Generator for home backup

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Hi,
I have a question as to what type of generator would be good for home backup. This would be for powering a oil burner, refrigerator, light bulbs and depending on the circumstances of the outage a computer or tv/radio and so on.
Because the refrigerator and computer and other appliances have electronics do I stand any sort of chance in frying these by powering a regular generator or do I need to make sure I get an inverter generator.
The main difference it cost. I could get away probably with a $1,300 regular vs a $3,400 inverter model which is very significant being that I may never end up really using it.
Any advise greatly appreciated!
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I've had a generator for several years. We were out of power for over a week in the dead of winter about 10 years ago so I decided it was time.
Mine has a 16HP engine that runs a 8000 watt generator. I just store it in the garage and roll it out as I need it. I have a heavy duty 50' cord that plugs in to the box. It runs pretty much anything in the house except the Heat Pump for heat. It will even run the heat pump if the power is out in the summer and I need air conditioning.
My Generator cost about $1200 at the time from Lowes and it cost me another $700 for an electrician to hook up the switch so no electricity from the generator goes back out in the power lines and electrocutes some poor lineman. That price was for the labor and materials and the 50' cord to connect the generator.
The switch is also handy if I need to work inside the main circuit breaker box. I can just shut of the power at the switch and I can install new breakers without getting fried.
Good luck.
David
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First a transfer panel is needed to balance load, allow a safe hookup, and allow you to monitor what is happening so consider that as needed. Most people buy them and just put in gas and plug them in, a friend of mine an electrician did that and to late after the 1 week old tv fried found it was outputting 145v. If you check it and monitor how it responds to load-no load and measure voltage you can adjust any unit to be safe within a parameter. I got a 5500 Generac with free transfer panel from lowes and have had no problems, it was about 550$. There are alot of new chinese 1-2000w units , I saw one work well in keeping voltage in a usable range. So it can work but you have to learn your unit first and monitor it, a non regulated generac swings 6v or more, smaller units some swing 30v and larger regulated ones maybe 4v. If you are hands on and can adjust motors and will set it and learn a fairly cheap units ok, just dont keep something that swings 20v or your stuff might not be happy. The Honda run easy can last 4x more than fixed rpm units, thats another reason for their cost, they also have cheaper models. Also dont max it out, if it puts out 5000w tray to be easy on it, use maybe 3000 max.
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SMF wrote:

Electronics are really not as sensitive as a lot of people think. The power supplies are mostly quite robust and will deal with really dirty power without issues.
That said, having used both, I would recommend an inverter generator unless you have some really big loads. I borrowed a Honda 2KW model from a friend and the difference between it and the conventional Generac I had borrowed earlier was night and day. The conventional generator could be heard clearly throughout my house, I had to shut it down by 10pm or it'd keep all the neighbors up and the fuel consumption was atrocious. The little Honda had a lower capacity but was whisper quiet. The engine would throttle down to an idle soft enough that you could stand next to it and have a conversation, and then automatically throttle up as the load increased. Fuel consumption was a fraction and it would run all night on a fill. I don't know how well they compare in terms of reliability, and they will almost certainly be more difficult and expensive to service if they fail, but if I had enough outages to bother buying one myself, I'd definitely splurge on the inverter.
One other option, which I did when I was using the big conventional generator, is to get a deep cycle battery and a small power inverter. During a big storm and 5 day long outage we had, I'd run the big generator in the evening when I got home to keep the lights on, run the furnace, and have a few hours of normalcy while charging the battery, then shut it down at night and run a few lamps, my alarm clock, and other small things on the silent inverter.
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I wonder how well those power back-up units work that people buy at office supply stores to plug computers into. How long would they work to run a few lights and such?
David
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hibb wrote:

They're just an inverter and a gel cell, I have a big old Tripp Lite UPS on my PC and it works great for the intended purpose, gives me about 20 minutes to save and shut down. You can pick them up for nothing with dead batteries and hook them to a deep cycle battery if you want a cheap inverter. You might want to add cooling for continuous running though. Solar power guys have been hacking these for years.
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<snip>

If you are talking about UPS's, they will not last very long. It depends on the size of the unit, the batteries, and just how much wattage the lights and such take. I personally use a deep cycle 12 volt battery and an inverter to handle the TV and lights. I have even run the electric blanket all night off one.
--
Jim Rusling
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I agree with James--I've ran TVs and computers and a bunch of other stuff from basic generators with very few problems. If you have a big load suddenly kick in it could cause some sensitive stuff to wig out and you might have to turn something back on or reboot etc.
I had a Honda eu2000 connected to my house and it worked a LOT better than a conventional genny for such things as the microwave. I have no idea what an oil burner is but if it's a huge draw then of course you'd want to get a big genny. One great feature of the inverter generators is they slow down and use a lot less gas when no big loads are present. Plus they are a lot quieter. But they cost quite a bit more.
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SMF wrote:

I just did the monthly "workout" of my own backup generator -- a Honda EU2000i. It's an inverter model with only 1600 running watts (2000 surge) with two 120v outlets. It is about the size of a medium suitcase and weighs ~50lbs. It "sips" gas -- I've gotten AT LEAST 8hrs/gal on average (see below for average load). Gas usage is VERY important since you'll want to have a decent, fresh (STA-BIL is your friend) supply available.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE how much you can run in an emergency with that small generator IF you are willing to get good (I use 12 gauge) extension cords and "juggle" them to select what you want to run at any given time.
As long as no two "reactive loads" START simultaneously (that's NEVER happened in ~80hrs of running the gen), I've had ALL of the following running at once: 1. 1/3 hp gas furnace blower via a transfer switch, 2. small chest freezer, 3. average-sized refrig-freezer, 4. radio. The only other thing I might NEED to run would be a 1/3 hp sump pump; in which case, I'd plug in the furnace and/or the freezer and/or the chest freezer only when necessary -- I have a couple of cheap thermometers with wired probes that allow me to know the temps without opening the freezers. The EU2000i does have an overload cutoff, just in case.
Thus far, I've been VERY happy with that little Honda gen and highly recommend it.
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SMF wrote:

I suspect you have virtually no risk to your appliances irrespective of the generator you get. A refrigerator, for example, sits in the kitchen for twenty years subject to reclosures, spikes, brown-outs, power interruptions, and all sorts of mischief, but just keeps on humming.
While not on point, here's something we learned the hard way:
We have a generator and five gallons of gasoline, sufficient for about six-eight hours of power for our office. We were always proud of our forethought.
Then hurricane Ike hit. No power for 4.8 million people for a friggin' week!
That included gas stations.
Oh, the gas stations HAD gas, but no way to get it out of the goddamn ground!
We're back to the five-gallon mode. That's sufficient to handle a drunk taking out a utility pole or some other localized event. But I'm here to tell you, next hurricane that comes this way is gonna see us with 150 gallons of gasoline stored somewhere!
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Thanks to government regulations about price gouging, it's not profitable for gas stations to have a generator, to power the gas pumps. They just shut down, and wait it out. If they could charge an extra buck a galon (or two!) during a storm, they could afford the generator.
If you have a couple days notice of the storm, stocking up ahead of time is a good idea.
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Christopher A. Young
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Thanks to government regulations about price gouging, it's not profitable

some states like florida require generators at every gas station. that should be nationwide.
I dont understand why andf building with elevatoirs isnt required to have a geenerator, large enough to get one car down at a time in a emergency
some emergency planning ahead can save lots of hassles and lives if disaster strikes
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On Dec 12, 6:43am, "Stormin Mormon"

Sure thats why after the last Hurricane someone posted how he repaired 6 AC-furnaces that blew on generators, as voltage increases or drops so does Hz, most cheap 400 units can go from 100v -50hz to 130-65Hz in seconds when folks dont use them right, they do ruin some electronics
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wrote:

If you have natural gas piped into your house I would seriously look at a gas powered unit. That eliminates most of the fuel problems. No more stale gas, spilled gas or simply running out in the middle of the night.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The whole gas storage, freshness, running out thing tends to be overblown. If you have a car you can refresh your generator fuel supply easily by just emptying the can into the car when it's a year old (with Sta-Bil) and get a fresh batch. If you have a yard, mower, chain saw, etc. it's even easier to ensure the reserve supply is fresh.
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wrote:

Read Bub's note about his "5 gallon" problem. After Hurricane Charlie they called it "feeding the monster" around here. People were carting jerry cans of gas home from wherever they could find it for a month. The ones with propane units could get a truck to come by and fill their 150 gallon in ground tanks when they ran low. Natural gas people just turned the generator on when the power went out and turned it off when the power came back.
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On Dec 11, 10:22pm, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Tri fuel carburator conversions are the real way to go, Northern Tool sells converted units
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I like the idea of using natural gas to power a generator but it isn't a given that it will be working. My brother lives near an area that sometimes floods and a few low lying homes get water in their basements. The last time it happened both the electric and gas utilities turned off the power and natural gas to the area. I am guessing this is because of all of the lawyers looking to buy their next Bentley.
I loaded up my 2.5 KW portable gasoline generator and brought it over there and we ran extension cords in for the refrigerator and I disconnected the heating system power from the building wiring and connected a cordset to it so we could plug it in to allow the boiler to fire since it was just above freezing. He ran that way for almost a week.
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The conversions are Tri fuel , propane, Ng , gasolene so you have options and propane never goes bad.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I normally have a lot more than 5gal on hand, and it gets cycled through the mower, leaf vac and other yard equipment regularly.
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