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Old 12-30-2013, 04:52 AM
 
22 posts, read 41,568 times
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So being from west Texas I don't have a lot of experience with large generators. After the past ice storm and being without power for a few days I've decided to take the plunge and buy a backup generator.

I would like to power the furnace, boiler, well pump, sump pump, microwave and the fridge for sure. Some lights would be nice but not necessary

These are the two generators I'm currently eyeing.

Amazon.com: Generac 5734 GP15000E 15,000 Watt 992cc OHVI Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start: Patio, Lawn & Garden

Amazon.com: Powermate PM0601250 15,625 Watt 653cc 22 HP Subaru EH65 V-Twin Gas Powered Portable Generator With Electric Start: Patio, Lawn & Garden

Would these be overkill? I just figured the more power the better. I also have a question about 30amp versus 50 amp. Would I need a 50 amp transfer switch for my needs? It seems most people just run the 30 amps but from what I understand I wouldn't be able to get the full wattage out of the generator without the 50 amps. The 50 amp transfer switches I've seen are quite a bit more expensive.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:08 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,767 posts, read 14,900,712 times
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If you have a deep well water pump and an electric hot water heater you'll want 50 amps. If you are on city water and have a gas hot water heater 30 amps will be fine. If you are rural, get a propane fueled generator from Maine Diesel near Bangor. Have it professionally installed.

I run what I need with a Honda 2000i. They cost about $950. They are excellent generators and run 12 hours on a gallon of fuel if your load is not too high. They are safe for computers, microwaves etc.
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:03 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,156 posts, read 5,672,544 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
If you have a deep well water pump and an electric hot water heater you'll want 50 amps. If you are on city water and have a gas hot water heater 30 amps will be fine. If you are rural, get a propane fueled generator from Maine Diesel near Bangor. Have it professionally installed.

I run what I need with a Honda 2000i. They cost about $950. They are excellent generators and run 12 hours on a gallon of fuel if your load is not too high. They are safe for computers, microwaves etc.

You aren't running your whole house on that 2000 are you? That won't run your deep well pump or the electric hot water heater, if you had one. My neighbor just went through $550.00 of propane this last week. Course, the propane won't go bad in your tank...
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:53 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,128 posts, read 10,948,945 times
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Unless you have an electric water heater, you probably need a generator less than half that large. Be sure to budget for an electrician to install it. You need a transfer switch and some expensive cable to do that.
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Old 12-30-2013, 01:08 PM
 
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Line up a professional electrician first to install the necessary equipment. Tell him/her what you want to run and for how long you want to run it. He'll tell you the size generator you need and might even help you choose one. A whole-house gennie is a different kettle of fish from a portable model that just keeps the freezer and fridge from thawing.

If you already have propane (or natural gas) installed at your house, I'd recommend a gennie that uses propane/natgas as fuel. They may cost a little more up front, but the engines last a lot longer, too.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in deep in Maine
3,658 posts, read 2,791,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coaster View Post
If you already have propane (or natural gas) installed at your house, I'd recommend a gennie that uses propane/natgas as fuel. They may cost a little more up front, but the engines last a lot longer, too.
Not only that, but without any maintenance, it will start whenever you need it. It produces no gunk so after running your engine for 200 hours it will look new inside. Gasoline goes bad and fouls the carburator when you need it, and diesel has to have anti gelling agents when it gets too cold.

But you do have to decide if you are planning on running the whole house on it all the time. Unless you are in danger of losing power all the time, you may only want one that can be used in a rotating way:
some time for the refrig, some time to pump water, some time to charge batteries that are connected to lights, fans(maybe for wood stove), and computers. Maybe you want to get some Solar Panels or a wind generator. All of these things can give you an off grid capability in times when everyone is off grid.

If this is a regular thing, you might want to invest in some large golf cart batteries with sine-wave inverters for your florescent and LED lights, and your LED TV.

And of course, get rid of that electric hot water heater and replace it with propane(again you may need battery back up to get it started, or an electronic starter, and of course, you need a propane cooking range too. In fact maybe you need a Propane Refrigerator while you are at it.

Going off the grid or being prepared to go off grid, can be lots of fun. I did it years ago, though not now. We have a hospital on MDI, and anyplace with a hospital tends to get a higher priority.
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:32 PM
 
39 posts, read 55,397 times
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If you are a vetern; go to to the vetern Affairs Department and get your ID card. It's worth 10% discount at Home Depot. I would suggest a electric start Generac. A 1 1/2 horse well pump will draw 2800 watts. Then add up the utilities that you want. Hondas great but expensive. Generac is used by most utilities.
Last fall after Sandy, we were without electric for 8 days. Then the norester hit with about 12 inches.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:37 PM
 
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There are so many ways to go with a home generator, from completely portable units running a few things with extension cords, to manual start sets with manual transfer switches, to medium to large auto-start units with automatic transfer switches, the latter machines usually powered by natural gas/propane or diesel.

For me, I happened into owning two generators, one a gasoline-powered 5000 Watt model, something my employer was throwing away that simply needed a few carburetor parts and the second, a 3000 Watt unit I found second hand and cheap that hooks onto my Troy Bilt tiller. This latter unit is a diesel since I re-powered my tiller with a small, single cylinder diesel engine a few years ago.

That said, either unit can plug into a generator "inlet" that is wired to a generator breaker into my home's electrical panel with an interlock bracket that only lets this gen. breaker get turned on if the utility breaker is OFF. This in effect, turns the existing house breaker panel into a manual transfer switch. These are a kind of new development that saves on the cost of a manual transfer panel. For me, I don't mind wheeling one of the generators out, plugging it into the house, and then flipping 2 breakers on the main panel.

Other folks like a full auto start generator with an automatic transfer switch, but those are $$$$, not just to buy and install, but to maintain as well. We have a 13KW Onan unit at work on one of our dorms. It gets a professional service twice a year, and each visit is hundreds of $$$. Then there was the time a nearby lightning strike fried the circuit board in the auto. transfer switch (despite the surge protection), resulting in a $1350 repair bill.

The way my generator(s) get hooked up, they can run the whole house, if the generators were beefy enough. As it is, either generator can run as many lights as I want, the oil furnace, and start the well pump, along with the fridge and other stuff. Only the larger generator can run the electric water heater (3750 Watts) and even then, allowing the well pump to attempt a start while the water heater is heating causes the generator to struggle mightily so I if I need the water heater to recover, I make sure the well pump is switched off for the while. This isn't as hard as it sounds as the pressure tank holds plenty of water. If I want to do a wash or take a shower, I simply let the water heater heat first, then shut it off, while the well pump is turned back on. (The heater holds enough water for a wash or shower, meanwhile.)

Some people don't want to or cannot do those kinds of switch offs, so for them, a larger auto start gen. set is the way to go. But for me, I have a propane stove (not counting the wood cook stove) and a propane clothes dryer and only a window AC unit (if the latter is even in the window, which isn't often.) If I had an electric clothes dryer that I wanted to use (I actually line dry 9/10ths of the time and probably wouldn't use a clothes dryer on a generator in any case) an electric range, or central AC, then I might look at a 12KW or greater generator, but as I say, for me, a 5000W (5KW) unit is plenty.

BTW, the thing I like about the diesel engine on the tiller generator is that it can, and has, run on heating oil, of which I have plenty in the bulk tank, so fuel supply wouldn't be an issue in a long outage. But this is my special situation in that I happened across two generators kind of cheap. I like the redundancy.

Also, keep in mind that a smaller generator, loaded down to say, 50 to 70 percent of its capacity, is more fuel efficient than a huge generator running at, say, 20 percent of capacity, though of course, no generator should be running at or near capacity all the time.

On the plus side, the larger, auto-start generators are usually 1800 RPM units installed in all-weather, silencing enclosures which means they'll last longer in heavier use and be quieter (much quieter) as well. For me, my house is a thousand feet or more from my nearest neighbor, so a quiet unit isn't so necessary for me, that and I don't run it all night if the power is out while I'm sleeping, but again, that's a trade off that suits me. Your situation might be different.

Having said all that, I think your best bet is to talk to an electrician and decide what your home's needs and wants are and then pick accordingly.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:58 AM
 
Location: Dade City, Fl.
885 posts, read 1,234,117 times
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I had a gas 4000 w generator that I absolutely HATED!! It was noisy and generally a pain. AND gas isn't cheap either. My plan now is to go with solar panels and 2 or 3, 12 volt batteries or double that for 6 volt. I have a friend that has 2 small panels and survived this last storm fine. True you can't run your deep well, but I will be able to run my shallow Goulds pump for flushing. Also my TV, laptop and fridge. Of course I have a wood stove for heat.
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,767 posts, read 14,900,712 times
Reputation: 9568
No, I don't run my whole house on the Honda 2000i. If you want to run a deep well pump, electric clothes dryer, electric oven and microwave at the same time as your lights and refrigerator, you'll need a BIG generator. My 2000 watts will run the microwave, lights, TV and computers at the same time.
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