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back up power for my home
Non bow hunting related question but I have question for those that live in the country or where you lose power often. I am looking to buy a backup generator to power my home or most of it when I lose power. Last winter I lost power for 5 days and I can't have that with Hawk at home..Unfortunately my heat is electric and it sucks..I have a wood burner but it won't heat the whole home. A generator is a large purchase for me and I'm a bit intimidated on what to buy..my service is 200 amp so I know I'll need at least 12K to power most of the home. What brand generator? Gas/propane? Any that have any knowledge please share what worked for you. Or what you wished you did differently. Money is tight so I can't say the sky's the limit..
Take a look at Generac based here in Wisconsin.
The house we have has a generator that does exactly what you're looking for. It's great- it starts automatically when the power goes out (which is often where we are at). However, nobody anywhere near me will touch the brand the previous owners put in (Generac is common around here, not what we have). For me to have it worked on I literally have to pay $500 for a service guy to just show up and I pay a very high hourly rate and parts after that. My suggestion-- make sure someone local or semi-local works on them in case you have problems.
Per longpeak's suggestion, Generac is quite well liked by a lot of people I know.
I did a lot of research on this about 5 years ago and landed on a Cummins propane generator. Look at some reviews and sites that rate generators and you will find Cummins and Kohler rated much better than Generac. A friend has a Generac at his cabin and it has been problem after problem.
Depends on the budget really, a propane powered Generac would be the best, however you may want to check out harbor freights line of Predator gasoline generators. they seem to work well and don't break the bank. I bought one last year after a lengthy outage and lent it to a co-worker when the tornado destroyed half of Dayton this past summer. She ran it for a week straight and had no issues with it. I have not had to use it yet however.
The generac is probably the most widely used.I have had one at my house for several years.Always get a auto transfer switch and figure having an electrician installing it.You can purchase them from Northern tool but if installed wrong you can kill someone.I would also figure a couple hundred a year for service.I am sure if you google it you can find someone local to give you a bid.They will want to test your house to see what size you need such as do you want it to run your air conditioner or just furnace lights and freezer?
Buy a Miller Bobcat welder and use it as a generator. My neighbor has his house 2000sq ft wired to run off electric from the pole and wired to run off a generator. Last year his welder/generator ran the house for 10 days... it ran the whole 10 days until he got electric back.
Might contact your electric coop. Ours has an agreement with a local service to install and service yearly
I have an 6500 size, gas generator to power my home. I cannot run everything at once, but with a little breaker management, I can use everything including heat, AC, well pump, etc. Mine cost around 7-800 so it didn't break the bank. I might use it 1-3 days a year, so I never really looked into propane or full house generators...
You may want to consider something smaller, like 5500 - 6500 watts or so. They are often available used pretty cheap ($300-$400 around here on Craig's List). They often have wheels so they are semi-portable, or at least can be moved around. A lot of the ones I see have very low hours on them. Higher Peak (starting watts) and longer run times are good things to look for. These are mostly 2 cycle ones, so they are loud, but ... that is something you can probably live with to save the money.
You may not be able to run your whole house, but you can plug in what you need and switch things around. Fridge/Freezer, Lights, Heat, Well pump, etc. Another plus is that you don't need a electrician to install it.
Over time you can get a second one, or a larger one if you want/ need it. Also, having 2 gives you some peace of mind in case one shits the bed. OR, you can buy a smaller 4 cycle one and that can be brought anywhere, a little 2000 watt honda 4 cycle is Really nice to have in camp.
I bought a house that had one in the garage (6500 watts). Never needed it for 7 or 8 years and then we had a hurricane and an ice storm hit a few months apart, power was out for about a week each time. I ran it almost continuously and was able to keep everything working fine. Get yourself a few 5 gal gas tanks and some good extension cords (or consider having the house wired with a panel and switches). Use gas stabilizer and you'll be fine with long breaks between uses. FYI, when the power is out, gas gets very hard to find too, so keep some around.
By the second storm, people around here were offering $1000+ to people with even small generators for sale. Home Depot, Lowes and Tractor Supply were selling out in minutes. Now there seems to be a glut of these mid-size units, especially used.
I'm not sure where you are in OH, but here is an example of one in Columbus.
An auto cut-over, whole house generator (especially if you have electric heat) will be pretty expensive. Even for our house, using propane for heat and cooking, I didn't want to spend that much. When I researched it, Generac seemed to have a lot of reliability issues. I went with a Honda 7500 w generator converted to propane. I use a manual cut-over and manually manage the load. Since we already have a 1000 gallon propane tank, I just had the generator plumbed in. Even without that, I wouldn't want to store enough gasoline to run a generator in case of a real emergency that closed the roads for any length of time. We were involved with no access for 10 days during the '13 Colorado floods (finally bought the generator AFTER that). My main concerns are heat, refrigeration, and water. I can run 3 refrigerators, 2 freezers, my cistern pump, boiler, and some electronics/lights. By turning some of those breakers off, I can run the well pump to refill the cistern if necessary.
I run it for about an hour every month as recommended, and if not used significantly more than that, change the oil every other year. So far, I've had no problems, or other maintenance. It's only been used for a few hours at a time for power outages. I had hoped that once I was prepared, I wouldn't need it. So far, that has worked. ;-)
Unless you are ready to plop down some big dough on a house generator a portable is the way to go. Although jdee posed an interesting option that I never thought of.
Quality high watt generators like a Honda are pricey....there are high watt generators that are a little more cost effective and if it`s a emergency use type of thing that may be the best way to go. Shelling out $3500 for a generator to sit for possible years is a tough pill to swallow.
One good point of the portable is that you can always sell it if or when you decide to get the whole house generator.
I have the option of wood heat, and a propane water heater, and range. So, the only thing I really need, is the well pump (and pressure pump), refrigerators and freezer, and maybe some outlets in the living area.
So, I just bought a 5500 Watt Duromax dual fuel generator, and wired a 6 circuit switch in to my Service. It was relatively easy to do the wiring, and I never have to touch anything on my main panel during an outage...just need to switch from "Line" to "Generator" on the switch, and engage the breakers I want to run.
Got the Generator new from Lowes...485 dollars with my Military Discount. Bought the switch on Ebay new in a box, for 215 dollars. Adding in some conduit, maybe 650 bucks out the door.
Tested it, and it runs all 6 circuits just fine. The only thing left, is to split my propane line under the house, and set up a quick connect outside for the generator (We have a 250 gallon propane tank). I won't have to worry about fuel, when it comes to the generator.
My parents just had a 17K generac installed for $6000. That covered the cost of the generac, additional parts for installation and labor. It was installed by a local electrician. The only thing my dad had to do was poor a cement slab for it to sit on. His was a natural gas unit. They heat their home with wood and all of their appliances are natural gas.
You stated that you have electric heat. This puts you in a whole new ballgame. Your best bet is to have a local electrician (or 2 or 3) come to your home and analyze your setup and give you a quote. If you do not get a unit big enough (this puts most portable generators out of the equation) it will damage your furnace during start up. If you have a well, electric hot water, electric stove and an electric dryer now you will need a setup where these units can not be run at the same time. My neighbor had a 17k generac installed and he has fuel oil heat but everything else in the home is electric and the electrician advised against having these appliances set up where they could potentially be operated at the same time. Therefore he had the electrician set it up so they can not.
I have a portable generator that is 6000 watts with a 8500 surge. I had my house wired with a box outside so all I have to do is flip a switch on the fuse box and plug the generator in to the box outside. I heat with wood and all of my appliances are propane. I also have a well. When I had this set up installed by a local electrician he told me under no circumstance should I try and run my central air off of the generator that I have. He stated that my generator will run the central air but it will not start it properly with out damaging the motor in it.
It takes a lot of juice to start electric appliances. A case in point...... if I am running my generator and I turn my coffee pot on, which obviously has an electric coil in the pad to keep the coffee hot, my generator will surge more at this point than if my 220V well turns on.
I have a 19kw Generac on an automatic transfer switch. It is hooked up to my 1000 gallon propane tank. No complaints since 2012. Power goes of and my power barely flickers. No regrets........invested about $5k in it, but I am in the construction business and my electrical sub helped me out.
The shenanigans in Calif. are supposed to put a dent in the generator supply for the next 6 months. So supply might be tight and prices higher depending on where you live.
The best deal going was at Costco an 8k fuel injected general for $1k delivered. The fuel injection eliminates the gunner up carb from storage. Propane derates fast at 20 degrees and below so you have to upsize as much as 50% if it gets really cold where you live.
All good suggestions above.
Be aware that cheaper generators put out Dirty Voltage. The voltage regulation is not even enough for most modern appliances and Electronics.
While an inexpensive generator may be fine for sump or well pumps, power tools and lighting, today’s HVAC systems, appliances and home electronics need special consideration when it comes to emergency backup power.
Newer Hvac and appliances either won’t operate correctly and or will be damaged over time.
New models of Honda, Generac and Cummins all have Automatic Voltage Regulation.
They also make switchable generator safety cover plate for your electric panel box that goes around the main breaker and the you install a generator breaker to the right that is legal and around a $100 with out installation. It's a cheap way of being legal although totally manual. The generator is connected and wired either directly or to a plug, size depending on generator size. Before the generator can be switched on the main breaker must be turned off. Then you regulate load by turning breakers on and off depending on load. Leave heat on if winter, switch off to keep hot water tank warm. This is a low budget way of being legal and works although not as convenient as the more expensive ways. A 5000 watt generator should be good for 20 amps at 240 volts or two 2000 watt baseboard units with some lighting. This was just a example so in my opinion you want a bigger generator than that. Getting enough or keeping enough gasoline on hand during a major storm can be very difficult especially for five days.
Also if buying a used generator be careful. If it was wired or plugged in directly to the panel box and the main breaker was NOT turned off and the electric utility company grounded the power line to repair it will damage the generator and they are expensive to repair if even repairable. Great to hear "Hawk" is doing fine.
Consider the tri-fuel Winco. With 2 at 12kW you will heat your house.
I’d contact your power supplier, they might have some input.
We live in rural TN and realized the importance of back up power our first winter after losing power one time too many. That said, we installed a Generac 22KW LPG/CNG fueled gen set for our house. It's got sufficient power to run everything (water well, HVAC, double ovens, freezers etc) without worry. The auto-start/kill feature is definitely a necessity.
If you have CNG heat, you're good-to-go, otherwise if your house is total electric you'll need to install an LPG tank. We're using a 100 gallon LPG tank, which will last approx 5 days worth of fuel for the gen set while keeping the gas cook-top working. The 100 gal supply will last considerably longer if we take our HVAC system off-line and use the fireplace for heat.
The portable option is much more cost effective, but will likely need to be hooked up manually once the power goes out. That's fine if you're home when the power goes out...
I have a cummins. I like it, but wish I had a generac since I could then find someone local to work on it.
The suggestion to contact your local power company seems like a good one.
There are many setups that can work for you but the more you spend the better the system and reliability.
I originally had a 7-8k watt gasoline portable generator that would handle everything in my 2000sq ' house that is heated by natural gas, included a gas range, gas water heater, and gas dryer. This setup included a (National Electrical Code requirement) manual bypass switch adaptor at the main 200 amp breaker and a outdoor power inlet to connect the generator cord connection to power selected circuit breakers. All was needed to drag generator outside, fuel up, connect cord and flip bypass switch and start generator. Easy enough until weather is howling rain/snow and windy. This happened to me 9 days after hip surgery.
I now have a 11K Generac standby generator with a 200amp automatic transfer switch that automatically starts my generator and powers up the house within 30 seconds of losing power. This setup powers everything in my house, gas appliances, 2 ref, freezer etc. My central AC unit has a manual lock out to prevent that large electric motor load from overloading the generator. The 11k generator has full rating while on propane gas, but is rated 10k when operating on natural gas. This is the way to go.
Contact a local electrical contractor generator dealer/installer for a evaluation of your home power needs.
Generac and newcomer Champion make affordable reliable home standby generator systems.
PS I have been an electrician for over 50 years.
Thanks for all the replies guys. I have an electrician buddy that is going to do the hook up for me I just am torn still on what to get. I have to make a decision soon!
I strongly suggest that you get a free quote from an electrical contractor who is trained generator dealer/installer for his experienced home power evaluation. Then have your buddy install if you want.
Regarding installation, make sure whomever you use is "approved " by the manufacturer. It'll save your warranty.
I installed a Generac 16k on propane with auto transfer switch. 1600 sqft house. Geo for heat. Never had any issues. I just dont let the wife and kids turn on the dryer or curling irons and such. 5000K complete I think.
We installed a Briggs and Stratton brand for my mom. It was either an 8 or 10. They have a transfer switch system that allows you to run a smaller unit. The switch has 16 circuits. You hook up each circuit in the order of importance. The box monitors usage and will kill circuits to make sure you don't over load system. It really works well. I think it $3000. I was pretty impressed with it.
Ready for the mud
Ready for the mud
mud in the form.
mud in the form.
I hake a 22K Generac at the house and my office. I reccommend pouring a custom slab. MY dad and I did this for each of my sites.
Thanks again guys! Still a big decision but you guys made me think a few things over and some good tips! Never knew about "dirty voltage"
Beware to check all building codes, The generator must be placed at least 5' from combustible building and be 5' from any building openings (windows & doors, etc). Other local codes may apply.
The house I just bought is wired for a portable generator. The cable plugs into the side of the house and there’s a switch on the breaker box in the basement. Turn the main off and the generator switch on then fire up the generator. I have a Generac portable. Not as convenient as a standby generator.... but cheaper....
I have a Generac that was already installed when I bought this house about 7 years ago. It doesn't power the entire house and is only 4K watts. The critical stuff like well pump, boiler and kitchen area are covered. Bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, cellar - no power. SO I use an extension cord from the kitchen down the stairs into the cellar to power my freezer. Longest outage we've had is 34 hours, but it seems like we have short outages almost monthly.
I’ve got a 25kw PTO generator with gear reduction so the tractor basically idles. Can always find diesel fuel around here and after hurricane Irma we lost power for 13 days. No fun