Anybody Have A "Whole-House" Generator?

I'm talking about a large propane-fired unit that sits outside and is hooked up to your electricity. It kicks on when power goes out, and cuts off when power is restored. It has that special automatic switch feature that prevents damage when the electricity is restored.
I heard that some companies provide a service contract that features monthly inspection and maintenance. Any experience with this?
Just as a rough estimate, how many miles per gallon ... er, I mean how many hours of power do you get on a full load of propane, assuming that you use most of your BIG power drains (well pump, plumbing, hot water heater, oil furnace, computer, two refrigerators, TV) but not washer, dryer, or air conditioning?
When the 'cane came through, power was out three days. Would a full load of propane fill this demand?
Thanks, Jack
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I service home standbys. As far as maintainance, once a year is plenty in most cases! Oil and filter, and check the output. I rarely see one that runs more than 15-20 hours a year. What ever would a tech do once a month, on a home standby, other than to test it to see if it works, which you can do yourself! Propane usage depends on allot of variables. It is really to hard to nail down. Many small units can burn 1-1/2 to 2 gallons per hour, larger units go up from there, the sky is the limit. So actual run times depends on the size of the genny, the load, and the size of the gas supply. For a three days supply a larger tank may be in order. Also keep in mind that you may not want to run it constantly. Run it to cool the fridge down every couple of hours, for cooking and so on, then shut it down when it is not really needed. In our area three-four day run times are very rare. The last time was in '97 when we had a bad ice storm in the spring and many areas were out for close to a week. Usually runs times are a couple of hours, maybe 1/2 a day. Most installs do not have enough propane for days of running. Hoarding that much fuel for a once in a decade event is not practical in most cases. Greg
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Bro Jack writes:

During the 6-day outage from Hurricane Frances this month, I estimated my portable gasoline generator produced about 4 kWH per gallon of gasoline. Scale down for the relative heat content of propane, and you should have a good estimate of your "mileage".
The appliances you listed could be run from a larger portable generator, especially with manual load-balancing. The economics of anything larger are highly unfavorable.
Gasoline or diesel are better than propane in this application.
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Why would you say that? Gasoline degrades over time and gums up fuel systems. Diesel gels and becomes infested with bacteria over time. Propane remains "fresh" over long storage times, burns cleaner, and allows easy engine starting, even in cold weather.
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Oscar_Lives writes:

Cleaner? How? You sound like Hank Hill. Propane has many other problems. Multiplied expenses, pressurized rusting storage tanks, delivery by experts with special trucks instead of haul-it-yourself. There are good reasons it is hardly used compared to other hydrocarbon fuels.
You can occasionally rotate gasoline stock through your automobiles to keep it fresh; and you can count on it being the most readily re-available fuel after a disaster, meaning you need less of a stockpile. Three days after Frances hit, gasoline was widely available in south Florida, an isolated, remote peninsula in logistical terms.
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wrote:

Propane historically has delivery problems after disasters in hurricane areas, and can be more expensive to install. Being able to store a large enough quantity is also an issue, especially since propane cannot be stored below ground in most areas.
Jeff
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We have underground tanks everywhere around here. Most new home construction where natural gas is available includes an underground storage tank for propane. out of site, out of mind, no evaporation loss.
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Propane or Ng are best, small portable units can be purchased Tri fuel ready. Ng- Propane - gasolene. A monthly check is a waste. You will pay maybe double to generate your own power as your utility charges, without figuring depreciation of your unit. The monthly auto test runs of your unit I hear are noticable on a Ng bill. A Large Tri fuel Portable , with manual transfer panel is much cheaper then permanent auto. Honda, Yamaha, are tops. Notrhern Tool has Tri Fuel models. Ng is the easiest to work with if you have Ng. For propane find out BTUs for comparison. I think?? 20 lb of propane has 320,000 BTU. Call Northern they should help , as they sell all models
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m Ransley writes:

Real-world figures are more like 5:1 for fuel costs of your own generator vs utility rates per kWH. Depending on usage (backup generators typically get very little usage to depreciate them economically), purchase costs may double or triple that.
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Depends on your source of heat for the house; I heat with fuel oil (2 330-gallon tanks in the basement). With an 1800 RPM diesel engine (much quieter), and with fuel supplied from these tanks, I can run for ages...
snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote in message

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On Tue, 21 Sep 2004 07:37:59 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

Natural gas has issues of availability during and after storms, so be sure it's reliable in your area. Locally it's unavailable except in commercial areas, and natural gas supplies were cut off for Charlie, Frances and Ivan, even though we didn't get hit to any significant extent from any of the three.
Jeff
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On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 01:04:35 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@windswept.net (Bro Jack) wrote:

Rather popular here, and extremely in demand now days.

Get it. Otherwise you'll need to maintain it yourself. An unmaitained generator is a waste of money.

Most of the manufacturers have calculations for their equipment. Depends a lot on the size of the generator and how often it's operated, less so on what gets powered.

It did locally. But that depends on your tank size.
Be aware that the cost of one for a few days without power every dozen years or so isn't really worth it. Now if it's a vacation home in hurricane territory and you keep a quarter million bucks of wine in your cooler, it's a necessity. And yes, that's a real situation here.
Jeff
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