Rehash please - best non-gas generators

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We've sat through another extended (16 hr) power outage, and some around here (north Jersey/NYC area) are still without power. This time it wasn't hot or cold, but who knows what the next time will bring. Therefore I'd like to buy a generator that can handle the fridge, a TV and the heating system, or perhaps the A/C. This is a smallish single family home, ~1800 sq feet. I do realize that the heating system (natural gas-fired baseboard hot water) and/or the A/C need special switching that I'd need an electrician to install. A close friend used to work for an electrician, so I could get expert advice and inspection for this.
Because this generator wouldn't be needed very often at all, I am thinking of a propane system, not gasoline, but I'm open to all. Any recommendations for brands/models from the cabal??
--
Best regards
Han
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natural gas with auto transfer capability. a permanent install always ready to go. still pricey but way more affordable than years ago.
say yopur away from home in mid winter and the power fails.
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On Mon, 29 Aug 2011 11:44:57 +0000, Han wrote:

Diesel, and run it on WVO when needed?
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It's all about what you are willing to spend. Take a look at generators on the northen tool site. They are as good a price as anyone.
If you do not want gasoline and you have nat gas you can get generators that run on nat gas. The main convenience of gasoline is that your generator is completely independent of your house. You need it somewhere else move it. You move take it with you. Propane or gasoline, you're still dealing with manual supply. Gasoline packs more energy per unit and is easier to find after the storm that propane.
Just to run the house excluding high resistive heating such as electric stove/dryer and central ac you can get by with 4-5 kw. That probably will run your nat gas heat too presuming all you have is circulation pumps to contend with. If you have a gas dryer that will work too. You can run an electric dryer on the no heat setting. Figure $500 to $700 for a generator.
If you want to run the central ac and/or big resistive heat loads you're closer to the 8-10kw range. You need some pretty serious surge capacity to start the ac. Surge startup on a central ac can be 60 amps or more. Look for units with a lot of surge. Unfortunately that usually means more steady state amps than you will need. Downside of that is higher fuel consuption at lower usage rates because the unit is simply bigger. Figure $1200 to $2k.
Really good generators will run at 1800rpm instead of 3600rpm. These last a lot longer. Often they are diesel instead of gas since it's hard to get much hp out of gas engines at 1800rpm. Most of these will be over $2k.
Transfer solutions also range in price. Auto start auto transfer is pretty expensive. Grand or more. Manual transfer with a mechancal lockout on the breaker panel can be as little as $150.
Personally I could not justify the several grand for a little more convenience. I have a 4400w gasoline generator and it will run my forced air gas heat but not my central ac. Not my electric oven or dryer heat coils either. Runs most of the rest of the house fine including the microwave. Cost was about $500.
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I can't recommend a generator, but I've looked into powering my furnace with one and there can be problems with the generator sine wave being incompatible with the furnace control board. So look hard at that before you pop for a generator. And at NG powered since you have NG. I had a 71 hour and a 12 hour outage this year, so I've given it some thought. Severe wind storms. Like your experience, it wasn't hot or cold. My house 1200 sq ft, 2400 if you include the basement.
I thought about generators, inverters that run from the car, etc. Just didn't like the expense and maintenance for something I'll hardly use. Since I became somewhat of a veteran of outages this year, here's what I concluded. Just my ideas, and you're welcome to reject them all. Might not fit your circumstances. If you're dead set on a generator stop reading now.
First off the 71 hour outage only happened once. Even the 12 hour was next longest we've experienced. And they're very rare here. So I figure that in.
Spring, summer, fall. If outage goes long enough, cook up any steak or shrimp you have and feast. The rest will spoil. That's all easy to judge. Happened with the 71 hour outage, all fine with the 12 hour. But we can only lose about $50 from the fridge most times. Make sure you have the usual flashlights, candles, and battery radios. I missed TV news the most, so I'm going to get one of these. http://tinyurl.com/3n7yw4t
Good for a while if you nurse its usage, then you can plug it into the car lighter. Not sure if that will recharge it. But I found the worse part of a long outage is the uncertainty of when power will be restored. By the second day me and the wife were both getting edgy. If she was another broad there might have been violence. I've decided to get out and get to a motel where they have power as soon as the edginess gets to me. I'm sure she'll want to tag along.
Winter Fridge is a non-issue. I've got two 23,000 BTU kerosene heaters and about 10 gallons of K-1. Sometimes use them in the garage doing car work. One in the basement and one upstairs will keep the house barely livable and protect the plumbing in cold weather. Or just one in the basement and keep the range burners on upstairs. But I don't much like kerosene heaters in the house, or fetching fuel if I have to, so I'm going to get one of these. http://tinyurl.com/4xsvhwj
I'll switch a water heater gas el to a T and add a nipple and valve. Plenty of room on the floor next to the water heater and most of the plumbing is on that wall. Leave the basement door open and run the range burners upstairs. CO alarms are on batteries Should do the job until power is restored. But I have to babysit the heat and can't go to a motel. So I'm in about $320 deep with the TV and heater. Maybe I won't get the TV. Haven't yet. Maybe I won't get the heater. Haven't yet. Talk is cheap. I think having the kero heaters handy has kept me from pulling the trigger on both, but I feel my finger itching.
--Vic
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I don't know about gas generators and have a gasoline one but would prefer the convience of not having to start and run it now and then and inventory gasoline and make sure it is stabilized and fresh but there is no gas service in my area. Gasoline is normally not in short supply after as storm with exceptions like when most of Florida was knocked out and gas station pumps had no electricity. Unlikely to happen in NJ.
I got my generator guidance from the mower shop I go to that specializes in Hondas. I would love a Honda as they are quiet compared to my gas model but cost twice as much. A couple of things they pointed out were that really cheap units like Coleman or stuff from Harbor Freight may be difficult to get replacement parts for. They also recommended that the generator part be a good brand like Generac and some brands, like the one I bought at Home Depot have a Generac unit but a BS motor. Even an off brand could contain a Honda motor and a Generac or Honda generator part.
Your needs sound modest and as other responder pointed out, generators normally are sold out after a big storm but you can get a returned unit at half price afterwards.
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wrote:

thread and eventually let you know what we decide.
--
Best regards
Han
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On 8/29/2011 12:33 PM, Frank wrote:

Generac can be good or not. The line that is sold at places like home depot is of lower quality than the line they sell at equipment places.
Three friends have "real" generac generators and two have the home depot version. All look the same externally and are connected to auto transfer switches. The home depot versions are screaming loud. You can barely hear the "real" ones. One friend went through months of service calls because their home depot version wasn't working properly. The service place had trouble getting correct parts and showed him the parts list and breakdown which shows the home depot version is much different than the normal version.

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On 8/31/2011 6:11 AM, George wrote:

Years ago, I installed a lot of Generac gensets, most were the 8kw version with the Briggs&Stratton Vanguard V-twin engine running on natural gas. Some were 10-25kw gensets using Turkish Fiat 4 cylinder 1.6L engines. The 10kw ran at 1800rpm and was the one that would probably last the longest. I think all the rest ran at 3600rpm. The last Generac I installed used the newer Generac designed and built big honkin air cooled V-twin. Those things are great.
TDD
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I bought a tri fuel kit for my Briggs 5.5 kw. Now it runs on nat gas, propane or gasoline. There are several vendors on the internet.
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I would look at Tri Fuel conversions www.propane-generators.com They are propane Ng gasolene conversion kits, run what you have. The cleanest power are inverter types that honda and yamaha have, Northern tool should have them already done for sale and shipping, then its as easy as getting a Ng line outside which is easy and cheap to do.
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I agree on the "post irene" sales. Lots of good stuff cheap in a few months.
I disagree on the power "quality" posts. Today's appliances can handle just about anything. I run my 48" sony bravia, my gas furnace, my computers, microwave, you name it off my el cheapo 4400 watt generator. Never had a problem with any of it. Done it at least a dozen times in the past 12 years.
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It can be done safely, I wasnt clear, its really a different issue that of calibration, ive seen new units sold that put out about 140v, if you check and adjust your unit once in a while, any unit should do well for you
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wrote:

Thanks, again, all advice will be taken into consideration. Because of dear Irene, there are no generators available around here now, so I will have time to consider everything ...
--
Best regards
Han
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Most of the generators say they can be used for forced air fans, but they stop short of saying they can be used on a relatively new furnace. That control board is very vulnerable. And running it off of an inverter/ battery combo, which would be less vulnerable to voltage fluctuations and generator spikes may also be an issue.
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They're not any more vunerable that any other piece of electronics. They handle reasonable voltage and frequency variations. Since most are powered from the 24 volt transformer, voltage variations are reduced by a factor of 5. I've run both my forced air gas unts many times from my generator. Many of my neighbors do as well.
Inverters are worse than generators for inductive loads. Most inverters do not produce a true sine wave.
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Wait a couple of months. They'll be *CHEAP*.
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wrote:

Sounds like a good idea. Politicians and other leftist morons would have a fit, though.
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A big box trucks that said "GeneratorsRus or similar was at a small local shopping plaza right after the storm here in NJ. They were loaded with generators just like you suggest. A neighbor bought a 5000Watt generator for $1400. It's a no name Chinese that goes for $400 normally.
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wrote:

That's price gouging. Here in NC it's against the law and our state attorney goes after them too. Might be because we have a lot of storms so we're more watchful.
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