Generators Revisited

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On Tue, 2 Oct 2012 22:27:11 -0400, "Existential Angst"

You can set up your IC engine car for at least 2k watts for @ $200-300 with an inverter. I looked into that and would use it before I bought a generator. Haven't followed the entire thread, but if Han is thing about powering his HVAC with a generator, he should check it out real good. Some HVAC circuitry is touchy about sine wave. I'll repeat what I said before, For a cold weather outage, I have 2 20k BTU of kerosene heaters. Really got them for the garage for winter work, but they burn pretty clean. The gas range burners put about 16k BTU total. Pretty sure the oven won't light without juice. Still haven't bought one, but ventless gas space heaters run about $200-300 for 30k BTU or so. If I don't procrastinate on that I'll put a T, valve and flex hose on the gas range line and tuck the hose behind. Connect the space heater if I need it. The range line is 3/4" and will easily handle everything. Summertime outage that looks to last like the last one - 72 hours or so - I'm taking off to a motel out of the outage area to wait it out. I likes my electricity. A battery radio and candles is too much like hard times. To hell with the food. I never have more than a bills worth in the fridge/freezer anyway. My plan is a lot cheaper than a generator for something that might happen once in 10 years. More dependable too.
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That can work, if you have the gasoline to get there, and can find a room. Years ago, I discovered that my generator will run the AC in my living room window. That can provide some summer time comfort.
Cheaper than motel, and not as likely to come home and find my place looted.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Summertime outage that looks to last like the last one - 72 hours or so - I'm taking off to a motel out of the outage area to wait it out. I likes my electricity. A battery radio and candles is too much like hard times. To hell with the food. I never have more than a bills worth in the fridge/freezer anyway. My plan is a lot cheaper than a generator for something that might happen once in 10 years. More dependable too.
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For the 2003 ice storm, and four day power cut. We didn't know how long the power would be out. Even with kerosene heater and burners on the stove, the trailer was really miserable cold by the second day. Day 3 or 4, I wired the furnace into my generator. The natural gas had stayed on, the whole time. Furnace was far more comfortable than portable heaters. Needed the fan action, to bring the heat down from the ceiling.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
For a cold weather outage, I have 2 20k BTU of kerosene heaters. Really got them for the garage for winter work, but they burn pretty clean. The gas range burners put about 16k BTU total. Pretty sure the oven won't light without juice.
Still haven't bought one, but ventless gas space heaters run about $200-300 for 30k BTU or so.
If I don't procrastinate on that I'll put a T, valve and flex hose on the gas range line and tuck the hose behind. Connect the space heater if I need it. The range line is 3/4" and will easily handle everything.
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I don't know how you get to "at least 2K watts." Stock alternators are typically in the range of 100 to 150 amps, which translates into 1200 to 1800 watts.
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On Wed, 3 Oct 2012 08:03:27 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Right. When I speced it I went with a 200 amp alt, for 2400 watts. For my '97 Lumina with 3.1 that alt is $250. Add ~$250 for that alt, or settle for less watts. Still cheaper, less hassle and more reliable then a generator. With some other assumptions. The devil is in the details. That's why I rejected that too. Like I said, outages are rare enough here that the numbers don't work for any form of backup power. Candles, flashlights, and gas space heat does it for me. Or a trip out of the outage area until power is restored.
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wrote:

Good point. But, you'd need a hefty car alternator, or plenty of backup batts, for a 2kW inverter. From http://www.crutchfield.com/S-lpYA1oYJQkX/learn/learningcenter/car/stereo_power_ups.html ---------
For example: producing a 1500 watt output requires about 217 amperes of current from your car's system. Most stock alternators are in the 80-120 ampere range. A 250 or 300 ampere aftermarket high output alternator should provide enough power for all your car's systems and your high-powered stereo too.
-------------
100 A is only 1.2 kW, while 300 amps would be 3600 W, which is not bad, altho these should proly be de-rated by 20%.
So a "standard" car could only accommodate about a 1 kW inverter, altho the battery could up that a bit, and quite a bit ito surges. A high-output alternator could do 3 kW.
Backup batts by themselves are problematic. Amp-hrs are, iiuc, rated over 20 hours, so a typical car battery, at about 50 amp-hrs, yields only 2.5 A, or is good for only.... 30 W !!!! Proly could bump that up to 50-100 W for shorter outages, but even at 100 W, for 1.2 kW, you'd need 12 of them.
So a 1,000 W inverter with a battery bank of 5-10 batts is proly not a bad solution, certainly *quieter* than these effing generators. Altho for week-long outages, you'd need a lot of gasoline!
Which brings up the whole risk/payoff/probability issue: Just how much does one prepare/pay for unknown events? Well, lots, iffin yer a survivalist....
For some, a nat.gas powered generator is worth it. For others, proly moi included, this inverter/batt idear seems like an excellent compromise solution, esp. with the cost of inverters coming down. For about $500 in inverters+batteries (+ a trickle charger <g>), it seems you could have a nice system -- not super powerful, but super quiet, very reliable, no mechanical headaches
I wanted something to keep the shop running, but in the whole risk/payoff scheme of things, it's proly just not worth it, given the improvements in overall svc reliability around here. As I believe I mentioned, a hefty tri-fuel unit is nice, but really a pita to set up properly (even for a diy-er), and very expensive to have done professionally, in most cases proly way more than the unit itself. And did I mention the noise......
One surprising problem, tho, is having 5-10 car batteries hanging around. They can be surprisingly corrosive, need ventilation, etc. Not a super biggie, but a consideration.
--

EA





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wrote:

This is a really densely populated area in Bergen county, NJ. Even with Irene and with the "Halloween" snowstorm, PSE&G had us reconnected in about 48 hours. That means we were close to but not beyond what was endurable. To make sure that stays that way specifically for our diminishing endurance as we get older, I need ways to combat the cold and keep the fridge going. So a minimal electric supply from a generator, or indeed several space heaters. At the moment I have a propane radiant heater for real emergencies. I would like to get a smallish generator, either gasoline or propane, for that furnace and fridge.
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Han
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Like I said, your furnace might not run with certain generators, and you have the size the generator right for the fridge. Then you have to consider gasoline storage. A lot to consider - and expense - for something that might not even happen. Everybody lives their life their own way, but the strain on the elderly running a f**king power plant in their home should be considered too. If they can drive, can afford a room for a few days, going to an area with power for the duration is probably easier. Some people have hundreds of dollars of frozen food to lose, but that's their life style choice too. I see freezing pipes as the only issue, and just want a heat source. I mentioned cheap gas space heaters. They are safe if installed right, and have thermostats. Set the sucker to 40-50 degrees and get out of town. Anyway, that's my solution. The biggest problem is my dogs. Haven't figured that out.
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wrote:

I think you should consider Vic's idea, esp. since you have those low-current HW recirculating pumps. 1500 W inverters (cobra, on google shopping), can be had for $90, altho your alternator will proly put out only 1,000 W. But if you have two cars..... I think a full tank of gas should last a day or two. If you don't run other stuff, it might power a small microwave. Mebbe better here would be a small (600 W) hotplate. But it f'sure would be good for your furnace, fridge, lights, TV's, etc.
I'm going to strongly consider this route. My Honda Fit is good for close to 1,000 W, and the pickup truck proly 1500 W. Plus, you'll have an inverter for car trips, if you need 120 V, or some outside jobs requiring AC power.
--
EA




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Hay I have a 150 Watt inverter. That might be enough for the 0.76 amp (95Watt) water circulator ...
It is really intended for a computer ... But the idea is worthwhile.
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Han
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Indeed it will -- plus a 60 W light bulb and a small radio!!

It is. And you can hook up multiple inverters to one car, until the alternator capacity is reached. However, I believe you *cannot hook up the *outputs* of the inverters in parallel* -- you'll have to plug into each inverter as a separate electrical entity. Which is no biggie, cuz "separate entities" is how most people would do this anyway, just giving a heads up to wiseguys like Trader and Shitty2.
Just hook up the inverter(s) right to your car battery, have lots of extension cords.
Another way to do this, which might could save some gas, is to have a second battery outside the car, powering your stuff. When that battery gets too low, hook up jumpers to the car battery (which will then re-power stuff right away), and turn on the car to charge the batteries/supply add'l power. Then, when the batts are charged, shut off the car again.
The more batts you have outside the car, the more efficient this strategy should be. And then when power is restored, recharge all the batts with a Sears charger, and then maintain with a trickle charger. AND you'll always have a spare batt fer yer car.... :)
--
EA


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Maybe he could build a whole freaking battery and inverter farm in his garge and connect it to his car. And he could run the car in the garage, where he knocks himself out after tripping over all those extension cords running all over the place. As he crashes to the floor, pulling the many inverters with him, the wires running all over the batteries short out, adding to the drama for the firemen when they arrive.
As for always having a spare battery, do you think car batteries last forever?
If I were doing this, I'd just buy about a 7KW generator. I'd install one of the Interlockit kits on the panel together with an inlet to connect the generator to. With that and one extension cord, I could power whatever I please in the house.
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<snip>

While I could afford to install a 7kW generator system, it doesn't make all that much financial sense to invest 10-15K (including installation by a qualified tech and permits) for something that might happen once a year or once every third year.
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Han
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If you think it costs $10K to $15K to get what I outlined you're getting hosed big time. For half that price I could get a full automatic transfer system installed.
The system I proposed could be easily had for $1500. Probably $1000 if you don't need or want 7KW.
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Now you've got me thinking ... One of my problems would be siting for a permanent installation. A semi permanent one would be possible - generator on wheels to get in and out of garage, then connections, transfer switch, etc.
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Han
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I have no idea, but how much gas would a car use to power the small inverter, vers say a one or two KW generator for a day or two ?
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That's a very good Q. Small engines are notoriously inefficient, but then, well, they are small -- visavis a much larger more efficient engine, which is more efficient, but, then, well, BIG!
A small car would do better in this regard, than a large engine. Ideally, a small car with a big-assed alternator. :)
And that's why I suggested a bank of external batts, with the car used to recharge them as nec (while still supplying power to the house). That way, instead of the car engine running all the time (undoubtedly with a lot of waste), when it does run, it's running to produce watts, and not just idling for one light bulb.
But, apparently Trader is too worried about the Fire Dept. and deadly extension cords, to entertain any of these idears.
--
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Yes, you've got it now. I'm not much interested in connecting the car to a bank of batteries that have to sit in the garage, connected to multiple inverters, with multiple extension cords running God knows how many feet around the house to whatever needs to be run. And then making the adaptions, code compliant of course, to the furnace, well pump, etc that need to be run.
Not when I could just buy a portable generator, an Iterlockit kit for the panel, an inlet and one heavy duty extension cord. With that, I can then directly power anything in the house I feel like. I can switch from running the well pump to running the microwave with a flip of a breaker. I could also make the generator one that runs on NG or buy a conversion kit to make it run on NG. Now I have an endless supply of fuel, unlike the car sitting in the garage. Are you proposing that the car always be kept full? Every time you come home, late at night, with the car near empty and it's raining, you can make an extra trip to the gas station to fill err up. How convenient.
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Yes, you've got it now. I'm not much interested in connecting the car to a bank of batteries that have to sit in the garage, connected to multiple inverters, with multiple extension cords running God knows how many feet around the house to whatever needs to be run. And then making the adaptions, code compliant of course, to the furnace, well pump, etc that need to be run.
Not when I could just buy a portable generator, an Iterlockit kit for the panel, an inlet and one heavy duty extension cord. With that, I can then directly power anything in the house I feel like. I can switch from running the well pump to running the microwave with a flip of a breaker. I could also make the generator one that runs on NG or buy a conversion kit to make it run on NG. Now I have an endless supply of fuel, unlike the car sitting in the garage. Are you proposing that the car always be kept full? Every time you come home, late at night, with the car near empty and it's raining, you can make an extra trip to the gas station to fill err up. How convenient.
================================================ Again you miss the point. At 0.3 gal/hr, with 10 gal of gas in the tank, you'd be good for 30 hrs. Pro-rate as you wish.
And nat gas is great too, IF you are up for all that that entails. I in fact was up for it, bec before my genset was purloined, I was just about to send off the carb for tri-fuel modification.... I was going for the whole backup banana, albeit on the cheap.
But, having started all the prepwork for this, I realized what a MEGA pita this all was going to be, really a lot of work. So in a sense, the theft did me a slight favor. I need a real backup system proly more than most near-urban dwellars, but even for me, the car/inverter thing just seems to be a better, more trouble free solution -- albeit a less powerful solution.
It's all risk/reward. I don't think Sylvan teaches this, so I won't bother with the link.... again....
Oh, for those of you who DO want what I *was* going to install for myself, check out http://www.generatorsales.com/order/03369_alt.asp?page=H03369 with a Honder engine.
good company, this unit is virtually identical to the BlackMax unit at Sam's club, except with the tri-fuel conversion. I believe the extra dough over the blackmax is well worth it. Very stable unit, power-wise, really impressive.
But, I'm almost certainly going to go the car/inverter route. BUT, if there's another Halloween fiasco (which I escaped, miraculously enough), I'll go the tri-fuel route -- again.
But, for slow-wits like Trader, I'll repeat the issues: A tri-fuel ditty is great (for the nat gas, which I started), but the pita/installation is just MEGA for a diy-er, OR really expensive for the non-diy-er. AND over $1500 just to get started. An inverter on my car will be $90 or so, and a few extension cords....
Case closed..... for now.
--
EA




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On Thu, 4 Oct 2012 11:47:00 -0400, "Existential Angst"

When I looked into inverters I saw contractors using them for on-site 120v tools, and one guy in rural Canada who powered his furnace and a few other things during an outage or outages. What stopped me was the lugging and connectability issues to my car. You need heavy lugs and cabling from your car battery, and that's runs up the cost by a surprising amount. Then you have to consider how to conceal that stuff and/or make the connections when you need them. I still like the idea, but it takes some thought and study to set it up right. But I've only had one multi-day outage here in 15 years. Big freak windstorm took out many lines. About 72 hours. In the end the easier more cost-effective option for me is to do nothing, and roll with what comes. I really like the "get out of town" option best. But the problem with that is knowing how long the outage will last. They didn't even start projecting restored service until about 24 hours in, then they were a 1-3 days off with the projections. That's what made it bad for us. Not knowing when the power would come back. I kept remembering this http://www.hulu.com /#!watch/281936
Can't help the 15 second ad. That's how it goes now on much of the internet.
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