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Author Topic: Back up generator advice needed  (Read 1387 times)

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Offline North River Energy

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2017, 09:18:24 pm »
Mick,
A number of years ago, I bought a barely used Onan CCK 4k propane unit complete with switchgear off Craigslist. Might have paid 700, but I forget, which means it probably cost even less.  It's enough to keep the furnace circulators running, and I can run the shallow well pump as needed with a little creative plugging and toggling. Have been using the larger propane tanks from the local hardware store, and those work fine unless it's really cold, when they have a tendency to ice up.

After this last storm, I called our propane supplier to find out what it would cost to get a larger dedicated tank to deal with the icing problem. I assumed the minimal gas consumption would require a monthly tank rent, but no. Since the account already involves gas for cooking and shop heat, there will be no extra monthly charge for the tank. Game on.

Hopefully your distributor has a similar policy.

Despite being reliant on a gas supplier, the 'no fouling' nature of propane gives it a distinct advantage for instant on, standby use. Or at least that's my opinion, having thrashed about with a number of gasoline powered units.
.

If I had to power something full time, I'd go with diesel. If I needed universal portability, then I'd use gasoline. For instant reliable emergency power, it's hard to beat propane.

Offline woodmaker

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2017, 09:31:19 pm »
kbeitz,I wish my generator enclosure looked as nice as yours!
franklin q80,builtrite 40,husky 372,sachs dolmar 123, dozers,excavators,loaders,tri-axle dump trucks ,autocar tractor with dump,flatbed and detachable trailers, and 8  f350 diesels

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2017, 10:24:38 pm »
'For instant reliable emergency power, it's hard to beat propane.' Natural gas if available or propane is really the way to go for clean reliable standby power. Contaminated or stale fuel is never an issue so extended storage is practical. Units like the one WV Sawmiller has can be equipped with oil and battery warmers that run off the utility power. If it is cold enough for the propane to freeze up that diesel ain't gonna start without some help.
If someone who can start the system is available when the power goes off the manual systems work but what if it is 100 above or 30 below when nobody is home for an extended period of time? The automatic systems really shine here. Just my .02Cdn, ymmv
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2017, 04:18:05 am »
NRE and the rest of the propane crowd,

I've about reached the tipping point.The experience of those who have gone before is important to listen too.Thanks for all your input.
 A 15 year old Kohler 7kw unit with 169 hours is a possibility.Local Kohler dealer says it's an excellent unit Propane company says no problem,keep an eye on the tanks and refill when needed.
Mick
1997 WM Lt30 1999 WM twin blade edger Kubota L3750 Tajfun winchGood Health Work is my hobby.

Offline gasman1075

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2017, 08:07:07 am »
I sold and installed LP systems and LP generators for many years and am propane certified ( Master and Journeyman licenses ) and my only advice for sure is to buy a tank if you can and bigger is better. One gallon of LP nets you 92,516 BTU. A 7KW ( 144,000 btu ? ) burns about 1.5 GPH.  A 500 gallon tank vaporizes at about 634,000 BTU / hour at 20' F and A horizontal 500 gallon tank nets you about 400 +/- gallons of propane or about 283 hours of run time or 11 days at 24/7. When you use your generator the most your LP company probably doesn't have power either. They may have a 3 phase generator to run their LP plant ( load trucks etc. )  but most don't. I sell propane as well ( wholesale only ) and cover VT also. If you call me at the office 518-733-0101 I'll help if I can.

Thanks

Jack
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Offline florida

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2017, 09:44:32 am »
I've installed several 25W whole house systems that needed a 1000 gallon buried propane tank. My problem with propane is the $2400.00 of propane in the tank that may sit for 10 years between uses. That's a lot of money to keep tied up a long time. I've used my 6Kw Honda 3 times in 14 years and I live in a very active hurricane zone. The total run time for those 14 years is less than 120 hours. Diesel looks pretty good to me.
General contractor and carpenter for 40 years.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2017, 10:28:13 am »
    Florida makes a good point about the money tied up in the propane but since you already have and use propane and the local company indicates they can support you this may not be as much of a concern. It may be a factor for others considering setting up such a genset. If they can use the propane for other purposes such as hot water, heat, cooking, dryer, etc. they can help justify the cost. I love gas for these purposes too and find it much preferable to electric.  I'm extremely lucky with natural gas in that I don't have to pay for stored gas. I just pay for it as I use it.

    I put my genset in because of power outages in the winter due to local ice storms. The one time I really used it extensively turned out to be from 30 June-11 July during a freak summer storm. If I lived in Fla, where I was born and raised, I'd want one for hurricane back up. Anybody who lives in an area subject to dangerous storms of any kind that take out the power, especially those with any kind of health issues, should consider a whole house genset.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2017, 10:49:45 am »
I need a short run emergency generator.

I'm building a cabin off grid so I'm doing solar.  I have fire requirements that I have a sprinkler system to be installed.  I was planning on running a pump (~2hp?) capable of delivering ~30 gpm @ ~28-30 psi off my batteries for 10 minutes.  The county insists I have a auto start generator.  Since it will likely never be used (other than maybe to charge the batteries?), I'm thinking propane is the way to go.

So, what size generator and propane supply would be recommended?  I'm thinking a 5 gallon BBQ tank would be enough.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2017, 01:55:20 pm »
Well the deal will soon be done.I'm going to Hartford Ct. on Monday to pick up the Kohler unit.It is a 2002 model 169 hours,7kw, with a Kohler transfer switch.After installation the local Kohler dealer will service it twice a year.After installation,I will have $2600.00 in to it.
 This feels like the right approach.
 Thank you all for your help.
 47sawdust
Mick
1997 WM Lt30 1999 WM twin blade edger Kubota L3750 Tajfun winchGood Health Work is my hobby.

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2017, 03:52:24 pm »
 8) Good choice
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline plantman

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2017, 09:09:04 pm »
Just a couple of hints. Think carefully about where you're placing the generator. The noise can really keep you up at night so if it's possible to mount it in a box and some distance from the house , it's an advantage. Of course , if you're snowed in then you still have to be able to reach it.
Secondly, some small generators are not recommended for electronic appliances because the power they produce is not "clean". I guess that means it's not steady. I bought a Harbor Freight 4000W generator about 10 years ago and I'm very happy with it but it's only big enough for the essentials. I haven't used it hardly at all so I'm glad I didn't buy anything bigger. I always keep fuel stabilizer in it and run it every few months.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2017, 09:24:11 pm »
Plantman,

   My first experience with gensets was in the USMC when they set my operation next to the generator farm. Not great. If the genset 47 is talking about is a Guardian type in the fiberglass case he may never know it is running. Mine cranks itself and runs every Sunday afternoon and most weeks I never hear or even know it is running. The first time I heard them was some when had in Haitii and that was a big deciding factor for me to buy one. I have never regretted it yet and I bet 47 doesn't either.

   A big congrats 47. I hope it does everything you need and want it to do.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline John Mc

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2017, 10:02:56 pm »
...some small generators are not recommended for electronic appliances because the power they produce is not "clean". I guess that means it's not steady.

Steady is one thing: it's important to have good voltage and frequency regulation. However, that is not the only factor. The waveform they generate also needs to be clean. The main measure of this is something called Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). For electronics, you want something below 5 or 6%. Cheap generators are often much higher. Even the entry level generators of some big name companies are awful in this regard (the Generac GP series comes to mind - they have something like 23% THD). Manufacturers who have bad THD ratings usually make it tough to find out the rating - you won't find it in their advertisements, and sometimes not even in their owners manuals. THD can to be higher the more heavily the generator is loaded, so make sure any spec you are given is the rating at full load. Further, poor THD performance is not limited to small generators. It happens across the size range.

If you are thinking "OK, I just wont run my TV or computer when running on a generator", think again. You may be kicking yourself if the electronic control system on your furnace won't come online when the power goes out and it's below zero out. (Older furnaces without the modern control systems are usually more tolerant of dirty power.)
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Ianab

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2017, 11:00:09 pm »
One of the small "Inverter" generators should be OK for electronics as they have built in electronics that regulate and smooth the power output. A larger conventional unit will usually smooth out if you have some steady "base load" like lights or a small electric heater running off it.

The little cheap generators are notoriously unstable, especially with a light or fluctuating load. Work OK to run a power drill or angle grinder out on the farm, or some lights etc, but you don't want to be plugging fancy electronics into them.
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2017, 11:34:18 pm »
I am assuming your new to you unit is designed specifically for residential standby use, you will really appreciate it the first time the power goes off.. While not inverter clean, the power should be very close to what is supplied by the utility. The manufacturer will supply guidelines as to minimum distance from buildings as well as doors, windows and fresh air intakes. They are usually reasonably quiet in the weatherproof cabinet although you don't want it outside the bedroom wall.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2017, 03:42:47 am »
The Kohler unit has an insulated enclosure.From what I was told the only time it ran was for weekly exercise.My propane company says the unit must be a minimum 10 feet from the tanks.In my case my electrical panel and tanks are in close proximity.If I'm 10 feet from the tanks I'm probably 20 feet from the panel.This location is on the opposite side of the house from our bedroom,easily accessible and flat (we don't have a lot of flat).I'm hoping for a smooth installation.
Mick
1997 WM Lt30 1999 WM twin blade edger Kubota L3750 Tajfun winchGood Health Work is my hobby.

Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2017, 06:04:55 am »
I have a line conditioner on my gen-set.
You can get them cheap off E-bay...
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Offline Roxie

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2017, 06:50:55 am »
@Kbeitz, Cowboy Bob is NOT gonna be happy that you shared that picture of your generator cover.   :D  That is gorgeous! 
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2017, 08:43:13 am »
Sawguy21 is right, most of the permanently mounted generators designed specifically for residential standby use produce power clean enough to run anything you want. You don't have to have inverter quality power (which generally beats the quality of the power company) to run sensitive equipment.

As far as power conditioners go, most I've seen focus on voltage regulation (i.e. keeping your 120/240 VAC right at 120/240) and surge suppression. I'm not sure what they do for THD or frequency stabilization, but there may be some out there that help with that.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Don P

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Re: Back up generator advice needed
« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2017, 12:01:52 pm »
We lost power for a day a couple of weeks ago when an F1 tornado hit about 5 miles away. It dropped a tree on our helper's mother's car while she was driving as it passed through, luckily she dove into the seat. Anyway, another friend who is now in her 70's and living alone had pulled out the whole house generator and had a little pull start unit put in. She fired it up and began hearing sizzling and popping in the house. She cooked a few things and burned up an outlet strip. I'm assuming someone jury rigged it to the transfer switch, I don't think she would or could run a suicide cord. We've talked briefly but I haven't seen what went on.
I'm guessing the little unit was making power or grounding differently than mains power. Any clues?