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OT- Generator Help Please

I noticed from the hurricane thread that some of you have generators, and some of you have them hooked up to your house.

I was very lucky not to lose power during the storm. If I did, my basement pump would not have worked, and my basement would
have been flooded. It was surely a wake up call that I need something.

Now, do I go out and buy a small generator and just hook that up to the basement pump when necessary, or is it worth it
to spend 5 grand on one that hooks up to the house. If I spend the 5 grand, how many things can work ?

I guess the main question is, how many times do I have to keep filling it up with gas in order for it to work during lets say
a four hour blackout.

Thanks !

Comments

  • derrybderryb Posts: 36,009 ✭✭✭✭✭
    smaller the generator the less gas it consumes, smaller the generator the less appliances/lights/motors you can turn on at one time. I'd stick with around 5k watts and plan on running only emergency items. Best to install a separate 220V panel breaker that feeds a dedicated receptacle outlet (clothes dryer type). This will be your main breaker for the generator to supply voltage to the power panel. To operate, open (turn off) main house breaker, plug generator into dryer receptacle, fire up generator, close (turn on) the newly installed main breaker for the generator and only turn on other breakers for things you want powered up. You will know if you turned on too many things, new generator main breaker will trip or generator will bog way down. Key is to never have panel house main breaker and panel generator main breaker closed (on) at the same time. Danger in using too small a wire from generator to generator main breaker in panel or using too large a main breaker for the generator. Also danger when generator is running and its male plug is not plugged into receptacle, plut is hot! Consult a licensed electrician for one time installation to ensure proper sizing of breaker and wire and instructions on safe future use. For any extended use of a household generator it is best to first open the house main breaker and pull the meter strait out from the meter base on the outside of the house. Serves the same purpose of opening the maining house breaker and guarantees you won't shock a working utility employee upstream with your generator.

    Compare the price to install/operate above set-up with that of a whole house electric or propane generator that is permanently installed with ABT (automatic buss transfer) that automatically disconnects from street and fires up generator on loss of power.

    Other option and most economical is a very small generator that you can just plug limited 110 volt things into.

    "Do you hear alarm bells ringing? Neither do I. And that’s a huge problem." - Simon Black

  • I am also interested in opinions. Thanks.
  • guitarwesguitarwes Posts: 9,232 ✭✭✭

    As someone pointed out in that thread, those built in ground level generators won't work when they're 4' under water. IMO, best to have a portable generator that runs on diesel or gasoline. A 5kwatt generator should suffice to run most anything you NEED during a blackout or extended power outage until the power co. can get you back up. Either a straight hookup to the house (with disconnect to the power co) or just sitting wherever with extention cords is good. Each situation is unique so do it the way that will work best for you. Consult a licensed Electrician to do the panel box if you want to connect it to your house's main panel box. This is not something a novice should do. Get them to write down what you can turn on during said power outage to not overload the generator or circuts.

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  • Downtown1974Downtown1974 Posts: 6,663 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>

    I was very lucky not to lose power during the storm. If I did, my basement pump would not have worked, and my basement would
    have been flooded. It was surely a wake up call that I need something. >>



    I know exactly what you mean. I had this talk with my wife the day the hurricane hit. I had water in my basement once, and that is something I never want to deal with again.
    I had my basement trenched out on all 4 sides and had a pump put in. Never had water again. Even with the 4+ inches of rain Irene left us, my basement was dry as a bone. But its useless without power, so Im going to Lowes tomorrow to buy a small generator. (3500-4000 watts)
  • derrybderryb Posts: 36,009 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>I know exactly what you mean. I had this talk with my wife the day the hurricane hit. I had water in my basement once, and that is something I never want to deal with again.
    I had my basement trenched out on all 4 sides and had a pump put in. Never had water again. Even with the 4+ inches of rain Irene left us, my basement was dry as a bone. But its useless without power, so Im going to Lowes tomorrow to buy a small generator. (3500-4000 watts) >>


    wait for hysteria to die down, you'll get it cheaper. they will be overstocked.

    "Do you hear alarm bells ringing? Neither do I. And that’s a huge problem." - Simon Black

  • InYHWHWeTrustInYHWHWeTrust Posts: 1,448 ✭✭✭
    Parents have the Generac whole house hookup to natural gas, very happy with it. Has a battery that needs checking on every so often (crank tests/ weekly, runs 15 min), cost was around 10K with new construction.

    I have a Honda generator, same since 1999 (Hurricane Floyd), very quiet, 3.5 hrs/ gallon and 3 gallon tank. Before moving, I had electirician add the special connection to our breaker panel with SPECIFIC instructions, as has been mentioned above and the larger connector wire he provided. 2500-5000W aren't too expensive, depending on when you buy them and where you live.

    In our current home, 6 years ago, I didn't to the breaker hookup because it's usually the basement sump (just incase), refrig/freezer and few smaller items like fans, lights we NEED to run. Yes, the wires are a pain, but risk is less on my stupidity or getting things out of order, and electrician wouldn't do the hookup initially (code in a different county). I also could get a friend to do it anytime, but hasn't been a priority.

    Generator will pay for itself with a freezer or two worth of food and for those who catch their own fish/freeze their own seafood (like us), ....priceless.
    Do your best to avoid circular arguments, as it will help you reason better, because better reasoning is often a result of avoiding circular arguments.
  • piecesofmepiecesofme Posts: 6,669 ✭✭✭
    Just remember when you're sitting in your bomb shelter to wear your tin foil hat so the Russians wont be able to read your thoughts. imageimage


    When it's your time, it's your time...and a generator aint gonna help one bit.
    To forgive is to free a prisoner, and to discover that prisoner was you.
  • guitarwesguitarwes Posts: 9,232 ✭✭✭

    We're not talking about an all-out nuclear attack, we're talking a few days without power, which is very likely at any moment of any day.

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  • piecesofmepiecesofme Posts: 6,669 ✭✭✭
    Notice the icons Wes...was just trying to add a little humor to the thread.
    To forgive is to free a prisoner, and to discover that prisoner was you.
  • guitarwesguitarwes Posts: 9,232 ✭✭✭

    Of course, if all else fails, you could always hook the generator up to your tinfoil hat and be done with it. image


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  • JCMhoustonJCMhouston Posts: 5,306 ✭✭✭
    I used to use a 5kw portable generator, it would run the fridge and 1 portable AC unit. Downssides, you have to keep filling it with gas a couple fo times a day and most of the engines are only rated for a maximum of 100-200 hours. Now I have a 14kw natural gas powered GE system with a 200 AMP whole house transfer switch. When the power goes out it takes about 30 seconds for the generator to come on line and stabalize, it runs a 5 ton AC, fridge, freezer, lights and tv. Basically anything in the house except an electric oven or range. It also has load shedding built in so that when the AC units starts up it will take power from the other circuits during the surge.
  • mhammermanmhammerman Posts: 3,769 ✭✭✭
    I got a Honda 3000 watt after the last hurricane left us juice-less for 10 days and I love how quiet it is. It holds lots of fuel and is very compact. I waited till after the hurricane to buy it, maybe 30 days. It was a little pricey but it will last forever. We have had power outages since then and I just fire it up, plug in and I've got juice. I use two main power cords to get in the house and then two multi-outlet recepticles to hook up the interior things. I can run the computers, keep the fridge and freezer going, lights, TV and cable box, and other things like that. I wouldn't try and run the range with it but running everything else is ezpz, including a small window unit A/C (needs 20 amps). You have to be careful with ventilation for these gas operated generators because the exhaust is deadly in a closed area so plan on having it outside. If you'll buy a siphon and some small (1 gal) gas containers, you will have an extra 20 gallons of fuel from your car gas tank, two cars-40 gal. but don't buy the 5 gals as they are so heavy and hard to manage pouring into a 1" opening with a 35 pound jug and a spout. Good luck out there.
  • 57loaded57loaded Posts: 4,967 ✭✭✭
    if you spend 3-5 grand to run your house (most of it) you will also need to get a generator transfer switch which is like a sub panel, but you control which circuits you want the generator to run.

    i have one that i manually plug into a transfer switch. the transfer switch has about 6 separate breakers that i can choose (all 20 AMP 120 volt) ....the generator won't run all at once...ie if the furnace and fridge should turn on at the same time.

    i've had a yamaha for about 7 years that i plug into a transfer switch. i've had power out for almost a week several times.

    i can run most lights, satellite TV, fridge at once very safely. i don't run the dishwasher or furnace and fridge at the same time. the generator will have a twist-lock socket that you'll use to plug into the transfer switch. the transfer switches maybe 4 wire and the generator is may be four or three wire...that's okay, as long as you know which wires to double up on. you don't want the generator to bog down if the fridge kicks in or run at top load (high rpm)

    ALSO....the cheap ones are LOUD like running your lawn-mower right outside your house and normally produce a "dirty" sine wave.

    also if you get a small honda or yamaha or whatever, the "juice" it puts out will be a clean sine wave so you could run your computer, TV, and other electronics with more peace of mind.

    edit i like the advice from mhammerman and gas. i have a five gallon jug and a siphon (to get it from my neighbors at night)...lol
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 4,312 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've had extremely good luck with two Honda2000's.

    They are each good for almost half a day on partial load. You can operate them in tandem and have 4000 peak load watts. Whisper quiet. Each one is light and easy to carry. You can take one on a camping trip and leave the other one behind. Operating them in tandem will allow you to run a room a/c. It's a little more expensive to buy your power this way but having two gives you a lot of flexibility. We've have hooked them together and used them for the a/c in the motorhome rather than the diesel generator at night as they are outside and don't make as much racket.

    About $500 each used if you can find them and a little over 1g new.
    Have a nice day
  • pf70collectorpf70collector Posts: 6,503 ✭✭✭
    I have been kind of lucky. Never really had a major power outage for 17 years where I live. Most maybe a few hours. Our development has all our wires buried. No poles at all. Guess it will happen one day. My only concern is my sump pump. My basement will flood in a major storm if the pump has no electricity. Thinking of buying a small generator for this purpose.
  • derrybderryb Posts: 36,009 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>I have been kind of lucky. Never really had a major power outage for 17 years where I live. Most maybe a few hours. Our development has all our wires buried. No poles at all. Guess it will happen one day. My only concern is my sump pump. My basement will flood in a major storm if the pump has no electricity. Thinking of buying a small generator for this purpose. >>


    Somewhere, between your house and the power company, those wires come out of the ground and travel for miles atop poles, probably under big trees. image

    "Do you hear alarm bells ringing? Neither do I. And that’s a huge problem." - Simon Black

  • VikingDudeVikingDude Posts: 1,295 ✭✭✭


    << <i>those built in ground level generators won't work when they're 4' under water. >>


    Or buried under snow & ice.

    And hopefully everyone knows that generators need to be outdoors!
  • AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 24,473 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ahhh, just go solar.


    bobimage
    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), [email protected]
  • fivecentsfivecents Posts: 11,207 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>And hopefully everyone knows that generators need to be outdoors! >>

    And it needs to be well grounded!
  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have a Generac whole-house generator with an automatic transfer switch. Mine is an 18 KW/20 KW model, meaning with natural gas it would generate up to 18 KW and with propane (which is what I have) I get 20 KW of power. Everything in my house is hooked up to the generator and everything works when the generator is running. I had this installed a couple years ago while renovating the basement of the home. Since my home was already propane-fed, all that was needed was to run a line to the generator. Some installations (for example, homes that are 100% electric for water heating, HVAC, etc) require installation of a dedicated propane tank.

    My generator uses almost two gallons of propane per hour during operation. I typically have 400-800 gallons in my underground propane tank, so I'm not concerned about how long a power outage in the area would last.

    This generator provides lots of peace of mind. PM if you have questions.

    A couple of pictures below: the generator itself and a pic of the automatic transfer switch box (which is in a utility closet that also contains a couple of electrical panels and the controls for the irrigation system).


    image
    image
  • fishcookerfishcooker Posts: 3,446 ✭✭
    How much fuel and what type is a great question. Many people ran out of diesel or gasoline, or had theirs stolen, during our last hurricane. People assumed they'd be able to buy fuel after the storm - not a good assumption.

    The situation depends on how many hours or days you expect it to run, how many things do you want to power, and how much money do you prefer to spend. Everybody's answer is a little different.
  • StaircoinsStaircoins Posts: 2,564 ✭✭✭

    I run a Honda EU6500is with a GenTran 240V transfer switch that powers 10 circuits that I chose throughout the house. When we lose power, it's a snap for my wife to wheel the generator into the driveway, plug it in and start it up. The transfer switch ensures that no generator power is fed back into the power grid. I wired the switch myself, but unless you're comfortable working inside an electrical panel, you should probably have it installed by a licensed electrician.

    The EU6500is is quiet (60db, less than the level of typical speech volume), produces pure filtered power that's safe for electronics, and has an 'eco-throttle' feature that helps save on gas. Depending on what appliances we run, a 4.5 gal tank will last at least 8-9 hours, and sometimes as much as 12 hours or more. It also has key start, low-oil warning and a few other niceties like an hour meter, digital display, etc.

    We run:
    well pump (240v) for water & showers
    furnace (we're in Maine) for heat and hot water
    fireplace blower
    refrigerator/freezer
    kitchen lights & outlets
    family room lights & outlets
    office lights & outlets, incl. computer
    entertainment center, incl. TV & DVD player
    lights in 2 bedrooms & bathrooms
    smoke detectors throughout the house

    When we're running on the generator, we usually fuel it first thing in the morning and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Sometimes the only thing we worry about is how to tell when the power has come back on!



  • guitarwesguitarwes Posts: 9,232 ✭✭✭

    found this for some pricing..........GENERAC. Not as bad as I thought they'd be.



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  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>found this for some pricing..........GENERAC. Not as bad as I thought they'd be. >>



    those prices are pretty standard across most dealers. You can easily get ten percent off and free shipping of Generac products through Home Depot online. (and at other dealers, but I had my success with Home Depot)

    Go to Home Depot online, find the product you want, click on it. While on the site you will get a window popup asking if you would like to chat with a product specialist. Say heck "yes" and chat with the specialist. Ask whatever questions you have. Be sure to ask something like "will this item be going on sale soon, so maybe I should delay purchase until then?" and the specialist will offer you a ten percent off code that is good for the remainder of that day. Cha-ching, you just saved some serious cash (especially if you buy the 20 kw model like I did)
  • morgansforevermorgansforever Posts: 8,425 ✭✭✭✭✭
    1 10kw gas generator here. I don't have it hooked up to the house,
    it's a stand alone. Used for the fridge, computer, coffee pot, and a couple lights.
    There is a slight problem locating fuel though, but I'm managing.
    World coins FSHO Hundreds of successful BST transactions U.S. coins FSHO
  • GoldbullyGoldbully Posts: 16,790 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Ahhh, just go solar.


    bobimage >>




    Funny how solar requires "REAL"electricity to perform its green energy!!! image
  • guitarwesguitarwes Posts: 9,232 ✭✭✭

    Dang, with the 10% off at Home Depot, a 20kW Generac package is less than $4k with free shipping. That's a great deal and probably the best $4k you can spend to have peace of mind......unless it was spent on some more lead shooters. image

    @ Elite CNC Routing & Woodworks on Facebook. Check out my work.
    Too many positive BST transactions with too many members to list.
  • OPAOPA Posts: 17,103 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Very interesting read...All I have is a couple of 400W inverters + 2 900W peak battery jump starters.... Each inverter has 2 AC outlets which are only good for powering a few lights in the house. PC does have a Power Source back up system. My system is like comparing a Model T to a Rolls Royce, but on the other hand, I've been fortunate not to have any extended power outages in the last 27 years.
    "Bongo drive 1984 Lincoln that looks like old coin dug from ground."
  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Dang, with the 10% off at Home Depot, a 20kW Generac package is less than $4k with free shipping. That's a great deal and probably the best $4k you can spend to have peace of mind......unless it was spent on some more lead shooters. image >>



    just be sure to get a sharp electrician to do the technical work...and someone who knows gas/propane to take care of the fuel hookups. You can dig the base and fill it with gravel, but someone else is usually better suited to the gas and electrical stuff.
  • MJPHELANMJPHELAN Posts: 759 ✭✭✭
    17K natural gas generator here. Home is solar powered, grid tied.
    Mark
  • bstat1020bstat1020 Posts: 2,151 ✭✭
    If you are strictly worried about running yor sump pump then they do sell battery back up systems for just the pump as well. Ace in the Hole is the only one I can think of right away.
  • 66Tbird66Tbird Posts: 2,857 ✭✭✭


    << <i>1 10kw gas generator here. I don't have it hooked up to the house,
    it's a stand alone. Used for the fridge, computer, coffee pot, and a couple lights.
    There is a slight problem locating fuel though, but I'm managing. >>



    Oh boy, pushing the limits on the system aren't you image

    I've found what works for me. For the little outages of an few hours or so the APC units I've stashed in each room works well for lights, computer, cordless phone, Tv, small stuff. Sometime I never ever know the power is out till I turn on something not hooked in. For those I did an auction lot for five APC 1000vac units wo/batteries for under a $100 to my door. Then I wired in some good 8 gauge and tied in series a couple used but good gel-cel deep-cylces (my units are 24v input). Works well and has been maintenance free for years.

    If its going on six hours or I need more power I roll out the 5K and flip a few breakers and I'm good with the freezers and such. Keep 'Stabil' in the gas and for storage shutdown turn the line valve off while its running to empty the carb. If I really need more I'll start the propane Owen 8k and power the bigger item, like the air-conditioner.

    All these items have just been cheap pickups over the years that needed something or other or I did a trade for. So it worked out well with no big cash output. Luckily I've never had to go all in with the 8Kw.

    In a few months all have 9KW of solar installed via grid tie to ease my power bill. Our utility co. was given the ok to do a 14% per year for seven year rate hike. They've never not taken if it given. I see energy cost as being our next big issue down the road in my parts. Guv incentives aren't going to be around forever, hop the bus or get hit by the train I figure.
    Need something designed and 3D printed?
  • morgansforevermorgansforever Posts: 8,425 ✭✭✭✭✭
    World coins FSHO Hundreds of successful BST transactions U.S. coins FSHO
  • percybpercyb Posts: 3,295 ✭✭✭
    This is very informative. Thanks everyone!
    "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." PBShelley
  • Hi Everyone I'm new here. And watch for the bundle of reviews about generators. Thanks to everyone.
    Am also have info about Best Ozone Generators For Hunting which is most comfortable for use. If anyone wants to see it please go to this link.

  • 1630Boston1630Boston Posts: 13,770 ✭✭✭✭✭

    .

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  • derrybderryb Posts: 36,009 ✭✭✭✭✭

    thanks for the thread revival. It made me go out and crank/test my generator. When I pulled it out I found a few 100 oz silver bars I forgot I had hidden.

    "Do you hear alarm bells ringing? Neither do I. And that’s a huge problem." - Simon Black

  • MsMorrisineMsMorrisine Posts: 32,003 ✭✭✭✭✭

    the exhaust smells like spam

    Current maintainer of Stone's Master List of Favorite Websites // My BST transactions
  • DrBusterDrBuster Posts: 5,299 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Holy thread bump batman, dang..

  • VikingDudeVikingDude Posts: 1,295 ✭✭✭

    @DrBuster said:
    Holy thread bump batman, dang..

    9½ years - must be close to a record?

  • VikingDudeVikingDude Posts: 1,295 ✭✭✭

    Just purchased a small generator a few weeks ago. Probably will never use it but good to have the piece of mind.

  • JustacommemanJustacommeman Posts: 22,847 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VikingDude said:
    Just purchased a small generator a few weeks ago. Probably will never use it but good to have the piece of mind.

    I bought a Firman the first week of the pandemic thinking and hoping the same thing. I ended up using it when we had an electrical fire outside due to high winds last week. It worked like a charm and the peace of mind is priceless,

    mark

    Walker Proof Digital Album
    Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pockets you better use them to call a tailor. Stay thirsty my friends......
  • hchcoinhchcoin Posts: 4,825 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lots of old names on this thread. I thought this was going to be about what's happening in Texas.

  • alexercaalexerca Posts: 243 ✭✭✭

    @edmundfitzgerald said:
    I noticed from the hurricane thread that some of you have generators, and some of you have them hooked up to your house.

    I was very lucky not to lose power during the storm. If I did, my basement pump would not have worked, and my basement would
    have been flooded. It was surely a wake up call that I need something.

    Now, do I go out and buy a small generator and just hook that up to the basement pump when necessary, or is it worth it
    to spend 5 grand on one that hooks up to the house. If I spend the 5 grand, how many things can work ?

    I guess the main question is, how many times do I have to keep filling it up with gas in order for it to work during lets say
    a four hour blackout.

    Thanks !

    I have a honda 2000 generator that I paid $1000 for and in a pinch you could run your pump and a small heater depending on pump. Actually have 2 of them I can hook together and have 4000 watts! They don't eat a lot of gas either!

  • yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,025 ✭✭✭✭✭

    FWIW... neighbor who just retired from our local Electric Co despised the Generac brand. Was ranting about them on FB after a storm. Said they were not worth the money and felt some people were being taken advantage of...

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

  • CoinHoarderCoinHoarder Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have a Generac GP7500E portable generator. I had a transfer switch installed a few years ago, so I can run the furnace, well pump, etc. I always store the generator empty with a can of Tru-Fuel in it to keep the carburetor from getting gummed up. Starts first time every time. Just the food that I have saved during power outages has more than covered the cost of the generator.

  • LazybonesLazybones Posts: 1,381 ✭✭✭✭✭

    6.5k here that runs my entire house like we never lost power.

    USAF (Ret) 1974 - 1994 - The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. Remembering RickO, a brother in arms.

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