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Author Topic: Standby generator  (Read 2346 times)

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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Standby generator
« on: March 29, 2017, 09:18:51 am »
Anyone use a propane standby generator?
I have been considering one but find that the fuel consumption is pretty high.
Looking at 22kw fully automatic system to run everything in my house and all but the power tools in my shop.
specs indicate 2.56 gal per hr at 1/2 load and 3.87 at full load.
Propane here is about 2 bucks a gallon.
2 weeks ago power was out for 11 1/2 hrs this would have cost about 59 bucks of propane at 1/2 load.
Seems excessive to me
System without wire is 4200 bucks.
My 5900 watt gas generator which runs all of the necessities used about 6 gal of gas.
switch over to temp power is done manually and a nuisance tho especially in the dark.
Any thoughts and/or suggestions?
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2017, 09:34:57 am »
Propane generators are notoriously expensive to operate but also reliable.  Gasoline engines are notorious for experiencing carburetor issues.  That leaves Diesel.  :)
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Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2017, 09:41:15 am »
We went diesel with a 30 day fuel tank.
persistence personified - never let up , never let down

Offline LeeB

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2017, 10:20:25 am »
I use an 8000 watt gasoline burner that I bought at HD. Subaru engine I think. Don't remember the price but I think it was around $1200. Been several years back. Battery start and a manual disconnect. Runs the well, lights, and freezers/refridges. Will be able to run the stove and heater too now in the new house because they are propane and only need power for the igniters and blower. Old house was all electric. Won't pull the AC but such is life. I plan on putting in a couple of mini spits to replace the outdated central unit so it may actually pull one of them. I've been more than happy with it so far. I start it up once a month and then shut off the fuel valve and let it run the lines dry. Never had a problem starting it up. It has run for days at a time and uses less than 5 gal a day.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2017, 10:46:06 am »
Pete,

   I have a Guardian (Generac motor) 17KW hooked to natural gas. It ran for 11 days 5 years ago when we had a big Derecho. Only time I shut it down was to change the oil or check the oil. ATS works fine and cranks 10 seconds after power goes out. Also starts automatically weekly and runs 10-12 minutes to charge the battery. I'll never be without one.

   Not sure about the cost of propane use but the summer 5 years ago I think my combined electric and gas bill that month of the outage was less than normal. One real advantage I have is that when the power goes out my neighbors are rushing around trying to get gas or diesel for their small gensets and fuel is also hard to find as the gas stations typically can't run their pumps. When you think about the cost of propane, I assume natural gas is not an option for you, also think about the cost of the food in your refrigerator and freezer. In our case we have a well so no power also means no water, no heat (Electric fans and switches on our gas baseboard heat) or fire protection. We had neighbors stored a lot of meat in our freezer and came up for water and showers every couple of days in our big outage.

   My rotor and stator (?) recently failed in an overnight outage apparently because of debris getting in the unit and I found my local Generac dealer (Boweco Electric in Beckley WV) were extremely cooperative and responsive and got it back up and running and my homeowners covered all but the deductible.

   Unless you have extremely dependable power in your area I highly endorse owning a whole house standby genset with ATS. Good luck.
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 Ox

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2017, 11:19:52 am »
Something else to consider is that a propane engine will live much, much longer than a gasoline engine because it burns so clean with no carbon or sludging.  The engine oil runs cleaner and lasts longer as well because of basically no contaminants from gasoline or diesel fuels.  Natural gas engines enjoy the same benefits. 

Gasoline and diesel fuels really are pretty dirty fuels when compared to the other fuels mentioned.
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Offline Andy White

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2017, 11:41:20 am »
We had a Generac 22KW installed two years ago, and a 500 gal. propane tank. Tank was filled to 80%. We have had several outages and the hour meter shows 134 hours. The gauge on the tank shows 70%. Good mileage for mine. Several neighbors have the same, and their mileage is similar. A great unit for sure.

 

  

  

  

 

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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2017, 11:58:19 am »
That likely won't be an issue given the number of hours a standby normally runs. Still, the convenience and peace of mind a propane or natural gas generator with an ATS offers cannot be beat. It will kick in by the time you get out of bed and get your pants on and will be there if no one is home. If you average that 59 bucks over a year it is pretty cheap insurance even if the power goes off two or three times which is rare.
A gas powered portable with a manual transfer switch is the cheapest and certainly will work as long as the owner is willing to put up with the inconvenience of manually starting and shutting down. The biggest problem here is ensuring an adequate supply of clean fresh gas, running out in the middle of a storm kinda defeats the purpose. I used to sell standbys, one of my customers was concerned about the natural gas being cut off in the event of an earthquake which is a risk on the west coast. I replied that loss of power would be the least of his problems. ;D
Andy, is that the generator's permanent location? I would be concerned about that a/c sucking in exhaust fumes.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2017, 02:05:43 pm »
None of the air that is circulated by the AC condenser is transferred to the inside of the home.  It sucks in the sides, cools, and is blown out of the top.  There is no hazard.

I am liking the natural gas option.  During outages that is certainly more dependable than standing in a line at the gas station with a jug in hand.
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Offline Ox

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2017, 02:32:17 pm »
One more thing I forgot to mention earlier:  propane and natural gas don't go "bad" like gasoline and diesel will eventually.  It will always be ready to fire with no gumming or varnishing or corrosion.  Out of the latter two diesel has a longer shelf life.  If you keep the water out of it so the nasty algae don't get into it diesel will probably run for decades later as is evidenced by starting old abandoned diesels with the old fuel starting and running them!  Of course, this is the old diesel recipe and not today's...who knows with today's fuel.  Good thread.
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Offline gspren

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2017, 02:42:08 pm »
  Pete, if you get by with a 5900 watt then maybe you should look at a smaller propane that won't use as much fuel. Having a bunch extra sounds good but it isn't always wise to go too far oversize as when your only using a small load that bigger generator is using more fuel. Figure out what you really need/want to run during an outage and get just a bit more.
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Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2017, 02:52:18 pm »
1/3 , 2/3 rule of thumb.
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Offline Ox

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2017, 03:53:43 pm »
 ???
K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid
Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without
1989 GMC 3500 4x4 diesel dump and plow truck, 1964 Oliver 1600 Industrial with Parsons loader and backhoe, 1986 Zetor 5211, Cat's Claw sharpener, single tooth setter, homemade Linn Lumber 1900 style mill, old tools

Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2017, 04:05:35 pm »
figuring your continuous average load , above 1/3 and below 2/3 capability of the set is sweet. Purchase accordingly for your calculated load. Cummins , years ago put out a blurb to help select a gen set and that was pretty much the gist of it.Ran gen sets  nonstop on my last boats and that's what I remember. Cheers Rob
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2017, 04:52:26 pm »
Add up all the loads that potentially will be in use at any given time. The furnace and a/c obviously won't be on at the same time so use the a/c figure which is higher. Now add a minimum of 25% to estimate the size you need. 7kw was the smallest we sold, it will handle the basics in most homes. 12kw is the smallest that should be considered for whole house use and would be the minimum if a well pump, sump pump etc is involved.
Make sure the generator and transfer switch are compatible and properly sized. Some of our customers had issues when they hooked up in a house that had a previously installed ATS, the two couldn't 'talk' to each other or they went elsewhere for the ATS to save a few bucks.
Purchase from a reputable dealer and ensure the electrician and gas installer are familiar with the system. Normally the dealer won't get involved in the installation but may be able to recommend people who are reliable. After sales service is critical to ensure the unit functions properly when it is needed.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2017, 06:26:27 pm »
   I am not sure about the noise level of the gasoline or diesel options but the natural gas option is dang quiet! The fiberglass case is very well noise insulated. I first saw and used them in Haiti and said then I had to have one when I got home and I did. Unless I am next to mine when it cranks for its weekly self-test/run I very seldom even hear it. We used a lot of the big diesel gensets in USMC and on our project in Cameroon and other overseas projects and they were very loud.

   Oh yeah - I have lost power and I have lost natural gas (back when my line over the creek was exposed - I have since buried it under the creekbed) but, so far, I never lost both at the same time.
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 Kbeitz

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2017, 07:34:13 pm »

A nuisance in the dark. Naa... If your unit is electric start then put
a battery minder on it and a couple 12 volt led lights. When the electric
goes out just flip the led's on. I run gas but I like the idea of LP because
you can let your unit set all year and it will start right up.

 

 

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Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2017, 07:58:44 pm »
Diesel powered 10 KW, steel case , lead lined-very quiet. Fuel transfer pumps and filters for in and out and wheels for mobility. 100% reliable for the last 17 years. We built two home sites with this little guy and it just keeps on going. The sets in my boats would last only a couple of years even with good maintenance. Rob

  

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Offline Roger2561

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2017, 08:30:36 pm »
We had a full house emergency generator installed about 15 years ago when my dad's health was deteriorating due to emphysema.  He had to be home alone while I was at work and I always worried during the cold times of the power going out and no heat in the house for him.  So, an emergency generator made by Generac was installed.  It's LP fired, will start automatically when power is lost to keep the house warm and to give me a piece of mind.  Another important thing to keep in mind is the food in the freezers and fridge, you don't want it going bad.  The longest it's ever run is 5 hours due to many trees being blown over during a severe thunderstorm.  Every Saturday it comes on automatically to keep the battery topped off.  It takes synthetic oil so I change it every other year along with the oil filter.  Roger 

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Standby generator
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2017, 08:51:29 pm »
Tule,

   Glad you had good service but I am certainly a proponent of natural gas followed by propane over gas or diesel. If you do have a major/long term outage you will have problems finding fuel, and the few stations open often ration what they sell.

   BTW - Pete, et. al, you might check with your homeowners insurance to see about coverage. In my recent repairs one of the first questions my insurance asked was if it was a permanent or temporary installation. When I told them it was a permanent installation, along with repair tech explanation of the cause, they never batted an eye in covering the repair costs.
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"