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Thread: Generator questions for newbie

  1. #16
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    You can do it for under $1000 for you are comfortable working in your electrical panel. And you will end up with a system that will run every light and receptacle in your house without running extension cords. A portable genny works fine, the downside is that you have to move it outdoors and plug it in and worry about whether it will start and how many things you can hook up to it. Only way to fix those are to install a whole house gas (not gasoline) fuel unit. The obvious trade off is cost. If you can't afford the whole house version, get a portable one rated around 5000 watts and backfeed your main house panel with a 30 amp 240 volt circuit and install a main breaker generator interlock kit like this: https://www.amazon.com/Generator-Int...6555886&sr=8-4 https://www.homedepot.com/p/Champion...B&gclsrc=aw.ds You just need to be smart about not overloading the generator by running your oven or big a/c units or your big motor shop tools. I mark and flip off those big unit breakers when I run my generator. When done I turn off the gasoline shutoff and let it run until out of gas. Champion makes affordable generators that run on either gasoline, propane or natural gas.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 11-11-2021 at 9:31 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    N.E. Ohio
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    So, where do I put this thing where it can run, be sheltered, and not be stolen?
    They just need to be covered when you want to run them.
    I picked up a Honda EU2200i back in March 2020 when they first shut down everything.
    I needed to make sure I had access to electricity 7x24 for my oxygen concentrator.

    Since my need is a literal matter of life and death, I decided to get the Honda. A post here from long ago pretty much said - there are Honda generators and there are the rest.

    I keep mine in the enclosed back patio. When I want to use it - I move it outside and run the extension cord into the house. I use a pool noodle to seal up the sliding door where I run the cord &it works great to keep the fumes out.
    I have a CO2 detector right next to the door so it will detect any problems.

    The EU2200i supplies enough to run 15 total amps, but, it isn't happy doing that.

    My only real test of fuel consumption came about last year. We had a brick wall on a property we bought that had to be demolished. I picked up a Bosch rotary hammer and hooked that up to the generator.
    The guys we paid to do the grunt work - ran the Bosch for two 8 hour days. I went through about a gallon and a half of gas.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Jacobsburg, OH
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    351
    OK, I guess I need to clarify a few things in my situation.

    I live in a mobile home (approx 2,000 sq ft). We have natural gas to the house, and our furnace, water heater and stove use that, as well as our gas log fireplace.

    We do not have a garage or a basement. The shed is 10x16 and is about 70 feet from the house and does have vents on the front and back wall near the peak. However it is not empty. It currently houses two lawn tractors, a cart, a snowblower, lots of garden tools, and about 4 5-gallon tanks of gas for the equipment.

    We have a fenced area of yard in the back of our house that is roughly 55 x 85 feet, and has our garden beds on one side. We don't have any small structures like a dog house. I do have a vinyl tarp that is 26 x 36 feet.

    Ideally, I would like to get a gas-run whole house generator, but I don't think we can afford it right now. Maybe next year.

    I don't have any plans to run a space heater off a generator. I know they suck way too many tons of energy. I do have 4 heaters, but don't want to use them unless it was absolutely necessary. All I really want to run off one is the refrigerator/freezer combo in the kitchen. I think the freezer in the laundry room would be fine as long as we don't open it, and as I said in my earlier post there's nothing high value in it we can't afford to lose. The main items like meat are in the kitchen fridge/freezer.

    I also have two or three computer UPSes that I could use to charge phones, but I wouldn't be planning on running any PCs or laptops during an outage. I'd just want to keep my phone charged for emergency use.

    We plan to huddle up in the livingroom using the gas log fireplace as a heat source as needed, and sleep on the floor there with lots of blankets/comforters/sleeping bags. The room is open to the kitchen and diningroom but we plan to hang blankets or other coverings over the open areas to seal off the living room from the rest of the house.

    We live in a rural area, and our house sits about 600 feet off the main road on a gravel drive. When we get any real amount of snow/ice (2 inches or more) the drive is impassable and we can't get to the main road. At that point we usually just stay home until things melt enough to get out. As long as we have power we have plenty of supplies to stay here for weeks. But if we lose power, it gets cold in here fairly quickly depending on the weather outside. We can still cook on the gas stovetop or on a charcoal grill if we need to, and we have emergency lights and lots of candles if needed.

    So, it looks like as long as we can keep the fridge running, and any extra power for charging phones or tablets is a plus, we should be ok. Last year we did lose power in winter for 1 day/night. That wasn't too bad, but if we had to go for longer I'd rather have some power source.
    Seeds and baked goods for sale, visit http://www.laurieshomestead.com

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
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    Using a gas fireplace is ok....BUT Please make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your sleeping area....along with a smoke detector...

  5. #20
    If you have natural gas to your house, I'd look for a generator that will run on natural gas. That way you don't need to store gasoline or propane and you won't run out of fuel. Natural gas generators won't put out quite as much power as a gasoline generator but I'm sure you can spec one to fill your needs.

    That is, if you had a dual fuel generator of gasoline and natural gas, when you run it on natural gas the rating is less than when you run it on gasoline.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    New England
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    Lets cut to the chase. Yes, you can do what you want for a grand. But to stay under a grand, you need to buy a generator for about $700 ish. Because along with the cost of the generator, there are all the extras. First, some sort of simple shelter for the generator. Second, a chain and lock to stop the same lovelies who tried to steal from your shed, from walking away with your new generator. Third, and this is not to be dismissed lightly, heavy duty extension cords to service the appliances. 12 gauge minimum for a fridge, microwave or toaster oven. 14 gauge for coffee makers and 16 gauge for lights. We are only a bit ahead of you in this endeavor. Others who are ahead of us bemoan having to step over all the cords during the outage. I know you will be like us (and them, early on) and feel like having cords under foot, is a small price to pay for not losing an entire fridge and freezer of expensive food. The very food you need to live on during the outage!!! YES, you can buy a smaller generator and simply move the cord between appliances. A newish fridge/freezer fully frozen and at temp, will easily last through the night without power and you can fire up the generator at daybreak. AND make coffee. It's awesome and you will raise your mug to technology.

    So go for it. Outside only, A rain roof, A heavy chain and lock and properly sized extension cords, and always when in doubt, opt for the heavier cord. I run my Honda EG2800IA 2800W with a 25 foot 10 gauge cord to the inside and then 12 / 14 / 16 / off of that. It's not really that complex, but respect that the exhaust can kill you and undersized cords can start a fire.
    Last edited by Dave Zellers; 11-11-2021 at 1:33 AM.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Adding to the challenge that Dave mentions...you have to have a way to feed those extension cords into the residence without sending your heat outside...hence, what Ole talks about is kinda the direction I would go in this situation, honestly.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Hill, NC
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    Laurie, I have something like 10 generators here on the farm, ranging from a small 2KW unit all the way up to a 225KW unit. A few comments.

    1 - natural gas is a great option, as the fuel does not go bad and it's rare that natural gas fails during a power outage. Thus you don't have to worry about bad fuel or refueling.

    2 - a generator can require a LOT of gas, so rule number one is to determine the amount of BTU's that your furnace / fireplace / hot water heater, etc consumes, and then what the excess capacity is of the size of the gas service that you have.

    3 - you will most likely need to add an additional high pressure, higher volume regulator to your gas line in order to feed the generator.

    4 - in a perfect world, you would skip the extension cords and use your generator to provide power directly to your existing load center via a transfer switch, or lockout system. Extension cords can all too easily be overloaded during use, and this is a significant fire hazard.

    5 - You can probably get by quite comfortably with a 5,500 - 7,500 watt generator since you have gas to provide heat (presuming that you are on city water and not a well, and that you don't try to use an electric clothes drying during the power outage. 10KW - 12KW would definitely work well, and a 12KW will even provide enough power to pull many 2.5 ton air conditioners.

    Lots of knowlegeable folks here on SMC, and lots of good advice has been shared by others in this thread.

  9. #24
    So, this thread has me thinking. During Freezemageddon last Feb, if I could have just run our furnace, that would have made the whole ordeal a million times more bearable. Not worried about the fridge, water heater, other appliances. Just the furnace. Folks over on the Gulf need whole house generators because of summer hurricanes. They need to run AC, fridges, etc. Here in Austin, it's just for extreme freezes, so don't need the capacity. We are on natural gas and never lost gas pressure. So really, I just need to run the furnace igniter and blower. I assume the thermostats will still be receiving power if the furnace is powered? Could I just wire in a SUPPLY receptacle and disconnect (effectively, placing the transfer switch at the furnace rather than the whole panel) at the furnace, then run a portable generator of adequate capacity to handle that? I could install one of those electrical pass-through receptacles on the exterior wall to our front porch, which is open and well ventilated, then run an extension cord from the interior wall to the furnace "supply" outlet. Am I missing something here? Almost seems too simple but maybe not?

    Erik
    Ex-SCM and Felder rep

  10. #25
    This doesn't need to be rocket surgery, especially considering Laurie's needs...

    My 3000/3500w generator costs less than $900, and is about 22x22x22", which will fit nicely in a $35 rabbit cage, which are fully collapsible allowing for starting, gas & maintenance... Anything solid that's 24" square can cover the cage, effectively keeping it weatherproof while allowing a total free-flow of cooling air and exhaust.

    Mobile home = very easy to bore an inch and-a-half hole against the walls next to the freezer, fridge and the corner of the living room floor to feed power cords thru. Rubber or chrome plugs are cheap if/when you need to cover those holes. The power cords could just lie in wait at holes until the power goes out. Unplug the lamps & appliances when the power goes out and plug them into the genny cords.

    About an hour's job
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  11. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    7,214
    I would consider buying a low use gasoline generator and replace the carburetor with a ng one. Connect it with hose to a ng valve outside when needed. Use that valve for a ng grill most of the time. Store the generator in the shed when not in use.
    Here there are plenty of gasoline generators for sale cheap enough to make the conversion worthwhile. They even make dual carbs gasoline and ng that can be switched as needed.
    Bill D

    first hit
    https://www.amazon.com/HIPA-Generato...29330788&psc=1
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 11-15-2021 at 11:02 AM.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
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    Not sure about code requirements for my suggestions so check before proceeding.

    Eric I think you are close to what I was considering. The furnace has a 120 volt feed. You might be able to rewire the feed to look like a duplex outlet and the furnace gets a pigtail to plug in to that. When using the generator just plug it into an extension cord.

    Kevin, good plan with the rabbit cage, but a chain link fenced cage with a lockable door should provide security. You'll want pavement under it so weeds are less of a problem. Make the top from corrugated metal or plastic.

    Might want to run a semipermanent feed into the house with a double duplex outlet. Plug cords into that.

    Plugging and unplugging cords will let you have tv and light all evening and the fridge all night with the furnace or a/c as needed.

    I have a device called a kill a watt that measures power used by any 120 volt device plugged in to it. Great for planning.

  13. #28
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    The Honda seems to be the cream of the crop, but recently they have some serious competition for the inverter generator market. Doing it over I would look seriously at the offering from Generac. The Generac GP3000i shows up on the HD site at $899 while the Honda EU3000iS1AN goes for $2299 at Northern tool. Of course there are significant differences including electric start on the Honda. Five years ago I got a returned Generac 4500 watt at Lowes for $500. So noisy I can hardly stand to run it.


    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 11-22-2021 at 4:09 PM.
    NOW you tell me...

  14. #29
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    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    The Honda seems to be the cream of the crop, but recently they have some serious competition for the inverter generator market. Doing it over I would look seriously at the offering from Generac. The Generac GP3000i shows up on the HD site at $899 while the Honda EU3000iS1AN goes for $2299 at Northern tool. Five years ago I got a returned Generac 4500 watt at Lowes for $500. So noisy I can hardly stand to run it.


    HFT's Predator 2000 watt inverter generator comes in at about $600. BTW, I'm a fan of Generac. Our whole house unit at the old property was top notch and I'm now considering their excellent system for solar/battery backup for here at the new place rather than a generator as I don't have Natural Gas in the house and Propane is expensive for generator use...and runs out.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Redmond, OR
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    My brother in law who lives in the rolling power outage state of CA asked me to help find a generator for their needs to keep a couple refrigerators and a freezer going as well as charge cell phones, provide some light, etc. After a ton of research over a year ago he purchased this generator:
    https://www.costco.com/firman-2900w-...100481637.html

    He loves it and 3 of his neighbors have since purchased the same exact unit. All of them only run it on propane and none of them have found that they didn't have enough power. It is CA though so they don't run electric heaters on them. He says he easily gets over a day on a 20lb propane tank. He bought a big tank (80lbs or so I think???) that he has gone through multiple rolling outages with and hasn't emptied the tank yet.

    On the list we developed the only feature this generator doesn't have is the ability to run on natural gas. We could not find and affordable inverter generator that would run on natural gas. An inverter generator is usually considerably quieter than a non-inverter generator and also is usually much more efficient.

    I would suggest buying a generator to keep your important appliances running and look for an alternate non-electric resistance heat source. Pellet stove, wood stove, natural gas fireplace etc. A pellet stove needs electricity to run but it does not get all of its heating power from electricity. Electric resistance heat is a heavy load for a generator to run.

    I am still looking for a emergency generator for my place here in Oregon. My biggest issue is I need 240v capability to run my well pump as not having water during an outage is a real bummer!
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 11-22-2021 at 7:50 PM.

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