Had a major electrical re-do of my house, and had the electrician
install a generator connection. I believe they are called "generator
interlock" systems. It is a standard setup, I can throw a switch in
the basement, then plug a generator in outside the house to power the
house in event of a power failure.
(save safety warnings.. I know to put generator outside not near door
or window, and I can't hook Gen up while still connected to municipal
power supply due to lockout system on inside panel, and I know enough
to not overload gen)
What should I look for in considering a generator. I am pretty much
settled on Honda, as in my experience they are just head an shoulders
above all others in reliability and noise. I am prepared to entertain
opposing points of view, but I am willing to pay a little more for a
I don't need super-megawatts.. I will be happy to see that my home has
heater, hot water heater (powered venilation unit) and a few lights
and maybe a TV. I don't need to run the AC or electric stove.
Could I get away with one of those tiny suitcase type units.. my
concern is that they seem to only have standard AC plugs on them, not
that special generator circular locking plug that goes into the outside
Personal experiences or tips?
Good online sources for info?
Honda is about the best for noise in the small portable generator
category, Yamaha has some units that are pretty comparable. In larger
units there are others that are very quiet as well. As for reliability,
there are other brands that are very reliable as well.
Heat and HW are gas or oil? Got a well pump that needs power? 5 KW or so
will do pretty well for an average house without unusual loads.
Refrigerator, lights, TV, a burner on the stove for coffee and furnace
and well pump do pretty well with 5 KW. If you do some load management
like insuring the furnace and well pump aren't on at the same time you
can get by with less.
The real small units are 120V only, a normal transfer switch / interlock
really needs a 240V feed. A small unit like a Honda EU2000i would handle
a refrigerator and a light plugged into it, but is unlikely to handle a
furnace or other larger loads.
Again, the more load management you are willing to do the smaller a
generator you can get away with. Nearly all of the typical large
household loads are ones that do not require full time power. The
refrigerator can readily go an hour without power while the furnace runs
for example. The well pump can go without power while you microwave
Ran a ~1,500 sq ft house with oil heat / HW, well pump, electric stove,
microwave, lights, TV, etc. for three days on a Generac 5 KW gas
portable generator. Baked stuff in the oven too. Other than the noise
and periodic refueling (which I did very carefully while running) it was
just fine. Changed the oil after that run.
Perhaps alt.energy.homepower though that leans more towards conservation
and renewables. Still most folks off grid with renewable systems have a
regular gas generator as backup since renewables aren't 100% reliable,
so some expertise there.
And in many cases it will -- really, the only cases in which it won't are
electric furnaces or heat pumps. The electrical demands of oil- or gas-fired
forced-air furnaces are quite modest, and those of hot-water systems are even
lower. A typical refrigerator requires much more power than a typical gas
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
You didn't find that on a rating plate. Like I said...
In any event, it's not especially relevant to how much current they draw when
they're running, as the total energy consumed is a function not only of motor
and compressor efficiency, but also of insulation and usage.
Go check the rating plate on your refrigerator. See how many amps it draws.
Now go check the rating plate on your furnace blower and compare.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
That's not a nameplate rating and it's utterly meaningless. The
refrigerator could draw 1 KW if it had a total run time of an hour a
The defrost cycle on a refrigerator doesn't last long, but it draws a
substantial amount of power for the heating element.
Refrigerator compressors take a LOT of startup current.
Now days, a typical fridge compressor runs about 4.5 amps running
(yes, I'm an appliance repairman, and I get to use an ammeter on
refrigerator compressors now and again). Figure another hundred for
the fans. Which is generous. But the start up current can be 15 amps
The gas furnaces I've measured tend to run about 7 amps, can't
remember the start up currents.
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
Remember, the EU2000i is rated 1,600VA continuous and 2,000VA for 30 min
max. In order to handle many of those furnaces you'd need to do load
management so the furnace was the only load at the time.
What is it with you? I ran them all for 5 days simultaneously, stopping to
put gas in once a day. Thats it; no load management, nothing. And I had
spare capacity for a few lights, my computer, or the television. Furnaces
just don't use much current.
Had the refrigerator and freezer chosen to start at the same time the
generator would have stopped to prevent an overload, but it didn't happen
and wasn't likely.
I have a Honda EU2000. It powers my furnace, fridge, freezer, and TV. Not
only is it nearly silent, but it gets great mileage. If you have ever tried
to buy gas in a major power outage, you will understand that the smallest
possible generator is the best generator.
Get an ampmeter and see how much current you need to start/run all the
components you want to run. It can vary greatly; my old furnace needed 12a
to start, the new one is 2a. Then you have to decide how much you need to
run simultaneously; can you live with your furnace and water heater each on
half the time? My guess is that the EU3000 will be the best fit, but you
have to check things out first.
No, the smallest generator that will handle your load with some safety
margin is the best generator. You need to maintain a fuel supply to
cover the longest reasonably expected outage.
For the folks in the northeast who heat with oil, a diesel generator is
the best since their 275 gal + oil tank will provide weeks of fuel.
You can also store a decent reserve of gasoline if you have a safe place
to keep it. Store it in 5 gal cans with Stabil added and rotate them out
into your car annually and refill.
A clamp on amp meter with a peak hold function is very useful if you
don't mind digging in the breaker panel to use it. For the breaker panel
adverse a little meter like the Kill-A-Watt is very useful.
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