OT- Small - Automatic - Generators...?

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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 22:54:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Hello again,
Hey, lighten up... I was only off by a factor of 1000...<BG>
The units I have seen are in the range of 7KW, and I need something on the order of 10-20% of that.
Thanks,
--
Kenneth

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I figured something went astray somewhere....

I don't think you're going to find an automatic unit much smaller than that, to be quite honest -- maybe 5KW, but I can't imagine anybody making an automatic unit as small as 700 watts.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 18:04:55 -0500, Kenneth

It would seem that the switching equipment required would far outweigh the generator cost. Were you looking for natural gas? I would think that would be hard to find in that size as would something with a large enough fuel tank to make this an extended use item.
Not fully knowing your issue I would suggest considering a battery system sized to run your items for the immediate term (a few hours at best) supported with a standard portable generator that you would have plenty of time to set up in the event of a power outage. However, if this is for something that you are going to be absent from for days on end this isn't going to be an answer, but neither is a non-natural gas generator. If the battery system backed by a generator seems like a possibility, then you might take it further and look into whether capacitor banks exist that will run the pump and fan for the immediate term (2 to 3 hours maybe?). I don't know if they make those for a residential purpose, but I know that where I work we installed a capacitor bank to run all of the site lighting (many street lights and pole lights) for emergency egress of an 8,000 person stadium as it was less expensive than a hard piped generator sufficeient for the same use.
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 18:37:02 -0500, Dave Hall

Hi Dave,
I appreciate your thoughtful comments.
Please see my response to Doug.
The main issue I confront is time. We have had 4 day outages, and were we away, we would be in a tough spot.
Thanks again,
--
Kenneth

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Kenneth wrote:

Not sure about the automatic part, but Honda might have the answers. They make damn good generators:
http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/gencon.asp
Also, I saw a water powered sump pump as backup on "This Old House" several months ago. The house water supply pressure drove the thing when the power was out for the regular sump pump. Wouldn't solve the fan issue though - I'm guessing you're trying to prevent a possible freezing problem? Do a google on "water powered sump pump" and you'll get lots of sources.
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 16:35:32 -0700, Doug Winterburn

Hi Doug,
Yes, freezing is (half) the issue.
I have a second (unused) flue in our chimney and could easily install a gas heater using it, but...
It is my understanding that those heaters must have electricity (to run the fan).
The water powered sump pump confuses me though:
If we had an extended outage, we would not have any water pressure (or at least would not have it for very long.)
If I had electricity to pressurize our water supply, I would just use it to power the pump I now have (unless I am misinterpreting your comment about water pressure.)
You will see other issues elsewhere in the thread.
Sincere thanks,
--
Kenneth

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Kenneth wrote:

I misunderstood - I thought the sump pump was to prevent flooding. It sounds like the pump is for a well, not a sump? The water powered pumps work if you have city water and therefore water pressure independent of your power. They are a solution to prevent flooding of a basement for example if the power is out for the electric sump pump.
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 17:04:14 -0700, Doug Winterburn

Hi again,
My desire for backup electric power IS for a sump pump, to prevent flooding. I regret any confusion. We are in a rural setting, and have our own well. So, no electricity means no water pressure...
Thanks again,
--
Kenneth

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*trim*

It sounds to me like you need an alternative. Would a passive drain of some sort be feasable? If you can keep water from entering your basement, you don't have to pump it out.
How about a neighbor? His power's likely to be out at the same time as yours, so he could start your generator and switch the sump pump over. (You'll probably have to bake him a cake now and again or something.)
How much water are we talking about anyway? Does the pump run constantly as it's raining, or does it run maybe 4 times a day? You could enlarge your sump pit and size it to fit your longer average outages.
How about... I just thought of this: A pump that's turned by water coming down your down spout. When it starts to rain, the pump starts going and drawing water out of your basement. You might even be able to use a water powered sump pump by directing the water from your roof through it.
Solar electricity is getting better. You might be able to charge a bank of batteries during the day and have them run your sump pump.
You could just go for a whole house generator and enjoy the extra power it can provide while you're there. It's sure nice to not have to reset all those clocks.
Keep thinking and asking, someone's bound to come to a workable solution.
Puckdropper
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Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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Ken,
I don't have the link right handy but for whatever generator you end up with, you can get a converter for it that allows the generator to run on gasoline, propane or natural gas. I have the converter on my 8550W unit and it works but it is a bit hard to start on propane when it's cold. So I start it on gas, then switch to propane. Reason I bring that up is you'll get a longer run time than what you get on 5 gal of gas on the typical home generator. That gets you about 12hrs of run time with a 50% load. a 20lb bottle of propane gives you a little less run time but.... You can get larger propane tanks that would give you plenty of run time.
You could get one like this that has an LP option - with electric start capability http://www.duropower.com/item.asp?PID 0&FID&level=1
Now, all you need is a trunk monkey that jumps out to hit the start button when the electricty goes out..... You can find SCADA type of equipment that will do that by sensing when the power goes out and trips a relay to close a contact that starts the electric starter on the gen. But it needs to be smart. Needs to stop "pushing the starter button" so to speak, once it senses the engine starts. Plus, what will it do if it doesn't sense the engine started plus, how long does it wait when the house power is lost before starting the generator and what does it do when it senses the power is restored. So you probably could jerry-rig several items together but may be best just to bite the bullet and get a small whole house unit with the all the bells and whistles (LP, gas, natural gas capable), auto-start, auto-sensing / switchover. Plus, even when you are home and the power goes out - you will have power instead of getting your flashlight out.
A battery backup sump pump with a battery to give you days of run time (on / off cycling) will probably go for about $3k. One house in our neighborhood has one - and it did work while she was out of town last year for a week, so it was money well spent according to her. Only to have her basement flooded (us too...) a month later.
Justify the cost by esitimating the damage caused if the sump pump doesn't work while you're gone. Add in freezing pipes, lost food in the fridge and freezer and whatever else your losses could be if you're not around.
Bob S.
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Kenneth,
I wonder if an RV heater(s) would fit your needs. These are designed to run on propane and have a 12v electrical system. You could use batteries recharged with solar cells to keep the batteries going. The heater dosent have to keep the place toasty warm...just above 32 degrees most of the time.
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I'm not sure that their auto transfer switch units are available below 7kw, but do a search for Cutler Hammer generators. They have partnered with Briggs and Stratton, C-H handles the auto switching and the load center and Briggs powers the generator, either natural gas or propane. Take a look at this site, it might recommend a unit. Good Luck. https://www.ch.cutler-hammer.com/generatorCalc/wattshow.jsp

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"Kenneth" <> wrote in message

The 7KW Generac is as small as I know. I am reasonably sure no manufacturer bothers with any thing smaller. It gets to a point where the actual manufacturing costs are pretty much the same the smaller units. Say you could find a 4KW unit. Everything for the 4KW would pretty much be the same as the 7KW that is available. The cost for the smaller generator head and engine would only affect the manufacturing cost by a small margin. You still need a cabinet to put it all in, plus a transfer switch. My bet is the manufacturing cost would be $100 less than the available 7KW unit, so the manufacturer does not bother to build them. So you want to buy a 4KW for $1800, versus a 7KW for $2000? Buck up and buy the 7KW and put a few more circuits on the transfer, and enjoy!
In another perspective, I work as a service tech for a company that sells standby Generac, standby generators. In 10 years we have never sold a unit less than 10KW. 10 years ago Generac built a 6KW unit. We had two in stock, and they sat in stock until my boss built a new home. He put both 6KW units on his home to get rid of them! There is virtually no market for the small units, in fact our main sellers are 13-16KW units. Greg
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:53:34 -0600, "Greg O"

Hi again,
Many thanks to all...!
You have pointed me in useful directions,
--
Kenneth

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Kenneth wrote:

How about this for the pump part:
http://www.absolutehome.com/web/catalog/product_detail.aspx?pidp717
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On Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:31:56 -0700, Doug Winterburn

Hi Doug,
A battery backup and inverter is a possibility, but we have had outages as long as four days, and also have had situations in which our pump cycled on and off every thirty seconds or so for a week.
If those two situations were to coincide, I would need quite a pile of batteries to stay dry.
Sincere thanks, as before,
--
Kenneth

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Kenneth wrote:

How about this and the remote start generator of your choice along with the above battery powered pump?
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/921/docserve.asp
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Kenneth,
How about going for the smallest automatic generator that you can find and then allowing your neighbor to tap into it during a power failure, right after he checks your sump pump? That sounds like a win-win situation to me.
Your neighbor may have to do some leg work at his house, but he should be able to run his circulating pump for heat, his well pump (assume he is on well water as you are), and maybe a light or two. Granted, not all at the same time, but it does offer him some incentive. Just a thought.
Peter.

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As long as the neighbor is connecting to a receptacle, that's fine. If the connection to the neighbor's house is hard-wired, then you have both Code and safety issues. So install a GFCI-protected outdoor outlet on the side facing the neighbor, and all is well.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Wed, 21 Nov 2007 10:06:32 -0500, "Peter Bogiatzidis"

Hi Peter,
Indeed, it would be a win-win, but...
My closest neighbor is on the order of a half mile. If I could afford that cord, I could afford a big automatic generator!<g>
All the best, and thanks for thinking about it,
--
Kenneth

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