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Old 11-01-2011, 01:44 PM
 
Location: NJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJerseyGrl View Post
No way could I afford to get a generator wired up into the house, but a portable generator is affordable for me, so what do you guys recommend as far as watts go? should it be anything above 3,000W? we would want to hook up a refrigerator, freezer, lamp and portable heater just to get through the outage.

Thanks!
PDD was nice enough to start a thread around Irene time offering her advice on generators. here is a link to it:

Generator advise
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Old 11-01-2011, 01:45 PM
PDD
 
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
8,776 posts, read 14,167,334 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJerseyGrl View Post
No way could I afford to get a generator wired up into the house, but a portable generator is affordable for me, so what do you guys recommend as far as watts go? should it be anything above 3,000W? we would want to hook up a refrigerator, freezer, lamp and portable heater just to get through the outage.

Thanks!
I installed lots of generators for a living. To answer your question 4kw will suffice for emergency purposes. Furnace , well, sump pump, freezer. You should have an electrican install a manual transfer sw. box so you don't have to worry about the power coming back on when the gen. is running.

While electrical work is not rocket science (I was licensed) it still requires knowledge that many do it yourselfers don't understand.

Don't do something that could get you killed or your house burned down.
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Old 11-01-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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Thanks everyone for the advice. My Cousin is an electrician PDD, so it's possible he could hook up something for me?
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Northern NJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDD View Post
I installed lots of generators for a living. To answer your question 4kw will suffice for emergency purposes. Furnace , well, sump pump, freezer. You should have an electrican install a manual transfer sw. box so you don't have to worry about the power coming back on when the gen. is running.

While electrical work is not rocket science (I was licensed) it still requires knowledge that many do it yourselfers don't understand.

Don't do something that could get you killed or your house burned down.
I would go at least 10kW. A single heater running on the high setting eats up about 1,800 watts. You are going to want to be able to run at least 4 or 5. Add the frig at 1,200 watts or so and some lights, and even 10,000 watts isn't all that much. Anything with a motor momentarily draws far in excess of its operating current at startup. So sump pumps and compressors are going to need some extra headroom. I have a 5,500 watt and it's not nearly enough. After this storm I will be looking at a permanent installation offering at least 15kw if not much more. Whatever is the legal or practical maximum, that's the limit I plan to approach.
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:49 PM
 
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After Irene + this (I'm _still_ without power), I'm thinking a big natural gas generator, sufficient to run the furnace and all major appliances, might be the way to go. At least I've never lost gas service.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Epping,NH
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Quote:
A single heater running on the high setting eats up about 1,800 watts
Why would you run heaters? The idea of the genset is to power your home heating system.

I have a 8k and it runs everything fine. It has a bit of a leeway for surges.
The 10KW version was a bit of a overkill and used about 15 percent more fuel. Unless you use propane for normal heating use, the cost is high when only purchased in small quantities. So the cost of running the unit is about eight to ten an hour for a 10kw at full draw as it will use about a gallon and a half and hour.

Refrig, microwave, garage door openers, furnace, well pump and the tv. Everything is not running at once. I have ten circuits coming from the genset.You have to think about fuel supplies. If you have natural gas, it's the way to go. But your gas bill will be high. They eat it up. My unit runs on propane and a full tank is good for about 90 hours. Propane fills are easy to get and require a day or two notice.

A 3kw genset will just about do a decent sized refrigeration and not much more. I don't even worry much about the refrigerator. In the winter put the food in a cooler outside. Even in the milder weather the food will stay fresh for about a day. then just plan on eating nonperishable foods. For a few days you can easily handle that.

Last edited by rscalzo; 11-01-2011 at 03:09 PM..
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:42 PM
PDD
 
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Paolella View Post
I would go at least 10kW. A single heater running on the high setting eats up about 1,800 watts. You are going to want to be able to run at least 4 or 5. Add the frig at 1,200 watts or so and some lights, and even 10,000 watts isn't all that much. Anything with a motor momentarily draws far in excess of its operating current at startup. So sump pumps and compressors are going to need some extra headroom. I have a 5,500 watt and it's not nearly enough. After this storm I will be looking at a permanent installation offering at least 15kw if not much more. Whatever is the legal or practical maximum, that's the limit I plan to approach.
Your talking about a backup system which is fine if that's what you want.
I ran a 3500 watt Yamaha Generator which powered the gas furnace, 240V well pump, sump pump and the kitchen refer. along with TV power.
But I did not consider that a backup system only an emergency system.

I think most people are just looking to get by for a day or two with minimum power and for that you don't need 10KW

A lot depends on you comfort level in an emergency.

If money is no object then put in a whole house Generator system and fagettaboutit.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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You can't find a generator anywhere right now

I get a little worried about dealing with electricity so I'd use an electrician just to be on the safe side.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:33 PM
 
Location: Northern NJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rscalzo View Post
Why would you run heaters? The idea of the genset is to power your home heating system.

I have a 8k and it runs everything fine. It has a bit of a leeway for surges.
The 10KW version was a bit of a overkill and used about 15 percent more fuel. Unless you use propane for normal heating use, the cost is high when only purchased in small quantities. So the cost of running the unit is about eight to ten an hour for a 10kw at full draw as it will use about a gallon and a half and hour.

Refrig, microwave, garage door openers, furnace, well pump and the tv. Everything is not running at once. I have ten circuits coming from the genset.You have to think about fuel supplies. If you have natural gas, it's the way to go. But your gas bill will be high. They eat it up. My unit runs on propane and a full tank is good for about 90 hours. Propane fills are easy to get and require a day or two notice.

A 3kw genset will just about do a decent sized refrigeration and not much more. I don't even worry much about the refrigerator. In the winter put the food in a cooler outside. Even in the milder weather the food will stay fresh for about a day. then just plan on eating nonperishable foods. For a few days you can easily handle that.
Many heating systems are sensitive to the clipped wave output typical of most generators. In many cases you can damage motor controllers by running them off a backup generator. So I would not use a typical cheap emergency generator to power my heating system. I would have to be sure my generator was outputting a true sine wave to hook it up to my heating system, or any appliance with a motor and electronic controls. The same holds true for computers, home theaters, etc.

Having said that, many people have rigged their generators to power their heating systems without a problem, but they are lucky to have escaped damage.

I am not concerned with the cost of operation for a few days of use every 5 years. So I would opt for a bigger unit with more power and more headroom. That is more of a personal preference. If you just want to run some lights and do not want to store a lot of fuel, a smaller unit would be fine.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Epping,NH
2,097 posts, read 5,503,602 times
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Quote:
I am not concerned with the cost of operation for a few days of use every 5 years
I wish that were the case. But multi day events are becoming more common. A six day power failure will cost approx. $900 in propane. I cut that way back during mild weather by shutting it down during the daytime hours.

If I had natural gas service I would care as much. I do submit the propane costs during the tax season as a reimbursed loss when the state declares a state of emergency.

But the one most important area to consider is getting a professional in that area to survey the home and recommend the best suited system and to hook it up safely and correctly. My powered circuits are the most important and some I would have never thought of if done myself. I alway have yearly service by my generator service to insure proper operation during these events. I like the fact that it self tests every week. In one case it highlighted a problem I didn't know existed and could have caused a problem during a emergency.

I have a Generac system and in no way can it be installed by the homeowner. Just moving the system requires a winch and a few employees of the company. So buying a cheaper genset from Costco or wherever is a false sense of security.

Quote:
I ran a 3500 watt Yamaha Generator
The load you described is at a minimum at a 3000 watt level. Unless you spend all day transferring loads, you are running the genset at 100 percent the entire time putting a large load on it. It doesn't take into account a surge if two units kink on at the same time. It also doesn't take into account the unfiltered current which will be all over the place when the loads start and stop constantly. The chance of damaging the sensitive electronics in todays heating systems and consumer electronics is greater that the norm. If you are locked into the 3.5kw unit, I'd shed the well and just use bottled water. You can refill toilet tanks and use it for drinking, brushing teeth, etc.

I would not have anything smaller than a 5kw unit for those loads and wired through a suitable transfer box. some try to back feed. When a improperly feed system is located by the utility company when they are doing repairs be assured they will isolate your home and you won't see power so quite some time.

Quote:
I get a little worried about dealing with electricity so I'd use an electrician just to be on the safe side.
Very smart move.

Last edited by rscalzo; 11-02-2011 at 09:09 AM..
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