compare natural gas generators


I want to get a whole house generator that runs off natural gas, there are allot of differant modles to chose from. Does anyone have any suggestions aouut ones to buy or ones to stay away from. Please reply. Thanks, Bob
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bhamm4254 wrote:

One caution before you buy any model- you may need an expensive upgrade of the meter/service. Ask the utility before making any firm decision.
Jim
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Don't assume you need to replace your rated service. Most backup generators just need to handle the kitchen and a few lights. Depending on the climate, you may want to include the furnace fan or possibly some minimal a/c. Depends on what the outage history is in your area.
-- "Tell me what I should do, Annie." "Stay. Here. Forever."
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.invalid (George) says...

McMansions often are not habitable without electricity. My house is 35 years old, but was built by a pioneer family familiar with 19th century technology. With wood heat and a good selection of candle sconces and oil lamps, we don't even bother to start the generator until the second day of the power outage, and most of the time just use a small 1200 watt unit that will power the freezer and refrigerator. We fire up the large generator a couple hours a day for showers - the water heater is electric, and so is the well pump. The rest of the time, 1200 watts is plenty, and doesn't make so much noise. I have a propane camp stove for cooking, but it has never been used. We just cook on the wood stove during outages, and eat stews, pot roast, etc.
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We're drifting off topic, but still on generators.
Please tell me about the 1200 watt unit. Is it a ETQ? I got one of those from Ebay. The once I used it "for real" was a friend's very old furnace, when he didn't pay the bill and the power was off. It needed ether to start, but powered the furnace nicely.
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**spamblock##@hotmail.com (Stormin Mormon) says...

It's a generic that I bought at Coastal Farm Supply for $129. It's a 2- cycle engine (not for sale in California) that starts pretty easily. It runs about 4.5 hours on a gallon of mixed gas. Voltage regulation is by spark interrupter, so it only fires about half the time under no load. It has a 12 volt output that is just about worthless, since the breaker will trip if you hook it to a discharged car battery. If you start with a charged battery, it will keep the voltage up.
Anyway, it's small, light, quiet and cheap, both to buy and to run. A gallon of gas a day will keep the freezer frozen. Don't leave stale gas in the tank. I run Red Line synthetic 2-cycle oil, and have had very good luck with small, cheap 2-cycle engines. I had to pull my $69 leaf blower apart last year because of a broken handle mount, and the cylinder showed no signs of wear after 5 years of use.
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Thanks for the field report. Sounds a lot like my ETI. I didn't know that about the 12 volt charger. Might have to plug in a regular battery charger in that case. The one time I used it during a power cut, I gave it a splash of maybe a quart or so of gas mix. Ran for two hours or so, running the furnace. When I tried it, I could hear the motor, but much quieter than a lawn mower for example.
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Wow...
-- "Tell me what I should do, Annie." "Stay. Here. Forever."
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Hi Bob,
I installed a backup generator about a year ago and it was for approximately to power 40% of the things in the house. It really depends on the size of your house but for a whole house I think you are looking at perhaps a 40Kw generator.
The generator I ended up going with was a Cummins Onan 20kw unit. This powers my well pump, furnance, fridge, lower house air handler and compressor, garage door openeers, water treatment systems, alarm, upstair air handler and some lights. It does not however power the larger HVAC compressor so I have no air conditioning on the upstairs.
The unit has been reliable so far, and works on LP Gas (Propane) because I have no gas mains where I am. I have a 500 gallon tank of Propane. Some posters have reported issues with lower natrual gas mains pressure which may be an issue for the size of generator you are considering.
The unit is fairly quiet, about 68 db. You know when it is running though. It is like having a car outside running at 1,800 rpm. Some cheaper lawn-mower engined power units are even louder. For the pwoer you need though your unit will be truck / car engine based running at 1,800 rpm.
The unit has an automatic transfer switch (200 amps) and will power up and be online within 20 seconds of power failure. It also has heating built in for the motor for fast starting. Note this heater will use power all the time, and more in the winter. The advantage is you always have a warm engine, and so will start easier. The unit also will keep the battery topped up so that your generator will start. It depends a bit on where you are, in Florida I guess you may not need the heating bit.
The project needs professional instalation in that the generator is heavy 1,000 lbs and over. So you need a concrete pad and a hydralic backhoe or crane to lift the generator into position.
One final tip is while you have your electirican on site to wire up the thing, ask him to install a whole house surge arrestor / supressor / protection system. This is not that expensive $US 500 - $US 1,000, but you do not what your generator being zapped by surges.
Warmest regards, Mike.
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In looking at the various specification sheets, it looks like all of them are very noisy with a specification of about 71db. The quietest one that I've came across is the Kohler "15RES". It's rated at 61 db with the "sound enclosure". Based on general rules of noise perception this Kohler would probably be perceived as being about half as loud as the other models.
http://www.kohlerpowersystems.com/pdfs/g4108.pdf
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