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Used generator

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by drewmo, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You have to answer that yourself. It depends on what you need to power, how frequently it will be used and for how long. If your area has 7+ day outages every few years then investing in a quiet reliable generator that is miserly on fuel is a good idea. If outages are infrequent and mostly a day or less then a less expensive generator may work just fine. Another thing to think about is service and parts. IIRC, Champion has a decent reputation in the less expensive gennys.

    http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/15131645.cfm

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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Modern generators have an adjustable pot AVR and you adjust the RPMs to get the hertz right. First do the hertz, then the voltage. No fancy equipment needed, just your standard kill-a-watt or multimeter.

    For an extra hundred bucks I would buy new.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    kool - I didn't know that. Do all of them have it?
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I have a 5,000 watt genny that I bought at a landscape company's bankruptcy auction for $165. A couple of people commented later that they wouldn't touch it because they didn't have a chance to test it. I replied that the eight gallons of gas in it was a nice leveling factor.

    The thing has run this house through three seven day outages and one four day one.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    You sound like you collect generators like I do. :)
    Last small outage we ran the Harbor Freight 700 (or whatever) watter. Kept the food cold and lit a few lights while we watched TV.
    Maybe because it was raining, and I could carry it under the front porch. Or maybe just because it could!
  6. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Only the expensive ones. I have my BIL's Honda EM2200X in the shop right now (carb issues) and it has the adjustment for the AVR but that's not something I've seen on the majority of portable generators out there. I'm not real picky with voltage anyways. 115V +- 5v is pretty standard anywhere in the US. If the Genny is throwing out 116V at 60Hz, I'm not gonna get upset.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Zactly. Basically anything from 110-120V is considered acceptable from your power company. Below 110 is a no-no.
  8. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I like to turn off the petcock and run the carb dry after testing.
    Use of a fuel stablizer is a good idea too.
    And close the vent on the gas tank cap if you have one to prevent fuel evaporation.
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Not so fast, even the cheap champion gensets have an adjustable AVR. These are extremely common and cheap. You'll find that several companies have bought and rebadged the same chinese genset. The whole AVR is about the size of a smart phone.
  10. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Tomorrow is day 4 of my current power outage, each day has seen temps of 99 or higher. I expect a couple more days to go with same temps. You can not predict the situation you will find yourself in when the power goes away. New baby, sick kid, aging parents visiting, pets that would suffer in the heat. Get a good generator. You knows that feeling you get when you stand back and look at your woodpile when you get 2 years ahead...that feeling that says you've done the right thing and you feel prepared...you get that feeling when you wheel the generator into your garage or shed and you don't give a crap how much you paid for it. When you need it and have it you feel like a freaking genius and your wife will look at you like you are one too.

    I am on my 5th prolonged power outage in 5 years. 3 super hot summer outages and 2 winter storms. I am getting a 2nd generator, possibly a smaller one as a backup or to augment what I have now. I see limited downside as I can always sell it used for enough to justify a couple years usage. My current Champion has been a workhorse and served me well. Maybe I will simply buy another one just like it.
  11. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    We're in the same situation in our part of Virginia. We are running a gennie when well water, refrigeration, or fans (for sleeping) are needed but I really hate the noise, cost, fumes.
    I've been considering installating a PV solar system with battery backup for a while. That idea is quicklly moving to a much higher priority.
    I'm thinking of one at least larger enough to provide water, light, refrigeration, and fans. With all the sunlight we've had during this event we'd be set, at least this time.
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    A little fuel sipping genny like the HarborFreight 2 stroke can do that.
  13. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I looked into a monster genset to run the whole house but by the time you spend all that money you've still got to pay to run it. 2 gallons of propane/hr is more money than a hotel. I like the little genset that keeps the lights on, the heat + well water going and the fridge cold. About 1/2 gallon of gas/hr or less.

    I'm a little worried about my folks if I can't get home right away to roll it out and get it going. The one big advantage with a stand-by genset is the automatic transfer switch.
  14. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    Two things. Seriously consider converting it to natural gas if you have it. It's the equivalent of a little over a $1.00 gallon gasoline. Consider converting it to propane if you have it instead of natural gas. It's a little more expensive that gasoline right now. A little less other times. The big thing is that the engine lasts longer, the fuel doesn't go bad, and you don't have to try and find it during a power outage when the gas station pumps aren't working.

    Second. Figure out how much power you really need. Obviously 220 and large if you want to run central air, but my 3000 continuous 110 runs everything I need including two window AC. I might have to turn one off if I want to dry my hair use something else big, but I am saving on fuel with the small one
  15. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    no gas.........
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I have found and recommend the smallest 220 volt genset you can get. This allows you to backfeed your house to run refers, the well, and whatever else may be on the two 110 "phases" of your home's panel. If you don't backfeed with 220 then you will need to run extension cords all over the place and those bring all kinds of additional hazards.

    So the now legendary champion 3500/4000 surge genset is 220 volts and only a 6.5 HP engine. Runs an easy 12 hours on less than 5 gallons of gas. Mine only cost 250$ and can be carried around by me (I only weigh 160) when full of fuel.

    You will have to determine whether the 3500 watt rating can run your stuff. If you decide you need 5000 watts then you take a fuel consumption penalty. Champion sells larger gensets.

    I only wish that the big name inverter gensets like Honda and Yamaha were available with 220 volt ouput, and smaller fuel friendly engines.
  17. tomc585

    tomc585 New Member

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    oh man....dont say that out loud. Lineman hate when people do that and for good reasons. When spotted they will cut the drop lines to that house and you will be required to have an inspection done and you will be restored last. Remember, a proper transfer switch is the only way most power companies allow generator use.
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have a SquareD lockout on my generator 240 feed.
    The large generator can power the well pump.
    However, I also power the house through the same 240 inlet with 120 from smaller generators.
    I rigged up a plug that feeds both legs.
    Won't run any 240 volt appliance, of course.
    Also, I believe, you maximize the utility of the 120 volt generator, since you don't have to be concerned about balancing legs.
    Seemed to work during several outages.
  19. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Highbeam knows what he is doing but it's still a bad idea to publicly recommend backfeeding.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the confidence Master but I assure you, there are legal ways to backfeed your panel. In my case, I used a whole house generator panel that includes an interlock tab to guarantee safe and legal backfeeding of the panel. Shame on anyone for assuming I was backfeeding using an illegal method.

    You need to realize that there are legal ways to backfeed your system. Mine is UL listed, NEC approved, and the electrical inspector approved the install. I have a green sticker. I absolutely publicly recommend backfeeding the panel. It is a wonderful way to go.

    I suppose it is possible to feed power from a single 110 generator to both sides of the panel by wiring the inlet plug in a nonconventional way. Not sure what that would do to the neutral line, seems that the single neutral will now be carrying double the load since the two normally out of phase sides of the panel are now in phase. Wouldn't want to overload that neutral.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If there are no 240v loads, one can also just back feed just one side of the bus with a 120v genny.

    Shame there aren't more 220v options sold here, they are common in many parts of the world, but you need to be sure it's 60Hz and not 50Hz that's used in Europe.
  22. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    By backfeeding the panel I was referring to the method most commonly employed by those who think they are above protecting the safety of others. A double male ended extension cord plugged into a receptacle. Or any other method that doesn't involve a code approved interlock device or transfer switch.
    I do realize there are legal ways of doing this but usually when an individual has gone to the effort to do it right, he/she makes that very clear. ;)

    My apologies if I offended you.
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure how I'd be overloading the neutral.
    It's feeding into a (as I recall) 40 amp breaker.
  24. tomc585

    tomc585 New Member

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    and mine as well.

    People also need to be reminded that not all cicuit breakers provide protect in both directions.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    No problem guys. Just terminology.

    It is possible to backfeed the whole panel with a single 110 volt genset. You can choose to only feed one buss or you can "jump the hots" to feed both busses 110 volts "in phase". This is a problem for the neutral wire when you have any Multi Wire Branch Circuits and also a problem for the neutral between the genset and the panel.

    On the 4 wire circuit between the genset and the panel: With normal balanced 220 operation the neutral carries no load, the out of phase legs cancel each other. When you feed 110 volt power in phase to both sides of the panel, every bit of that power (the sum of both legs) comes back on the neutral. You'll notice that the neutral in a 4 wire conductor is the same size as the hots so you must only load the hots to 50%.

    Everything is fine so long as you size the genset to not overload the neutral. This means only running 30 amps of 110 or 220 through a 10 gauge circuit.

    I doubt it is legal.

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