Generator questions

hucker

Active Member
The house is mostly done (my automation stuff isn't...) we poured a pad for the generator and wired it up and now are ready to pull the trigger. I've done a bit of shopping around and see those 6kw Generac NG ones (little brothers to the one in our office building). We have natural gas that runs right to the pad because the gas stove is right on the other side of the wall. Is that the way to go if my budget is 2-3K? The auto-transfer is really cool for my wife too...

AFAICT the only real liability is in an earthquake when the gas goes out. I've lived in Seattle the last 35 years and haven't seen this so I'm not terribly worried. Any thoughts on this?
 

Sacedog

Active Member
I have designed two data centers for my company now, and was involved with the power design for each of them. I did a lot of research on stand-by diesel generators during those projects. Most of the people that I came in contact with regarding generators, were not impressed with Generac units. The general consensus was that they are okay units, but that you get what you pay for.

Granted, we need ultra-reliable power generation in the event of a loss of utility power. So for a home system they may be just fine. I'm just sharing input that I have received in the past.
 

hucker

Active Member
Most of the people that I came in contact with regarding generators, were not impressed with Generac units. The general consensus was that they are okay units, but that you get what you pay for.

For home use what are people impressed with in that range? At this point my options are a gas powered portable, which seem to be cumbersome and low WAF or the NG standby systems like the Generac's sold at HD. I won't have very high power needs so the 6-7kW systems will be fine but could see bumping it up.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
Most of the people that I came in contact with regarding generators, were not impressed with Generac units. The general consensus was that they are okay units, but that you get what you pay for.

For home use what are people impressed with in that range? At this point my options are a gas powered portable, which seem to be cumbersome and low WAF or the NG standby systems like the Generac's sold at HD. I won't have very high power needs so the 6-7kW systems will be fine but could see bumping it up.

I have a Generac 15kv and it works great.
My research showed that above this generator, the prices soar. You get into water cooled (quieter for sure, and likely more reliable), but at twice the price for those advantages plus a little more juice.

I did have a problem with it a few months old, but a local Generac dealer took care of it (ultimately replaced it) and Generac paid the bill. New one is working just fine for one or two years now. I just changed the oil in it last weekend for the winter season. It runs once a week to stay fresh for about 20 minutes.

I am running it on propane (no natural gas available) which allows it to put out full rated capacity. Note that if you do run a generator on natural, it likely will not put out advertised KV - something to consider if you are buying a smaller unit - it might be too small for your needs.
 

politics123

Active Member
Funny, I was just searching on amazon for a backup-generator. Does anyone know if those portable units work "okay" if left outside in a rainstorm (Not a good idea to run it in the garage 'cause of Carbon Monoxide) Also, Kohler claims to have a much better built and more reliable backup generator. Anyone have experience?

Thanks!
 

Sacedog

Active Member
I have a Generac 15kv and it works great.
My research showed that above this generator, the prices soar. You get into water cooled (quieter for sure, and likely more reliable), but at twice the price for those advantages plus a little more juice.

Right. Like I said, we were looking for ultra reliability, and have water cooled, turbo diesel generators w/ electronic govenors. I didn't mean that a Generac would be a bad choice...I was just passing along info.

To make sure that you do have a reliable power source in the event of utility power loss, make sure to REGULARLY run your generator, and if at all possible, run it under load or a simulated load (simulated load is not going to be feasable for most homeowners). It is also important to keep in mind what circuits are powered by your backup source, and what is connected to those circuits. We actually go around monthly, and verify that employees have not connected additional loads on generator-powered outlets. The last thing you want is to switch to backup power, only to find out that you don't have enough power from your generator because 3 employees plugged in mini refridgerators in their cubicle.
 

hockeypuck

Member
I install generators for customers. I would be very careful installing a generac generator. Their alternators may not be suited for electronics, thus one of the reasons they are the least expensive on the market. You get what you pay for. I do not and will not install that brand of generator. I have ripped them out and replaced them with new generators because people were tired of the grief they were giving them. That said for those of you that have them and are working fine great, consider yourself fortunate. 2-3 k will not get you very far. 200 amp whole house transfer switch costs $1200 sitting in the box. At least get the switch installed during construction and save some labor. As far as type of unit, I would go with either a cuttler-hammer/briggs generator, coleman quite series, or kohler. Make sure you get it serviced every year.

puck
 

judge_l

Active Member
I have a Honda portable generator that I use when I've working away from a power source. It has run fine in all weather conditions except cold temperatures. When its below 20 degrees or so, I start it when I take it out of the garage and leave it run in the back of the pickup. I've run it in rainstorms and it has worked fine, but I've tried to shelter as best as I could. The Honda generators are very quiet.

My parents have one they use for backup power. They had an electrician wire so it plugs into the outside of the house and they have a separate panel they switch to that will run the furnace, well, refrigerator and some lights. Their power goes out a few times a year and it has worked out good for them. Last winter their power went out, but my dad was not able to get out the generator because of knee surgery. He called a friend who happens to be on the volunteer fire department. A few minutes later, a fire truck and four firemen showed up and took care of it. They were out checking on the town residents in the blackout. The advantages of living in a small town I guess. But it does show that however you wire it up, make sure it is easy for anyone to set up.
 

Mike

Senior Member
I have a Generac 15kv and it works great.

I am running it on propane (no natural gas available) which allows it to put out full rated capacity. Note that if you do run a generator on natural, it likely will not put out advertised KV - something to consider if you are buying a smaller unit - it might be too small for your needs.

How did using propane work out for you, and what did you put in if you dont mind me asking?

I was looking at this not too long ago (and was eyeing the 15K units) but it got pushed aside when, since we don't have a gas hookup that was going to be well over $10k in itself. I thought about a propane tank but did not take it further. I'm curious if you had a similar circumstance and how you like it.
 

brotsten

Active Member
I have a Generac 15kv and it works great.

I am running it on propane (no natural gas available) which allows it to put out full rated capacity. Note that if you do run a generator on natural, it likely will not put out advertised KV - something to consider if you are buying a smaller unit - it might be too small for your needs.

How did using propane work out for you, and what did you put in if you dont mind me asking?

I was looking at this not too long ago (and was eyeing the 15K units) but it got pushed aside when, since we don't have a gas hookup that was going to be well over $10k in itself. I thought about a propane tank but did not take it further. I'm curious if you had a similar circumstance and how you like it.

I have this unit also. We installed a 500 gallon buried tank, which I believe ran about $1000. I also use the LP for fireplaces and an on demand hot water heater. No power outages yet.

Brian
 

DavidL

Senior Member
I live in the sticks and natural gas is still 3 houses away (if I want to, I can make my other two neighbors happy by paying for this line to be extended past their driveways too :lol: ) Actually, I have my whole driveway (800ft) ripped up right now and Wished that the utility company would allow me to put a natural gas line in while I have it all open...

Anyway, back to your question...Since I was already on propane for stove, secondary heat (primary is geothermal), fireplace, garage heater, barn heater, etc...it made sense for me to recalibrate the Generac to run on propane. The side benefit as noted in earlier post, is that the generator puts out more Amps on propane than on natural gas. Propane works fine. Ideally, the generator would be mounted a little distance from the house (it is only inches away now) for noise and some odor when the generator is running in the garage (really not bad, just a tinge noticable).

Brotsten, so, the generator is paying off already...no reason to use it yet is better than having to use it :)
 

gatchel

Senior Member
I use a Generac EXL7500 for back up power. It is a portable unit that I purchased from HD. It does the job nicely. As far as reliability, I have used it twice. I fire it up in my garage and move it outside with the door open. I can use it in the rain because a made a makeshift lid that snaps on to the top. It extends about 1 to 2 feet past all edges and keeps the direct rain off of it.

So far I have had no problems when it is running. My APC UPS's don't show and line problems and the home electronics, Insteon, etc all work as they should under generator power. I like having the option of taking it to a friends house if they need it and I don't. It's also nice being the only house within sight that has the TV and lights on. :)
 

hucker

Active Member
A question about the distance from the house. Is it just a noise question or is there a fumes/safety issue with the distance?
 

me2

Member
A question about the distance from the house. Is it just a noise question or is there a fumes/safety issue with the distance?
Yes and here code also. I have installed 2 Briggs and Stratton Standby Unit at customers homes. Then installed one at my home cause I was impressed with the equipment. I think the 12kw units w/auto transfer switch were about $4k. You can check them out here http://www.homegeneratorsystems.com/index.cfm Its B&S's website..
 

Herdfan

Active Member
I live in the sticks and natural gas is still 3 houses away (if I want to, I can make my other two neighbors happy by paying for this line to be extended past their driveways too :lol: ) Actually, I have my whole driveway (800ft) ripped up right now and Wished that the utility company would allow me to put a natural gas line in while I have it all open...
Not sure how the rules are in MI, but here in WV the customer owns the service line from the meter. So there should be no reason you couldn't put in the service line while the driveway is ripped up.
 
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