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OT - portable generator for home

As many have done, I wish to tap into the vast knowledge and experience of this esteemed gathering.  We’ve been in our house almost 22 years and have been very fortunate to have lost power for more than just an hour or two very few times.  One, though, was this past winter, and it wasn’t fun.  Agree or not, I’m thinking that the weather seems to be getting a bit more extreme, and I should take some actions to be better prepared.

I would greatly appreciate tips/suggestions on purchasing and outfitting a generator.  I’m not on a well.  The house is all electric (no natural gas).  

Thanks in advance. 
Maryland, 1 LBGE
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Comments

  • buzd504buzd504 Posts: 2,668
    Before we got a built in natural gas generator, we used a 7500 watt honda that ran on gasoline.  We never wired it into our panel, but it had a heavy duty extension cord that we ran through a pet door.  It was enough to power the fridge and a couple of lights and fans.

    Make sure you get a quality fuel stabilizer and start it every month or two.  The carbs on those engines can get stuck easily without routine maintenance.
    NOLA
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 8,399
    First step is to figure out what in your home you want to run of the generator and how much power each item requires.
    And what you consider portable.
    If I were to go this route I would invest in a couple larger propane bottles and a generator that ran off propane. Most people do not have the discipline to keep their gas powered stuff in proper shape as @buzd504 mentioned above.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,771
    i would not go with gasoline.  deisel or propane only.  you need an interlock system, cheapest is a lockout type plate in the main breaker panel and the generator wired to the top right breaker. the one in the pic is more elaborate. my house runs on propane so that would be my pic. dont run it thru the dryer plug, you need and want to be able to turn the power from the street off and its dangerous for the poll worker trying to get your power back on. theres other options that are more convenient but are more costly



  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,876
    i would not go with gasoline.  deisel or propane only.  you need an interlock system, cheapest is a lockout type plate in the main breaker panel and the generator wired to the top right breaker. the one in the pic is more elaborate. my house runs on propane so that would be my pic. dont run it thru the dryer plug, you need and want to be able to turn the power from the street off and its dangerous for the poll worker trying to get your power back on. theres other options that are more convenient but are more costly



    estatchu??
  • Tspud1Tspud1 Posts: 1,071
    There are dual fuel generators out there. A stand alone generator is nice because you can use it elsewhere but you have to be home when power goes out. The ones wired into electric panel are expensive
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,771
    Rascal said:
    i would not go with gasoline.  deisel or propane only.  you need an interlock system, cheapest is a lockout type plate in the main breaker panel and the generator wired to the top right breaker. the one in the pic is more elaborate. my house runs on propane so that would be my pic. dont run it thru the dryer plug, you need and want to be able to turn the power from the street off and its dangerous for the poll worker trying to get your power back on. theres other options that are more convenient but are more costly



    estatchu??
    no, i know better not to have the generator in the house, to the op, run said generator outside the house =)
  • JohnEggGioJohnEggGio Posts: 518
    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses.  You guys have helped me refine my thoughts.  I’m thinking of something that’s goint to get me through a 12-36 hour outage.  I’m a bit inland in Maryland, so we’re not going to take the full brunt of a hurricane, plus we’re in a more densely populated area, so repair services are going to come quicker than to more rural areas.  Doesn’t mean a longer outage is not possible, but less likely.

    The necessities...2 fridges and a 55” OLED tv...  Oh, and the sump pump.
    Maryland, 1 LBGE
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 8,399
    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses.  You guys have helped me refine my thoughts.  I’m thinking of something that’s goint to get me through a 12-36 hour outage.  I’m a bit inland in Maryland, so we’re not going to take the full brunt of a hurricane, plus we’re in a more densely populated area, so repair services are going to come quicker than to more rural areas.  Doesn’t mean a longer outage is not possible, but less likely.

    The necessities...2 fridges and a 55” OLED tv...  Oh, and the sump pump.
    I can get by with my Honda EU2000i for small storms. It's very portable. Enough so that I can turn it sideways and empty the gas and run it dry after I use it. Easily handles my large inside fridge and garage freezer a few lights and a fan.
    The EG2800i would give you a little more options. They are fairly quiet compared to most others and are pretty efficient.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,771
    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses.  You guys have helped me refine my thoughts.  I’m thinking of something that’s goint to get me through a 12-36 hour outage.  I’m a bit inland in Maryland, so we’re not going to take the full brunt of a hurricane, plus we’re in a more densely populated area, so repair services are going to come quicker than to more rural areas.  Doesn’t mean a longer outage is not possible, but less likely.

    The necessities...2 fridges and a 55” OLED tv...  Oh, and the sump pump.
    when the storm comes up the coast, we send all the linemen south, then the storm hits here a day or to later and theres no one to fix it :o
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 8,399
    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses.  You guys have helped me refine my thoughts.  I’m thinking of something that’s goint to get me through a 12-36 hour outage.  I’m a bit inland in Maryland, so we’re not going to take the full brunt of a hurricane, plus we’re in a more densely populated area, so repair services are going to come quicker than to more rural areas.  Doesn’t mean a longer outage is not possible, but less likely.

    The necessities...2 fridges and a 55” OLED tv...  Oh, and the sump pump.
    when the storm comes up the coast, we send all the linemen south, then the storm hits here a day or to later and theres no one to fix it :o
    And we thank you very much. Truly
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • nate1152nate1152 Posts: 20
    i would not go with gasoline.  deisel or propane only.  you need an interlock system, cheapest is a lockout type plate in the main breaker panel and the generator wired to the top right breaker. the one in the pic is more elaborate. my house runs on propane so that would be my pic. dont run it thru the dryer plug, you need and want to be able to turn the power from the street off and its dangerous for the poll worker trying to get your power back on. theres other options that are more convenient but are more costly



    +1 for protecting the pole worker, and the cutoff so you don't kill said pole worker
    Minneapolis, MN

    "90% of life is showing up. The other 50% is style." - Me, after a long night of drinking.
  • CTMikeCTMike Posts: 1,834
    edited May 10
    If you want a bomb proof generator, look for a MEP-802A on eBay, Craigslist, etc. This is a military surplus 2-cylinder Onan diesel with a nameplate of 5 KW, but the military derates them, it is typically closer to 6500 W or so. 100% duty cycle, meant to run 24/7 for a long ass time. Filters and other parts are available off the shelf at Napa, Autozone, etc. Not really portable as it weighs 800# or so.

    I picked up the 10 KW version from a military surplus auction site for $3,450 - had 9 hours on it following a complete rebuild at Letterkenny Depot. DO NOT BUY a MEP-832 (or any other MEL-830 series) as they are 400 Hz.

    Here is an example near Baltimore:

    https://baltimore.craigslist.org/for/d/military-diesel-generator-mep/6557507150.html
    MMBGE / Large BGE / XL BGE (Craigslist Find) / SF30x80 cabinet trailer - "Ol' Mortimer" / Outdoor kitchen in progress.  

    Southeastern CT. 
  • GulfcoastguyGulfcoastguy Posts: 1,949
    I was in charge of a contract to instal heavy duty Kohler diesel generators at 5 locations for the agency that I worked for. They came in handy after Katrina and are still in use. They had an automatic switch for when the power went out, they both supplied power and protected utility workers from shock. We had the set up to automatically crank for an hour a week in order to keep everything charged and lubed. They had a large integral fuel tank and we also had or own fuel pumps for the work vehicles so diesel just made sense. Not cheap though.
  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,876
    Having lost power during hurricane Bob, I purchased a portable unit and although it served the need at the time (for 3 days), I lost my enthusiasm over messing with fuel (gasoline) and numerous cables running from the shed.  Then I opted for a permanent installation (propane powered) that will power the entire house.  It has indeed been a blessing on quite a few occasions when it kicked in after about a minute and ran for hours or days as the situation dictated.  Never regretted the decision, even with the moderate cost factor..
  • JohnEggGioJohnEggGio Posts: 518
    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses.  You guys have helped me refine my thoughts.  I’m thinking of something that’s goint to get me through a 12-36 hour outage.  I’m a bit inland in Maryland, so we’re not going to take the full brunt of a hurricane, plus we’re in a more densely populated area, so repair services are going to come quicker than to more rural areas.  Doesn’t mean a longer outage is not possible, but less likely.

    The necessities...2 fridges and a 55” OLED tv...  Oh, and the sump pump.
    when the storm comes up the coast, we send all the linemen south, then the storm hits here a day or to later and theres no one to fix it :o
    I’ve seen the long convoys on I-95.  I have the displeasure of doing about 70 miles each day in that river of automobiles.
    Maryland, 1 LBGE
  • JohnEggGioJohnEggGio Posts: 518
    Thanks again, everyone.
    Maryland, 1 LBGE
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 13,548
    A lot of items have already been discussed. Regardless of what size or brand you choose, make sure you buy plenty of J cord for your electrical connection. You want that generator far away from your house to minimize fire and CO hazards.  
  • littlerascal56littlerascal56 Posts: 410

    We use Generac generator sets with automatic transfer switches.  They run on natural gas or propane. Set it and forget it. I set them to exercise once a week  for 10 minutes.  You can get them at Home Depot, and they include the auto transfer switch for your electrician to install by your meter service.

    This batch of 75 16kW generators are going on 75 new microwave towers for emergency/backup power!  You could go much smaller for just a house service, and they have a home sizing guide on their website.


    Land of OZ-Hays Kansas

    BGE XL++Flameboss 300 WiFi++Blackstone 36"++Custom Gravity Feed cabinet smoker++2 Weber Kettles

  • buzd504buzd504 Posts: 2,668

    We use Generac generator sets with automatic transfer switches.  They run on natural gas or propane. Set it and forget it. I set them to exercise once a week  for 10 minutes.  You can get them at Home Depot, and they include the auto transfer switch for your electrician to install by your meter service.

    This batch of 75 16kW generators are going on 75 new microwave towers for emergency/backup power!  You could go much smaller for just a house service, and they have a home sizing guide on their website.


    That's what I have, but a 22kW model.  But it runs everything.
    NOLA
  • JohnEggGioJohnEggGio Posts: 518

    We use Generac generator sets with automatic transfer switches.  They run on natural gas or propane. Set it and forget it. I set them to exercise once a week  for 10 minutes.  You can get them at Home Depot, and they include the auto transfer switch for your electrician to install by your meter service.

    This batch of 75 16kW generators are going on 75 new microwave towers for emergency/backup power!  You could go much smaller for just a house service, and they have a home sizing guide on their website.


    I’ll checkout that calculator - thanks.
    Maryland, 1 LBGE
  • whldchwhldch Posts: 114
    I have a portable gas generator that ran for almost 7 days straight after one of the bad NE storms this past winter. It was a bit of a nuisance going to gas stations every day but it was not as bad as those with propane fueled generators who couldn't get deliveries due to downed trees blocking access or from others whose systems broke down from poor maintenance. I hooked up a transfer box for 10 outlets then added a couple more on one outlet setups i bought on Amazon and we were in good shape for almost a week. I got a 10K portable generator on CL a few years ago and it is worth its weight in gold!!!
  • onedbguruonedbguru Posts: 1,611
    if you have a smartmeter from your power company, you can actually get an hourly average of your usage.  I was surprised that even in the summer with the AC, well water pump and our oil-fired boiler (all 30amp), the drier and electric oven, we use an average of 5KW/h.  We bought a 10KW portable generator (Dura-Max) from an online source for less than smaller units from the big box stores AND shipped/delivered for free. 
  • JohnEggGioJohnEggGio Posts: 518

    We use Generac generator sets with automatic transfer switches.  They run on natural gas or propane. Set it and forget it. I set them to exercise once a week  for 10 minutes.  You can get them at Home Depot, and they include the auto transfer switch for your electrician to install by your meter service.

    This batch of 75 16kW generators are going on 75 new microwave towers for emergency/backup power!  You could go much smaller for just a house service, and they have a home sizing guide on their website.


    I’ll checkout that calculator - thanks.
    I did that calculator, doing the “as if the power never went off” setting - it recommended a 70kw system...  I guess the hot tub is not truly necessary in an emergency.
    @whldch - good point about the ability to shuttle around to fetch gasoline.
    Maryland, 1 LBGE
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,771
    just did the generac calculator, it sized me for a 16kw generator. seems fishy, i used 184 kwh last month, never make it over 300 kwh.  sump, fridge, tv, gas furnace. only time i ever have 2 lights on is when i open the fridge =)
  • pasoeggpasoegg Posts: 420
    I am a fan of the Honda generators.  I have used a Honda eu6500 for years that plugs in to a transfer box that works with the main breaker box.  The Honda EU models are safe for electronics while most other generators make no claim for the "clean power" needed for this.  They are easy to start and power up with your transfer box.  Quiet operation and has wheels are a plus.  I always keep extra gas for storm situations.  I don't run everything in the house but easily run the things we need.  Cooking happens on the egg during these situations anyway.

    "it is never too early to drink, but it may be too early to be seen drinking"

    Winston-Salem, NC

  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,876
    Like anything mechanical, all generators need preventative  maintenance on a regular basis.  Fortunately, I'm able to do the plugs, oil, filters, etc myself.  A while ago, during a lengthy outage, my neighbor ran out of gasoline for his Honda and due to downed trees, was unable to get to a gas station.  When the roads were cleared, the stations were without power and unable to pump fuel.  He an his wife were our dinner guests for 3 nights!!~~ 
  • SandyHookEggerSandyHookEgger Posts: 230
     As others have said get a standby whole house and never look back. I bought  a 20kw from Home Depot and never worry about power anymore. My son and I installed it which saved $$. My son is a master electrician though.
     Portable is great until power goes out while you are away and you get the call from the wife.
  • whldchwhldch Posts: 114
    One reason we opted for portable vs standby was the cost of the gas line. Estimate of almost 50K, based on length of line required. Rascal  - I admit we had a problem for a few days after Sandy when a lot of gas stations lost power but since then a lot of stations now have generators.
  • pasoeggpasoegg Posts: 420
    Also run aviation fuel (gas) in the generator as it's shelf life is several years and no ethanol to create issues like you hear about when engines are stored and then try to be started.  Will start every time and run strong.  I use it in my pressure washer as well.  You will be HAPPY you did....

    "it is never too early to drink, but it may be too early to be seen drinking"

    Winston-Salem, NC

  • Tspud1Tspud1 Posts: 1,071
    pasoegg said:
    Also run aviation fuel (gas) in the generator as it's shelf life is several years and no ethanol to create issues like you hear about when engines are stored and then try to be started.  Will start every time and run strong.  I use it in my pressure washer as well.  You will be HAPPY you did....

    Isn't that a lot higher octane?
    How much per gallon in your area?

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