What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 11410
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ResearchMed »

queso wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:34 am I have never actually triggered my load shedding modules so can't really comment except to say that they probably weren't needed since I have never used them. We didn't exceed the 20kw rating by much since we have a gas water heater, gas dryer, gas cooktop, gas furnaces, etc. so the only scenario where we'd have them kick on would be one where we're running both AC units, our double wall ovens and a bunch of other random electrical stuff at the same time. In hindsight I should have skipped them and just told people "don't use the oven if the generator is on". :happy
We probably would have gone with this, except for the "what if there's already a heavy load when the generator first kicks in". And, as mentioned, I'm not sure what "would have happened" if the electricity usage was already too high, and there was not time to shut off a few hogs first.
Or if we weren't home, and the AC suddenly kicked in when the generator was running.

Would you necessarily know if the load-shedding kicked in?
For example, if the AC shut down, "maybe the AC hit the target temp"...?
And if something lesser shut down, would it be noticed...?
"Oh dear, that roast wasn't cooking the past 2 hours after all" ? :annoyed
Lots for us to learn.

I also think that I didn't explore enough just how many of our electricity hogs, and which ones, *could* indeed be on. We may have more power than I realized.
After the plague, we'll explore all of this, and decide if load-shedding is actually needed. I'm guessing it would be, at least for the AC, but...?

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
User avatar
queso
Posts: 1251
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:52 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by queso »

ResearchMed wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 12:25 pm
queso wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:34 am I have never actually triggered my load shedding modules so can't really comment except to say that they probably weren't needed since I have never used them. We didn't exceed the 20kw rating by much since we have a gas water heater, gas dryer, gas cooktop, gas furnaces, etc. so the only scenario where we'd have them kick on would be one where we're running both AC units, our double wall ovens and a bunch of other random electrical stuff at the same time. In hindsight I should have skipped them and just told people "don't use the oven if the generator is on". :happy
We probably would have gone with this, except for the "what if there's already a heavy load when the generator first kicks in". And, as mentioned, I'm not sure what "would have happened" if the electricity usage was already too high, and there was not time to shut off a few hogs first.
Or if we weren't home, and the AC suddenly kicked in when the generator was running.

Would you necessarily know if the load-shedding kicked in?
For example, if the AC shut down, "maybe the AC hit the target temp"...?
And if something lesser shut down, would it be noticed...?
"Oh dear, that roast wasn't cooking the past 2 hours after all" ? :annoyed
Lots for us to learn.

I also think that I didn't explore enough just how many of our electricity hogs, and which ones, *could* indeed be on. We may have more power than I realized.
After the plague, we'll explore all of this, and decide if load-shedding is actually needed. I'm guessing it would be, at least for the AC, but...?

RM
That makes a lot of sense. I think the reason we could get by without it is we aren't big bakers and just the wall ovens alone drop us under the 20kw so I'd be willing to take the chance. We wouldn't leave ovens running when not home either so the AC and other big draw items should run just fine if we aren't around. If we were well over and had a bunch of stuff that might potentially throw us over 20kw (dryer, AC units, ovens, etc.) then the probability of that stuff running and a power outage happening goes way up. If I remember right, there is a way to test the load shedding, but I have never done it. I guess I should add that to my list when I do my annual maintenance this year.

In your scenario, you ought to be able to configure it to shed non-critical loads first (e.g. AC) and keep your roast going. Here's a Kohler manual that explains it far better than I can - https://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf
Ron
Posts: 6740
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:46 pm
Location: Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Ron »

queso wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 12:45 pmHere's a Kohler manual that explains it far better than I can - https://www.kohlerpower.com/home/common/pdf/g11124.pdf
Like the Kohler, our Generac (Honeywell) switch is configured in the same way - that is with two built into the switch for handling two (we only use one since we don't have a split system) heat pumps or AC units, along with four Generac modules wired in for managing the 220 items, such as the wall oven, hot water heater, clothes dryer, and cooking flattop we have on our kitchen center island.

To test the system during the semi-annual maintenance check, we turn on everything (turn on a hot water spigot for a minute or two in order to get the electric water heater to come on), the clothes dryer, the oven and the four burners on the flattop in order to get the maximum draw. In addition, we'll turn the temp up/down (depending on the time of year) to have our heat pump running.

Then we'll flip the breaker on the main panel to simulate an outage. After a 20 second delay (to allow for a temporary utility outage), all the 110v outlets come on (lights refrigerator, TV's, etc.) Within a minute after the 100v lines are active, the heat pump will start up. From there on, with about a minute delay between each 220v device, the remainder of the devices will turn on.

We have it wired to lock out the four electric strip heaters in the basement; it's only storage space. We also have the emergency heat strip on the basement air handler on lockout. It rarely comes on in the winter, and not at all the rest of the year. Unfortunately, it is a big draw for the few minutes it kicks on in the winter (I can see it on the electric daily usage charts from our electric utility) but there is a chance that it could trip the breaker on the generator if we happen to be over the full draw.

Anyway, that's how we test the load shedding for our installation.

FWIW,

- Ron
go_mets
Posts: 794
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:49 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by go_mets »

ALP propane-only generator. https://alpgenerators.com/products/alp- ... -blue-gray
The only downside is that the inverter is only 1000 W and that may not be enough for your big side-by-side refrigerator.
I know mine is more than 1000W when the compressor kicks in.

I have also purchased a 500 Wh and 300 Wh solar generators and 180 W and 120 W solar panels.

Can still cook on the gas stove by lighting the pilot light with long matches.

.
Horologium
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:08 am
Location: Chicagoland

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Horologium »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:39 pm We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.

Thus far, after quite a few uses (only a handful that were of any length), it's worked like a charm.

We don't have every circuit wired into it, but after a few of the more lengthy outages, we might have the circuits changed now that we realize that we'd really like to have A working after all, and B isn't so important.
We made a point to have lights on all stairwells and hallways, the main refrigerator and a microwave because the ovens are electric. The cooktop is gas.

We also made sure to have all thermostats and any ignition devices (for several gas heat units) included.

We originally got this because we have a sump pump that must work, or the finished lower level could flood. Also, we wouldn't want pipes to freeze.
We got the automated system because we travel/in case we aren't home. And so the housesitter wouldn't need to deal with it if she happened to be here "then".

It does an automated test each week, and we get a text message stating the unit status.

We are VERY glad that we got it, and our only regret is that we should have gotten it sooner.

RM
We had a very similar system: Generac “whole house” unit, running off the natural gas line with an automatic start and transfer when it detected an outage. If I recall, like RM’s unit, ours didn’t actually run every circuit. When it was installed, we dedicated certain circuits as priority (HVAC, sump pump, fridge, etc.).

Like HVAC systems, I think the generator is only as good as the contractor installing it. Got quotes from 5 or 6 contractors, 3 of them for the Generac. I went with the contractor who cost a little more, but was really glad with the choice because he did great work.

Unfortunately, we moved a couple of years later and never had an outage where we used it. But, it was a nice little upgrade for the folks who bought our house. :?
User avatar
AerialWombat
Posts: 2101
Joined: Tue May 29, 2018 1:07 pm
Location: Cash Canyon / Cashville

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by AerialWombat »

.....
Last edited by AerialWombat on Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
For entertainment purposes only.
Woodshark
Posts: 524
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Woodshark »

After a tornado swept through our area and left us without power for several days, I decided it was time to get a backup GenSet. After careful consideration and LOTS of research, I settled on a Westinghouse W7500DF dual fuel (Gas or Propane) generator. I will run everything in our house except the heat pumps. Probably would run them one of them too but I doubt I would even try them. Instead of storing gasoline, I bought a 100lb tank of propane that should last us several days of light use. It stores for years without ever going bad. My plan is to start with the propane and then switch to freshly purchased gasoline, a short or long drive away, depending on the severity of the power outage.
hudson
Posts: 3834
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by hudson »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?

Gas or diesel?

If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?

Thank you.
on order...
22KW Generac Air-cooled...WIFI Controls
200A Auto Transfer Switch
26R Battery
3-Smart Management Modules
350 Gal Propane Tank

How did I decide? I read a ton of previous Boglehead discussions.
I decided that I did not want to roll a generator out and plug it up. I wanted automagic. :)
BogleFan510
Posts: 434
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by BogleFan510 »

Be careful. A home less than 3 miles from us, during a extreme fire danger period, burned down two homes by running a generator when the power company had shut off power precisely due to high winds and fire danger.

Fortunately, brave firefighters cought the blaze within minutes, still two homes were burned completely to cinders alomg with some ancient trees. I took video of the rapid spread and was preparing to flee for my life (though high winds were blowing in the opposite direction). Many lives were risked, as this area lost hundreds of homes and lives, in a bad fire a decade ago. If you want a generator, have it professionally installed. Do not be cheap. You dont want to be on the news, or an insurance statistic. Also, you need to inform your agent or you may void coverage.
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

fatima526 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:03 pm Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
"I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
foamypirate
Posts: 127
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:36 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by foamypirate »

smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am
fatima526 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:03 pm Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
"I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one.

First, my local gas station offers ethanol free gasoline, so that will be my basis. I plan to keep 4x 5 gallon cans full of this, and will treat with fuel stabilizer (adjust quantity as you see fit, based on generator fuel capacity, consumption, and estimated necessary run time at your expected load). After 6-9 months of storage, assuming I’ve not used the fuel in the generator, I will cycle it through various other gasoline equipment (riding mower, 4-stroke weed eater, vehicles, etc). That should keep my supply of fuel in good condition.


On a side note, I did pull the trigger on the Champion 100520 (7000/8750 watt running/surge) inverter generator, a 50amp generator inlet (technically larger than needed for my generator, but “upgrade-proof”), a Square D generator interlock kit, and appropriate backfeed breaker. While this setup is not automated, it gives me the flexibility to power any circuit I choose, and not just those limited circuits pre-selected for the transfer switch.

I intend to label the panel with stickers to make it easier to remember: red dots for circuits to disable 100% of the time, yellow for “optional” items, and green for circuits that should be turned on at all times under generator power (fridge, freezer, furnace, basic lighting, etc.)
Last edited by foamypirate on Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
pshonore
Posts: 7149
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:21 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by pshonore »

BogleFan510 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:04 pm Be careful. A home less than 3 miles from us, during a extreme fire danger period, burned down two homes by running a generator when the power company had shut off power precisely due to high winds and fire danger.

Fortunately, brave firefighters cought the blaze within minutes, still two homes were burned completely to cinders alomg with some ancient trees. I took video of the rapid spread and was preparing to flee for my life (though high winds were blowing in the opposite direction). Many lives were risked, as this area lost hundreds of homes and lives, in a bad fire a decade ago. If you want a generator, have it professionally installed. Do not be cheap. You dont want to be on the news, or an insurance statistic. Also, you need to inform your agent or you may void coverage.
A properly installed generator and transfer switch should not cause a fire. What caused the fire?
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

foamypirate wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:52 am
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am
fatima526 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:03 pm Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
"I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one.

First, my local gas station offers ethanol free gasoline, so that will be my basis. I plan to keep 4x 5 gallon cans full of this, and will treat with fuel stabilizer (adjust quantity as you see fit, based on generator fuel capacity, consumption, and estimated necessary run time at your expected load). After 6-9 months of storage, assuming I’ve not used the fuel in the generator, I will cycle it through various other gasoline equipment (riding mower, 4-stroke weed eater, vehicles, etc). That should keep my supply of fuel in good condition.


On a side note, I did pull the trigger on the Champion 100520 (7000/8750 watt running/surge) inverter generator, a 50amp generator inlet (technically larger than needed for my generator, but “upgrade-proof”), a Square D generator interlock kit, and appropriate backfeed breaker. While this setup is not automated, it gives me the flexibility to power any circuit I choose, and not just those limited circuits pre-selected for the transfer switch.

I intend to label the panel with stickers to make it easier to remember: red dots for circuits to disable 100% of the time, yellow for “optional” items, and green for circuits that should be turned on at all times under generator power (fridge, freezer, furnace, basic lighting, etc.)

"I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one."
I meant in the genset itself - the cylcing time each month does not appear to use enough fuel to prevent a problem over 6 years.

We have utilized cyling of 5 gallon cans of gasoline as well as fuel from a boat in the driveawy to power both gensets and cars/trucks during extended power outages with good results. Been doing this now for more than 15 years ....
foamypirate
Posts: 127
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:36 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by foamypirate »

smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:13 am
foamypirate wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:52 am
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am
fatima526 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:03 pm Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
"I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one.

First, my local gas station offers ethanol free gasoline, so that will be my basis. I plan to keep 4x 5 gallon cans full of this, and will treat with fuel stabilizer (adjust quantity as you see fit, based on generator fuel capacity, consumption, and estimated necessary run time at your expected load). After 6-9 months of storage, assuming I’ve not used the fuel in the generator, I will cycle it through various other gasoline equipment (riding mower, 4-stroke weed eater, vehicles, etc). That should keep my supply of fuel in good condition.


On a side note, I did pull the trigger on the Champion 100520 (7000/8750 watt running/surge) inverter generator, a 50amp generator inlet (technically larger than needed for my generator, but “upgrade-proof”), a Square D generator interlock kit, and appropriate backfeed breaker. While this setup is not automated, it gives me the flexibility to power any circuit I choose, and not just those limited circuits pre-selected for the transfer switch.

I intend to label the panel with stickers to make it easier to remember: red dots for circuits to disable 100% of the time, yellow for “optional” items, and green for circuits that should be turned on at all times under generator power (fridge, freezer, furnace, basic lighting, etc.)

"I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one."
I meant in the genset itself - the cylcing time each month does not appear to use enough fuel to prevent a problem over 6 years.

We have utilized cyling of 5 gallon cans of gasoline as well as fuel from a boat in the driveawy to power both gensets and cars/trucks during extended power outages with good results. Been doing this now for more than 15 years ....
Ah, gotcha. The generator I ordered has a drain bolt on the carburetor. I generally plan to store the generator dry, but should I use it, and have leftover fuel in the tank, I’ll use the drain bolt to empty it back into a can.
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

foamypirate wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:20 am
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:13 am
foamypirate wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:52 am
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am
fatima526 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:03 pm Honda EU6500is (gasoline, not diesel). 6 circuit transfer switch to use the generator for furnace, the kitchen, and 4 other circuits. Probably is overkill for my bungalow, but I wanted a quiet unit

I got it the year after Super Storm Sandy

I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it.

For maintenance I run it 10 minutes every other month at least. With such infrequent use, I've been told its good to put a load on it, not just run it without powering anything, so in the summer I use it weekly to charge the battery from the electric lawnmower.

Change the oil once/year. My pet peeve is that replacement washers on the oil drain plug seem only available from a Honda auth. dealer. :annoyed
"I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one.

First, my local gas station offers ethanol free gasoline, so that will be my basis. I plan to keep 4x 5 gallon cans full of this, and will treat with fuel stabilizer (adjust quantity as you see fit, based on generator fuel capacity, consumption, and estimated necessary run time at your expected load). After 6-9 months of storage, assuming I’ve not used the fuel in the generator, I will cycle it through various other gasoline equipment (riding mower, 4-stroke weed eater, vehicles, etc). That should keep my supply of fuel in good condition.


On a side note, I did pull the trigger on the Champion 100520 (7000/8750 watt running/surge) inverter generator, a 50amp generator inlet (technically larger than needed for my generator, but “upgrade-proof”), a Square D generator interlock kit, and appropriate backfeed breaker. While this setup is not automated, it gives me the flexibility to power any circuit I choose, and not just those limited circuits pre-selected for the transfer switch.

I intend to label the panel with stickers to make it easier to remember: red dots for circuits to disable 100% of the time, yellow for “optional” items, and green for circuits that should be turned on at all times under generator power (fridge, freezer, furnace, basic lighting, etc.)

"I’m not fatima526, but I’ll take a whack at this one."
I meant in the genset itself - the cylcing time each month does not appear to use enough fuel to prevent a problem over 6 years.

We have utilized cyling of 5 gallon cans of gasoline as well as fuel from a boat in the driveawy to power both gensets and cars/trucks during extended power outages with good results. Been doing this now for more than 15 years ....
Ah, gotcha. The generator I ordered has a drain bolt on the carburetor. I generally plan to store the generator dry, but should I use it, and have leftover fuel in the tank, I’ll use the drain bolt to empty it back into a can.
"The generator I ordered has a drain bolt on the carburetor."
So does both of ours.

"I’ll use the drain bolt to empty it back into a can."
That would be messy and take a very long time.
Ours also have a fuel filter and petcock between the carb and fuel tank which we can reroute to a gas can - still takes a huge amount of time to drain and never fully drains.

"I generally plan to store the generator dry,"
FWIW - That is what we do with all the smaller gas engines that see intermittent and/or seasonal usage....gensets, snow blowers, snow machines, jet skiis etc.
BogleFan510
Posts: 434
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by BogleFan510 »

pshonore wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:00 am
BogleFan510 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:04 pm Be careful. A home less than 3 miles from us, during a extreme fire danger period, burned down two homes by running a generator when the power company had shut off power precisely due to high winds and fire danger.

Fortunately, brave firefighters cought the blaze within minutes, still two homes were burned completely to cinders along with some ancient trees. I took video of the rapid spread and was preparing to flee for my life (though high winds were blowing in the opposite direction). Many lives were risked, as this area lost hundreds of homes and lives, in a bad fire a decade ago. If you want a generator, have it professionally installed. Do not be cheap. You dont want to be on the news, or an insurance statistic. Also, you need to inform your agent or you may void coverage.
A properly installed generator and transfer switch should not cause a fire. What caused the fire?
My understanding is that it was not properly installed, hence my advice to have it professionally installed. Also, it is assumed (hard to know for certain with nothing left of it) that it was overloaded so it overheated and set fire to adjoining structure and flamable materials. The 'safety blackout' outages were for an extended period of time, so generator running for 6+ hours. A few more minutes without rapid response and hundreds of homes would have been lost given the high fire risk and high wind conditions. The utility had shut off power to the entire area with advance notice.

Under those conditions, running an unattended gas generator in a heavily wooded, dry area with high winds seems an incredibly selfish act IMHO.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 11410
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by ResearchMed »

Given the very extreme fire danger, were there any regulations/etc., concerning the use or non-use of generators like this?

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
michaelingp
Posts: 477
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:46 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by michaelingp »

We bought a small Honda EU2000i generator for my Mom. She was pushing 90, had some cognitive decline, and a long power outage would have been REALLY inconvenient. We were really just thinking of using it to run the (gas) furnace and the fridge. Don't you know, due to pressure from local government about too frequent outages, the power company came through and put in what they call "tree wire". In the eight years since then, we've never had a significant power outage, and lately it hardly ever snows anyway. As a result, the generator has never come out of its box.

We do have UPS on all the computers for those momentary power outages and we can charge all the mobile devices in the car.
lstone19
Posts: 1117
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:33 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by lstone19 »

Generac 20kW natural gas whole-house. Auto-start and transfer. Should not be more than 15 seconds from utility loss to generator on-line. Computers and the like that we prefer not to lose power unexpectedly ever are also on UPS to cover the 15 seconds (watching TV via TiVo? Hit pause, wait for the generator to start, turn the TV back on, back TiVo up a few seconds, resume watching). Two load-shedding modules that cover the downstairs (1st to shed) and upstairs (with bedrooms) A/C. Out house is on well water and septic so becomes uninhabitable very quickly without power.

Have yet to have it run for long periods. Investing in the generator seems to have greatly improved utility reliability. :happy
fatima526
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 8:03 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by fatima526 »

smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am "I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I keep a 5 gallon can and a 2 gallon can each filled with fresh gas. Every 2 months, I pour most of this gas into my SUV gas tank, then refill the cans. I never top off the generator gas tank, I put in just enough for the maintenance runs.
User avatar
snackdog
Posts: 991
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:57 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by snackdog »

We have a fairly large Cummins natural gas unit which powers everything seamlessly. It is about 20 years old and very reliable. It is noisy but far from the house so we don’t hear it unless we are outside. Our power can go out for up to a week so we need it for the water well plus HVAC, etc.
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

fatima526 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am "I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I keep a 5 gallon can and a 2 gallon can each filled with fresh gas. Every 2 months, I pour most of this gas into my SUV gas tank, then refill the cans. I never top off the generator gas tank, I put in just enough for the maintenance runs.
If you are not stabilizing the gas you pour in that stategy will backfire.
neilpilot
Posts: 3741
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by neilpilot »

smitcat wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 8:38 am
fatima526 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am "I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I keep a 5 gallon can and a 2 gallon can each filled with fresh gas. Every 2 months, I pour most of this gas into my SUV gas tank, then refill the cans. I never top off the generator gas tank, I put in just enough for the maintenance runs.
If you are not stabilizing the gas you pour in that stategy will backfire.
Even disregarding the dilution effect (in the SUV), this "stategy" sounds fine to me. Fresh gas in a sealed can will not become stale in 2 months.
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

neilpilot wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:04 am
smitcat wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 8:38 am
fatima526 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am "I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I keep a 5 gallon can and a 2 gallon can each filled with fresh gas. Every 2 months, I pour most of this gas into my SUV gas tank, then refill the cans. I never top off the generator gas tank, I put in just enough for the maintenance runs.
If you are not stabilizing the gas you pour in that stategy will backfire.
Even disregarding the dilution effect (in the SUV), this "stategy" sounds fine to me. Fresh gas in a sealed can will not become stale in 2 months.
Its in the gensets fuel tank and lines......
Adding some % of fresh fuel to a tank which has fuel that has not been refreshed for 6 years and/or used heavily will always cause problems.
If you have fuel shutoffs at the tanks outlet and flush the basin that is typical designed within these tanks it will help alleviate that issue.
A440
Posts: 678
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:46 am
Location: NJ

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by A440 »

We use a small inverter generator from Harbor Freight along with a manual transfer switch. It powers what we need it to power. The longest we found a need to use it was 2 days. For ~$1,000 for both, it was an affordable insurance option for the once or twice a year we lose power.
I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.
whomever
Posts: 1070
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by whomever »

Just FWIW, running a small emergency generator once a month or three seems like a lot of work to me. We've had a Honda EU2000 since shortly after they came out, which is pushing 20 years, and between power outages we store it dry, according to the long term storage instructions in the manual. It has gone several years between uses, and starts right up wen we need it.

This isn't anything peculiar to generators[1], we treat all small gas engines the same. Properly mothballing them seems like a lot less work than running them periodically.

We do use gas stabilizer, and change out the gas in the cans every fall by putting the old gas in the cars.







[1]there were, I think, some older generators whose magnets would gradually lose strength if never run. I haven't heard of that in a while, though. Is that still a thing for modern-ish generators?
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 24103
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by willthrill81 »

smitcat wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:18 am
neilpilot wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:04 am
smitcat wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 8:38 am
fatima526 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 am "I have used twice for actual power outages in the 6 years I've had it."
What plan are you utilizing for keeping the fuel fresh?
I keep a 5 gallon can and a 2 gallon can each filled with fresh gas. Every 2 months, I pour most of this gas into my SUV gas tank, then refill the cans. I never top off the generator gas tank, I put in just enough for the maintenance runs.
If you are not stabilizing the gas you pour in that stategy will backfire.
Even disregarding the dilution effect (in the SUV), this "stategy" sounds fine to me. Fresh gas in a sealed can will not become stale in 2 months.
Its in the gensets fuel tank and lines......
Adding some % of fresh fuel to a tank which has fuel that has not been refreshed for 6 years and/or used heavily will always cause problems.
If you have fuel shutoffs at the tanks outlet and flush the basin that is typical designed within these tanks it will help alleviate that issue.
I keep very little gasoline in the fuel tank for our Yamaha 2400 iSHC and exercise it for about 15 minutes every month. I turn off the petcock valve to run it empty every time and pour a little fresh gas into the tank every 2-3 months.

We store about 70 gallons of gasoline in 5 gallon cans and rotate through all of it by emptying cans into our SUV (via a siphon hose, so it's very easy) about every 4 months, so none of the gasoline is more than 4 months old. I use regular E-10 gasoline and no stabilizers. I've been using this overall approach for almost 7 years now and haven't had any issues with the fuel or starting or running the generator.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 24103
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by willthrill81 »

killjoy2012 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:03 am
ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?
* Expected load
* 120 vs 240V supply requirement
* Cost
* Fuel availability
* Historical frequency of power outages
* Damage /Impact if without power for days/weeks
* Portability - If portable, could be used for needs beyond home power outage situations -- camping, hunting, construction sites w/o power, etc.

I landed on a portable, contractor grade 9KW genset I got from Costco for $600 that will run on gas, propane or natural gas. While I'd love to have a whole house solution with auto-TX switch, I couldn't justify the cost for as rare as I need it. And while I'd love to have an inverter-based genset, I couldn't justify spending 10x the cost for it.
ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Gas or diesel?
Gas - easier to find in zombie apocalypse. Tri-fuel so it can run on LP, NG or gasoline. Shelf life of propane >>> gas or diesel.
ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?
Solar is fine for augmenting power generation needs, but isn't viable by itself IMO. Solar makes no power in the dark, so now you're talking about building battery banks. Battery banks would have to be huge to run any decent load for an extended amount of time. If you all you want is a couple LED lights on during an outage, OK - sure, but supporting a typical house power load for an extended time on solar alone isn't reality.
+1

With regard to selecting a generator, the single biggest question is how large of a unit you need. If want to run a 240 volt appliance (e.g. electric stove/oven, water heater, central AC, electric furnace, dryer), you need a relatively large generator, at least 5,000 watts, and that will only run one of those 240 volt appliances at a time. But if you can make do with only running 120 volt appliances, then you can likely make do with a much smaller and potentially far quieter generator. With our 2,400 watt inverter generator (Yamaha 2400 iSHC), we can run our refrigerator, freezer, lights, TV, modem, and a backup window unit air conditioner (or our gas furnace) and not use half of its capacity. Due to power outages being pretty rare in our area, we just use extension cords to the above items, but if outages were more common, we'd either use an interlock (legal in our area) or a manual transfer switch.

I agree that gasoline is better in most residential applications. A diesel generator will be several times the cost of a gasoline generator of similar capacity in this situation. Diesel generators generally only make sense when (1) you need much larger than residential-sized generator and/or (2) you plan on running the generator for many thousands of hours.

And yes, you need a lot of solar panels and battery backup capacity for even minimal use. It's not even remotely cost effective for a backup power solution.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
egrets
Posts: 483
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:56 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by egrets »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:39 pm We've got a Generac natural gas unit, with an auto-start and transfer switch.

Thus far, after quite a few uses (only a handful that were of any length), it's worked like a charm.

We don't have every circuit wired into it, but after a few of the more lengthy outages, we might have the circuits changed now that we realize that we'd really like to have A working after all, and B isn't so important.
We made a point to have lights on all stairwells and hallways, the main refrigerator and a microwave because the ovens are electric. The cooktop is gas.

We also made sure to have all thermostats and any ignition devices (for several gas heat units) included.

We originally got this because we have a sump pump that must work, or the finished lower level could flood. Also, we wouldn't want pipes to freeze.
We got the automated system because we travel/in case we aren't home. And so the housesitter wouldn't need to deal with it if she happened to be here "then".

It does an automated test each week, and we get a text message stating the unit status.

We are VERY glad that we got it, and our only regret is that we should have gotten it sooner.

RM
+1 It should take care of my whole house but it does have automatic load shedding for the air conditioner.
X528
Posts: 154
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by X528 »

ruanddu wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 pm Curious for those who have a generator in case power goes out at your residence, how did you decide on which one to buy?

Gas or diesel?

If you have solar roof panels installed, do you still need a generator, or do the solar panels suffice on their own?

Thank you.
20 kw Generac generator, natural gas.
egrets
Posts: 483
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:56 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by egrets »

pshonore wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:00 am
BogleFan510 wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:04 pm Be careful. A home less than 3 miles from us, during a extreme fire danger period, burned down two homes by running a generator when the power company had shut off power precisely due to high winds and fire danger.

Fortunately, brave firefighters cought the blaze within minutes, still two homes were burned completely to cinders alomg with some ancient trees. I took video of the rapid spread and was preparing to flee for my life (though high winds were blowing in the opposite direction). Many lives were risked, as this area lost hundreds of homes and lives, in a bad fire a decade ago. If you want a generator, have it professionally installed. Do not be cheap. You dont want to be on the news, or an insurance statistic. Also, you need to inform your agent or you may void coverage.
A properly installed generator and transfer switch should not cause a fire. What caused the fire?
This doesn't make sense to me either. My Generac can run for days.
User avatar
JonnyDVM
Posts: 2738
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:51 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by JonnyDVM »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:46 pm Generac 5500 gas. Bought it about 3 years ago when a late season snow/ice storm took out power with estimates of at least 3 days, possibly into weeks before restoration. Went to Lowes. This was all they had. $700. I used it for the 3 days of that storm to run oil burner, water heater, refrigerators, sump pump, internet, a few lights, tv, computers, router.

Nothing is integrated. I set the thing up outside our basement door then run extension cords all over. Have had maybe 2 instances since then of at most a couple hours.
I also have a Generac that I used once over the last two years and it did the job. After talking to a generator salesman he suggested if you want something you need to fire up once in a great while a Generac is fine. If you want something for more frequent use like for an RV get a Honda. Honda is way more expensive.
I’d trade it all for a little more | -C Montgomery Burns
High Income Parent
Posts: 166
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:11 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by High Income Parent »

Everything depends on how you plan to use it and how convenient it will be to get fuel but so far we have lost power for a few hours here and there when the wind blows and when ice brings down limbs so I bought a 7500 watt for $800 and it powers the furnace, the water well pump and enough outlets to charge devices and run the fridge and so far it has been great.
Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work. | | C. S. Lewis
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

whomever wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:19 am Just FWIW, running a small emergency generator once a month or three seems like a lot of work to me. We've had a Honda EU2000 since shortly after they came out, which is pushing 20 years, and between power outages we store it dry, according to the long term storage instructions in the manual. It has gone several years between uses, and starts right up wen we need it.

This isn't anything peculiar to generators[1], we treat all small gas engines the same. Properly mothballing them seems like a lot less work than running them periodically.

We do use gas stabilizer, and change out the gas in the cans every fall by putting the old gas in the cars.







[1]there were, I think, some older generators whose magnets would gradually lose strength if never run. I haven't heard of that in a while, though. Is that still a thing for modern-ish generators?
"We've had a Honda EU2000 since shortly after they came out, which is pushing 20 years, and between power outages we store it dry, according to the long term storage instructions in the manual. It has gone several years between uses, and starts right up wen we need it."
Exactly - same as our approach with similar gensets, snow machines mari,ne engines, etc that do not run year round or not even every year.
Really we just follow the handbooks for these engines - nothing more and nothing less.
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 24103
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by willthrill81 »

Last year, I wrote the post below in response to a question about a standby (i.e. 'whole house') generator.
willthrill81 wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:52 am I've spent at least dozens of hours researching this topic over the last eight years or so and have owned a portable generator for the last seven years.

IMHO, there are several big cons with a standby (i.e. 'whole house', though prior posters have pointed out that a standby generator does not necessarily power all of your circuits) generators and very few pros.

CONS
- They are usually very loud. This is annoying to you unless you can position it where you won't hear the sound much, and it will be even more annoying to your neighbors, especially since they aren't benefiting from the power. During a long-term power outage, the noise is also a beacon alerting everyone within earshot that someone has power and probably other desirable things, potentially making you a target. Note that Honda makes a very quiet, portable inverter generator that can be set up to operate as a standby generator, but it will likely not power all of your circuits, and it's definitely not cheap.

- They consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month, but if it's powered by propane as many must be in rural areas, you can burn through a surprisingly large amount of propane in short order, and replenishing that could be a challenge.

- They are not a completely 'hands-off' solution. At a minimum, the oil must be changed in them, typically every 100 hours of operation, about every four days. This normally isn't difficult or messy, but it's a vital task that requires you to power down the generator, drain the oil, change the filter, refill the oil, restart the generator, and make sure that everything is good to go. Some may be physically unable or just unwilling to do this.

- Most of the engines used in standby generators are only rated for about 2,000 hours of use. That sounds like a lot, but when you're running it 24 hours a day, it works out to just 83 days of continuous use. The engine may keep working long after that, but you might start incurring expensive maintenance issues after that point, and, more importantly, the engine may fail during a power outage, right when you were counting on it to be there. So once you reach the 2,000 mark, you should probably consider replacing the entire unit, a very pricey move.

- They are fixed in place. You cannot take a standby generator with you if you want to permanently move or even just temporarily go somewhere where you would benefit from having portable electricity.

PROS
- They start and stop automatically, if everything is working properly.


By comparison, you can buy a portable generator with all of the capacity of a standby generator (and much more, actually) that only requires you to push a start switch. Those who would otherwise like standby generators would probably want to use a transfer switch with their portable generator, which only requires that you plug a cord into your generator into a dedicated outlet for this purpose and flip a the transfer switch breaker to the on position. Portable generators can potentially run on gasoline, propane, natural gas, or diesel. Changing the oil on many of them is no more difficult than it is with a standby generator. They will not make any more noise than a standby generator and can potentially be far more quiet, so much so that your neighbors might not even hear it running. They will typically be far less expensive than a similarly sized standby generator, and some of them are rated for far more than 2,000 hours of use, especially those that run on diesel and/or are large. And you can move them from one place to another, especially the smaller units.

Finally, the pretty widely recognized 'best practice' in the preparedness community for optimal use of fuel for a generator is to run it (1) in conjunction with an appropriately sized battery system and (2) for 1-2 hours in the morning, maybe another 1-2 hours in the early afternoon, and another 1-2 hours in the evening. While it's running, it will cool down your refrigerator and freezer, operate your air conditioner or furnace, water heater, stove/oven, etc. and recharging your battery system. The rest of the time, you draw comparatively small amounts of power as needed from your battery system for things like lights, a small TV, computer, modem/router/WiFi, small fans, recharging smaller batteries (e.g. AAs), etc. This is a FAR more efficient means of extracting maximum power from finite fuel supplies. However, it does require substantially more effort on your part.

In our own situation, we can power all of our vital electronic items from our quite 2,400 Yamaha iSHC inverter generator. The only items that it cannot run are our electric stove/oven, dryer, water heater, and central AC. But we have two propane stoves (and lots of propane) for cooking and heating water, can do without a dryer for a while, and have a backup window unit AC that could operate on the generator. I have wired our natural gas furnace with a regular 120v plug (yes, it's to code) that can be plugged into the generator with a regular extension cord, and we can also operate our natural gas fireplace blower fan with an extension cord connected to either our generator or our small battery system. We could also operate fairly small 120v electronic items from an inverter connected to our vehicle, running it periodically to recharge that battery. We also store significant quantities of fuel, which actually saves us significant money every year (that's another topic).
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
aquaman
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by aquaman »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:31 am - They are usually very loud. This is annoying to you unless you can position it where you won't hear the sound much, and it will be even more annoying to your neighbors, especially since they aren't benefiting from the power.
They are definitely not quiet, but are designed for emergency backup power. Hence, when your power goes out and they kick in, most people aren't troubled by the sound and are just thrilled to have them.

In practice, most portable generator end up being just as loud.
During a long-term power outage, the noise is also a beacon alerting everyone within earshot that someone has power and probably other desirable things, potentially making you a target.
This is a pretty bizarre statement. You can just as easily say, for instance, that the presence of a standby generator means that the security system is likely to remain on even during an extended power outage, and the house is a lot more likely to remain occupied, thereby making it less likely to be a target.
- They consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month...
That's simply incorrect. A 20 kw air cooled natural gas powered generator running at full load would consume approximately 262 cu ft/hr, which translates into 2.62 therms. It's very common to pay roughly 40 cents per therm (plus tax, plus fixed charges), so at this rate of consumption, it actually ends up being cheaper than electricity.

In reality, generators won't be running at full load 24/7, so the actual consumption costs would be even lower.
- They are not a completely 'hands-off' solution. At a minimum, the oil must be changed in them, typically every 100 hours of operation, about every four days. This normally isn't difficult or messy, but it's a vital task that requires you to power down the generator, drain the oil, change the filter, refill the oil, restart the generator, and make sure that everything is good to go. Some may be physically unable or just unwilling to do this.
Yes, most standby generators need to be serviced every 100 to 150 hours of operation, which translates into 4-6 days of a continuous power outage. An overwhelming number of outages that people experience are much shorter in duration.
- Most of the engines used in standby generators are only rated for about 2,000 hours of use. That sounds like a lot, but when you're running it 24 hours a day, it works out to just 83 days of continuous use.
Most engines used in standby generators are rated for about 3,000 hours of use. On average, even with weekly auto starts, most people end up using them for 50 - 100 hours a year. Even if it's 100 hours a year and even if the engine only lasts 2,000 hours, we are talking about 20 years.
- They are fixed in place. You cannot take a standby generator with you if you want to permanently move or even just temporarily go somewhere where you would benefit from having portable electricity.
This can be a disadvantage or an advantage. See below.
PROS
- They start and stop automatically, if everything is working properly.
Standby generators, while unquestionably more expensive up front, actually come with a number of very significant advantages, none of which are mentioned in your post.

From a cost standpoint, where I live, standby generators are a sought after high end feature, such that at resale you typically get back about half of what you had paid to put it in. A lot of homeowners insurance companies also provide insurance discounts to people with standby generators, as they reduce losses. No such discounts are ever available for portable generators, as you have to be there to power up a portable (and then have sufficient fuel to keep a portable going), while a lot of losses happen during periods of power outages where the owners are away from the house.

If you have sump pumps, battery backups are pricey and don't last very long. Power outages typically happen during periods of severe weather, which is the time that you need your sump pumps the most. Sump pump failures are extremely common and the resulting damage tends to be very expensive, which is also the reason that all standard insurance companies either do not cover it without an endorsement or provide very low coverage limits. Standby generators alleviate any concerns over these types of failures resulting from power outages and also allow you to eliminate pricey sump pump battery backups, which also only provide rather limited protection against power failures.

The same is true for all other equipment that you have in the house that has battery backups/large UPS systems. For instance, something as simple as a garage door opener no longer requires a battery backup, so you can buy a slightly cheaper one without it. A lot of people spend a lot of money on UPS systems, so that their computer equipment doesn't immediately go down during an outage. With a standby generator, if you need true uninterruptible power (it takes standby generators about 10 seconds to kick in), you still need a UPS, but only a small and inexpensive one. I know someone who didn't think about a standby generator and spent $3K on a fancy UPS to keep his video surveillance system up and running during outages, and that's just one system. A standby generator to power the entire house (or most of it) would've been a more cost effective solution for him.

I already mentioned the self-evident fact that with a portable, you need to be home to bring it out to power it up, need to protect it from the elements, need to have sufficient fuel at the house (during outage periods, you are frequently unable to go out to get more and it is frequently unavailable) and then need to come out every couple of hours or refuel it. With a standby generator, you literally don't do a thing, as it is already protected from the elements, starts up automatically when you lose power, disconnects automatically when the grid power comes back on, has a highly reliable source of fuel (natural gas or LP, which, from an accessibility standpoint, are both far more reliable than gasoline) and is just generally a far more reliable and robust option.

Plenty of people out there obviously live just fine without any generators or just use a portable. If you are, however, comparing a portable to a standby generator, the differences are far more significant than what you've mentioned.
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 24103
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by willthrill81 »

aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:31 am - They are usually very loud. This is annoying to you unless you can position it where you won't hear the sound much, and it will be even more annoying to your neighbors, especially since they aren't benefiting from the power.
They are definitely not quiet, but are designed for emergency backup power. Hence, when your power goes out and they kick in, most people aren't troubled by the sound and are just thrilled to have them.

In practice, most portable generator end up being just as loud.
Inverter generators are far quieter.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
During a long-term power outage, the noise is also a beacon alerting everyone within earshot that someone has power and probably other desirable things, potentially making you a target.
This is a pretty bizarre statement. You can just as easily say, for instance, that the presence of a standby generator means that the security system is likely to remain on even during an extended power outage, and the house is a lot more likely to remain occupied, thereby making it less likely to be a target.
I don't think that most people would think it's a 'bizarre statement' at all.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
- They consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month...
That's simply incorrect. A 20 kw air cooled natural gas powered generator running at full load would consume approximately 262 cu ft/hr, which translates into 2.62 therms. It's very common to pay roughly 40 cents per therm (plus tax, plus fixed charges), so at this rate of consumption, it actually ends up being cheaper than electricity.
In most areas, it's not possible to generate electricity yourself via natural gas at a lower cost than what you buy from the grid.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
- They are not a completely 'hands-off' solution. At a minimum, the oil must be changed in them, typically every 100 hours of operation, about every four days. This normally isn't difficult or messy, but it's a vital task that requires you to power down the generator, drain the oil, change the filter, refill the oil, restart the generator, and make sure that everything is good to go. Some may be physically unable or just unwilling to do this.
Yes, most standby generators need to be serviced every 100 to 150 hours of operation, which translates into 4-6 days of a continuous power outage. An overwhelming number of outages that people experience are much shorter in duration.

Regardless, I am not sure why you list this as a con of standby generators, as portable generators are not exactly service-free.
My point is that many wrongly believe standby generators to be a 'hands-off' solution, but that's not the case. All generators require ongoing maintenance, and this cannot reliably be farmed out to someone else.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pmI already mentioned the self-evident fact that with a portable, you need to be home to bring it out to power it up, need to protect it from the elements, need to have sufficient fuel at the house (during outage periods, you are frequently unable to go out to get more and it is frequently unavailable) and then need to come out every couple of hours or refuel it. With a standby generator, you literally don't do a thing, as it is already protected from the elements, starts up automatically when you lose power, disconnects automatically when the grid power comes back on, has a highly reliable source of fuel (natural gas or LP, which, from an accessibility standpoint, are both far more reliable than gasoline) and is just generally a far more reliable and robust option.
1. Many who own portable generators store them in a garage or separate 'shed' so that they are at least as well protected as a standby generator.

2. A portable generator can run on the exact same fuel as a standby generator (i.e., natural gas or propane).

3. Even portable generators running on gasoline can go far longer than two hours without being refilled. But if it's being run on natural gas or propane like a standby generator, it can run at least as long as a standby generator (i.e., between oil changes).

4. Statements like "you literally don't do a thing" with a standby generator only apply to the first four days of continuous operation.

5. Some view the portability of a portable generator as being a more 'reliable and robust' option than a fixed-in-place standby generator. Keep in mind that if there are any problems with the natural gas supply, the most commonly used fuel source for a standby generator, the standby generator becomes inoperable. This is particularly a concern in areas with earthquakes, where the natural gas supply is automatically stopped in the event of a quake to prevent fires.

Standby generators are perfectly fine options in certain situations, but my big point was that they have some potentially significant cons.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:57 pm
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:31 am - They are usually very loud. This is annoying to you unless you can position it where you won't hear the sound much, and it will be even more annoying to your neighbors, especially since they aren't benefiting from the power.
They are definitely not quiet, but are designed for emergency backup power. Hence, when your power goes out and they kick in, most people aren't troubled by the sound and are just thrilled to have them.

In practice, most portable generator end up being just as loud.
Inverter generators are far quieter.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
During a long-term power outage, the noise is also a beacon alerting everyone within earshot that someone has power and probably other desirable things, potentially making you a target.
This is a pretty bizarre statement. You can just as easily say, for instance, that the presence of a standby generator means that the security system is likely to remain on even during an extended power outage, and the house is a lot more likely to remain occupied, thereby making it less likely to be a target.
I don't think that most people would think it's a 'bizarre statement' at all.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
- They consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month...
That's simply incorrect. A 20 kw air cooled natural gas powered generator running at full load would consume approximately 262 cu ft/hr, which translates into 2.62 therms. It's very common to pay roughly 40 cents per therm (plus tax, plus fixed charges), so at this rate of consumption, it actually ends up being cheaper than electricity.
In most areas, it's not possible to generate electricity yourself via natural gas at a lower cost than what you buy from the grid.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
- They are not a completely 'hands-off' solution. At a minimum, the oil must be changed in them, typically every 100 hours of operation, about every four days. This normally isn't difficult or messy, but it's a vital task that requires you to power down the generator, drain the oil, change the filter, refill the oil, restart the generator, and make sure that everything is good to go. Some may be physically unable or just unwilling to do this.
Yes, most standby generators need to be serviced every 100 to 150 hours of operation, which translates into 4-6 days of a continuous power outage. An overwhelming number of outages that people experience are much shorter in duration.

Regardless, I am not sure why you list this as a con of standby generators, as portable generators are not exactly service-free.
My point is that many wrongly believe standby generators to be a 'hands-off' solution, but that's not the case. All generators require ongoing maintenance, and this cannot reliably be farmed out to someone else.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pmI already mentioned the self-evident fact that with a portable, you need to be home to bring it out to power it up, need to protect it from the elements, need to have sufficient fuel at the house (during outage periods, you are frequently unable to go out to get more and it is frequently unavailable) and then need to come out every couple of hours or refuel it. With a standby generator, you literally don't do a thing, as it is already protected from the elements, starts up automatically when you lose power, disconnects automatically when the grid power comes back on, has a highly reliable source of fuel (natural gas or LP, which, from an accessibility standpoint, are both far more reliable than gasoline) and is just generally a far more reliable and robust option.
1. Many who own portable generators store them in a garage or separate 'shed' so that they are at least as well protected as a standby generator.

2. A portable generator can run on the exact same fuel as a standby generator (i.e., natural gas or propane).

3. Even portable generators running on gasoline can go far longer than two hours without being refilled. But if it's being run on natural gas or propane like a standby generator, it can run at least as long as a standby generator (i.e., between oil changes).

4. Statements like "you literally don't do a thing" with a standby generator only apply to the first four days of continuous operation.

5. Some view the portability of a portable generator as being a more 'reliable and robust' option than a fixed-in-place standby generator. Keep in mind that if there are any problems with the natural gas supply, the most commonly used fuel source for a standby generator, the standby generator becomes inoperable. This is particularly a concern in areas with earthquakes, where the natural gas supply is automatically stopped in the event of a quake to prevent fires.

Standby generators are perfectly fine options in certain situations, but my big point was that they have some potentially significant cons.

"1. Many who own portable generators store them in a garage or separate 'shed' so that they are at least as well protected as a standby generator."
Yes - our portables are on a rack in the garage much better protected than outside.

2. A portable generator can run on the exact same fuel as a standby generator (i.e., natural gas or propane).
Yes - our portables run about 12 hours between fills.

3. Even portable generators running on gasoline can go far longer than two hours without being refilled. But if it's being run on natural gas or propane like a standby generator, it can run at least as long as a standby generator (i.e., between oil changes).
Yes again - a tri fuel adpater kit makes this possible.

4. Statements like "you literally don't do a thing" with a standby generator only apply to the first four days of continuous operation.
Our daughters boyfriend makes some great money on the side working on Generac's these past few years.

5. Some view the portability of a portable generator as being a more 'reliable and robust' option than a fixed-in-place standby generator. Keep in mind that if there are any problems with the natural gas supply, the most commonly used fuel source for a standby generator, the standby generator becomes inoperable. This is particularly a concern in areas with earthquakes, where the natural gas supply is automatically stopped in the event of a quake to prevent fires.
Yes again - we have used our portables at home, at work, at tailgates, when working on the boat, camping and at college games with our daughter.
Ther natural gas supply in our area was inaccessable during Sandy as one example.

"Standby generators are perfectly fine options in certain situations, but my big point was that they have some potentially significant cons"
Most folks do not consider the full costs of aquisition, installation, permitting, fueling, maintenance and replacement.
YMMV
aquaman
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by aquaman »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:57 pmInverter generators are far quieter.
Primarily because you're talking about much, much smaller and less powerful ones.

Regardless, the generator noise levels tend to be such a minor issue during a power outage that I'm not even sure why you're talking about it.
In most areas, it's not possible to generate electricity yourself via natural gas at a lower cost than what you buy from the grid.
You make a lot of these blanket statements without providing any basis or support for them.

I just referenced the actual consumption and pricing to you above. Have you looked into the price per therm in "most areas," and have you compared the costs to the alternatives, such as, for instance, the expense of a hotel room.
My point is that many wrongly believe standby generators to be a 'hands-off' solution, but that's not the case. All generators require ongoing maintenance, and this cannot reliably be farmed out to someone else.
I don't understand what you're trying to say. During a power outage, a standby generator is a completely hands off solution, as it starts up on its own and, once power comes back on, shuts down on its own. It doesn't care whether you're home or not, as there's literally nothing for you to do. Likewise, it automatically tests itself once a week, such that if you're paying attention, it'll warn you in advance if there's a problem.

Standby generators do require service every 100 to 150 hours, which for most homeowners means once a year or two. Not only can it be "reliably farmed out to someone else," but that's exactly what a ton of people do. As I've previously posted, for instance, I purchase an OEM service kit online for roughly $50 and then pay my handyman another $50 to install it (it's a simple oil change, spark plug and air filter replacement). Most standby generator owners in our area do the same thing.
1. Many who own portable generators store them in a garage or separate 'shed' so that they are at least as well protected as a standby generator.

2. A portable generator can run on the exact same fuel as a standby generator (i.e., natural gas or propane).

3. Even portable generators running on gasoline can go far longer than two hours without being refilled. But if it's being run on natural gas or propane like a standby generator, it can run at least as long as a standby generator (i.e., between oil changes).

4. Statements like "you literally don't do a thing" with a standby generator only apply to the first four days of continuous operation.

5. Some view the portability of a portable generator as being a more 'reliable and robust' option than a fixed-in-place standby generator. Keep in mind that if there are any problems with the natural gas supply, the most commonly used fuel source for a standby generator, the standby generator becomes inoperable. This is particularly a concern in areas with earthquakes, where the natural gas supply is automatically stopped in the event of a quake to prevent fires.

Standby generators are perfectly fine options in certain situations, but my big point was that they have some potentially significant cons.
Respectfully, this and your previous post are examples of self affirmation. The primary and typically sole reason that more people don't own standby generators is because of cost. That's a very, very good reason and a perfectly legitimate one at that, particularly in areas with very stable grid power and situations where automatic operation isn't a priority.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a portable or no generator at all, but there's no need to create these types of posts suggesting that things like "noise levels" have anything whatsoever to do with the decision. If you could have a standby generator installed for the same price as the cost of a portable one, portable generator sales would be decimated.
Last edited by aquaman on Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 24103
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by willthrill81 »

aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:44 pm Regardless, the generator noise levels tend to be such a minor issue during a power outage that I'm not even sure why you're talking about it.
Just because the aspects I've mentioned aren't important to you doesn't mean that they aren't important to others. The affirmations of many in this thread reveal that. I'm not going to converse with you further about this as there is no point in doing so.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:44 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:57 pmInverter generators are far quieter.
Primarily because you're talking about much, much smaller and less powerful ones.

Regardless, the generator noise levels tend to be such a minor issue during a power outage that I'm not even sure why you're talking about it.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
- They consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month...
That's simply incorrect. A 20 kw air cooled natural gas powered generator running at full load would consume approximately 262 cu ft/hr, which translates into 2.62 therms. It's very common to pay roughly 40 cents per therm (plus tax, plus fixed charges), so at this rate of consumption, it actually ends up being cheaper than electricity.
In most areas, it's not possible to generate electricity yourself via natural gas at a lower cost than what you buy from the grid.
You make a lot of these blanket statements without providing any basis or support for them.

I just referenced the actual consumption and pricing to you above. Have you looked into the price per therm in "most areas," and have you compared the costs to the alternatives, such as, for instance, the expense of a hotel room.
My point is that many wrongly believe standby generators to be a 'hands-off' solution, but that's not the case. All generators require ongoing maintenance, and this cannot reliably be farmed out to someone else.
I don't understand what you're trying to say. During a power outage, a standby generator is a completely hands off solution, as it starts up on its own and, once power comes back on, shuts down on its own. It doesn't care whether you're home or not, as there's literally nothing for you to do. Likewise, it automatically tests itself once a week, such that if you're paying attention, it'll warn you in advance if there's a problem.

Standby generators do require service every 100 to 150 hours, which for most homeowners means once or twice a year. Not only can it be "reliably farmed out to someone else," but that's exactly what a ton of people do. As I've previously posted, for instance, I purchase an OEM service kit online for roughly $50 and then pay my handyman another $50 to install it (it's a simple oil change, spark plug and air filter replacement). Most standby generator owners in our area do the same thing.
1. Many who own portable generators store them in a garage or separate 'shed' so that they are at least as well protected as a standby generator.

2. A portable generator can run on the exact same fuel as a standby generator (i.e., natural gas or propane).

3. Even portable generators running on gasoline can go far longer than two hours without being refilled. But if it's being run on natural gas or propane like a standby generator, it can run at least as long as a standby generator (i.e., between oil changes).

4. Statements like "you literally don't do a thing" with a standby generator only apply to the first four days of continuous operation.

5. Some view the portability of a portable generator as being a more 'reliable and robust' option than a fixed-in-place standby generator. Keep in mind that if there are any problems with the natural gas supply, the most commonly used fuel source for a standby generator, the standby generator becomes inoperable. This is particularly a concern in areas with earthquakes, where the natural gas supply is automatically stopped in the event of a quake to prevent fires.

Standby generators are perfectly fine options in certain situations, but my big point was that they have some potentially significant cons.
Respectfully, this and your previous post are examples of self affirmation. The primary and typically sole reason that more people don't own standby generators is because of cost. That's a very, very good reason and a perfectly legitimate one at that, particularly in areas with very stable grid power and situations where automatic operation isn't a priority.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a portable or no generator at all, but there's no need to create these types of posts suggesting that things like "noise levels" have anything whatsoever to do with the decision. If you could have a standby generator installed for the same price as the cost of a portable one, the portable generator sales would be decimated.
[/quote]

"If you could have a standby generator installed for the same price as the cost of a portable one, the portable generator sales would be decimated."
As posteed before the costs are not just limited to the installed costs of the genset or the utility of it. We had a full home standby genset when we bought a home and sold it as is running to someone who finds value in a permanent and more costly install. The benifits we gave up were more capacity, and auto start. Buying anything depends upon how you define the goal and/or the problem for your own situation.
iamlucky13
Posts: 2361
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by iamlucky13 »

aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:31 amThey consume a lot of fuel. Being that a standby generator is providing you with around-the-clock power, it will consume a lot of fuel. If it's being powered by natural gas, this just means that you'll get a big bill at the end of the month...
That's simply incorrect. A 20 kw air cooled natural gas powered generator running at full load would consume approximately 262 cu ft/hr, which translates into 2.62 therms. It's very common to pay roughly 40 cents per therm (plus tax, plus fixed charges), so at this rate of consumption, it actually ends up being cheaper than electricity.
The US average natural cost is 2-1/2 times that price. However, it depends on how your utility divides the bill between base and consumption rates. The last time I had access to gas, we had a very small base charge, and I think we were paying over $1 per them. I know some areas have a much higher base charge, and a consumption charge close to what the utility pays to buy it, which can be around $0.40/therm.
https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_pri_sum_ ... DMcf_a.htm

Regardless, if you do have natural gas, your fuel cost can be pretty modest compared to propane or diesel. I recall a couple posts in past threads from whole-house generator owners shocked at the cost of getting their propane tanks refilled after long outages like Sandy, because they needed refills to keep their furnaces going, and the regional supply was highly strained.

In any case, I'd expect it to be rare for a whole-house generator user to see fuel being the dominant cost instead of purchase and installation, probably followed by maintenance if done under a service contract.

I'd say the main point should be to keep in mind there are more costs to having whole-house backup than just installation.
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:39 pmIf you have sump pumps, battery backups are pricey and don't last very long.
I'm actually looking at this right now, having just replaced my septic pump and figuring this is a good time to plan a better outage strategy than limit water use and keep the kids from playing in the yard near the septic tank for several days if it overflows.

Right now, the septic pump has been plugged into a Kill-A-Watt meter for the last 8 days, and I think it was at 0.7 kWh this morning. A single battery will keep our septic system properly functioning for far longer than we would have hot water available, as long as I disconnect the inverter between uses to avoid standby drain.

That's pretty minimal usage, though. Some sump pumps have to deal with thousands of gallons of seepage a day, and ultimately, it comes down to what you want to run, and how involved you want to be in keeping it running. My own decision is going to come down to a small, quiet inverter generator or a 12V inverter and 1-2 deep cycle batteries. I've got far different needs and expectations than someone on the Gulf coast who wants to keep their air conditioner running after a hurricane.
tomd37
Posts: 3575
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:39 pm
Location: Middle Tennessee

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by tomd37 »

It's time for some of you kids to "take your ball and go home".

This bickering back and forth is getting ridiculous. :(
Tom D.
aquaman
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by aquaman »

willthrill81 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:48 pm
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:44 pm Regardless, the generator noise levels tend to be such a minor issue during a power outage that I'm not even sure why you're talking about it.
Just because the aspects I've mentioned aren't important to you doesn't mean that they aren't important to others. The affirmations of many in this thread reveal that. I'm not going to converse with you further about this as there is no point in doing so.
You're implying that if cost wasn't a factor, people would choose to forego a standby generator and, instead, purchase a portable, all because of the "considerations" that you've mentioned? This implication is obviously false.

The up front cost differential between portable and standby generators is substantial (although, if your area is like mine and standby generators are a sought after piece of equipment, such that you get roughly 50% of the up front cost back at resale, the net cost differential can actually not be all that significant), so it's perfectly reasonable and natural for lots and lots of people to opt for the cheaper option. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but your list of considerations was very intentionally skewed. I'm not entirely clear why you decided to do that, as there wasn't a single person suggesting that there was something wrong with you using a portable generator.

So, what exactly are we disagreeing about?
Last edited by aquaman on Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
toast0
Posts: 189
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:41 am
Location: Puget Sound

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by toast0 »

ResearchMed wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 12:25 pm We probably would have gone with this, except for the "what if there's already a heavy load when the generator first kicks in". And, as mentioned, I'm not sure what "would have happened" if the electricity usage was already too high, and there was not time to shut off a few hogs first.
Or if we weren't home, and the AC suddenly kicked in when the generator was running.
A well designed generator, not intended for emergency loads will shut itself off if the demands is too high. This isn't too big of a deal if you're home, and you've got the washer/dryer going, and the wall oven, and the A/C kicks in and overloads. You'll figure it out. It's a bigger deal if your roast is in the oven and you're out for a couple hours and you come back and don't know how long it's been cooking. What would be lovely is if my 'smart' thermostats would communicate enough to not all run if electricity is coming from the generator instead of the utility.
aquaman
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by aquaman »

iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:10 pm In any case, I'd expect it to be rare for a whole-house generator user to see fuel being the dominant cost instead of purchase and installation, probably followed by maintenance if done under a service contract.
That's exactly right. Given the fact that we are talking about backup generators, fuel costs tend to be a tiny consideration.

Fuel reliability and its availability tend to be a more important consideration. As we've discussed in prior threads, for instance, while natural gas disruptions aren't unprecedented (smitcat, for instance, has pointed out that his area experienced natural gas supply disruptions after Sandy), natural gas is generally a much more reliable source than gasoline, plus you don't have to run out to replenish the former.
I've got far different needs and expectations than someone on the Gulf coast who wants to keep their air conditioner running after a hurricane.
That's exactly right. Family situations and needs are all very different, which call for different solutions.

We know a lot of people who travel, or at least used to before Covid, and whose elderly parents live there or routinely stay there. Elderly parents may not be in a position to roll out a portable, connect it and power it up, particularly during inclement weather. The same may be true if you've got a wife with young kids, or people with disabilities, etc... Lots of people work from home and need to keep multiple a/c's and other systems going, which can't be easily accomplished with a portable generator, and in terms of lost productivity, the downtime can be quite expensive.

There's also the convenience factor of not having to worry about manually exercising a portable on a regular basis, etc...
smitcat
Posts: 7588
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by smitcat »

aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:36 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:10 pm In any case, I'd expect it to be rare for a whole-house generator user to see fuel being the dominant cost instead of purchase and installation, probably followed by maintenance if done under a service contract.
That's exactly right. Given the fact that we are talking about backup generators, fuel costs tend to be a tiny consideration.

Fuel reliability and its availability tend to be a more important consideration. As we've discussed in prior threads, for instance, while natural gas disruptions aren't unprecedented (smitcat, for instance, has pointed out that his area experienced natural gas supply disruptions after Sandy), natural gas is generally a much more reliable source than gasoline, plus you don't have to run out to replenish the former.
I've got far different needs and expectations than someone on the Gulf coast who wants to keep their air conditioner running after a hurricane.
That's exactly right. Family situations and needs are all very different, which call for different solutions.

We know a lot of people who travel, or at least used to before Covid, and whose elderly parents live there or routinely stay there. Elderly parents may not be in a position to roll out a portable, connect it and power it up, particularly during inclement weather. The same may be true if you've got a wife with young kids, or people with disabilities, etc... Lots of people work from home and need to keep multiple a/c's and other systems going, which can't be easily accomplished with a portable generator, and in terms of lost productivity, the downtime can be quite expensive.

There's also the convenience factor of not having to worry about manually exercising a portable on a regular basis, etc...

"We know a lot of people who travel, or at least used to before Covid, and whose elderly parents live there or routinely stay there. Elderly parents may not be in a position to roll out a portable, connect it and power it up, particularly during inclement weather. The same may be true if you've got a wife with young kids, or people with disabilities, etc... Lots of people work from home and need to keep multiple a/c's and other systems going, which can't be easily accomplished with a portable generator, and in terms of lost productivity, the downtime can be quite expensive."

In critical and semi-critical situations where movement and options are limted I would strongly suggest a permanent home genset with auto tranfer switch and load shedding capabilities if required.
One that also includes a maintainence schedule performed by a factory mechanic and maybe online checks as well as an alternate fuel option.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 12165
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

tomd37 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:11 pm It's time for some of you kids to "take your ball and go home".

This bickering back and forth is getting ridiculous. :(
Yeah. Why don’t you guys PM each other and take this offline. Please?
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
Point
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:33 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by Point »

I've been using my two honda 2200's for years for the RV, and the house when necessary. However, the new house is a different challenge: winds were hitting 60MPH yesterday, powerlines were dancing around like skip ropes, we have 4-5 days of snow forecasted starting this Friday, we are in a rural mountainous area and will be stand alone when power goes down. We've been experiencing PSPS (public safety power shutdowns) these last two months, four 18 hour periods or longer till power is restored. So, we bought the only available Generac: a 22KV with an automatic transfer switch. It went live today. We have a 500 Gallon propane tank. This generator will run when we are not home, keeping the heat on and pipes from freezing. Contractor did the installation, I did the trenching and built the raised concrete block base for it to be mounted on above any standing snow. Permits were issued as well. Total cost was < 13K. Much less than dealing with flooding issues. If we were home100% of the time I would have gone with the largest Honda generator and installed a whole house transfer switch.
aquaman
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: What Kind of Generator Do you Use for your Home Backup?

Post by aquaman »

smitcat wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:15 pm
aquaman wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:36 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:10 pm In any case, I'd expect it to be rare for a whole-house generator user to see fuel being the dominant cost instead of purchase and installation, probably followed by maintenance if done under a service contract.
That's exactly right. Given the fact that we are talking about backup generators, fuel costs tend to be a tiny consideration.

Fuel reliability and its availability tend to be a more important consideration. As we've discussed in prior threads, for instance, while natural gas disruptions aren't unprecedented (smitcat, for instance, has pointed out that his area experienced natural gas supply disruptions after Sandy), natural gas is generally a much more reliable source than gasoline, plus you don't have to run out to replenish the former.
I've got far different needs and expectations than someone on the Gulf coast who wants to keep their air conditioner running after a hurricane.
That's exactly right. Family situations and needs are all very different, which call for different solutions.

We know a lot of people who travel, or at least used to before Covid, and whose elderly parents live there or routinely stay there. Elderly parents may not be in a position to roll out a portable, connect it and power it up, particularly during inclement weather. The same may be true if you've got a wife with young kids, or people with disabilities, etc... Lots of people work from home and need to keep multiple a/c's and other systems going, which can't be easily accomplished with a portable generator, and in terms of lost productivity, the downtime can be quite expensive.

There's also the convenience factor of not having to worry about manually exercising a portable on a regular basis, etc...

"We know a lot of people who travel, or at least used to before Covid, and whose elderly parents live there or routinely stay there. Elderly parents may not be in a position to roll out a portable, connect it and power it up, particularly during inclement weather. The same may be true if you've got a wife with young kids, or people with disabilities, etc... Lots of people work from home and need to keep multiple a/c's and other systems going, which can't be easily accomplished with a portable generator, and in terms of lost productivity, the downtime can be quite expensive."

In critical and semi-critical situations where movement and options are limted I would strongly suggest a permanent home genset with auto tranfer switch and load shedding capabilities if required.
One that also includes a maintainence schedule performed by a factory mechanic and maybe online checks as well as an alternate fuel option.
Right, I completely agree. It's also used in situations where convenience is a huge factor and where there's a need and a desire to obtain more power than a portable one can realistically provide (this 17.5 kw portable (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Generac-17- ... /100662531) is 390 lbs and burns through 16 gallons of gas in 10 hours at only half load, so these huge portables are simply not viable whole house solutions).

I also think that the summary that you posted in this linked thread (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=286826&start=50) summarizing the reasons that caused you to go with a portable, as well as your specific setup, made perfect sense.

Your practical pointers, both in this thread as well as in the one I linked above, were also excellent and should be looked at closely by the owners of all types of generators (both permanent and portable).
Post Reply