price compared to a 120V generators? Thanks
Dontridetheindexdown
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Dontridetheindexdown »

S_Track wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:03 am
Dontridetheindexdown wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:41 am Using a transformer to feed your manual transfer switch requires at least a similar level of expertise as operating an automobile.
I am confused here, why even suggest a transformer when you can find a 240V portable generator at a reasonable price compared to a 120V generators? Thanks
Because someone asked about doing it.
Luke Duke
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by Luke Duke »

hudson wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:31 am
lazydavid wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:42 am 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'm looking at getting quotes to have a system like above installed.

Now I'm working on the possible generator loads. I think that I want to run the following
Refrigerator # one full load 6.5 amps
Refrigerator # two max amps 5.3
Freezer 7 Cu Ft...estimate 5 amps
Overhead Lights...all LED...8-10 fixtures
Cable Modem
Google Wifi system 3 nodes
Chargers for 4 ipads and 4 iphones
3 Laptops

(I didn't include a TrippLite 1000VA UPS because it said 12 amps. I've read that UPSs have problems with generator power some times.)

Yamaha's generator load calculator (https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/generator/sizing) says this:

You need a generator with the following capabilities:
Recommended wattage: 2231
Maximum wattage: 6771

Recommended models:

EF7200DE/D https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/gener ... ef7200de-d
7,200 watts/- 60 maximum amps @ 120V and 30 maximum amps @ 240V.

Comments if possible and appropriate...many thanks!
I run the same amount of stuff with my Yamaha 2.4kW inverter generator. 2 refrigerators, upright freezer, lights, modem, desktop computer, entertainment center (Plasma TV, stereo receiver, satellite box) and charge whatever tablets and phones.
hudson
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by hudson »

Many thanks Luke Duke! Useful information!
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willthrill81
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by willthrill81 »

Luke Duke wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:28 am
hudson wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:31 am
lazydavid wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:42 am 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'm looking at getting quotes to have a system like above installed.

Now I'm working on the possible generator loads. I think that I want to run the following
Refrigerator # one full load 6.5 amps
Refrigerator # two max amps 5.3
Freezer 7 Cu Ft...estimate 5 amps
Overhead Lights...all LED...8-10 fixtures
Cable Modem
Google Wifi system 3 nodes
Chargers for 4 ipads and 4 iphones
3 Laptops

(I didn't include a TrippLite 1000VA UPS because it said 12 amps. I've read that UPSs have problems with generator power some times.)

Yamaha's generator load calculator (https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/generator/sizing) says this:

You need a generator with the following capabilities:
Recommended wattage: 2231
Maximum wattage: 6771

Recommended models:

EF7200DE/D https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/gener ... ef7200de-d
7,200 watts/- 60 maximum amps @ 120V and 30 maximum amps @ 240V.

Comments if possible and appropriate...many thanks!
I run the same amount of stuff with my Yamaha 2.4kW inverter generator. 2 refrigerators, upright freezer, lights, modem, desktop computer, entertainment center (Plasma TV, stereo receiver, satellite box) and charge whatever tablets and phones.
Ditto.

Never ask someone who sells something how big or how much of that something you need unless you want an extremely biased answer. This even applies to those who make the best generators out there (i.e. Honda and Yamaha).
“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
smitcat
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by smitcat »

willthrill81 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:27 am
Luke Duke wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:28 am
hudson wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:31 am
lazydavid wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:42 am 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'm looking at getting quotes to have a system like above installed.

Now I'm working on the possible generator loads. I think that I want to run the following
Refrigerator # one full load 6.5 amps
Refrigerator # two max amps 5.3
Freezer 7 Cu Ft...estimate 5 amps
Overhead Lights...all LED...8-10 fixtures
Cable Modem
Google Wifi system 3 nodes
Chargers for 4 ipads and 4 iphones
3 Laptops

(I didn't include a TrippLite 1000VA UPS because it said 12 amps. I've read that UPSs have problems with generator power some times.)

Yamaha's generator load calculator (https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/generator/sizing) says this:

You need a generator with the following capabilities:
Recommended wattage: 2231
Maximum wattage: 6771

Recommended models:

EF7200DE/D https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/gener ... ef7200de-d
7,200 watts/- 60 maximum amps @ 120V and 30 maximum amps @ 240V.

Comments if possible and appropriate...many thanks!
I run the same amount of stuff with my Yamaha 2.4kW inverter generator. 2 refrigerators, upright freezer, lights, modem, desktop computer, entertainment center (Plasma TV, stereo receiver, satellite box) and charge whatever tablets and phones.
Ditto.

Never ask someone who sells something how big or how much of that something you need unless you want an extremely biased answer. This even applies to those who make the best generators out there (i.e. Honda and Yamaha).
Same here - we run more stuff then that on a Yamaha 2800i. But we got what we needed not what someone else told us we needed.
For those that believe they require 220 volts and/or all circuits energized during an emergency the solution will be many mutiples in costs for aquisition, install and ongoing maintenance/usage.
Measure twice and cut once....
neilpilot
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by neilpilot »

smitcat wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:11 pm

Same here - we run more stuff then that on a Yamaha 2800i. But we got what we needed not what someone else told us we needed.
For those that believe they require 220 volts and/or all circuits energized during an emergency the solution will be many mutiples in costs for aquisition, install and ongoing maintenance/usage.
Measure twice and cut once....
In addition built in backups such as interlocking transfer boxes are unlikely to result in increased property value should you sell the house. Sometimes you can recover the dollars invested in a full blown backup generator. When I move I can easily take my portable generator, heavy duty extension cords and gas can for the next home.

I’m very fortunate that my heat and water are NG. I’m prepared to do without my AC.
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RustyShackleford
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by RustyShackleford »

mkc wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:20 pm ... requires an electrician properly set up a dummy-proof transfer switch (manual), gasoline, and maintaining the generator (run it under load periodically, keep the fuel fresh, maintain the oil and filters) ...
Be aware that there is a much cheaper alternative to a transfer switch, it is called an interlock. It is applicable only to a manually-activated backup. It bolts onto your load center, and prevents turning on the generator breaker without first turning off the main breaker. I bought one for about $70.
Not all jurisdictions allow it, but many do. It has the advantage of being far cheaper, and you don't have to pre-select which circuits are powered during backup (they are all available on your main panel, you just switch on the ones you want and that your generator can handle). It is not as safe, because it doesn't work when the front cover is removed from your load center.
lazydavid
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by lazydavid »

neilpilot wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:44 pm In addition built in backups such as interlocking transfer boxes are unlikely to result in increased property value should you sell the house.
The cost for my interlock was $49, plus a breaker left behind when the previous owner took his Hot Tub with him. The Power Inlet that feeds it was another $49, plus about $100 for installation. So call it $200 all-in. Not worried about missing out on increased home value. :)
go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:22 pm
go_mets wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:37 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:38 pm
neilpilot wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:27 pm
go_mets wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:21 pm If I can survive Sandy without any preparation, I think I can survive with additional mitigation.
Not interested in the maintenance required for portable generator.


.
I strain under the maintenance of changing the oil every 2 years and keeping gasoline on hand.
I agree, after 9 yrs in storage I changed the oil on my 3500w gen, and hooked up my 20 lb cyl of propane sitting outside for just as long, good for 2 days.
Phew. I didn't think I could do it.
That's not the recommended maintenance from what I have read.
http://blog.hondalawnparts.com/honda-eu ... nce-guide/
Heck, if I was to be that cavalier about something needed for an emergency, why not?

I also don't change oil on my own car. Good for you that you can.

.
I changed it when it was new, it had synthetic in it for 9 yrs without being used, changed that out when I needed to run it.
No need to maintain the spark plug or air filter if it isn't being used.
2/3 of a quart of oil, take off cap, lean generator over, oil flows out, lean generator back upright pour in oil till it starts to overflow (on mine anyway)
Put cap back on. Done.
Ran for aprox 2 days.
Changed oil again, back in storage.
Nothing cavalier about it.
Are you following exactly the manufacturer's recommendation?
If not, arre you simply lucky that your generator worked when you needed it to? If I did as you did, would I be unlucky and not have the generator work when I need it to?

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

Post by go_mets »

Blackbird79 wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:57 am
go_mets wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:37 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:38 pm
neilpilot wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:27 pm
go_mets wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:21 pm If I can survive Sandy without any preparation, I think I can survive with additional mitigation.
Not interested in the maintenance required for portable generator.


.
I strain under the maintenance of changing the oil every 2 years and keeping gasoline on hand.
I agree, after 9 yrs in storage I changed the oil on my 3500w gen, and hooked up my 20 lb cyl of propane sitting outside for just as long, good for 2 days.
Phew. I didn't think I could do it.
That's not the recommended maintenance from what I have read.
http://blog.hondalawnparts.com/honda-eu ... nce-guide/
Heck, if I was to be that cavalier about something needed for an emergency, why not?

I also don't change oil on my own car. Good for you that you can.

.
That’s the beauty of a dual fuel generator. Can start it every once in awhile with propane, no need to worry about stale gas, etc.
I will look into propane.
neilpilot
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by neilpilot »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:56 pm
neilpilot wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:44 pm In addition built in backups such as interlocking transfer boxes are unlikely to result in increased property value should you sell the house.
The cost for my interlock was $49, plus a breaker left behind when the previous owner took his Hot Tub with him. The Power Inlet that feeds it was another $49, plus about $100 for installation. So call it $200 all-in. Not worried about missing out on increased home value. :)
Some of us, and maybe the majority, live in an area where a DIY interlock isn't legal. All in where I live is a minimum of $500 using a freelance electrician, and more if you call an established electrical contractor. That doesn't even include the generator receptacle and the municipal permit & review process.
killjoy2012
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by killjoy2012 »

The trade off that people in this thread (recently) seem to be bickering about comes down to the fact that inverter-based generators provide cleaner power than their traditional counterparts, but at a much larger cost. Honda / Yamaha make very good small (1-3KW), portable, quiet, inverter-based generators - no doubt about it. You're also going to pay ~$500 per KW, and even at that price, there is no 240V offering -- only 120v. I believe you have to step up to Honda's 7KW inverter just to get 240V, and you're talking ~$4,500..? That's pushing the into whole house generator price range....

Versus a traditional genset where you can get a 7-9KW 240v for ~$500. No it's not the cleanest power, and yes, they are loud.

Buying a 120V inverter just to run through a transformer to 240V makes no sense. If you need 240V, then you should be buying a 240V genset.
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Re: Figuring Generator Loads

Post by lazydavid »

neilpilot wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:20 pm Some of us, and maybe the majority, live in an area where a DIY interlock isn't legal. All in where I live is a minimum of $500 using a freelance electrician, and more if you call an established electrical contractor. That doesn't even include the generator receptacle and the municipal permit & review process.
I did install the interlock plate myself because it didn't arrive until after he was gone, but the $100 for the rest of the installation was by a licensed electrician. I'm estimating because I had $350 worth of work done at the same time, and the power inlet was less than a third of the total work that he did. Based on how easy it was to install the interlock (took me less than 10 minutes, would have taken him less since the cover was already off), I think that would have cost me an extra $20 to have him do it.

And I included the cost of the "generator receptacle". The correct term is "power inlet" (as opposed to outlet), and mine was $49. So I stand by my $200. Could it be more under other circumstances? Absolutely. But mine are not a fantasy.
Luke Duke
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Luke Duke »

killjoy2012 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:21 pm The trade off that people in this thread (recently) seem to be bickering about comes down to the fact that inverter-based generators provide cleaner power than their traditional counterparts, but at a much larger cost. Honda / Yamaha make very good small (1-3KW), portable, quiet, inverter-based generators - no doubt about it. You're also going to pay ~$500 per KW, and even at that price, there is no 240V offering -- only 120v. I believe you have to step up to Honda's 7KW inverter just to get 240V, and you're talking ~$4,500..? That's pushing the into whole house generator price range....

Versus a traditional genset where you can get a 7-9KW 240v for ~$500. No it's not the cleanest power, and yes, they are loud.

Buying a 120V inverter just to run through a transformer to 240V makes no sense. If you need 240V, then you should be buying a 240V genset.
Don't underestimate the difference in noise levels. I find the added cost of inverter generators to be worth every cent in noise reduction alone.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by smitcat »

killjoy2012 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:21 pm The trade off that people in this thread (recently) seem to be bickering about comes down to the fact that inverter-based generators provide cleaner power than their traditional counterparts, but at a much larger cost. Honda / Yamaha make very good small (1-3KW), portable, quiet, inverter-based generators - no doubt about it. You're also going to pay ~$500 per KW, and even at that price, there is no 240V offering -- only 120v. I believe you have to step up to Honda's 7KW inverter just to get 240V, and you're talking ~$4,500..? That's pushing the into whole house generator price range....

Versus a traditional genset where you can get a 7-9KW 240v for ~$500. No it's not the cleanest power, and yes, they are loud.

Buying a 120V inverter just to run through a transformer to 240V makes no sense. If you need 240V, then you should be buying a 240V genset.
"I believe you have to step up to Honda's 7KW inverter just to get 240V, and you're talking ~$4,500..?"
I am not sure about Honda products but you can get a Yamaha 6300i with 220 for just under $3,500.

"Versus a traditional genset where you can get a 7-9KW 240v for ~$500. No it's not the cleanest power, and yes, they are loud."
The choice of a traditional genset is always a tradeoff - but in addition to the sound level and clean power the inverter will use far less fuel.
If your plan involves very few running hours then the choice becomes more aquisition costs.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by alfaspider »

Living in hurricane country, I've long thought about this issue, but we've decided to just do without any generator under the following reasoning:

1) Short power outages (under a day) aren't long enough to cause food to spoil and the house will generally remain a tolerable temperature for a few hours after the a/c shut off. These may happen once or twice a year from thunderstorms or issues with grid equipment. They are annoying, but we can live with them. We have a few small battery packs that can charge phones to maintain internet and laptop/ipad an replace TV on a temporary basis. These are often either slept through and can occur when we are out of the house anyways.

2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence.

3) A whole house generator is a $7-10k proposition installed and will likely last about 20 years. 20 days is probably a realistic maximum number of days the generator would run during those 20 years.

So you are likely to pay something like $500/day for each day your power is out (plus the cost of the natural gas while the generator runs). For much less than $500/day, you could get out of the disaster zone entirely, flying or driving to the location of your choice and staying in a nice hotel or visiting relatives (even if the airport closes for an extended period of time, long-term closures of airport in cities 3 hours inland are quite unlikely). Even with power, it's not super pleasant to be around in the aftermath of a hurricane. Stores will be closed, and the neighborhoods are full of obnoxious loud generators running 24/7. In a truly bad hurricane where most locations are without power, schools/offices are closed anyways.

Obviously, other people are in different situations where it makes more sense. If you have medical needs for power, or have much more frequent outages, it makes sense. But it really doesn't for us. However, a lot of people in our area spend a lot of money for a "what if" generator, I think more out of inchoate fear than rational planning.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by smitcat »

"2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence."

That is interesting - in our area the genset has powered the heat most of the time, hurricane season is still 85% ahead of us here. Noreasters have taken down power just as many times or more than 'named' hurricanes so the timing on power needs is not too easy to calculate here in the NE.
Luckily we do not need a larger genset to power the heat.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by alfaspider »

smitcat wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:52 pm "2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence."

That is interesting - in our area the genset has powered the heat most of the time, hurricane season is still 85% ahead of us here. Noreasters have taken down power just as many times or more than 'named' hurricanes so the timing on power needs is not too easy to calculate here in the NE.
Luckily we do not need a larger genset to power the heat.
Heat in Noreaster areas makes the calculation a bit different than a/c in Hurricane zones. There's no way around big power needs for a/c in places where it will be hot. Hurricane season is June-October, when it will be usually hot and humid (you MIGHT get a lucky cold front in late September/October).
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

alfaspider wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:31 pm 2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence.
I don't know about where you live, but much of hurricane country is also impacted by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. I lived in the middle of it for many years, and while hurricanes were pretty rare for us, losing power for at least a matter of hours and sometimes a day or two happened pretty often.

You definitively do not need a standby generator in order to power a central air conditioning unit. Most of those used in residential homes draw no more than 5 kW while running and maybe double that to start. You can buy a portable generator big enough to handle that for $1,000-$1,500. Add in a transfer switch, and you can be all in for $2-$3k. And then you can take the generator with you if/when you move.

It gets hot where we live now, but we just have a backup window unit AC, which can easily be run from our 2.4kW Yamaha, to keep our main living area cool rather than try to run our central AC.
“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: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by alfaspider »

willthrill81 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:25 pm
alfaspider wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:31 pm 2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence.
I don't know about where you live, but much of hurricane country is also impacted by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. I lived in the middle of it for many years, and while hurricanes were pretty rare for us, losing power for at least a matter of hours and sometimes a day or two happened pretty often.

You definitively do not need a standby generator in order to power a central air conditioning unit. Most of those used in residential homes draw no more than 5 kW while running and maybe double that to start. You can buy a portable generator big enough to handle that for $1,000-$1,500. Add in a transfer switch, and you can be all in for $2-$3k. And then you can take the generator with you if/when you move.
Houston. There are thunderstorms, but they tend to be localized and I've never lost power for more than a few hours from one. Tornadoes aren't common.

Keep in mind that most folks run pretty big a/c units here to keep up with the heat and humidity. Have a 5 ton plus a 2 ton for upstairs. That will require about 7kw with surge to 14 or so running nothing else. Add in other appliances (because what's the point if you are just sitting in the dark?) and you are basically looking at a whole house at that point. Plus, the generators that can do 10kw for $1,000-1,500 are going to be 70db+. Like someone mowing your lawn all day. The whole purpose of the exercise is to make things pleasant during a power outage. No point if you keep your power but make things unpleasant in return.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

alfaspider wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:43 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:25 pm
alfaspider wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:31 pm 2) Long power outages caused by hurricanes (days+) are going to require air-conditioning for the house to be remotely decent to live in in most post-hurricane scenarios (i.e. hot humid summer weather). Powering the a/c means a whole house generator (20kw+), not just a tie-in with a small generator. The last time that happened was 12 years ago. It's a once a decade occurrence.
I don't know about where you live, but much of hurricane country is also impacted by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. I lived in the middle of it for many years, and while hurricanes were pretty rare for us, losing power for at least a matter of hours and sometimes a day or two happened pretty often.

You definitively do not need a standby generator in order to power a central air conditioning unit. Most of those used in residential homes draw no more than 5 kW while running and maybe double that to start. You can buy a portable generator big enough to handle that for $1,000-$1,500. Add in a transfer switch, and you can be all in for $2-$3k. And then you can take the generator with you if/when you move.
Houston. There are thunderstorms, but they tend to be localized and I've never lost power for more than a few hours from one. Tornadoes aren't common.

Keep in mind that most folks run pretty big a/c units here to keep up with the heat and humidity. Have a 5 ton plus a 2 ton for upstairs. That will require about 7kw with surge to 14 or so running nothing else. Add in other appliances (because what's the point if you are just sitting in the dark?) and you are basically looking at a whole house at that point. Plus, the generators that can do 10kw for $1,000-1,500 are going to be 70db+. Like someone mowing your lawn all day. The whole purpose of the exercise is to make things pleasant during a power outage. No point if you keep your power but make things unpleasant in return.
I agree that if you have a 100% electric house (something that's quite uncommon further north) with multiple large AC units and you want to be able to run everything at the same time, you will need a big generator, maybe a 15-20 kW unit or multiple generators, which I would favor in the situation you've laid out (one for the 5 ton AC and another for everything else), both for cost savings and redundancy.

But as I noted already, you don't have to run a central AC if you lose power. I too want to stay cool, so we would just power our backup window unit AC in the event that we lost power, which could keep at least our main living area cool during the day and the whole house at night if we use fans to move the cool air around, and that's easily powered from our 2.4 kW inverter generator.
“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: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by hudson »

Another factor...and it goes back to the OP's question. Should I do portable or whole house? The other factor is being able to move a portable generator and keep it serviced.
Today at 72, I'm lucky to be able to roll around a portable generator, pull a cable, hook it up to the house, and do whatever to the breaker panel. I'm hoping that I can do all of that for at least 10 years. What if I'm physically unable?
I could also roll out the refrigerator and plug it into a drop cord....but I don't look forward to doing that.
I plan on getting quotes on every different way and make a final decision in January.
I've found that one learns much when getting quotes. It pays to shop around.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Chuck107 »

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go_mets
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

Chuck107 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:05 pm
go_mets wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:15 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:22 pm
go_mets wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:37 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:38 pm

I agree, after 9 yrs in storage I changed the oil on my 3500w gen, and hooked up my 20 lb cyl of propane sitting outside for just as long, good for 2 days.
Phew. I didn't think I could do it.
That's not the recommended maintenance from what I have read.
http://blog.hondalawnparts.com/honda-eu ... nce-guide/
Heck, if I was to be that cavalier about something needed for an emergency, why not?

I also don't change oil on my own car. Good for you that you can.

.
I changed it when it was new, it had synthetic in it for 9 yrs without being used, changed that out when I needed to run it.
No need to maintain the spark plug or air filter if it isn't being used.
2/3 of a quart of oil, take off cap, lean generator over, oil flows out, lean generator back upright pour in oil till it starts to overflow (on mine anyway)
Put cap back on. Done.
Ran for aprox 2 days.
Changed oil again, back in storage.
Nothing cavalier about it.
Are you following exactly the manufacturer's recommendation?
If not, arre you simply lucky that your generator worked when you needed it to? If I did as you did, would I be unlucky and not have the generator work when I need it to?

.
Lets see, 40+ years working on engines in the auto industry, small engine repair courses. Yes I was "Lucky"
There is NO maintenance for the generator... Period.
There is maintenance for the small engine that runs the generator, exactly the same as a lawnmower, snowblower etc.
It's not rocket science. I have had Mower engines last over 25 yrs, My current mower engine is 20 yrs old and going strong as the day it was new.
Scag turf Tiger. And they are/were GAS engines.
Propane has little to no carbon fouling as gasoline does.
Hence little to no fouling of the cylinder or spark plug... when it's running.
No carburetor fouling as with gas.

When it does not run it does not use or foul the spark plug, nor clog or dirty the air cleaner.

Please follow the manufactures instructions to change the unused plug and unused air filter if you wish at their specific change intervals.
If you aren't using it it doesn't wear out.

I change the oil before I use it, and after I use it.
It sits in storage unused.
I fully expect it to function when I need it barring any unforeseen or uncontrollable defect of the engine, which won't be apparent till it fails to work.
Someday it will no longer function.
And I will do as any one that follows exact manufactures maintenance schedules that has a defect in the engine/generator when needed.
Be up ***** creek.
Right. And being up **** creek is not the point of having a backup generator is it?


.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Chuck107 »

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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by dknightd »

Mr Murphy says you buy the generator, so you will not loose power again soon.
I encourage my neighbors to buy one. I live through the weekly test noise.
One day I suppose it will be my turn to buy one. I'll buy one big enough to power my AC.
I have a small generator that will power my fridge, or furnace, and a couple of lights.
If we decide this if our forever home I'm going to turn one of bedrooms into a master bath and closet, and I'll probably put in a whole house generator at the same time. Will that happen? I do not know!
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds (or none) from the market, invest the funds.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by Chuck107 »

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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by whomever »

"Are you following exactly the manufacturer's recommendation?
If not, arre you simply lucky that your generator worked when you needed it to? If I did as you did, would I be unlucky and not have the generator work when I need it to?"

Exactly? Well, I think someone posted the mfgr maint schedule upthread, and one of the line items was 'clean the air filter every X hours or 3 months, whichever comes first'. So, when it sets in the closet unused for a couple of years at a time, no I don't clean the air filter every three months that it sets idle. I'm pretty sure Honda doesn't open the boxes in their warehouse and do that either :-).

People frequently have problems trying to use their generators in an outage. I have helped several people get theirs going over the years. The scenario has always been:

1)They have an outage and no generator.
2)After the outage they buy a generator.
3)They run it to make sure it works, then put it away, half full of gas, for 5 years until the next outage.
4)It won't start because the carb is gunked up with 5 year old gas.

So what I do:
1)Run the generator when a)there is an outage or b)every few years when the better half wants to test it
2)After the outage/test is over, go through the mfgr's mothball procedure:
a)make sure the carb and tank are 110% empty of gas
b)change the oil
c)remove spark plug, add 1 spoon of oil, pull handle a few times, reinstall spark plug (this is to prevent rust on the cylinder walls)
3)Only use 'fresh' gas. Every fall I dump the gas can into the car, refill, and add Stabil.

After 30 odd years of doing this, it starts on the first pull every time. There is no magic here; this works for generators, lawn mowers, chainsaws, etc, etc. You can either use them regularly, or properly mothball them; they will work reliably either way. What they won't tolerate is being used and just put away w/o the proper prep for storage.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

hudson wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:40 pm Another factor...and it goes back to the OP's question. Should I do portable or whole house? The other factor is being able to move a portable generator and keep it serviced.
Today at 72, I'm lucky to be able to roll around a portable generator, pull a cable, hook it up to the house, and do whatever to the breaker panel. I'm hoping that I can do all of that for at least 10 years. What if I'm physically unable?
I could also roll out the refrigerator and plug it into a drop cord....but I don't look forward to doing that.
I plan on getting quotes on every different way and make a final decision in January.
I've found that one learns much when getting quotes. It pays to shop around.
Despite my preference for portable generators, I readily admit that standby generators have their place. Those who are physically unable to manage a portable generator should consider a standby generator. If you do go that route, I would urge you to carefully look at what you really want to be able to run and consider buying a standby generator just large enough to power all of that with a little room to spare. The 20 kW or larger units that salespeople like to push are not necessary at all for most people.
“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: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

whomever wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 10:14 am So what I do:
1)Run the generator when a)there is an outage or b)every few years when the better half wants to test it
2)After the outage/test is over, go through the mfgr's mothball procedure:
a)make sure the carb and tank are 110% empty of gas
b)change the oil
c)remove spark plug, add 1 spoon of oil, pull handle a few times, reinstall spark plug (this is to prevent rust on the cylinder walls)
3)Only use 'fresh' gas. Every fall I dump the gas can into the car, refill, and add Stabil.

After 30 odd years of doing this, it starts on the first pull every time. There is no magic here; this works for generators, lawn mowers, chainsaws, etc, etc. You can either use them regularly, or properly mothball them; they will work reliably either way. What they won't tolerate is being used and just put away w/o the proper prep for storage.
I mostly do the same, though I run our portable generator every 1-2 months for 15-30 minutes, sometimes with a load. I change the oil every year with Mobil 1 full synthetic 10W-30, the recommended weight by the manufacturer. Every time I stop the generator, I turn off the fuel supply so it runs out of fuel. I don't use any stabilizers because I don't leave much gasoline in the fuel tank and use fresh gas when I run it. Six years after buying it, I've had no problems with starting it, and it always runs like a top.
“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: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by lazydavid »

willthrill81 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:04 am I mostly do the same, though I run our portable generator every 1-2 months for 15-30 minutes, sometimes with a load. I change the oil every year with Mobil 1 full synthetic 10W-30, the recommended weight by the manufacturer. Every time I stop the generator, I turn off the fuel supply so it runs out of fuel. I don't use any stabilizers because I don't leave much gasoline in the fuel tank and use fresh gas when I run it. Six years after buying it, I've had no problems with starting it, and it always runs like a top.
My routine is very similar to yours. Run it unloaded for 20 minutes or so every other month. Twice a year I'll cut the whole house over to it for this time to run it under load. I DO use stabilizer (Stabil 360 Marine), and leave gas in the tank, refilling when it gets low. And likewise once a year the oil gets replaced with 5W-30 synthetic. Mine supports either that or 10W-30 depending on climate, and I'm in the midwest so I err on the side of cold. Has been running well for 3 years so far, including a couple of short (1-4 hours) actual outages.

Since mine is more or less permanently installed inside its own shed, I also have it hardwired to a battery tender to ensure it always starts easily.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by H-Town »

miamivice wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:23 pm We love power at our house around 5 times per year. It's annoying. If it happens in the early morning, I oversleep and don't get to work on time. Sometimes the power is out for 12 hours and then things start to go bad in the fridges. We're not sure why power is not more reliable (we are in a suburban community with all underground power) but it's life. Sometimes power goes out for days if we have a storm.

So, I am thinking about purchasing a whole house generator. OK, we don't really need one. I sort of just want one. I just called one place and professional turnkey installation is around $11,000 plus tax. Ouch! However I have found big whole house generators on Craigslist etc for not much money, and am contemplating DIY installation.

Questions:

1. How much value, if any, does a whole house generator add to one's house?

2. Beyond the generator, what are the expenses for a DIY installation? I assume gas plumbing (we have natural gas), wiring, transfer switch, and pad.

3. Has anyone here done a DIY installation of a generator? How did it go? Pitfalls?

4. Again, can I make this project pencil out financially? I clearly cannot make professional installation pencil out so looking for other options to consider.

5. One option is the 20kw generator from Costco. Out of stock at the moment but runs about $4400 plus installation. $4400 isn't too bad if I could DIY the installation.
Growing up with no electricity during my childhood, I know how to live without electricity. I learn to use and allocate limited resources in the most efficient way.

You need to make sure that you satisfied your local code when you DIY electrical work without a permit or a license. It likely won't matter until you sell your house later. But you don't want to have any surprises when you're ready to list your house.
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Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

linuxizer wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:07 pm Eagerly await your battery guide. A big part of our plan is having some batteries (E.g. Everything from charged up AAs to an inverter for the 18v and 60v power tool batteries to a UPS for the wifi) to run laptops, flashlights, etc. so we only have to run the generator for a few hours to get everything charged back up and the freezer full of cold air again. Having whole house or larger options would be more convenient.
I've finally finished my primer on backup battery systems. It's in this thread. I hope it helps you and others.
“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
wfrobinette
Posts: 1423
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:14 pm

Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by wfrobinette »

tomd37 wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:32 pm Having just gone through the purchase and installation of a 22 KwH Generac natural gas fired whole house generator with a transfer switch, my comments would be don't even consider a self-installation nor a purchase from a local big-box store. Also figure on the professional installation cost being the same as the cost of the equipment.

Are you ready to handle the movement of a generator weighing 625 pounds and a concrete pad weighing 195 pounds? Are you ready to handle coordinating the requirements for your electric and gas company coming to your site at the same time to properly cut both supplies of those items and get them inspected and back online at the proper time? How about getting all the local required permits? How about installing pressure reducing valves on all your other gas run equipment? Do you have the proper size gas meter to handle the new high-pressure generator? Do you know of a local "fully qualified installer" who has actually done a good number of such installations? Think of all the dangers involved and the risks you take.

We were without power for 68 hours as a result of a huge storm that went through the area just prior to the installation of our generator. Too bad we did not have it then, but we do now. :D Just to add, our generator was installed in just six hours from drive up to drive away!
Yeah, Unless you are a licensed electrician I wouldn't attempt a DIY. Depending on city you might even need a permit which in turn will require and inspection and some cities won't even grant the permit to someone that doesn't hold a license.
killjoy2012
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by killjoy2012 »

In the cost/benefit review, keep in mind that geography and weather are strong influencers. Hurricanes have been mentioned here several times, but for those of us up north, where we get snow and it's below freezing for 3-4 months of the year, losing power for days goes beyond just a hot inconvenience. Fireplaces are great back up heat source so long as they're natural (and you have wood on hand, right?) or are gas and the pilot stays lit and powers the unit overall. Either way, no power for days in the winter (e.g. ice storms) could lead to frozen pipes, water damage, etc.

Not advocating to spend $20k on a whole house genset. But for most, dropping $500 on a portable genset is cheap insurance... esp if the worst case is not just heat/AC/food inconvenience, but potential damage to the house as well. Sump pumps are another factor - in regions where basements are common, many have basements that will flood if the sump pump stops working for a prolonged period. There's backup options for this too - city water powered pumps, but that makes a generator look cheap.

Personally, the days when we lose power for a couple days and I'm the only one on the block with outdoor lights on, TV, wifi, brewing a pot coffee while skimming facebook... the $500 was a no-brainer investment, but to each their own. Could be viewed similarly to those who buy a snow blower vs. shovel.
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willthrill81
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Location: USA

Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by willthrill81 »

killjoy2012 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:23 pm In the cost/benefit review, keep in mind that geography and weather are strong influencers. Hurricanes have been mentioned here several times, but for those of us up north, where we get snow and it's below freezing for 3-4 months of the year, losing power for days goes beyond just a hot inconvenience. Fireplaces are great back up heat source so long as they're natural (and you have wood on hand, right?) or are gas and the pilot stays lit and powers the unit overall. Either way, no power for days in the winter (e.g. ice storms) could lead to frozen pipes, water damage, etc.

Not advocating to spend $20k on a whole house genset. But for most, dropping $500 on a portable genset is cheap insurance... esp if the worst case is not just heat/AC/food inconvenience, but potential damage to the house as well. Sump pumps are another factor - in regions where basements are common, many have basements that will flood if the sump pump stops working for a prolonged period. There's backup options for this too - city water powered pumps, but that makes a generator look cheap.
Yes, those of us who live in northern climates can be in big trouble if we lose power when there's a big blizzard outside and travel of any sort is difficult. Being able to heat your home, at least enough to keep pipes from freezing, really isn't all that difficult or expensive, especially if you're only talking about a few days. A Mr. Buddy heater, for instance, connected to a 20 lb. propane tank will throw off a surprising amount of heat and easily last 1-2 days on a single tank. And if you a gas fireplace or even a gas furnace, these can be operated (if you know how and are prepared) from even a very small generator to keep your home toasty.
killjoy2012 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:23 pmPersonally, the days when we lose power for a couple days and I'm the only one on the block with outdoor lights on, TV, wifi, brewing a pot coffee while skimming facebook... the $500 was a no-brainer investment, but to each their own. Could be viewed similarly to those who buy a snow blower vs. shovel.
As I've heard one guy say, during such events, you'd rather be a spectator than a participant. 8-)
“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
Posts: 785
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by go_mets »

Chuck107 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:04 am
go_mets wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:54 am
Chuck107 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:05 pm
go_mets wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:15 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:22 pm

I changed it when it was new, it had synthetic in it for 9 yrs without being used, changed that out when I needed to run it.
No need to maintain the spark plug or air filter if it isn't being used.
2/3 of a quart of oil, take off cap, lean generator over, oil flows out, lean generator back upright pour in oil till it starts to overflow (on mine anyway)
Put cap back on. Done.
Ran for aprox 2 days.
Changed oil again, back in storage.
Nothing cavalier about it.
Are you following exactly the manufacturer's recommendation?
If not, arre you simply lucky that your generator worked when you needed it to? If I did as you did, would I be unlucky and not have the generator work when I need it to?

.
Lets see, 40+ years working on engines in the auto industry, small engine repair courses. Yes I was "Lucky"
There is NO maintenance for the generator... Period.
There is maintenance for the small engine that runs the generator, exactly the same as a lawnmower, snowblower etc.
It's not rocket science. I have had Mower engines last over 25 yrs, My current mower engine is 20 yrs old and going strong as the day it was new.
Scag turf Tiger. And they are/were GAS engines.
Propane has little to no carbon fouling as gasoline does.
Hence little to no fouling of the cylinder or spark plug... when it's running.
No carburetor fouling as with gas.

When it does not run it does not use or foul the spark plug, nor clog or dirty the air cleaner.

Please follow the manufactures instructions to change the unused plug and unused air filter if you wish at their specific change intervals.
If you aren't using it it doesn't wear out.

I change the oil before I use it, and after I use it.
It sits in storage unused.
I fully expect it to function when I need it barring any unforeseen or uncontrollable defect of the engine, which won't be apparent till it fails to work.
Someday it will no longer function.
And I will do as any one that follows exact manufactures maintenance schedules that has a defect in the engine/generator when needed.
Be up ***** creek.
Right. And being up **** creek is not the point of having a backup generator is it?


.
Then buy two generators, one for backup.
You just want to argue.
I'm done.
The point is that power outages rarely occur yet when they do I need something that WORKS and as maintenance-free as possible.
I don't understand why that is so difficult to understand.

.
smitcat
Posts: 6660
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Should I purchase a whole house generator?

Post by smitcat »

go_mets wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:15 am
Chuck107 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:04 am
go_mets wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:54 am
Chuck107 wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:05 pm
go_mets wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:15 pm

Are you following exactly the manufacturer's recommendation?
If not, arre you simply lucky that your generator worked when you needed it to? If I did as you did, would I be unlucky and not have the generator work when I need it to?

.
Lets see, 40+ years working on engines in the auto industry, small engine repair courses. Yes I was "Lucky"
There is NO maintenance for the generator... Period.
There is maintenance for the small engine that runs the generator, exactly the same as a lawnmower, snowblower etc.
It's not rocket science. I have had Mower engines last over 25 yrs, My current mower engine is 20 yrs old and going strong as the day it was new.
Scag turf Tiger. And they are/were GAS engines.
Propane has little to no carbon fouling as gasoline does.
Hence little to no fouling of the cylinder or spark plug... when it's running.
No carburetor fouling as with gas.

When it does not run it does not use or foul the spark plug, nor clog or dirty the air cleaner.

Please follow the manufactures instructions to change the unused plug and unused air filter if you wish at their specific change intervals.
If you aren't using it it doesn't wear out.

I change the oil before I use it, and after I use it.
It sits in storage unused.
I fully expect it to function when I need it barring any unforeseen or uncontrollable defect of the engine, which won't be apparent till it fails to work.
Someday it will no longer function.
And I will do as any one that follows exact manufactures maintenance schedules that has a defect in the engine/generator when needed.
Be up ***** creek.
Right. And being up **** creek is not the point of having a backup generator is it?


.
Then buy two generators, one for backup.
You just want to argue.
I'm done.
The point is that power outages rarely occur yet when they do I need something that WORKS and as maintenance-free as possible.
I don't understand why that is so difficult to understand.

.
"I don't understand why that is so difficult to understand."
He has done everything needed to make sure that his generator works when needed, here is his post:

"There is NO maintenance for the generator... Period.
There is maintenance for the small engine that runs the generator, exactly the same as a lawnmower, snowblower etc.
It's not rocket science. I have had Mower engines last over 25 yrs, My current mower engine is 20 yrs old and going strong as the day it was new.
Scag turf Tiger. And they are/were GAS engines.
Propane has little to no carbon fouling as gasoline does.
Hence little to no fouling of the cylinder or spark plug... when it's running.
No carburetor fouling as with gas.

When it does not run it does not use or foul the spark plug, nor clog or dirty the air cleaner.

Please follow the manufactures instructions to change the unused plug and unused air filter if you wish at their specific change intervals.
If you aren't using it it doesn't wear out.

I change the oil before I use it, and after I use it.
It sits in storage unused.
I fully expect it to function when I need it barring any unforeseen or uncontrollable defect of the engine, which won't be apparent till it fails to work."
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