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billy backstay

Generator Anarchy??

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When we lost power a month or so ago, I bought a 5KW, 6.5 Peak Generac Gas generator.  Since our house was already wired with a subpanel and transfer switch, I just plugged the generator into the socket on the siding, started it up, and threw the transfer switch.  Worked everything but the clothes dryer and electric range and oven.  And the A/C as we just added that after we moved in last year.  I sold the generator when I found I could get one with electric start for less, and figured out that's what I would do.  Then I got to talking to some of the mechanics and electronic techs at work, and they were all buying Champion brand, because they have an inverter, that smooths out the power and prevents things like burned out well pumps, etc.  Don't know if the Generac had one, and it worked fine, but obviously labored more when the well pump came on.  So I was about to search for an electric start generator with an inverter, when I decided to ask you all, since there is a heap knowledge here about anything and everything!  I even considered getting one that would rum the whole house automatically, but  they are pricey, and most use a metric shit ton of propane when running for a couple days.  Decided against that, but would like to be a little more edumacated before I purchase a replacement.  So, thanks in advance for all the sage advice about to populate this thread! :)

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Biggest disadvantage of a gas generator in these parts? In a hurricane hard to find gas and they will burn a minimum of 10 gallons a day, 5 a day for smaller ones running the fridge, a fan and a light. Going to drive a long ways to find a station with power - all the whole house units run on natural gas and I have close friends nearby with one of those.  Helpful hint - make sure you shut off the fuel to burn all the gas out of the engine if it's going to be off for even a few days.  An option might be finding a welding rig setup as a diesel unit is much more efficient.

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We install natural gas generators on the houses I do, all V-8 s . They don't run everything for sure, it's to run critical circuts- especially pumps for de watering and elevators. I'm in the process of commissioning one now from Kholer. I have to wonder how many will work after the "big one". Earthquake. 

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46 minutes ago, d'ranger said:

Biggest disadvantage of a gas generator in these parts? In a hurricane hard to find gas and they will burn a minimum of 10 gallons a day, 5 a day for smaller ones running the fridge, a fan and a light. Going to drive a long ways to find a station with power - all the whole house units run on natural gas and I have close friends nearby with one of those.  Helpful hint - make sure you shut off the fuel to burn all the gas out of the engine if it's going to be off for even a few days.  An option might be finding a welding rig setup as a diesel unit is much more efficient.

 

That's exactly what I did with the Generac, before rolling it into the walkout basement, and I drained the tank dry first.  We do have a 100 lb. propane tank, no nat gas here.  Looking at the burn rate of the whole house generators, we'd have to fill it every couple of days.  Rarely any gasoline shortages here, none since the gas lines in the 70's.

I'm keen for a tutorial on the inverter, that was mentioned to me, and why they were all buying Champion generators..

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Billy,

 

Availability of gasoline on a normal day isn't the same when most of the county is out of electricity.  That's what happened here after Irene.  93-95% of the customers for our electric coop woke up without power.  Because we are the second to last house on a 6 mile above ground powerline through mostly pine trees, we put in a 20 KW, auto start/auto transfer Generac.  No NG so went with propane and buried a 550 gallon tank, good for about 14 days of heavy use and 21-28 days of conservation.  Came on when the trees started falling during the storm and we went 11 days before power came back on.  36 poles down between the house and the substation.  Co-op properly went after high impact repairs first leaving the few houses in my neighborhood until last.  Once we cleared the road out to the highway, we went into power saving mode.  Generator was off from 0730-4:00, ran living area AC zone only  until about 10 PM and then sleeping area zone overnight.  We are on a well and septic so no power means no water. No water/toilets means moving into a hotel or onto the boat until the holding tank fills up.    No power also means losing all of the food in the fridge and freezer.  Basically, power out for more than a few hours worked out to about $300/day in cost of lost food and hotel. Add in more for restaurant food.  With the generator, we were able to shift from work mode to cleanup mode, have a hot shower and dinner followed by a hot tub.  Rinse and repeat the next day. Laundry and cooking as needed.  After it was over, I calculated we spent less than $100/day on propane. Underground tank also feeds fireplace and grill.  Without an outage, we fill it in late spring to have a full tank for the hurricane season.   

Installation and stocking up is pretty expensive  About $10K in 2010.  When the lights go out, it takes about 25 seconds for the generator to turn them back on.  No action required.  It's all automatic. Makes the bride happy.  

Over 10 years, we are probably still in the negative on investment/return but we lose power several time per year for a few hours up to a day.  Pretty nice to be able to count on lights and water when the grid shuts down.  

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also in a no Natural Gas area. I have a 6.5 portable gas(jobsite type from Troybuilt)  that will run everything but the A/C. I have another honda 2k that will run a window unit in my bedroom. for prolonged outage I can shut the house down except for the fridge and move onto my boat or the rv. the gensets on either of those will need an oil change every few days, but those are easy. 

I dont have any definitive answers for ya with regard to "inverter" generators, but I have a sneaky suspicion that many late models are already that. I could be wrong and am happy to be corrected. When one of my neighbors had a 20kw propane unit set up, I remember reading "Pure SIne Wave" on one the boxes.That is the basis for my assumption. 

Also interested to see what others have to say on this.

 

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IB, did you get hard by Derecho? Irene, left us out for about a week as well up here near Galesville. the winter before the Derecho a VP from BG&E moved in across the street. 

I think he had some influence on how quickly we got turned back on. places in and around Naptown were down for up to a couple weeks and we were back online in  3 days. 

I'm moving out of the big waterfront house into another place I bought here about 3 blocks away. Waiting to get this one sold before I build a shop/garage in the back yard a the new place and will probably put in a 20kw propane unit to run the house and garage. Will convert to propane stove and fireplace at that point as well.. 

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https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/powerwall/mobile-app/backup-only-mode

 

Backup-Only

Backup power mode, called Backup-Only in the Tesla app, reserves 100% of your Powerwall energy to provide seamless power to your home in the event of an outage. Powerwall will charge from the grid (if you don’t have solar) or from your solar system and only discharge during a grid outage.

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11 minutes ago, Bump-n-Grind said:

IB, did you get hard by Derecho? Irene, left us out for about a week as well up here near Galesville. the winter before the Derecho a VP from BG&E moved in across the street. 

I think he had some influence on how quickly we got turned back on. places in and around Naptown were down for up to a couple weeks and we were back online in  3 days. 

I'm moving out of the big waterfront house into another place I bought here about 3 blocks away. Waiting to get this one sold before I build a shop/garage in the back yard a the new place and will probably put in a 20kw propane unit to run the house and garage. Will convert to propane stove and fireplace at that point as well.. 

Not too bad.  A few hours out at most for us and scattered around the county.  

 

 

 

9 minutes ago, VWAP said:

https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/powerwall/mobile-app/backup-only-mode

 

Backup-Only

Backup power mode, called Backup-Only in the Tesla app, reserves 100% of your Powerwall energy to provide seamless power to your home in the event of an outage. Powerwall will charge from the grid (if you don’t have solar) or from your solar system and only discharge during a grid outage.

Powerwall has 12.2 KWH of usable energy before its done.  That's roughly 55 AH at 220V without looking at power factor.  For reference, a 1 hp well pump sucks 10 amps at 220.  AC is probably a non starter for any period of time.  An average suburban home can such up a powerwall in an hour unless you are in full conservation mode.  Good for a short outage and might get you through with enough solar to run the house and  recharge it during the day. 

A 20 KW generator puts out up to 480 KWH daily at full chat.

Depends on what you are looking for on a backup system and how long you plan for the power to be out.  History says we need to plan for a 2 week outage every 5-10 years down here from either a TS/Hurricane or a winter storm.  For that reason, we went whole house and plenty of fuel.  

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Bought a Westinghouse 95kva 12500 peak dual fuel (propane and petrol) Can run most of the house, has a keyfob for start/stop remote monitoring and clean power. Here in earthquake country the gas will shut off on a ~4.5 so a true standby didn't seem to make sense. Our critical stuff is on UPS so we have 20m or so to start the genset and flip the transfer. Have some lights, Fridge, TV/computers furnace and WH plus a few convenience outlets on transfer. Now that we got it power only went out 1 time and only for an hour. 

Bought 4 tanks of propane, should supply elec. for 4 days. Since no gas in the tank easy to store. Came with integrated trickle charger that we have on a smart outlet that runs 2 hours a day keeps it powered. 

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34 minutes ago, Locus said:

Bought a Westinghouse 95kva 12500 peak dual fuel (propane and petrol) Can run most of the house, has a keyfob for start/stop remote monitoring and clean power. Here in earthquake country the gas will shut off on a ~4.5 so a true standby didn't seem to make sense. Our critical stuff is on UPS so we have 20m or so to start the genset and flip the transfer. Have some lights, Fridge, TV/computers furnace and WH plus a few convenience outlets on transfer. Now that we got it power only went out 1 time and only for an hour. 

Bought 4 tanks of propane, should supply elec. for 4 days. Since no gas in the tank easy to store. Came with integrated trickle charger that we have on a smart outlet that runs 2 hours a day keeps it powered. 

 

Isn't 9,500, 12,500 over kill for "some lights, Fridge, TV/computers furnace and WH plus a few convenience outlets on transfer."?  Electrician sais 10 kw would run everything.  5500, 6500 max ran everything in the house and accessory apartment, but range, ovens and dryers and the 3 ton Mitsubishi split system that was installed long after genset wiring was installed in the house.  Our house is just 1400 sq ft, but we also feed the 700 sq ft loft apartment over the garage, so total 2100.  We have a heating zone in the walkout basement but it's off all the time, since the earth up against the long front foundation wall keeps it naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

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Out here in the Florida Outback, we're considering a portable generator big enough to run the whole house, AC included; with judicious load management, of course. Six days without power in the post-Irma hate, heat and humidity was no fun.

The genset will be dual fuel: gas and propane. It'll be fed off a buried 400 gal propane tank.  That'll keep it humming along for a week and a half or more. Propane is safer to store and doesn't age like gasoline. Auto transfer switch and start, of course. Designed so Charlotte can handle it all if I'm not there.  

The comment about power conditioning is interesting... may have to look into that.  Thanx.

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44 minutes ago, Charlie Foxtrot said:

Out here in the Florida Outback, we're considering a portable generator big enough to run the whole house, AC included; with judicious load management, of course. Six days without power in the post-Irma hate, heat and humidity was no fun.

The genset will be dual fuel: gas and propane. It'll be fed off a buried 400 gal propane tank.  That'll keep it humming along for a week and a half or more. Propane is safer to store and doesn't age like gasoline. Auto transfer switch and start, of course. Designed so Charlotte can handle it all if I'm not there.  

The comment about power conditioning is interesting... may have to look into that.  Thanx.

Same approach I took. I’ve been happy with the Generac for 10 years with no additional conditioning. Load shedding relays for the 2 hvac units and the hot tub but haven’t been able to force them to kick off during periodic load testing. The 20 KW generator can handle 83 amps/leg. Most we have been able to draw is 78 on one leg and 82 on the other. Close but the generator can handle our peak loads. 

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2 hours ago, billy backstay said:

 

Isn't 9,500, 12,500 over kill for "some lights, Fridge, TV/computers furnace and WH plus a few convenience outlets on transfer."?  Electrician sais 10 kw would run everything.  5500, 6500 max ran everything in the house and accessory apartment, but range, ovens and dryers and the 3 ton Mitsubishi split system that was installed long after genset wiring was installed in the house.  Our house is just 1400 sq ft, but we also feed the 700 sq ft loft apartment over the garage, so total 2100.  We have a heating zone in the walkout basement but it's off all the time, since the earth up against the long front foundation wall keeps it naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

To an extent. However there were two considerations. 1. The next step down for WH was 5600W and that is right on the edge of what we are pulling. Basically 3/4 of a 100a panel so around 6500W with the 240, 5000W without. We COULD run one or two 240 items at a time, but the transfer switch is not rated for it. 60a

Second,, running on propane its a bit lower 8500 and 11000 peak. But running it full power will burn the propane way faster so we opted for the larger running at 3/4 load which should give us 36hr or so on a tank 4 tanks is about 6 days of power.

Plus we have a 240 extension cord and can run the dryer that way, or use the outlets for charging etc gives us some overhead. 

 

Might also consider sharing with my neighbors 

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I had a Generac 7500Kw When I lived near you. It did most of the things that needed doing. Well pump, fridge, etc.

 But it was a PITA to go out to the barn, unplug the planer, plug in the pigtail, and fire up the generator.

 When I bought a place down here it came with a 17000Kw Generac, with the automatic start thingy, and it's been great. Haven't needed it nearly as much here in the gunshine state as we did up in the nutmeg state, but one never knows..... Oh.... And CL&P charged me just as much for my electricity for those 3 months with only 19 days of power each, as they did on regular months..... No wonder they suddenly went "POOF!"

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1 hour ago, Innocent Bystander said:

Same approach I took. I’ve been happy with the Generac for 10 years with no additional conditioning. Load shedding relays for the 2 hvac units and the hot tub but haven’t been able to force them to kick off during periodic load testing. The 20 KW generator can handle 83 amps/leg. Most we have been able to draw is 78 on one leg and 82 on the other. Close but the generator can handle our peak loads. 

An ancient generator came with the house. I think it was left with us because it was too beat up to scrap. I thought to myself; "Self, that effer needs to be replaced."  Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma only gave us three weeks.

After shiite stopped flying around, I tried the gen. After 20 pulls, all I got was a polite little "poof". With Charlotte running on auto-nag: "Waddaya gonna do? Gonna do?  Gonna DO?" I had to do sumthin. I got my tools and my rather limited smudgepot experience and tore into the wreak. Dumped the fuel, cleaned the spark plug, cleared out the fuel lines, mucked out the float bowl and blew out the carb jets. And put it all back together with no extra parts. 

Covered by Charlotte's long shadow, I gave it a pull. Nuthin'. On the second pull, it coughed, shuddered, gasped, blew out a cloud of tar and nicotine, and then commenced to purring like a kitten. Charlotte and her kitchen knife walked in the house without a word.  

That lil' beastie ran the entire house without complaint, pumps and all.  It even held the electric water heater and the pump load together. (A hot shower after three days marinating in 99°/ 99% was just about the best thing ever.) I spent that week flipping breakers to manage the load as best I could: I was petrified of melting down the geezer. I certainly didn't have the balls to try the AC.

I dingbatted the genset through the remainder of the week. Four years on, it's still; "Self, that effer needs to be replaced."     

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Have had back up generators for 30 years. 

Have installed for neighbors along with gentran transfer switches, sub panels etc.

A couple things:

If you have a portable unit, write down every step and plasticate before attaching to the generator.  You may be on the road and someone else has to flip switches on the gentran switch, choke the motor etc. Should also have the sequence and timing on manual gentran switches.  You turn them all on and it is likely to pop a breaker on the generator the big motors hit in unison. I used to bring up lights,  then furnace.  Once furnace had heated the house and had shutdown I would go for the well and 3 mins later the fridge then the freezer.  Never a killer spike to trip the breaker.

Never have it indoors. You can kill yourself with CO. Even if outside, you know which direction most storms come from. Be sure it is not pushing exhaust at the house.

If in northern climates, watch where the snow builds up. Nothing sucks like trying to refill at 2 am when a gust of wind drops 10 inches on top of you from the roof.

Get a big ass  motorcycle security cable and lock that fucker to the house, preferably by looping through the frame, under the garage door and tied into the garage.  Desperate people will steal a running generator and then you are screwed.  Have seen it happen.  Gone before you know what hit  (did it run out of gas?)  Ought to be able to shoot the MFers who pull the shit.

Before you put away a gas generator, add Sta-Bil and then run the motor dry.  That way it will start next time.

Once dropped my portable generator off for servicing as I was prepping for a business trip to Asia in the fall. Came back and got my generator. DId not need it until a major blizzard mid Jan.  Was 9 degrees. When to crank it over and dang near tore off my arm. The guy had used straight 30 weight instead of 5- 30 synesthetic i always used.  Felt like bearing were set in sand paper with a 70 pound flywheel.  I was screwed.  Luckily I rolled it against the house in the garage and put a blanket on it to warm it for 40 minutes.  A bunch of slow pulls and some starter fluid finally got the engine running. After that I drilled a small hole in air cleaner assembly so I could easily put a plastic straw from starter fluid can in there before firing up.  electric start will bypass this issue.

I have done up to 40 miles each way to find fuel for my generator during a multi-day blizzard that destroyed the power grid.  Have gas cans to run for a couple days so you are not having to forage every day.

Do not cut in line.  In a long line one time when some chick parked by the store and tried to walk up and fill her gas tanks. Had not seen a group go tribal like that since the gas crisis of the late 1970s..

Always have a spare quart of oil for it.  These are usually crude motors and will burn some oil.  If the motor dies for no reason, always check the oil right after the gas level (most generators have a low oil switch that just kills the ignition).  Will save you a lot of time scratching your head going WTF?

Current unit is a 13KW propane unit with automatic gentran switch.  30 seconds and it comes online.  Power restored for 30 seconds, it shuts itself off. Runs all but the AC.  Always have a dozen bottles of margarita mix and a gallon of tequila to keep me cool should the power be out long term ( fridge has icemaker).  Yes it uses  more fuel than gasoline but it does not go bad and I have a 300 gallon propane tank (felt guilty burning a couple gallons a year so I had the propane company plumb in lies to run the grill and got a gas dryer for the admiral).  They automatically refill before a name storm hits.  I can go a 3 weeks full out if need be.  And Propane means the spark plugs always look like new.  Sucker runs itself for 15 minutes every Tuesday night to keep the battery charged.

Like any decent power tool, take care of it so it can take care of you when things go pear shaped.  I used to do maintenance late October when Hurricane season is over (along with the snow blower and lawn tractor).  Change oil, check spark plugs, wax the thing when new so it does not rust. Do not leave outside without a cover.

Be nice and offer the neighbors a hot shower and food if they they were not as wise as you to buy a generator.  Got all kinds of good karma points when we used to invite the neighbors over during a multiday blizzard to warm up, take a hot shower, do some laundry etc.  Usually they bought their own unit soon afterwards.

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Hard to convince yourself to spend $$$ to replace a functioning generator. We only do that for boat stuff....

I agree. A hot shower after a long hot and humid day of cleaning up after a hurricane is divine. We did showers, a dinner and then a bottle of wine and the hot tub. Got the joints and muscles ready for another day of chainsaws and loading trailers. 

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About to upgrade my panel so I can run a 5 or 7.5kw generator in the next ice/ wind storm.  Three years living here if power goes out we get it back in hours as we are on the same sub station and primary lines as most of the town water dept.  However I can see an ice storm doing enough damage to cause issues.  

Just going to do a manual interlock to he main breaker.  Current house is 100 amp. So I won't have stove, or dyer. But I will have lights, heat and fridges.  Combined with fireplace, and grill I should be okay.  Worst comes to worse I will have to shower elsewhere without running water.  But I do have an old well that while I won't drink I can and will set for toilets.  (Manual haul of water only no pump) but like I said 2 of the town wells are within a half mile of me.  So priority area for power to get back on.  Bonus is i have police and school fairly close too. 

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5 minutes ago, Innocent Bystander said:

Hard to convince yourself to spend $$$ to replace a functioning generator. We only do that for boat stuff....

I agree. A hot shower after a long hot and humid day of cleaning up after a hurricane is divine. We did showers, a dinner and then a bottle of wine and the hot tub. Got the joints and muscles ready for another day of chainsaws and loading trailers. 

Agreed   About to upgrade our 13KW to a 18KW which can run the heat pump (eg AC).  Cheap pricks who built the house saved like 700 bucks by specing sub optimal power.  Awaiting the daughter to buy her first house soon and will bolt up the current unit to her first abode while we get the bigger unit.

Neighbor has a 35KW run on diesel.  Not sure what the extra power is for, but he is pretty much set for anything..

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Rams 24

Bears 10

Bears suck.

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16 hours ago, Innocent Bystander said:

Hard to convince yourself to spend $$$ to replace a functioning generator. We only do that for boat stuff....

I agree. A hot shower after a long hot and humid day of cleaning up after a hurricane is divine. We did showers, a dinner and then a bottle of wine and the hot tub. Got the joints and muscles ready for another day of chainsaws and loading trailers. 

LOL. Well, no. There's truck stuff, power tools, gun jewelry, along with boat stuff that gets upgraded  - just because. Stand-by generators certainly aren't in that category. 

However, the thought of a post-hurricane shower, dinner, wine and a hot tub might just tip that analysis. 

Charlotte bought self-stable treats for us before Irma hit. A decedent dessert after a hard day did wonders for our morale.  

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Google found the inverter generator is quieter and more fuel efficient, and smooths out the power. No spikes or dips.   So I guess my Generac did not have an inverter because the revs dropped then went when it got the load of the well pump coming on.

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50 minutes ago, billy backstay said:

Google found the inverter generator is quieter and more fuel efficient, and smooths out the power. No spikes or dips. So I guess my Generac did not have an inverter because the revs dropped then went when it got the load of the well pump coming on.

Hmm, I've got a couple of those Honda 2000 Inverter generators. When the refrig comes on, the genset noticeably grunts as the gas motor slows before coming up to speed again. Need to know more. 

 

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An inverter generator will certainly dip in speed when a load is suddenly applied. The reaction time of the throttle to increase speed and thus power is much to slow...at least a few strokes. The inverter attempts to keep the output constant using whatever energy is available from the engine and generator (or alternator). In doing that I could imagine that the inverter generator speed might dip even more than the non-inverter style as it uses whatever momentum is available to keep the output up to target voltage. The non-inverter might also dip less in speed because as the speed drops the voltage drops and that reduces the load considerably.

So dips in speed with an inverter generator might not result in any change in output voltage.

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Inverters on DC generators with acceptance of a wide range of input voltages are very smooth and provide good power quality.  AC Generators usually run at a fixed RPM and lose frequency first when overloaded or when responding to a sudden increase.  They monitor frequency drop to control load shedding relays.  Any ICE driven generator will throttle up and down with load and you'll hear that initial bog as the engine throttles up.  How quickly the engine throttles up and how much higher than base load the new load is make a big difference in engine response.  

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I think I'm gonna get this one, Champion 100165.  It's a couple hundred more than their pull start 5500W, but 7500W, dual fuel with electric or recoil start.  Checks all the boxes for me.  Lighter, quieter and more fuel efficient than the Generac's, and is an inverter generator.  I can't see us needing anything more than this.  The last wind storm a month or so ago, when I bought the Generac, we had multiple power wires laying all over the streets, all over our neighborhood, and beyond and power was back in 4 days...  

 

image.thumb.png.770c68aa19a78d9bb6ccf9afd9135f96.png

 

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So inverters synthesize a waveform independent of generator RPM....

Thanks, gentlemen, for your Master's Class in generators!

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7 minutes ago, Charlie Foxtrot said:

So inverters synthesize a waveform independent of generator RPM....

Thanks, gentlemen, for your Master's Class in generators!

 

I missed that technical explanation upthread, which one was it please?

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Just now, billy backstay said:

 

I missed that technical explanation upthread, which one was it please?

Well, after more research on the one Billy is buying, it produces high freq AC, converts to DC and inverts back to 60 HZ AC. Unclear if it varies rpm with load. The consumption is about the same as the 7500w generac but there is no standard comparison. At 74db at 21 feet, it’s not all that quiet. That 3 step conversion would give cleaner power but unless you are running processors direct, any electronic device already has a power supply that gives it some isolation from the power coming out of the outlet. 
 

Billy. Hope you are happy with your purchase. 

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15 minutes ago, Innocent Bystander said:

Well, after more research on the one Billy is buying, it produces high freq AC, converts to DC and inverts back to 60 HZ AC. Unclear if it varies rpm with load. The consumption is about the same as the 7500w generac but there is no standard comparison. At 74db at 21 feet, it’s not all that quiet. That 3 step conversion would give cleaner power but unless you are running processors direct, any electronic device already has a power supply that gives it some isolation from the power coming out of the outlet. 
 

Billy. Hope you are happy with your purchase. 

 

I have not made a purchase yet.  Can you suggest a different or better solution to our needs?

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If a portable, I will suggest the Kawasaki's.

Many years ago I borrowed my S-I-L's generator  (she had a business that used it) on weekends to power tools in Dolphin Point  Maine.

Power plugs in the boat yard were under 3 feet of snow until late March but I wanted to sand the bottom.

The neat thing about the units is that they go to idle until a load hit thems.

The generacs just run wide open no matter the load and consume a lot more fuel because of that.

They cost more, but when you need to make that fuel go longer, you will long forget about the extra coin.

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My Generac kicked on around 6PM when some weak kneed Oak, or Pine took out the power lines. After a half hour I asked my wife if the generator was still on. "I think so" she said. I opened the door and heard nothing. So I turned on the garage lights (Which are for some reason not hooked up to the panel that the generator powers) and the lights did not come on. Nope. Generator's still on. A few minutes later the lights flickered, and when I looked, the garage lights were on.

 Generator is running again now, so they must be working on the lines.

Around here a simple rain storm will knock out the power for hours, if not days.

 The generac has a 3 cyl. Subaru engine, and it's very quiet.

 

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1 hour ago, billy backstay said:

 

I have not made a purchase yet.  Can you suggest a different or better solution to our needs?

I don’t have a better idea. The champion is made in China and sold by Tractor supply so I’d guess its consumer grade and not a lot better or worse than anything else in that market. Dual fuel is a real plus. I’d use it with propane and only go with gas if power was out for a long period. I would look into who provide warranty service and if that’s anyone near you.  I don’t trust internet “what’s the best generator” type sites as they usually don’t come from technically savvy people and never disclose any sponsorships, etc and someone is paying them to write that stuff.  

7500 watts is a very competitive market. Big enough to power well pumps, a microwave, lights, fridge, freezer, etc while still portable. As I said, I really like the dual fuel option so would restrict my search to those. I would not shy away from a “normal” generator to pay extra for more electronics, complexity, etc for the inverter options but that’s me. My now 10 YO whole house generac has never hurt any electronics, has several hundred hours on it and starts every time. 2 repairs under the 5 year warranty and there are several dealers nearby who can fix it.  It runs for a test every Saturday, I load test it once a year (run the house on it for several hours) and service it with plugs, oil, and filters annually. On the other hand, my neighbour is on his 3rd 16 KW Generac in 15 years so suspect he might have a different opinion as to the quality. 
 

 

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You don't need a portable. Get a built in unit with the automatic switch, and get a big ass propane tank that'll power your generator, your hot water heater (OK water heater.... Hot water doesn't need to be heated), your kitchen range, your furnace, and your clothes drier.... It's cheap, and easy.

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5 hours ago, Innocent Bystander said:

I don’t have a better idea. The champion is made in China and sold by Tractor supply so I’d guess its consumer grade and not a lot better or worse than anything else in that market. Dual fuel is a real plus. I’d use it with propane and only go with gas if power was out for a long period. I would look into who provide warranty service and if that’s anyone near you.  I don’t trust internet “what’s the best generator” type sites as they usually don’t come from technically savvy people and never disclose any sponsorships, etc and someone is paying them to write that stuff.  

7500 watts is a very competitive market. Big enough to power well pumps, a microwave, lights, fridge, freezer, etc while still portable. As I said, I really like the dual fuel option so would restrict my search to those. I would not shy away from a “normal” generator to pay extra for more electronics, complexity, etc for the inverter options but that’s me. My now 10 YO whole house generac has never hurt any electronics, has several hundred hours on it and starts every time. 2 repairs under the 5 year warranty and there are several dealers nearby who can fix it.  It runs for a test every Saturday, I load test it once a year (run the house on it for several hours) and service it with plugs, oil, and filters annually. On the other hand, my neighbour is on his 3rd 16 KW Generac in 15 years so suspect he might have a different opinion as to the quality. 

 

The 5500W Generac powered all that and more, with no problem.  The main reason I am willing to pay $200 more for the Champion is: electric, plus recoil start, inverter tech, dual fuel and lastly, more wattage.  I don't expect to need it often, or for a long time.  Thanks for your input!!

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5 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

You don't need a portable. Get a built in unit with the automatic switch, and get a big ass propane tank that'll power your generator, your hot water heater (OK water heater.... Hot water doesn't need to be heated), your kitchen range, your furnace, and your clothes drier.... It's cheap, and easy.

 

Maybe easy, but NOT cheap!!  That's a lot of money for the low amount of usage I have experienced here in the past 30 years, or so.  I can live without AC for a week if needed, and we have cooking alternatives to the electric oven, and we just switched the 5 burner cooktop to propane.  That and the microwave and toaster oven are fine for the short spans I expect to occur.  We have plenty of clothes to forgo a dryer for a month or more, if necessary.   And the built in 10KW or more units burn a metric shit ton of propane!  If we had natural gas in the street, I would consider it, but not with propane..  But, thanks for your thoughts!!! :)

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1 hour ago, billy backstay said:

 

Maybe easy, but NOT cheap!!  That's a lot of money for the low amount of usage I have experienced here in the past 30 years, or so.  I can live without AC for a week if needed, and we have cooking alternatives to the electric oven, and we just switched the 5 burner cooktop to propane.  That and the microwave and toaster oven are fine for the short spans I expect to occur.  We have plenty of clothes to forgo a dryer for a month or more, if necessary.   And the built in 10KW or more units burn a metric shit ton of propane!  If we had natural gas in the street, I would consider it, but not with propane..  But, thanks for your thoughts!!! :)

 

Still remember the great ice storm of 1998 that took out the North East and Canada

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_1998_North_American_ice_storm

Fricking crushed those massive towers that hold up major power lines.

 

Lost power for 4.5 days.  Sent the wife and 1 yr daughter to relatives  No power meant the furnace would not work.  House was 6 months old and did not need the pipes to split in NH in Jan.   The Propane fireplace running 24/7 and great insulation kept the temps at 45 degrees.  But it sucked.  F the cost, I got a portable generator and small gentran switch to run the furnace , fridge and freezer.  Was comfy for every blizzard that knocked out power for hours at time.

 

Risk management is all about probability of an incident   x     impact of the incident.   A low probability but that can cause havoc can tip your thinking.

 

Now have a whole house with 300 gallon tank.  Overkill?  Sure as it only runs 2-3 times a year usually for a couple hours (power line a mile away has a bad habit of getting broken by morons who misjudge the curve in the road).  But if a cat 3 hurricane hits, we will be down for week or more as being rural, we are at the bottom of the restore power priority list.     No lost food, comfort in a bad situation which means I can stay and secure my home.

 

Some think nothing of swapping out the granite kitchen countertop for a quartz countertop but have not emergency backup system even though they cost the same.

Or buying a new car every other year where the depreciation alone pays for the generator.

Comes down to priorities.  Just remember, if you had this discussion with the Admiral and do not get it, should that improbable event happen, she is going rag on you for the rest of your life, even if she agreed you didn't need it.

 

 

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one more thing:   Cost

a 6250 watt portable is $650  https://www.homedepot.com/p/CHAMPION-POWER-EQUIPMENT-6250-5000-Watt-Gasoline-Powered-Recoil-Start-Portable-Generator-100496/303291681

a simple 6 circuit gentran switch is 280.  https://www.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-30-Amp-250-Volt-7500-Watt-Non-Fuse-6-Circuit-Transfer-Switch-Kit-3006HDK/202213700

 

You will need to build a cable to attach generator to panel with plugs so lets say 200 bucks

you are talking 1200 bucks to do a house if you wire it yourself. 

If you own a house, that is not a ton of money.

And when you go to sell, you will get your money back and likely more due to having and emergency power supply.

 

You do not need a $15K install despite what the clown as the big box store tells you.

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5 hours ago, Foreverslow said:

one more thing:   Cost

a 6250 watt portable is $650  https://www.homedepot.com/p/CHAMPION-POWER-EQUIPMENT-6250-5000-Watt-Gasoline-Powered-Recoil-Start-Portable-Generator-100496/303291681

a simple 6 circuit gentran switch is 280.  https://www.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-30-Amp-250-Volt-7500-Watt-Non-Fuse-6-Circuit-Transfer-Switch-Kit-3006HDK/202213700

 

You will need to build a cable to attach generator to panel with plugs so lets say 200 bucks

you are talking 1200 bucks to do a house if you wire it yourself. 

If you own a house, that is not a ton of money.

And when you go to sell, you will get your money back and likely more due to having and emergency power supply.

 

You do not need a $15K install despite what the clown as the big box store tells you.

 

Previous owner had the sub-panel and transfer switch already installed, and a 240v 30 A plug on the side of the house, all done before we purchased it.  So all I need is a 5-7 KW portable, dual fuel, in case I decide to use propane instead of petrol gas, and we're good to go.  At the end of a power outage, drain the tank, burn up remaining gas in the carb, and roll into the walk-out basement 10 feet away.

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Unless there is a belt or gears inside, which I have never seen, a 60 Hz non-inverter generator is going to always spin at 3600, 1800, 1200, 900, 600, 400, 300... My guess is 1800 (30 rev/second X 2 poles) for small generators as the other rpm's are not conducive to both long life and power output. An inverter generator will run at whatever speed the designers choose for a given load. Genius. Could be constant, but probably not. They seem to run pretty slow when lightly loaded. Which is sweet.

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On 10/27/2020 at 4:13 PM, billy backstay said:

 

I missed that technical explanation upthread, which one was it please?

Conventional gensets produce straight sinewave AC power by spinning an axial alternator. A feedback device tweaks the throttle to keep RPM roughly constant. But as loads fluctuate, so do voltage, current, and frequency, with enuf overall harmonic distortion and startup voltage drop that it can lead to problems with loads requiring 'clean' power, or with high surge demand. Our basic 8500/7000W Predator wheelie genset should have plenty of overhead for our needs, but you can certainly hear it bog under surge loads (well pump, tablesaw) and LED or CFL lighting flickers due to erratic frequency.

An Inverter genset also uses an axial alternator to produce straight sine-wave AC, sometimes even 3-phase; then it puts that AC through a bridge rectifier (two or three beefy diodes) to create a sort of lumpy DC feed:

power83.gif

That DC is then fed into a 'pure sine wave' inverter (probably around 48 steps per wave crest).

Pure Sine Wave vs Stepped Sine Wave

While this waveform still has slightly reduced peak voltage and a certain amount of harmonic noise, the upstream use of capacitors (to buffer the input) mean the inverted power is likely more consistent than raw AC genset power. 

There are losses involved. Figure each transformation is about 90-94% efficient. And inverter gensets do not solve the basic challenge of all emergency-sized gensets: when you apply a load around half the genny's rated capacity, the comparatively small motor slows down. Which reduces voltage, frequency, and available current. The voltage drop means the load draws more current -- slowing the genset more, reducing voltage, which means more current draw, etc. The only real solutions are a wildly oversized genset -- like the 35kW diesel thing mentioned above, with absurd idle fuel consumption -- or some kind of buffering device. A really large capacitor bank will help flatten out surge loads and keep a small genset running at steady RPM. And large batteries act the same way, supplying amazingly clean and punchy surge capacity.  Batteries also mean you can run a smaller genset, and run it in shifts rather than 24/7. But they involve cost, maintenance, and space. Our home batteries are 2500Ah  (20hr rate) at 24VDC, which is maybe eight-ten days storage to 80% DoD and no trouble starting even large loads through stacked MSW inverters, 10kW surge/7kW continuous. Starting those same loads off the  portable genny is ... marginal.

 

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2 hours ago, Diarmuid said:

Conventional gensets produce straight sinewave AC power by spinning an axial alternator. A feedback device tweaks the throttle to keep RPM roughly constant. But as loads fluctuate, so do voltage, current, and frequency, with enuf overall harmonic distortion and startup voltage drop that it can lead to problems with loads requiring 'clean' power, or with high surge demand. Our basic 8500/7000W Predator wheelie genset should have plenty of overhead for our needs, but you can certainly hear it bog under surge loads (well pump, tablesaw) and LED or CFL lighting flickers due to erratic frequency.

An Inverter genset also uses an axial alternator to produce straight sine-wave AC, sometimes even 3-phase; then it puts that AC through a bridge rectifier (two or three beefy diodes) to create a sort of lumpy DC feed:

power83.gif

That DC is then fed into a 'pure sine wave' inverter (probably around 48 steps per wave crest).

Pure Sine Wave vs Stepped Sine Wave

While this waveform still has slightly reduced peak voltage and a certain amount of harmonic noise, the upstream use of capacitors (to buffer the input) mean the inverted power is likely more consistent than raw AC genset power. 

There are losses involved. Figure each transformation is about 90-94% efficient. And inverter gensets do not solve the basic challenge of all emergency-sized gensets: when you apply a load around half the genny's rated capacity, the comparatively small motor slows down. Which reduces voltage, frequency, and available current. The voltage drop means the load draws more current -- slowing the genset more, reducing voltage, which means more current draw, etc. The only real solutions are a wildly oversized genset -- like the 35kW diesel thing mentioned above, with absurd idle fuel consumption -- or some kind of buffering device. A really large capacitor bank will help flatten out surge loads and keep a small genset running at steady RPM. And large batteries act the same way, supplying amazingly clean and punchy surge capacity.  Batteries also mean you can run a smaller genset, and run it in shifts rather than 24/7. But they involve cost, maintenance, and space. Our home batteries are 2500Ah  (20hr rate) at 24VDC, which is maybe eight-ten days storage to 80% DoD and no trouble starting even large loads through stacked MSW inverters, 10kW surge/7kW continuous. Starting those same loads off the  portable genny is ... marginal.

 

 

Thanks for that!  If you were nearby, I would have you over for an adult beverage of your choice, and hire you as a consultant!! 

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2 hours ago, billy backstay said:

 

Thanks for that!  If you were nearby, I would have you over for an adult beverage of your choice, and hire you as a consultant!! 

Sure! I'm necessarily interested in non-utility power since we live off the grid & I need to run big old power tools all day. Here's a pretty useful page from Yamaha, showing their 'conditioned power' conventional gensets vs. standard gennys, and then their inverter gensets vs. both. 

http://www.yamahapower.co.nz/The+Unique+Yamaha+Advantage.html

We use the big (cheap-ass) portable genset with our stacked inverters as battery chargers, which supplies maximum 140A@24VDC charging rate plus 30A@240VAC combined pass-thru to the main breaker panel. But the AC waveform at those loads is vile, with pumps and microwave oven really struggling to function & the LED lighting strobing hard. So we treat it as a pure battery charging exercise & are very glad to switch back to battery power alone. Ideal would be a dedicated AC-->DC forklift charger connected on the DC side of the system, so the generator was acting as just another DC charging source and had the deep well of the batteries behind it to handle surge loads and smooth out distortion. Hard to find a 1ph charger that big, tho.

Hopefully we will get the last four upgraded PV panels mounted Monday, & we'll seldom need to wrestle with the generator again. The best you can say for most of them is "It's better than having no electricity at all.":(

 

 

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