Need Backup Generator

Have you considered an LPG (propane) fueled standby generator, like Generac? They have units that can run on either NG or LPG and if you can get there every once in a while to refill the LPG tank, it may work. Alternatively, if your tank is large enough, you may be able to enter in a contract with a local propane delivery company for them to come fill it up (very infrequently, so I'm not sure if they would agree, but probably won't hurt to ask). Generac's smallest 7,000W unit (<a href="
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5837</a>) should be able to run the furnace and some essential loads in the house. Some more on the actual loads created by appliances is here:
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I don't know of any battery-based backup that is able to run space heaters for any considerable period of time. They are simply too expensive to use for space heaters if you try to size them properly for that. Problem with solar power, of course, is that heating is most needed when there's no sun, so batteries are required and we've back to the beginning of this paragraph.
Also, regardless of the fuel type, a generator is a pretty complex mechanical system that needs to be maintained. It's not something that I would simply leave in place to run on autopilot indefinitely - there would have to be some scheduled visits to check on the thing to make sure it's still alive when it's needed.
The problem of cooking is actually the easiest to solve here - get a propane camping stove like this one
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and a couple of 16.4 oz propane cylinders. They last a few hours each, definitely enough for basic cooking/warming up food.
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I have a definite problem now that we're one of the states that got hit with Superstorm Sandy last year.
Now we do need a backup generator for:
1. An elderly person with no close relatives to stay in their home and keep warm when power goes out.
2. Keeping pipes in finished basement warm (older house no way to get to pipes to upgrade insulation to modern standards to keep from freezing, always had a separate heating system, but of course that requires "electricity" to run it.
Without going over living the life in the TV show "Revolution" all over again in another post storm crisis, we tried calling local gas utility and several contractors, and besides the enormous cost, some have raise roadblocks we can't overcome to using natural gas (preferred) to solve the problem. They will not let us "split service" and since there is no foundation where the generator would have to go, an additional gas line and meter and all that have to be constructed, and some problems with codes and zoning exist so that possibly after spending time and money in that direction we can lose all that is spent and still not have an backup natural gas generator.
We do not have oil heat or room for oil tank, same for coal or anything like wood as Chimney is just for two gas heaters/water heater, etc. use.
Now here is the question that I've not been able to find out anywhere.....
Since there is a prohibition in this household against using a "gasoline driven" auxiliary generator to provide enough power for space heaters, lights, etc, what other choices are there?
Is there ever enough sunlight in the northern states to provide solar power to charge a battery for the night to run such heavy using items as space heaters to keep warm? (Microwave/oven/stove would be nice too so not have to order food from outside where in last storm all places were closed due to same power outage so food spoiled and nothing but items that needed to cook ourselves, but no way to cook them!)
Are there ever big enough emergency batteries that can (like some buildings have for just flourescent emergency lighting only) that can run space heaters, etc?
Are there any other choices when you remove Natural Gas emergency back up generators and gasoline powered generators from the allowable answers? Been puzzling about this and wondered if anyone has any solutions we can investigate and pursue instead of these choices.
Thank you for helping us puzzle this one out!
Generator lover (but can't get one)
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Generator lover (but can't get one)
Hello Moderator!
I should apologize for not replying right away as I read your response within an hour or so of you posting it.
Your links were great and led to other links and then of course I need to start making some phone calls come Monday and one thing led to another!
Great Idea! I never thought of it! Heard of "Propane" only on "TV" shows, you know which ones, and never considered it as a useful steady alternative fuel source for a generator or cooking! (not a cub scout/boy scout so never had one of the Coleman stoves but know the brand name and checked the reviews and looks good to get it right away---- so that one was easy solution for a future outage). Does not need much to cause an outage here (had one for a whole minute while resetting the clocks back....sigh, had to do everything that does NOT have a battery back up twice on that same day).
But will get more information about setting up a LP generator and forgoing the whole piping of Natural Gas costs and site planning board, etc. or the gasoline prohibition etc. Looks like a real solution to my dilemma and wondering why everyone else didn't mention it (can only think they wanted us to "buy" their product and thus why mention something else they don't sell?)
Will keep this question/site updated as I find out more (if my zoning allows me to just "build" one---with professional paid help of course not doing the self-install as others seem more handy doing that than I would be)....and some Amazon reviewer's mention of the circuit breakers and connecting to the house power grid raised questions I will ask the experts here to evaluate our household system and find the best location for attaching the Generac LP Generator into the supply.
Thanks again!
Still Generator lover
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Thank you very much for the update, GL! We don't get many follow-ups to answered questions, even though many of the answers are by necessity open-ended (not enough info to answer fully) and require additional input. So I applaud you for taking time to come back and post an update.
As far as tying the generator to the grid and installing the transfer switch, you absolutely need to have a licensed electrician involved. Those generators are often sold with the switch included but installing it at the site is a very important, potentially dangerous job that you absolutely need a professional to do.
Please keep us posted!
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