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The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      1004
DATE:         October 23, 2012



Special Note – If you don’t get over to during or after this interview you are cheating yourself out of a HUGE range of resources that Steven Has Made Available to you that go along with an clarify many things in these two episodes.
Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss generators and I mean everything generators. As is typical with Steven he did so much research and prep that we had to break this into two episodes.  Today we cover the 7 main types of generators, their uses, determining your needs and where to source generators for the best pricing.
Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.
Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.
Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception. Today he covers generators with us in part one of a two part series.
“Revolution is You” by Gregg Yows

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<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 5:22>

<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 5:22>

Jack Spirko: Once again welcoming back all time highest appearing guests. And with good reason because he brings so much information to the table, mister Steven Harris. Steve welcome back to the survival podcast.

Steven Harris: Jack, what a pleasure to be back. I love TSP and all the listeners. I keep on getting more and more questions every time from your listeners, they email me. This show is going to be one of those jam packed shows. I might be speaking a little bit faster. If you need to hear something, just rewind a little bit and listen to it twice because I am going to go through it once. This is going to be one of my most dangerous shows I have ever done. This show can be very dangerous to you. if you do something you should not do, you'll wind up dead. How is that for a warning, Jack?


Jack Spirko: That is pretty good, keep going.

Steven Harris: For the people listening I want you to know what I am going to talk about on this show. I may be covering something that you might want to hear. What I am going to cover in this show, which is going to be a little bit longer, I am going to cover all generators. I am going to cover big ones, small ones, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane fuel, conversion to natural gas and propane, where to buy them converted and where to get the conversion kits. I am going to cover how to hook them up to your house with transfer switches. I am going to cover back feeding. I am going to cover 7 different types of generators: regular generators, inverter generators, 2-cycle generators, PTO generators, whole house generators, generators on trailers, and very long life generators like ones you might use for 10 years. I am going to tell you how to hook up to natural gas from your house or the propane from your pig, to your generator.


Jack Spirko: Steve, when we look at a list like that how does the average person out there even start to decide which one of those particular generators is right for them, from all of these types you have listed? There are people rewinding right now, just to hear the 7 different types of generators. Where do they start?

Steven Harris: Jack, you got to start at one place before you decide. There are all types of generators as I have said and I am going to cover them all for you. Here is the first and most important question that needs to be asked. Do you need a big generator or do you need a small generator? Even though you have a 150 amp circuit breaker electrical box, which would equate to 18 kilowatts, most home are drawing about 1 kilowatt in power at any time. Unless your central AC is on and that is a lot more. Or unless your deep well well motor is on for your water, then that is a lot more. We will forget about your central AC for the moment, but I will cover it in a little bit. The question starts to be, "What do you want to power, when there is no power?" In one of our previous shows, we covered how to power a modern refrigerators. It only draws between 100 to 200 watts when running. Old refrigerators could draw as much 1500 watts when running. New freezers and refrigerators draw only between 100 and 200 watts when running. Especially if they are ENERGY STAR rated refrigerators and freezers. You will want to power your refrigerator and freezer. You will want to power your your big screen TV and that is another 200 to 400 watts. Your DirectTV or satellite box is about 50 watts. You want to charge your cell phones and AA batteries, it is about 5 watts. A few watts for other little electronic you'll want to plug in, plus some fans. There is 50 watts. What we come up with 200 for the fridge, 200 for the freezer, 400 maximum for the TV and satellite dish, 20 for your iPhone and iPad and AA battery charger, and 50 for fans. That equals about 920 watts. Your refrigerator and freezer are not going to be running at the same time. They are going to be one on and one off. You'll alternate back and forth. That is really a steady load of 500 watts or less. Lets make you more comfortable. Lets power a 5000 BTU window AC unit to keep one room in the house nice and cool for you, for when the hurricane knocks out your power in the humid hot south. The AC unit takes 5 amps. 5 amps times 120 volts is 600 watts. We want your ice maker going that I talked about in the last show. That is 200 watt max when it it making ice. We want a bread maker going to make fresh, hot, 2 pound loaves of bread in 58 minutes. From just some flour, water, sugar, salt, and yeast. That draws about 300 watts in 58 minutes. If everything was running near the same time, that kicks us up to about 2000 watts or 2 kilowatts. Remember, this 2 kilowatts is the key thing. This puts you firmly in the field of a 2 kilowatts generator. Which will allow you to use one of the newer fancy and quite inverter style generators, that I will cover in detail in a bit. Or it lets you use a really cheapo 2-cycle engine generator that can cost as little as $105 at Harbor Freight. If you plug in your refrigerator for 2 hours and then plug in your freezers for 2 hours and keep your 600 watt AC running all the time. And run some LED/Compact-Fluorescent Lights, the ones that are 13 watts max for CF bulbs and 5 watts for LED. Then you are going to get away with a lot less then a 1 kilowatt generator.



Jack Spirko: Now real quick, before we move on there. Looking at 1 kilowatt generator, don't we have an issue with some of the start up devices with peak verses running load. Is it not better to size a generator a little bit bigger then you think you need.

Steven Harris: That is true, but I am saying if you do what I just said and just turn on one refrigerator, and one freezer, and some lights, and one small A/C unit you can get away will 1 kilowatt ($129) generator. Your ENERGY STAR doesn't have much of a start up load on it. They are using a really small compresses that runs more often, instead of a big compresses that runs less often. There isn't really anything that I mentioned that is going to have a start up load. The biggest start up load would probably be your A/C unit, for over about 3 seconds when it turns on. I am only talking about a 5000 BTU A/C unit. That will be run on relativity low amount of power with a small compressor. You might start your A/C unit up and then start everything else.


Jack Spirko: What is really interesting, you just described exactly what we did in the last power outage we had that lasted about a week. We had one room cooled with a relativity small portable A/C unit. We had both TVs if we wanted them on. We have a chest freezer and a refrigerator. There is just no sense to try to run them both at the same time. When I had everything going you didn't even here it bog down. It is interesting recommending exactly what we ran. One thing that we kind of glossed over was the well pump. A lot of folks like me, have these deep water well pumps high draw. What do we do about that?



Steven Harris: Well, Jack that is what changes the whole equation of where you are going to be big or are you going to be small. Are you going to be more than 2 kilowatts or are you going to be less than 2 kilowatts. Rural people are going to want to power their well pump. For a 40 gallon per minute to a 80 gallon per minute unit ranging from 20 feet down to a 100 feet down in depth, you are looking at a 2 horsepower to 5 horsepower motor. There are about 750 watts per horse power. That is 1500 to 3800 watts right there alone just for your well motor. Well motors are also 240 volts. You will need a generator with 120 volts as well as 240 volts AC output on it. Most of the bigger ones, like 7 kilowatt and 10 kilowatt generators have this on it. Depending on the horsepower on your well motor and how much surge you will have when starting up, you are talking about wanting a 5000 watt (5 kilowatt) to 8 kilowatt generator. Because you could be talking about drawing a max of 4000 watts of power on your well motor when it is running full out. Then your refrigerator, freezer, small A/C unit and everything on top of that. The well water pump squarely puts you in the category of needing a big generator 5 to 10 kilowatts. My prior description of just A/C unit, bread maker, lights and iPhone puts you in the category of a small generator 2 kilowatt or less. Same thing if you want to run your forced air furnace in the winter time, like we all have here in the north. The furnace itself takes nothing for power. It is just turning on the ignitor, turning on some valves and letting the natural gas flow. It don't take nothing, but there is the blower. The big fans and squirrel cage blower, that moves the air through the house that is part of the furnace. It is about 1000 to 1500 watts. It is on its own circuit. Wanting to power your furnace will put you squarely into the category of a big generator. Something more than 2000 watts. Although you could get away with running 2 kilowatt generator and run your furnace in the winter time. You can run your furnace for an hour or 2, and then run some lights and your TV, keeping you under 2 Kilowatts. Then turn the furnace off plug in your refrigerator and freezer. You can dance around like this. Hey Jack, isn't this kind of funny. It is winter time and you run a generator to keep your house warm but because the house is now warm, you need to run a generator to keep your refrigerator and freezer inside your house cold. Its kind of a paradox.



Jack Spirko: Yeah, it just make me think how we used to always throw our beer in the snow, because it got cold faster. Maybe there is a solution there if you really need heat. My thoughts on this, if you are in this kind of zone there is just not that huge of a difference in cost between a 2K generator... I have a 6500 watt generator, and it only cost me $500 or $600. I just think that if somebody is at all on the edge maybe it makes sense to just step up.

Steven Harris: Definitely, you can step up. One of the advantage of being under 2K is that you can go with one of the newer inverter type generators. Which are a lot smarter, a lot smaller, a lot lighter, and a lot quieter. You get that for paying a premium, they are about a $1000 in price. That is why i am saying big or small. So you can go for the cheaper 2-cycles or go with the higher quality inverter. Where you know you are going with the generator you have right now. A regular generator that is going to be 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 thousand watts.



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