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Generator......oh the choices

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Coog, May 11, 2013.

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  1. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    for someone thinking of buying a propane gen. don't do it unless you have a big tank. if you look at the gas required for a standby automatic gen some of them take the fuel of a boiler running full out. so what i'm saying is you can't get far on a 20 pound barb q tank. diesel gens are great on fuel but loud.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Look at the electric bill KWH useage and divide it by 31 days and then 24 hours. You will find that you use a lot less KWH per hour than you think. And most of it is during the time before you go to bed.
  3. Coog

    Coog Burning Hunk

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    I've got a 1000 gallon tank. I filled it up for a buck forty a gallon this past year. I will buy that all day long compared to the price of gasoline right now and let me tell ya; gasoline is not getting any cheaper but I project natural gas/liquid propane to stay fairly reasonable.

    Buying two generators seams excessive and a lot of money. If you stop and think about it though, besides guns, bullets and food, what else can provide comfort and piece of mind like a generator? I say, Might as well go for it.
    briansol likes this.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    My second little one was an easy purchase. The night before Sandy came through I went into town to see if Aldi grocery had those two on their weekly special I saw a couple of days before. They were still there and I bought them both. I put them up on craigslist that night at a price equal to what HD was listing them for and the next morning a guy picked up one. And I decided since that left the other one just costing me $84 I would keep it.

    When the storm finally hit my inbox was flooded for days.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You do realize that gas has more energy per gallon? It takes more gallons of propane to do the same job. You're right though, lp is relatively cheap right now and with no road tax it is even cheaper.

    I expect LP prices to track oil prices and be completely independent of NG prices. It doesn't matter though since you only use it during an emergency, you don't choose genny fuel based on cost per gallon since this isn't a lifestyle. You choose it based on equipment cost, fuel availability, storage ability, shelf life, etc. I can steal gas from a dead man's car, not sure how to run a big genny from a stolen BBQ tank.

    Dual fuel and tri fuel are a nice way around this issue.
  6. Coog

    Coog Burning Hunk

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    Your right, they are not comparable gallon for gallon. We have a natural gas line that is less than a half mile from my house. I would desperately like to have that line go by my house. Regardless, it is nice to have 800 gallons in the tank, paid for. I plan to get the Yamaha 2400 watt tri-fuel.

    Expensive but great for the versatility.
  7. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    I'm in the camp that says go as small as possible. For me it's an emergency situation that doesn't require the whole house to be normal. I run a Champion 15 amp inverter 120VAC gas generator. It's whisper quiet, sips gas, idles with low load. I load share. The only big load, the fridge. Run it 1/2 an hour ever 8 hours, or as needed. I built a back feed panel, that allows me to turn on anything in the house. I manually plug in the generator in five minutes

    I made a emergency hook up to run the 220VAC electric hot water heater on 110. Never tried it long term but it should work, albeit very slow.

    Wood stove and we are all set for days without power.

    I don't have a well, but as said there's a lot of water in the bladder tank.
  8. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Something to consider as well is your water heater is a source for 50+ gals of potable water. The first gallon or two I'd dump out since it probably will have a bit of junk from the bottom of the tank though or use to flush the shitter.

    I've had to use mine a few times since I am on a community well that has no backup power. No power = no water. I keep plenty of water in gallon jugs for normal use, but I had a renter that didn't understand "ration". She got into the jug water when I was at work and used almost 20 gals over the course of 12 hours to flush the toilet. Didn't want to leave pee to stain the bowel... <>



    Also it's 240v and 120v. 110, 220, or whatever else... no idea where that is coming from?! The US had 110v at one point... until maybe the 1930s.


    I don't like the idea of a natural gas generator because if SHTF the gas lines could be shut down for a while. Example: earthquake that involves a storage tank farm, pumping station, main line, etc. That is one of the reasons I have a wood stove for heat and not a wood boiler. Don't need anything for it to work other than wood. I can be without water, power, food, but at least I'll still be sitting in a warm house!
  9. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I also have a ready supply of toilet-flushing water from the 25 gallon plastic barrel that sits under my Venmar with the condensation drain hose running into it. Anybody else who has something running to a drain at slow flow (like maybe a dehumidifier) could also put a barrell in the flow stream for an emergency (non-potable) reserve - just make up an overflow type pipe from a high point on the barrell to drain and you can forget all about it, until you need it. We have never needed to run the water pump in a power outage - we've gone 2-3 days between what's in the barrell, what's in the toilet tanks, what's in the pump bladder tank, what's in the piping, and what's in the fridge. If there's real nasty stuff in the forecast, we might fill up a few extra bottles or buckets ahead of it.

    That said, I do have the means to do it if it becomes a necessity - I just haven't had to do it. We also have a dug well that I could winch a bucket of water out of if push comes to shove - and a brook a couple hundred feet away.
    woodgeek likes this.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It's coming from the huge portion, majority perhaps, of people in the nation who use those terms. While not technically correct, it is common terminology just like hot water heater or clips to feed your gun. We all know what is meant.
  11. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I used to work with a guy who would always say, "bullets and seeds... that's all you'll need when it all goes down. Bullets and seeds."

    That guy scared me a little.
  12. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    A bigger Honda than you first think. When you need a generator, you want something that you can pull out and have it be reliable, despite your mistreatment. I don't want to eff around during an ice storm when I have no power. Honda does that.

    I would skip B&S, Harbor Freight, etc for portable generators. (my uneducated, one-generator opinion)
  13. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    my small genset, 5500 is powerd by a Subaru engine has never missed a beat. The big 20kw is a 4 cyl Yanmar diesel, pretty easy on fuel.
    MasterMech likes this.
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I'll tell you what gives me the most comfort. I have a 30 foot RV loaded with 2 big propane tanks, two full batteries, a solar panel to charge them, a 60 gallon water tank, gas water heater, gas furnace, and the whole thing is portable.
    briansol and Joful like this.
  15. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Sure but once a person is educated on the correct terms, it's not hard to use it! Water heater and magazines in the examples you used.

    As for the 240v and 120v instead of "220v and 110v" if a person is trying to figure out the size of generator they need, it certainly will matter. If a water heater uses 15 amps at 240v that is 3600 watts. Using the incorrect "220v" is would be only 3300 watts...

    Highbeam likes this.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    The result is hot water, either way.
  17. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Not if they used "220v" and bought a generator that was too small <>

  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Not really. Generators are sold by power (peak average and continuous average), and an electric hot water heater is a resistor. Run the water heater on lower voltage, and it just draws proportionally less current, (Vrms = R*Irms, for resistive loads). It's not perfectly linear (resistance of the coil varies a bit with temperature), but close enough. Your water still gets hot, just takes 16% longer to reach set temperature (Pav = Vrms^2/R).

    Now, if your water heater draws more power than (P = V^2/R) your generator can deliver (continuous average power), then you're screwed. That has nothing to do with differences in 220V / 240V, though...
  19. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Yes, and that's what I just said. I used a water heater as an example but it could be lights, TV, fridge, well pump, boiler, etc, etc, etc, etc...

  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps I missed your point. Here's what I was reading:

    The water heater that draws 15 amps at 240V has a net coil resistance of 16 ohms. That same water heater run on 220V will draw only 13.8 amps, or 3025 watts. Assuming your 220V generator is sized greater than 3025 watts (or 13.8 amps) continuous, you will have no problem. There is no need for your generator to deliver 3600 watts (or 15 amps) at the lower voltage, to power this water heater.
    BrotherBart likes this.
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I think the trick here is knowing that a heater element is built with a fixed resistance and not a fixed wattage. The standard 4500 watt element is only 4500 watts at a particular voltage.
    I have been making an effort to use 120 and 240 but I have been teased about it.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We skip the hot water when on the genny. Refrigeration is the primary purpose. Everything else is gravy.
    briansol likes this.
  23. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Yes... yes you did!

    If a person figures the load based on "220v" instead of the correct 240v they may end up with a gen set that is too small.

    You WAY over analyzed the water heater. I was just using it as an example of an electrical load.

    My Generac 4000w generator powers the house just fine provided I don't turn on everything at the same time. According to the rating it's supposed to only be good for 16 amps but it will power much more than that.
    I've run my MIG welder on it before and it pulls close to 30 amps at full power.

    Only thing I hate about it is that it's heavy (300+ lbs) and very loud. Even with 125ft of cord I can still hear it in the house.
  24. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    Loud is not all bad. If you can hear it, you can hear it stop too. During Sandy and Irene, the theft of gennys was an issue. The day I picked mine up the store had sold 5 to people that had theirs stolen. One person was duped big time. Genny was running behind the garage when his power stopped. He figured a cord was out, or breaker tripped and didn't immediately investigate. When he did get to checking the situation, he walked to the rear of the garage to find his lawn mower sitting there running, and no generator! Thieves started the mower and stopped the generator.

    If you put real bucks into a generator you may want to invest in a long heavy duty cable and lock.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    That's what I do! ;lol

    <-- Chief Scientist of microwave / radar / electromag weapons company, MSEE, Ph.D candidate, resident electron nerd :p
    Dave A. and BrotherBart like this.
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