Home Backup Generators: Which One??


Hi All,
I'm in the market for a backup generator to power primarily two sump pumps. Coverage of an extra circuit or two would be nice. But, I'm more concerned about protecting a finished basement. Could someone outline which manufacture/unit is best? I've had estimates which left me more confused as the vendor trashed everyone and everything other than what he was selling of course.
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HugeBob wrote:

If you have gaseous fuel at your home you should consider using a natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas fueled unit. Your fuel never goes bad and if you have utility supplied natural gas your fuel supply will be nearly endless for ordinary power failure situations. If you do use natural gas as a fuel it is a good idea to have a duel or tri-fueled engine so that you can keep LPG gas on hand against utility failure and use gasoline if that's all you can find.
As for which brand of generator to buy both Yamaha and Honda have very good reputations in the small engine market. Kohler has a good reputation in the medium engine market but that is generally more than most homes would need.
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Tom Horne

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HugeBob wrote:

Start by determining what the power needs are for your pump(s). Sump pumps come in many sizes.
Make sure the generator has both the ability to power the pumps and to handle their start up surge.
I have been very impressed with the Honda generators.
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Joseph Meehan

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HugeBob wrote:

If you have certain kinds of municipal water, consider an emergency water-driven sump-pump.
You might think, if the power goes out, the water distribution system goes out. Not necessarily so. Most municipal systems are gravity-driven. The city has electric pumps - relatively small ones at that - to pump water 24/7 into a water tank about 70 feet above the ground. This tank then uses gravity to get the 50-70psi pressure into the distribution system. Tanks are sized to provide several days worth of water.
Point is, a water-driven sump-pump is very much simpler than a gas-powered generator. Less to go wrong, uses no fuel, generates no noxious fumes, will run without intervention for several days (until the water supply gives out), and costs but a fraction of a fuel-powered generator.
Of course it won't run your refrigerator or computer, but it will keep your basement dry.
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says... |HugeBob wrote: |> Hi All, |> |> I'm in the market for a backup generator to power primarily two sump |> pumps. Coverage of an extra circuit or two would be nice. But, I'm
If you loose power and need to turn on a generator will you be able to get to your home in time to start up a genset before the lack of a working sump pump damages your basement ?
Will you need a genset that will auto start and throw the transfer switch automatically ? That is quite a bit more expensive than a roll into place and plug it in and pull the rope model.
If you need one of these fancy units tyr to install it as far away from the house and your neighbors as possible. They make alot of noise and will drive you nuts after a few hours run time if you put it right next to your house.
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That's a good point!
We just have a 10 hp hand start model with manual switching and connection when the power fails. We have no problem watching TV when it is operating.
But our "neighbors" down the hill have an automatic system. My estimate is that it's 800 feet away. We can hear it. It must be quite loud to the folks living on 20' or so from it.
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says...

BTDTGTTS on both these questions:

Chances are on his side that he will be able to get to his home in time or will already be there vs. chances he can't. Dumb to have a big problem like that when one is there could have done something about it, because there are hypothetical cicumstances he won't. I'm in a similar situation, and have so far always been around to get the generator started.

Think on this. Overwhelmingly likely, in a power outage, his neighbors will be out, too. Believe it or not, they'll want power, too, and have anticipated that. In my neighborhood, in an outage, pretty much everyone is running a generator. So, no neighbor complaints about noise.
Banty
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ahh best way to silence your immediate neighbors about noise is a good designed quiet system and enough extra power to run a extension cord for them too:)
just because so few think of this........
any chance your sump could drain underground to a low spot like curb and daylight?
even if the sump system backup drain is only a overflow it can prevent a flooded basement.
best part is gravity always works:)
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says...

LOL. Done that, too.

Oh absolutely I agree. Drain by gravity to daylight if at all possible.
I'd add - address as many of the drainage issues as possible from the outside. Even if it isn't a total fix (around here every basement is a hole in clay begging water to find it..), it greatly alleviates the risk by increasing the time to overflow.
Banty
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Banty wrote:

That depends a lot on how frequently the sump pump typically needs to run. If it's a finished basement where during rainy weather the pump runs several times an hour, I wouldn't rely on getting there to start the generator before damage occurs. Plus, if he relies on that approach, he needs some type of alarm/messaging system to alert him that the power is off. And of course, with that comes reliability issues. What does he use? Pager? That has widest coverage, but if he doesn't already have one, it has a monthly additional cost and he needs to drag a pager around. Cell phone? Probably already has one, but could forget it, the battery can run out, etc. Each has tradeoffs. And with that approach, I'd also make sure I had battery backup for the sump pump, which will buy some time to get home and start the generator.
If I had a finished basement and a sump pump that runs during significant rain, I'd look at either an automatic generator or a water driven backup.

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You're right that running generators are fairly common during power cuts. Still, I do try to be polite and not run mine past sundown. Or 7 Pm whichever seems more appropriate.
Use a very large chain and padlock, chain the generator to something secure. They are a very popular item to steal.
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Wonder how that works for you.... around here it gets dark at night ;)
Truly, I need the sump powered whoever's sleeping (power outages have this nasty fact of being strongly associated with wet snow/rain events), and no one around here cuts the generator at night. Indeed, in some instances I've learned of a power outage in the wee hours waking up to generator music from a neighbor. With gratitude since that generally means mine needs to get started.
It puzzles me this thing about bothering neighbors since neighbors would all be expected to be pretty much in the same boat. Are we talking about some particular problem of one neighbor (like, being located in a specifically boggy spot or on some utility spur). Or are we projecting irritations regarding generators in places like camping grounds with RV's?
Banty
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Banty wrote:

It's not irritation at the noise of the generator, it's irritation at freezing their asses off while their pipes freeze because they didn't want to invest in one.
With the low cost of reasonable generators these days I think it's pretty negligent not to have one, rather like smoke or CO detectors.
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Having recently installed a Generac natural gas powered permanent generator, and dreading the noise level it supposedly produces, I was extremely surprised to find that they are not terribly noisy. Mine is rated ay 71 dB, and sounds a bit louder than my central air, but nowhere near as loud as my lawn or snow blower engines. My neighbors on one side about 200 feet away also have the same exact unit, and I can never hear it running at all.
Smarty
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Honda has a reputation as the "best" but twice the cost of others.
How often do you plan to use this unit? if it's only a couple times a year, any generator will do the job if it has enough wattage.
One HP is 748 watts, if memory serves. Most sumps are half horse, at largest. If you're comfortable doing gas and oil mix, you can get a cheap generator on Ebay for about $150, about 1,000 watts. If you want to go $500, you can get a home owners model Generac or something like that, that takes straight gas and has oil in the crankcase.
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HugeBob wrote:

I would recommend either getting the Generac Quietpact 55-G (5500W) or the Honda EU3000is (2800W). The Generac is actually built for RV use, but is relatively quiet and should work well for emergency home use also. Both of them cost about $2000.00. I have the Honda EU3000is and I'm very happy with it.
If you don't care about noise and you don't want to spend that much money then I would buy something like the Generac 5550 WheelHouse ($700). You should be warned though that these inexpensive generators make A LOT OF NOISE.
http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/gensup.asp http://www.guardiangenerators.com/PublicPDFs/0E1015.pdf http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/4581
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Agree, my friend got the Home Depot version Generac and the thing is ***LOUD*** . I am sure it would cause hearing damage if you were close to it for any more than seconds.
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That's also my experience with the Generacs. Unbelievable noise. Some generators meet "bureau of land management" or some kind of standard. Likely to be quieter. I got an ETI generator off Ebay. Amazing quiet, I hardly knew it was running.
The couple of Honda generators I've been near have also been very quiet.
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Hi Bob,
I had a generator installed and went for a somewhat expensive Onan RS20000 with Propane LPG. Each persons setup is different. One useful tip is to Google "Steve Dunlop Generator FAQ". This is a pretty good review on home power backup solutions and issues.
As a rough guide as far as pricing:
1) Petrol portable units: $US 500 to $US 2300, no woring just use extension cords 2) Fully Automatic units, LPG or Mains Natual or Propane gas $US 8000, to $US 10,000 3) Automatic units based on car and truck engines $US 12,000 and up.
Note these are approx prices for generator, gas / fuel instalation and permanet transfer switch wiring.
Best, Mike.
HugeBob wrote:

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