Is a generator to supply 'almost' all the power worth it?

Page 1 of 2  
Utilities go down. Is it worth it to get a generator to supply almost all the power to your home?
like 10kW or 20kW.
and if so, which one and how much?
Or just stick with a 2kW, or so and time multiplex each operation - a little fridge time, a little heater time, a little well pump time, etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 3 Aug 2012 07:21:02 -0700 (PDT), Robert Macy

Not to me-- but I'm not you, and don't have any idea how often your power goes out, how much you rely on electricity, or how adverse to labor you are.
Seems like only *you* can answer your question.

5k works for me. Runs the freezer, fridge, furnace, a few lights and a TV or 2. [don't turn the microwave on, though]
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Friday, August 3, 2012 9:23:53 AM UTC-5, elbrecht wrote:

5/6KW works for us. I spent the extra money to put in a manual switching panel that makes load sharing a little easier. We can run fridges, sump, some lights, the furnace blower and fireplace blower.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It's personal choice, no set formula.
My view, is that it's not healthy to appear to be better off than your neighbors. Some people don't understand the relationship between work, planning, and having stuff. They only see that you're warm and lit, and they are cold and dark. Some folks will try to bring you down.
Much like the old Russian who found a genie bottle. Having released the genie, he was promised one wish. "I wish that my neighbor's cow should die."
I wouldn't want a whole house generator. And, if I had one, I'd be using blackout curtains.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Utilities go down. Is it worth it to get a generator to supply almost all the power to your home?
like 10kW or 20kW.
and if so, which one and how much?
Or just stick with a 2kW, or so and time multiplex each operation - a little fridge time, a little heater time, a little well pump time, etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Look at the cost to run the generator and decide on how big of a generator to get. If gas is used as in many common generators, a 5 kw will use say a gallon an hour. Not exect numbers, but just tossing out numbers. That is 3 to 4 dollars an hour to run. The oil powered generators usually use less per hour. YOu also have to store the fuel unless going with natural gas. Propane will keep for almost ever. Oil and gas have to be replaced or it will go bad. Decide on how much you want to store.
It usually takes a 5 kw or beter generator to run well pumps.
I say go to a 5 kw for most people and rotate the loads. If you have the money or the power goes out a lot, then look at a natural gas, propane, or oil powered unit and go for a bigger unit to power the whole house.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/3/2012 10:21 AM, Robert Macy wrote:

Depends, how often does the power go off and for how long? If like here where I can't even remember the last more than few minute outage the system you described works for me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

And all the other factors we don't know. Like is this Florida or California, ie the need for heat, AC, etc. Availability of fuels, nat gas IMO is best.
If a well pump is a required load, then a 2KW may not be enough.. The well pump is probably about 1500W running and needs significantly more at startup. For a typical situation where you have a well pump, nat gas furnace, refrigerator, I'd say 5KW is going to be practical. And 10KW is probably plenty unless you expect to run central air or electric stoves/ovens, etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 3 Aug 2012 08:44:58 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

My sister and brother in law have a 20KW genset for outages so they can run EVERYTHING including the central AC. Last time we stayed with them the power went out for about 12 hours. Talking to my binlaw about it it appeared that it was VERY expensive for that 12 hours. I forget the exact figures but it used propane and I think the cost for a day was something like $50 to $100 worth of propane. For my cheap ways it would not be worth it to me, I'd have a much smaller genset that was only enough to keep some lights and the refrigerator going, perhaps a 4 KW unit.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It also depends on what you actually run with the generator during the outage. Meaning a 20KW unit is going to use the most fuel only when it's producing 20KW. If you only have it loaded with 4KW, then it's still going to use somewhat more than say a 6KW unit, but not nearly as much as it will use putting out the full 20KW. The force it takes to turn the generator is directly dependent on the load on it.
In other words, you're paying some penalty for having the extra capacity, even when you're not using it, but I think it only really becomes a big factor when you're actually using it. So it comes down to how much extra you'e willing to pay and how important that extra capacity is to you.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/5/2012 8:59 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

This is a really important point. I think the reason someone would want a larger machine should be related to the frequency and duration of their power failures. I use to run my essentials on a 6KW gasoline machine. It powered Boiler, well pump, 2 refrigerators, and some lights. It used about 3/4 gallon per hour. At the time, my power failures were once every other month for about four hours. The frequency of my power failures is about the same now, but I've had a few outages for an entire day or so, and one for five days and one for six. I saw the writing on the wall a couple of years ago, so I got a 16KW diesel machine. With this machine I can run everything in my house albeit not at the same time, so if the power is off for an extended period, I have the ability to wash and dry clothes, cook, etc. When this machine is only doing the essentials that the 6KW was connected to, it only uses 1/2 gallon per hour of fuel.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

impressive piece of data.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

When you consider that you do NOT need to keep appliance like refrigerators & freezers powered 24/7, and that a bit of judicious shifting can save your time & fuel, the size equation changes. The only thing I would run during the day would be heat or A/c with some refrigerator to compensate for regular heat loss.
So in effect my base use is Heat or A/C At the cabin ADD well pump Add to that ONE OF Fridge, freezer , (Cabin) Hot water heater. In the morning and evening, turn off Heat or A/C run Hot water heater and well pump, while doing morning and evening shower & bathroom stuff And that pretty well covers things
If you get an inverter equipped generator you can save some fuel because it will adjust output to demand This is not an issue for occasional / emergency generators But it can be a saving for generators that are for extended use.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

All generator adjust output to demand. And all use a lot more fuel when fully loaded than with a light load. I think what you really mean is that with an inverter type the engine speed can vary which does save some fuel.
However the inverter type ones I've seen were all fairly small, not in the class of one to function as a whole house unit.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 3 Aug 2012 07:21:02 -0700 (PDT), Robert Macy

Living in the "country" where power goes out frequently I've had a Honda 6.5KW/240V for 27 years and had I known what it was like I would have purchased it sooner. This past year we've had two separate occasions where the power was out for over a week and with septic, well pump and electric ignited oil furnace (all 3 of them 240V), my house certainly would have frozen had I not had it.
I do have neighbors on three sides who do not have generators and only once did one ask for a hook up for the fridge to which I obliged. The only issue I had was having to drive approx 25+ miles to replenish the gasoline with multiple 5 Gal tanks.
You particular situation will dictate if its worth it for you or not. I'd recommend Yes! Good luck.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

We had some friends tho bought rural property and bought a Honda gen for ALL their electic needs, thinking they would get wired into the grid within 1 yr. Seven yrs later.....
I don't know what model it was, but it was reliable as a post. Auto start on demand once the enable switch near the back door was turned on.
nb
--
"Do you recognize me? No!
...cuz I don't work here"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@fdcx.net wrote:

Tell me about it!
During Hurricane Yikes, we were without power for a week. I have a generator, and congratulated myself for the forethought. Fooey! Everybody else was without power, too, including all the gas stations.*
Now, as soon as a hurricane enters the Gulf, I'm off to the gas station with twelve six-gallon containers.
--
* I'm thinking of getting ANOTHER generator and renting it out to my
neighborhood gas station during an emergency. For a paltry $50/hr. Of course
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 3 Aug 2012 07:21:02 -0700 (PDT), Robert Macy
One more recommendation: while you could buy cheap, if you're serious I'd look at the Honda inverter type generators. Those handle variable loads much better and much more efficiently as the engine runs only as fast as needed to produce the power required whereas AC models must run at 3600 RPM for ANY load no matter how small. That alone will make a big difference on fuel cost and noise.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
devnull wrote:

It may not be as bad as you think.
Portable generators are designed to work in inclement conditions. After all, that's where they'll be used.
I think neither rain nor snow will keep you in the dark of night with a portable generator.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/3/2012 10:21 AM, Robert Macy wrote:

Mines a 5,500 with 7,350 starting watts with transfer panel which powers well, furnace, refrigerator, 2 small freezers, some lights, TV and computer. Still have to do without a lot of things like electric stove, water heater and AC.
With storms and potential loss of power on hot days, I'm sorry I did not have it wired to run whole house with judicious use where I could choose what to run. It would be inconvenient to be without AC this hot summer. Fortunately with all the bad storms and power outages here in the East, we have not had a single outage.
With no source of natural gas, I would not want a bigger generator as this one could burn 10 gallons of gasoline a day. I don't inventory that much but could get by on 5 gallons a day. A freezer or refrigerator can be OK without power for about 12 hours but what prompted me to buy mine was several days loss of power and loss of frozen food and then in cold weather, having house nearly get cold enough to cause frozen pipes.
All my neighbors have a generator about the size of mine. Guy across the street has a small one like you are thinking about and he wishes he had larger.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

We had a place in the mountains that was 100% off grid and used wind, solar and sometimes running water. We had a gen set for the time when nothing else worked. In the end that was never used except for an hour or so once a month for 'maintenance runs'. The key to making this work was time multiplex and duty cycle.
We did hook up a LPG/NG gen set out of a 10-15KW surplus gen set that we could run the entire house on. Set up a coop with the neighbors so that everyone within a (very heavy) drop line distance had power.
End result *NO ONE* complains about the noise of the gen set or much else. The entire neighborhood (even the one's we're not able to power as they get to store food and use the washer/dryers etc. of those that do) now work together to the benefit of all and not just during bad weather/power failures.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.