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Old 04-27-2009, 12:17 AM
Location: Alaska
6,926 posts, read 5,143,565 times
Reputation: 4314


I guess the 13,500 watt I was looking at is a little over kill then? It does sound like a propane or gas would make sense.. Do they just hookup to your existing home gas line and the propane just has a set of tanks sitting beside it then?

I will have to add up the watt usage of our "stuff" and see what I come up with.
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Old 04-27-2009, 12:18 AM
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,368 posts, read 36,244,691 times
Reputation: 13886
ATS, Automatic Transfer Switch, so you won't kill the lineman working up in the poles.
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Old 04-27-2009, 01:59 AM
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,824 posts, read 22,484,099 times
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Originally Posted by starlite9 View Post
Well whatever size you get, don't go smaller than 5 KW. Your water heater alone if it is electric will draw most of that alone, not counting your well pump if you have one. What you need to do is figure out what appliances you have and what the total power load with what you want to run total. Then you need to have a load switch that turns the generator on and the city power off at the same time so you aren't putting power back into the grid where workmen could get electricuted from your generator running.

Then look at what kind of fuel do you use to heat the house, gasoline generators are the cheapest, but use a lot of fuel, propane/NG use may be out with the power unless you have a tank. If you use heating fuel, then get a diesel generator and plum it into your fuel tank.

Or you could put on a battery bank with an inverter and load switch to automatically switch and then switch back when the power comes back on and charges the batteries back up, but that is for the short outages. You could do solar and wind generators for longer outages and won't have to haul around a gas can looking for gas like everyone else will be doing.
I am in complete agreement, 5,000 watts is the smallest generator you want to temporarily run a home. A 3,000 watt generator may be enough to adequately power for the most common appliances, such as the furnace, lights, refrigerator, microwave, computer, TV, etc. However, if you have a well with a 1hp pump motor, you will need 5,000 watts to provide the starting capacity for the pump.

My 10hp Tecumseh 5,250 watt generator is gasoline powered, and burns about one gallon of gasoline per hour under load. At today's gasoline prices, that could get expensive quickly.

Before you hook a generator up to your home, you need to make sure you have a manual bypass, isolation, or transfer switch installed at your breaker box.

Another consideration is sound-proofing. My generator came with minimal sound dampening, and as a result is very loud. You will pay more for that sound-proofing, but unless you plan on putting the generator in a sound-proof structure, I would recommend paying more to keep the noise to a minimum.
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Old 04-27-2009, 02:00 AM
Location: Seward, Alaska
2,741 posts, read 8,582,403 times
Reputation: 2011
I pretty much agree with those opting for the larger generators. For occasional use (like during power outages) just go to Sam's Club, Costco, AIH, Home Depot, Lowes, etc, and get a generator rated for 5000 to 7500 watts. Get one with a modern overhead cam engine, not the cantankerous and often short-lived old Briggs and Tecumseh flathead designs (100yr old technology...still being made and sold...)
Instead of an automatic transfer switch, get a manual transfer switch...they are WAAAAAAAAAY less expensive, and do the job just fine. So they aren't automatic...well, whoopidy-doo and so what?...How hard can it be to go over to the switch and throw the lever manually? Takes all of maybe 5 seconds. Then go outside and fire up the generator. Wa-la: house has power. Have an electrician install the switch if you don't know how. (It's not P.C. to fry lineman working on your power lines (especially if they are in your driveway, with your neighbors watching)

You will need the 7500 watt (or larger) generator if you have an electric water heater, or electric kitchen range, electric clothes dryer, etc. You can get by with a smaller generator if you don't use the above three items. And....a generator smaller than 3500 watts may not be able to start a well pump. (some do, some don't) Kinda hard getting by without water for drinking, washing, flushing toilet, etc....
If all you want to do is run a few lights and maybe a TV, then yes a small 1500 to 2000 watt unit will work...

Me? I settled for a 7500 watt Lister diesel. Burns stove oil from my 300gal home heating furnace tank just fine....

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Old 04-27-2009, 02:31 AM
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,603 posts, read 38,174,340 times
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I used to use a small Honda gen for a toaster and the TV. Couldn't run both at once...but that was OK by me. I didn't have lights, well, water heater etc yet anyway. It was cheap, quiet, gas efficient, lightweight and ran every day for an hour or two for over a year. It also ran my skill saw so I got my money out of it.
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Old 04-27-2009, 10:52 AM
Location: on top of a mountain
6,992 posts, read 11,961,368 times
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We have a Tecumseh and the thing hates the cold!!! It has to be brought inside to warm up then it will start. Talked with several people, including a service dealer and they all say that Tecumseh are notorious for not starting in the cold. It also uses a lot of gas....Honda generator is the way to go!!
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Old 04-27-2009, 11:24 AM
3,774 posts, read 10,780,110 times
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Originally Posted by Crossfire600 View Post
ahhh... well Mal, I aaaaa well appreciate ummm...

Sorry. I work on power systems and my head tends to run away from the words I put on paper. Manual transfer switches for the home ARE cheaper and much easier to install and use. I highly recommend a transfer switch of some sort for many safety reasons. Backfeeding into a utility that has gone down is not only expensive, but as Warpt so ably pointed out, hazardous to a lineman working on supposedly dead powerlines.
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Old 04-27-2009, 01:39 PM
Location: Barrow,AK
319 posts, read 1,416,759 times
Reputation: 295
First of all, with the many comments etc.. If you are going to connect a fixed generator, you will have to have it properly installed according to the National Electrical Code
you can't just wire things any which way. Too many people have been killed by improper installations.

For portable generators, just switching cords is easy enough to accomplish.

I have seen 7 people die in front of me @ work over the many years working in the IBEW. In each case it was stupidity that caused the death. Be careful and make sure you know what you are doing and why and get expert help if in any doubt(s).
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Old 04-27-2009, 01:58 PM
4,986 posts, read 9,454,954 times
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FWIW, I run a 11 Kw SDMO T11UC2M Generator with the Sound Attenuated Enclosure wired through a ProTran manual transfer switch.

Genpower USA - Generators 11 - 150Kw (http://www.genpowerusa.com/tienda_categoria.php?generators-1kw-2000kw=generators-11-150kw&id_tienda_categoria=24 - broken link)

Reliance Controls Corporation The World's Leading Manufacturer of Transfer Switches for Portable Generators
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Old 04-27-2009, 02:15 PM
Location: Haines, AK
1,429 posts, read 3,247,313 times
Reputation: 426
Originally Posted by The Grill God View Post
Get one of those excercise bikes that generate electricity. If the power goes out you can pedal to keep warm and make blended margaritas at the same time....
Or this:
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