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Emergency Home Generator Options

Old 08-30-2015, 11:17 AM
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Default Emergency Home Generator Options

Had a big wind storm hit Seattle area and I was without power for 12-15 hours. As a family we made the best of it but after a while it got old. Traffic was misery everywhere and I had always thought during construction of this new home when considering a generator that if power was lost for an extended period I would just head to the boat. Well I realized that going to the boat house in 60mph winds or in the snow during winter is probably not an ideal time to move the boat out of the nice safe boathouse it rests comfortably in. So I am now considering getting a generator and having my electrician come tie it into the house and shop so I can run most things, not simultaneously of course. I am thinking something in the 10kw size range. Store it in my shop and then move it outside during a storm when in use. I have some 50amp breakers I had installed in the shop and wired up for a welder/furnace etc so I am hoping they can use that to tie in. The shop and house are run off one meter.

Not a lot of people run generators in this area and those that do are mostly using small generators just for freezers and reefer's. I am needing some input so I can get a baseline of understanding and do some poking around online educating myself before I enter into conversation with my electrician.

Thanks
Old 08-30-2015, 11:28 AM
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I realize you're asking about generators, but a solar panel system with a large battery bank can give you emergency power, plus it pays dividends all year round by reducing your energy bill.
Old 08-30-2015, 11:32 AM
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I have a 8kW diesel Kubota permenantly mounted in my shop, which is 50' from the house. It can run one of the big loads- dryer, water heater or heat pump, plus all the little loads in the house. Takes a little load management, but otherwise very happy with the machine. Being in the shop, close the doors there and you simply cannot hear it in the house.
Old 08-30-2015, 11:36 AM
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Are you actually using those 50amp lines in the shop? Because if you want to use them for a generator, they're going to have to be rewired at the main panel end and will no longer be usable for loads.

Your electrician would need to install a manual transfer switch or a lock out system so that you can't connect the generator and the power company feed at the same time. Probably a couple hundred in parts and a few hours of labor, depending on access to the main panel and room around it to install the new parts.

Then, in the event of a power failure, you switch the feed breakers from power company to generator, shut off the breakers to the stuff you don't need, then start up the generator.

You can also have the loads split out and a sub panel for just the generator loads set up. This makes it easier to switch over. That costs a little more in time and materials. Most convenient is to get an auto-start generator and automatic transfer switch. Then it all just happens automatically. That's the most expensive option.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:02 PM
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I started out with a Generac 4000XL and ran extension cords through the garage, basement, and up two flights of stairs. Worked for many years, but a pain in the rear end.

I then wired in a transfer switch to get rid of the extension cords. MUCH better.

Then there were the gas cans.. Gas is hard to come by here in the NE when the power goes out. We've been without power for 2+ weeks at a time in NJ!

I finally upgraded generators after about 10 years, and added a tri-fuel conversion kit. Now I'm extension cord free, safe, code compliant, and don't need to make daily gas runs since I can run off natural gas.

All in, I'm in about $2,500 which is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $15k-$25k backup generator. There are many other options out there. A Honda or Yamaha would be great - I just didn't want to pay that much....

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009PVNAUW?keywords=westinghouse&qid=1440959970&ref_=nav_ya_signin&s=electronics&sr=1-4&srs=2530775011 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009PVNAUW?keywords=westinghouse&qid=1440959970&ref_=nav_ya_signin&s=electronics&sr=1-4&srs=2530775011

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HS2L3O?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HS2L3O?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00

http://www.motorsnorkel.com/motor-sn...-kit-3293.html
Old 08-30-2015, 12:03 PM
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I have a 48kw Generac whole house generator with automatic switching, load management etc.

I have no complaints.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:12 PM
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27KW Generac Quiet Premium. Auto xfer. Works like a charm. We get short outages often. Buried a 500 gallon tank for propane. Would have put in 1000 gallon but my town said max was 500.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jdr999 View Post
I started out with a Generac 4000XL and ran extension cords through the garage, basement, and up two flights of stairs. Worked for many years, but a pain in the rear end.

I then wired in a transfer switch to get rid of the extension cords. MUCH better.

Then there were the gas cans.. Gas is hard to come by here in the NE when the power goes out. We've been without power for 2+ weeks at a time in NJ!

I finally upgraded generators after about 10 years, and added a tri-fuel conversion kit. Now I'm extension cord free, safe, code compliant, and don't need to make daily gas runs since I can run off natural gas.

All in, I'm in about $2,500 which is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $15k-$25k backup generator. There are many other options out there. A Honda or Yamaha would be great - I just didn't want to pay that much....

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...srs=2530775011

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o01_s00

http://www.motorsnorkel.com/motor-sn...-kit-3293.html
This...if you don't have natgas you can use propane with the same regulator.

Any gas company will set a 120 gallon tank right beside the genny for you. Propane never goes bad, same as natgas, it's chemically stable.

I'd up the genny size though, you can get 10.5Kv for 1400$ now..

http://www.centralmainediesel.com/or...uRQaAp-Y8P8HAQ

If you're really feeling frisky, you can go buy the same genny at lowes for 899 and rip off the carb and add the propane system from US Carbs for 299, saves you 200$.

10.5 Kv will start a newer 3 ton heatpump with nothing else running.

If you need more than 10.5Kv your best bet is too look into generac's and go no less than 22Kv, cause if you're gonna spend that kind of money, you don't want to be flipping switches when the current stops.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:47 PM
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I've got one rigged up to back feed through the garage to the house. It could feed the main lines if I don't close the main and electricians won't hook it up like I did....but it works great if your say about these things. As for gas, I keep my boat in the same garage. .....holds about 10-12 days of fuel if used in that generator.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:54 PM
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You should talk to your electrician first. You may find that back feeding the 50 amp breaker and manually turning off the main, may be illegal. Much safer to have the electrician install a transfer switch, which may be all he's willing to install.

After the panel wiring is decided, then you can decide on a plug-in or wired in auto start generator. Then you have to decide on fuel. If you have natural gas, that would be great. Propane is good, but you have to install and store about 500 gal min., and that can get expensive. If you have a reason to have a diesel storage tank (farm), that is an excellent option. Most people have gas and store 20+ gallons. You need to store non-ethanol and have access to a working gas station when there's no power. You will love the auto gen, if that's the way you go. For myself, I have a gas 10 KW electric start that I have to plug in, flip breakers, etc. I used to have the auto gen with transfer switch and 500 gallons propane storage in my old house and I'd have it again if I could afford it.

FYI, my automatic generator was a Winco, I was very happy with it. Generac seems to be everywhere these days around here, so that would make service and parts the easiest during an emergency situation.

Good luck.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:55 PM
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Check the Kohler natural gas or LP units.
Old 08-30-2015, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by t500hps View Post
I've got one rigged up to back feed through the garage to the house. It could feed the main lines if I don't close the main and electricians won't hook it up like I did....but it works great if your say about these things. As for gas, I keep my boat in the same garage. .....holds about 10-12 days of fuel if used in that generator.
Please don't back-feed into the grid. Linemen get killed when that voltage gets stepped up on lines that shouldn't be hot..

Suicide cords are just as deadly and outlets aren't meant to handle those loads. Fires can and DO HAPPEN.

A manual transfer switch isn't expensive and will save lives.

Last edited by jdr999; 08-30-2015 at 01:18 PM.
Old 08-30-2015, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jdr999 View Post
Please don't back-feed into the grid. Linemen get killed when that voltage gets stepped up on lines that shouldn't be hot..



A manual transfer switch isn't expensive and will save lives.
This x 10000000
Old 08-30-2015, 01:15 PM
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http://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D-..._sku=203078522
$80, code compliant and you can't hurt anyone...

Cheap and easy...
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Old 08-30-2015, 01:39 PM
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They sell a Honda powered 7kw generator at Sams Club for $999. I think it is called a BlackMax.

We had looked around a bit to get one to replace our old 6kw and felt this would be a nice upgrade. We can run most things in this house, as it it only 2200 sq ft.
Old 08-30-2015, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jdr999 View Post
Please don't back-feed into the grid. Linemen get killed when that voltage gets stepped up on lines that shouldn't be hot..

Suicide cords are just as deadly and outlets aren't meant to handle those loads. Fires can and DO HAPPEN.

A manual transfer switch isn't expensive and will save lives.
Often read this claim but have never once seen any actual news reports. I know it's a bad idea but any truth to the claims??
Old 08-30-2015, 01:47 PM
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If going with a portable, consider how you will keep it covered while operating outside. We have gone from a 10kw portable, to a stationary 20kw, to a 10kw unit for our smaller house. Gas models suck in terms of feeding them....cans, driving to replenish cans (if possible), waking up to fill tank, etc. Natural gas is great if the gas lines are operating. Some disasters may cause those lines to be broken or turned off intentionally. Propane is a great option if you have a place to put a tank that is out of sight. I do not have that option.

Permanent units cycle on a weekly basis to keep everything lubed. You should manually do this with a portable unit.

Permanent units turn on when you aren't home. Gas units are only good if you are there to manage it.

A transfer switch is your only option.
Old 08-30-2015, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by ladams1 View Post
Often read this claim but have never once seen any actual news reports. I know it's a bad idea but any truth to the claims??
The truth is it's possible, but unlikely. If you back feed your breaker box and forget to throw the main breakers off, you'll be feeding power to every load in the neighborhood and quickly overload your generator, which will blow all its fuses/breakers if you're lucky.

See BadgerS post above for the most cost-effective and safe answer.
Old 08-30-2015, 01:58 PM
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8KW Generac here but we are all natural gas so it's plenty for our needs.
Old 08-30-2015, 02:04 PM
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A generator house can be easily built. This is one I built out of a Sunbeam storage shed.
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