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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
All the best,
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...
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.
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.
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.
I checked a one for a 700 Watt draw , 10 hour reserve at about $850.
Forget the automatic transfer part of you spec.
An automatic transfer switch will cost more that the engine-generator
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"
Noisy as all get out but biggest bang for the $, for a short time
application (8-10 hours at a time).
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,
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
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