Questions about buying a standby electrical generator

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This being a 'rural' group, I figured many in here are familiar with this subject.
I'm seriously thinking of getting a 20kw standby generator installed. We have regular outages in this area. One outage lasted for a week. Our 5500 watt portable Generac has been getting us through these just fine for the last dozen or so years. However, I'm two years shy of eighty, and I'm getting tired of getting up at 2:00 A.M and hightailing it to the garage through rain blowing sideways while pulling 75 feet of heavy duty cord to connect to the switch box on the side of the house. Arguing with the pull cord and the choke on the Generac ain't fun either while half asleep and soaked to the skin. Now, a natural gas operated standby does all the work itself, plus knows exactly when the power comes back on.
Anyway, has anyone in here have any opinions as to the merits of Generac vs. Kohler or some other brands of generators? How are these companies when it comes to standing behind their products? I never knew it would be so hard getting this done. It's been one problem after another with outfits that supply these things - and then sub contract the work out to lord-know-who. It also seems everyone does their damndest to hide the price of the generator itself inside the installation charges. I'm on my third outfit now trying to get this done. I wasn't thrilled this morning to get a copy of the contract from the latest seller disclaiming all warranties of any kind. The contract states "Buyer acknowledges that no express or implied warranties (including warranties of merchantability or fitness) have been made by the seller and seller hereby disclaims all such warranties."
Huh?
And I should pay about eight grand for this?
??
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On 8/17/12 10:51 AM, snipped-for-privacy@who.knows.com wrote:

I'll add another group to your post. The misc.rural group is pretty quiet.
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On 8/17/2012 5:38 PM, Dean Hoffman > wrote:

All that disclaimer means is that the contractor isn't making any claims above and beyond those of the manufacturer nor are they providing any warranty beyond that of the manufacturer.
If 5500 watt does everything you need why would you want to almost quadruple the capacity? You will be burning more fuel and the initial cost is obviously more
As far as generac there is a world of difference between the big box versions and the ones that come from distributors.
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On 8/17/2012 6:27 PM, George wrote:

I am extremely curious to know what the "world of difference" is between Generac units which come from big box stores like Home Depot and the ones purchased from distributors.
I have been involved in installing both, and also am aware of the website where support is provided and technical questions are answered. There has never been any evidence of two different versions of products. The various Generac models only seem to differ in their size / capacity.
Distributors do offer a heavier duty case option on some models which uses aluminum and other materials to prolong the life and prevent rust. Perhaps this is the "world of difference" you are referring to?
Thanks for any comments.
Smarty
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Just a SWAG, but some machines are made in China, and do not last for very many hours of use. other, USA made machines last longer. I remember from some where, a typical generator is designed for about 200 hours of use, before it wears out. That's much more time than typical home owner will ever put on it.
Serious users have long since gone to Honda, which cost twice as much but last many times longer hours.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

I am extremely curious to know what the "world of difference" is between Generac units which come from big box stores like Home Depot and the ones purchased from distributors.
I have been involved in installing both, and also am aware of the website where support is provided and technical questions are answered. There has never been any evidence of two different versions of products. The various Generac models only seem to differ in their size / capacity.
Distributors do offer a heavier duty case option on some models which uses aluminum and other materials to prolong the life and prevent rust. Perhaps this is the "world of difference" you are referring to?
Thanks for any comments.
Smarty
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On Aug 18, 7:35am, "Stormin Mormon"

The "S" could only stand for "stupid".

I remember from somewhere that you're incredibly stupid.

Fascinating analysis.

That's the problem with power outages, the hours w/o power are longer. -----
- gpsman
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On 8/18/2012 9:25 AM, gpsman wrote:

Also, I don't believe Honda offers this style of standby generators in the U.S., but I might be wrong. Remember I am talking about the type the original poster is considering to replace his gasoline powered portable unit, which would be a stationary unit, permanently plumbed into an energy source and permanently wired with a transfer switch into his breaker box panel, typically 7 or 8 KW up to maybe 20 KW for home use.
Smarty
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The largest I've seen offered is 10kW <http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/models/eb10000
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On 8/18/2012 10:20 AM, Robert Macy wrote:

The original poster already has a portable, gasoline powered emergency generator, and wants to switch to a permanently plumbed, hard wired, standby generator.
The Honda products which Stormin Norman and you are suggesting are not the right type. He asked about the differences between the Big Box - Home Depot units which Guardian / Generac sells versus the Generac / Guardian units sold through distributors to dealers, and asks whether the Guardian or Kohler brand is better.
To my knowledge, the units sold by Big Box and distributors are exactly the same, and none of these are made buy Honda.
The generators we are talking about are typically sized up to 16KW for the home units, with 8, 10, and 12KW units being sold also for those who only want to feed a portion of their total home capacity.
These units by Honda are not at all what is being asked for.
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Yes, I know that was not the ORIGINAL question. I merely answered someone who did not know what Honda's available maximum unit was. The information was handy since I had just researched generator's alsol
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On 8/18/2012 7:35 AM, Stormin Mormon wrote:

The original question I asked related to Generac supposedly making two different lines of generators, one for sale at Big Box stores, the other sold via distributors. According to the author of the post, there is supposedly "a world of difference" between the two.
To my knowledge, this is not the case whatsoever. I am pretty familiar with Generac models and only have seen option for aluminum versus steel cases offered through distributors, but otherwise all units of a specific size from Generac use the same transfer switch, engine choice, and all other specifications being exactly the same. I do not believe there is ANY DIFFERENCE, let alone "a world of difference" between the unit sold at Home Depot and the unit offered via distributors.
As regards 200 hours of life time for the generator, I too have heard about the same number, but my interpretation is altogether different from yours Chris. Since the weekly exercise is 14 minutes of use, and each year the accumulated exercise time is therefore roughly 12 hours per year, the generator will wear itself out merely by self-test in roughly 16 years. This is even shorter if you take into account that the generator will be run for warm up before each oil change per the manufacturer's recommendation another half hour or so each oil change, and, if the power actually does fail, the generator may run continuously for, lets say 4 or more days, another 100+ hours.
This combined wear and usage suggests that you might get maybe only ONE EXTENDED USE of the generator before it needs to be replaced.............
Probably quite pessimistic in my approach to estimating I admit, but the 200 hours gets gobbled up really fast. And the engines used in the small home units are not all that special.
The Generac larger models for commercial use employ automotive V6 engines and larger diesels, and here is where they are truly long lasting designs compared to the home units.
At times I personally wonder whether the investment truly does make sense all considered, even though I still recommend, use, and get involved with installation help on these units.
Smarty

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My home owner application of the generator is "when needed". Bought mine in about 1998, or 1999. It has been run a half dozen or so times since then, probably totalling twenty or so hours.
Yes, I "should" run it every month. I live in a trailer park, and I'm not sure my neighbors would enjoy the noise.
Some people hate to be in the dark, and so the money is worth it, to them.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
As regards 200 hours of life time for the generator, I too have heard about the same number, but my interpretation is altogether different from yours Chris. Since the weekly exercise is 14 minutes of use, and each year the accumulated exercise time is therefore roughly 12 hours per year, the generator will wear itself out merely by self-test in roughly 16 years. This is even shorter if you take into account that the generator will be run for warm up before each oil change per the manufacturer's recommendation another half hour or so each oil change, and, if the power actually does fail, the generator may run continuously for, lets say 4 or more days, another 100+ hours.
This combined wear and usage suggests that you might get maybe only ONE EXTENDED USE of the generator before it needs to be replaced.............
Probably quite pessimistic in my approach to estimating I admit, but the 200 hours gets gobbled up really fast. And the engines used in the small home units are not all that special.
The Generac larger models for commercial use employ automotive V6 engines and larger diesels, and here is where they are truly long lasting designs compared to the home units.
At times I personally wonder whether the investment truly does make sense all considered, even though I still recommend, use, and get involved with installation help on these units.
Smarty
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And that's where the problem is in this thread: You live in a trailer park. Nothing against trailer parks... have good friends in a couple of them and had a brother in one for about a year. But...
How the hell does that or some suburbanite's experience translate into rural living? It ain't about hating the dark, trust me. Your park may be along a back road... but it isn't likely the same.
Here, we lose power constantly... sometimes for a few hours and sometimes for many, many days at a time. We fill two freezers with meat every fall when we slaughter. How much food do you store in freezers there and what is it's value? If ours goes... there goes our next year's worth food (BTW, do *not* believe the line about it staying frozen for 3 or 4 days if you don't open it, especially in the summer).
Thank goodness we finally decided to put ventless gas heaters in the cellar... they can keep the pipes from freezing but I gotta tell ya the upstairs can get danged cold after a few days.
When there's a bad storm brewing here we run to put 6 or 7 inches of water in the tub... why? Cause we lose our water without our electric... no toilet, no bathing, no watering the animals without moving them to the side with the artesian. Takes a lot of current on that 240v pump to get it cranking.
Ever try to move steer in a storm? Why would you, you might ask. Well... if the electric is out, so are the fences and when cattle are jittery, they can tell it's not on (or they just get brave enough to find out as some of us argue the situation but I say they know when it's not on). What do you think the ramifications are of some idiot with a canvas Jeep blowing around challenging the foul conditions coming down a wet and windy road and plowing into about 1800 pounds of dinner? We're not talking coaxing Bessie, the chocolate milk cow, from Grandma's window, here... If the spiritual leader of the herd is one of these guys that's been around a few months too long and going nutso and you're out there in foul weather with people they're not used to trying to move them away from what they see as safe, you'd better be wearing your brass supporter that day. It used to be that there weren't all these cars on this road and if there were any they were people smart enough to understand it could be a dangerous place to drive when things get like that. Used to be that if cattle got loose, you spent a day or two looking over the nearby farms and woods or waited them out. Can't do that anymore.
Let's say they are in the ideal spot near the barn and head that way... ever see the lights in a barn dim when those big assed fans kick on? And, these sort of deals always seem to happen when you're dealing with a sick one down in a stall or something.
Sides... nobody out here is not holding a regular job these days... when the power goes down 6 or 7 hours before one gets home, it can really start to get interesting.
The people in the trailer 18 feet away might get angry?!?!?! We have two or three places here that we can actually see and hear and I can guarantee that if the power was down they'd be glad to know that there won't be a parade of beef and pies through their yards because they can hear the generator running. And even if they did care, tough crap to them... shouldn't have moved to the country expecting to make it another piece of suburbia or a trailer park or something.
We have talked a lot about getting the big unit, but not at the $$$ coming in verses the $$$ going out around here. We have three gas wells on the property that were supposed to pay, but, contrary to what they show on TV, gas isn't paying anything now that they've over drilled. Still... as long as they don't shut the wells in due to the glut, we'd have free gas to run the generator with, which, as the OP has suggested, can get costly if running one long term on diesel or gasoline. So, the discussion on this matter goes on at our place.
I'm not 80, but my FIL is 83 and I'm coming up on 57, trying like hell to get my health back after getting the damned Lyme disease and my boy checks into a dorm next weekend. It's looking more and more like I keep driving the jalopy and get the generator.
But, all that said... your experience in a trailer park means squat in this context.
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On 8/19/12 8:25 PM, rdoc wrote:
Some cut.

More cut.
I "gotta" ask. Why not use solar/battery fencers? Maybe there are some available that switch to battery power when the 120 vac shuts off.
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I was wondering about some kind of UPS with a lead acid trolling battery, for when the power is out.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

More cut.
I "gotta" ask. Why not use solar/battery fencers? Maybe there are some available that switch to battery power when the 120 vac shuts off.
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Other folks around here haven't had very good luck with them as the joules seem to drop quickly with little age and where they run through the woods and brush, where there are light shorts when wet, they seem to loose their punch even quicker. I've lobbied for something of a zone system here that would use multiple fencers and isolate the wooded areas from the open areas along the road and property lines where they are more likely to go on longer trips. These open area 'zones' where patrolling is more regular would likely be able to hold up on the solar thing better, I'd think. But... that's not the way someone did things 40 years ago and he's not changing it now, if you know what I mean.
As I've heard it, when shorted heavy they really don't do diddly. We get deer taking wire out a lot and a good heavy fencer will still put a little pop for a little distance... but not much for very far or if they've really made a mess of things. Obviously, if they break the wire, then nothing works past that point. As a side on that one... we've quit cranking them like piano strings as that only makes a break more probable when full sized buck comes plowing through.
One other thing that I heard one guy complain about was that the solar deals made his radios and TV pop. I've only had that when the fencer was plugged in right here at the house at not at some other location like the barn, even though the hillbilly electrical scheme has them on the same entrance, kinda, sorta. Well, that and, once when I got one of those little red led lights that you clip between the top and bottom wires so that you can see just from the window or walking in the yard that the fence is working, that thing had car radios popping for a quarter mile. I would think that if I had the solar far enough away that would avoid that.
But, yes... we have considered it. Never heard of ones that can be either/or battery or 120, though... that might be something to look up as it would eliminate some of the other issues.
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And that's where the problem is in this thread: You live in a trailer park. Nothing against trailer parks... have good friends in a couple of them and had a brother in one for about a year. But...
How the hell does that or some suburbanite's experience translate into rural living? It ain't about hating the dark, trust me. Your park may be along a back road... but it isn't likely the same.
CY: I can imagine that. Nice thing about usenet, we can compare what works here, or there.
Here, we lose power constantly... sometimes for a few hours and sometimes for many, many days at a time. We fill two freezers with meat every fall when we slaughter. How much food do you store in freezers there and what is it's value? If ours goes... there goes our next year's worth food (BTW, do *not* believe the line about it staying frozen for 3 or 4 days if you don't open it, especially in the summer).
CY: Rural people hunt for food. So, the freezer is more important. My freezer, I've got some ice cubes, a carton of ice cream, and a couple frozen pizzas. If it thaws, I can stick all the lost food into one or two handle sack bags from the grocery. Me, melt down. No worries.
Thank goodness we finally decided to put ventless gas heaters in the cellar... they can keep the pipes from freezing but I gotta tell ya the upstairs can get danged cold after a few days.
CY: The one ice storm, 2003, I was cold in a few hours. On day four, I said heck with the noise, and wired the generator in. Of course, that's the day the power came back on. I'd like a vented wall heater, but havn't yet put one in.
When there's a bad storm brewing here we run to put 6 or 7 inches of water in the tub... why? Cause we lose our water without our electric... no toilet, no bathing, no watering the animals without moving them to the side with the artesian. Takes a lot of current on that 240v pump to get it cranking.
CY: That sounds very wise. I have some pop bottles of water. The park turns off the water every now and again, to repair pipes.
Ever try to move steer in a storm? Why would you, you might ask. Well... if the electric is out, so are the fences and when cattle are jittery, they can tell it's not on (or they just get brave enough to find out as some of us argue the situation but I say they know when it's not on).
CY: I'm guessing they can sense the power, some how. Generator for fence charger, sounds useful.
What do you think the ramifications are of some idiot with a canvas Jeep blowing around challenging the foul conditions coming down a wet and windy road and plowing into about 1800 pounds of dinner? We're not talking coaxing Bessie, the chocolate milk cow, from Grandma's window, here... If the spiritual leader of the herd is one of these guys that's been around a few months too long and going nutso and you're out there in foul weather with people they're not used to trying to move them away from what they see as safe, you'd better be wearing your brass supporter that day. It used to be that there weren't all these cars on this road and if there were any they were people smart enough to understand it could be a dangerous place to drive when things get like that. Used to be that if cattle got loose, you spent a day or two looking over the nearby farms and woods or waited them out. Can't do that anymore.
CY: I'm glad I don't have cattle, here.
Let's say they are in the ideal spot near the barn and head that way... ever see the lights in a barn dim when those big assed fans kick on? And, these sort of deals always seem to happen when you're dealing with a sick one down in a stall or something.
CY: That would put me in a bad mooooood.
Sides... nobody out here is not holding a regular job these days... when the power goes down 6 or 7 hours before one gets home, it can really start to get interesting.
CY: Come back to find a melted freezer?
The people in the trailer 18 feet away might get angry?!?!?! We have two or three places here that we can actually see and hear and I can guarantee that if the power was down they'd be glad to know that there won't be a parade of beef and pies through their yards because they can hear the generator running. And even if they did care, tough crap to them... shouldn't have moved to the country expecting to make it another piece of suburbia or a trailer park or something.
CY: You tell em, boss!
We have talked a lot about getting the big unit, but not at the $$$ coming in verses the $$$ going out around here. We have three gas wells on the property that were supposed to pay, but, contrary to what they show on TV, gas isn't paying anything now that they've over drilled. Still... as long as they don't shut the wells in due to the glut, we'd have free gas to run the generator with, which, as the OP has suggested, can get costly if running one long term on diesel or gasoline. So, the discussion on this matter goes on at our place.
CY: Gas well sounds useful.
I'm not 80, but my FIL is 83 and I'm coming up on 57, trying like hell to get my health back after getting the damned Lyme disease and my boy checks into a dorm next weekend. It's looking more and more like I keep driving the jalopy and get the generator.
But, all that said... your experience in a trailer park means squat in this context.
CY: You told me, Pa. Glad you did, I learned a lot.
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I know a lot of guys who hunt for food around here but I don't get why when I know that some of them put or should be putting a steer in the freezer. Venison can't compare to good pasture fed beef. We allow only one guy and his brother to hunt here to help thin them for damage reasons. Most hunters are drunk or hungover and do more damage than the deer by far and we had all of that nonsense that we would tolerate years ago. Besides... if you let only one guy do it, your mechanic is a great pic in these days of cars being complicated to heck and back. It's an investment.
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IF you live in a rural area and IF you have a pool, GET A GENERATOR! Inc case of wildfire, you have a chance to empty that pool all over your house and grounds. No chance if you rely upon the utilities during such a crisis.
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different lines of generators, one for sale at Big Box stores, the other sold via distributors. According to the author of the post, there is supposedly "a world of difference" between the two.

I hear this all the time for tool, appliances, you name it. When I ask what the differences are, no one can tell me precisely. Just differences internally.
If such a thing really existed, Mom & Pop's hardware store would be smart enough to take apart a DeWalt drill, J Deere tractor and actually show the difference.
I challenged a hardware store to do just that. I wanted to buy a miter saw and it was $30 more at the small store. I asked for a discount, not even a price match, but they would not budge. I got the line that there are differences. Show me the difference and I'll pay your price, otherwise, I'm saving the 30 bucks. All I got was "the distributor told me it was different" B S !
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