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Old 02-11-2010, 06:16 PM   post #1 of 48
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Default Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

So my power went out last Friday and didn't come back on till some time Monday morning. I had to gather up my Doberman and my Cockatoo and go to my Mom's place (she has two Border Collies and a Cat) this made for a very stressful 3 days for me, ruined my weekend and thoroughly ****** me off....

We had nearly 300 thousand without power and since there were only 6 homes without power in my town, we were not a priority.. But I am not chastising our Linemen and women, three days is a fast restoration under such horrid conditions.

But it got me to thinking.... It's a **** good thing I have a Honda EU2000i Generator and a wood pellet stove.. I was able to shut my water main off, crack open all my faucets and keep the house in the 40's and prevent serious damage.

I would have stayed here and weathered this through if I could have legally fed my house off the generator. I did backfeed my house for a few hours and was able to run my pellet stove, lights, TV, computer without an issue but the fear of backfeeding the electric lines and killing someone really got to me, so I undid the cheater plug and went back to just powering the pellet stove directly and I got outta Dodge.

So here I am looking at whole house systems.. Thinking to myself, how can I justify 3-5 grand on a 'whatif" but I was just in that situation and I don't want to be there again...

So the chart below is what it will take to run all of the heaters that I run day to day in my house to keep it warm. I can of course turn some of these off, there are two other baseboard units I am not factoring in because I simply do not use them.


Computer room Heater: 36" 750 watts 3.4 Amps
My Bedroom Heater: 36" 750 watts 3.4 Amps
Master Bath Heater: 24" 450 watts 2.0 Amps
Kitchen Heater: 48" 1000 watts 4.5 Amps
Living Room Heater: 72" 1500 watts 6.8 Amps
Dining Room Heater: 48" 1000 watts 4.5 Amps
------------------------------------------------------------------
Total watt consumption: 5450 Watts
------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Amperage: 24.6 Amps
------------------------------------------------------------------

So if I go with a 10KW Standby Generator that leaves me with 4550 watts of power to run the Refrigerator, Pellet stove, Lights, TV/computer. The Hot Water tank is a 40 gallon and from what I'm reading on line that's probably 5000 watts. Perhaps I need to step up to a 12KW model? I realize that some devices can be powered off and loads can be shifted and the hot water tank will retain heat for a while so I am not placing much emphasis on the hot water tank as I can shift a load to heat the water if need be..

What do you guys think? What brands do you have experience with? I know Kohler is a big one, but you also pay for that name. What about Generac Centurion's or GE?
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:22 PM   post #2 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

Kohler is what I have delt with .. Mainly because that is what the supply house I deal with sells .. but they are great units

Someone here bought one a few years back .. cant remember who though .. They were VERY happy with it .. I do remember that much
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:24 PM   post #3 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

What about one of these?

http://www.amazon.com/Generac-5502-A...tag=dogpile-20


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett-JD3320 View Post
So if I go with a 10KW Standby Generator that leaves me with 4550 watts of power to run the Refrigerator, Pellet stove, Lights, TV/computer. The Hot Water tank is a 40 gallon and from what I'm reading on line that's probably 5000 watts. Perhaps I need to step up to a 12KW model? I realize that some devices can be powered off and loads can be shifted and the hot water tank will retain heat for a while so I am not placing much emphasis on the hot water tank as I can shift a load to heat the water if need be..

What do you guys think? What brands do you have experience with? I know Kohler is a big one, but you also pay for that name. What about Generac Centurion's or GE?
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:31 PM   post #4 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

6279,

Yes I am not ruling out the Generac Guardian or Centurion line unless someone comes along and says "those are junk". I don't have any experience with Generac, they claim they use their own engines, I have no idea how good a Generac engine is.. I know the $5000.00 Kohler uses a Command V Twin with oil cooler. Seems they rate these things at 3000 hours use.
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:53 PM   post #5 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

I don't have a whole house backup, but some folks around here do.
The biggest advantage (besides auto changeover) is the stationary units
use propane or natural gas. No stale fuel, or running out.
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:53 PM   post #6 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

see if your electric provider offers a device called a "connection hub" it is a legal way to tap power into your house, it goes between meter and the house, and gives you a safe way to put juice to the main panel costs about $1,000 and many times they will let install it and let you pay 50 to 90 a month

then when the power is out you plug your 3,500 to 12,000 watt portable into the connection hub box and you have power.

you use your existing panel to moderate the load on the generator

mine has worked great for 6 years

btw I have a honda powered northstar from northern tool

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Old 02-11-2010, 06:57 PM   post #7 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

http://www.dom.com/products/product-...connection-hub
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:08 PM   post #8 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

My company does offer them but I am not paying a grand for a box from the power company, I could have a transfer switch installed cheaper than that..

I want a truly integrated auto changeover system.
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:49 PM   post #9 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

The more I thought this through... This isn't remotely affordable.. Assuming I lost power again for 3 days, the fuel costs alone would be staggering.. I'm thinking maybe I just need to install a transfer switch, put a pellet stove up stairs and just use my Honda......
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Former Fleet:
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:05 PM   post #10 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

I don't want any part of a 3600rpm generator. I like the 1800rpm, 6500 watt Onan that I aquired for $200. It is a lot quieter. All it needed was the carburetor cleaned and the wiring changed to 220. For something that isn't used much, I can't justify "new."

I wouldn't heat the whole house to get by with a smaller generator. The less amperage, the lower the cost of an auto transfer switch.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:28 PM   post #11 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

I have a 12KW 4 cyl. Onan on trailer, Haven't used it in three years. I start it once a year though. I have a plug on the side of my shop I plug into turn off the mains to line out and fire up gen.
I'd like to switch it over to propane since it runs on gas now.

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Old 02-11-2010, 09:32 PM   post #12 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

Brett,

I've been watching the responses. None of them are particularly bad ones - all good actually. But, here's the thing -
You've got a perfectly good generator there, and how often do you really lose your power to this latest extent? I felt from your 1st post that maybe you lose it all the time and are fed up. If that is the case, maybe a full-time stand by is what you want, but only you could answer that. If it is not the case, and you just got a good dose of pain in the backside from this last extended power loss, I think your last post is the smartest.
Again, you already have a good geni there, and could power your house for a long period if need be with it. $200-$250 will buy you a transfer switch and they really are not complicated to install.
By the way, I have no transfer switch and I run my heavy geni cord to my dryer outlet to backfeed to the service when I lose power here. (I had to lop the twist-lock end off and replace it with a standard dryer 230 L plug) How I prevent from backfeeding from my service to the main line that comes from the street is to simply shut the main breaker off. After all, I would now be "feeding" my service through the 35 amp dryer breaker, and don't need power from the street. Shutting the main off cuts off the street line, and therefor prevents my geni from back feeding out to the street. Safe for us, safe for anyone working on the lines. However, you do need to be conservative in running the house this way. Remember, I'm running all the juice through the 35 amp dryer breaker, so I don't want to over load that and be tripping all the time. I can run my fridge, freezer, well pump, some lights, the pellets stove, and even the boiler for hot water as long as everything doesn't happen to be running all at once. We have yet to have any issues this way and have never tripped the breaker - like I said, we're conservative, but keep the house going and are comfortable enough to not have to leave regardless of weather.
You could even install a separate 35, 40, or even 50 amp breaker in your service with it's own twist-lock weather tight outlet wired outside for about $125 or so, and do exactly as I said above, just turn the main off before powering up the geni.
One other thing, when you do it this way you really don't know when the power actually comes back on until you see that your neighbors have power, (because you turn the main off - remember) then you need to remember to shut the geni down and unplug it from the outlet before switching the main back on.
All this being said, the transfer switch is still the best way to go. You don't have to worry about much of what I cautioned about above. The transfer switch takes care of it all. My way is just the "poor man's" way, and it is practical and safe if you are methodical and attentive. The transfer switch is really the best way.

(Incidentally, my 6500 watt surge geni has a Robin - made by Subaru, gasoline engine, and is very dependable. I bought it at Home Depot two years ago)

Renster
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:52 PM   post #13 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

I will do the same thing if we have a power outage. I have my generator so I can hook it into the 50 amp welder plug in the barn. If the main breaker is off you won't backfeed. This will give us water and power to a kitchen we built to get licensed to sell grape pies and cakes. The generator will run the ac and stove if we don't try to cook too much at once. It will also take care of the freezer in the barn plus the freezer and refridgerator in the kitchen.

My concern is a cool place to sleep if we have an extended outage due to a hurricane. It is rare to lose power in the winter here.
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:08 PM   post #14 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

In the army we ran the generators at 60% load so that any spike in usage (condensors going on and off) would not overload them. You don't want to "Max out" your generator to a full load but talk to the manufacture what your constant load can be.
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:08 PM   post #15 of 48
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Default Re: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?

Renster,

My understanding is that tripping the mains is NOT sufficient to protect the line workers who may be out trying to restore power. It's possible that you could backfeed out through the neutral and that goes directly out to the pole.

I was back feeding my house just fine and then I read all the "Don't do this" on the net and I undid my cheater plug.
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