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2 Days With No Electricity

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mo Heat, Jan 16, 2007.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    True, Goose, it doesn't look they're available for the min Mags.
    On the mag leds you can still focus the beam. They are sold by mag lite are 3 watts. I had bought an aftermarket led bulb for a mag lite and it didn't focus as well as the mag lite bulb. I used my 4 cell flashlight when I walked down the driveway last night to take out the trash. It's quite bright.

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  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well, as I said earlier, I hadn't looked for a while, and the last time I did I don't think MAG had started doing the LED bulbs.

    I've always tried to look for smaller and smaller lights that would give me the desired lighting power. I find I often have my hands full or want to do more than just schlepp the light around, so I like something small enough that I can easily carry it without using my hands. I can stick my mini-mag in my mouth, and carry it routinely on my belt - It's probably not as bright as the 4-cell unit, but when I need it, I have it all the time, but you probably have to go find the tool box or drawer you stuck yours in. I've had times when the place I was working had a power failure, and it's amazing how popular you get when you're the only one with a flashlight! :lol:

    Gooserider
  3. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    I am still fixing plumbing problems resulting from my recent power outage and subsequent loss of heating while my family was away from home. Frazzled is a word that applies to me. FWIW, I settled on a 12 kW Kohler 12RES LP generator to guard against future power interruptions. I'm very much looking forward to its installation.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Bummer vgrund. Hope it all turns out all right. How much electrical panel modification was necessary for the installation? Did you buy from a local dealer? Do you mind sharing the cost?
  5. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    I really can't tell you much about the electrical work because it hasn't taken place yet. Ours will be a whole-house generator, meaning we'll have a 200-amp transfer switch that supplies every circuit in the house. Note 12 kW isn't enough to use power without consideration of limits. We'll still have to manage our load. What whole-house allows is flexibility in what we choose to power.

    Regarding price, kW size is only one variable. Quality varies at different price points. Big box stores are the least expensive. Kohler makes a model sold by Lowes (12RESL). It's the low-end version of the 12RES and from what I can tell at a minimum it does not have the same high quality output as the 12RES (required by many electronics). The 12RES is sold through Kohler dealers (no big box sales). It's very similar to Toro mowers. At the big box stores they have a steel body and at Toro pro dealers they are cast aluminum, with proportionately higher cost. Don't forget to consider the cost of the transfer switch when making comparisons, they are expensive. Electrical work is another major consideration, in the $1600 - $2000 range for me depending on the contractor. Let's just say my price is significantly more than the big box sets.

    Out of several companies who bid, I selected a company whose only business is generators. Many of the others did not impress me with their knowledge or experience. Also, some seemed interested in dropping off the generator but doing othing else. That's just annoying to me but perhaps others like the opportunity to DIY or manage multiple contractors. My LP company had the high bid, the least knowledge and has only been in the genset business for 6 months. Shop around.

    After the ground thaws, I'll probably change my 500-gallon tank to a 1000-gallon. This will remove any reasonable concerns about runtime (we also heat with LP). The cost is surprisingly low, because my gas company owns the tanks and they only charge for excavation. They told me labor would be free because they'll make up that and more in savings from larger, less frequent deliveries.

    Note all the units I researched specify an oil change interval of ~100 hours of operation. This is a consideration during an extended outage.

    Victor
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    What is the operating life?
  7. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    Properly maintained, easily 20 years or more I imagine.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  9. Tendencies

    Tendencies Member

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    I've got 4 LP style Gen set's at work for my City Hall, City Water Well's and Sewage lift stations. 2 are Onans- 1's a 4cyl Ford about 185 CDI and produces 10 kw, was installed in 1988, runs every monday for 1 hour and when the power goes out, has about 3600 hrs total on it, get's it's oil changed every October, the second Onan is a 6 cyl model, another Ford 250 CDI 15 kw has about 2100 hrs on it same oil change as the other. My newest 2 generators were put in for the Y2K scare, they are Ziegler/Cat gens, ones a 20kw 6 cyl Ford and the other is a 25kw Ford 460 CDI V-8, they get run every Monday on an auto timer as well as when the power fluctuates more than 4 hertz or drops below a set voltage. They both have 1000 gal propane tanks and have about 600 hours run time each, both tanks were filled for the Y2K scare and have never been filled since and both are at about 60-65% so they are very economical, only down fall so far has been on the block/exchange heaters, LP generators above so many kw must draw their LP as a liquid from the tank to get it in enough quantity as a gas once it's injected into the intake, to do that a liquid LP is drawn from the tank, run through a heat exchanger where it rapidly flashes to a gas in sufficient quantities for the generator to run. Remember the colder it is outside the slower the LP will change to a gas all by it's self in the tank, and once you get below -35 F I believe it does nothing at all..... Our problem has been especially with the 460 that even during the summer the block heater/Heat Exchanger must be on to produce this gas and when it's hot out side 80 F+ the block heaters and hoses don't last more than about a year. Very bad when you show up monday for your hourly test and theres a lake of green antifreeze on the slab around the gen set.......as for over hauls, has never happened, all I do every year in October is change oil, air and oil filters, plugs, cap and rotors and every 5 years starting batteries and plug wires.. None of these sets as of yet use any oil....

    T

    T
  10. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    I have a date for my generator installation - 2/19 - woohoo! Clearly I'm getting old if I can get excited about that.

    Anticipate 100% power grid reliability in Southern NH for the next several years, folks.

    Victor
  11. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    Well it's in, it is quiet and it works great.

    Velvetfoot, the engine needs rebuilding after ~3000 hours. It's supposed to be a much less expensive endeavor than a liquid-cooled engine, FWIW.

    If this weren't a standby installation I'd go with an 1800 RPM, liquid-cooled engine, but that would be overkill for me.

    Victor
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Believe me. If you are out of power for three thousand hours over the rest of your life, rebuilding that engine will be the least of your problems.

    Glad it's in and working. Keep us posted. I am green with envy. It has to be one hell of a lot better than my old Tecumseh one lunger 4,800 watt gen.
  13. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    Since the work is done I can respond to this. I have a 200-amp automatic transfer switch that feeds my regular panel. So basically, the whole house can draw from the generator although one has to be reasonable and manage the load. It was about 4 hours worth of work to do the electrical modifications. It seemed a bit easier than "essential load" installations that use an additional distribution panel for a subset of circuits.

    Victor
  14. Bob512

    Bob512 New Member

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    Vic, Like T says you will get 20 plus years out of your new gen. I also have maintained 2 onan gens. One 4cyl. diesel and one 4 cyl. NG. We run them mon. mornings for one hour also. Tune-up and oil change once a year and they run and run. A couple hoses and belts in 20 years. Good luck, Quick
  15. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    Quick, that is music to my ears!
  16. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    The "dirty little secret" about these generators is that even at a very light load they still consume about 40% of the fuel required at full load and they cost about $25-$50 a day to run.......not of to much concern for short outages because when you need the power, price (for a short duration) is secondary......

    I think the Kohler 15 KW at max power gobbles up 200 cubic feet of NG per hr.....that's about $48/day (1CCF = 100 cubic foot and 1 CCF costs about $1) and even at 25% load it uses about 80 cubic feet per hr ($20/day)....but, they're priceless when the power goes out......
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I've decided to power manage on less wattage. Although I could buy bigger, I'm not going to try to run the heat pump. Running it 24/7 would drive me (and probably my neighbors) nuts. That's why we have the woodstove. This last 7 day outage I ran 4.5kw about 2 hrs in the morning and 3-4 hrs in the evening. This was on a Coleman gasoline contractor's generator. Every other day it would need a 5 gallon fillup or about $7/day. I'm looking at a better system connected to propane, but will keep it to 7kw or less to keep consumption down.
  18. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Hey MO..Hey all..
    I second that post about the jumper cables and rotating the batteries...
    If you want a small quiet generator as an "all night backup" check out the line from Honda...ask a dealer "Hey I want to see the quietest generator you got". I borrowed one from a friend who has one for the RV to go to Nascar races and used it at the cabin up in Vermont...thing was ultra quiet! (I'll get the model number later for anyone interested) Ran the whole cabin (lights only) but it was nice just to have the "creature comforts" of being able to flip a light switch..

    For anyone wanting to "experiment" with 12-volt lighting...MR16 halogens (12 volt) are worth looking into...I set 3 of them up in a rental storage shed I had for awhile...lit it up nice...powered it with battery clips right off my truck...lasted over four hours and the truck started no problem...
    Sounds like we got a few ideas here for more posts...lol
  19. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    Vic,

    Glad to hear you got the genset installed. Knowing you don't have to go through the freeze-ups, repairs, damaged floors,walls and carpets etc is a real moral booster.

    We had our 30kw Onan installed this fall before hurricane season and were very comfortable when the power went out from the ice storm.
    The 6 cyl Chrysler runs the whole house, shop and dry kiln for our firewood operation.
    Infact, tongue in cheek, folks who were out of power and out of wood for three days were coming to our yard for firewood. We gave them the cord of wood, but charged $ 250.00 for a cup of hot coffee, : just another great benefit of having a reliable standby generator.
  20. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Hondas small 2 KW generator is super quiet....we used two of the EU2000i units on a field test and they're the lightest and quietest generators I've ever used. One pull and they fire-up. Here's the link:

    http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/gensup.asp
  21. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    I don't think fuel consumption is a secret. Stats for my Kohler are readily available in the sales literature. I gave consumption a lot of thought, as I had to consider both LP storage capacity and the maximum delivery capacity (BTU/hr) from the tank. As you said, they are for standby applications...

    Victor
  22. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    Victor,

    What size LP tank did the specs call for with your installation ? After a lot of experimenting I ended up with a 325 gal horizontal tank in order to have the volume needed to start the generator in the cold weather. This summer we will buy an underground version of the same. We are planning on putting up a green house and will be then be able to use the fuel for other purposes other than standby.
    I thought we were going to lose power this morning, the way the wind is blowing !
    Test fired the generator yesterday and all systems are ready.
    Standing by..........
  23. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    what I meant was that even at almost zero load, the fuel consumption doesn't drop off much more...the avg home uses about 1 KW per hr (avg consumption of 725 KW-hrs per month) and so, for example, a 15 KW generator loafing along at an average of 1 KW output (7% of max load) still consumes about 30% of the fuel that it does at max load ......but as I also said, when you need the power, the price is secondary and then "time of use" determines what your final bill is....
  24. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    I heat with LP, so I simply hooked up to the 500-gallon tank that is buried in my back yard. It can deliver 500K BTU/hr max. Trying to draw at a faster rate than that risks freezing the tank (low or no fuel output when that happens). I have an all-LP house: heat, hot water, dryer, cooktop, and one of two fireplaces has an LP insert. Technically, I'm borderline (just under) adding a 12 kW genset load to my existing load. However loads are periodic so it isn't a big deal. Capacity is the other concern. At full capacity I have 400 gallons of LP to use. However, I modeled a few scenarios (tank ready for a fill, at 20%, super cold winter + extended power outage) that were very borderline in terms of capacity. The worse yielded only about 50 hours of run time.

    Thus, when the ground thaws I'm upgrading to a 1000-gallon underground tank. That will eliminate any concerns about capacity. My LP company won't screw me for this because it will allow them to reduce their rate of deliveries (= less diesel fuel).

    I predict power outages will be very rare now that I've invested in a generator. It's Murphy's Law.

    Victor
  25. vgrund

    vgrund Feeling the Heat

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    Right, you mean there is a nonlinear load to fuel consumption ratio, and one that is not favorable to light loads.

    Your electricity consumption average seems OK to me. My house consumed 614 KWH in February, which is great for 3600 sq. ft. The average home size in the US is 2330 sq. ft. (2004 statistic). The bummer is that one has to size for inductive loads (more precisely, motor loads), which draw a lot more power when starting, typically 6X running load. I have a deep well pump, furnace fan, sump pump...

    As you said, a warm house and running water are priceless...

    Victor
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