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Home Standby Generators?Recommendations..

  1. Ok fellas, I had a gas generator during Isabel but I hadn't used it for years so when my power was out from Saturday to Monday I froze my butt off and it was truly horrible. I was wondering your opinions on either a diesel standby generator versus a Generac or Kohler natural gas 20kw generator for the home. I know you guys have some good information so I would appreciate your advice. I have heard of backfeeding into a dryer plug in emergencies but I would prefer not having to go out and constantly feed a portable generator. Thanks in advance.
  2. Howdy Juney,

    The Generac or Kohler natural gas 20kw generator need to be wired up with an ABT (automatic bus transfer) that will isolate your house from the power grid when you generator is running. Plus the ABT will automatically start when your power goes out for a certain lenght of time.

    Home Depot carries a couple type of generators in the 20kv range. Just pick the one that has the best price.

    Propane is the best way to go. Diesle, like gasoline will go bad over a peroid of time. Propane will last for ever. If you go with propane, you will need to decide how big of a tank you will need based on generator load aand run time.

  3. Good advice.

    Natural gas or propane offer the lowest maintenance by far, as compared to gas or diesel.

    Natural gas is great because you can be connected to the gas line and all you have to do is pay the bill to your nat gas provider.
    (in addition to routine maintenance of course, which again is very little compared to a gasoline or Diesel-fueled unit)

    Propane is supplied from your own storage tank.
    That works well if you live in a rural area where there is no natural gas service.
  4. I don't know about you, but I personally DO NOT want to run a 20kw generator for any length of time. Regardless of the fuel source, it will be gulping down fuel like a toilet being flushed and be noisier than hell. Cost of fuel is a minor thing, but in a serious emergency extra fuel may simply not be available. The constant WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH of a big genny is not only a headache to be around, but a big beacon to thieves. Instead of trying to power your entire home at the same time, you might figure out what you actually need, and what you can switch around to power. You'll get by with a much more fuel efficent, quieter, and cheaper generator.

    I advocate two generators. One quiet fuel sipper that you can run for extended periods, and a larger cheaper generator that you'll only run a few minutes at a time to run the well pump or other large loads.

    I have several Honda EU2000i's, they're so quiet you can stand next to it and not know it's running. It's big enough to power the fridge, the computer, a couple fans for the wood stove or a window-unit AC. Or a microwave if you unplug everything else. The extended run fuel tank will let it run all night to power the AC. Two Honda EU2000i's can be parallel'd for twice the output.

    If it's going to be a long outtage or we need to run the well pump, I'll crank up my home built Listeroid slow-speed diesel genny. It only spins 650 rpms and it's water cooled, so it's pretty quiet, and will run all weekend on 5 gallons of fuel. It's twin 140lb flywheels give it a motor-starting ability that many 15kw gennies would envy, even though it'll only put out 3kw continuously. Not recommended if you're not mechanically inclined. My wife and I switched all our power-hungry appliances to propane, so a 3kw genny with the ability to start the well pump is enough for us to keep living like normal even during a power outage, provided I don't need to fire up any of my serious shop machinery.
  5. I just installed a manual transfer switch (six circuit) and bought a Honda eu2000i generator to plug into it. As luck would have it, the power went out two days later for an entire day. The generator was able to handle the lights, the microwave, fridge, with no problem at all.

    There was a thread about backup generators that had lots of good info that I used in helping me to decide my solution.
  6. Remember if you don't turn off the main breakers under the meter you will be feeding 220V back through the meter into the power lines.

    I have my system set up to go through all my normal breakers but I first isolate my breaker box from the meter.
    If you don't know that you are doing a pro can set this up for you.

    Anyhow I've had a 7000W gas generator for years. It will run the whole house, including the water well. What it won't do is start a 220v AC (heat pump). If our power went out often I'd get a big enough generator to run the whole house.
    For me a diesel would be better because I always have diesel for the tractors.

  7. Sound advice. trifuel generators are also available if it helps with your decision process. :wavey:

  8. I have this exact unit. Good unit. VERY loud. Not very efficient.

    Diesel Bomber - all good points. Just to point out one thing, natural gas/propane generators can be had that are very quiet. My neighbor across the street has a 20kW cummins-onan that is so quiet I can't hear it from my front yard. Up close it sounds about like one of those propane powered floor buffers you see late at night in grocery stores.

    With regard to propane/trifuel units, be aware that propane will spec out a minimum tank size, usually greater than 100 gallons, just for proper operation (fuel flow). Of course you'll want more than 100 gallons for any length of time but I mention it only so you don't think you can run it off of a bunch of 5 or 10 gallon bottles in a pinch.
  9. If you get a portable unit remember not to run it in the house or garage.:shocked:

    Seems simple, but people do and die.

    Mr. HE:cool:
  10. Some can be very quiet. Propane RV rated units have some of the lowest db.
  11. I got a portable 16kw Generac that runs on natural gas, propane, and gasoline. Had a fitting mounted on the gas supply and my breaker box modified to take the input only when the main supply breaker was switched off.

    I haven't had to use it yet, but I test it once every couple of months. It works great, and runs the entire townhouse including the central air.

    The tri fuel option is really the way to go, because that way you have choices. Portability is good, too, because, should I decide to sell the townhouse and move, the generator goes with me. Plus, if we were to ever have an outside function for a lot of people somewhere, I can take it to the location and run it on either propane or gasoline.
  12. Here is a good forum for backup generators.

    Also, here is a site that carries conversion kits and adapters to convert just about any portable generator to propane or natural gas. I plan on doing this to mine soon.

    Here is a site that sells interlock kits for folks who want to legally backfeed a panel without installing a transfer switch. This is about as simple and as cheap as it gets to set up a portable generator most of the time.
  13. I live out in the sticks and have a gas portable back-up Gen I believe its a 11hp 6500 watt max that runs everything I need durring a power outage,I just go and pull the switch on my service board outside to nuetral,plug in gen and throw switch over to gen setting and depending on load I get anywhere from 6-10 hours on a 6 gal tank of fuel....Propane Gen would be nice put the cost for a good one set up as a auto was just more then I wanted to pay but now I need to be home to start the gas one.
  14. Just wondering if natural gas is the best option. In the event of a natural disaster, all utilities will be shut off-electric, natural gas & water.
  15. Um, no.

    Most natural disaters affect electricity because the lines are broken or the transformers blow due to a short. Water is seldom affected except that pressures can dip to a point where it's necessary to boil it before consuming. Natural gas is only shut off when there is a break in the underground line, near your house.

    I live in Houston, we have all kinds of hurricanes here, the power goes out all the time, cable tv, water and gass run all the way through the disasters, even IKE didn't shut of the NG but, the power was out for weeks for some residents.

    If there is a disaster in your AO that is so sever that you can't get electricity, water or NG it's not really time to bug-in anymore, your city has been destroyed.
  16. Champion 3500/4000

    It's the one on the home page.

    No Problems
    Ran for 18 hours last weekend.

    Ran lights, circulator pump for H/W heat, refrigerator, television. WIfe even plugged in the vacuume without asking me. I heard the governor kick it up and it stayed running along with everything else.

    It was around $400, 2 years ago at Lowes.

    I throw the transfer switch, roll it out in the back yard into a little plywood shelter, plug in the plug-in the 50' 10/3 SO cable and start her up!

  17. Good to know, thanks. Having a ng generator with the lp conversion kit wouldn't be too bad.
  18. Agreed, NG with dual-fuel (gas\deisel and LP)would be even better.

  19. Unless you're dealing with earthquakes.
  20. Again, if you (and everyone else in your immediate area) have no electricity, water or natural gas, bugging in is not really the best course of action.
  21. Being down here in FloorDuh we dont have the heating issues you might have here although you could use firewood in a sealed stove ( did that in Ohio and heated a whole house in a blizzard with 2 franklin stoves glowing cherry red)
    Powerwise here we have 2 4kv generators, one for the fridge, radio and the such that can run 24/7 and the other one to bring on line an AC unit for sleeping under. I reconnect that one in the AM to the water heater so we have hot water to shower with. We can also alternate the units every other day to even out their hours.
    I dont see running some massive machinery 24/7 just because that might sized for your peak load once a month for whatever reason.
    AND...2 smaller ones cost less and also are easier to move around...
  22. If the exits are all too blocked for a few days after a big quake, it's good to have a way to make it until you can get away.

  23. No, this is a reason to also weigh the value of other power systems. Especially if you live in an earthquake area.

    Primarily, that is the reason I have a diesel generator, with a very large above ground fuel tank.

    It allows me to store plenty of fuel that I can also use to heat my house, fuel my truck, or give me power. An earthquake can easily destroy buried gas lines, rendering your very expensive NG or propane generator useless. Where as an above ground system is still operational.

    If you have your house heated with fuel oil, you can also run your generator off that, or vise versa off your fuel stocks for the generator.

    Also, if no one else has water or natural gas, that would be perfect for my house, because I would very likely still have all three, meaning they'd probably scoot and leave me to my own ends. Not a bad situation at all.
  24. Or tornadoes. We've had tornadoes topple trees around here several times, usually breaking a few NG lines.

    NG with propane option (and a propane tank) is my choice (hoping to get one in the next year or so).
    Diesel would be my choice if I had any diesel vehicles, tractors, etc...
  25. That is what my mom told me. :supergrin: She said, "what if the utilities cut off"?On the farm we had diesel and propane generators but here all I had during the hurricane a few years ago was the portable generator for eleven days. But I was able to go buy gas. This time the generator wouldn't start and the nearby stations ran out of gas. So I am seriously considering diesel or the generac type but I would like something that will run a few days with no refuel if possible. That snow and no power really was not fun.:shocked:
  26. If one has diesel vehicles and/or equipment, and therefore stores a couple/few hundred gallons of diesel that is in rotation, a diesel genset makes perfect sense. Particularly if one is adept at diesel repair and maintenance.

    One of my wildhair ideas was to have a large diesel genny (30kva or better) mounted on a trailer along with a 200 gallon or so diesel tank with an electric transfer pump to allow me to rotate the diesel into my truck.

    In hurricane country this option holds a particular attraction because it can be towed out of the affected zone and back in, full of fuel. It would also serve as additional fuel reserve getting in and out on evac. Figure 3-5 days of fuel on board, hook up and tow outside the zone for refuel, and back in. In my experience, after a couple three weeks it would likely be feasible to have a diesel drop accomplished at your residence with a temporary skid tank with a few hundred more gallons.

    One upside of a permanent install with autotransfer panel is the exercise feature most have to ensure the battery is charged and everything is working BEFORE the crisis hits.

    Were I to go with a diesel unit I believe I would take a class at the local trade school to learn basic diesel mechanics.

    Just thoughts........

  27. Wouldn't it be easier to just have a transfer tank or 500-1000 gallon tank on wheels, and just mount the generator at the residence?

    A generator on wheels is easy, and quiet to steal. If its hard mounted, you could still go take the tank for fuel, and have the added plus of having a well secured generator?
  28. edited
  29. This was my logic as well. Two diesel trucks, wife's Blazer is diesel, and back before I retired we were going through 200 gallons a week. I bought a 1000 gallon tank, had it placed here on my property, and have a local oil company keep it filled; cheaper to buy fuel in bulk. The diesel genny was an easy choice.

    As an added bonus, more than one neighbor in the area has a diesel tractor and buys fuel from me because instead of filling up fuel cans at a station in town, they can just drive their tractor over and fill 'er up. I make a small profit.
  30. Buddy of mine has a fishing lodge. To cut costs he had a 1000 gallon gasoline skid tank dropped at his location. The fuel company doesn't charge him for the tank, just a monthly minimum purchase. The damn thing has some sort of telemetry and notifies the fuel distributor to make a drop when it reaches a certain point. Completely hands free.