I'm looking to avert any problems in the future with power failures in my
house. Besides the recent power outage, we've had multiple winters where ice
has collected, power lines have fallen and we've lost power. I live in the
country in W.N.Y. State and winters are often harsh.
My breaker box was installed with a 220V connection so that a generator
could be connected in case of a power outage. I'd like to buy one, but I
don't know how large a generator I need. At the minimum it would need to run
a small refrigerator, a small chest freezer, a sump pump and maybe a few
lights. Ideally I'd like it to power the whole house, but I'm sure I'd need
a huge generator costing mega-dollars and I want to avoid that. It would be
nice to run the T.V. too. Would a 5000W continuous "contractors" style
Has anyone else done this, and can you tell me what size generator I need?
My other alternative,(if this is too costly), is to buy a battery backup
sump pump so that at least my basement doesn't flood. The water table is
very high where I live.
This may not help on what type to purchase, but couldn't you just put the
stuff to remain cold outside in the winter? Just put a couple of coolers in
the shade and put your perishables inside; this would free up some valuable
energy to be used on more important things, like a TV or an electric water
We've done that during the winter, but it doesn't help in the summer, or
keep our basement from flooding because the sump pump has no power.
What we need is an AC generator to power:
1 small refrigerator, (full height, one door)
1 small chest freezer, (1/2 height)
1 electric water heater
1 sump pump
a couple of lights, TV, and whatever else we can power from a small 5000W+
I would suggest a generator. No battery powered unit is going to last
through a long outage in a home that has a high water table issue.
If you get a lot of outages, consider a professionally installed system
to take care of your needs. If you have gas heat, that same gas can fuel
Remember that any generator is going to need fuel and maybe lots of it.
Gasoline has a life of only about a year, maybe less. If a major outage,
you will not find gasoline easy to buy.
A 5,000 W unit may be enough for what you need (as long as you are not
expecting it to heat your home with electric heat or run the AC, but you
need to rotate uses, that is unplug it from the frig, to run the TV etc.
Thanks for the reply.
I think I'm gonna "spring" for a generator. We don't get a lot of outages,
but we've had 2 in the 2 years I've lived here here, one due to an ice
storm, and the one a week or so ago that knocked out power in the NE USA. I
bought this house 2 years ago, and it's wired to run a generator at the
circuit breaker box. There is a plug for the generator and I had spoken to
the previous owners about the breaker box and he has used it in the past
with his generator, so I know it was professionally installed. He apparently
has had problems in the past with outages. We are located out in the country
in a "snow belt".
As far as fuel goes, I usually have at least 12 gallons on hand all the
time, in the summer to mow my 2.5 acre lawn, in the winter to plow my
driveway with my garden tractor, so fuel isn't a problem.
Thanks again for the help,
First off, forget about the electric water heater. Either put gas in or
live without, cause a generator that big is impractical.
Second, during an outage, gasoline can be difficult to buy. It is also
difficult to store, so it behooves you to buy the smallest generator you
can, so you do not need much gas. I am also in upstate NY, and have gotten
through 4 outages in last 5 years without losing any food in my fridge or
freezer, or getting cold, with 1600kw. (but I don't have to hook up my
Third, your sump pump solutions depends on how much water you get. Does
your 3/4hp pump run continuously, or does your 1/3hp run every once in a
while. In the first instance you need a generator (and possibly a battery
back up as well), in the latter you can easily use just a battery backup.
The battery can recharge off the generator without much load.
Finally, you must measure the starting and running amperages of your various
essentials, and see what you actually need, and what you can afford. For
instance, my old fridge needed 23a to start, but my new one is happy with
13a. (Well, the real final thing is how much do you want to annoy your
neighbors. Some guy a quarter mile away from me has a hugh cheap generator
that is actually louder in my house than my own generator in my garage. If
I lived nearer to him I would probably sabotage it.)
1st off, forgetting about an electric water heater is not an option, this is
what was in this house when I bought it 2 years ago, we have very economic
electric bills each month, and I won't pay the expense of replacing my
electric appliances and having a propane tank installed. If I were building
a new house I would have propane for a water heater fuel, and for my stove
and dryer. If I find that I can't run an electric water heater along with
the rest of the things I need in my house with a 5000W -7500W generator,
then I'll just throw that breaker off when I start the generator up, and use
what hot water is in the tank and do without until the power is restored.
2nd, I always have plenty of gas on hand for my garden tractor to mow my 2.5
acres lawn in the summer, and to plow my driveway in the winter. Gasoline is
not a problem.
You say you have a 1600kw generator, but you previously said that "a
generator that big is impractical" when I mentioned running an electric
water heater from a generator. Your 1600kw= 1,600 x 1000W or 1,600,000W, or
did you mean to say you get by with a 1600W, or 1.6kW generator.
My sump pump problem varies during the year. In the spring when the winter
thaw starts the pump runs almost continuously,(with breaks once it's pumped
the "sump" dry). In the summer through winter it's every once in awhile
depending on how much rain we've had. One good thing though is that my well
will never go dry, (knock wood), I have an abundant supply of good clean
fresh water all year long.
I'll have to check the "startup draw" of all of my appliances and figure
out what I need. I'll end up starting one at a time to avoid overloading the
My neighbors live several hundred yards away, and behind me. If noise is a
problem I'll move the generator to the opposite side of the house than the
side they're on.
It does sound like you could probably get by with a ~1500W generator,
rather than 5000W. (You'd need more like 12Kw (guess) to run an electric
One thing you've got to watch for is that the generator can manage the
startup surges of randomly timed appliances, such as fridges and pumps.
Sooner or later, your fridge and pump will decide to start up at the
same time, the generator may stall, and it all goes downhill from there.
If you can arrange the water heater so that it can be connected to 110,
rather than 220, then it'll run at a quarter of its nominal power.
If you could arrange some way of recovering the exhaust heat (hard to
do safely) then you could use that to heat water ad-hoc on a large
http://inquisitor.i.am/ | mailto: email@example.com | Ian Stirling.
a 7000 w -12250w surge , generac should work for you, not 5000. but be
sure to test all circuts voltage first, before you run equipment. Use
the Plug, turn off the main.run generator, test it to be sure for
yourself, you dont know if the other guy did it right, Ive seen backfeed
circuts output 50 on one circut and 150 on others. But for 200 more a
transfer switch is alot safer and foolproof with built in wattmeters.
You also get in the kit an exterior box ,3 plugs and alot of wire to run
the generator to the exterior box. And the transfer switch comes wired
and labeled for easy instalation. My last post didnt post correctly, I
had 2 colums of usage rating aproximates .
Some generators have a very poor output waveform, suitable for lights and
construction site power tools only. Be careful if you want to run any
electronic equipment at your house, like computers, UPSes, TVs, VCRs, etc.
Not all work well with high distortion AC power.
The problem is finding out if the generator you plan to buy is one that has
poor output power. There's no easy way short of dragging a bunch of lab test
equipment with you. A lot of generators will specify "less than 5%
distortion" or some similar low number. That's the value to shoot for. If it
doesn't mention "low distortion" or "for sensitive electronic equipment" you
may want to look for another unit.
Some of the Honda units actually use the motor to generate DC which feeds an
inverter which generates nice clean stable AC power for the rest of the
house. While pricy, these units seem to be the ones most people are going
for. They can throttle down the engine when the load is low, thus saving
more fuel than the competition. And the output voltage and frequency are
usually independent of the engine speed, so they work well with sensitive
If you don't have natural gas at your house, then your options would be
limited to propane, gasoline, or diesel. Not too many diesels in the 1-10kw
range you're looking for, but there are a few. Propane can get to be
expensive due to tank rental.
Good luck. Let's hope we don't have any more national blackouts any more.
How about listening for a minute:
THIS SYSTEM WAS USED BY THE PREVIOUS OWNER FLAWLESSLY THE WAY IT IS, HE JUST
TOOK HIS GENERATOR WITH HIM WHEN HE SOLD THE HOUSE TO ME. I DON'T WANT OR
NEED A TRANSFER SWITCH, IT'S A LUXURY, NOT A NECESSITY. JUST BECAUSE YOU USE
ONE DOESN'T MEAN IT'S A NECESSITY.
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