Maintenance free whole house generators?

Here in Brooklyn the wires are underground. But where my elderly mom lives in NJ there are frequent power outages. She got her power back for about a day, and it is out again.
Of course she would put in a natural gas generator. But what I learned tonight is they require checking the oil level twice a day with a dipstick. And adding oil. This would be beyond what she can do. Are all generators like this? Are there ones that can run for two weeks with no maintenance?
Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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On 3/10/2018 8:45 PM, Don Wiss wrote:

Twice a day seems a lot but I guess 12 hours on a small engine can use it up. Is there a neighbor than can do the checks? I'd think most any teenager can handle ir.
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She can't count on a neighbor. I would think that the person telling me this bought a cheap generator*. I can't believe there aren't ones that can run with no maintenance for two weeks.
But going to a website, like Generac's, they don't tell you things like this.
* She did say hers is only partial house, and she did not have to replace her plastic lined gas main. My mom's main also has a plastic insert, and will have to be replaced if we want her to have a serious generator.
Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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On Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 9:09:28 PM UTC-5, Don Wiss wrote:

From what I've seen Generac residential generators are crap. I wound up with one that was only a few years old from a neighbor. It failed and the service people told him it wasn't worth fixing and they didn't even want it for parts. He bought a new one. I got the old one, diagnosed it down to a bad rotor and possibly a bad stator. I was going to fix it, until I looked at reviews of Generac on Amazon. This was about 5 years ago. The reviews were really, really bad. All kinds of complaints from ones that failed in just a few years, to ones that were leaking oil when brand new. And people complaining that Generac customer service was non-existent, that they wouldn't resolve problems, etc. I'd definitely do research before buying any generator. I came to the conclusion it wasn't worth fixing.
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On Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:09:53 -0700 (PDT), trader_4

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I went to Consumer Reports online. There is only one whole house generator recommended. It is the Kohler. They wrote:
Kohler’s stationary generator was top-notch at delivering ample, especially smooth power, claimed to offer 12,000 watts using natural gas and another 2,000 if you use propane. This saves you the hassle of storing gasoline. As with other standby generators, it starts automatically and can run indefinitely unless running off an external propane tank. It was among the quietest of the models we tested and includes a low-oil shutoff with a warning indicator. It also comes with a transfer switch. An add-on module, $475, lets you monitor your generator’s status from anywhere using a Windows PC.
On the Kohler site I find two 20kW generators. Those would be a better size.
Thanks all!
Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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On Monday, March 12, 2018 at 12:10:00 PM UTC-4, Don Wiss wrote:

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Why would you think you need 20KW? That's 80 amps at 240V or 160 amps at 120V. But then I guess it also depends on how much more the larger one costs and a lot of the cost is the install, which would be the same anyway.
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She has two refrigerators, plus a freezer. None new. One ancient. Two central air units. Not top-of-the-line. Plus the usual in a mostly gas powered house.

The price difference is $844. The other costs overwhelm this. Especially the $5,000 (or more) to run a new gas main. If she doesn't run a new main, she could only have a partial house one (like the neighbors that didn't install a new gas main) and there is the complication of load management. With the whole house, life goes on as before.
Plus the house is going to be sold after she dies. Maybe in five years? It is a tear down candidate (ceilings are only 7' 10"). The extra size should be a plus.
Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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On Monday, March 12, 2018 at 2:39:18 PM UTC-4, Don Wiss wrote:

If the load management was limited to not running both central AC units at the same time, you could easily get by with the 12KW unit. AC probably needs 25 amps/240V running, more to start. Those other loads are peanuts. A modern fridge draws maybe 3 amps to start, then less than one amp when running. TVs, lights especially LEDS now don't amount to much. But then like I said, the difference in price isn't that much of a percentage because all the other stuff adds so much. That new gas line is a killer.
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The refrigerator and upright freezer in the kitchen date to 1988. The refrigerator in the basement is probably 50 years old.

She likes her large CRT TV. There are almost no LEDs. Though she doesn't keep many lights on.

Yep.

Yep. That is what stopped her when she looked into this some years ago. There were long outages after Sandy and Irene. One was 5 days and the other 11 days. But in those days my father was alive. The fire department brought a gasoline generator and returned every few hours to refill it. But my mom doesn't use a CPAP machine or need to keep insulin cold. So that ended.
The next door neighbor does not have a whole house generator. Only partial. They have been going to their beach house on the weekends.
Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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That one in the basement... is probably working with Freon-12. Which is highly valuable these days. Call a couple of air condiitioning/refrig places and see how much they'll offer you.
That being said, I'm sure you've considered the economics of swapping these old units for _much more efficien_ modern ones. Then again, of cours, is the hassle factor.
Anyway, my main point is to mention that while the units might be using 50 to 200 watts when operating, they can easily pull more than 500 when in auto-defrost mode.
My current one is about 75 watts running, 500 in defrost. Older units probably double or more both those figures.
Which are numbers that get big enough to be a consideration when spec'ing emergency power.
- a social hall I deal with recently started getting full outages of all the overhead lights in their main reception area. It turned out that although there were a dozen circuit breakers on that floor, all those wires ran to just a pair of breakers at another panel.
So instead of (for illustration) 150 or so amps available, it was only [20 times 2, more or less].
And... they had recently added an outlet to the main floor and pluged a refrigerator into it. Which was wired into the same circuit feeding the overheads.
When the overhead lights were off, or even just one string of them, there was no problem when the defrost cycle kicked on.
However... if the place was occupied and all the lights were lit, then the extra five amps from the defrost heater was enough to overload the other breaker pair. (It only tripped one of the breakers, but they were joined together).
Took me a long time to figure out what was happening...
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Per trader_4:

I do not know how many Generacs are in our neighborhood, but during the last outage I walked around and saw 3 houses with Generacs where the gennie had failed.
--
Pete Cresswell

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wrote:

We've had a Generac 17kw whole house generator for almost 15 years. It has never failed. A few times it had to run for a solid week because of power outages due to flood conditions. It has had to run for 3-4 days at a time quite often because of non-flood power losses. It is the best investment we ever made in regard to our home.
You cannot be sloppy with the maintenance of such a necessary item. We have a professional maintenance outfit come out twice a year to change oil and check it out. You have to pay attention to it. You just cannot wait for some problem to happen before you call the maintain people. It could just be during an emergency that it will fail if you didn't keep up with the maintenance.
We have a few large retailers around here who depend on Generac generators. One of them is a Menard's who has a monster one sitting in their parking lot.
As far as I'm concerned, there isn't a dang thing wrong with the Generac brand. And that includes the helpful people at the other end of their customer help line. I've had to call a few times with a question, and those people were very helpful and had a nice attitude.
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What fuels your 17,000 watt unit ? and how much fuel would you use - per day - on average ? I've been getting-by with my 5,000 watt Honda portable, for almost 20 years - but might be upgrading soon. < if it ever dies > John T.
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On Sun, 06 May 2018 00:03:13 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@ccanoemail.ca wrote:

I've got a Champion 7200 Tri-Fuel - Gas, Peopane, and Natural gas.
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Forgetting the brand name - is a 17 kw unit significantly better that a 10 kw unit ? if you only need about 8 kw ? Is the fuel savings given-up in the quality / longevety of the unit ? John T.
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On Sun, 06 May 2018 01:02:50 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@ccanoemail.ca wrote:

If you only need 8kw a quality 10kw unit should be adequate. THEORETICALLY a larger unit will be less stressed - but if the smaller unit is designed and built for heavy duty use and the larger one is not - all the theory goes out the window.
You want a pressure lubricated engine with steel sleaves and an oil filter. A water cooled engine WILL be more durable. An 1800 rpm unit will outlast a 3600 rpm unit. An oversized unit will generally burn more fuel.
I'd take a high quality 7200 over a mediocre 12000 every day of the year.
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On Sun, 6 May 2018 00:23:40 -0700 (PDT), Uncle Monster

Who knows what appliances, etc., you'll have down the road. I'd rather be prepared with enough power than fall short during a week long run of no power in the middle of a bitter winter. Our 17 kW can sustain everything running in our two-story home. multiple room air conditioners, freezers, etc., etc. If one can afford the next up in line in wattage, it's worth the extra protection.
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On Sun, 06 May 2018 12:10:01 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

My 7200 can handle anything I NEED, Do I NEED to run the drier and the oven at the same time? No.
It will run the AC or the furnace, with power left over for lights (all LED so VERY little power requirement) - will run the refrigerator and microwave plus lughts - certainly enough to "get by on".
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On Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 3:36:00 PM UTC-4, Clare Snyder wrote:

During Sandy here we were running two houses on one small portable generator, I think it was ~ 4KW. The neighbor wasn't too bright though, decided to try to run the washing machine. Talk about pushing your luck.... It couldn't support that, but otherwise it ran two gas furnaces, two fridges, one freezer, two power vent gas water heaters, and lights.
It all depends on your loads and your expectations. If you have gas for hot water and don't need to have AC, then I agree your 7200W should be more than enough for a typical home. And having it run on nat gas is perfect, ability to switch to gas is great too if you have any potential use for it other than at the house. Put in an Interlockit on the panel and an inlet, and your good to go a small fraction of the cost on an install of a whole house standby generator. And if it craps out, you can get a new one for $1000, no install $$$ to replace either.
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