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generator recommendation

Post in 'The Gear' started by rockreid, Jul 23, 2008.

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  1. rockreid

    rockreid Member

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    been researching and looking at a 17kw Kohler unit. With my well pump, sewage pump, and 2 sump pumps I need to make sure they all are functioning along with the garage door opener, the Jotul 550, the igniter for my oil furnace, electric water heater, and electric kitchen appliances. I have yet to call an electrician so he may recommend a different kw unit.

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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Holy smokes Rocky, you want to run all of that at the same time? So well pump at 9000 watts (surge), 3 small pumps at say (3000 watts total?) water heater at 6000 watts, electric kitchen appliances like fridge, range, oven, microwave, coffee pot, say 10,000 watts, means you're looking at a 30 KW genset.

    Do you really need to run all of these at once? Water, sewer, sumps, and fridge, are all needed but none of them really need to be run all at once so by managing your power needs you could get by with a 10KW genset and save loads of money on genset and fuel.

    Does anyone own a tractor? You can buy a PTO generator at 14 KW for pretty small money. In fact, you could buy a tractor AND a PTO generator for less than many of the commercial 14-20 KW gensets. Hmmmmmm

    I equipped my main house electrical panel with a whole house transfer panel made by Connecticut Electric that is a premade version of velevetfoots interlock kit. Works the same way. I MUST manage my power with breakers since the electric water heater and electric wall heaters are automatic.
  3. trailblaster

    trailblaster New Member

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    We have a 12k generator with a 220 direct connect to 10 beaker box connects to gas furnace and water heater,well and septic pump, fridge, microwave, most room lights(all CF bulbs), tv (of course satellite), and to our 90gal and 150g fish tanks. . We have had power go out for a week at a time and only use a few gallons a day to run it. We leave the garage door lights on(separate meter than the house) so we know when to turn off generator and switch back to main power. Also, you can put in a claim with the electric company and usually get back around $200 without a hassle for power outages longer than one day.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Knowing when the power comes back on with the interlock setup could be a problem. I have a voltage detector (kinda shaped like a pen) that buzzes when near electricity, so my plan is to put it on the wires going to the main breaker, and maybe I'll hear it if it goes off. I don't know if this would actually work, but the detector seems to have a pretty good life on it when it's turned on.
  5. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    Yes Highbeam, I agree that for most people just having a gen and a can of gas would be enough to get them through, but here in Michigan I live out on a dirt road and my nearest neighbor is about 1/2 mile down the road. The road is all wooded and hilly. There have been a few instances when the road was impassable due to snow drifts or the straight line wind event where it knocked 30-40 trees across the road. County did not plow/chop us out for 2-4 days. If our power goes out for more than a day or two I would really have a hard time just running the wood/propane furnace blowers and a couple lights on the gas I could get out of the tanks of the car and truck.Even if I only ran it for a few hours to get the temp up and run the well to fill up a bunch of buckets for washing and flushing the toilet, I dont think I could hold out for more than 3-4 days till The wife and kids were very unhappy. I just think for only a few hundred bucks more it makes sense to get a propane conversion kit for your gen.and have the option of running on either. Hey you can run on gas for those short 6-24 hour events but for more than that I think it makes sense to have a larger supply of stable, storable fuel.And at the price of gas, I just dont keep that much extra these days (even with stabil added) so as not to chance it going bad. I for one would hate to be caught in a blizzard trying to get my family (3 kids under 13 and one on the way) heat, water, food, ect ect. and have a perfectly fine generator with no gasoline but a big 500gal propane tank 3/4 full sitting out there. If you heat with propane already and have a large propane tank or can figure out how to make a wood gassifier to power your generator with cheap wood chips, why not use them and be set for ANY event. (cept maybe huge terror attack).
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Or, if you heat with oil, you could get a diesel generator.
  7. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    Yep, exactly Velvetfoot
  8. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    ...except that diesel generators start at about $10K.

    I finally got to burn in our genset last month after a huge windstorm knocked us out for about 42 hours. It was kind of warm and I was mostly concerned about food going bad. I have a transfer switch that lets me dump the whole house on the generator and run anything I want, within reason. We ran a 2 ton heat pump, a big chest freezer, 22cf refrigerator, all the CFLs I could turn on, 3 computers and network equipment (DSL stays up in a power failure, BTW) and had enough for intermittent loads like the sump pump without worrying about anything tripping. We ran for about 16 hrs/day for 2 days and my gas bill went up about 30 therms over our usual gas consumption for the month. It works out to about $1.50 an hour, not bad for having the AC on! I've found that it takes a lot of gas just to spin it over, so if you are going to run it, you might as well run it hard.

    Just to see what it would do, I turned on the 4500 watt hot tub heater along with AC and was able to pull the generator down to 50 HZ at wide open throttle with just electrical draw. It ran this way for about 5 minutes and nothing tripped. I was also able to start the 3 HP log splitter without a problem and it has a 60 amp inrush. We have gas hot water and range, so they are no issue, but my parents are all electric and report no problems. You have to be careful when the water heater is on, but the surface elements on a cooktop are only about 1800 or 2400 watts each and aren't a big deal when you have 8500 watts available.

    We both have Kohler 8.5 RMY generators that were superceded by the RES generators, but same specs; just more bells and whistles. My father reports that his burns about a gallon of LP an hour, which is cheap if you consider the consequences of frozen pipes, bad food or a motel stay. They have lost power for 9 days at a time and it isn't unusual to be out 2-4 days. We used to have to worry about keeping large quantities of gasoline around, but now a 120 gal tank will hold him long enough to ride out most problems and call in a delivery. I woulda gotten a bigger tank, but...

    http://www.kohlerpower.com/resident...mber=13561&categoryNumber=13061&prodnum=54361

    These things are really commercial duty units and the 8.5 kw actually has a 12 kw head on it with a smaller engine. It has an electronic governor and voltage regulation on it that is top notch and should be almost impossible to burn out. I think these list at $3600, but I've seen them online for under $3000. It's definitely overkill for me in the 'burbs, but out in the boonies, this thing could literally be a lifesaver. I don't sell them, but I know a few people that have them and all are happy they spent the big bucks. The automatic transfer switch is a luxury, but if you travel and leave the house unattended, or have someone sick or elderly at home, you can be pretty sure you aren't going to lose power for more than about 30 seconds. They have a 5 year warranty on them now, so they must be pretty good, then.

    BTW, I've noticed that whenever they talk about how many houses can run on a megawatt, it works out to about 10 kw per house. Obviously, you can get by on a lot less, but just make sure you can start your well pump, or you might as well not have it, IMHO.

    Just my .02
    Chris
  9. FrankIvy

    FrankIvy New Member

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    I'd say invest in a battery back up system - really just a bank of marine batteries and an inverter. You can get a 220V inverter for 110 bucks plus shipping. Back wire into your panel through a breaker, and run your critical elements off the batteries when the power goes out.

    If you set up with a lap top, LED lights in choice spots, and so on, then you should be able to run enough off of a sizable battery bank for a long stretch.

    Advantages:
    1. No gas/diesel.
    2. Can be switched on easily, inside home (throw main breaker OFF first, of course, or get a subpanel like you would for a generator).
    3. Charge easily with cheap battery charger.
    4. Long life (10-20 years or more).
    5. Will be usable when gas/diesel are not available.
    6. No noise.
    7. No hard starting/maintenance.

    Of course, if you want to run your house like with the line voltage on, then this isn't for you.

    If you want a relatively cheap, quick, easy way to keep critical components on, then this is it.

    I'm biased, of course, as I expect diesel/gas shortages within about 3 years, but I expect the electric to stay on for at least another 10, fully, and 5-20 more thereafter rolling.

    Another benefit is that, if you ever add solar panels, you have the batteries already.
  10. FrankIvy

    FrankIvy New Member

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    Not true.

    I got mine, delivered, for about 1,300$.

    That was 2 years ago.

    It's 6,000 watts, as I recall, and a Chinese make. Battery and pull start, and, being a diesel, it will run forever in theory, but, of course, you'll need diesel.

    I'm selling it this summer.
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    True, but the ones I am looking at are set up by the circuits they can hold. A 16 will hold 16 circuits. slightly less with central AC and a couple other electric guzzlers.
    I want to truly run as much of the "whole" house as possible. Plus I have a sub panel in the garage for the addition. Not sure if that would be able to be tied into the transfer panel or not.
    Between the sub panel & main breaker panel, I have prolly well over 18 circuits. but lighting and low power users shouldn't be a big problem.
    Want to handle prolly 2 or 3 larger ductless A/C units (down the road), the well, electric oven, etc. I'll talk with a few electricians prior to purchasing.
    The other fact I like is the larger units are water cooled. WHich from what I have been reading, have fewer problems than the air cooled.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Take a look at a Kohler 8.5KW. When the power is out it is not wise to run everything like nothing happened, that is unless your uncle just passed a gas well onto you.

    But why do you want a generator. For those kind of bucks you should be able to run a big honking extension cord to that glowing nuke down the road a piece.
  13. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Last night we went to Lowe's and priced an automatic Centurion gen...it's 7k if run on LP and 6k for NG. With taxes the cost was $2010 all we have to do is pay for the installation. Now our handyman Joe said he could get one and install with everything we needed for less than 2500. imo that's a reasonable since a couple of 3 times over the years we've been without power for more than a week. And since national grid took over the net here the usual 3 hour pole down delay has become an 8hr ordeal. The selling point for me is that we have a huge LP storage tank so now I don't have to run around hustling for fuel. I keep 10gallons handy for all the gas engines now and I think it's to much to store...it doesn't have time to go bad more or less a safety thing...

    ...but if 2k is too much too spend they had a lot of nice brand name gens up there for a third of the Centurions price.
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Just to chime in one more time, a portable generator is portable, so you can use it for a project somewhere you want to power something electric. So, it will do double duty.
  15. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    2 years ago when I was looking at a generator for the mill I ran across a place on ebay that had rebuilt Detroit 2-71 generators at 18KW for around $4500. This engine is well know to be indestructable,very fuel efficient and run for 20,000+ hours without any problems. I'll see if I can find the seller again.

    I ended up buying mine from Diesel Service and Supply out of Colorado. The shipping to NY was rediculous but I saved a ton of money buying it there compared to a dealer around here.

    This thing is massive . Weighs in at around 8-9000 lbs.
    At 250 KW I could probably power half the town I live in. LOL
  16. jrousell

    jrousell New Member

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    I have been thinking about just this setup.

    I live in a somewhat remote area, on top of a huge hill, and we just lost power for 4 dasy this spring. we made do with an old portable gas unit, but if it happennend in teh middle of winter I wouldn;t liek it. It was a 5K unit- and like some other sit would not power our 500 ft well pump very well at all... spotty at best.

    Kepp us informed as to your progress and likes/dislikes...
  17. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Savage, that Centurion unit (Generac) is built to meet a price point for the big box stores. It really is nothing more than a portable generator in a metal box with a cheap transfer switch thrown in. The engine is made by Generac and not well regarded in the small engine biz. Do me a favor and look at the Kohler; it's a world apart in quality. It's probably double the price but 10 times the machine. If it is really too much, buy a Honda portable and make do. Those little Generacs aren't worth the money.

    Hog, don't overbuy on the generator. For what it sounds like you want to do, the 12 is probably more than enough. It will start 4 tons of AC at once and probably 3 smaller units started individually. I can run a 2 and a 2-1/2 ton heat pump on my 7KW. The bigger generator is going to suck up a lot of fuel just to spin over.

    Chris
  18. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the heads up Redox...and I had 2 electricians tell me they were the cats meow too.

    You seem well versed on gens can you recommend another LP gen system...or is the Kohler one, if it is that's what I'm buying. Like I said the gas rep warned me about not getting a 12k cause we don't need it and the smaller one that met our needs would run longer in a real emergency...and that's why I want to stay with LP.

    edit
    Chris what do you think of this one?

    http://www.kohlerpower.com/resident...Number=13561&categoryNumber=13061&filter_0=LP Gas&filter_1=8.5 kW&filter_2=60 Hz&xmlFlag=true


    whoops you can't get there from that link but it's the 8.5RES at 60hertz model I want your opinion on..
  19. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Yep, thats the one: http://www.kohlerpower.com/resident...Number=13561&categoryNumber=13061&filter_1=LP Gas&prodnum=54361

    8.5 KW should be big enough for most people, unless you have unusually large motors to start, or a lot of electric resistance you need to run. Since most of us have woodstoves, this is probably not the case. I have an older 8.5 RMY running on NG. It is pretty much the same engine/generator as the RES, but includes the battery charger and a newer version of electronics that has diagnostics. If you check the spec page, it shows that the 8.5 is capable of 23 kVa of motor starting and 100% load acceptance, which means that you can drop the entire 8500 watts on the generator at once and it will take it. 23 kVa works out to about 96 amps of power. I can tell you that mine barely grunts when I start the new log splitter (3 HP and 60 Amps of inrush). I have overloaded it to 9500 watts on LP and it stays in tolerance for voltage and HZ. An electric water heater will tax it a bit, but still leave you 50% for everything else. This is one beefy generator!

    I used to work in the HVAC department of a company that was a distributor for Kohler. I befriended a couple of their mechanics and got to hear some of their war stories. Generac made their fortune on building portable generators for other manufacturers and has branched out into the commercial field, but is a relatively small player there. The only other major manufacturer out there building anything this size is Onan/Cummins. Both Onan and Kohler have marine and RV divisions, while Generac does not. Onan shows a residential genset on their website, but for some reason, I can't get any info on it. Their RV gensets are supposed to be pretty good, but I have no experience.

    I do have a big deep cycle battery that I use with an inverter when I want to put the house on "silent run" and the entertainment center and all the computers are on UPS. Almost makes me wish the power went out more so I could exercise everything more...

    PM me if I can be of assistance.

    Chris
  20. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    OK then thanks for the advice Chris, i appreciate it.
  21. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    I have to say, the Honda EU3000 and EU6500 generators are some of the nicest portable generators I have seen. Great power. Inverter type. Whisper quiet. VERY fuel efficient. Kohler also makes a good unit.
  22. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Wow! I didn't realise Honda brought the inverter out in the larger models. Wonder what that puppy costs? It's even quieter at full load than the Kohler in an insulated box! That automatic throttle has GOT to save some fuel...

    Chris
  23. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    ya, all the EU generators Honda makes are inverter units. Great, very pure power which is actually better than what you typically get from your home outlets. Safe to run laptops and computers on, etc.
  24. rockreid

    rockreid Member

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    I'm lining up contractors to take a look at my property... should I rent or buy a propane tank and is there normally a price difference from the propane company on fuel if you do so? Also a 250 gal LPG tank should be plenty for a couple of days, right?
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I read through the thread and want to clarify that if I already had a bulk propane tank then I would be all over setting my geneset up to run dual fuel or even propane only. It makes all the sense in the world. If for no other reason then that propane is only a few bucks a gallon vs. the 4.20 for gasoline. Storage issues, safety issues, large volume of gas on hand is great.

    To be honest with you guys, I do not own a fancy schmancy genset. I first owned a coleman 6850 with 11 HP tecumseh and it was a gas hog and loud but ran my welder. The generator head eventually died and I started shopping for a 3000 watt generator because 3000 watts is the amount needed to run an RV air conditioner unit. Well the RV crowd has very high praises for the excellent value of the Champion Power Equipment 3500/4000watt surge genset from many retailers including schucks. It cost 299$ and is a honda clone from China. The RV crowd is pretty funny and several have put this genset on a scope and the sine wave is very clean. These same folks have thousands of hours on the genset with excellent durability reports. So I bought one and it is very quiet (RV guys love that too) and fuel efficient. I can lift it and put it in my pickup. It has a 30 amp twistlok connection to feed my house with too.

    I see no reason that this genset couldn't be converted with a propane kit to be dual or tri fuel.
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