I do that and, mainly for OCD reasons - but partially to help shed some
light on a recurrent phenom reported in the EU2000 forum, I keep a log
that includes the number of pulls needed to start.
Tests are more-or-less painless once one installs a petcock between fuel
pump and carb. To test: chokes on, flip the petcocks on, pull the
cords, choke off once a gennie starts, flip the petcocks off, and walk
I implied that I do it once per month, but it's really more like when I
happen to be in the garden shed where the gennies live and I happen to
think of it.
If you shut off the fuel and let the engine die, it uses the gas out of the
carborator. If the fuel is left in, it can evaporate and leave some 'gunk'
behind. I have had to clean out my generator carborator 3 times in the
past before I started cutting off the fuel and switching to the ethanol free
So then I've been doing it right.
This is a Honda generator, but a different model. It's almost 7 years
old. The manual says to stop it with the engine switch.
Later I added a propane conversion (that allows either fuel). The
instructions with that say to stop it by cutting off the fuel.
It empties the carb's float bowl which, when left full too long, is a
common source of problems with this particular make/model gennie as the
gasoline undergoes some sort of change while sitting and gums things up.
My two stroke ETQ says to remove the load, and shut it
off with the rocker switch. I let it run dry a couple
times, and now it's got a wicked piston rod knock.
Four stroke generators, probably OK to run em dry.
Splash lubricated, after all.
On 7/17/2015 10:03 AM, TomR wrote:
CY: Text inserted after my initials.
CY: I'd want to check first with the HOA about
the whole matter. It is very possible they will
prohibit any thing.
She seems to have at
CY: Week is a bit long, to be without power.
CY: That's a bad choice, to move into an all electric
house in a HOA. Not much to be done now, but advice to
all who are looking to buy a home....
None of the homes in her
CY: Other option is a propane tank on site.
If the HOA will permit, that is.
CY: Transfer switch is a good idea.
Then, if there was a power
CY: I like the concept.
CY: Based on what you want to operate.
She probably would only need some basic items powered, but I
CY: Well, see? Not enough info. Some of the generator
companies will have that info.
CY: Right, some companies will put in a tank
which they own, with the understanding you buy
propane only from them. Some companies price
cooking gas differently than heating gas. You
might also be able to put in propane furnace,
which might be cheaper than heat pump.
CY: I suspect your HOA will veto the entire idea.
CY: Can't think of much. Yellow pages is your
friend, call and see if you can find a company
that makes sense. It is also possible your friend
may need to do indoor things like flashlights and
portable free standing propane heaters, to stay
out of sight of the HOA.
There are at least a couple web sites out in the
ether, which deal with these questions. My experience
with winter power cuts, they are miserable. My own
answer is to wear more warm clothes, run the gas
range in the kitchen. After dinner, I run a wire from
my natural gas furnace to a small generztor, and run
for an hour before it gets too late in the eveing.
That makes night and sleeping so much better. Very
little of this will convert to your freind's house
in the HOA. Wish I was more help.
First step is to find out if the HOA will allow a generator.
If no, we are done.
If yes, on to the next step.
If the gas is only going to power the generator, she will pay a lot of
money if the utility will even consider it. They do things for cheap if
you use a lot of gas. I was able to get a gas line brought into our
building, but our typical gas bill runs $10,000 a month. Your friend
will use $10 a year so don't expect a warm welcome.
Propane is an option, but check that HOA again. They may have a limit on
what you can have.
Next, determine what you want to work during the outages.
Go the one of the web sites by the generator makers and they have
information to help you choose the size you need. Do some research to
find a reputable installer
around here home depot sell turn key natural gas backup generators pro inst
alled with automatic transfer switch starting at about 5 grand. this is pre
tty affordable, power fails the fault is detected, the generator starts, th
e home is transfered to the generator till main power is restored...
this is key the switch over is automatic.
in the winter, if you happen to be out of town you could return to a frozen
auto switch over it requires nothing
if natural gas is available thats ideal..... gas is highly reliable. :)
propane is costly and the HOA may have issues with it.
the auto switch over generators are pretty quiet, hopefully HOA wouldnt blo
buy a big enough generator to have some power for the neighbors
more than just the generator as you pay for the NG service whether you
use it or not, and you'll pay for the rental of the large propane tank
too, whether you use any propane or not. Af dor the propane
consumption of the generator, about 30% more propane than you would
burn gasoline on a given generator, and count on derating the
generator output by about the same amount. My 7000 watt gasoline
generator puts out just over 5000 watts on either propane or Natural
Gas. Mine is set up to run off natural gas, but I have a propane
adapter (regulator and tank hoses) to allow it to run on Propane - and
I can still run it on Gasoline as well.
Thanks everyone for all of the replies so far. I read them all. Here are
some of my follow-up thoughts and ideas based on what I read:
The information about rough estimates of wattage needed for the heat pump,
central A/C, etc. was very helpful. Trying to power them does seem to lean
toward the idea that she would need about a 15 KW generator which would be
That information started me thinking that maybe she could get by with a much
smaller generator system and not try to power the heat pump or central A/C
during an outage -- in winter or in summer. Instead, maybe she could use
the generator to power an electric room space heater or two. And, for A/C,
maybe she could just buy a small one-room window A/C unit to get by during
The website that was suggested (
http://www.centralmainediesel.com/wattage-calculator.asp ) was very helpful
to get an idea of the amount of wattage needed for various uses.
I was thinking that staying away from gasoline powered generators may be
better for a number of reasons. One is the issue of storing the gasoline,
whether it would stay stable if stored for a long time without being used,
and whether trying to get a gasoline generator started when the power does
go out may be an issue -- especially if it has been sitting around for half
a year without being used. Another issue is that of refilling a hot
generator safely, plus the question of being able to get to a gas station
for more gas during a snowstorm -- and if the gas stations will have power
to pump gas. So, that's why I was thinking of propane or natural gas
instead of gasoline.
A manual cross-over or cut-over switch instead of an automatic switchover
would work for her. She rarely travels, but if she were away during a power
outage she could easily have one of her neighbors do the manual cross-over
for the generator system.
Yes, there definitely is the question of what the HOA will allow. She would
need to see if anyone else in her area has a backup generator system and
what they have (if there are any, and if they are allowed by the HOA). One
factor that she is apparently facing that many of the other homeowners
within the HOA are not facing is the source of her electricity. She bought
her home when the development was first being built, so she is in the "Phase
1" area. In her area, the power lines are run on poles and are subject to
being knocked down by trees during storms. In the rest of the development,
they went with underground electric power lines instead of lines up on
poles. And, the power for those underground lines comes from a different
power "grid"(?) or source than the power lines on the poles. So, the rest
of her development rarely suffers any power outages. That may mean that
few, if any, other homeowners in the HOA have or need backup generators.
Whether it is possible to get a natural gas hookup is another question. In
my area, if the run is not too long, and if it means that the natural gas
utility company will get a new residential customer for gas heat, maybe gas
stove and oven, and gas hot water, they sometimes will run the pipe for
free. Or, they may charge something like $1,000 to do the new hook-up.
That's a lot of "ifs" but at least she could look into that. If she did get
a natural gas connection, she may want to replace her electric heat pump
with a natural gas heater anyway, and probably the electric stove/oven to
gas, and the electric water heater to gas.
All of these things cost money, but if the choice is to spend money on some
of these cost items (window A/C, gas heater, gas stove/oven, or whatever)
versus coughing up money for a much larger backup generator system, opting
for a smaller generator and buying gas appliances instead may be a better
idea in the long run.
Lots of good ideas, but guess the main thing is how much money does she want
to spend, and how much money does she want to spend every time the poweris
out for a week or whatever those long periods of time have been in the past.
That is after that HOA. I live where I don't have to deal with that,so
never think about a HOA.
We don't have a HOA here, but we do have hot sticky summers. I expect
I'll never have a generator big enough to run the central A/C (3 ton),
but can use a window unit in one room.
BTW, we had a power outage this summer (it was caused by a tornado) and
the window A/C helped a lot.
Thanks again to everyone for all of the continued responses, ideas, and
One of the topic themes that came up a few times had to do with
complications about how to do the shut-downs, putting in some kind of
valves, etc. -- I think mostly related to gasoline powered generators. All
of that would be way beyond the skill level of my friend, which is one of
the reasons why I think that a gasoline powered generator wouldn't be a good
idea for her.
It looks to me like the plan will most likely end up being for her to get a
not-too-large propane powered generator and use it to power only a few
things -- such as lighting, the fridge, an electric space heater or window
A/C as needed etc. -- and skip the idea of trying to power the central A/C,
the water heater, etc. Her home is a split-level style with a back door to
goes out to the ground level in the back of the house. So, I am assuming
that she could store the propane generator inside and wheel it out the back
door when needed.
I think she would just have to deal with having smaller propane tanks on
hand and she would only be able to use the generator off and on part of the
time during an outage as needed for some lighting, a little heat, etc. In
the summer, she could probably get out to get replacement propane tanks as
needed. In the winter, during a snowstorm, not so much.
She would need a cross-over switch in the main panel to switch to generator
power. I do have a question about that. Can the cross-over switches set up
to only activate certain circuit breakers in the panel and not activate the
others? By that, I mean, could it be set up to NOT power the water heater,
maybe the central A/C, etc., but still power the lighting circuits, the
fridge circuit, etc?
Also, I assume that the propane generators come with some type of battery
powered automatic starter. Is that correct?
On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 9:54:53 AM UTC-4, TomR wrote:
That's the most common approach, ie to have a subpanel that has the
loads you want the generator to run and it can only run those loads.
But, I think it's nuts. It's more expensive, requires rewiring, a lot
more work, cost, etc. IMO, the best solution is a slide lock kit for
the panel together with an inlet. That way, you can power whatever
you want in the whole house. All you have to do is have a list of
what breakers to open, which to leave closed. And you can manage it
dynamically, choosing some loads now, others later. With CFL, LEDs
now, you can supply power to lights in the whole house and just turn
on the ones you want. With the subpanel approach, you're limited to
the circuits that are moved to the subpanel.
The only issue
is if a lockout kit is available for the panel. First choice would
be one from the panel manufacturer, if available. Here's an aftermarket
Depends on the particular generator. Electric start is common.
I think the biggest question is the run time of a propane using
typical gas grill size tanks versus other choices, eg diesel or gas.
Thanks. That's actually what I meant -- not a subpanel -- instead, a slide
lock kit for the panel together with an inlet.
And, I guess it makes sense to just have the power available to all
circuits, and turn off the breakers on any that she would not want to run
such as the cnentral HVAC, the hot water heater, etc. Although I do wonder
about the heat during the winter and how much power just the heat pump would
need if the outside temp wasn't so low that the heat pump had to switch to
the electric backup heat.
First thing that comes to mind for me in that situation is death by
carbon monoxide poisoning.
I know I tend to go overboard on this kind of thinking, but I would fear
that somebody without a technical mind set might wheel the gennie out to
a position where carbon mon could infiltrate the house - or even run it
in the garage.
If that sounds far-fetched, consider the nightly news a few nights ago
where they featured a story where 4 people died and the suspected cause
was carbon mon from a generator they ran in the *basement of the house*.
So if 4 people could all buy into something that blatantly deadly, I
would think that one person could even more easily.
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