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Does anyone use a generator for backup electric for your pellet stove or insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by dbchris, Oct 28, 2006.

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  1. dbchris

    dbchris New Member

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    Hi. We will be hoping to use our new pellet insert as our heat source during power outages. We understand that we will need a source of backup electric. ie: generator or deep-cycle battry w/converter. We are currently leaning towards getting a generator since it would allow us to power other things like some lights, tv, microwave etc., and it would last longer incase of an extended outage. However, we have no experience with generators, so we are hoping any of you who use one will give us your two cents worth. My husband was out looking at generators and thinks we may need a 5550 watt unit. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, Beth

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  2. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    p divided by e is the current rating so 5550watts divided by 120 volts is about 46 amps. With that you could power your fridge, stove, lights,, tv maybe a hairdryer too.
    It might be a bit overkill for what you need... :cheese:
  3. BigV

    BigV Member

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    Since I have a wood burner and a pellet stove I use a deep cycle marine battery and power inverter for my Pellet stove. It only gives me about 45 minutes of runtime so I just use it to power my pellet stove down. The down side to using an inverter (at least the one I have) is you have to be home to plug the stove into the inverter…

    Sounds the generator is the way to go.
  4. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Sorry missed the microwave in your post still seems like a big unit for power outages unless you are in an area where you are prone to them and do not get power back up within a reasonable amount of time.
  5. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    I live in the Sierras @ about 5000'. I use a 7500 watt ( 7.5Kw ) for power outages. I burn a woodstove so no elec. needs there. It powers every thing i need including my well pump, micro. lites, tv, refer, etc with no problem. And has done so over multi day outages. If you have propane or access to it I would recommend that as a fuel rather then gas for long outages as gas can become very expensive. I unfortunately have a gas powered gen.
  6. dbchris

    dbchris New Member

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    Thanks for the input. We have experienced quite a few outages in this house with a few lasting over 24hrs. Our biggest concern with keeping the house heated is that the builder put some of the water pipes in the outside walls and there is evidence that they have burst before. We have been here 3 years and the longest outage was about 72 hours. However we lived approx. 15 miles away during the 92 ice storms and were without power for 5+ days. Over a months time, I thnik we were out 14 days with temps below freezing. My daughter was conceived during that stint! In that home, we had NG and I cooked the contents of my 2 freezers to help heat the house, and froze the dinners outside. This home, however, has no NG, and I feel I need an occasional Back up.

    Beth
  7. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Can you get propane? If so that will be cheaper then gasoline. Do you need to run a well pump?
    Or any other high amp items? Generators are usually referred to in Kw (kilo 1000 watts so a 5500 watt gen is 5.5 Kw.
    List all the things you need to run, and determine the wattage of each item ( most every thing has a label on it that states wattage ) Add it all up and add about 10% to be on the safe side and that is the wattage your gen needs to be ifeverything came on at once. Odds are this isnt going to happen so you can get by with a bit less.
    On a 7500 (7.5Kw) I run the following with no problem.

    1 ) A washer
    2) a gas dryer
    3) A large micro
    4) A 30' Moterhome
    5) A 15 amp 240V well
    6) A 15 Cu ' freezer
    7) misc 110 outlets for lites etc.
    You should be fine with a 5500 watt generator maybe less.
  8. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    One frustration I have found is that low power generators also tend to have smaller tanks, and thus claim shorter runtimes between fills.

    We have thought about a generator but since we heat with wood, the main purpose would be for well pump, fridge, and oil burner for hot water help. Beyond that, no real needs other than a few compact fluorescents. This would be a very small total load.

    I would ideally like something that has a large tank but low power rating with very little standby consumption.

    Any suggestions other than an on-demand propane-fired system? (which I think is still more than I'd like to spend)

    -Colin
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In areas where the power is only out on occasion, a good computer UPS system will provide a good backup for a pellet stove. Depending on size and draw of stove and UPS, this could work for hours.

    You can also get an inverter for your car, which attaches to the battery and puts out 120V - could be used to charge batteries or get UPS charged back up.

    Total cost for both together is about $250 or less, so it can be a simple solution.
  10. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    This will work however, if someone goes this route get
    all the info on the UPS prior to purchase because many
    of them (like my Belkin), emit a continuous audible beep
    when it's on backup and that may annoy some people.
  11. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Allmost all gas powered gens can be adapted to run off of nat gas or propane. And still be able to run on gasoline. The usual cost is about 200 to 300$ depending on the size of the gen. Then you can run the gen off of whatever size propane tank you have, a 5 galbbq tank or a 100 gal tank or a 250 gal household tank and have weeks worth of backup.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Add the price of connecting the propane to the generator, which can add a couple hundred.

    We have a back up generator. 4Kw. It would handle the propane furnace, refrig., tv, pellet stove etc.. In 1996, when the power was out for 5 days, it really was appreciated. But I've only hooked it up a couple times since then.
  13. kregars

    kregars New Member

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    You must have the same belkin I have (my other Belkins as well as APC's can be configured by consoling into them to silence the audibles). I have 2 of the small ones that I use more for surge supression than for actual backup, though they both work charms for mini-brownouts.

    Anyhow, I got sick of hearing mine after Isabel back in 03...therefore, I opened the unit up and disconnected the piazo(sp) alarm and walla..no more annoying beeping to drive one insane. The larger Belkins (small office/Home office series) can be logged into via USB and configured to no audible. You can also set to beep once on loss and twice on restoration of commercial power. The APC's (larger rack mount anyhow) have dip switches you can set then log into the unit via serial console and set the trigger to only notify on low reservce. I have mine set to alarm 2 times (normally about 60 minutes apart....75% remaining then again at 50% remaining) then if no restore of commercial it will by way of ethernet connection send the 'shutdown -h now' command to the house server and then the UPS goes into sleep mode. Once restoration of power is seen, it will chirp once and send a break power to the specified outlet which in turn the server sees as a power on restoration of power outage.

    Likely more info then you need, but it's something to think about. I am also looking at ATS configured generators, but I want/need one that can run the whole house for when there are extended outages (I was smack in the middle of the 98 ice storm in Upstate NY..and swore I would NEVER be without power for 4 weeks, 3 days). The portable does a good job, but for long duration runs, it's more of a hassle in my opinion than they are worth.
  14. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    I use a 6500 watt generator, runs on gas for short term use, or the pool propane heater tank for long term use. Its wired into the well, one air handler, furnace & hot water, kitchen lights and microwave, bedroom, bathroom, living room, and my office. The insert is in the living room, works fine on the genset.

    -- Mike
  15. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Gasoline generators are run infrequently, the gasoline storage becomes an issue. Old stale gas will gum up the carburetor and fuel delivery system.
    Most people find they have stored a decent volume of stale gas and can't start their generators. If portable, it has to be located outside. If tied into you fuse
    panel , plan on quite an extra expense for an electrician. Gasoline storage is a bigger issue, with 10% ethanol and with condensation. The ethanol promotes water in the gas. Been issue for boating, but the same for all gas engines. One has to factor all possibilities for emergency situations. For me I worry about my well pump, freezer, and central heating first.
    The pellet stove would be a low priority. It will not p provide enough heat ,for preventing remote plumbing pipes from exposure in winter. This is not to say generators are not a bad idea, but it takes proper planning and prioritising, for them to be effective, more so than plain wattage
  16. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Whaaaaaa? Whaaaaaaaaa? Oh God, My eyes...

    Yes Pat, I'd like to buy a comma. Actually, a whole box of them... and can I get them shipped to Massachusetts?

    -- Mike



    :lol:
  17. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    I think having a bckup generater makes allot of sense. The wattage your husband is considering seems adequete for the described use. Mine is in this same range and ill run anything in my house. It will not run them all at the same time, but it will allow you to "weather the storm" and that is what you are looking for.

    I am on a well and my generator is 5500 continous 8800 surge. What surge means is this: when an electrical appliance (electrical motor) is turned on, it requires a rather large amount of watts to "get it started". Once the moter is running, it requires much less to keep it running. This surge should be considered when purchasing a generator.
    e
    Gasoine, natural gas, propane and (not mentioned yet) diesel all have their advantages and disadvantages. For availability and price, gasoline wins. Also as mentioned, gasoline engines can be converted to run on propane or nat. gas relatively easy (there are also DIY kits to do thi for someone familiar with engines).

    A fuel stabilizer can be added to the gasoline to keep it "fresh" for a very long time. I have gasoline that is 5 years old and runs just fine (with the proper additive). However, 5 to 10 gallons of fuel in addition to your generator tank capacity is plenty. If you think about your past power outages I am sure that the power outages were NOT covering a large area. Meaning, you can probably find a gas station within a half hour to 45 minutes away, so fuel replenishment is not an issue.

    Another thing to consider in noise. If your in a rural area, not an issue. In a subdivision, you should find something that is fairly quiet. However, this will drive up the price. Also need to consider where you will use this during as power outage. Running it in an attatched garage is not an option. Even with the door open. Also connection to the house appliances during an outage needs to be considered and probably "practice" connections and running should be done just to make sure you have things set up the way you want them. A generator transfer switch makes things nice and safe, but can add considerble cost, but not absolutely necessary.

    Finally, your generator should be run and a load applied to it about once every 2 months. This is to prevent the generator from "losing power" and also prevents the engine from having ny problems from long term storage (lack of use causes internal components to rust).

    The best way to not need a generator is to buy one. Once you buy one, then for some strange reason, you will never (or close to never) experience a power outage again. KD
  18. dbchris

    dbchris New Member

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    Hi everyone, thanks sooo much for all of your input. We really appreciate it. We are off to Lowes to purchase the 5.5kw gas generator. They are on sale now. This type of generator seems to fit our needs closer than the alternatives. As someone pointed out, after we purchase it, we probably won't have a need for it for a long, long time. We have come to the conclusion that the other alternatives would be either too short durationed(ie ups or battry/inverter) or too expensive for our needs.
    Thanks again, Beth
  19. kregars

    kregars New Member

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    Speaking of Diesel standby Gensets. There used to be a few offered by Guardian that sufficed and filled my needs in the past, however, I am finding it extremely hard finding a home standby perm. installation.

    As for preferring diesel over gas, or natural gas. In a pinch, I can brew my own as I have a setup for making bio for my vehicles (though I havent really taken the time recently to make my own 'additive'). Diesel can be stored in my neighborhood in approved tanks (think home heating oil tanks properly labeled as diesel as opposed to fuel oil aka heating oil. By this method, I would have the ability to buy fuel in bulk and fill my vehicles at my leisure while still paying the required taxes for road fuel and not having to worry about the dye that is put in home heating oil with the added benefit of it being the newer ULSD.

    Anyone have someplace they can point me to for a residential diesel hot standby with automatic tranfer switch (ATS)? Guardian also used to provide a whole house UPS solution to cover the time between sag/drop till the generator was up spun up and able to provide power. Their UPS setup also included a rectifier to ensure 'clean' power.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  21. dbchris

    dbchris New Member

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    Wouldn't you know, we lost power today! Only for about 10 min. How ironic!!!
    Glad I was prepared,sort of--my husband didn't have the new generator out of the box yet :)
    Thanks again for everyones input.
    Beth
  22. Toolman

    Toolman New Member

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    Remember also, if converting a gas generator to propane, it will not put out as much power. Propane has fewer BTUs per gallon than gasoline, so the engine does not have the power that it does on gasoline.

    I think diesel would be the way to go for whole house backup. You wouldn't even need a diesel tank, if you had a furnace oil tank. You could run it off furnace oil.

    I have seen them put in basements, with the exhaust routed outside. I don't know if I would want to listen to one in my basement.
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