OT- Small - Automatic - Generators...?

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On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 08:09:38 -0500, "Mike Marlow"

Hi Mike,
I appreciate your comments about the Guardian stuff, and would welcome any further information you could offer based upon your experience with the units.
For example, what might you know about ease of installation, trustworthiness of the unattended starting, durability, etc.
Sincere thanks,
--
Kenneth

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The Guardian generators are probably the best buy for the money in the price bracket. You can buy them direct or you can find them at any Home Depot as well as a lot of independent stores. Very reliable. Fully self contained, and housed in a good cabinet that will withstand years (and years, and years...) of weather. I'm not sure if they have fully switched over by now, but many of the units (last year it was based on size - over 10K) used Honda motors, and you just can't beat a Honda motor for that application. They start reliably and that's what you want.
The generator hooks to propane or natural gas - depending on what you have at the house. If you're on natural gas, you quite likely could require the gas company to put in a larger meter since many older ones don't feed enough for a generator. This is not a big issue though. It hooks up with a transfer switch (provided in the price), that will either be a sub-set of your existing breakers, or with a whole house disconnect (optional). The transfer switch/disconnect panel ties into your main panel and becomes the breakers for the circuits you select to keep energized during a power failure. As such - it mounts near (typically within 2 feet) of your main panel.
The generator will self test itself weekly, based on a date/time you program into it. It will fire up, run for 15-20 minutes, and then shut down. When a power failure occurs, it will sense the absence of outside power, then it will wait for about 30-45 seconds to see whether power is really gone away, or if this is just a joke played by the power company. Finally, it will shrug its shoulders and fire itself up, switching off the grid, and providing power directly to those circuits you've put on the disconnect. It will run merrily until power comes back on - which is it always watching for. Once it sees power back on the grid, it keeps an eye on it for another 30-45 seconds, to make sure that power is stable. Once it decides that the power is for real, it shuts itself off and switches back over to the grid. Then, it simply sits and waits for the next power failure.
For long term expected failures, you would probably want a 100 gallon propane tank (assuming you're not hook to natural gas) for the generator. I just can't recall the exact consumption rate right now, but if you look on the web for Guardian, you could easily find it. The thing is you want a nice big tank that will take you through the self tests all year, and still be able to run the generator for some time, before requiring refill.
We use them a lot in the northeast owing to winter power outages up here. They are as reliable and as trustworthy as it gets. No - I don't sell them, I just have some experience installing them. I've probably installed 10 since last winter, and I've had the great (dis)pleasure of installing them in just about every environment you can imagine. For the amount of effort you will go through to cob up some alternate design and hope to gain a predictable result, you'll probably spend at least as much money, and certainly way more time, than if you just bought one of these.
As for installation - they are not difficult to install. There is no need to pay the install prices that places like Home Depot charge if you are in any way capable with electrical work, or know someone who is. The hardest part of doing it yourself is getting the generator off of your truck or trailer and leveled on the ground. The simplest install method for this is to throw a half dozen bags of stone down, rake it level, grunt the generator in place on it, and smile. The included documentation from Guardian is plenty sufficient for any competent DIY electrical skills. Typical install time for one (after you've done one...) is about 3 hours. Double that for your first install. If you can do it yourself, you'll save approximately $1000 if you buy one from Home Depot, by not buying their install package.
That should answer some of your questions - but may generate more. As away if you have others.
--

-Mike-
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You better recheck your information, As far AS I know Generac has never used Honda engines, as lest I have never seen one with a Honda. I work for the only full service Generac dealer in the state of North Dakota. You need warranty service an a Generac in North Dakota, you call us!
Generac has been building their own engines for years At one time they were in bed with Briggs & Stratton and many of there air cooled unit were B&S powered.
The rest of your info is spot on. Generac builds a very dependable unit, much better than units they built ~5 years ago. I can't even count how many I have personally installed over the years, everything from 10KW to 85KW. The instructions that come with the Generac pre-packaged units is very clear and easy to understand. Anyone with some mechanical ability should be able to do the install themselves. We get an occasional problem, but nothing consistent. On the self installs I get called out sometimes, and it is usually a installation problem by someone that has no business doing it themselves! Greg
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Sure they did. I installed several of them last winter and this spring. Not all models, so it might have been some kind of a contract that was based on availability rather than KW rating, but without a doubt, some of them had Honda engines in them. I wonder if that was something that happened because of a supply/demand issue for a while. If my memory serves me correctly (and it often does not...) I think at least one 10KW (I remember this particular install too well) was a Honda.

Likewise. The biggest problem I found when called to help people who had tried it themselves was when they panic'd at the tie-ins in the main panel. Typically, these people knew absolutely nothing about wiring and really should not have tried that part on their own anyway - as you experienced. The second most common cry for help came from people who wanted the disconnect located further away from their main panel and were intimidated by constructing their own conduit from the main to the disconnect.
--

-Mike-
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 13:21:39 -0500, Mike Marlow wrote: [... snip stuff about Genrac ...]
I've read elsewhere (alt.home.repair, IIRC) that there are two lines from Genrac. One with high speed shaft (3600rpm?) and one with low speed (1800rpm?). Apparently the high speed units are very noisy compared to the low speed units. As in "weak the dead" noisy. And it is this version that is offered by the borgs.
Can you corroborate or refute that information?
TIA.
--
Art Greenberg
artg at eclipse dot net
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Not really true. The RPM depends on the model. All the smaller air cooled units run at 3600 RPM, ALL OF THEM. Some of the liquid cooled units run at 3600 or 1800, some even run at 2300 RPM with a gear reduction between the engine and generator head. The reason for the difference in RPM is they will take a ~50 HP engine and run it at 1800 RPM to produce 20KW. Then turn around and use the same engine running at 3600 RPM to produce 25KW. That engine will not produce enough HP to run a 25KW unit at 1800 RPM. Some sizes do come in 1800 or 3600 RPM. It is not just a Home Depot deal. As A dealer we can order certain sized generators in either RPM, but the lower RPM units are from from the same "model". Generac builds "sound attenuated" units for customers that want quieter units, and are willing to speed more $$. Not a different line, just different models offered in the same line. Sort of like buying a Chevy Impala, or a Cadillac, or maybe a Corvette. Different models for different purposes, and prices. As for the noise, the 3600 RPM air cooled units are surprisingly quiet. If you sit the generator right next to the home you will hear it run, but turn on a TV, or a radio and you probably will not even notice it. And if you do notice the engine running, the noise gives you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing you are staying warm and secure, while your neighbors are panicking and getting ready to storm your house and take it over! ;-) Take some time and shop all you like. http://www.guardiangenerators.com/Products/Residential/Residential.aspx Greg
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Greg O wrote:

When the neighbor's is running and I'm outside I can hear it, but not when I'm inside unless I'm in that end of the house and listening for it.
Was looking at one at Home Despot today--1 liter 2 cylinder engine--bigger engine than my motorcycle has and makes a fraction of the power--very, very conservative design IMO. And the smallest model is on clearance for under $2000 if you can find one in stock anywhere.
--
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--John
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You don't need to find in stock. Just ask them to order it in for you - at the clearance (is it really a reduced or a clearance) price. They will.
--

-Mike-
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What you read is pure bunk. It's the stuff that is typical of trash-the-BORG stuff. They are the same generators. Home Depot does not spec products from manufacturers. They simply sell what the manufacturer builds.
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-Mike-
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 08:58:27 -0500, "Mike Marlow"

Hi Mike,
I am most appreciative of the information you provided...
Based on what you have offered and other information I have, I suspect that we will move in the guardian direction shortly.
All the best,
--
Kenneth

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You won't be regretting that decision. Feel free to ask away with any questions and now that we've discovered Greg O. in this thread, you should look to him for some solid input. While I have some experience with these things, Greg is clearly the more attuned one. He works with them every day and he's also proven that he knows what he's talking about. Now - when it comes time to paint that mother...
--

-Mike-
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Kenneth wrote:

My neighbor has had one for about ten years now--every month it kicks off its test cycle, never failed to start during an outage, never had a problem with it. A friend of mine had one installed last year, had an initial problem with a gas leak that IIRC was traced to a manufacturing defect and fixed under warranty, but other than that it's been dead reliable as well.
Installation requires that you (or whoever is doing the installation) know wiring and gasfitting and it needs a place to sit, outdoors, which is usually a concrete slab on the ground. It has its own load panel that the circuits to be protected are wired into, the other end goes to the meter or to a large breaker on the main panel, the load panel contains the transfer switch. You really should have a licensed electrician wire the panel--it's there to protect power company employees from getting zapped by power fed back into the line, and if you install it yourself and screw it up you're at risk for huge liability. It's not that easy to screw up, but given some of the home wiring jobs I've seen . . .
This isn't a lightweight unit--it's a big box that weighs over 300 pounds for the smallest one and doesn't disassemble to any significant extent--you really should have the bed for it prepared before it arrives so that you only have to move it once.
If there's a Home Depot near you they'll sell you the unit and deliver and install it for you--they'll likely have at least one on display as well so you can get an idea of what it looks like. Their prices aren't bad either.
It needs regular maintenance--that means change the oil and the air filter and whatnot like anything else powered by an engine--that's typically once a year or after a prolonged outage. Whoever sells it to you should offer you a contract where they do that for you and do an annual inspection.
If you've got either natural gas piped in or a big LP tank for your stove and/or heat then they'll plumb right in--on natural gas it runs as long as the gas company keeps providing gas, on LP it runs until the cylinder is empty--that's a good long time on a stationary tank that gets filled from a truck--if it will run 50 hours on a portable tank then it should run a month on one of those.

--
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--John
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Home Depot's prices are pretty good on them, though locals can beat HD's price if they want to. HD charges around $1000 for the install and you can certainly beat that, even with a licensed electrician and certified gas guy.
--

-Mike-
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Kenneth wrote:

The transfer switch arrangement would be cost prohibitive for such a small load. Depending on the average run time required you may be able to get away with battery back-up using an "Uninterruptable Power Supply" (UPS). Check out Tripp-Lite's web site for an idea of the prices.
http://www.tripplite.com/products/ups /
I checked a one for a 700 Watt draw , 10 hour reserve at about $850.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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"Kenneth" wrote:

Forget the automatic transfer part of you spec.
An automatic transfer switch will cost more that the engine-generator set alone.
Based on the loads above, you will have time to start eng-gen before the world ends.
Since this is for infrequent use, consider a 10HP-5KW, "Contractor" generator.
Noisy as all get out but biggest bang for the $, for a short time application (8-10 hours at a time).
Lew
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 16:26:32 -0800, "Lew Hodgett"

Hi Lew,
When I am home, I can easily continue to do what I do now:
The power goes out (often ice storms, but about a week ago a fellow drove into a pole), and I fire up my portable Honda generator, connect it up, and rest easy.
The issue is that we are often away from our home...
I am trying to find a reasonable way to protect our place from freezing, and flooding, in that situation.
I appreciate your comments,
--
Kenneth

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"Kenneth" wrote:

See my post RE: SCADA
Lew
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Another thought:
Forget trying to react to a loss of power, use an alternate power source from the git go for the sump pump and the furnace.
A couple of solar panels, some T-105, 6VDC golf cart batteries wired in series to provide either 12VDC or 24VDC and a sine wave inverter to run the sump pump on a full time basis.
The more batteries the better within reason,
6-8 would be manageable, IMHO.
Standard stuff on a crusing sailboat, and definitely less costly than a SCADA.
Lew
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Nova wrote:

How's this (work safe):
<http://www.kawasaki-gasturbine.de/en/i_e80gpb.htm
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???
7000KW = seven megawatts.
You might want to check that again... or quit looking at industrial equipment. <g>

Actually, 5 to 10 KW *is* a standard residential backup unit. 7000KW is high-end industrial size.

http://www.generac.com/Products/Residential/AirCooled/7KW.aspx
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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