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Thread: Standby Generator

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,496

    Standby Generator

    We installed a whole house generator in 2014 and it's been great, in fact it's on hour 33 on the current ice storm emergency.

    Maintenance - one oil change a new battery in 2022 and a leaky oil pressure switch. After today's run it's earned another oil change.

    Size of generator needed - don't size based on house square footage, do a load calculation.

    Whole house vs selected circuits - Money saved on a smaller unit vs added installation labor this is an easy call.
    . Exception; if you have unusual large loads like a pool or dust collector or electric vehicle charger.
    In those cases there may be relays to protect the generator from overload. ex; our electric clothes dryer will not restart unless the start button is pressed. If you have electric resistance heat it might be worthwhile to feed those circuits thru auxiliary relays which you could restart circuit by circuit based on need and capacity. Others to consider; water heater, stove, heat pump, hot tub ...

    Noise - yes, unfortunately on the hottest, quietest night of the year when all the neighbors are sleeping with the windows open we will be running a loud machine and enjoying a/c. We installed a couple of 120 volt outlets on the back of the house and showed them to the closest neighbors inviting them to bring an extension cord to plug in whatever, no need to ask. Each is on a dedicated 20 amp circuit. A lamp, tv, phone charger, fan, a neighbor who cares, these can be a comfort in stressful times.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,470
    Installing a whole house unit here at our new property was the first "major" project that happened after we moved in. After having one at the old propery and lamenting not installing it sooner there, there was no question that we would do it here immediately, especially with what is essentially an all electric property. You are correct that the cost difference between a whole house unit with the added labor (and parts) to segregate circuits is generally a wash and a whole house unit with an automatic transfer switch is pretty much a no-brainer, IMHO.
    --

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Wentzville, MO
    Posts
    154
    We're in the process of installing one. We just put in a new propane tank to feed it. Generator will be installed in a couple weeks. We've lived in a number of places (Air Force moves) with a couple having power grid issues. DC area was the worst. We had two outages of 4 and 5 days and a number of other one-day outages. Our last house had a generator for most of the house. We went with a whole-house for this one. Not cheap, we have an all-electric house (except the stove) to include three furnace/heat-pumps, but the peace of mind is worth it.

  4. #4
    If you have heat pumps, look at soft start kits. These use less current to start compressor, allowing for a smaller generator. If a whole house isn't in your budget, look at a portable (5K or larger) that has a fuel pump on engine. That's how ours is, and fuel lines have quick disconnects, meaning we can disconnect from fuel tank, and pull fuel directly from fuel cans or vehicles, extending run time to days rather than hours. Make sure anything you buy has low oil shut down feature, and that it works.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    270
    Like Tom, we live in Michigan. We just build a new home (moved in last March) and had a standby generator installed as part of the new build. And with this ice storm, are we glad we did. We just past the 48 hour mark running on the generator. Living out a bit from the town, there are only few of us without power (most neighbors never lost power) so I think we are a bit down the list to get power back. And yes a well deserved oil change is in the near future, once we get power back that is.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colfax, CA
    Posts
    584
    We are in year 12 of a 14K Kohler that provides 60 amps. Given that we are on a 400 amp service, our auto transfer switch controls everything we need to stay warm and cozy and power the media room for movies when the grid is down.

    The first several years had the generator doing exercise routines coupled with one or two outages of several hours. The past three years has upped the runtime to a point where the hour meter is thinking about switching from hours to days. Last December (2021) we had a ton of snow, fallen trees and power lines and no grid for nearly two weeks. The generator ran like a champ until it didn’t and we had to take a few hours out to put in new brushes.

    We will next xpand our 17.6k solar array to either 23 or 26k and install a third inverter capable of bi-directional charging in order to use the battery on the EV as storage so that we can keep the solar array operating when the grid is down.
    Last edited by Bob Borzelleri; 02-25-2023 at 8:58 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
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    2,850
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Borzelleri View Post
    ...The past three years has upped the runtime to a point where the hour meter is thinking about switching from hours to days...
    Sorry to see you guys in Michigan getting clobbered by that ice storm. I hate ice. Give me heavy snow anyday over ice. Forecast this morning says you're going to get another this week. The hits just keep on coming.

    Increased outages the last few years have me thinking it's time to put in a whole house generator, not to mention maybe getting flood insurance even though we're not in a documented flood plain. Lots of factors starting to coalesce. Winters have gotten warmer, so ice storms are more likely. Rain events have gone from getting 1/2" rains twice a week to getting 5, 6, or 7 2"+ events each year. Our power utility has not done a good job keeping the grid maintained so there are more frequent equipment failures. Increased development in our area (new chip factory and all the collateral business and housing) are going to strain the already weak grid.

    Also thinking it might be good to get a cellular internet service instead of the cable based service we have now.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    481
    Any recommendation on brands?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colfax, CA
    Posts
    584
    Our Kohler has worked well for us. However, I ordered it from Home Depot and did the install with friends. All of that went well until I searched for a Kohler tech to do a checkup after 3-4 years.

    He pointed out that the 14k models that were spec'ed for HD kinda got left behind regarding parts/upgrades. As an example, the model that I bought cannot be upgraded for WiFi (not that I wanted it) but the Kohler dealer version of the model I bought can be upgraded. Also had some trouble getting the diagnosis equipment to reveal all the parameters that are readily available on the dealer version.

    Takeaway for me was to avoid buying big box versions of expensive models that are also sold through corporate dealer network.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,470
    Keegan, our whole house unit is Generac and was at the old house, too. I was entertaining the idea of a Kohler on the recommendation of a contractor neighbor, but the lead time was nearly six months at that point in time due to supply chain challenges. My electrician was able to get the Generac in two weeks, even though he thought it would take four. (I got lucky)
    --

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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    270
    We are on our second Generac also with no issues.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    481
    Thanks for the recommendations. I donít need one now but may in the future if we move.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    N CA
    Posts
    1,165
    I bought a 7kw Generac a few years ago. It runs the place other than the shop which was built after the re-model of the home. It handles everything in the house including the well pump. It is the single cylinder model and the dealers I have spoken with like to avoid the singles as they say they have valve problems if the valves are not adjusted regularly. Not a hard process, but best to stay on top of it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Keegan, our whole house unit is Generac and was at the old house, too. I was entertaining the idea of a Kohler on the recommendation of a contractor neighbor, but the lead time was nearly six months at that point in time due to supply chain challenges. My electrician was able to get the Generac in two weeks, even though he thought it would take four. (I got lucky)
    My neighbor had a new Koehler installed last year, it was rarely used, it has been replaced twice for camshaft problems. He contacted Koehler and they agreed to extend the warranty
    Dennis

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,962
    I have a 22 kW Generac whole house generator. I went for this one as I have a well and wanted to be able to run it and the AC. I do get it serviced every year to insure it works when needed.

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