School me on generators [Archive] - Glock Talk

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CAcop
12-29-2012, 13:19
I live at the edge of civilization. The power for my house comes from another county over one of the roughest passes in the Bay Area so with every car accident and tree fall I loose power a couple of times a year. With the wife having to stock mama milk for the kid I want to be able to run a fridge, at least one lamp, and a space heater. I don't need to run a furnace or the whole house since this is cool Mediterranean Climate CA.

I am looking for something quiet, dependable, and preferably can last at least 8-12 hours on one tank.

robin303
12-29-2012, 13:25
I used the Honda Generator when I'm out in the sticks building houses. Nice quiet with an elec start.

oldgraywolf
12-29-2012, 13:30
The space heater might be an issue if it's electrical resistance (as opposed to propane). Other than that, a 2KW Honda or Yamaha inverter unit would be great. You're also not likely to find a small unit with a big enough gas tank to run 8-10 hours unless it's idling much of that time. Do you have a big propane tank you could run a generator on?

CAcop
12-29-2012, 13:44
Closest to propane I have is the tank on my BBQ.

janice6
12-29-2012, 13:50
Most space heaters run 15 Amps@ 115VAC. That is a minimum of 1725 Watts. This is a major factor for selecting a generator. You also have to consider the "Starting Load" capabilities of a generator if you are using motors, such as in a refrigerator..

You are the only one that can specify the requirements, but it sounds like you should look at 5KW and up.

Many large generators have limited fuel capacity because it severely limits portability having a large heavy fuel tank on board. Generally I remember 5 to 7 hours as a norm.

.

RenoF250
12-29-2012, 13:51
The space heater might be an issue if it's electrical resistance (as opposed to propane). Other than that, a 2KW Honda or Yamaha inverter unit would be great. You're also not likely to find a small unit with a big enough gas tank to run 8-10 hours unless it's idling much of that time. Do you have a big propane tank you could run a generator on?

I agree, the Honda and Yamahas are very quiet and run a long time but they are expensive ~$1,200. Also, the heater, likely ~1.5kW will eat most of your power. If you go propane for the heat that would solve that problem but you have an added fire hazard. If your house heated with electric or NG? If NG you could power your furnace with the gen, it is likely only ~700W for the blower.

I have a 5.5kW that was $600 and deal with the noise. It can run everything but the dryer, AC, and WH but it is fairly loud. I have been thinking of making an added glass pack muffler for it. I have held a muffler in front of it and it makes it much quieter. That may be an option for you.

faawrenchbndr
12-29-2012, 13:54
My advice would be to select a generator TWICE as big as you think you need.
Bigger generators are cheaper than the super small ones. Make sure you select
one with a pull start.

captainstormy
12-29-2012, 13:57
I'd say use a portable kerosene heater to cover the heat. They are great and fairly cheap both to buy and run.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

RenoF250
12-29-2012, 13:59
I'd say use a portable kerosene heater to cover the heat. They are great and fairly cheap both to buy and run.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

They smell terrible and require an added fuel. Propane is a little more but no storage issue and no smell.

nikerret
12-29-2012, 14:04
I am in a similar situation; just started looking at generators, decided I need one.

Thus far, the best bang-for-the-buck I've found is the Generac GP5500 at Lowes for $650. I'm just getting started, though. Thanks, for starting this thread. :wavey:

powderhead
12-29-2012, 14:12
Both Sams and Costco sell the same generator but with a different name on it. Mine is a Sams club Black Max. 8,500 w surge 7,000 run. They cost about $1000 but they are powered by a honda engine. I don't know who make the gen set portion. I felt like I was getting a decent gen for the money. I couldn't afford the same in a total honda which would have run twice the money.

RenoF250
12-29-2012, 14:31
I am in a similar situation; just started looking at generators, decided I need one.

Thus far, the best bang-for-the-buck I've found is the Generac GP5500 at Lowes for $650. I'm just getting started, though. Thanks, for starting this thread. :wavey:

That is what I have and it has been a very good unit. ~10 years old and still starts right up. If you can deal with the noise it is the way to go.

CAcop
12-29-2012, 19:32
Thanks for all the info. Maybe I'll bump it in the morning before work for the early bird crew.

shotgunred
12-29-2012, 19:58
The most important thing is that if you are going to wire it to your house you need to have a emergency generator transfer switch. without it you might kill a line man and even you don't you will be fined severely. Even throwing your main circuit is illegal. You have to unplug anything you want to run from the wall and directly connect it to the generator to be legal. So no heater or hot water without the emergency generator transfer switch. Which will cost you $250 if you wire it yourself up to over a grand, not including generator. If you are serious buy a diesel and plan on spending $7500 or more.

Those little honda's are good enough to run a fridge but that is about it. What do you want to do and what is it worth to you.

Bilrus61
12-29-2012, 20:23
Get a little Kubota tractor and a small generator to run off the PTO.

PISTOLHUNTER
12-29-2012, 20:25
propane or natural gas for this would be the best. lower maint., quiet, don't have to worry about carb getting trashed because you forgot to use stabil or that crappy alcohol gas.

something like this is best. once installed when the power goes out it will automatically start and power house. an autodisconect will have to be wired into your home.
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200434679_200434679

Cheapest option.
http://www.championpowerequipment.com/images/product-photos/41152/1_large.jpg

RonS
12-29-2012, 20:32
I am in a similar situation; just started looking at generators, decided I need one.

Thus far, the best bang-for-the-buck I've found is the Generac GP5500 at Lowes for $650. I'm just getting started, though. Thanks, for starting this thread. :wavey:

I have that unit. The pull start is a bit stiff, not bad but I doubt my wife could start it. It has a reputation for problems with the low oil shutoff causing it to not start, I have not experienced that but it appears to be something to check if you have trouble starting it.

Buy stabil when you buy a generator.

I cut a couple of pieces of plywood to make a doghouse roof for it if I need it. I also made a grounding wire with a couple of big ass alligator clips to ground it, it has a ground lug and they recommend that you use it.

I run it for ten minutes or so once a month and so far it has started on the second or third pull as long as I remember to set the choke.

certifiedfunds
12-29-2012, 22:09
It sounds like you want standby power, right? Electricity goes out and your genny kicks on?

If you have NG or propane at the house the solution is real easy but it sounds like you don't. That leaves gas or diesel.

How much are you willing to spend? Your big draws are obviously the fridge compressor startup and the heater. Would a small 3000W unit cover those? I'd be skeptical.

If keeping milk is the biggest issue, pre-freeze some ice packs and use them in a cooler when needed.

If lights are the issue simply have some LED lanterns handy at all times.

Heat I can't help you with. We fret over air conditioner down here.

If you want a small portable gas unit spend the money on a honda inverter unit. I promise. I have a 6500W inverter that is electric start, quiet as a church mouse, very efficient and could push everything you mentioned. Can mama haul it out and hook it up when needed or will you always be there?

You'll want a transfer switch. Don't be messing with cords. Gets old ultra fast.

Another spendy option would be a battery/inverter backup system.

certifiedfunds
12-29-2012, 22:12
A diesel standby is a real option. You'll just have to maintain the fuel.

failsafe
12-30-2012, 04:02
In my area, used generators can be found on Craigs List..5.000 W's are going $250 and up...The idle back is a great feature, saves on fuel..

BlownFiveLiter
12-30-2012, 10:09
I am in a similar situation; just started looking at generators, decided I need one.

Thus far, the best bang-for-the-buck I've found is the Generac GP5500 at Lowes for $650. I'm just getting started, though. Thanks, for starting this thread. :wavey:

I have this generator and it is loud as hell, but it works. I also have this transfer switch (http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202213700/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=transfer+switch&storeId=10051) that I'm needing to install yet, but it should have no problem with doing the furnace, fridge, garage (power opener), and a couple other miscellaneous circuits that I'm looking to wire up. It can do a total of six circuits and should be more than capable of handling the few things I would need to run if the power goes out. I haven't yet run the generator for the whole house, so I'm not sure what timeframe I'd get with running it continuously, so I plan to keep ~10 gallons of gas on hand and hope that I can get to a gas station that I can refill, if needed.

Atlas
12-30-2012, 10:25
A diesel standby is a real option. You'll just have to maintain the fuel.


You must maintain the fuel for gas or Diesel.
That's the great thing about natural gas, if/when available...
no worries about fuel quality or fuel maintenance.

certifiedfunds
12-30-2012, 10:34
You must maintain the fuel for gas or Diesel.
That's the great thing about natural gas, if/when available...
no worries about fuel quality or fuel maintenance.

True. I was talking in terms of an installed standby. I'm not familiar with standby sets which use gas, vs a diesel standby unit with 50 to a couple hundred gallons.

certifiedfunds
12-30-2012, 10:36
Another thing to consider is harmonic distortion, which can cause problems with sensitive electronics (and have caused me those problems).

The budget big box gensets often have a large amount of it.

Atlas
12-30-2012, 11:09
Another thing to consider is harmonic distortion, which can cause problems with sensitive electronics (and have caused me those problems).

The budget big box gensets often have a large amount of it.

You'll typically need to use a good true-sinewave UPS for most electronics on a generator anyway.

RenoF250
12-30-2012, 11:45
You must maintain the fuel for gas or Diesel.
That's the great thing about natural gas, if/when available...
no worries about fuel quality or fuel maintenance.

Mine sits between outages with no fuel additive and I have not had a problem. I know you can but it is not like it is an insurmountable problem.

I also run all of my electronics with only surge protectors and have not had any issues. Almost all electronics using switching power supplies made to handle 90-250VAC in and they are quite robust. If you make a lot of noise you could get past them but they are not delicate little flowers.

Atlas
12-30-2012, 11:57
Mine sits between outages with no fuel additive and I have not had a problem. I know you can but it is not like it is an insurmountable problem.

I also run all of my electronics with only surge protectors and have not had any issues. Almost all electronics using switching power supplies made to handle 90-250VAC in and they are quite robust. If you make a lot of noise you could get past them but they are not delicate little flowers.

Stored fuel...
That's a real crap-shoot.

Glad it's working for you so far, but if your gasoline begins to break down over time, you're going to have a huge repair job to get your generator engine running again.

Diesel will not only break down, but algae will grow on the fuel and cause nasty problems.

Much depends of course on the quality and cleanliness of the fuel when purchased... and that's an unknown and can be highly variable.

And then there's water accumulation from atmospheric condensation, which varies depending on location (southeast vs. southwest for example).

At the least I would religiously add Stabil (for gas), inspect Diesel fuel once a month or so, and exercise the generator once per month.



Good point on the switching power-supplies, many are very robust.

The vulnerability of any particular electronic device to power quality varies greatly of course..
The quality of the AC power supplied by a generator is dependent on the generator design, the sizing of the generator relative to the applied load, the type of (other) devices being supplied by the generator, etc.

RenoF250
12-30-2012, 12:07
Stored fuel...
That's a real crap-shoot.

Glad it's working for you so far, but if your gasoline begins to break down over time, you're going to have a huge repair job to get your generator engine running again.

Diesel will not only break down, but algae will grow on the fuel and cause nasty problems.

Much depends of course on the quality and cleanliness of the fuel when purchased... and that's an unknown and can be highly variable.

And then there's water accumulation from atmospheric condensation, which varies depending on location (southeast vs. southwest for example).

At the least I would religiously add Stabil (for gas), inspect Diesel fuel once a month or so, and exercise the generator once per month.



Good point on the switching power-supplies, many are very robust.

The vulnerability of any particular electronic device to power quality varies greatly of course..
The quality of the AC power supplied by a generator is dependent on the generator design, the sizing of the generator relative to the applied load, the type of (other) devices being supplied by the generator, etc.

Yes, I should run some Sta-Bil I have just never been bitten so I have not gotten in the habit.

I did have the fuel hose on my ATV rot and get piece in the carb. That was likely due to the alcohol in fuel though. I don't think Sta-Bil would have prevented that.

Short Cut
12-30-2012, 12:33
The best fuel for storing long term without ill effects is propane. That's why I went with it.

RenoF250
12-30-2012, 13:10
The best fuel for storing long term without ill effects is propane. That's why I went with it.

Certainly, nice and clean as well. The only problem is you cannot top it off and the tank gauges are not great.

AK_Stick
12-30-2012, 13:23
Storing fuel like gas or diesel really isn't as big a deal as its being made to be.


Some stabilizer and you are set for a long time.

fireguy129
12-30-2012, 13:28
Storing fuel like gas or diesel really isn't as big a deal as its being made to be.


Some stabilizer and you are set for a long time.

Roger. Just last night I poured the remainder of the summer gas into my car, I'll refill the gas cans on my next trip to the station.

What's the run time on propane vs gas generators? I was under the impression the propane isn't quite as long as the gas, could be wrong though.

certifiedfunds
12-30-2012, 13:32
You'll typically need to use a good true-sinewave UPS for most electronics on a generator anyway.

Doesn't my Honda 6500is run thru an inverter to provide a true sine wave?


Posted using Outdoor Hub Campfire (http://www.outdoorhub.com/mobile/)

AK_Stick
12-30-2012, 13:37
IIRC, the I in the Honda line stands for inverter, and you get a true sine wave out of the Honda inverter.

AK_Stick
12-30-2012, 13:39
Perhaps it's the IS that produces a true sine wave, the smaller I only have an inverter?

At any rate, you get a true sine wave out of the 6500, that's what we use at work for field stations for that reason.

Atlas
12-30-2012, 13:52
Doesn't my Honda 6500is run thru an inverter to provide a true sine wave?


Posted using Outdoor Hub Campfire (http://www.outdoorhub.com/mobile/)

The generator does produce a sinewave output..
The accuracy of that waveform can be easily distorted by other (heavier/reactive) loads you may also be running..
It normally isn't a concern.

What may or may not be a greater concern is the frequency.
That is directly proportional to the generator/engine RPM.
Greater loading slows the engine, at least until the governor can recover by increasing the throttle..


As RenoF250 pointed out, many electronic devices use a switching DC power-supply which will not be affected noticeably.
My statement about using a UPS was hasty and poorly phrased, as it assumed a device which does fail to operate well with a given generator/load combination.

If you do need a UPS you will know when you try to run your device. The real test comes only when the generator is fully loaded though..

Atlas
12-30-2012, 13:56
Certainly, nice and clean as well. The only problem is you cannot top it off and the tank gauges are not great.

You can however use two or more tanks with appropriate cutoff valves..
Refill one tank while running the other.

Flying-Dutchman
12-30-2012, 15:06
When figuring what size to get remember the advertised number is the maximum output not the rated load (which is the lower number).

Honda or Yamaha with the inverter are the way to go for quiet clean power.

The big box store generators are loud and thirsty but do the job.

The Hurricane Sandy outage resulted in the cheap $499 generators going for $1,200 on Craigslist.

Flying-Dutchman
12-30-2012, 15:20
Doesn't my Honda 6500is run thru an inverter to provide a true sine wave?


Posted using Outdoor Hub Campfire (http://www.outdoorhub.com/mobile/)
It should and should be fine for all uses; sounds like a nice unit.

After 2 long term power outages in 1 year, I purchased a fine running Yamaha 2600w but not with an inverter and after some reading I will not risk using it to power computers etc.

If it powers a space heater or pellet stove I will be happy.

RenoF250
12-30-2012, 15:36
The generator does produce a sinewave output..
The accuracy of that waveform can be easily distorted by other (heavier/reactive) loads you may also be running..
It normally isn't a concern.

What may or may not be a greater concern is the frequency.
That is directly proportional to the generator/engine RPM.
Greater loading slows the engine, at least until the governor can recover by increasing the throttle..


As RenoF250 pointed out, many electronic devices use a switching DC power-supply which will not be affected noticeably.
My statement about using a UPS was hasty and poorly phrased, as it assumed a device which does fail to operate well with a given generator/load combination.

If you do need a UPS you will know when you try to run your device. The real test comes only when the generator is fully loaded though..

Yeah a regular alternator (makes AC) based generator makes a sine wave. The inverter units actually use a DC generator and then use an inverter to make AC just like a UPS does from batteries. Inverters chop the DC to make the AC and the quality of the power goes from good "true Sine" to horrid doesn't even look like AC junk.

Alternators do a very good job of making a sine wave but their RPM determines the frequency output so they have to run at the same speed regardless of load. With an inverter based generator the engine speed can be reduced at light loads to save fuel and reduce noise.

Flying-Dutchman
12-30-2012, 15:45
Here is a good link on generators. All you need is an oscilloscope to see if you have dirty or clean power.

I would like to test mine. Some people run the old generators with no problems.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/electrical-c-d-c/330348-recommend-electronics-safe-portable-generator.html

Gallium
12-30-2012, 16:11
You'll typically need to use a good true-sinewave UPS for most electronics on a generator anyway.

And the sensitivity has to be set to "low". Otherwise the UPS senses voltage below a certain threshold, kicks in, then drops out back on line voltage, which increases the draw on the genny, which causes the genny to drop voltage momentarily, but by then the UPS kicks in again, then the genny stabilizes, then the UPS senses good power, then it switches back to genny power.

Then, the demand on the genny (ESPECIALLY if idle control is on) causes it to drop a little voltage, which causes the UPS to kick in. There is now less demand on the genny, the voltage stabilizes, the UPS senses this, switches back to genny power. This demand causes a drop in voltage, which causes the UPS (which is on 1st) to kick in. The genny ....

ask me how I know this. :wow::rofl:

Glockgeezer
12-30-2012, 17:12
IMHO the Honda 6500 IS is the best small generator made and certainly the quietest. I did quite a bit of research before finally buying mine for my fifth-wheel. That being said, if you only have to use it a few times a year, you will either have to exercise it every few weeks and treat the gas with one of the Stabil type of additives or risk starting and running problems from stale fuel. A better choice would be a propane or natural gas powered generator. Honda does not make one that I am aware of. There is an outfit that makes a multi-fuel adapter for the Honda but it voids the factory warranty. The reason propane or natural gas is a better choice is because the engine uses the gas as a vapor, not a liquid so there is actually no carburetor to get gummed up. What they use is more like a variable pressure regulator.
I've had gas, diesel and propane in motor homes and pick-up campers and now have the Honda for my fifth-wheel. The propane Onan was the most reliable. Onan is a good choice but pricey.

nikerret
01-01-2013, 21:18
That is what I have and it has been a very good unit. ~10 years old and still starts right up. If you can deal with the noise it is the way to go.

I have that unit. ...

I have this generator and it is loud as hell, but it works.

How loud are we talking versus the other generators. Most are rated around 70-75 dB. Anyone have an SPL meter?

Doesn't my Honda 6500is run thru an inverter to provide a true sine wave?


Posted using Outdoor Hub Campfire (http://www.outdoorhub.com/mobile/)

Losing me.....

Yeah a regular alternator (makes AC) based generator makes a sine wave. The inverter units actually use a DC generator and then use an inverter to make AC just like a UPS does from batteries. Inverters chop the DC to make the AC and the quality of the power goes from good "true Sine" to horrid doesn't even look like AC junk.

Alternators do a very good job of making a sine wave but their RPM determines the frequency output so they have to run at the same speed regardless of load. With an inverter based generator the engine speed can be reduced at light loads to save fuel and reduce noise.

And.......lost!

certifiedfunds
01-01-2013, 22:01
After a hurricane I was running a front loading washer and some freezers on a cheap generac. My guess is that dirty power fried something on the washer and it flooded a portion of my house and wouldn't power back on after. Then about 2 weeks after everything got back to normal, one of the freezers went out.

I don't know but I've always assumed it was the result of dirty power from the generator.

larry_minn
01-01-2013, 22:35
Lots of stuff. First (my pet peeve) is use the grounding lug. I am amazed how many folks have no idea you are supposed to ground them/why it matters....
Never forget neighbors 15kw (not 1500 but 15,000 watt) PTO unit was not working. I refuses to touch it until it was shut down, grounded. Well electricin shows up and the frame was hot. 220v........
The Hondi/Yahama/Gen.. 2k are quiet but limited output. You do NOT have to get house wired. 12 guage extension cords are cheap for small gen set. Do NOT use "suicide cord"
Or spend $$$ and get NG auto standby power.

Front Sight
01-01-2013, 23:13
The Honda eu6500is is quiet and starts easy. If you want to use a computer or pellet stove you need an inverter. Maybe even your furnace motor should use an inverter? Check with your service tech. I vote for the Honda eu6500is with a transfer box.

RenoF250
01-01-2013, 23:31
After a hurricane I was running a front loading washer and some freezers on a cheap generac. My guess is that dirty power fried something on the washer and it flooded a portion of my house and wouldn't power back on after. Then about 2 weeks after everything got back to normal, one of the freezers went out.

I don't know but I've always assumed it was the result of dirty power from the generator.

There should be no way a washer can flood the floor from anything electrical. That would have to be a hardware failure in the plumbing. There is no valve to flood the floor that dirty power could open or the like. They are supposed to be sealed.

You would need some pretty dirty power to wreck a fridge as well. We lost our neutral here resulting in some terrible voltage fluctuations and it went on a bit before it was caught. Especially at the neighbors house since he was not home. No one lost a fridge or anything else that I know of.

certifiedfunds
01-02-2013, 05:57
There should be no way a washer can flood the floor from anything electrical. That would have to be a hardware failure in the plumbing. There is no valve to flood the floor that dirty power could open or the like. They are supposed to be sealed.

You would need some pretty dirty power to wreck a fridge as well. We lost our neutral here resulting in some terrible voltage fluctuations and it went on a bit before it was caught. Especially at the neighbors house since he was not home. No one lost a fridge or anything else that I know of.

You know how front loaders generally only have a couple inches of water in them? It was full. The door couldn't hold it all back.

Atlas
01-02-2013, 07:14
There should be no way a washer can flood the floor from anything electrical. That would have to be a hardware failure in the plumbing. There is no valve to flood the floor that dirty power could open or the like. They are supposed to be sealed.

You would need some pretty dirty power to wreck a fridge as well. We lost our neutral here resulting in some terrible voltage fluctuations and it went on a bit before it was caught. Especially at the neighbors house since he was not home. No one lost a fridge or anything else that I know of.

You know how front loaders generally only have a couple inches of water in them? It was full. The door couldn't hold it all back.

Washers use electronic controls to switch solenoid valves that admit water to the machine for the wash cycle.
The valve opens on command of the machine wash cycle controller, then the controller closes the valve when it sees the full level indicated by a sensor (usually a float switch).

Couldn't say for sure, but it is possible that the machine cycle controller could be upset or damaged by extreme irregularity of the AC power, resulting in it failing to close the valve when the drum is full.

Short Cut
01-02-2013, 09:56
http://kohlerpower.com/residential/sectionfront.htm?sectionNumber=13561

One stop shop for generators, transfer switches etc.

If you lose power frequently there is nothing like an auto transfer switch. When we lose power we just count to 5 and the power comes back on. We've lost power a couple of times during parties with a house full of folks, when it goes dark you hear this collective groan and I say just wait 5 seconds and like magic the power is back, very nice indeed.

If anyone needs to run their single phase house and the their 3 phase well or other equipment from the same genny I have some info that allows both.