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Woodburners and generators

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by My Oslo heats my home, Sep 4, 2012.

?

Just out of curiosity, how many woodburners also have generators?

Poll closed Sep 18, 2012.
  1. Yes

    78.7%
  2. No

    21.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. FrankMA

    FrankMA Member

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    That's one reason why I went with a Honda. The unit has an intelligent voltage regulation control that automatically throttles up or down to accommodate the load that is being placed on the motor. It delivers very clean, stable power which for me is a must. I work from my home (my office is in my house) so I need to know that my computer and other sensitive electronic devices won't get fried.

    I've owned many Honda products in the past and can attest to their durability and reliability when it really matters the most. It's kind of funny when you see posts on various forums stating that this engine runs "like a Honda" or has many features that are found "on a Honda". The cost differnece between owning a genuine Honda product or a knock off is marginal if you amortize it over several years.

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I was surprised that my 7500 base, 10000 w surge Generac takes a big hit when the well pump, which is down 450', comes on. It's not like the pump was spec'd for for startup current or anything..it came with the house. I measured the startup current once, and it was real big.
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Having the firepower to just keep on keeping on when the power goes out is a big waste as far as I am concerned. Good grief. We are a bunch of people that burn pieces of very large weeds to heat our houses. We have two legs on the poles coming in here. One virtually never goes out and ours does when a squirrel farts. A guy on the one that doesn't go down spent $15,000 on a whole house unit and big propane tank after they finally went down for five days. Once in 20 years. Four years ago and the only time it has ever fired up is the monthly test.

    Don't get carried away with back up power.
    pen likes this.
  4. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I agree completely, and that's a good plan for someone like yourself, but likely a hassle for the average homeowner. Batteries have their own host of problems and dangers. I can't tell you how many homes I've seen with battery battery backups on their sump pumps, only to see the light indicating a bad battery glowing, and the homeowner giving the usual "I've been meaning to get around to replacing that..." excuse.

    I figure I can rent a hotel room for every outage I'll ever see in this lifetime for less than the cost of the generator it would take to keep this house humming in the summertime. If it's hot, and the AC is cranking when the power goes out, I'm headed for the closest hotel with juice. Wintertime outages around here are so much less frequent and painful.
    pen likes this.
  5. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    I would tend to assume that if my power is out, it is more dangerous to travel than to stay put, at least for quite awhile anyway. You're not going anywhere in a hurricane, ice storm, or snow storm. And if it's a major grid interruption like we've been seeing lately, then the nearest hotel with power may be a much longer drive than you want to go. Plus you have to worry about food spoiling, pipes bursting, etc. There's also the issue of miscreants using the opportunity to loot houses with no security systems due to the outage. To each their own, but I'd rather maintain power in my residence than roll the dice. It's not just the cost of a hotel at stake.

    If you were going to add batteries to a whole-house backup system, then you would definitely want to go with good quality deep cycle batteries that have a decent lifespan and warranty. Mine are warranted for 15 years. And of course, once you have batteries, it's easy to add some solar panels to your setup if you want to as well. That would save significant fuel during an extended outage and could even maintain baseline functions when your genny is completely out.
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    BB and Joful made some very good points about sizing - but I don't think they were saying any backup is bad. They were just pointing out the difference between a minimal backup to run the essentials (good) vs. spending 10s of thousands on a backup big enough to maintain your lifestyle like nothing happened, which I 100% agree is a waste for most of us.
  7. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    An advantage of a portable generator is that it can be moved somewhere else where power is not available to do a job, or to help out someone else.
    A disadvantage is that someone could take it...it is portable, after all. :)
  8. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest


    I don't want to meet the sumbitch that can pick-up my 7500W "portable" (All copper windings, twin cylinder engine, no wheel kit on it, just sits in the corner of my garage.), load it up and take off. !!! He can have it. I'll get another one. :oops:
    (I have much more portable units for off-site work.)
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Some good points, depending on how rural or urban you are, but I've never experienced an outage of more than a few hours in my 40 years of life. The longest I can recall was the "Great Northeast Outage of 2003" [1], which only lasted one afternoon and evening in our area. We did go to a hotel that evening, and they had power, water, and AC running, thanks to a big on-site generator. Our alarm system does have battery backup, which is good enough to carry us 16 - 24 hours... still many times longer than the longest blackout I can remember.

    As far as being prepared for a more drastic or long-term event, my doomsday preparations are quite simple... seeds and ammo.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003
  10. FrankMA

    FrankMA Member

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    "I was surprised that my 7500 base, 10000 w surge Generac takes a big hit when the well pump, which is down 450', comes on. It's not like the pump was spec'd for for startup current or anything..it came with the house. I measured the startup current once, and it was real big."

    My well is only 160' deep so I wonder if the additional depth and required HP of your well pump is what causes such a huge draw when it comes on. My well pump is 1/2 HP @ 230V/60Hz/1Ph.​
  11. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I bet you'll be okay.
  12. FrankMA

    FrankMA Member

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    I agree. I looked into a stationary propane powered unit at one point and IIRC, the cost was somewhere in the $15K range. I can shut down certain circuits periodically (fridge, freezer, lights, etc..) to do laundry if required as I cannot justify that type of expense. My cookstove is propane as is my laundry dryer so my draw on those appliances is much less than if they were 100% electric.
  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    There's a wide range of HP's for any given depth, depending on your desired or required flow rate. Horsepower translates to a given torque/lift/pressure at a given flow rate, and whereas one installer might install 1.5 HP for a given size house and a given depth, another might cheap out and install 3/4 HP. Both work, but will deliver different flow rates for a given depth.

    That said, I suspect start-up current to be largely dependent on depth, as well as motor HP. A 3hp motor on a radial saw or table saw has a much lower start-up current than a 3hp motor on a bandsaw or a heavy planer, due to the added friction and inertia. Even so, I've measured start-up currents of 60 amps on my 3hp (FLC = 18 amp) radial saw motor.
  14. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Also, the depth of the well isn't as important as the depth of the pump and the height of the water column in the well casing. You're probably not really pulling it all the way up from 450'. My well is 500' deep in order to get the necessary flow rate, but my pump is at 150' and the top of the water column is at around 75-100'. So far, I've never sucked air and my pump doesn't need to be too big. I've got a large bladder tank (100 gallons) so it doesn't cycle too often as well. It's the startup current that's high, so you'll have less load spikes from the pump cycling if you install the largest tank you can. A large tank also means that if the power goes out while you're in the shower, you can finish your shower before going to turn on the generator.
    Joful likes this.
  15. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

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    When a transfer box is installed, does the electrician predetermine which circuits get used when he wires it? And how does this box work when the generator runs outdoors and the panel is 30' away? This is all new to me.
  16. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Lose power here at the house several times a year, mostly in the winter when we get wind storms. Longest one so far was 3 days.

    The $100 I spent for a 1980s model 4k Generac gen set was money well spent.

    Have a community well that uses a large 3 phase pump so SOL for having water during power outages. I have drinking water in the pantry and use the water heaters contents for toilet flushing, washcloth "showering", etc.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Gotta agree with BB's sentiment that a lot folks waste a lot of $$ on backup power. Of course, a _hobby_ is another thing entirely....

    My sweet spot is an $80 two stroke genny, a propane burner to cook on, and my hobby PV system with a 40 Ah deep cycle.

    Stupid small engine question....I can find sites to convert inverter generators to propane....is it possible for a cheapo two stroke?

    EDIT: after some coffee....I realized no lube in propane = no two-stroke.
  18. FrankMA

    FrankMA Member

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    My buddy (who is a licensed electrician) and I just installed my 10 circuit transfer box yesterday. We started out connecting the most important (to me) circuits to power from the generator. We hooked up the well pump first, then the furnace, fridge, freezer, etc... until we had all the circuits/power used up.

    My transfer panel was all prewired and had (2) 220V circuits and (8) 110V circuits. After we got all the big ones out of the way, we focused on lights, TV's, etc... until all the circuits were full. What ends up being powered (after the big draw, single circuit items) depends on how your house was wired when it was built. You'll find that some circuits feed power to outlets or lights in 2 or more rooms or levels. I only needed one of the 220V circuits so we converted the second one into (2) additional 110V circuits.

    I'm pretty satisfied with the end result as all of the most important bases are covered for my household. I would have needed a much larger generator to power everything and that would have been very expensive and cost prohibitive. Your decision as to what to power and what not, gets easier as you get closer to the last couple of circuits if you have put some thought to your previous choices. You need water, heat and food, the rest is more or less for convenience to make your life easier.
  19. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Problem for me is, if it's anytime May thru September when the power goes out, I need air conditioning. <> I'm also the guy who keeps his house at 62*F - 68*F in winter.

    I think I could live without the lights or the well pump, if the AC was cranking and I had a fridge full of beer. How long does a fridge stay cold when the power goes out?
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Why cooling with window units were a non-event when we lost power when it was 90 a couple of weeks ago. Fired the genny and cool continued. The whole house heat pump died from lack of use/attention back in the 90s.

    Got tired of paying to freeze downstairs to keep the upstairs cool. And paying for it.
  22. Redbarn

    Redbarn Burning Hunk

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    I'm interested in your batteries.
    Are they lead/acid? Lithium?
    Could you please share the brand of battery with the 15 year warranty ?
  23. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    It has to do with the temperature being too for proper vaporization of the propane. The more surface area (horizontal tank) the better it will perform at low temperatures.
  24. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Very happy with their service. The prices are a rip though.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Not very long if you keep opening the door for more beer. Refrigeration is the #1 reason for my genset.

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