Author Topic: Generator  (Read 8298 times)

Offline Medic242

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Generator
« on: November 30, 2016, 06:46:11 AM »
So I am looking at buying my first Generator.  I know the whole house, natural gas Generac style would be best but I don't have the $3500+ to spend.  I want something that I can throw on the camper and go too.  Bare bones minimum I would like to run two refrigerators a small deep freeze, my well pump and we have a boiler for heat so the pump for that.  I have no idea what size I need.  Never looked into anything like this before and have very little knowledge about this.  I have looked on-line and have had little success finding anything.  Thanks in advance.   

Offline Carl

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Re: Generator
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2016, 08:04:00 AM »
If you want to run all of that 'barebones' stuff at once ,you had better plan on about a 5000 watt generator because everything on the minimum list has a motor and takes several times the running watts to start them. But if you plan to be there and control power distribution as in run the well pump OR the refrigerators and freezer ...you can probably get by well with a smaller,higher quality gen...maybe a Honda 2K. Hands off or hands on , I would only run the generator for an hour or so at a time ,unless you have fuel coming out your @$$. A sealed OPTIMA battery can run lights etc with a small inverter and charger run from the generator when it is doing it's thing and OPTIMA's last about 10 years for me and are economical despite the $175 or so price...plus...THEY DO NOT LEAK.

Just my thoughts,for what they are worth.

Offline ChEng

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Re: Generator
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2016, 08:10:32 AM »
The first thing that you need to do is to determine your load - this is the amount of electricity you need to run your appliances.  This will typically be measured in Watts.  You can get this by, either measuring your specific appliances (or look for a label - most labels are in Amps; to get watts from that, mulitply by your household voltage - 110 V,) or you can do a Google search for "typical wattage for refrigerator." 

The first (non-sponsered) hit I got was from Michael Bluejay - from his website, he seems to know his stuff.  When you do a Google search, make sure that you get several different estimates, from several different sources, then take an average.  If your appliance is older, you may want to add a small amount to the average (from 10-50% depending on how old, and beat-up, the appliance is.)

Repeat this for each appliance and then add all of the power ratings (the wattages) together.  This will give you the MAX wattage that you need (unfortunately, heavier appliances like motors and heating elements have a startup wattage, which may be 50% above the usage rating - this only lasts for a few seconds though.  Most generators will have both a normal, or steady, rating along with a "surge" rating to handle those startup wattages.)

Once you have these, you can select your generator, based on its power output rating.  Be aware, however, that you will not be using all of these appliance at the same time.  Even the "always on" appliances, like the refrigerator and freezer, only run for a short time, and then rest - depending on the temperature of the room, and the temperature setting.  This can let you shave down the rating of the generator a bit.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Generator
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2016, 08:42:37 AM »
In my limited experience, I believe your biggest problem in staying light weight and low cost will be powering the well pump.  I doubt that 2000 watts is going to do it, even the A/C on my R.V. requires more than that.  I'm betting you'll need at least 3000 watts, just to support the well.  If powering the well is mportant to you, I would concentrate my efforts there first.

Offline Medic242

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Re: Generator
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2016, 09:40:27 AM »
The well pump is not a must buy a want.  It's a sand point so this summer I mounted a pitcher pump on to the point and valved it in so I can shut of water to the house and still pump water to a bucket for things like flushing the toilet.  The big thing would be the boiler, it gets cold in northern Illinois in the winter and can handle the dark as long as the family can stay warm. 

Offline idelphic

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Re: Generator
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 09:48:45 AM »
In my limited experience, I believe your biggest problem in staying light weight and low cost will be powering the well pump.  I doubt that 2000 watts is going to do it, even the A/C on my R.V. requires more than that.  I'm betting you'll need at least 3000 watts, just to support the well.  If powering the well is mportant to you, I would concentrate my efforts there first.

I think generally you want to factor 30amps for the pump.  I know my brothers RV AC unit needed a 30amp.  for my home system, Air Handler and external unit, it has a 60amp breaker. 

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Generator
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2016, 10:02:28 AM »
I think generally you want to factor 30amps for the pump.  I know my brothers RV AC unit needed a 30amp.  for my home system, Air Handler and external unit, it has a 60amp breaker.

I get where you're going, but the breaker size, in many cases, has nothing to do with the capacity of power the generator can put out.  It's just a safety to insure that power will stop flowing if the draw exceeds the circuit capacity.

Offline Carl

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Re: Generator
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2016, 10:10:54 AM »
A ONE HORSEPOWER electric motor runs with about 600 watts ,yet can require 1500 to 2000 watts surge to start it. A refrigerator can take 100 t0 500 to run (watch out as FROST FREE can take much more to defrost) My fridge runs at 140 watts ,though it runs 20 out of 24 hours,YEP I used a KILL-A - WATT meter to check it.

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Generator
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2016, 08:32:06 PM »
The well pump is going to be the tough one. Your going to need to figure out the power requirements on it.
I run 2 fridges, one freezer, sump pump, blower in the air handler, all the lights and outlets in the house on a 5500 watt. I'm on town water so no well, can't run the ac or range, so you can do a lot if your careful.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Generator
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2016, 09:22:23 PM »
Google for your brand and model of appliance to find the manuals or specifications. You're looking specifically for the amperage requirement. As someone else stated, amps times volts equals watts. Anything with a motor will require 2-3x as much current to start as it will to run continuously, also already stated.

"Whole house" generators are nearly always overkill and very costly to operate. Most likely something between 3500 and 6000 watts will do what you need, though I'd also recommend adding a deep cycle battery or two and an inverter. No sense in burning a lot of fuel when all you need is a couple of lights. That said, you will have to manage how and when loads are connected to a 3.5k-6k set. IMO, you'd be much better off with a low hour used RV generator than a typical box store model. Stay away from Generac....lots of bad reviews out there on many models. Other brands seem to have certain models that have particular problems, generally with electronic components.

I like the old Onan RV generators, especially the ones with no electronics. http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=58851.0

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Generator
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2016, 06:51:52 AM »
As others have already stated, first need to find what the running wattage is for the devices you want to power from the generator so you can properly size it.  By alternating which appliances/devices you run at the same time you might be able to get by with a smaller wattage generator, YMMV but at our old house with a 19 cubic foot frig and 16 cu ft chest freezer we had to run the generator 8 hours a day to keep the contents cold/frozen. 

For the problem of the increased starting current required for motors/compressors, if you're electronically handy or know someone who is then a Hard Start Kit for the frigs/freezer can help.  It's basically a large start capacitor that is wired in parallel with the motors run capacitor, when the motor starts the cap discharges and helps the motor start without needing to draw as much current from the generator.  They're fairly cheap, and could help extend the life of the motor as well (softer starts, less heat and stress).  https://www.amazon.com/SPP6-Capacitor-Increase-Starting-Torque/dp/B0002YTLFE

For your well pump, guessing it's a submersible pump and used with a pressure tank/pressure switch in the house?  Might check your pump model as some well pumps have soft start built in, but if not you could shut the breaker off for the pump so it only runs when you want it to (like after shutting off the frigs/freezer).  For a prolonged power outage just pump water once or twice a day to shower, fill flush buckets, potable water containers, water heater, and the pressure tank.

On the boiler, this is very model and installation dependent, but at our prior home the gas fired boiler was in the basement and the water pump was a separate unit and started by the electronics in the boiler when a zone called for heat (via the thermostats) and the boiler fired up.  I found that by manually opening the zone controllers for all the upstairs zones it didn't even require the pump to be running, the hot water rising to the upstairs zones started the flow of the cooler water down and back into the boiler to be reheated without the need for the water pump.  The boiler (and safety features) otherwise operated normally, firing up and shutting off when the water temp set point was reached.  Use/test with caution obviously, consulting with a HVAC tech would be a good idea too, but while less efficient at heating you might not need to power the water pump but only the electronic controls and thermostats for the boiler.  I'm not suggesting defeating any of the safety features of the boiler or pump, I just didn't supply power to the pump when running off the generator and kept a close eye on the water temp and pressure gauges during operation.

Offline Medic242

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Re: Generator
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2016, 07:11:57 PM »
So I was caught by a sale.  Blains Farm and Fleet had a 6250/5000 watt for $370.  I couldn't pass it up.  All the reviews on it where good.  It has a briggs and Stratton motor.  I just couldn't pass it up.  And I convinced the wife we needed one.  Haven't done much with it.  Thanks for the help. 

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Generator
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2016, 07:38:36 PM »
So I was caught by a sale.  Blains Farm and Fleet had a 6250/5000 watt for $370.  I couldn't pass it up.  All the reviews on it where good.  It has a briggs and Stratton motor.  I just couldn't pass it up.  And I convinced the wife we needed one.  Haven't done much with it.  Thanks for the help.

Does it have a 20 amp or 30 amp receptacle for 240 volts?  That is the NEMA 14-20R OR 14-30R connector. The 20 amp has the hook pointing out and the 30 amp has the hook pointing in.





Then get an input receptacle for the outside of the house and a transfer switch



After one time of running extension cords everywhere, you will want this.

Jerseyboy

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Generator
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2016, 11:17:11 AM »
So I was caught by a sale.  Blains Farm and Fleet had a 6250/5000 watt for $370.  I couldn't pass it up.  All the reviews on it where good.  It has a briggs and Stratton motor.  I just couldn't pass it up.  And I convinced the wife we needed one.  Haven't done much with it.  Thanks for the help.

1. Buy, or make your own, wheel kit for it. Trust me when I say that it's no fun dragging one around.

2. Start storing fuel with stabilizer(Stabil or PRI-G). Use a sharpie to number your fuel cans and keep track of how old the fuel is. When it's 6 months old, pour it in your car and then take the can to refill it.

3. Find the identification numbers on the engine. Order a carb kit and the correct service manual now. https://shop.briggsandstratton.com/us/en/parts-and-accessories/repair-manuals Send me a PM or post the engine info here if you need help figuring out which manual you need.

4. Unbox it, fill it with fuel and oil, start it, and run it. Do not start it with a load and do not shut it off with a load attached or you risk damage to any sort of electronic components it may have for a voltage regulator. Allow it to run with no load for a few minutes to warm up, then load it to 50% of capacity and time it to see exactly how long it runs with that load on a single tank of fuel. Repeat at 75% and 100% load.

5. Add an hour meter to easily keep track of oil change intervals. An inductive type like this https://www.amazon.com/Docooler-Inductive-Marine-Motorcycle-Waterproof/dp/B00A43PKOE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481478249&sr=8-1&keywords=hour+meter is the easiest to connect, but you may have to use a hard wired type to eliminate interference from the generator head.

6. A kill a watt meter is very inexpensive and will tell you if either voltage or frequency is going too low. You'll also find out exactly how much wattage each load is drawing. If voltage or frequency is too high/low, you risk damaging  anything you connect to the generator. You'll probably also find out that your generator won't be all that happy if you actually put 5000 watts of load on it. https://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4460-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B000RGF29Q/ref=dp_ob_title_hi

7. Don't bother buying the cheap 16 gauge extension cords unless all you intend to run is light bulbs or fans. You can make your own extension cords from 10/2 or 12/2 romex(standard house wiring) and cord ends, but they aren't nearly as convenient to store/use. Otherwise, buy once and cry once with heavy duty 10 or 12 gauge cords. Light duty cords cause voltage drop, and aren't meant for heavy loads especially if they're very long(the cord).

8. Buy a rubbermaid tote large enough to hold a few extension cords, three way taps, polarized/non polarized plug adapters, and anything else you may need to get power from the generator to whatever you intend to run. Keep it with the generator.

Offline ChEng

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Re: Generator
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2016, 05:52:54 AM »
1. Buy, or make your own, wheel kit for it. Trust me when I say that it's no fun dragging one around.

2. ...
Wow, nice post - lots of good ideas here. +1 for your work.

The only thing that I could add is to start and run your generator every month.  Let it run for about 20-30 minutes, and add a small load to test the system.

Offline blacktalon606

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Re: Generator
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2016, 08:04:14 PM »
-To find my whole house instantaneous load can't I just open my breaker box and put a clamp on amp meter around my main hot cable with everything running?

- From estimates I have seen on the net my heat pump should draw about 2.76kw at 30° and the air handler about 600w. Fridge is 300w. With sparing light usage and the possible addition of hard start caps it seems like my 5500 running watt 8k surge may actually run my house.... I'm probably missing something.

- It seems like I could put it in a box out by the pole and in a power down situation I could just flip the main on the pole and feed it through existing lines into the house to run everything as usual.


Offline Carl

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Re: Generator
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2016, 03:50:33 AM »
I throw my main breaker and connect to an RV (240 volt) plug outside to run the 'whole house'
The starting of a motor.AC compressor etc can take a surge of 6 times or more of the running current.

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Re: Generator
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2016, 09:59:46 AM »


I made a video (two parts) that shows me installing one of the manual transfer kits, similar to the one mentioned above.  Hope it can help you.

PART 1
PART 2

Offline blacktalon606

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Re: Generator
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2016, 06:47:00 PM »
I throw my main breaker and connect to an RV (240 volt) plug outside to run the 'whole house'
The starting of a motor.AC compressor etc can take a surge of 6 times or more of the running current.


I have high hopes for the hard start capacitors mentioned above...

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Generator
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2016, 09:55:53 AM »
Taking a step back - what's the purpose of power the whole house when the grid is down?

In my case, we have broad band cable internet, digital cable TV, VoIP phones that all stop working when the power goes out.
In the past I've hooked up my cable modem, router and VoIP box to battery UPS backup - my local network was up and running, but the issue was the cable company "node" at the end of the neighborhood had no power.  So my efforts were for nothing.  (yes I could power a mesh network, etc. etc. but that's another thread)

So if I'm running no TV, or internet devices, and my gas furnace is running off a transfer switch, lighting is really the outstanding item.  It's 2016 and cheap LED lighting is ubiquitous.

If I ran a machine shop, had a large aquarium setup, etc. I can see the benefit of powering multiple, or all home circuits.  But for most suburban dudes, it feels like overkill.

Offline Carl

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Re: Generator
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2016, 10:34:01 AM »
Taking a step back - what's the purpose of power the whole house when the grid is down?

In my case, we have broad band cable internet, digital cable TV, VoIP phones that all stop working when the power goes out.
In the past I've hooked up my cable modem, router and VoIP box to battery UPS backup - my local network was up and running, but the issue was the cable company "node" at the end of the neighborhood had no power.  So my efforts were for nothing.  (yes I could power a mesh network, etc. etc. but that's another thread)

So if I'm running no TV, or internet devices, and my gas furnace is running off a transfer switch, lighting is really the outstanding item.  It's 2016 and cheap LED lighting is ubiquitous.

If I ran a machine shop, had a large aquarium setup, etc. I can see the benefit of powering multiple, or all home circuits.  But for most suburban dudes, it feels like overkill.

It is overkill,though for many it represents CRANIAL COMFORT. a cocoon of normalcy that they have to have.

endurance

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Re: Generator
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2016, 11:04:29 AM »
Don't just store gasoline, store oil, too.  If you're running it 24/7 it won't take long to ruin that oil, so have enough around for several oil changes.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Generator
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2016, 01:24:18 PM »
Taking a step back - what's the purpose of power the whole house when the grid is down?

Just a few reasons...  When you have livestock and outbuildings, when you have children, when you have heat that requires electricity to work it in some way (i.e. fan at the very least), when a lot of your food requires freezing or you need to keep it from freezing, health issues, disabilities.  And these are less reasons for alternative power for people who live off grid, use as a reason all year long.

Offline Carl

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Re: Generator
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2016, 03:08:31 PM »
A diesel powered generator would have less fuel usage,easier fuel storage,more efficiency,and way less maintenance .
With all you have to power maybe better to get a diesel 20 kilowatt generator or welder and use as a stable generator
or YOU will be running constantly to balance the load.