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Generator for house needed: diesel, gas or natural gas?

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Generator for house needed: diesel, gas or natural gas?

Old 08-29-2011, 05:11 AM
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Default Generator for house needed: diesel, gas or natural gas?

We escaped Irene without losing power but need to set up with a generator for the next one.

All of our vehicles are diesel so that might be a good way for us to go considering that we could siphon out of those tanks if needed.

We do heat our house with natural gas, could we power a genset that way?

What size unit should I be looking for to keep 2 refrigerators, one deep freeze, one small window mounted ac unit running. 2200 square foot house, 200 amp service.

What do I need to hook up to my house?
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:20 AM
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I have a 15 kw, connected to nat gas. My thoughts on the fuel was, as long as the nat gas line was not comprimised then it would run forever, not storing fuel for it.

15 kw runs the house like you still have power you can use anything you want.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:30 AM
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I am not sure about how much money you are looking to spend but Guardian stand by generators are some of the most economical stand by units around and they can run on Natural gas wich can be a big plus. If you are looking to go for the most inexpensive way look for a 5500 watt gas generator that is mobile run the 30 amp plug to your 220 side on your house electrical panel and you will have all the power you need for what you mentioned.
I live in Daytona and we have had our share of Storms in the last decade. We use a Briggs and Stratton 5500 watt constant and 6500 starting watt generator that plugs in on the side of the house directly to my 220 side on the house panel. I can run all the lights in the house, fridge, freezer, window unit. We cook on the gas grill and we do without hot water. I can not run the Central AC or the hot water heater at all when on Generator power. My parents live in the Keys they have a 20kw gaurdian generator that runs on Propane, when the power goes out it automatically switches over and there generator runs everything AC, water heater, fridge, multiple freezers, electric stove. I like there set up but they loose power down there on a regular basis.
The diesel gensets are pricey but you can find some decent used ones on Craigslist
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:31 AM
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are you looking for a portable unit or a true fixed back up generator?

If you want a fixed backup generator, a natural gas unit is the way to go. 50amp will do. 100 would be better. These units start at the absence of power, automatically isolate the house from the outside wiring (so you don't put current into the outside wiring, this protects the linemen), they cycle themselves at set intervals to keep everything lubed up...

For a portable unit - the fuel source is up to you. A 20-30amp unit will be large, loud and suck some fuel. A 10amp unit will not handle much. To hook this into your homes electrical system, you will need a anti backfeed breaker. Same reason as above - no current can leave the house.

Don't forget about all the other small current draws in a house, and don't forget about winter. Lights, hotwater, cooking, heat... all that adds up.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:34 AM
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Here is something I found comparing cost.
http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/p...Generator.aspx

I'm going to do something also.
Borrowed a 3500W from My BIL for this storm. We were out of power for 16hrs+/-.
Not bad when compared to some that are still out.

Other info:
http://dma.mt.gov/des/library/genbrochurev3.PDF
http://members.rennlist.com/warren/generator.html
http://www.ezdiyelectricity.com/?p=189
.

Last edited by 240 LTS; 08-29-2011 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:59 AM
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If you go with a NG genset, look at a 10 kW. That's good for more than 80 amps at 120V...more than you need for what you want to keep running. Diesel gensets are very expensive. Still, you are looking at probably around 4-5K installed on a 10 kW genset. Most fixed units come with automatic transfer switches and load-shedding technology...you prioritize what circuits are critical, and as your power usage approaches the maximum output of the generator, it automatically sheds low-priority circuits to keep those critical circuits energized. Something like this would work fine:
http://www.norwall.com/products/Gene...Rated-ATS.html
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:17 AM
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We've got a Kohler 12kw LP gas (Available in nat gas)

Rock solid performance .

Briggs and Stratton V-Twin engine.

Not the cheapest.

Google the 'reviews' of what you're considering. I learned a lot from reviews.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:32 AM
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If you have natural gas available, that is the only logical choice. You don't have to transport natural gas, you don't have to store it, and it doesn't go stale.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by striper97 View Post
What do I need to hook up to my house?
You need to bring in an electrician to install a transfer switch. This is not a DIY job if you have to ask.

If anyone tries to tell you to make up a cord with a plug on one end for the generator and another to plug into the dryer outlet in your house, send them packing right away. We call that a "suicide cord" and for good reason. Not only is this dangerous for you and your family, you can kill the people trying to resore power.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:52 AM
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If you go with a portable look at this set-up. It removes the need for a transfer switch and another panel. It meets code in my area. http://www.interlockkit.com/
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:02 AM
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hire an electrician- with the housing market the way it is I am sure they can use the work. Check northern tool- they seem to have pretty good prices and I saw a few gensets that were free shipping. We have installed several on houses- Genset and Onan- all natural gas. One thing to consider is the meter delivery pressure. Most likely you will have to have that turned up and get a regulator for the rest of the house. Contact the gas company, they should be able to assist.

Chris

Diesel is out of the question- fuel storage etc.. Regular gas- maybe- all depends on how much fuel your boat holds and how easy it is to siphon out
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:41 PM
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used to do electrical....after all the hurricanes we've had, my boss decided to be the sole installer for home gensets....this was about 15 years ago......I highly recommend natural gas for your use. remember, it will run for 30 minutes to an hour every month to keep the system in check.....when the power goes out at the neighbors, everything in yours will be lit up....you'll look like the Griswalds on christmas vacation. Generac makes a good unit...your probably looking at around 6-7 k installed...look out for that natural gas bill when it comes in after you've used it......gonna be astronomical
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:11 PM
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go small gas 6 gallon can will run it 12hrs so you can sleep at night
diesel awful smell when the windows are open
propane = expensive I had 1 that ran for 3 days and sucked a 120 gallon tank dry. that unit got sold and went back to trusty dewalt 6k. 6 gallons of gas will run everything I need for a lot less. I ran my dewalt for 3 weeks strait , only changed the oil 1 time a week and it ran off my boat tank after the wind died down. make sure you have a positive disconnect out side
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:49 PM
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Natural gas is by far the most convenient if you have it available. The one (possibly huge) drawback is that if there was a large disaster and they had to turn off the gas lines.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:24 AM
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Another positive about nat gas, is there almost no mait to them. I had electrical company come out and do a pm, the unit is 7 years old. Spark plugs and filters looked new, very clean burning no build up in engine.
I wish my cars ran on nat gas.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:36 AM
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Great thread. Great info and excellent links for further research.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:37 AM
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I'm in agreement on natural gas also. I bought a surplus grocery store 30kw propane unit that's big as a Kenworth tractor, but I have a 500 gal tank and she runs everything.Wish I had natual gas available.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:16 AM
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I have a Porter-Cable 5250. It'll run the house lights, electronics, refrigerator and a small ac, with no problem. I have a pigtail that runs off my breaker box. You need to throw the main breaker so power won't go to the street. It is not quiet but when the ac is running who cares? I think it was around $500.00, sits there doing nothing now but it's priceless.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:33 AM
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I am getting ready to install a 30KW (propane) already have a 1,000G in ground tank for the range and instant hot. Once I get it all set I can let you know how they arrived at a 30KW. It's set to run whole house. (2300 under air, single 5 ton A/C).
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by casualc View Post
I have a Porter-Cable 5250. It'll run the house lights, electronics, refrigerator and a small ac, with no problem. I have a pigtail that runs off my breaker box. You need to throw the main breaker so power won't go to the street. It is not quiet but when the ac is running who cares? I think it was around $500.00, sits there doing nothing now but it's priceless.
X2..............
Myself I dont see the need to spend thousands when a simple generator will get you buy till the power companies turn you back on unless you need a huge one for heat. I heat and cool both with electricity but have back up gas for heat if we are hit with a ice storm which i've been without power for 1.5 weeks but a 5000 watt generator ran everything we needed back then and my 3000 Honda eu is on the back porch now humming along. Took the one off the front of the truck and using that cause the EU's are super super quit.
For up north where ice really can cause outages and if you do or didn't have a back up system put in your home I can see spending the huge amount of money it going to cost but down south, most of us live off the smaller generators and I'm getting 24 hours on 3.5 gals with the ECO throttle control on the honda running fridge, freezer, what lights I need , 52" tv and been forcing myself to have grilled dolphin, steak & patato's enjoying a few cigars on the front porch. I am sleeping with a fan instead of AC but was 74 here this morning and had to cut the thing off. Hoping to get the power on today.
Money buys happiness (generators that cost) but if you don't want to sink that much into something you may use only once a year or maybe never, a good 3000 to 7500 watt will get you by with flying colors.

Last edited by liveaboard74; 08-30-2011 at 06:08 AM.
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