What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

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ruanddu
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What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ruanddu »

Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?

Gas or diesel?

If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?

Thank you.
MathWizard
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by MathWizard »

3500 W dual fuel gasoline/propane champion generator

I have a small pure sine wave "solar generator" (350W) for running things like my router/wireless
for working from home on a laptop without needing to run the gas generator continuously.
Topic Author
ruanddu
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ruanddu »

Thanks!

Can you put a link to the solar generator you have?
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Sandtrap
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Sandtrap »

Honda 7000 EU7000iS Inverter, Electric Start.
Main house panel has a bypass panel system to feed important items: well water, HVAC, etc.
Ran between $4-5,000
j :D
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OP: A solar panel system needs an inverter powered by the grid. A generator can power the inverter when the grid is down, but, if the sun isn't shining. . . well.
For true off grid, day or night, there's battery power to store and also power the inverter. IE: Powerwall, etc.
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Wanderingwheelz
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Wanderingwheelz »

I use the gas one that’s bolted underneath my RV. I think it’s a Cummins Onan 2400, but I could be off on the model number. It’s gas because it runs off of the main fuel tank for the RV engine. It’s been very reliable- always starting up on the first try.
Conch55
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Conch55 »

I have a smallish gas powered HF Predator 4000 for the occasional outage. It will run a couple of refrigerators and some smaller items simultaneously. I route power cords where needed. I have had it for several years and so far it's been reliable. I run it every 3 months regardless.

No experience with solar panels.
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ResearchMed
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ResearchMed »

We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.

Thus far, after quite a few uses (only a handful that were of any length), it's worked like a charm.

We don't have every circuit wired into it, but after a few of the more lengthy outages, we might have the circuits changed now that we realize that we'd really like to have A working after all, and B isn't so important.
We made a point to have lights on all stairwells and hallways, the main refrigerator and a microwave because the ovens are electric. The cooktop is gas.

We also made sure to have all thermostats and any ignition devices (for several gas heat units) included.

We originally got this because we have a sump pump that must work, or the finished lower level could flood. Also, we wouldn't want pipes to freeze.
We got the automated system because we travel/in case we aren't home. And so the housesitter wouldn't need to deal with it if she happened to be here "then".

It does an automated test each week, and we get a text message stating the unit status.

We are VERY glad that we got it, and our only regret is that we should have gotten it sooner.

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Jack FFR1846
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Generac 5500 gas. Bought it about 3 years ago when a late season snow/ice storm took out power with estimates of at least 3 days, possibly into weeks before restoration. Went to Lowes. This was all they had. $700. I used it for the 3 days of that storm to run oil burner, water heater, refrigerators, sump pump, internet, a few lights, tv, computers, router.

Nothing is integrated. I set the thing up outside our basement door then run extension cords all over. Have had maybe 2 instances since then of at most a couple hours.
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tomd37
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by tomd37 »

Ruanddu - What type of a generator are you seeking and how big of a load due you want it to handle and for how long? There have been other posts on this site in the past about whole house vs. portable generators. I have a whole house permanently installed natural gas fired Generac generator capable of load splitting and handling my entire two story home with everything running. While I did not yet have it installed (my neighbor next door did have one), it would have come in very handy when a very severe storm transited our area last May and we were without power for sixty-nine continuous hours. His 22 kWh Generac ran fine and handled all his requirements in his 4,500 square foot home. He was the envy of this 162 home community being the only one who had power. :P
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MathWizard
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by MathWizard »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:17 pm Thanks!

Can you put a link to the solar generator you have?

Code: Select all

https://www.rockpals.com/products/rockpals-350w-portable-power-station
I got it on a Black Friday for $210.

Rockpals has a portable solar panel, but it is expensive, so I got an HQST 70W

Code: Select all

https://www.amazon.com/HQST-Monocrystalline-Solar-Portable-Marine/dp/B082PK6X67?ref_=ast_sto_dp
This worked well, but I needed an MC4 connector to Anderson connector cable. I got one:

Code: Select all

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08B5Y4XLD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1#HLCXComparisonWidget_feature_div
but the pos and neg were on top of one another rather than side to side, so I had to pull back the
plastic boot on the end, and the red and black rectangles were glued together, so I separated the two ends,
put them side to side, and put the boot back over them.
The Goal Zero has them vertical, while the Rockpals has them horizontal. It was not obvious from the picture
or description that the converter end was vertical.


The solar panel is not needed, the Rockpals comes with a 110V charger, so you can keep it charged up.

I'd like to get a larger solar generator, but at this price, it was easy to get into a solar generator as a proof of concept.
My wife also uses a CPAP, so this is a backup there as well.
onourway
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by onourway »

We have a 13Kw Generac unit similar to what @ResearchMed has above. It came installed with the house. Glad to have it although never would have paid to install it ourselves.

We are currently looking at solar installations, and I mentioned to one of the salespeople whether it'd make sense to switch to battery if we went solar, and after describing our current setup, he strongly suggested to stick with what we have as it's far more continuous power and capacity than one can reasonably get from battery backup today.
Dontridetheindexdown
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Dontridetheindexdown »

Main standby generator: 15 kw diesel.

Secondary standby generators:
25 kw pto (diesel tractors)
8.5 kw welder/generator (gasoline)
3.5 kw welder/generator (gasoline)
2 kw RV generator (gasoline)

We use a 3.5 kw continuously charged battery/inverter auxiliary power unit (always on) for modem, router, and desktop computer, to prevent disruption during transfers between electric grid and generator power.
TravelGeek
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TravelGeek »

On battery backups here is a recent thread that might be useful:

viewtopic.php?t=323191

We have a solar system with inverters that allow us to feed two outlets (1500W max) during power outages. Our power outages over the course of the last five years have been measured in minutes, so we never actually used that, and we have mothballed our plans to get a generator. We currently have no plans to buy dedicated backup batteries either.
mrb09
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by mrb09 »

onourway wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:53 pm We have a 13Kw Generac unit similar to what @ResearchMed has above. It came installed with the house. Glad to have it although never would have paid to install it ourselves.

We are currently looking at solar installations, and I mentioned to one of the salespeople whether it'd make sense to switch to battery if we went solar, and after describing our current setup, he strongly suggested to stick with what we have as it's far more continuous power and capacity than one can reasonably get from battery backup today.
I have a solar system with 450 AH's of battery backup. Batteries will last for a few days if we turn off big consumers (well pump, a/c, etc). But the lead acid batteries are a pain to maintain, in hindsight a generator would have been cheaper and probably less maintenance. Cool to run on solar/batteries without the noise though :)

Lot of folks in my area run generators off of propane, since we're rural and nearly everyone has a large propane tank for the house anyway.

Our backup-backup is a 5000 watt Honda generator wired to a dedicated wall socket in the house (this is what we had before the solar panels). If we're out of power for a few days without any sun to recharge the batteries, we can manually plug in the fridge. I could wire the generator to charge the batteries, but hasn't been worth the effort.
OpenRoad
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by OpenRoad »

We also have a Honda 7000 EU7000iS Inverter.

I chose gas vs other options because I figured options for finding gas during a longer outage would be greater. (This has turned out true a couple of times with bigger/longer outages when we had to drive a ways to find gas - I was glad I wasn't waiting in line for the one diesel pump) I also didn't want propane because I didn't want to rely on someone to deliver propane.

Briefly considered a whole house generator for a bit, but never could personally justify the cost for the few times we've used.

We've been very happy with the Honda.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

onourway wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:53 pm We are currently looking at solar installations, and I mentioned to one of the salespeople whether it'd make sense to switch to battery if we went solar, and after describing our current setup, he strongly suggested to stick with what we have as it's far more continuous power and capacity than one can reasonably get from battery backup today.
We have 32 KWh batteries that kick in when the grid goes down and the sun isn’t shining. It’s nice and much quieter than a generator. If the batteries drain, and the sun doesn’t shine on our panels, we have a 8kw propane generator that will recharge the batteries.

I strongly recommend that anyone doing electrical resiliency work look into smart breaker panels (eg, Lumin or Lutron). We are looking into a retrofit. It is silly, in 2021, to have to hardwire circuits into a “Protected Load Panel” rather than have some flexibility via smart circuit breakers that can be reassigned and load shed depending on circumstances. For example, I don’t need our water heater for a 4 hour outage, but it sure would be useful to have some hot water in a 4 day outage.
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mpnret
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by mpnret »

For over 20 years whenever we had a power failure I rolled my 5000w Honda gas generator out of the garage plugged it into my transfer panel and started it up. Finally had enough. Last year installed a Cummins 20kw natural gas gen with auto transfer switch. Does entire house including central A/C. Takes exactly 5 seconds from power loss to restore.
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tcassette
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by tcassette »

We had a 22kw Generac LP gas generator installed and have been very satisfied. The house we bought was already set up with a propane tank and lines to run gas logs and a gas heater. It was simple for the contractor to add the generator and automatic transfer switch. The generator handles all the necessary loads for the house including heat pump and well pump. I set it up to automatically self-test run once a month, and it starts and connects to the house breaker box automatically 10 minutes into a loss of power from the grid. It also stops and disconnects automatically once grid power is restored.
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queso
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by queso »

20kw Kohler natural gas with automatic transfer switch and load shedding modules. I have a couple of UPS units as well (APC and Cyberpower) for things that I don't even want to go off for the few seconds it takes for the Kohler to fire up and the ATS to switch over.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by iamlucky13 »

We had a nice little storm last night in the Pacific NW. Great time for a backup power thread!

You will have to figure out what you want to power, and that will dictate what makes sense. My inclinations are pretty minimalist - keep my food from spoiling, keep my septic pump functional for sanitation's sake, and lastly run my stove blower so I have backup heat. Other people prefer to set themselves up well enough to watch TV from the hot tub while enjoying the ambiance of the landscape lighting.

I've waffled for a couple years on getting one of the Champion 2000W inverter models to make sure my fridge, septic pump, and stove blower remain functional in case of an extended outage. The ease with which we've handled all the past outages up to about 48 hours over the past decade has held me off.

However, this week I replaced a failed septic pump. This was a DIY project, so I had plenty of reasons to revisit previous thoughts about the limited size of our pump chamber and the potential for settled-out effluent to overflow into the riser and seep out at the surface.

I'm actually currently more seriously considering going the deep cycle battery and pure sine wave inverter option. Capacity would be far less, but I think I can manage about 1 day per battery, and although the Champions are supposed to be pretty quiet and I don't in general mind generator noise, I found that I actually rather enjoy the tranquility of power outages.

I had already purchased a control and alarm panel to add to my septic system at some point. I will have to make sure to include a transfer switch when I add the panel.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by NCPE »

Never could justify the expense of a whole house generator so we have a trailer mounted gasoline fueled Miller Bobcat Welder / Generator that puts out 9.5 KW continuous, which is enough to run the entire house other than the A/C compressors. 99% of the time the Bobcat spends its life happily welding up broken equipment around the farm, the other 1% of the time it gets plugged into the transfer panel and runs the house when the power is off.

NCPE
Last edited by NCPE on Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by exoilman »

Reference
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by exoilman »

Reference
furikake
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by furikake »

Would love to have solar panels, don't have them yet. We have a standby whole house generator by Generac. Works flawlessly so far. So glad we got it!
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by iamlucky13 »

exoilman wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:53 pmReference
FYI, if you look just below the thread title near the top of the page, there is wrench icon that opens a menu that lets you subscribe to a thread to be notified of replies without yourself replying, or bookmark it so you can find it later in your User Control Panel.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by toast0 »

iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:23 pm We had a nice little storm last night in the Pacific NW. Great time for a backup power thread!
Indeed; the (mostly) ridiculously sized 35kW automatic generator kicked on for us at 1 am (or so). That came with the house, so we didn't size it. This outage was resolved not too long ago, so I didn't have to drag the portable out to the well pump; for reasons we don't quite understand, that's on a separate power meter, so the whole house backup doesn't work. We got whatever costco was selling that had enough amps to get the pump started.
Carguy85
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Carguy85 »

20KW Kohler stand by (propane)..if the power goes out it starts up and switches automatically. Whole home is powered by it but we cook with gas and have hybrid Hvac and all lighting is LED so not much of an issue to only have certain things on/off while it’s running. Researched that vs generac and read many reviews. Also have had a bad experience with a generac engine on a lawn mower.
Last edited by Carguy85 on Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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lthenderson
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by lthenderson »

I don't have one but if I did, I would get one that runs off natural gas which I am connected to already for other appliances.

But I don't and have no plans to. I absolutely love those days of electronic silence and the excuse to maintain that silence while reading a book by the light of my fireplace.
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Offshore
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Offshore »

20kW Kohler using natural gas. Love it. Expensive, but worth it. Take your time finding the retailer for installation. The site needs to be prepped properly and installation is complicated and may require both electrical and gas inspection after installation (depending upon your local ordinances).
exodusNH
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by exodusNH »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?

Gas or diesel?

If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?

Thank you.
I have a 5500 W gasoline generator that I got in 2008 when the big ice storm hit the northeast. I had absolutely no choice in what one I got. My father bought last one in his area in CT and drove it up to me, since there were none available within 150 miles.

While I'm in a city, I didn't have power for 5.5 days, when it was well below freezing the entire time.

It's not the cleanest power, but it's better than having the house freeze! I do have active power management backup batteries that I hook up sensitive electronics to. (They also allow me to get through shorter power outages without rolling out the generator.)

If I were to buy one now, I'd consider an inverter generator. They output much cleaner power, but are 3x-4x expensive.
Yooper
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Yooper »

Briggs & Stratton 7500 - gasoline. I needed one that also had 220v output for my well. Initially I planned on just running the well (natural gas furnace in the winter) and a few lights, but it runs almost everything. Had to run 4.5 days straight a year ago and she just merrily chugged along without a complaint. Power outages are very rare where I live though.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

We have a portable 8500 watt Honda powered tri-fuel generator currently set up for propane.

There is a gas head right where we stage it, running to a propane tank that also fuels our gas fireplace logs and our grill.

The fuel line is a snap connection hose, and a plug on the outside of the garage wall connects to our transfer panel.

We can roll it out and be running in 15 minutes. DW knows how to bring on the load via the transfer panel. Safety for all. Seriously, use a transfer panel!

I would like a whole-house set up, but propane deliveries after a blow can be problematic, as our neighborhood has lots of mature trees. So a portable generator serving a few circuits downstairs works fine for us. We don't run it continuously, to save fuel, just enough to keep two refrigerators going and ceiling fans and lights.

Electric start with a built in trickle charger keeps the starting battery charged up, though hand cranking is surprisingly easy.

We test it at the beginning of each hurricane season, though we have very few hours on it as our area has been spared any direct hits for years.

If a blow is getting close, we hook everything up, and cover the generator with a tarp until we need to fire it up.

I am a big fan of Honda engines, well worth the extra premium, IMHO. There are some cheap generators that are going to disappoint the users when they really need them. No thanks!

Broken Man 1999
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Murr
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Murr »

I finally broke down and planned for outages after spending 2 days sweating to death and losing a fridge of food this summer.
Phase 1 for short interruptions(couple hours) is 2 x 200X Goal Zero yeti's. They would just power a router, a light and charge phones.
Phase 2 for longer outages with end in sight is a pure sine inverter connected to my car battery just to keep the fridge cold and charge the yeti's; ran for maybe an hour.
Phase 3 for outages with no known restoration time I have a Honda EU2220i inverter generator. Went with Honda after a neighbor had one and I was impressed with how quiet it was, easy to start and seemed to power most anything(within reason).
All in, I think everything cost about $1500 and if we ever move, camp, tailgate, we can use all of the items for those applications too.
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Ron »

20kW Generac, fueled by a 500 gal underground propane tank (no NG in my area).

Had it purchased/installed after the back to back storms of 2011 (Halloween nor'easter) and 2012 (Superstorm Sandy) when we lost power for just under a week in both cases.

Since that time, the longest outage covered was just under two days (20 hours) with sporadic minor outages from a few minutes to a few hours the last eight years we've had it installed.

It was spec'd to run continuously (except manual shutdown for checking oil level every 24 hours) for at least five days and takes care of 100% of our needs in an all-electric home (heat pump for heating/cooling).

- Ron
OldBallCoach
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by OldBallCoach »

We have a 22K Generac...natural gas...I think we paid about 8500 ish but we had it put in when we built. We have used it a few times over the past years and its been solid...the company that does the annual service on it I am sure rips us off but then I think everything costs too much...LOL.
foamypirate
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by foamypirate »

This is a timely thread, as we recently had a 12 hour outage during the uncharacteristic snow storm here in Central TX (along with an extended outage last year that we experienced).

I’ve certainly been waffling back and forth and whether or not to get something that will run our HVAC or not. I’m personally more worried about the cold than the heat. However, in my research, it appears that a HyperEngineering soft start kit for our AC will bring the power use inline to where we can run it with a moderately sized portable generator.

With that in mind, I’ve been looking at the Champion 100520 7000w continuous, 8750 watt starting inverter “hybrid,” being an open frame generator, where most inverters are closed frame. It’s supposed to be somewhat quieter than a regular non-inverter generator, lighter, and more fuel efficient. It also has the benefit of being clean power, with a THD rating of < 3%. This is also among the largest inverter generators I could find. Honda had a 7000 watt version as well, but at roughly $5000 vs. the Champion’s $1200 price tag, I just can’t justify the Honda, for the amount of expected use.

I’ll be going the “simple” route on hooking it up for whole house power, with a generator plug, and a simple backfeed breaker w/ mechanical interlock to the mains breaker. I’ll have to manually “load shed” by disabling breakers, but this is not too much trouble. I plan to laminate a guide to place in the breaker box, should my wife need to do this while I am away from the house.
fatima526
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by fatima526 »

Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
pahkcah
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by pahkcah »

20 kW Kohler natural gas with automatic transfer switch. No load shedding required as it will power everything in the house. We had the generator installed as our new home was being built. We have had several outages over the past two years, the longest lasting about two hours. In our community there are a lot of Kohler natural gas generators. If we drive/walk through the neighborhood on any Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 P.M., we can hear the Kohlers (including ours) running a test that lasts for 15 minutes. :happy

Our decision was between Kohler and Generac. Research at the time revealed that either would have been a good choice. Our choice of the Kohler was based on the quality and reputation of the company that installed and maintains the unit. Our maintenance contract includes two visits per year, mainly to add/change the oil, and emergency visits if the company remotely detects there is a potential problem. Cost is about $300 per year for support/maintenance.
ddurrett896
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ddurrett896 »

Big fan of Champion.

(2) 7.5k gas generators...1 is a backup
(60) gallons of non ethanol gas that I rotate 2x/year
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

I have a Generac Propane generator
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clutchied
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by clutchied »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?

Gas or diesel?

If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?

Thank you.
Midwest; we bought a Honeywell 20 or 22kW from Costco for $3500 to my door and then hired a local electrician company to come put it in for $3000.
The work was exceptional and we really enjoy having it. It's just a rebranded Generac. Came with its own auto transfer switch. so we do nothing. Power goes out and it comes back on in 15 seconds or less.

We're on well water so when the power goes so does our water. We wanted a big enough generator that we could run most of the house. the difficulty is that we had 2x200amp panels and could only backup one. So we swapped a few circuits to the one that had almost everything and voila! Runs on natural gas.

Now we don't even notice when the power goes out.

The guys set up the load shedding per code but we've never had anything drop off. HVAC will drop and then we had to add another for our 50amp electric stove/oven.
tm3
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by tm3 »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:39 pm We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.
Same here, and since I have so many outages I really enjoy having it.

IIRC, the major choices when I bought were 1) air vs water cooled, and 2) size (which of course is linked to cost).

I went with air cooled as it was less expensive and the annual service is half the price, plus I didn't think I needed the capacity. Using the same logic I bought a smallish air cooled and do not have the entire house connected to it. Doing it again I think I would still get air cooled but would spring for a larger one that runs the whole house.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

tm3 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:25 am
ResearchMed wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:39 pm We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.
Same here, and since I have so many outages I really enjoy having it.

IIRC, the major choices when I bought were 1) air vs water cooled, and 2) size (which of course is linked to cost).

I went with air cooled as it was less expensive and the annual service is half the price, plus I didn't think I needed the capacity. Using the same logic I bought a smallish air cooled and do not have the entire house connected to it. Doing it again I think I would still get air cooled but would spring for a larger one that runs the whole house.
I agree. As we move forward through time, I expect that more and more appliances and devices will become electric. Just since buying our house, we have added the following electric loads: an electric car, gotten rid of an oil burner for heat (replaced with geothermal), replaced a propane pool heater with a heat pump, replaced a propane cook top with an induction range, etc. You can never have too many electrons!
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
killjoy2012
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by killjoy2012 »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?
* Expected load
* 120 vs 240V supply requirement
* Cost
* Fuel availability
* Historical frequency of power outages
* Damage /Impact if without power for days/weeks
* Portability - If portable, could be used for needs beyond home power outage situations -- camping, hunting, construction sites w/o power, etc.

I landed on a portable, contractor grade 9KW genset I got from Costco for $600 that will run on gas, propane or natural gas. While I'd love to have a whole house solution with auto-TX switch, I couldn't justify the cost for as rare as I need it. And while I'd love to have an inverter-based genset, I couldn't justify spending 10x the cost for it.
ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Gas or diesel?
Gas - easier to find in zombie apocalypse. Tri-fuel so it can run on LP, NG or gasoline. Shelf life of propane >>> gas or diesel.
ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?
Solar is fine for augmenting power generation needs, but isn't viable by itself IMO. Solar makes no power in the dark, so now you're talking about building battery banks. Battery banks would have to be huge to run any decent load for an extended amount of time. If you all you want is a couple LED lights on during an outage, OK - sure, but supporting a typical house power load for an extended time on solar alone isn't reality.
pshonore
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by pshonore »

Bought a 5kW (6.5 peak) Coleman gasoline generator and a manual transfer switch for approx $600 total about 15 years ago. Runs the well pump, oil burner, frig, microwave and lighting circuits. Probably used it 500 hours in the last 15 years ( a couple of week long outages included). Is it noisy? Sure.
But at a cost of a little more than $ 1/usage hour (gas not included), I'm not complaining.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

killjoy2012 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:03 am Solar is fine for augmenting power generation needs, but isn't viable by itself IMO. Solar makes no power in the dark, so now you're talking about building battery banks. Battery banks would have to be huge to run any decent load for an extended amount of time. If you all you want is a couple LED lights on during an outage, OK - sure, but supporting a typical house power load for an extended time on solar alone isn't reality.
I agree. We have what are considered very large batteries (2 at 16 kWh each) by residential standards. It gets us through a day or so without sunlight, but for extended outages, I’m glad that we have the 8kw propane generator the previous owner left behind.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
mervinj7
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by mervinj7 »

I have an 1000W pure sine inverter that runs off the battery of my Nissan Leaf. That's a portable 40kWh battery sitting in my driveway. It can easily run my fridge for a few days in a pinch. During my last power outage I recharged it at my office which still had power.
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ResearchMed
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ResearchMed »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:46 am
tm3 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:25 am
ResearchMed wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:39 pm We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.
Same here, and since I have so many outages I really enjoy having it.

IIRC, the major choices when I bought were 1) air vs water cooled, and 2) size (which of course is linked to cost).

I went with air cooled as it was less expensive and the annual service is half the price, plus I didn't think I needed the capacity. Using the same logic I bought a smallish air cooled and do not have the entire house connected to it. Doing it again I think I would still get air cooled but would spring for a larger one that runs the whole house.
I agree. As we move forward through time, I expect that more and more appliances and devices will become electric. Just since buying our house, we have added the following electric loads: an electric car, gotten rid of an oil burner for heat (replaced with geothermal), replaced a propane pool heater with a heat pump, replaced a propane cook top with an induction range, etc. You can never have too many electrons!
We are almost definitely underutilizing our Generac, in the sense that we didn't have all circuits connected to it. And we've slowly realized that we'd like a few 'different' circuits connected, especially when it's not just a short outage.
This won't be a problem, but we won't have anyone come in to do that until the pandemic is under more control and/or we've both gotten vaccinated.

However, perhaps as long as the electrician is here (these are people who specialize in generators and transfer switches, etc., in case that matters), we are considering having the setup based upon some sort of load-shedding system.

After all, we won't need to have both electic ovens, the microwave, and the dryer all on if we want to run the AC for a short time...! We don't currently (no pun intended!) have the AC, dryer, or ovens connected, but can use the microwave. And the fridge is already connected, of course. The AC is the main thing we might want to add back in, but would probably need load-shedding, especially in case the thermostat has it start unexpectedly.

Do these load-shedding arrangements work/work *well*? Are they reliable in terms of shedding any excess load before a problem occurs? And what problem would that be, anyway? (I'm assuming the generator wouldn't blow up the entire block <joke alert!>)

It might be nice to include the electric drying just in case it's needed.
We could probably "be taught" :wink: to switch some of this manually if needed (would that be using circuit breakers?). Also, that dryer isn't going to self start in the middle of the night like an AC system might... Similarly, we know precisely when we'd want to use an oven.
But what about if we have several appliances already running when there is a sudden outage and the generator kicks in? (It's a very fast switchover.)
It would be nicer to have it all automated IF that really works well.

Any comments from those who already have load-shedding set up for their generators (and have that triggered on some occasions)? Comments from specialists with these systems?
Note: Please consider us as having almost zero background about this.

Many thanks!

RM
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queso
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by queso »

I have never actually triggered my load shedding modules so can't really comment except to say that they probably weren't needed since I have never used them. We didn't exceed the 20kw rating by much since we have a gas water heater, gas dryer, gas cooktop, gas furnaces, etc. so the only scenario where we'd have them kick on would be one where we're running both AC units, our double wall ovens and a bunch of other random electrical stuff at the same time. In hindsight I should have skipped them and just told people "don't use the oven if the generator is on". :happy
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

It’s early days for me in researching. Load shedding (ie, turning off circuits) is apparently well established art, but the dynamic adding of circuit A in place of circuit B is much newer. I will start a thread on this (actually, add posts to an existing thread) when I know more.

We have 400A service, so obviously covering everything is impossible, but we do have need for more flexibility than a Protected Load Panel allows.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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