Anyone here have a whole house standby generator? [Archive] - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information

: Anyone here have a whole house standby generator?


Pages : [1] 2

Brett-JDX748
02-11-2010, 07:16 PM
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?

Ken in NJ
02-11-2010, 07:22 PM
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

6279 Lawn Boy
02-11-2010, 07:24 PM
What about one of these?

http://www.amazon.com/Generac-5502-Air-Cooled-Automatic-Generator/dp/B001DZLKGY?tag=dogpile-20


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?

Brett-JDX748
02-11-2010, 07:31 PM
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.

Frank865
02-11-2010, 07:53 PM
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.

kp647
02-11-2010, 07:53 PM
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

Kevin

kp647
02-11-2010, 07:57 PM
http://www.dom.com/products/product-catalog/generators/detail.jsp?i=connection-hub

Brett-JDX748
02-11-2010, 08:08 PM
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.

Brett-JDX748
02-11-2010, 09:49 PM
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......

RDR
02-11-2010, 10:05 PM
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.

operator
02-11-2010, 10:28 PM
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.

Randy

Renster of N.H.
02-11-2010, 10:32 PM
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

RDR
02-11-2010, 10:52 PM
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.

PA318Guy
02-11-2010, 11:08 PM
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.

Brett-JDX748
02-11-2010, 11:08 PM
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.

ToppDogg
02-12-2010, 12:26 AM
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.

I'm not an electrician, but, that does not seem possible to me. If the Main switch is off how can that be.

Renster of N.H.
02-12-2010, 12:26 AM
Brett,

Negative. You will not back feed the hot of 230/240 volts through neutral, out of the service, and to the street. If you understand how to wire a service and how it works you will understand why you can't backfeed neutral like this.
Basic electricity 101. :)

Still Brett, the best way is to use a transfer switch. I highly recommend it if you don't mind spending the money, plus you normally get at least 6 circuits, some have 8, to run pretty much all that your geni is capable of powering. Most also have a 230/240 twist lock outlet built in for your geni cord as well, but I myself would still run a wire from the switch to outside and install an exterior weather proof twist lock outlet, so that I wouldn't have to run a cord into the basement as I do now. Hey, if your gonna do it, spend a little extra and do it all the right way the first time around.
I just haven't done any of it yet, so I do the poor man method. And yes, it is safe.

Take Care Brett and good luck! :)

Renster

Renster

Brett-JDX748
02-12-2010, 07:04 AM
Renster,

Explain it to me, because the Electrical Code Handbook for 2010 says this method is illegal and not to code.. Just spoke with an Electric Operations Manager yesterday about this. The Mains Breakers are 2 Pole and do not disconnect Neutral. I'm not saying in a "properly wired" house this would happen but I guess what I'm saying is this "could" happen.

I am going with the Transfer switch because I am not going to be responsible for anyone getting hurt (even though the linemen should always check the line before working on it).

I think I am going to do a perm twist lock setup outside that would be very convenient. My Honda has a regular 3 prong on the genny, it's only 13A continuous and 16A max so they didn't use a 30A twist lock on it.

Kbeitz
02-12-2010, 08:01 AM
A word about back feeding ... If your Gen-set is not grounded and some how one of the wire on the hot side shorts to the neutral side you will back feed back through you panel box even with the main breaker shut off...

This is what I did...
I got on E-bay and found a double pole double through manual transfer switch ...
I mounted everything on the wall and bought a 100 amp breaker for my main box... My $50.00 5kw auction find gen-set feeds into the bottom of the transfer switch. PPl from the 100 amp breaker feeds into the top...
Out from the middle feed my new breaker panel box... With this setup I did not need to pull the electric meeter... I moved all the stuff needed to the new panel box... This whole setup only cost me a little over $100.00.
An old 5kw gen-set will run most everything in your home if you dont have electric heat...

http://user.pa.net/~kbeitz/Post-em/Generator%20box%20setup.JPG

Brett-JDX748
02-12-2010, 08:24 AM
I may just upgrade to a solid 5 or 7KW Honda and put a pellet stove up stairs.

daBear49
02-12-2010, 10:43 AM
After putting up with a house full of hot people for two weeks following Katrina I swore I would get a Genset. We moved and built about 4 years ago and I opted for a 16KW Generac Guardian. It came with an auto transfer and I got it for about $3,200. While building the electrician and plumber hooked it up for almost nothing extra. I an not a particular fan of Generac but this unit comes with a Briggs Vanguard engine which they say is a Generac engine, but it is not. It's a Vanguard and that is a good engine. In my four years in this house I have about 100 hours on it. Half are from weekly automatic maintenance running and the other hours are from power outages which lasted from a few minutes to a couple of days following a big storm. Of course I would rather have an 1800 rpm engine, but you will pay a minimum of twice the price and then get into a water cooled Kohler or something like that. Anyway this was a great deal for the price and convenience, plus the security of knowing it is always available with unlimited natural gas. Best $3,200 I ever spent.

Upper5Percent
02-12-2010, 11:20 AM
Generac Whole House Guardians are not bad...;)
Here is their sizer program to help you size your generator...
http://www.generac.com/Residential/Sizer/

Brett-JDX748
02-13-2010, 02:55 PM
Paul,

Thanks for the link but those calculators are really bogus, you need to go around and check the real consumption of your devices.

I gave up on the idea of whole house, I can't afford to fuel it. I was talking with a big generator dealer and they said I would use a 120 ish Lbs of propane every few days to run the house. That's a bit much..

I see Northern Tool has some good deals on portable gen's and I am looking at a Honeywell 9375W Surge, 7500w continuous it has electric start, flat free tires and a 30A 240 twist lock output, for $949. That's a lot more palatable to me. I am going to wait for the weather to clear and I am going to install a 30 A 240V transfer switch with 6 or 8 circuits and then decide on which portable and be done with it.

daBear49
02-13-2010, 05:45 PM
One thing that I did not mention is my 16K genset is not whole house. I only have two of the three air conditioners and the essential electrical stuff on mine. Down south we need larger generators that you probably would up north because of air conditioning unless you are using electric resistance heating. Then it would amount to about the same size genset.

Mouse
02-13-2010, 06:02 PM
Brett, sorry to hear about the power loss. I have a guy who installs the Kohler generators for around 5k. He will install anything you buy, BUT that's as far as he goes, no call backs on other brands. W/ Kohler he'll come back for any reason because he never gets called back. Good to see you again, good luck w/ the generator. 1 more thing, I don't have a back-up generator, but I can have 3-4 small generators here in a matter of a few minutes.
Mouse

Upper5Percent
02-13-2010, 10:52 PM
Paul,

Thanks for the link but those calculators are really bogus, you need to go around and check the real consumption of your devices.

I gave up on the idea of whole house, I can't afford to fuel it. I was talking with a big generator dealer and they said I would use a 120 ish Lbs of propane every few days to run the house. That's a bit much..

I see Northern Tool has some good deals on portable gen's and I am looking at a Honeywell 9375W Surge, 7500w continuous it has electric start, flat free tires and a 30A 240 twist lock output, for $949. That's a lot more palatable to me. I am going to wait for the weather to clear and I am going to install a 30 A 240V transfer switch with 6 or 8 circuits and then decide on which portable and be done with it.

Out of curiosity...What is your max KWH monthly consumption in winter?

http://www.bsapowersolutions.com/pages/Generac/70kWGeneracGenerator.php

ENGINE FUEL CONSUMPTION Natural Gas......Propane
.........................................(ft3/hr.) (gal/hr.) cu ft/hr
Exercise cycle......................110............1.20.... .......44.2
25% of rated load.................260............2.85.......... 104.9
50% of rated load.................499............5.46.......... 200.9
75% of rated load.................696............7.62.......... 280.4
100% of rated load...............1020..........11.17.........411

Because this unit would use 268 gallons in a 24 hour period if one were using 70kwh for every hour of the day...which would equal 1680kwh...which is my average for an ENTIRE MONTH's electrical usage in the winter...;)

Brett-JDX748
02-13-2010, 10:56 PM
My highest was 4031KW/HR last season. I've dropped down to just under 3000 KW/HR this last bill.

Upper5Percent
02-13-2010, 11:24 PM
My highest was 4031KW/HR last season. I've dropped down to just under 3000 KW/HR this last bill.

:eek::banghead3 ...Those numbers are scary...:Stop:

Have you had a energy audit done?

I know when I had a NEW water heater installed I had a large drop in usage...and then my son's band started practicing at the house...which is why my usage is UP...:rolleyes:

But NOTHING near your league...:(

NOW...I understand why you rejected WHOLE HOUSE protection...:fing20:

Brett-JDX748
02-13-2010, 11:36 PM
Did you see the part where I said I have electric baseboard heat? And I live in the North East?

LOL

And to think I actually made the house more energy efficient when I had the roof redone, all new windows, doors, garage doors etc... Just a couple years ago..

Upper5Percent
02-13-2010, 11:45 PM
Did you see the part where I said I have electric baseboard heat? And I live in the North East?

LOL

And to think I actually made the house more energy efficient when I had the roof redone, all new windows, doors, garage doors etc... Just a couple years ago..

That would be a BIG NO...I assumed you were a CEO of Jersey Central Power & Light Company (JCP&L) or at least a MAJOR STOCK HOLDER...:sidelaugh

davidg
02-14-2010, 12:03 AM
my usage last month was nearly 5000kwh. i have a ~2400 sq ft house with 2 hvac systems. the one for the rear of the home has electric strip heat, while th efront is a heat pump with strip heat backup. but even when theweather is nice enough that we don't even turn on teh HVAC for over a month it is usually 1600-2000 kwh. house is ALL electric except for the dryer is gas.

ToppDogg
02-14-2010, 01:31 AM
You guys are making me feel good. 614 for Feb and 1150 for Jan. I have a propane furnace and water heater.

Brett-JDX748
02-14-2010, 10:14 AM
LOL I SHOULD be a stock holder :)

But honestly it's not that bad.. I am on the balanced energy plan and I pay $160 dollars a month all year... But that's it... I don't have an LP or NG bill and aside from the pellet stove which I don't run much, I have no other heating costs.

But just to run all of the baseboards in the house at the same time at max consumption that's 10KW right there! :)

Renster of N.H.
02-14-2010, 11:02 AM
Brett,

Your decision to go with the transfer switch and a good portable is a very solid one. Once you've got that set up you will be better prepared for outages than most folks and (I wrote "most" for those of you that have stand alone whole house set ups) you will still have a geni that you can roll most anywhere to power most anything (something the stand alones can't do :) ).
Stick with that idea - it's the best one.

Renster

Brett-JDX748
02-14-2010, 11:49 AM
Renster,

Thanks! Yeah you the whole house idea is very nice on the surface to be able to, within 10 seconds have power again, completely off the grid. And I'll tell ya, if I was one of those who was fortunate enough to have a NG well in the back yard and get free fuel, I WOULD be all over the biggest whole house unit I could afford.

The fuel costs are the killer! Sure I am going to wind up with a much smaller generator, but the fuel costs should be at least affordable.

And like you said, I can always roll it,transport it and use it for other things.