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Discussion: house generator

  1. #1

    Discussion: house generator


    First of all I hope you all are safe and well after the storm. It seems like SNE got hit worse. I think we are nearing 800k people with no power between CT MA NH?
    Itís 100% overdue for me to get a generator for the house. I have an electrician who will do the wiring and stuff but I wanted to get some opinions on what generator to go with.
    If itís realistic and reasonable I d want something to possibly run the whole house or like 75% of it.
    Our current demand:
    Oil Boiler (new 2018) for heat and for hot water
    Electric washer and dryer
    Electric cooktop (ceramic)
    Electric oven
    2 window AC units, 1 TV, about 30 lights (LED bulbs), microwave, internet modem, etc.
    things like Desktop computer, dehumidifier, etc can just be unplugged.
    Do I expect to run everything? No, but it would be nice.
    Brands to look at? Brands to absolutely avoid? Is dual source (fuel and gas/propane) worth it since my house doesnt have gas? I do have a gas grill and always have two full tanks at the house no matter what.

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  2. #2
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    That's a pretty big electrical load, pretty big generator.

    Generac makes nice whole home units with automatic transfer switches. You best bet is to get a large (250 gal) propane tank installed at the house and plumb it to the genny. Anything less than that and you'll be into a compromise, which is fine. Just understand you're asking a lot of the generator.

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  3. #3
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Our place in NH is quite small (1,250sf) but has electric well pump, stove, washer & dryer, and dishwasher. Heat is by propane or wood. Pretty much every house we looked at had a backup generator.

    Generac is popular but user reviews seemed quite mixed. We bought a Kohler 14Kw, from Green Mountain Power (only a couple hundred more) as their rep seemed better: but we’ve had two repairs in the last six years (discovered in the weekly 20 min exercise run. We have two 100 gallon Propane tanks (I’d prefer more) which will run for 4-5 days straight. Briggs & Stratton seems to have a good rep as well.

    20Kw is a more common size. There is a Mega thread on NES.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 08-05-20 at 10:15 AM.
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  4. #4

    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Quote Originally Posted by loudbeard View Post
    That's a pretty big electrical load, pretty big generator.

    Generac makes nice whole home units with automatic transfer switches. You best bet is to get a large (250 gal) propane tank installed at the house and plumb it to the genny. Anything less than that and you'll be into a compromise, which is fine. Just understand you're asking a lot of the generator.
    Westinghouse WGen9500 Heavy Duty Portable Generator - 9500 Rated Watts & 12500 Peak Watts - Gas Powered - Electric Start - Transfer Switch & RV Ready - CARB Compliant https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYWDS7D..._4lTkFb6F7JFDQ
    I was hoping for soemthing like that. We most likely won’t lose power more than 2 days. Longest we have in the last 9 years is 13 hours. Buying propane tanks just for the generator just doesn’t seem like a good move for me (I am very open to being wrong on this statement). I figured 9500W should be good. Obviously we won’t be running everything at the same time.

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  5. #5
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Quote Originally Posted by tsorfas View Post
    First of all I hope you all are safe and well after the storm. It seems like SNE got hit worse. I think we are nearing 800k people with no power between CT MA NH?
    Itís 100% overdue for me to get a generator for the house. I have an electrician who will do the wiring and stuff but I wanted to get some opinions on what generator to go with.
    If itís realistic and reasonable I d want something to possibly run the whole house or like 75% of it.
    Our current demand:
    Oil Boiler (new 2018) for heat and for hot water
    Electric washer and dryer
    Electric cooktop (ceramic)
    Electric oven
    2 window AC units, 1 TV, about 30 lights (LED bulbs), microwave, internet modem, etc.
    things like Desktop computer, dehumidifier, etc can just be unplugged.
    Do I expect to run everything? No, but it would be nice.
    Brands to look at? Brands to absolutely avoid? Is dual source (fuel and gas/propane) worth it since my house doesnt have gas? I do have a gas grill and always have two full tanks at the house no matter what.
    that tells us nothing about demand, I also have 2 ac units, one draws 7 amps, the other 14 amps, look on the tag on each appliance, add up the amperage, double it, that is the size generator you want, it is best to run at about 50% load

    or, it you have a demand meter, just look at your electric bill, and it will tell you your peak demand, double it, that's the size yo want

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    Last edited by RandyO; 08-05-20 at 11:00 AM.
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  6. #6
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    These are quick napkin estimates
    Our current demand:
    Oil Boiler (new 2018) for heat and for hot water - I assume this is oil? (Duh, it says oil) .5k
    Electric washer and dryer - Dryer 3k, washer 1k
    Electric cooktop (ceramic) - 5k
    Electric oven - 3k
    2 window AC units - Variable based on size, guess at 1k each
    1 TV - .2k
    30 lights (LED bulbs) - .5k total
    microwave - 1.5k
    internet modem, etc. .1k
    Desktop computer .2k
    dehumidifier .3k

    Total that would be a 18kW generator if you "need" to run everything at the same time.

    Don't look at portables if you are planning a "whole house" install. Look at fixed units with tanks in the base.
    Get something that will exercise itself.
    As mentioned Generac makes solid units. Kohler is good as well as Cummins/Onan. I always specified Caterpillar back in the day, but they don't really play in this market.
    Another thing to consider is the amount of noise these generate. Often you can get what is referred to as a "critical silencer" (its just a fancy muffler) so that it doesn't keep you up when it's running.

    No well, right? City water?

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    Last edited by jasnmar; 08-05-20 at 11:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Our place in NH is quite small (1,250sf) but has electric well pump, stove, washer & dryer, and dishwasher. Heat is by propane or wood. Pretty much every house we looked at had a backup generator.

    Generac is popular but user reviews seemed quite mixed. We bought a Kohler 14Kw, from Green Mountain Power (only a couple hundred more) as their rep seemed better: but we’ve had two repairs in the last six years (discovered in the weekly 20 min exercise run. We have two 100 gallon Propane tanks (I’d prefer more) which will run for 4-5 days straight. Briggs & Stratton seems to have a good rep as well.

    20Kw is a more common size. There is a Mega thread on NES.
    sounds big, do you have electric hot water too, I have gas stove, dryer & hot water, my biggest draw items are well pump, and my big AC, my 4600 watt/6250 peak Coleman Generator (Tecumseh engine) has been plenty to run my whole house (average demand on my meter for the past 35 years has been 2.1kw) I do have to turn my big AC off during startup, and not start it till the initial surge is over

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  8. #8
    Lifer
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I prefer propane with the whole house generators. They seem to take long term down time better.

    I would not be looking to power my entire house, only the essentials. I can live without ac and stuff like that. It makes power estimation much easier too.

    How much space do you have for a generator outside? They can be quite large and unsightly for some people, not to mention the noise. My town has bylaws in regards to back up generators and where they can be placed. My house fails to meet most of the codes for a permanent one so i got a big one i can roll out when i need it. No more rules to follow.

    Ive always liked generac. Parts can be gotten easily.

    I would not consider that westinghouse.

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  9. #9

    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Very helpful info so far. Thank you guys.

    Yes city water and sewer. I’ll take a look at specifications on each unit to do more accurate math. Most of them are newer and “energy efficient”. Let’s see what number I reach.

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  10. #10
    Lifer ZX-12R's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Some wattages to consider:

    Boiler with a couple of circulators and zone valves: 600W
    Electric Washer: 1000W (heated cycles)
    Electric Dryer: 5000W
    Electric Cooktop: 1200-2500W per burner.
    Electric Oven: 2000-5000W
    Refrigerator: 250W
    6K BTU AC: 700W
    TV: 500W
    Microwave: 1000W
    All 30 lights: 500W
    Internet equipment: <100W

    Electric ovens, cook tops, and dryers are gigantic loads. With a 9.5KW generator, you won't be running both the oven and dryer at the same time. If either one is running solo, you will have to be careful about anything else that's turned on. Any one burner on the cook top isn't too crazy but can quickly become a giant load if multiple are run. The 9.5KW unit should easily support your base load along with intermittent use of the big boys so long as you take the time to plan out when they are used.

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    Last edited by ZX-12R; 08-05-20 at 01:16 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member MHenry600's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I picked up a used Coleman(?) 7500w with a Honda motor a few years ago.

    Instead of using a transfer switch setup, you can put a two pole 30A (or whatever size) breaker in the top right of the panel if you have space to run 230 into it. Wire the generator into that breaker, using an external mounted receptacle. Then get a generator interlock kit (some bent sheet metal) and mount that in the panel. That prevents you from being able to backfeed the grid and shock a lineman. You can do the same thing without the interlock by just flipping the main and generator breaker, but this makes it to code (or mostly to code).

    This allows you to feed your whole panel. You can decide what to turn on yourself, so be careful about the amount of load you put on the generator. We run a well pump, so between that, the electric hot water heater and fridge, that's most of our load in the summer (or plus propane furnace in winter). You can also turn off a portion of the house or certain appliances by turning off their breaker too.

    Store the generator in the garage, drag it out if needed. Get it running, then connect the cord to the house. Go down and flip the switches on the panel. When done, go the opposite. You want to make sure you remove the load from the generator before shutting it down. Otherwise it can mess with the polarity (or something) of the generator itself.

    I've run the house on this setup once or twice for a couple hours. The last time I was going to use it, the power came back on right as I was flipping the switch.
    Haven't had any multi-day events with it yet, but rather have it and not need it.

    I also figure that we wont be living like normal during that time. We have the grill to cook with if I can't run the stove. Don't plan to run multiple high load things at the same time, and we'll be ok.

    I also got the generator for $450, and fixed it with an $80 voltage regulator board. Can't complaint about the cost.

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    Last edited by MHenry600; 08-05-20 at 11:36 AM.

  12. #12
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    another thing to consider is replacing high draw electric appliances with gas, something I did 35 years ago when my electric hot water failed, I replaced it with, on demand gas, and decided to also buy a new stove & dryer, it was a big hit, costing me about $2k (probably $3500 today's prices) but LP, expensive as it is, is still a lot cheaper than electricity, I estimate $40k savings since, in energy cost

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  13. #13
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I have a 100 amp switch, I run my whole panel

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  14. #14
    Lifer Kurlon's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I'm using a Rigid (HD house brand) 8000w, well, oil fired hot water/baseboard, fridge / freezer and some basement/garage/bedroom circuits lit by a ten breaker transfer panel. Handles it all without breaking a sweat. If we need to cook we can run a toaster oven, hot plate, crock pot, pressure cooker, etc in the kitchen, or like we did last night just pop into the RV and use it's propane stovetop. I could probably get away with switching to a whole house transfer switch and just remember not to do laundry / use the stove but this works.

    I wouldn't mind a quieter inverter gen setup as an upgrade, if I could afford one this size.

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  15. #15
    Lifer BSR6's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    We have a 5200 Watt running/7200 Peak watts portable unit. We run the entire house with the exception of the water heater and kitchen stove which are both currently electric. If I converted both to gas we would have no issue running those as well (We're doing this in the next year or so). We have a 2600 square foot colonial with a well. I have showered with left over hot water in the tank and the well pump runs just fine the generator even while showering.

    Based on the amount of fuel consumption, we are averaging about half capacity. The manual says we can get 11 hours out of six gallons of gas at 50% and that's exactly what we are getting. It plugs into the panel so it feeds the entire house and I choose what I want to feed based on which circuits are left on. I marked the circuits with colored stickers. Those I wish to run are green, those I wish not to are red (i.e. the water heater), and the heavier circuits that I need to be careful about turning on (well, two refrigerators, furnace) I have marked yellow so I know not to turn them all on at once.

    Honestly, all you get out of an in-home is convenience. Yes, when the power goes out I have to wheel mine out, connect it, and fire it up. I then have to go to the breaker and flip the circuits (which is simple due to the colored stickers). I store it in my garage right next to the door and it's probably a two minute process total. Once I get it running, I am pretty much fully functional (with the gas stove and water heater). I really don't need anything else. Why spend a ton of money on an in-home?

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  16. #16
    Lifer LuvDog's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    An automatic fail over (propane or natural gas) generator would be great, but for the cost, I couldn't bring my self to go that way.

    I have a 7500W running 9K peak. I had an electrician wire in an interlock it and a panel on the back of my house.

    I can run 2 fridges, chest freezer, internet, HVAC, several rooms, tvs, etc. I'd really only run the heat in winter though... in the summer, I'd just run fans.
    Also, when I'm on generator, I don't run it all the time. I'll fire it up for a few hours to keep the fridges cold and then shut them down again for several hours.

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  17. #17
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    and if you have Natural Gas available, I would almost say it is stupid to have electric appliances

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  18. #18
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyO View Post
    and if you have Natural Gas available, I would almost say it is stupid to have electric appliances
    Maybe not if Columbia is the supplier.

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  19. #19
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    If you want to do a whole home generator for a 200 Amp service, it's going to cost up to $20k. Genny and installation will be in the $12-15k range. Then you're into setting a pad for the genny and a large propane tank, buying and plumbing the propane tank. You could save some money and do the concrete work yourself, you can't touch the other stuff. Possibly could get it down to the $15k mark with some deals and doings some stuff yourself.

    If $15-20k isn't in the wheelhouse, time to start thinking about compromises.

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  20. #20
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Our Kohler 14Kw was $7,000 installed. We put it on the far side of the garage and can’t hear it at all with the windows closed.

    In contrast to the fixed, whole-house propane unit in NH, in Boston I just wanted protection from a Hurricane Sandy-grade event. We wouldn’t flood but would be on an island 12 hours a day, with associated snow banks, down trees etc.

    We have a Briggs and Stratton Q6500, which is an inverter generator with 240V output and,5,000W continuous. It was the lightest, cheapest such unit and is pretty much designed for whole house. They run around $1,200.

    We have an external plug, and a panel to run six circuits. We have NG heat, stove, and importantly clothes dryer, so no big electrical loads.



    https://www.briggsandstratton.com/na...generator.html

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    Last edited by Garandman; 08-05-20 at 06:07 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I would offer a different opinion...paying for and maintaining something you may have little use for is not always the best approach. In a power outage, we scale back....

    We have a 2KW inverter portable (yamaha) - it's useful lots of places (boat, camping, etc) - with a transfer switch for the house loads.
    We have very new energy efficient appliances and heating (gas hot water and heat), town water, etc.. large electric motors change this dynamic...so YMMV
    No a/c for power outages, dryer is gas, washer heats water via electric and steam (disable when on generator).
    LED lights TV's internet and latops etc.. all run.

    Running our home in 'camping' mode with the portable allows us to run the refrigerator and two chest freezers (one is a Keezer for my homebrew), and everything else...with the everything else being very energy efficient - 8-10 hours per gallon of gas.

    We normally use electric cooking (induction), but use various butane or whatnot (more grilling) when in camping mode. Trying to run the typical energy inefficient (or high energy usage) home during extended outages might also mean limited availability of fuel, but no way to throttle back a larger generator...

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  22. #22
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Quote Originally Posted by two-rocks View Post
    but no way to throttle back a larger generator...
    not a problem in summer when I have AC going , but in winter when my electric bill is smaller, with the generator running, I turn on all my lights, and it smooths the running of the generator

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  23. #23
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    I know it's convenient to run the whole house but do you really need to run an electric dryer, range and oven for the couple days w/o street power? Make shift clothes tree in an unused room and the gas grill should get you by. If it's more than a couple days it's road trip time for takeout food.

    As for the generator you'll definitely want to make some sort of sound enclosure for that unit. A neighbor on the other street ran his generator after the storm killed power to our area this week. You could hear it all night.

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    Last edited by 02redhawk; 08-07-20 at 02:40 PM.

  24. #24
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    What he really needs is a front wheel drive sedan with snow tires.

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  25. #25
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Discussion: house generator

    Or a bicycle on a trainer. Put those watts to use.

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