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Thread: Home generator on the cheap

  1. #11
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    Jan 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmartin
    I had thought about it for a long time but after finally deciding to go with propane and the automatic transfer I am really glad that was what what we did.
    Those are good standby systems.They aren't rated generally for long periods of operation,but for emergency standby systems they are great.Locally the power company even finances gensets and installs to legacy customers and attaches the monthly payment to the bill.
    Last edited by wierdscience; 09-14-2018 at 12:25 AM.
    I just need one more tool,just one!

  2. #12
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    Dec 2015
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    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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    You'd be better off coupling up your lawnmower engine to the generator instead of trying to power it from rollers from your truck. At least the lawnmower is equipped (usually) with a constant RPM setup.

    If you even think that there will be a "next time" you should come up with the minimal needs for running the critical parts of the house. To me that means lights, fridge and freezer to keep the food saved and perhaps heat depending on where you live. For cooking use a camp stove that runs off propane directly. You can do fried bread instead of toast and get a french press or an old style stove top percolator for coffee. All of the things that normally plug in to do these jobs uses major amounts of power so compensate with other methods that do not need electricity. Once you start looking at stuff like this it is surprising how little power you actually do need.

  3. #13
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    Jan 2003
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    fridge and freezer, some lights- I'd like to be able to run the electrics on the furnace too. That means the control box, the exhaust blower and the main blower. Gas heat is no good unless it will run. I'm guessing that about 500 watts should be available for a furnace.

    In my situation I would still have hot water in a power failure situation. I've long toyed with the idea of setting up a hot water loop so I could at least have some heat in one small space. Maybe I could get a natural flow system going so no pump would be needed.

    Of course gas can be pretty unsafe too. How many blown up homes are we at now with that disaster?
    Last edited by darryl; 09-14-2018 at 05:36 AM.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  4. #14

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    I used to live further into the great white north here in Michigan, and winter storms were just a normal part of life. Usually only power out for a day or so, but I have had one that lasted for 5 days. I sized my generator for the single biggest essential load that I had, and that was my well pump. With a little planning, you can make sure the fridge, freezer, and furnace are off, and pump up the water. Once up to pressure, you open the breaker and run the other things. You learn to coordinate your toilet flushes and fridge trips. I wasn't that fanatical about power usage, but the smaller genset ran considerably longer than one that could provide like nothing had happened. Learned that lesson from a guy that lived in the UP. He had a chance to upgrade to something like a 15kw from his 4kw. He liked that he could run everything, but was very disappointed about how much it cost to feed the thing. He would often quote how much it cost to watch a football game. Small generator for me, and teach the kids to stay out of the fridge every 10 minutes.

    In another life, I lived in a foo foo neighborhood. We had a big tree take out a major line and all the wonderful neighbors spend hours wringing their hands and moving the contents of their fridges and freezers to their friends houses, and boats and such. I just stripped down the house to essential loads and went out to the garage, powered up my little generator, and went back into the house. It becomes real handy when you need it.

    Bo

  5. #15
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    Apr 2001
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    Maine
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    I got along for years with a 5500 watt Homelite generator that I could plug into a 6-circuit transfer switch. It ran the well pump, the boiler, and some lights. Plenty to get by with.

    As I got older, I got increasingly tired of maintaining the generator. I'd drain the gas every fall and put in fresh gas with StaBil in it. I'd try to remember to rum the generator for about 10 minutes once a month. When I needed it, I was always wondering if the power would come back on before I ran out of gas.

    About a year ago I decided to Fix The Problem and got a 12KW automatic start, automatic transfer switch installation fueled with natural gas. The total cost was around $7,000, which is most definitely NOT the cheap solution you are looking for, but IMO it is well worth the money. It can selectively run the entire house. I can't run really big electrical loads like the clothes dryer and the oven at the same time, but mostly everything just works. Hooked up to natural gas, it has an "infinite" fuel supply,, or infinite enough so it is of no concern.

    A couple of weeks ago we lost power and it ran 29 hours. I hardly noticed.

    Whatever you get, if possible I'd use natural gas or propane for fuel.
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  6. #16
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    Apr 2011
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    I have plenty of large gensets but wanted a small one to take with "just in case" I needed to warm up the diesel. With a 8 hr run time on 1 gal of reg gas on 1/2 load & the roll cage instead of all the plastic, Low oil shut down. Home Depot had one for $169 made by Lifan that has 4 outlets is 63 db & will work fine for me. Just checked & now they're $249
    Last edited by flylo; 09-14-2018 at 09:04 AM.
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  7. #17
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    NW Oregon
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    My homemade PTO generator from 30 yrs ago is in pieces and the generator sits in the corner. It worked ok. My 2 cents save yourself a lot of unforeseen headache and buy one. Thanks to off shore manufacturing it's hard to beat the price.

    Sizing- A few people start out the same- wanting a whole house system. I have a 15 kw PTO generator for my business. Run it off my diesel bulldozer for full output. A gallon of fuel per hour, you can add your fuel price into that. I can run the same generator off my smaller Kubota tractor with it's 2 speed PTO - hence lower RPM's. Burn about 1 gallon in 4 hrs and get about 6 kw output. It sounds nice to have 15 kw of power but I would rather switch loads than listen to the cat screaming along and sucking $3 fuel per hour. Long term outages suck and I have been through more than a few 4-7 day ones.
    So technically I have the full house system and I don't use it, it costs too much, and makes too much noise.

    Want vs. need. Like others have said. Well pump or fridge or freezer, and a few lights, maybe the coffee pot. Switch the loads yourself. Beware of starting loads which are higher. Make very sure you are sized to start the largest starting load you have. There are people much more savvy than me to help you on this forum with those questions.

  8. #18
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    Nov 2007
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    Clovis CA USA
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    I just small generator uses far less fuel
    I had up to 45 kw size just need a 55 gal drum fuel
    The i purchased one from Harbor Freight works great uses 1 gal per day

    Dave


    https://m.harborfreight.com/900-max-...arb-63025.html

  9. #19
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    Nov 2011
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    Whatever you get, run it once a month under load. That way, when you really need it, it works.
    Don't do a vehicle on rollers. Go watch a few dynomometer fail videos on youtube if you need convincing.

    A 50 to 100 dollar inverter can run a fridge, a freezer, a tv, charge some phones. But not all at the same time. Might still find one at Wal-Mart.

  10. #20
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    Sep 2008
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    My 20KW natural gas Generac with a transfer switch works perfectly for me: no frozen Jacuzzi in the winter, no heat in the summer, no flooded basement during blackouts. And no need to switch anything manually or be ready to add more fuel. I can be in town or out of town and have less headaches. Is it worth the money spent? To me- definitely.

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