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I own a general 14kw emergency generator and run it on propane from my home heating 500 gallon propane tank. I have had the general for almost ten years now and other than service and maintenance I have had no complaints! I installed the emergency generator and the required switch myself with little to no issues! I suggest what ever system you eventually buy you buy multiple maintenance service packs and keep the, on hand doing the service as recommended! My generator does a 15 minute self test each Sunday as I had programmed it to do! I believe you can still but the 14kw for about 4K and the 20 K for a little over 5K. Good luck and I don’t think you go wrong with either system!
 

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Before opting to purchase a whole house generator you should consider the fuel consumption which can 2+ gph on propane.
Don’t go for the larger unit because it’s only a couple thousand $ more unless you actually need the power.
The additional size will consume much more propane and require a much larger tank to supply the required fuel demand. Unless you have critical loads such as life support, electric heat or cattle to water.
I would suggest determining what you actually need and size a generator based on your calculations. In most circumstances when the power goes out you’d be happy having some lights, tv and heat for a prolonged outage
 

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A few thoughts. Maybe more than a few.
The amperage of the circuit breaker is not what the appliances uses. The listing plate on the appliance usually states what the appliance uses when full on, but may not list the starting voltage of a motor.
As for an electric range you probably will not use all burners and the oven at the same time. You don't need to figure total load for the whole appliance if only using one or two burners. As for a dryer or high draw appliances, if you can air dry or hang clothes out do you really need the more expensive generator?
All appliance will not run at the same time so adding everything up you technically need a larger generator than you really do.
A larger generator will use more fuel than a smaller one
A smaller unit will be cheaper.
A load shedding transfer box will a smaller generator to power your home with minimal discomfort. A load shedding control box will turn off certain loads so other loads can run. Think of an AC shutting down for a few minutes for the well pump to run, then turn back on when the pump shut off. They usually are programable.
Do NOT install a whole house generator or a portable generator without a transfer switch, Or when using a portable do NOT hook up to the homes electrical system. Be Safe. A lineman repairing the line do the road may be electrocuted when he picks up what he thought was a dead line. Remember the transformer that reduced line voltage to your home will now increase you generators 240 volt to line voltage (usually 7500 volt at least that is what I have been told).
Don't fall for gimmicks, some may seem nice to have but may be more trouble than they are worth.
A whole house generator using natural or lp usually has no fuel issues. A portable using gasoline will have fuel issues if not run often or fuel is left sit in the tank.
Now for my last comment, No generator is any better than the dealer. Be sure the dealer you buy from has properly trained service and installation personnel. Talk to others who have purchased from the dealer to get an idea if the dealer "takes care of business". If the dealer is sales only be sure you can get a good servicer to keep it on line.
When the unit is installed and operable notify your power company and LP gas supplier, be aware the LP lines and regulator may need to be upgraded
 

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Hey guys. I've brought this subject up before when we lost our power the last time, but now I can't find my old post to re-read everything.

In any event, our power went out for about 48 hours again after a storm on Wednesday morning. We just got it back. We were able to go to our other house, which is about an hour away, and had power there, but we couldn't take ALL of the food from this house to that house, because the other house only has a regular kitchen fridge/freezer combo, and we have two freezers here. So, we lost some stuff, but at least not the expensive meats and stuff.

I've already sent two emails to generator companies in my area. One to a Generac rep and one to a Kohler rep. Since it's after work hours on Friday, I suspect I'll get a call from both of them sometime on Monday.

In the thread I started a few months ago, some of the guys were recommending the Kohler over the Generac, but I forget the reasons why. I'd like to have these things fresh in my mind, and make a list, so that when I talk to the salesmen, I'll have some intelligent questions to ask them about whatever shortcomings their products may have compared to the "other brand". So, please tell me which one you guys have if you have one, and if you'd recommend it or not. I'd really appreciate it with a large investment like this.

Also, even if you don't have either one, but to have input about either of them, I'd appreciate hearing that as well. Thank you! Sooooooo tired of losing our power LOL.
From a maintenance guy pov, we have generac generators to run access gates to our airport and the majority of our issues with them have been the starter failures, valves out of adjustment(normal), intake tubes cracking and once in awhile one genset would continually search for speed and it ended up being the regulator. Other than that they have been top notch. We service them every 6 months and use amzoil with zinc additive.
 

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Hey guys. I've brought this subject up before when we lost our power the last time, but now I can't find my old post to re-read everything.

In any event, our power went out for about 48 hours again after a storm on Wednesday morning. We just got it back. We were able to go to our other house, which is about an hour away, and had power there, but we couldn't take ALL of the food from this house to that house, because the other house only has a regular kitchen fridge/freezer combo, and we have two freezers here. So, we lost some stuff, but at least not the expensive meats and stuff.

I've already sent two emails to generator companies in my area. One to a Generac rep and one to a Kohler rep. Since it's after work hours on Friday, I suspect I'll get a call from both of them sometime on Monday.

In the thread I started a few months ago, some of the guys were recommending the Kohler over the Generac, but I forget the reasons why. I'd like to have these things fresh in my mind, and make a list, so that when I talk to the salesmen, I'll have some intelligent questions to ask them about whatever shortcomings their products may have compared to the "other brand". So, please tell me which one you guys have if you have one, and if you'd recommend it or not. I'd really appreciate it with a large investment like this.

Also, even if you don't have either one, but to have input about either of them, I'd appreciate hearing that as well. Thank you! Sooooooo tired of losing our power LOL.
How big is your electric service that would determine how big your generator needs to be if your looking to power your entire home
The best way I know is to put in a normal emergency panel based on your emergency loads and a gen set that will power up those loads needed during an outage and a transfer switch to handle the panel There are many unnecessary things that you need during an outage which will keep your cost down as well as a need for larger fuel demand.
Just my 2 cents worth
 

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About 8 years ago I was getting estimates for a genset for the business where I was the Operations Manager. Going "by the book" it was going to require a 22kw unit. He then asked me how many of these things would actually be used during a power outage. I called the shop foreman in and we discussed our shop needs during an outage as opposed to our wants. The office was very easy to figure. After going through the shops needs, we found we needed nowhere near that large of a unit. A 15kw unit was determined to be plenty big enough and actually gave us a good safety margin. The cost difference was substantial along with the fuel consumed. Very rarely will all of your electrical demand reach a maximum level for each unit...and simply put they aren't all at maximum draw at the same time. Keep that in mind...never overbuy for a decent genset...especially when on LP!!
 

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As a former Generac installer/tech, I have a few thoughts. I would consider Generac to be at the bottom of the list for quality(with the caveat I have never touched a Briggs). I've installed and repaired quite a few of the units. The few Kohler units I worked on impressed me, and the few WinCo units impressed me even more, in comparison to the Generac units I was familiar with. Now, I haven't been in that business for about 3 years, so things
may have changed a bit.
As far as sizing, consult your installer and they should be able to get that right for you.
Why bottom of list?
 

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Ok here is my 2 cents. After a two week power outage from an ice storm then two separate derecho events we finally got a Generac system. In Iowa service is an issue and Generac has more offices/support staff in Iowa. I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere but fuel source makes a 2000k difference. We use NG (straight from our normal home service) but were told the rating on the generators is based on LP (which burns hotter). Previously we powered the house during the last three events using a Honeywell 10k generator and to be honest is did everything we needed. But going from a 22k to a 24k was only a $350 difference so what the heck. The actual generator itself is the cheapest part of the equation so GO BIG! You will pay quite a bit for installation including the power transfer and surge protector. Another consideration is that we spent another $2000 on getting our NG service supply updated since it requires a much larger service to run the unit. Although they run a “sizer” program to sell you a generator they don’t talk much about a sizer for the supply side since they (in our area) don’t hook up the generator to the actual NG service.
At the end of it all, it took 8 months after ordering to finally get installed. We are really happy this far. We get to hear it cycle once a week so we know we are ready for an event. It will add instant value to your home. If you plan on doing it “someday” do it NOW so at least you and your family get to enjoy the benefits of it! Yes it costs a lot of money so don’t make a mistake and go too small or you will regret it! We can run EVERYTHING in the house without any considerations and for my wife that is a huge plus. Good luck!
Plant Automotive tire Grass Motor vehicle Gas

Gas Electrical wiring Machine Fixture Electrical supply

Plant Rectangle Office equipment Output device Grass
 

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A genset will not increase the value of a home unfortunately....only to you.
 

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A genset will not increase the value of a home unfortunately....only to you.
I think that is very geographical and house location dependent. On our last appraisal for refinancing the value of the generator was $5,000. Certainly not what we paid for it but it was something the appraiser took into account and asked a number of questions about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
“Surround sound” is a good way of putting it.

But much of this is irrelevant to Jeff, who has 40+ acres! Apologies for sidetracking your thread, Jeff.
ZERO apologies necessary. I find all of this stuff very interesting, even if it's not "specifically" on target. We're all men here, and of course we start discussing one subject and it will meander in many different directions. Nothing wrong with that!
 

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Hey Jeff,
This is a good question, here is my feedback.

I am an electronics tech, I am familiar with both generators. I have a Generac at my house, I have friends that have Kohler, both are really reliable and run really well. Here are some things to consider from my experience:
  • I have a Generac 13KW nat gas generator. In short, it has been nothing but terrific. Care has been changing the oil, air filter, and a couple easy to do adjustments (like speed). I installed it in 2005, and it has kept us thru many power outages, a couple of them were 3-day events. Didn't miss a beat. (we get 1 to 3 power outages a year). It does have a little bit of rust on the bottom of the cabinet on the outside, that's about the only complaint I have. The area where I have it does not see a lot of sunlight.
  • Friends with Kohler, very much the same. No issues, very solid and reliable.
  • I can tell you that Generac seems to deal with service with their dealers, and it seems that getting parts outside of the dealers is impossible. I have not needed that, so no issue yet. If/when I need a new generator, I might consider Kohler because of that, however this thing has been bombproof so it will be hard to change. I like the option of fixing things myself which I most often do. So if you are a 'fix it myself' type of guy, you may want to consider Kohler. Otherwise, find a dealer that services Generac (not all do) and has a good reputation, then sit back and don't worry.
  • If I remember right, propane delivers a bit more energy than natural gas, so you may get a KW or two above rated if running propane.
  • Propane and Nat Gas powered generators are remarkably simple. You have an airbox, then the rest of the engine. Because of that they are pretty reliable. Do your maintenance, err on the side of changing oil early and you will get alot of life out of it. It's now 17 years later, I still have trouble seeing the oil level on the stick after an oil change because the oil stays squeaky clean.
  • THIS PART IS IMPORTANT - when sizing the generator most people try to go 'whole house' or get almost every thing in the house on it. If you are looking just to ride thru the occasional power outage and cost is not of concern this may be the option for you. HOWEVER, what most people do not consider is this: Duty cycle during an extended outage. I deliberately sized my unit to run essentials and have a bit of over head for some 'nice to haves'. I have a 3,000 sq/ft house, run it just fine on a 12KW unit. I could have done a 'whole house' at 20KW+, glad I didn't. Here is why:

If you have an extended outage, your gas bill will be expensive. Like I mentioned we have had ~numerous~ 2-3 day outages where the generator was running non-stop. Our gas bill was indistinguishable month-to-month when we had those events - really impressed my wife who watches that stuff like a hawk. IF you are experiencing multi-day outages frequently, or getting a generator to get thru a potential 'SHTF' event (down for weeks) you may want to consider that especially if you are having propane delivered - will make that last twice as long. I have nat gas so when the power goes out there is more for me - no issues, a virtual continuous supply.

The smaller KW units are cheaper, are widely installed (means parts are available), and run terrifically well. Some have optional features which you will be easily ready to afford as opposed to getting a big unit. Those are not cheap.

Do a survey of what you can and can't live with. I live in PA, can do without the AC. Not without the furnace. Need the septic pump. Can do without lights in the kids bathroom. I can say that when the lights go out we don't really miss much. We were the envy of our neighborhood. We had lights as they were loading up their freezers to take to other people's houses....till they got their own generators. :)

Good luck with your installation.. Hope this helped.

BJ
This has been very helpful, thank you!
 

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Friend of mine bought a Generac year or two ago, priced it out from Generac direct and then call a local Electrican and asked for a installed price and it was way cheaper from the local guy and he also bought 5 year extended warranty which Generac had to take care of. Generac wasn’t happy but they had to do the warranty anyway.
The LED display disappeared and was not readable was the issue.
 

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I installed a 20 KW Generac whole house back in 2010. I run on NG so it's rated at 18 KW. I did the install myself. About two months after the install it was having starting issues. It would stumble a bit and sometimes take two or three tries before running. I called Generac and since I did the install they made it clear that if they send a service guy out and they find it's the fault of the install the cost would be on me. A guy came out from a local shop and said he knew right away what was wrong, it was a bad choke assembly. Sid he would return the next day with the new part. Haven't had anymore problems. I did mention to him that Generac was concerned about me installing it. He said he has seen some pretty bad installations, mostly the pad they sit on. He said mine was one of the better installs he has come across. I do my own maintenance including the valve adjustment. I've had to replace the battery once since the install. My home has a 200 amp service so I went a little bigger than I could have probably got away with. I did have to have my gas meter upgraded by the local utility company. I called them to come out and make sure my old one was big enough to handle the generator. The engineer said it needed to be replaced. They only thing I had help with was I had a plumber that owed me a favor that ran the gas line for me. So far mine has performed well even in multi day outages.

I know a guy I used to work with that got a great deal on a commercial generator that came from a Nursing home that was adding on and upgrading their unit. It is a generator powered by a 460 Ford V8 engine. He could power the whole neighborhood. i forget the size of it but he could surly power the whole neighborhood. He actually paid less for it than I did for mine. He also did the install himself. We both retired from the same electrical contractor.
 
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I have a question about whole house generator run cycles.

I used to run a USAF maintenance shop, and we had 30+ tactical generators. We had to do a maintenance run on each quarterly, and we had to do it under a load, using a load bank.

When these whole house generators do their weekly run, do they transfer to the house for a load, or do they have some other load mechanism for the run?

Cal
 
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The figures came off the circuit breakers in my electrical panel.

I understand that people can run their clothes dryer on low heat. Or that they can just use one burner on their stove. Or just use one appliance at a time. That's how folks get by with a smaller generator. Cal
Here are some thoughts on using the installed breakers to determine your generator needs. Lots of folks think they need to upgrade their old 100 amp service to 200 amps. When someone told me they were considering this I would ask them, are you tripping the 100 amp main on a regular basis, and they would respond that they have never tripped it. This would tell me that they don't need to upgrade unless they are planning on adding some large power users to their system. Keep in mind that a standard 100 amp panel will come with a minimum of 20 spaces. If you fill it with 15 amp breakers that would be 300 amps. Over the years I wired a lot of houses with those 20 circuit panels and there were no spare spots left in the panel and I never had a call back because they were tripping the 100 amp main. Well pumps, sump pumps, dishwashers, gas furnace blower motors, refrigerators, would all be considered intermittent loads that will not all run at the same time and will not draw the full amp load of the breaker they are plugged into. If a load like electric heat which is considered continuous the circuit can only be loaded to 80%, (as per NEC) so a 20 amp breaker on baseboard electric heat should never see more than 16 amps. With newer houses being much bigger than the old average of 1500 sq feet there is a need for larger services especially if there is no gas service. For older general sized homes a 100 amp (24000 watts) service is very capable and for emergency power source even 80% of that would most likely be large enough to maintain the full house loads.
 

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A 100A service is rated at 120VAC, 50A at 240VAC which is standard on most older homes. A newer home may have a 240VAC service but it is unlikely all circuits are being used to full capacity. For instance the A/C which has a heavy starting load won't be running in conjunction with the furnace. The danger comes in when a bigger genset and transfer switch are installed with a 100A service, the temptation is to overload the household circuit Conversely a smaller generator is at risk of being overloaded. They need to be properly matched.
 
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