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Electric Generators - Part 1

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  • Electric Generators - Part 1

    It is XX:22 PM. The 20 kW natural gas generator outside just fired up automatically for its weekly 20 min. self-test. It is NOISY! I can hear it running from inside the house. It helps me feel a little bit more comfortable. Sometimes when the power goes out I delight in turning on almost everything in the house to put a big load on my "Jenny." :D

    I also have access to a nice little Honda EU generator. It is quiet and very fuel-efficient. Plus it is portable enough to require only one hand to carry. It is VERY easy to take with you in your vehicle if you need to travel.

    Unfortunately all generators require a fuel source. My feeling is that it is generally good in life to diversify. Natural gas or propane for Jenny. Gas for the Honda EU. Lots more gas in the other cars. Diesel for the truck. Lamp Oil for the lamps. Batteries for the electronics & lights. Lantern fuel for the Coleman...

    What do you guys think about fuel diversification? Do you shoot for commonality or diversification?

    If you are thinking about getting a generator please ask here - I probably have some useful wisdom - at least I hope so. :)

    Ahh, Jenny just shut down/up. Peace has returned. All is well.

  • #2
    Well it's an interesting topic for sure.

    My initial reaction is keep it all the same that way you only have one type of fuel you need to store, and only one type you need to find.

    Yet if you can't find that fuel, but you can find another it would be nice to have something that would run on it.

    That's actually one reason I have been considering a 6x6 deuce and a half with the multi fuel engine, if and when the shtf, it will run on virtually anything from gasoline, diesel, kerosene, even oil and atf fluid.

    20kw gen is nice for sure.. but what happens when the natural gas gets cut off, you'd be hard pressed to source any.

    The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)


    • #3
      Please do fill me in on what I need in terms of size and power ratings to power my house. What specifics do you need in order to provide a suggestion?
      Μολὼν λαβέ

      "The founding fathers made the right to bear arms the second amendment for a reason. It's the one that protects all your other freedoms, which aren't worth the parchment they're printed on if you don't have the means to defend them." Penn Jillette

      Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
      Benjamin Franklin


      • #4
        Originally posted by Diesel View Post
        20kw gen is nice for sure.. but what happens when the natural gas gets cut off, you'd be hard pressed to source any.
        The natural gas hasn't ever been shut off... yet... But if it is I can run Jenny on propane. I even purchased the appropriate fittings to run her off of a gas grill's tank for emergencies. The neighbors don't know that I think about keeping an inventory of their propane tanks...

        If the natural gas ever shuts off I'll only be running the generator(s) for short periods of time to perform tasks necessary to survive. I probably won't be idling them so that I can run a lamp to read a good book.


        • #5
          Originally posted by bug_out View Post
          Please do fill me in on what I need in terms of size and power ratings to power my house. What specifics do you need in order to provide a suggestion?
          You need to identify all of the loads that you want to be able to power when the utility company's electric service is shut off. You probably don't need a generator big enough to power every circuit in your entire house.

          Once you've identified all of the loads that you want to power you need to assign a power requirement to each one (how many watts does it use). You need a generator who's full load power is greater than the total number of watts that you want to use at one time. Most of the loads (lights, etc.) in a home are considered resistive. This means that their load (how many amps they draw) is relatively constant when you turn them on and when they are running. Reactive loads (like motors) require much more power/current to start than they do to run. If you plan to have a big reactive load this will probably define the lower limits of your power requirements.

          In most homes the biggest electrical load is the air conditioning (it is considered a reactive load). Its required startup current is huge. I couldn't justify buying a big enough generator so that I could start my central air conditioning. My next biggest load is my well pump. I sized Jenny so that she could comfortably supply the high startup current to get my well pump moving.

          If you are building a new home you might consider paying the upcharge upfront to have a concrete pad poured for the generator. You might even have the electricians install an automatic transfer switch to make things more idiot proof (Jenny has one - it decides when to turn Jenny on and when to turn Jenny off. It also decides whether the power company's power is better or whether Jenny's is.) Then you can easily and less expensively add the generator later on.

          Once you have a better idea of what loads you think you want to power at once and you have a better idea of how many watts they consume I can better help you with the details. Let me know.


          • #6
            Kohler has a good little requirement calculator


            The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)


            • #7
              NICE FIND! That calculator is exactly what you need to start working through the painful details... Let me know if you have any questions - I'll be happy to try to help.


              • #8
                they way I look at it is this... if the SHTF there's only a couple of major things you Need to power, Fridge, radio, television, cell charger, and a fan... heat and ac are luxuries.. ncie to have for sure.. and if your gen can handle the load then great.. but i'd hold it to one room a heatrer in one room and a poortable type or window type unit in one room... the less load put on the gen the less fuel used too.. most of them adjust their rpm/idle speeds based on load sensing.

                The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)


                • #9
                  I have a small generator (5kw) but I can connect it through the interlocked (cuts off the main panel so it will not backfeed on the lines) sub panel and power my lighting circuits and well. Got wood heat so that isn't a problem. Also have fans and smaller window units to use in the summer, but can sleep cool downstairs as well.

                  Basically I look at things similar to how Diesel does when needing to use a generator. Freezer, Fridge and sometimes lighting (use CFL for power conservation). Most of my emergency gear is 12V DC powered so I can recharge from my small solar system. Also have 12V adapters to use from DVD players, to gaming systems, to laptops as well as recharge the UPS for the DSL modem and alarm system batteries.

                  When it is a major outage that will last for a week or two... I run the genny a few hours each day partially to keep things frozen in the freezers and partially for 'morale'. If it is TSHTF I am much more apt to conserve my fuel resources entirely for EMERGENCY ONLY use!

                  Your basic 5 kw will do your average sized house 'lighting and receptacle loads' but unless you have a gas, wood or oil furnace with a 120 V AC blower you are SOL on using that to power your central air/heat pump as MOST if not all are 220V AC and pull more that 30 amps. If you are on a well, remember to have a way to power it!

                  A system like D & T has is a VERY nice system and should power EVERYTHING. Gotta love auto transfer switching:cool:


                  Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to
                  beat you to death with it because it is empty.

                  The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.


                  • #10
                    I have a crappy old Coleman genny that sucks fuel, but it was free and I can't afford a newer type so I go with what I got. What I really hate about it is the constant refueling, especialy in the dark!
                    Usually I loose power in the winter, -5 degrees or lower, so keeping food cold is no problem.
                    After loosing power for 2 weeks one winter I replaced my electric range with a propane stove and I have a wood stove as well, so cooking is no problem. I do need electric power to keep my pipes from freezing in winter.
                    Since my winter nights are 16 hours of darkness and my wood stove needs a fan to circulate heat AND I would go crazy without my Sat TV for weather updates (no radio signals) I end-up running the genny 8 hours a night for lights fan and TV, over a gallon of fuel, that doesn't sound like alot of fuel but it is!
                    I would love to learn about small, quite, propane fueled gennys and if they are available used. My home draws less electricty in winter than a normal home and we never need air conditioning, which is good, since I can't afford that either!
                    I know PPL that went 30 days in winter without power and thier well froze and pipes split, man what a mess! They had to truck water 25 miles to keep thier stock alive and flush toilets! It is hard to imagine what life at -25 is like with-out power or water and live stock need 20 gallons a day each to keep from dieing in those conditions. Imagine spending 3/4 of your daylight hours just getting enough water to last 48 hours!
                    Last edited by kenno; 11-25-2008, 04:44 PM.
                    The road to serfdom is paved with free electric golf carts.


                    • #11
                      How much fuel does ur Honda EU consume ? How about a hydrogen generator to reduce fuel consuption ? My friends old v8 carbed is getting 80 mpg with a on demand HHO generator. I am going to build one for my 10kw Listeroid genset I built, it uses 1/3 gal/hr outputting 2,700 watts. I now have 5 124 watt solar panels on the roof to reduce fuels also. Works good. I will post after I test a Hydro gen. Dave


                      • #12
                        I cant wait to built a battery bank i have been saving up car batterys and alternators i gonna make a way to recharge to bank with a couple bikes my kids love to ride there bikes so trying to figure it out any thoughts and sorry if it seems like im hijacking your post thanks


                        • #13
                          You might look into deepcycle or golf cart type battries but either way keep us posted on your findings.


                          • #14
                            A couple of things based on experience:

                            1. Most gen sets tell you that they have 8 hours of fuel at 50% of load. What that means that you bought a 5500 watt gen set - your load can only be 2750 watts to manage your fuel load. Remember to refuel the gen set after it has cooled down.

                            2. Manage you appliances to use them as little as possible. when our last hurricane happened I transferred all our items in our refrigerator 25 cu foot to a 12 cu foot. my watts were cut in 1/2. I only ran it 1 hour out of every 3 hours. still kept everything cold. Since I'm in Florida (avg temp 94 avg humidity 90+ in Aug) we installed a window a/c and closed off the rest of the house staying in one bedroom. Reduced our cooling cost in watts from 8500 (Central a/c) to under 1500 (window) per hour.

                            3. If SWTHTF, You wouldn't want to attract attention in having too many lights on, or a noise level that can be heard from the street. It might attract someone to come knocking at your door, you do not want to open for!!!!

                            4. NEVER RUN A GEN SET INDOORS. They release toxic gases that can and will kill you!


                            • #15
                              I have a flex fuel adaptor on my generator (Gasoline, propane, nat. gas) and have a methane conversion unit in storage, in case I ever need it. Want to be able to run my geney on methane or alcohol/gasahol that I can produce for true long term usage, if needed.