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Old 04-14-2013, 03:57   #1
Aceman
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School me on Generators

Hurricane season is coming. Here are my energy goals;

#1 Be able to run refrigeration
#2 Maybe a light or two and computer, TV, iPads, etc.
#3 For bonus points - the Air Conditioner!
#4 Perhaps charge some deep cycle batteries. And for extra super bonus points - car batteries!

I'd like to have some battery backup power that I could run lights or add to car if needed. I realize the deep discharge and car thing is not really compatible in that regard. I just really have never done the electric thing.

Don't even know where to start! Batteries then Gen? Just Gen? Gen first? HELP!!!

Need a plan for my plan!!!!
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:49   #2
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Are you leaning towards gas powered or solar? Gas powered gives you more juice for things like the fridge and even the AC. It can be wired directly into the house. Obvious drawbacks are noise, ventalation and it is limited to its supply of fuel.

Solar is not as powerful, but is renewable. You'd need a whole system of panels and batteries wired into the house for the big stuff like fridge/AC. It can be done, but isn't cheap. Lot of homework just in the types of batteries that can be used.

I have a small solar battery pack for emergency use i.e. some lights, maybe a fan and recharge stuff. It won't do the big stuff, but it is a start in that direction. Available on Amazon or Ebay.

Survival/Preparedness Forum

Here is an example from Amazon. I think I paid around $350 on Ebay.



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Old 04-14-2013, 06:37   #3
Aceman
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I have no delusions about solar being cost effective or of sufficient amount for anything but charging the iCrap. But what you posted there is not bad...

But in the Sunshine state, a fridge and some AC (or a bunch of fans, could go a long long way
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:41   #4
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If you get a traditional gas powered generator Honda motors are well worth a little extra money they cost. Look at Sams, Costco, Direct Buy wherever you shop..
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:43   #5
Aceman
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I guess my biggest issue is:

How much power to run a fridge?
How much gas for how long for the ten?
How often do I need to run the gen to keep the fridge cold?
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:22   #6
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I recently bought my first generator. "Consumer Reports" had just done a generator review, and since they have never let me down about anything I have ever bought that they recommended, I went with one of their top 3 models-- a Troy-Bilt. It has a Briggs and Stratton engine and is rated at 6000 watts and 8250 watts for cranking/startup surge. I heartily recommend checking "Consumer Reports". In my research that was the wattage level that would easily run both a fridge and a freezer. How often you might have to run the gen to power the fridge for it to stay cold would depend on how hot it is where you are and efficiency of insulation in your fridge/freezer. You really only need to run it long enough for the fridge or freezer to get back down to temp, though, and also maintain the frozenness of the stuff in your freezer.

Generators have listed "run times" for a full tank of gas, I seem to recall that the low side was about 7-8 hours and the high side was 11-12 hours run time on different gens.

Are you thinking of powering your central air in your house or a window unit? My generator will easily handle a good size window unit, hooking into your central heat/air is a different and more complex endeavor. And you would want a larger wattage unit to be on the safe side.

Happy hunting, there are a lot of choices out there.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:26   #7
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I found this to be useful information:

http://36readyblog.com/2012/10/03/ge...ergency-power/
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:47   #8
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I live in Florida too, on the east coast, and I went like this:

6,750 watt Generator
Window shaker air conditioner
20 5 gallon cans
Wired into the electric box with a 25 foot cable so it runs away from the house.

If money was not a consideration I would buy one of those Honda inverter generators to power the same set up because they are so quiet and put out a clean signal.

Personal tip: Keep the gas out of the carb with a petcock or be ready to take it apart and clean it.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:29   #9
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Originally Posted by UneasyRider View Post

Personal tip: Keep the gas out of the carb with a petcock or be ready to take it apart and clean it.
Ditto. Whatever you get make sure it has a fuel shut-off valve. (I think this has become pretty standard.) After use you let the engine run, shut off the fuel valve, and it runs the remaining fuel out of the line. And "Stabil" is your friend for long term storage of fuel.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:56   #10
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There are resources on the web to determine how big of a generator you need. Consider in your calculations the amount of energy it takes to start up an appliance. Refrigerator compressors come to mind. Also consider how clean the power needs to be. I've got a powerline quality Generac portable that plugs into a generator panel (another thing to consider) that runs eight circuits I've determined I would want to run during a power outage.
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Old 04-14-2013, 15:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
I guess my biggest issue is:

How much power to run a fridge?
How much gas for how long for the ten?
How often do I need to run the gen to keep the fridge cold?
Unless you get a whole house generator then running the AC is not very doable. Biggest question is how cold does it get where you live and do you have a gas, oil or wood furnace? If you have electric heat then you will need to bite the bullet and get a whole house generator (10K W or bigger) to be able to stay in the house in the winter.

Otherwise a 5500 W generator is plenty to do the whole house. That is what I use. I wired up a dedicated back fed breaker (with main breaker interlock) to make this simple to do. Nice thing is every light and every outlet works. You don't want to turn on everything at once, but you don't have to pick and chose which circuits are powered. Here is info about the generator interlock kits. These are simpler and cheaper than traditional transfer switches and are just as safe.

http://www.interlockkit.com/

I have had 5 power outages that exceeded 2 days since 2008. My experience has been you can get away with running the generator twice a day for a total of 6 hours a day.

Run the generator in the morning for 2 hours to let the fridge/freezer cool down, have heat, lights, radio etc while getting ready for work/school.

Run the generator in the evening for 4 hours. Have dinner, read a bit, let the freezer get solidly cold. Go to bed at 10:00 or so and pile on the blankets.

Life is definitely still civilized with 6 hours of power a day (as long as you control when you get those 6 hours).
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Last edited by Haldor; 04-14-2013 at 15:29..
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Old 04-14-2013, 15:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
Hurricane season is coming. Here are my energy goals;

#1 Be able to run refrigeration
#2 Maybe a light or two and computer, TV, iPads, etc.
#3 For bonus points - the Air Conditioner!
#4 Perhaps charge some deep cycle batteries. And for extra super bonus points - car batteries!

I'd like to have some battery backup power that I could run lights or add to car if needed. I realize the deep discharge and car thing is not really compatible in that regard. I just really have never done the electric thing.

Don't even know where to start! Batteries then Gen? Just Gen? Gen first? HELP!!!

Need a plan for my plan!!!!
I just had a 13 Kw generator installed at my House $10,000. Itís on one 200 Amp service. Runs on Natural Gas (comes right to the house from the Utility Company.) Runs the lights, TV or two, HVAC (downstairs only) and the freezer and Refrigerator in my 4300 Sq. Ft House. You just have to be smart about what you can use concurrently in the house. After the Tornado of 27 April 2011, it was time to make the investment at our house in Northern Alabama.
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Old 04-14-2013, 19:21   #13
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A couple years ago when the storm took power down for many in Ohio, I fired up my generator. I also put a digital thermometer in the freezer box of the fridge. When the freezer rose to about 40 degrees, I fired up the generator. I ran it for about 3 hours til the freezer went back down to about 25. I shut off the gen.
It takes about 3 hours for my freezer to rise to 40 again so I had to keep an eye on everything during the time power was off. Granted my fridge has very poor insulation which makes me wonder if I should get a new one with better insulation. I've been thinking I should put some insulation into the cabinet that surrounds the fridge.
We were without power for ten days so I had my hands full. I had to set my alarm during the night and babysit the system. I didn't run anything other than the computer and fridge.
While the gen was running, I was able to run my computer so I was happy.
I have a 5KW gen set I bought at ALDI when they had them for $350. Best investment I've made in a long time.
Granted I burned about $150 in gas @ about $4 a gallon during that ten day period and I could have replaced all the food in the fridge for that but you never know how long the power will be out. At least I found a gas station that had power to be able to buy gas. I always keep about 25 gallons of gas on hand plus what's in the tank of the car.
I would do the same thing again.
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Old 04-14-2013, 22:21   #14
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I had a 5kw genset. It was WAY overkill, really loud, and sucked down a ton of gas. After several winter storms I got rid of it and bought an EU2000i. I couldn't be happier. The little Honda keeps the fridge and freezer cold, runs some lights, is nearly silent, and just sips the gas.

Running AC is really a luxury that you don't need or, honestly, want, to deal with in an emergency. Feeding a generator that size is going to increase your fuel storage requirements by 10x. Even if you can store that much gas, rotating it through is going to be a huge pain.

For emergency use I don't think there's a better gen out there than either the Honda or Yamaha 2kw's.
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Old 04-14-2013, 22:35   #15
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Get yourself a Miller Bobcat 225. It'll run your house and you can make some extra money at the same time


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Old 04-15-2013, 15:42   #16
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ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Its all about your intended use. I have multiple power systems all designed to run my travel trailer. (AKA the Ark) A 3000/3500 watt will run my microwave and A/C (13500 btu) and charge a pair of batteries. I have a Champion electric start with a 30 amp RV outlet. It is remote start which is really neat in the morning when I want to nuke bacon for breakfast. RV.net (sorry if reference to another board is taboo) has literally thousands of pages about generators as this is a big deal in the RV community. These folks have taken the generators to extreme even tearing them apart and running destructive testing on various models.

There are 2 styles the inverter style like the Honda EU series are smaller, quiet and "cleaner" in terms of the power output. If you are going to be running electronics such as a laptop this is the way to go. Again, noise is an issue so they are usually under 50 db. A 2000EU is going to run a grand, you will need 2 wired together to run an AC unit. (unless you get a low surge capacitor but that's another day)

The other type of generator is much less expensive, tends to be in a metal rack with wheels, is heavy and noisy.

However, some like the champion at costco or cabelas etc. are less loud than others-but note less does not equal quiet. They have a lot of features and power for about a third the price of the inverter styles. I got mine for ~$350 on sale. It weighs about 90 pounds.

Don't discount solar. I have a 120 watt solar set up that gives me 7 amps an hour which is enough to recharge my batteries now that I have gone to LED lights. Even if you are in your main house having a bank of 2-4 batteries (6volts are ideal) can provide a lot of power for living. Solar is getting much less expensive and if you are using to recharge can be had for not much green. It does not run gas and is quiet!!

Another issue is fuel storage. Gas with E10 is just horrible. If they go to E15 like they are seriously talking about forget it. No small engine will survive. I have dealt with massive issues on my boats from E10. Treatment helps (enzime treatments like star tron are better than staybil imho) but after a while gas still sucks. It's dangerous to store and has to be rotated.

However, there are tri fuel conversions that will allow your generator to run off of gas, propane or natural gas. Propane has about 90% BTUs per gallon as gas but does run cleaner, does not gum up a carb and can be stored almost forever in a tank. The conversion is approx 150-200 for a kit or can be done for less if you are handy. Being able to tap into a natural gas system (usually not as fragile as ele grid) or having a hundred gallons of propane (get a mobile home tank) that is fresh would be worth the hassle.

I have a 3000w generator $350, converted to tri fuel $175 and a Zamp power 120w portable solar unit $600. Total is about half of 2 EU hondas and runs a LOT less gas per day.
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Old 04-15-2013, 18:55   #17
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I have the Honda eu 2000. Great little unit, I search around and found it for about 800$. I bring it on fishing tournaments and charges the boats batteries. A tank will last a solid 8-10 hrs! It will run my frig, and other devices at my house if needed.
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Old 04-15-2013, 20:46   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
I guess my biggest issue is:

How much power to run a fridge?
How much gas for how long for the ten?
How often do I need to run the gen to keep the fridge cold?


Honestly, this is information you need to supply.


I can tell you how much wattage it takes to run MY fridge, but it may not be the same for yours.


The easiest way to do it, is to find the power required by the accessories you'd like to run, plus abut 10% and go. Plan on a worst case, of everything being run at once, and buy a generator that can support that load. Going excessively large will result in a fuel burn that is unnecessarily large.


I have a 10KW, because I got a screaming deal on it, ($500) but I was looking at a 4-5KW.
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Old 04-15-2013, 20:49   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushflyr View Post
I Even if you can store that much gas, rotating it through is going to be a huge pain.
Honestly, this is only because you didn't plan well. Rotating through 55 gallon a year, or every two years, really isn't that hard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushflyr View Post
For emergency use I don't think there's a better gen out there than either the Honda or Yamaha 2kw's.
Really depends on what you need. 2KW wouldn't do a good job here in AK. Might be perfect in FL.
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Old 04-17-2013, 19:20   #20
Aceman
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My main need for a Generator is Hurricane. I can easily stock gas, and if not needed, I'll just drop it in the car.
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