Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

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simple man
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Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by simple man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:22 pm

I want to have emergency power capability for my home and am considering a large portable generator (gasoline powered) or a fixed Generac style generator that I can connect to my natural gas pipeline. Both would have either a direct connection to a transfer switch or for the portable, be able to plug into it directly. Obviously, the pros to the portable is I can use it elsewhere. The con is I have to keep gasoline stocked. I am leaning towards the permanent style so I don't have to have fuel. Also, from stories I have heard, it is likely that if I sell the house, I would likely get most of the value back in the increased sales price. Anyone have experience to recommend either way?

pochax
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by pochax » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:33 pm

i bought a generac whole house generator (nat gas fuel) in late summer of 2012. Superstorm Sandy hit us and knocked power out in my town for 7 full days. i have not had a power outage of more than a few hours since. Have i gotten my money's worth? probably not, but the peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on it.

simple man
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by simple man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm

Thanks. What do you think the cost would run nowadays? 5-8k?

ResearchMed
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:42 pm

pochax wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:33 pm
i bought a generac whole house generator (nat gas fuel) in late summer of 2012. Superstorm Sandy hit us and knocked power out in my town for 7 full days. i have not had a power outage of more than a few hours since. Have i gotten my money's worth? probably not, but the peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on it.
We had frequent outages at first when we moved into current house 15 years ago.
After Sandy (we weren't affected), we decided it was time to get one, and we put in a whole-house nat gas generator, and had most circuits connected, but not all.
Of course, we then had no outages for several years.
Recently, we've had them again, and it's nice to know the generator is working as planned.

Also, having an automated system means it will "work" even if we aren't home.
We need it for the sump pump especially, but also so the pipes wouldn't freeze in the winter, even if we are safely elsewhere.
And if our housesitter is here, we wouldn't want to need to have her get, hook up, and then refuel a portable generator.
(Having containers of fuel right next to the house isn't a thrilling idea, either, although obviously that nat gas line into the house isn't 100% risk-free. Very few things are "risk-free"...)

And yes, it's very comforting knowing we've got it, whenever major storms are approaching, regardless of season.

RM
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lazydavid
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by lazydavid » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:50 pm

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm
Thanks. What do you think the cost would run nowadays? 5-8k?
I talked to one of the principals from our commercial generator service firm about pricing, and while they don't do residential, they train all the residential Generac installers for Illinois. He told me that I should expect $7k-8k on average, more if I'd want it installed in the corner of the yard, away from the house. The units themselves run about $5k.

Wellfleet
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Wellfleet » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:51 pm

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm
Thanks. What do you think the cost would run nowadays? 5-8k?
Here are some options from Costco: https://www.costco.com/CatalogSearch?ke ... ageSize=96

Then add the electrical and plumbing work to install.

I bought a portable Champion unit 8 kW duel fuel, gas/propane (no gas service available) and had a transfer switch and dedicated circuits installed (well pump, boiler, fridge, most lights) and it cost $2000 all together.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:04 pm

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:22 pm
I want to have emergency power capability for my home and am considering a large portable generator (gasoline powered) or a fixed Generac style generator that I can connect to my natural gas pipeline. Both would have either a direct connection to a transfer switch or for the portable, be able to plug into it directly. Obviously, the pros to the portable is I can use it elsewhere. The con is I have to keep gasoline stocked. I am leaning towards the permanent style so I don't have to have fuel. Also, from stories I have heard, it is likely that if I sell the house, I would likely get most of the value back in the increased sales price. Anyone have experience to recommend either way?
My generator is tri-fuel: Natural gas, propane, gasoline. Very little has to done to change fuel, but it (change) wouldn't be something I would want to do at the last minute. We are set up for propane.

I like the idea of a whole house generator, but opted buying a portable generator. My subdivision's roads, and general surrounding access roads are thru areas that have lots of trees, some even forming canopies over the entire road. Great for shade, not so great for storms. My fear is running out of fuel, though I have a 120/gal propane tank. Roads have to be clear before fuel trucks can deliver.

I don't have access to NG, but even if I did I would worry it might be shut down, just when you need it.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:29 pm

We lost power during Sandy for 14 days and by day number 2 the natural gas lines were if no use in our area. We have always used a portable inverter genset so it will use less fuel and although its fitted for tri fuel we have only used it with gasoline. Although portable it can easily handle the oil burner for heat and hot water as well as the reefer a few lights and all the charging we need for the rest of uses. Over the 14 days we ran it about 3/4 of the time and used about 18 gallons of the 30 gals we had on hand ready for the storm. Always make sure you have a few oils changes, spark plugs and filters on hand for the genset for multi-day use.

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tcassette
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by tcassette » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:46 pm

I went throught the same decision making a couple of years ago, and decided on a Generac whole house generator. My house already had a pad and piping for LPG, and has a heat pump for HVAC, plus a well for water. I figured the hassles (particularly fuel storage) and limited capacity of a portable unit outweighed the lower costs compared to the Generac. I can run my whole house, including HVAC, on the Generac, it automatically tests itself every month (you can set the test interval), and switching to and from the generator is automatic. It has worked flawlessly, although like others I have had only one significant power outage since installation, instead of numerous outages before installation. Mine was about $8500 installed for the 22kW model. Of course, I had to pay extra for getting a large tank of LPG, but the OP plans to use natural gas so he won't have that added expense.

likegarden
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by likegarden » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:49 pm

We don't have such a generator, also have only rarely outages, and then only around 4 hours. We personally do not see a need for it and to add extra complexity to our house. A friend has a Generac generator using natural gas and is happy with it. I have heard that the generator is required to be tested weekly, and some did not start up automatically during such test. Therefore get references from the installer and check out those installations.

pochax
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by pochax » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:49 pm

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm
Thanks. What do you think the cost would run nowadays? 5-8k?
we had the choice between 14kW vs 20kW at the time. 14kW would have been ~8k (and may not support full HVAC) and 20kW was ~$10k (support HVAC) and that included installation, transfer switch, natural gas plumbing, and landscaping changes needed. i would assume the price is slightly higher but also somewhat dependent on what state you live in.

Gill
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Gill » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:38 pm

We have a permanently installed whole house 45 kw generator which was worth every cent two days ago as Irma passed through the area. FPL went off at 4:00 and I never left my chair as the generator kicked on and kept the A/C, TV, refrigerators and everything else going for the duration. It is connected to a 1,000 gallon propane tank and should be able to run the entire house for at least ten days.

I once had a smaller portable generator running on gasoline at our log home in the Georgia Mountains. The house had a transfer switch and it had to be manually started and connected. It was certainly great to have and better than nothing, but trying to keep large quantities of fresh gasoline was a problem.

Gill

FrugalConservative
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by FrugalConservative » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:50 pm

5 years ago lots of people around my parts spent upwards of 10K for a whole house generator due to Sandy. Others spent close to a few grand on portables.
Lets just say that they havent gotten their moneys worth as they havent had to use them even once . For me it wasnt worth it now, then or in the future, and when you go to sell your house you wont make a dime back on the cost.

Gill
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Gill » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:03 pm

FrugalConservative wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:50 pm
5 years ago lots of people around my parts spent upwards of 10K for a whole house generator due to Sandy. Others spent close to a few grand on portables.
Lets just say that they havent gotten their moneys worth as they havent had to use them even once . For me it wasnt worth it now, then or in the future, and when you go to sell your house you wont make a dime back on the cost.
Isn't that like saying you haven't received your money's worth from your homeowner's insurance because your house hasn't been destroyed? The previous owner of my house spent $20K on a 45 kw whole house generator for a 4,200 square foot house. It was certainly a factor I considered when purchasing the house six years ago. The existence of that generator was one important factor in my decision to stay in the house during Irma this past weekend. It has only run for fairly brief power outages before that. I must have said to my wife every ten minutes during the storm "I love that Generator" as the a/c continued, the TV stayed on, the refrigerators and freezers kept working, and cooked our dinner all while the houses of the neighbors were dark as FPL kicked off about 4:00. I have it serviced every year at a considerable expense but I'll never regret that cost again.

Gill

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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by pshonore » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:06 pm

I spent $150 on a transfer switch and $500 on a 6500 watt generator. It runs the water pump (critical), frig, oil burner, microwave, lights, computers, TV, coffee pot, (not all started at once either) Its not quiet, and burns almost 5 gallons of gas a day but we used it for 7 or 8 days during Storm Irene(?) six or seven years ago. Not so much lately. In fact, I should do my semi-annual test it this week. After that experience, all my neighbors did the same.

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Conch55
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Conch55 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:09 pm

I realize this a subjective question but how is the noise from whole house generators? I've heard a couple running in my area, probably in monthly test mode, and they were loud. I guess that's the tradeoff to have everything operating normally.

queso
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by queso » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:18 pm

We had a portable for years and stocked gasoline and would only run it during outages just to keep from having to toss what's in the freezers. It worked fine, but was definitely a bare bones kind of setup and as others have pointed out it required me being vigilant about storing a lot of gas with Stabil in it and rotating it out in my vehicles and lawn equipment so it was reasonably fresh.

We replaced it a year ago with a whole house Kohler natural gas unit with an automatic transfer switch. When the power goes out the transfer switch senses it and starts the generator and everything is back up in a few seconds. Total cost was high (about $12k), but we are in a HCOL area and wanted it in a location that was not the easiest place for them to put it (on the opposite side of the house as the panel and gas meter and on a pad with our AC units). It self-tests weekly and reports to us when/if it has issues so we can take action (no issues so far). The noise level from inside the house is similar to somebody mowing the lawn outside so that's a non-issue. It's very easy to maintain yourself and I would definitely suggest you do that if you plan to run it during an extended outage. I stocked up on 4-5 maintenance kits (spark plugs, air filter, oil and oil filter) so I can run it for quite a while still maintaining manufacturer recommended filter/oil changes. I repurposed the portable compressor for use in my shed/workshop but could always have sold it as well. I figure it's good to have a backup to the backup should the natural gas supply ever fail in an extended outage.

Was it worth it? So far, no, but it's hard to put a price on my family's peace of mind.

Dandy
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Dandy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:44 pm

I have neither. But Sandy certainly taught us a lesson that gas generators were really a good solution for a 4 or 5 day loss of electricity. Our gas stations couldn't pump gas so those with generators were in a bind. So, natural gas seems like a more reliable choice if the outage is likely to be longer than your reliable supply of gas.

deskjockey
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by deskjockey » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:57 pm

Conch55 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:09 pm
I realize this a subjective question but how is the noise from whole house generators? I've heard a couple running in my area, probably in monthly test mode, and they were loud. I guess that's the tradeoff to have everything operating normally.
Mine is pretty quiet when you're in the house--I have a whole house generator running off our natural gas line. In my daughter's bedroom, which is right above the generator, it is a bit more noticeable, but not by much--she was able to sleep with it on the one time the power was out at night. If you're outside the house, it's definitely louder, especially when the power is out and there is no other noise. I know it would suck to be my neighbor during an outage, having to listen to the generator while not having power.

Like several folks here, I got it after some prolonged outages, then haven't had any major ones since, and only a few lasting more than a couple of minutes. I'm not sure it was the best use of our funds (total cost was 13K installed), but we got it for the peace of mind more than anything else.

mouses
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by mouses » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:39 pm

What happens with natural gas generators when they're under a foot or three of snow? Do they care? Do they have vents that need to be cleaned off?

The descriptions of the noise sound like they are quite loud. Are we talking like a reel mower or like the noise from one of those driving lawn mowers?

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:44 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:39 pm
What happens with natural gas generators when they're under a foot or three of snow? Do they care? Do they have vents that need to be cleaned off?

The descriptions of the noise sound like they are quite loud. Are we talking like a reel mower or like the noise from one of those driving lawn mowers?
Most of the whole home gensets around here have their own shelters built in and do fine with snow and rain The problem that can and has come up in a heavy storm is the gas lines will fail to be kept running and/or become water contaminated as they did with Sandy.
When equipped with their typical sound shields many of these gensets both permanent and portable can barely be heard from 30' out on a quiet day.

ResearchMed
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:47 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:39 pm
What happens with natural gas generators when they're under a foot or three of snow? Do they care? Do they have vents that need to be cleaned off?

The descriptions of the noise sound like they are quite loud. Are we talking like a reel mower or like the noise from one of those driving lawn mowers?
Ours is a bit noisy, but it's right under one of our LR windows (not insulated, nice old house :( ) and isn't disruptive at all.
It was a lot noisier recently, but once we had it serviced, the noise level was much, much less.
But it's not like a hand pushed simple mower. There is a motor in there.
The casing is padded inside somewhat for noise control, which I'm sure helps a lot.

Yes, it has vents that need to be kept clear.
We've asked the crew that clear our driveway to have someone walk over (about 15-20 feet) to clear a space in front of both "ends" especially , which are where the vents are.

RM
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dratkinson
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by dratkinson » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:06 pm

This topic has been discussed a few times on the forum. My recollection is a professionally-installed 20KW whole-house automatic NG generator is ~$10K. A portable gasoline generator backup capability can be had for much less, assuming you buy the pieces parts (generator, electrical sub-panel or generator interlock kit, electrical inlet and weather housing, wire, a few 6-gal gas cans,...) and install them yourself. A quieter generator is preferred over a noisy one.

Search: http://www.google.com/search?q=generato ... .org/forum

You'll find many interesting discussions. One member's electrical backup during power outages is a solar array and battery bank. Another member uses his Prius' in autostart mode to power home essentials through an inverter. Sweet.



I believe how much you spend comes down to your dependents' abilities to operate a portable system in your absence. And I believe that ability can be learned, practiced, and written down in an easy-to-follow checklist as a memory aid. Then when the generator is needed, the checklist makes the task read-a-step do-a-step simple---like baking a cake.

If your dependents don't have the physical ability to operate a portable generator system, then you'll need to spend more for a system that does all of the work for them.



Disclosure. Generator Operator's Guide.

I wrote a generator operator's guide to take care of me---so I don't need to reinvent the (how-to knowledge) wheel during an outage. It covers every step required, from taking generator out of long-term storage and prepping for use, to returning it to long-term storage.

I haven't had any extended power outages since installing my portable system. A forum member said the meta-message here is that when we self-insure against power outages, then we're less likely to need the insurance. I'm content with that situation.

So far I've only demonstrated my system to one interested friend. I let him run the checklists to switch the house over to generator power. He said it seemed simple enough to do.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

BanquetBeer
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by BanquetBeer » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:08 pm

I wonder how much of a tesla power wall and solar power you can get for that price. Seems like enough to run fridge, tv, and lights but probably not AC (window unit in bedroom?)

simple man
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by simple man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:20 pm

It seems like a key issue here is whether natural gas would keep flowing in an emergency. I have been in the South for most of my life with lots of hurricanes and I have never heard of natural gas pipes being curtailed. That is a new one on me. I wonder what they had in Sandy that made that happen. Here, everything is underground, and unless a main breaks - which is there is no reason to - I am not sure why they would stop the flow...Someone mentioned water in the pipes. Not sure how that would happen. These are pressurized pipes that are air tight...Anyone have any experiences here of examples when natural gas stopped flowing? Would love to hear about it since it is a key factor.

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:54 pm

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:20 pm
It seems like a key issue here is whether natural gas would keep flowing in an emergency. I have been in the South for most of my life with lots of hurricanes and I have never heard of natural gas pipes being curtailed. That is a new one on me. I wonder what they had in Sandy that made that happen. Here, everything is underground, and unless a main breaks - which is there is no reason to - I am not sure why they would stop the flow...Someone mentioned water in the pipes. Not sure how that would happen. These are pressurized pipes that are air tight...Anyone have any experiences here of examples when natural gas stopped flowing? Would love to hear about it since it is a key factor.
The gas grid relies on electric pumps to maintain pressure and integrity - once optimum pressure was lost the gas lines had ice crystallization in many places and it took weeks to get them back online. Here is one article that speaks about these situations and weakness's.....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwi ... 9846a3cefd

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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by The Wizard » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:15 pm

smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:54 pm

The gas grid relies on electric pumps to maintain pressure and integrity - once optimum pressure was lost the gas lines had ice crystallization in many places and it took weeks to get them back online. Here is one article that speaks about these situations and weakness's.....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwi ... 9846a3cefd
Excellent answer.
So question #2: do all natural gas compressor stations in Florida (or wherever) have backup electric generators?
Attempted new signature...

simas
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by simas » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:24 pm

"It seems like a key issue here is whether natural gas would keep flowing in an emergency."

generally yes. once exception that turns them off is any earthquake activity (so do not do it in places which have earthquakes).

Also, if you want the pain of going with generator, wouldn't you pay small fraction of it to isolate key loads (heat, cooling, fridge) and may be put a battery for this. you do not need to power washing machine, dryer, 65 inch tv, 4 computers, 2 game console, but having the power on for the water pump may be very handy..

keaton
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:02 pm

Personally, I am on the cheaper side and would only buy and run a diesel generator. Higher output, much longer lasting, fuel stores easily, and a lot more efficient then any other fuel source.

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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:13 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:02 pm
Personally, I am on the cheaper side and would only buy and run a diesel generator. Higher output, much longer lasting, fuel stores easily, and a lot more efficient then any other fuel source.
I have had a number of diesel gensets - be careful what you wish for.

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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:17 pm

smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:13 pm
I have had a number of diesel gensets - be careful what you wish for.
As in??

I'm actually running a 20KW as we speak, easy peasy!

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:24 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:17 pm
smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:13 pm
I have had a number of diesel gensets - be careful what you wish for.
As in??

I'm actually running a 20KW as we speak, easy peasy!

Required battery power to start the genset, noise levels, exhaust heat, availability of parts, and the ability for most folks to easily fix simple problems with the genset.
Which diesel engine do you have on the genset?

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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:31 pm

Maintaining a diesel is a lot simpler then a petrol based gen.

No spark plug to change
Less frequent oil changes
No carb to clean or have fuel go bad in the bowl

Parts would all depend on the type of gen you had, one with a yanmar block would be very simple. Tons of tractors with the same motor!

Yes, noise is an issue... I'm running a northern lights with 12K hours, try that on a petrol!

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tcassette
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by tcassette » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:36 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:02 pm
Personally, I am on the cheaper side and would only buy and run a diesel generator. Higher output, much longer lasting, fuel stores easily, and a lot more efficient then any other fuel source.
A diesel generator will be more expensive to buy and maintain, and the fuel will be more hassle to store than a LPG generator. Obviously a natural gas fueled generator has no fuel storage issues, but, as others have commented, supply reliability in some areas may be a problem. The DG may well last longer, but given the actual hours put on the average home generator, that is probably overkill.

keaton
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:44 pm

- Diesel is a lot safer to store then LPG and you wouldn't need as much due to efficiency
- Diesel gens are less maintenance intensive, not more
- Yes, buying new, diesel gens will cost more

I'm pretty much off grid 90% of my life, so maintenance, load balancing and usability of systems is just part of my life style.

Just a different perspective to throw into the mix.

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:52 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:31 pm
Maintaining a diesel is a lot simpler then a petrol based gen.

No spark plug to change
Less frequent oil changes
No carb to clean or have fuel go bad in the bowl

Parts would all depend on the type of gen you had, one with a yanmar block would be very simple. Tons of tractors with the same motor!

Yes, noise is an issue... I'm running a northern lights with 12K hours, try that on a petrol!
Most folks cannot do well with diesels but since you have the knack perhaps you can say why you produce your own power since its is cheaper to pull it off the grid?
FWIW - spark plugs are quite easy - fresh gasoline is often plentiful for many of us and carbs never get dirty when they are run dry.
Adjusting governors, dealing with injectors and diesel fuel filters often trips up the garage diy crowd.

sleepysurf
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by sleepysurf » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:32 am

The Wizard wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:15 pm
smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:54 pm

The gas grid relies on electric pumps to maintain pressure and integrity - once optimum pressure was lost the gas lines had ice crystallization in many places and it took weeks to get them back online. Here is one article that speaks about these situations and weakness's.....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwi ... 9846a3cefd
Excellent answer.
So question #2: do all natural gas compressor stations in Florida (or wherever) have backup electric generators?
We're in FL, and have an 11 year old natural gas 16 kW Generac whole house unit. Before installing, I called our local natural gas company and asked about potential loss of gas during hurricane, flooding, etc. They reassured me that it's extremely unlikely, and they have backup power and support, but did not provide details. In 11 years, the generator has never failed. It's automatically kicked in over a dozen times (usually short term storm outages), including about 2 hrs Sunday, during Irma. Our longest outage was a couple years ago when a local transformer blew up, and it took almost 24 hrs for repair. IMHO, the ~$10k invested in the permanent generator when amortized over an 11+ year lifespan, is well worth the piece of mind. Routine service runs ~$250/yr (oil change, prn battery replacement, etc.), and even less if DIY.

One caveat... my Generac Service guy says the newer Generac units have a higher failure rate for the logic/control boards than the older models like mine.

smitcat
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by smitcat » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:11 am

sleepysurf wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:32 am
The Wizard wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:15 pm
smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:54 pm

The gas grid relies on electric pumps to maintain pressure and integrity - once optimum pressure was lost the gas lines had ice crystallization in many places and it took weeks to get them back online. Here is one article that speaks about these situations and weakness's.....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwi ... 9846a3cefd
Excellent answer.
So question #2: do all natural gas compressor stations in Florida (or wherever) have backup electric generators?
We're in FL, and have an 11 year old natural gas 16 kW Generac whole house unit. Before installing, I called our local natural gas company and asked about potential loss of gas during hurricane, flooding, etc. They reassured me that it's extremely unlikely, and they have backup power and support, but did not provide details. In 11 years, the generator has never failed. It's automatically kicked in over a dozen times (usually short term storm outages), including about 2 hrs Sunday, during Irma. Our longest outage was a couple years ago when a local transformer blew up, and it took almost 24 hrs for repair. IMHO, the ~$10k invested in the permanent generator when amortized over an 11+ year lifespan, is well worth the piece of mind. Routine service runs ~$250/yr (oil change, prn battery replacement, etc.), and even less if DIY.

One caveat... my Generac Service guy says the newer Generac units have a higher failure rate for the logic/control boards than the older models like mine.

I am not sure what you might expect your local energy company to tell you when you ask about their potential weak points in a disaster.
During hurricane Sandy here on Long Island NY we had larger area outages that lasted for a week or more. In many of the areas that were out over a couple of days there were problems with the natural gas grid - both in feed pressure and with moisture/water in the system.
If you call PS&G up today and ask them if it was a problem they would say no.
If you call up a local politician today and ask if there was looting and enforcement problems they would say no.

Our portable inverter genset is going on 14 years now with over 2,000 hrs of use with very little maintenance required. During Sandy it ran for the better parts of 14 days and at other times it ran for many hours as well. But it is also used for events and tasks that are not due to power loss on the grid and that is where the hours add up - all for less than $1,500.

ddurrett896
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by ddurrett896 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:50 am

simple man wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:22 pm
I want to have emergency power capability for my home and am considering a large portable generator (gasoline powered) or a fixed Generac style generator that I can connect to my natural gas pipeline. Both would have either a direct connection to a transfer switch or for the portable, be able to plug into it directly. Obviously, the pros to the portable is I can use it elsewhere. The con is I have to keep gasoline stocked. I am leaning towards the permanent style so I don't have to have fuel. Also, from stories I have heard, it is likely that if I sell the house, I would likely get most of the value back in the increased sales price. Anyone have experience to recommend either way?
Couple of things to consider.

Portability: With a portable unit you will likely never use it away from your house because of the weight. No winner!
Value on sale: Sure you might get $ back from the sale of the home, however with a portable unit you can take it with you. No winner!
Fuel: this is the biggie. Like you said gasoline stocked can be a challenge, but not if you prepare in advance. Plus you can get a multi fuel generator that runs on gas or propane. There is the chance that if you go with a whole house generator on NG that you will lose the supply. Think about it, if you lose power what stops the supplier from losing power?

keaton
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by keaton » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:13 pm

smitcat wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:52 pm
Most folks cannot do well with diesels but since you have the knack perhaps you can say why you produce your own power since its is cheaper to pull it off the grid?
FWIW - spark plugs are quite easy - fresh gasoline is often plentiful for many of us and carbs never get dirty when they are run dry.
Adjusting governors, dealing with injectors and diesel fuel filters often trips up the garage diy crowd.
Boat and house both off grid...

bettyboopmary
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by bettyboopmary » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:27 pm

pochax wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:33 pm
i bought a generac whole house generator (nat gas fuel) in late summer of 2012. Superstorm Sandy hit us and knocked power out in my town for 7 full days. i have not had a power outage of more than a few hours since. Have i gotten my money's worth? probably not, but the peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on it.
LOL same here....as soon as I got the whole house generac for Irene I think, one day out and then no power outages for years!!!! :oops:

1 1/2 days for Matthew last year....it must confer immunity :beer

But the peace of mind is priceless AND you don't want to be out and about looking for gas when it hits the fan...there is none!

jdb
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by jdb » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:03 pm

Interesting thread. Listening to our 27KW generator running outside the house as read this thread, it has been running now for over 5 days since (and during) Hurricane Irma, powering house including two a/c compressors. And not that noisy, far less than portable generators. Problem here in south Florida is there are no gas lines to homes so we rely on resupply from propane companies and they are very backed up, we are on a waiting list for resupply. Question is whether the power will come back on before propane fuel runs out, figure we have at most a couple days left of supply. But had portable generator after Andrew for the almost 3 weeks without power with extension cords throughout house and don't want to go through that again, great thing about whole house generator is that it runs the a/c, can't overestimate value during hot weather following hurricane.

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dratkinson
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by dratkinson » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:25 am

jdb wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:03 pm
Interesting thread. Listening to our 27KW generator running outside the house as read this thread, it has been running now for over 5 days since (and during) Hurricane Irma, powering house including two a/c compressors. And not that noisy, far less than portable generators. Problem here in south Florida is there are no gas lines to homes so we rely on resupply from propane companies and they are very backed up, we are on a waiting list for resupply. Question is whether the power will come back on before propane fuel runs out, figure we have at most a couple days left of supply. But had portable generator after Andrew for the almost 3 weeks without power with extension cords throughout house and don't want to go through that again, great thing about whole house generator is that it runs the a/c, can't overestimate value during hot weather following hurricane.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Recall reading a book about how the Amish live without electricity. The short answer: they don't, they just run their home generator 2-3 hrs in the morning as the house wakes up, and 2-3 hrs in the evening around supper time. The rest of the time the house coasts without electricity.

If you truly fear you may run out of fuel, now might be a good time to begin rationing your remainder. A few hours of generator runtime in the AM and PM should keep your refrigerator cold (fill refrigerator/freezer with plastic milk jugs filled with water to extend cooling capacity).

While the generator is running, can do your cooking, recharge your battery lights, read emails,... otherwise, live like you did during Andrew.

Better to suffer a little inconvenience than to run out of fuel. If you begin running 6-hrs/day (3hrs in AM/PM), you could stretch your remaining fuel ~8 more days (=2x24/6). If you begin running 4-hrs/day (2hrs in AM/PM), you could stretch your remaining fuel ~12 more days (=2x24/4). That should give you more time to get your fuel resupplied.

May find more ideas by searching: http://www.google.com/search?q=how+Amish+use+generator

Best wishes.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

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Sheepdog
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:08 am

I find this thread of interest as just 2 days ago I requested quotations from 2 installers for a whole house generator run on natural gas. They will provide the quotes next week. It wouldn't be a large unit as we cook, heat water, dry clothes, and heat with gas. We rarely have electric outages here in my area of the Midwest, but we do occasionally like 2 weeks ago and it lasted less than 3 hours. I hooked up a small gasoline powered generator and ran extension cords to keep my refrigerator going and to have some lights and tv. It happened about 9:30 pm or so. As I set it up in near darkness using a flashlight I began to think about the fact that I am getting up there in age and someday I may very well not be able to get it going and my spouse could never be able to do it. We could have a blizzard or ice storm again someday, a rare happening, but they do happen. I feel that we may be fortunate to have this costly, but prudent emergency backup. (My close by neighbors may not be pleased with the noise, though, when tests are being run.)
People should not say everything they think. They should think about everything they say.

lazydavid
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by lazydavid » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:22 am

jdb wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:03 pm
Interesting thread. Listening to our 27KW generator running outside the house as read this thread, it has been running now for over 5 days since (and during) Hurricane Irma, powering house including two a/c compressors. And not that noisy, far less than portable generators.
27kW has you into the more elaborate/premium units, which are generally quieter, due to a combination of better baffling, liquid cooling, and 1800RPM engines. The less-expensive models that are more common top out at 20-22kW depending on brand, and are quite a bit noisier with their 3600RPM air-cooled engines.

pshonore
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by pshonore » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:46 am

Sheepdog wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:08 am
I find this thread of interest as just 2 days ago I requested quotations from 2 installers for a whole house generator run on natural gas. They will provide the quotes next week. It wouldn't be a large unit as we cook, heat water, dry clothes, and heat with gas. We rarely have electric outages here in my area of the Midwest, but we do occasionally like 2 weeks ago and it lasted less than 3 hours. I hooked up a small gasoline powered generator and ran extension cords to keep my refrigerator going and to have some lights and tv. It happened about 9:30 pm or so. As I set it up in near darkness using a flashlight I began to think about the fact that I am getting up there in age and someday I may very well not be able to get it going and my spouse could never be able to do it. We could have a blizzard or ice storm again someday, a rare happening, but they do happen. I feel that we may be fortunate to have this costly, but prudent emergency backup. (My close by neighbors may not be pleased with the noise, though, when tests are being run.)
You could also consider just installing a transfer switch (a way of connecting the generator to your house wiring) with the existing generator. Running extension cords is limiting and of course cannot be used with water pumps, furnaces, stoves, etc.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:13 am

pshonore wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:46 am
Sheepdog wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:08 am
I find this thread of interest as just 2 days ago I requested quotations from 2 installers for a whole house generator run on natural gas. They will provide the quotes next week. It wouldn't be a large unit as we cook, heat water, dry clothes, and heat with gas. We rarely have electric outages here in my area of the Midwest, but we do occasionally like 2 weeks ago and it lasted less than 3 hours. I hooked up a small gasoline powered generator and ran extension cords to keep my refrigerator going and to have some lights and tv. It happened about 9:30 pm or so. As I set it up in near darkness using a flashlight I began to think about the fact that I am getting up there in age and someday I may very well not be able to get it going and my spouse could never be able to do it. We could have a blizzard or ice storm again someday, a rare happening, but they do happen. I feel that we may be fortunate to have this costly, but prudent emergency backup. (My close by neighbors may not be pleased with the noise, though, when tests are being run.)
You could also consider just installing a transfer switch (a way of connecting the generator to your house wiring) with the existing generator. Running extension cords is limiting and of course cannot be used with water pumps, furnaces, stoves, etc.
With a transfer panel, all my wife has to do is turn the propane on, crank the generator (battery start) and flip the circuits on at the transfer panel. The generator has front wheels, and a lift bar at the other end. Still too heavy for wife, but neighbors very helpful. It can be set up and running in 15 minutes even if it hasn't been staged at it's running location.

I really, really, really like the idea of a whole-house generator, but the fear of running out of fuel gives me pause.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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Sheepdog
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:06 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:13 am

With a transfer panel, all my wife has to do is turn the propane on, crank the generator (battery start) and flip the circuits on at the transfer panel. The generator has front wheels, and a lift bar at the other end. Still too heavy for wife, but neighbors very helpful. It can be set up and running in 15 minutes even if it hasn't been staged at it's running location.
I really, really, really like the idea of a whole-house generator, but the fear of running out of fuel gives me pause.

Broken Man 1999
Broken Man,
In regards to having a transfer panel....that would be okay for most people. For me, I want something which I don't have to set up...like in very old age with potential mobility problems. My wife already had mobility problems, so that would be of no help for her.

In regards to you potentially running out of fuel, I would be connected to my natural gas pipe line so I am not concerned. You evidently don't have that source. If I had propane, I would be sure to keep the tank over half full just in case just for these emergencies, I guess
People should not say everything they think. They should think about everything they say.

ResearchMed
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:24 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:13 am
pshonore wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:46 am
Sheepdog wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:08 am
I find this thread of interest as just 2 days ago I requested quotations from 2 installers for a whole house generator run on natural gas. They will provide the quotes next week. It wouldn't be a large unit as we cook, heat water, dry clothes, and heat with gas. We rarely have electric outages here in my area of the Midwest, but we do occasionally like 2 weeks ago and it lasted less than 3 hours. I hooked up a small gasoline powered generator and ran extension cords to keep my refrigerator going and to have some lights and tv. It happened about 9:30 pm or so. As I set it up in near darkness using a flashlight I began to think about the fact that I am getting up there in age and someday I may very well not be able to get it going and my spouse could never be able to do it. We could have a blizzard or ice storm again someday, a rare happening, but they do happen. I feel that we may be fortunate to have this costly, but prudent emergency backup. (My close by neighbors may not be pleased with the noise, though, when tests are being run.)
You could also consider just installing a transfer switch (a way of connecting the generator to your house wiring) with the existing generator. Running extension cords is limiting and of course cannot be used with water pumps, furnaces, stoves, etc.
With a transfer panel, all my wife has to do is turn the propane on, crank the generator (battery start) and flip the circuits on at the transfer panel. The generator has front wheels, and a lift bar at the other end. Still too heavy for wife, but neighbors very helpful. It can be set up and running in 15 minutes even if it hasn't been staged at it's running location.

I really, really, really like the idea of a whole-house generator, but the fear of running out of fuel gives me pause.

Broken Man 1999
Running out of fuel doesn't need to be a concern.
Just turn off the circuits you don't want to use, (And perhaps don't even connect all of the circuits in the first place.)
No need to run all the lights, or even the AC full time, if it's an extended outage, but you've got them if you want them.
And it's "connected and ready to go", even if you aren't home when "x" happens, or if someone is just unable to "get to the equipment".

The cost would be more to install, regardless of fuel source.
But one installed, you could use more or less fuel depending upon what you have powered, and how long you keep each "on" throughout the days/nights.
(Some fuel sources could be hard-piped, but not all, so that might be the only 'limiting' factor to true automation.)

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

ResearchMed
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Re: Large portable generator vs. permanent natural gas generator for home

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:31 am

Sheepdog wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:06 am
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:13 am

With a transfer panel, all my wife has to do is turn the propane on, crank the generator (battery start) and flip the circuits on at the transfer panel. The generator has front wheels, and a lift bar at the other end. Still too heavy for wife, but neighbors very helpful. It can be set up and running in 15 minutes even if it hasn't been staged at it's running location.
I really, really, really like the idea of a whole-house generator, but the fear of running out of fuel gives me pause.

Broken Man 1999
Broken Man,
In regards to having a transfer panel....that would be okay for most people. For me, I want something which I don't have to set up...like in very old age with potential mobility problems. My wife already had mobility problems, so that would be of no help for her.

In regards to you potentially running out of fuel, I would be connected to my natural gas pipe line so I am not concerned. You evidently don't have that source. If I had propane, I would be sure to keep the tank over half full just in case just for these emergencies, I guess
Sheepdog:

This may be terminology (not sure) but a "transfer switch" (or panel?) can be automated.
Our transfer switch was installed to be automatically triggered by a power outage, and then almost instantly, the "switch" occurs, and the generator is powering everything it's supposed to.
(We didn't connect all circuits; that wasn't necessary for an emergency, and allowed us to get a smaller generator. The main thing not connected is the AC.)

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

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