In need of a generator

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Blue456
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In need of a generator

Post by Blue456 »

My wife wants us to get a generator just in case there is a power outage. We would like to be able to power entire house, including HVAC. What do you guys recommend?
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willthrill81
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

Is your furnace electric or gas (natural or propane)? What about your water heater and oven? Do you have natural gas or propane at your property?
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gasman
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by gasman »

We ordered a whole house Generac Generator with a contractor three months ago. Current estimate is January availability.
onourway
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by onourway »

There are several very long recent threads on this topic that you would likely find helpful. :sharebeer
Helios
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Helios »

My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
Averages are funny. NJ probably fell within that average, having few outages, ever, then an 8 day one. The hundreds of days of power previously did little to warm our bones during those 8 days.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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AllMostThere
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by AllMostThere »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
Not sure how old that data is, but here in my area of SE Michigan, power outage durations are usually pretty extended. I haven't experienced one less than 30 minutes in nearly 20 years. When power outage occurs, I instantly get out the portable generator. Outage ranges are anywhere from 3 - 72 hours. Summer outages are usually towards the higher end of the range with winter outages being on the lower end of the range.

OP, if a portable generator would make your DW happy then maybe move towards procurement of one. There are many options, so maybe review some prior threads recommended by others already.
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willthrill81
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:12 pm
Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
Averages are funny. NJ probably fell within that average, having few outages, ever, then an 8 day one. The hundreds of days of power previously did little to warm our bones during those 8 days.
Correct. A generator is like insurance; when you really need it, there's no good substitute.

The investment in a generator does not need to be significant. A tri-fuel portable generator large enough to power almost any load for under $1k these days, and an electrician can install a transfer switch for around $500.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by bloom2708 »

After 15 years of non-use. Starting and keeping good gas in, I sold our generator this past summer.

Maybe this year I will need it.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by mpnret »

If I had some way of calculating it the 24 min outage might be correct for my previous 70 years but I can tell you this, there is no way I am going without a generator. Funny thing my house never burned down either but I have insurance.
ClassII
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by ClassII »

Is solar+batteries an option where you live? Not only a far greener solution it seems like it could make way better financial sense. As mentioned above most power outages are mere minutes. That's a horrendous per-minute cost for a whole house generator that otherwise would be left to rust in your side yard.

Solar, on the other hand would work for you year round and still provide backup power when the grid goes down. Granted it would be a lot more expensive especially for a system capable of running the whole house indefinitely but then that's probably not really that necessary anyway. I'd plan to have a system that can keep the whole house running for a few hours (or just overnight) but if need be you can run just the essentials indefinitely with only minor inconvenience on your part.
hudson
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by hudson »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:41 pm My wife wants us to get a generator just in case there is a power outage. We would like to be able to power entire house, including HVAC. What do you guys recommend?
I put in a whole house Generac.
I first muddled through for 40+ years without one.
Generators are a luxury item. I wouldn't buy one unless I could afford to pay cash.
The are like umbrellas; as long as you have it, you won't need it. :)

EDIT:
Another like discussion: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=350514&hilit=generator
Last edited by hudson on Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Blue456
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Blue456 »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:43 pm Is your furnace electric or gas (natural or propane)? What about your water heater and oven? Do you have natural gas or propane at your property?
I have no idea. I know the heating is gas and my oven is gas.
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Blue456
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Blue456 »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
We do live in a pretty remote area of NY state.
livesoft
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by livesoft »

We had a 10 minute or so power outage the other day. I heard a number of the neighbors' generators turn on. I talked to one neighbor who was pleased their $17,000 newly installed whole-house generator worked.
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59Gibson
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by 59Gibson »

livesoft wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:06 pm We had a 10 minute or so power outage the other day. I heard a number of the neighbors' generators turn on. I talked to one neighbor who was pleased their $17,000 newly installed whole-house generator worked.
HAHA! Great stuff
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willthrill81
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:43 pm Is your furnace electric or gas (natural or propane)? What about your water heater and oven? Do you have natural gas or propane at your property?
I have no idea. I know the heating is gas and my oven is gas.
Then the furnace is very likely natural gas, and your water heater probably is also.

As I noted above, you can get a tri-fuel portable generator that will power everything in your house for under $1,000, and you can have an electrician wire up a transfer switch so that you can connect it to your main breaker for around $500. The generator can be powered by natural gas, so you don't have to store any fuel.

If you go with a standby generator, be prepared to spend around $10k.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
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willthrill81
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

livesoft wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:06 pm We had a 10 minute or so power outage the other day. I heard a number of the neighbors' generators turn on. I talked to one neighbor who was pleased their $17,000 newly installed whole-house generator worked.
And that's partly why I think that standby generators don't make sense for most people. They're a huge expense, they're overkill in most cases, and they're fixed to the property but generally add little to resale value.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
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Blue456
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Blue456 »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:53 pm
Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:43 pm Is your furnace electric or gas (natural or propane)? What about your water heater and oven? Do you have natural gas or propane at your property?
I have no idea. I know the heating is gas and my oven is gas.
Then the furnace is very likely natural gas, and your water heater probably is also.

As I noted above, you can get a tri-fuel portable generator that will power everything in your house for under $1,000, and you can have an electrician wire up a transfer switch so that you can connect it to your main breaker for around $500. The generator can be powered by natural gas, so you don't have to store any fuel.

If you go with a standby generator, be prepared to spend around $10k.
Can you provide a link to one? Just as an example.
CAP_theorem
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by CAP_theorem »

You can go pretty cheap on the generator and transfer switch. The hassle of running it annually, changing oil, keeping fresh gas around etc. is worse IMO.

Powering the whole house is overkill. Refrigerator, furnace, TV, router really is enough. I can do it with single suitcase size generator and it is very fuel efficient so if the big one hits you can stretch your gas and keep the pipes from freezing.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:18 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:53 pm
Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:02 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:43 pm Is your furnace electric or gas (natural or propane)? What about your water heater and oven? Do you have natural gas or propane at your property?
I have no idea. I know the heating is gas and my oven is gas.
Then the furnace is very likely natural gas, and your water heater probably is also.

As I noted above, you can get a tri-fuel portable generator that will power everything in your house for under $1,000, and you can have an electrician wire up a transfer switch so that you can connect it to your main breaker for around $500. The generator can be powered by natural gas, so you don't have to store any fuel.

If you go with a standby generator, be prepared to spend around $10k.
Can you provide a link to one? Just as an example.
https://www.costco.com/firman-7500w-run ... 48883.html

In my experience, you can get the same model at physical stores for less.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
59Gibson
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by 59Gibson »

EcoFlow. Inexpensive, decent power depending on size, no gas or oil headaches, and can use solar panels. I have a Delta, seems ok never used for outage yet. :happy
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by whomever »

"EcoFlow. Inexpensive, decent power depending on size, no gas or oil headaches, and can use solar panels. I have a Delta, seems ok never used for outage yet."

The EcoFlow web site says that model has a 1260Wh capacity, so if your furnace blower draws 420 watts, you get 3 hours of runtime on a full charge (the furnace blower doesn't run full time, so maybe 12 hours of heat, depending on the temp).

You can buy solar panels, but if your power goes out during a multi-day winter storm you're going to be getting cold.

In contrast, you can get a 2000W inverter generator for well under $1000 and a 5 gallon can of gas and every fall dump the gas into your car and refill. I forget what ours uses running the fridge and furnace, maybe a couple quarts a day, so we can stay warm for 10 days on 5 gallons of gas.

We have an off grid cabin with solar - it's a sweet option. But most people with solar and no grid also have a backup generator for when the sun doesn't shine for several days. A battery bank large enough to carry you through several days of no sun gets pretty spendy.
egrets
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by egrets »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
Tell that to me and my cat, who had no power for five days in the middle of winter. It felt like we were going to get pneumonia. I now have a Generac natural gas automatic on off generator. The cost was a bit under $8000 for the generator, permits, transfer switch, automatic load shed for the air conditioning, preformed concrete pad, installation, gas and electrical work. a year's maintenance.
Last edited by egrets on Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In need of a generator

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59Gibson wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:44 pm EcoFlow. Inexpensive, decent power depending on size, no gas or oil headaches, and can use solar panels. I have a Delta, seems ok never used for outage yet. :happy
The capacity of the Delta pro, their largest model, is less than 4 kWh. That’s trivial and will not provide any significant backup. It’s about the same as running a small 1000w portable generator for 4-6 hours. It also costs about 20x what I paid for my 1kw generator.
Last edited by neilpilot on Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Harry Livermore »

Here is my response to another recent query:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=361239&p=6303889&h ... c#p6303889
You can scroll to the top of that thread and read the whole thing for a lively and thoughtful discussion by the great minds here on BH.
Cheers
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by egrets »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
I tend to check the power company's outage map out of curiosity when power has gone out. I don't think I've ever seen an outage that short. Hours, days, sometimes a week or two from a wide impact storm like Sandy. We had some small tornadoes a few weeks ago and I know some people were still having trees removed from power lines the next day.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by upstate90 »

As others have noted its mostly a insurance/luxury type of decision. If 10-20k is worth it for the piece of mind of a whole house automatic kick on generator then do it, it would certainly be nice to have. If 10-20k is too much then go with a portable one, either regular or inverter ones in the 500-3k range depending on what you want to power. I have a portable one to hook up if needed to prevent my pipes from freezing, my dog and I from freezing, to keep the fridge/freezer food from going bad, well pump, a couple lights and tv. No oven/microwave/hot water heater. I have an outdoor grill, camping style propane cooktop, and a candle with a heating surface on it for ways to heat up food in a prolonged power outage. You could have everything to prevent freezing and starving in a prolonged outage for less than a couple grand depending what generator you get. With a portable one though you obviously have to be home to start it up, keep it filled with gas, etc. In a blizzard, storm, or freezing weather this isn't fun, but still better than freezing or pipes bursting. It will come down to where you live (winter harshness and temps etc), heating source, cooking source, and how much convenience you like. Most outages don't last long but all it takes is one long one to have you kicking yourself for not getting anything.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

upstate90 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:37 pmMost outages don't last long but all it takes is one long one to have you kicking yourself for not getting anything.
Indeed. The power where we live is very reliable, and few homeowners have any type of generator. But at this time of year several years ago, a major windstorm blew down many power lines, and thousands of homes were without power for days at least. Some were without power for weeks. Many realized the hard way that even a natural gas furnace needs electricity to operate. All the hotels in the area that still had power quickly filled with people fleeing their cold homes, and generators were quickly impossible to come by.

You may go for many years without needing backup power, but when you need it, there is usually no substitute.
Last edited by willthrill81 on Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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egrets
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by egrets »

Note that if you depend on a gasoline generator, you may have to buy gas to refill it (several times) and if a power outage is widespread, gas station pumps will not be working.
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willthrill81
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by willthrill81 »

egrets wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:56 pm Note that if you depend on a gasoline generator, you may have to buy gas to refill it (several times) and if a power outage is widespread, gas station pumps will not be working.
Some gas stations have backup generators, but many (most?) do not.

Our solution has been to store 60 gallons of gasoline in metal jerry cans that are very durable and do not leak any vapors. We rotate through all of it every few months and have never had any go stale. To rotate through it, I put a can on a step ladder and siphon it into our vehicles. We fill up the cans once a month, when we also save up enough Fred Meyer fuel points to get $1 off per gallon up to 35 gallons at one time. Win, win.

A generator without fuel is like a firearm without ammunition. If you decide to own the former, you need to store the latter. The exception to this with generators is natural gas, which is generally far more reliable than the power grid, but events we saw in Texas last winter made it clear that even that is not 100% reliable.
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
livesoft
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by livesoft »

And a generator with old fuel that hasn't been started routinely and tested every month is like fireworks that have been sitting in a flooded warehouse.

Here in Texas, the February 2020 2021 freeze showed how many people had failed to maintain their generators. Our down comforters and snow-camping gear did not fail us. Nor did we have pipes bursting due to freezing like some people around us. The most insidious was probably pipes freezing, breaking, and not showing damage until things thawed out and the water started flowing again.

So just because you have the money for a backup generator does not mean that it will turn out like you expect. You will still need a backup to the backup.

Edit: Updated to correct year: 2021
Last edited by livesoft on Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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killjoy2012
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by killjoy2012 »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:41 pm My wife wants us to get a generator just in case there is a power outage. We would like to be able to power entire house, including HVAC. What do you guys recommend?
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by TLB »

We came up to our mountain cabin for Thanksgiving and the power has been off for about three hours now. I installed a generac 22 KW natural gas generator about five years ago, it started right up when power went out. What a great feeling of not worrying about food spoilage, heating our home and canceling our plans for Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m all smiles right now.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Valuethinker »

Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
There are huge variations between utilities and locations, though?

My impression is that things have gotten worse. Certainly something like what happened in Texas (but which had happened before in Texas in 2011?) is pretty extreme. Also California (shutdowns of major transmission lines due to wildfire risk, leading to rolling blackouts).
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Valuethinker »

egrets wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:37 pm
Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
I tend to check the power company's outage map out of curiosity when power has gone out. I don't think I've ever seen an outage that short. Hours, days, sometimes a week or two from a wide impact storm like Sandy. We had some small tornadoes a few weeks ago and I know some people were still having trees removed from power lines the next day.
It may well be there is no reporting requirement for outages of less than a certain duration?

Utilities agree Service Level targets with Public Utility regulators. There are tolerance limits set.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Valuethinker »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:03 pm
Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
We do live in a pretty remote area of NY state.
Strangely, places like that often have pretty reliable service. The reason being the utility company is prepared for extreme conditions. Ice storms etc are not surprises in upstate NY.

But it does depend a lot on how the utility is regulated - what the outage service level targets are. Utilities usually strive to meet those.

You have to size a generator to run essential appliances - fridge, furnace, a few lights, pumps. And you have to be committed to rotating fuel storage if you are planning to do it that way. (if you are subject to summer storms (which are often accompanied by very hot and humid weather) then possibly also Air Conditioning, although that is less likely in upstate NY?).

Also be aware these generators are very noisy - and the impact that might have, for example, on your neighbours.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by Valuethinker »

ClassII wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:39 pm Is solar+batteries an option where you live? Not only a far greener solution it seems like it could make way better financial sense. As mentioned above most power outages are mere minutes. That's a horrendous per-minute cost for a whole house generator that otherwise would be left to rust in your side yard.

Solar, on the other hand would work for you year round and still provide backup power when the grid goes down. Granted it would be a lot more expensive especially for a system capable of running the whole house indefinitely but then that's probably not really that necessary anyway. I'd plan to have a system that can keep the whole house running for a few hours (or just overnight) but if need be you can run just the essentials indefinitely with only minor inconvenience on your part.
Your solar insolation in winter can be really low. When you have power outages is also likely to be when weather is not ideal for solar generation (storms, ice storms etc).

A home battery of 10.5 kwhr is going to keep you going overnight, but it's not going to last days-- and you might well need that energy to power your car (if not now, in the future).

Generally solar + battery is good for arbitraging Time of Use electricity rates- -generate when price is low in daytime and use in that 4.30-9.30pm peak period. Eventually we will be able to sell the use of that storage back to the grid at peak times.

But it's not a real loss of service solution. A fuel tank is a so much denser and cheaper form of storage.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by whomever »

"And a generator with old fuel that hasn't been started routinely and tested every month..."

I'm going to disagree here. If we're not planning to use a generator for more than a couple of months our practice is to follow the 'long term storage' process[1] in the manual, then put the generator away until we want to use it. We get first-pull starts when we go to use it, even several years later.

Starting it every month is a lot of trouble to no advantage.

n.b. I'm talking about a portable. IIUC built-ins like the OP wants do frequently have an automated monthly test, but that isn't a hassle for the owner.

n.b.2 The 'old gas' can matter. We use regular (ethanol) gas plus 'Stabil' and rotate annually as a rule, although I have used 2 year old gas w/o problems. Some people swear by hunting down ethanol free gas instead (www.pure-gas.org). For us, rotating the gas isn't a hassle, we just dump it into the car in the fall and refill.

All that said, what Livesoft alludes to is common. After an outage people decide to get a generator, run it for an hour to test, and put it away without draining the gas. Five years later the power goes out again and the gas setting in the carburetor has set up in the little orifices and passage ways and the generator won't run without repairs. You just can't let gas set in small motors of any kind.

As willthrill has said, a tri-fuel running on propane or natural gas avoids these problems as well.



[1]change the oil, fully drain the gas, put a teaspoon of oil in the cylinder and pull rope until valves seat.
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by hudson »

I've aged out of portable generators...

I was discussing generators with my brother who lives in a hurricane prone area. He said that rolling out the portable generator at 2am was no fun. He said that it was very nice to have and that he was looking at a whole house. That got me thinking.

At 74, I am still able to roll out a portable and make it work. I would have to find a way to enclose it or store it. Would a portable still work for me in 5 or 10 years? What if I have an injury or illness, could I still get the generator out. Portable or whole house? Whole house...Generac, propane tank, new electric panel, turn key installation...$12K. It comes on every Saturday at noon for about 5 minutes.

Bottom Line: If I was 50, I'd build a generator shed, add a generator, hire an electrician and go portable. I would make it very simple to bring online...maybe just pull a cable from the shed to the house?
Since I'm not 50, whole house is my solution.
Last edited by hudson on Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dratkinson
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by dratkinson »

onourway wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:02 pm There are several very long recent threads on this topic that you would likely find helpful. :sharebeer
+1. NG/propane manual portable/automatic whole house, Prius/other EV, power wall, battery-backed solar,....

Search: https://www.google.com/search?q=home+ba ... rg%2Fforum
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Valuethinker wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:20 am Your solar insolation in winter can be really low. When you have power outages is also likely to be when weather is not ideal for solar generation (storms, ice storms etc).

A home battery of 10.5 kwhr is going to keep you going overnight, but it's not going to last days-- and you might well need that energy to power your car (if not now, in the future).
There’s a business opportunity for efficient long term residential power resilience.

I have an all electric home. 52 kWh of battery in 3 banks, 90 kWh in my Tesla that’s untouchable, essentially unlimited solar panels, and 3 (!) generators to charge the batteries when grid is down and the sun isn’t shining. The “scam” is that it’s not integrated. The battery warranty is voided if you have > 12 kW generator. There is no switch that can intelligently distribute power between 3 battery packs and start a generator when charge is low. The efficiency that can be attained by a steady state generator hasn’t been fully realized (eg, my generators can handle variable loads, unnecessarily).

I’m sure hyper efficient solutions will become available as more electrical households exist. For the time being, it’s expensive and somewhat improvised to provide residential electrical resilience.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
egrets
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by egrets »

livesoft wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:35 pm And a generator with old fuel that hasn't been started routinely and tested every month is like fireworks that have been sitting in a flooded warehouse.

Here in Texas, the February 2020 freeze showed how many people had failed to maintain their generators. Our down comforters and snow-camping gear did not fail us. Nor did we have pipes bursting due to freezing like some people around us. The most insidious was probably pipes freezing, breaking, and not showing damage until things thawed out and the water started flowing again.

So just because you have the money for a backup generator does not mean that it will turn out like you expect. You will still need a backup to the backup.
My Generac comes on for five minutes for a test run every Saturday. It emails me and the maintenance company when it starts and finishes (I got to choose the day and time.) It also emails about coming on due to power failures. It is supposed to email about problems, but that hasn't happened yet.

A yearly maintenance contract costs me about $300 and includes two six month inspections and maintenance. I suppose at some point I will incur costs for fixing things when the warranty runs out, but I forget when that is.

All this is to say, I have hired this stuff out so the generator is taken care of. I am too old to mess with this stuff myself, but I am responsible enough to be sure it gets done.

Yes, it is noisy, but few things are perfect. There are directions on the web for building sound baffling enclosures (no tops, be careful of venting, etc.) but I have neither the room in the part of the yard where it is nor the ambition for that. Also, my next door neighbor has a generator, so we can hardly complain about noise. It's not like it runs daily; the noise is only during power failures or the 5 minute weekly testing. It is also quieter than people's ^%$## leaf blowers.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by TomatoTomahto »

egrets wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:15 am It's not like it runs daily. It is also quieter than people's ^%$## leaf blowers.
For some reason, it seems that all the generators around us do test runs on Wednesdays at noon. Nobody would dare complain, as we all have generators and we can barely hear each other’s.

Now, those “^%$## leaf blowers.” It’s bad enough when the methodical efficient pros do it and finish quickly, but amateurs with their own equipment spend seemingly all weekend making an infernal racket.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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gasman
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by gasman »

Maybe I am just getting old, But the world looks a little more fragile than it did a few years ago. Hence my desire for the generator.
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SmallCityDave
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by SmallCityDave »

Blue456 wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:41 pm My wife wants us to get a generator just in case there is a power outage. We would like to be able to power entire house, including HVAC. What do you guys recommend?
The real questions are do you "need" it, how often do you have power failures and how long do they last? What is your budget and do you really "need" a whole home generator?

Here are a few thoughts: realistically the most popular whole home turn key option is Generac and you will likely spend $5000 but more likely $10,000. The other option is having a less convenient option a portable generator that will power some lights, portable heater and a refrigerator this can cost as little as $300.
egrets
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by egrets »

Valuethinker wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:12 am
egrets wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:37 pm
Helios wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:03 pm My Father worked for a utility company for many years. He would advise against a generator. I would question his thots and he spoke of a study that said the average outage in the united states was 24 minutes.
If one lived in a remote location, it might be advised, but otherwise wasnt a need.
I tend to check the power company's outage map out of curiosity when power has gone out. I don't think I've ever seen an outage that short. Hours, days, sometimes a week or two from a wide impact storm like Sandy. We had some small tornadoes a few weeks ago and I know some people were still having trees removed from power lines the next day.
It may well be there is no reporting requirement for outages of less than a certain duration?

Utilities agree Service Level targets with Public Utility regulators. There are tolerance limits set.
As I understand it, the purpose of the outage map is so that customers can access information about their outage. Next to the outage marker, there is an icon if a crew has been assigned. If one clicks on the outage marker, it brings up a thing with expected power restoration time, etc. I think the map refreshes every fifteen(?) minutes, so it could miss outages smaller than that.
pshonore
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by pshonore »

About 15 years ago I invested just under 1K in a 6500 watt generator and transfer switch with install. Over the years, we've had 3 or 4 multiday (up to a week) outages and probably ten or more minor ones (up to 8 hours). We have a well, so without the generator no power means no water. Also powers the furnace (with hot water), the fridge , microwave, coffee pot and several lighting circuits with TV, computer, etc. Not connected to AC, electric stove, washer, dryer, etc. I will say the noise is loud, but tolerable.
livesoft
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by livesoft »

egrets wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:15 am[...] the noise is only during power failures or the 5 minute weekly testing. It is also quieter than people's ^%$## leaf blowers.
Pro tip: You and all your neighbors should test your generators at the same time that the major leaf blower offender is making noise. I only mow my yard when it needs it AND when the neighbor's yard service is making the most noise. That way, I only need to use ear plugs for the minimal amount of time per week.

I worked and lived for many years in a place that had backup diesel generators for all its buildings that were tested once a month. For instance, they were used when hurricane Sandy created large-area week-long power outages. One of the buildings was a cafeteria, so it became the central site for first responders to meet and eat in that area. That also meant that all the trees were cleared from the roads in that area almost immediately, but it did not mean that stores and gas stations had power, so they remained closed.
Last edited by livesoft on Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tomd37
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Re: In need of a generator

Post by tomd37 »

Whole house generators with automatic transfer switch can be expensive. Our Generac 22KwH completely installed was $10,350. There has been only one power failure since installed and that was for 10 minutes. That's $1,000 per minute. :wink: However, the last power failure prior to that was 4,140 minutes (69 hours) and that would have been $2.50 per minute. Sadly we did not have a unit at the time of the 69 hour failure. We had talked about getting one prior to that failure, but just never got around to it. :annoyed At ages 85 we are happy to now have the coverage when and if needed. :D

Edited to add: We have the unit set to test weekly (can be set to bi-weekly) and it runs at the lower reduced speed and can barely be heard. Our neighbors runs at full speed and can very easily be heard 110 feet away. :annoyed
Tom D.
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