Portable Backup Generator...Recommendations

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mainebob's picture
mainebob
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 13 2009
Posts: 97
Portable Backup Generator...Recommendations

I already have a Gasoline generator 6500 watt max that I used
during the '98 icestorm.... and ran it on and off for 14 days when
we had no power....   had to drive long distances to fill 2 - 5gal gas cans

I use propane for heat and have  100 gal  propane tanks  (2, each on separate buildings)

I am considering buying a new Propane only generator  ... I see a 7000watt 13 HP
"Sportsman" brand for $900.00  and others around that price range...

The "Tri Fuel" models are more expensive....
Winco Tri Fuel 6000watt 11 hp Honda  for $1800.   Twice as much...

I am looking to buy well and yet don't want to "Waste" $900 that could
go to other prep uses....

I am concerned that in very cold weather in Maine,  propane may not flow well or
at all ?   

My current propane regulator is "low pressure" ... do I need a high pressure regulator
to run a generator?

Is the tri fuel really useful?  Anything else to be thinking of?

Thanks in advance.

-Bob O

earthwise's picture
earthwise
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2009
Posts: 848
  Mainebob, I think the

 

Mainebob,

I think the propane generator is the way to go, simply by virtue of the longevity of fuel storage which would allow for stockpiling large quantities without the need to rotate.. However, the reviews on the "Sportsman" indicated the problem you noted: fuel not flowing in very cold weather. Perhaps this could be overcome by keeping the propane bottle warm somehow, but this is something to consider. Other than that, I think propane is the way to go. As far as the regulator, it looked like the Sportsman came with a regulator.

That's all I've got for you. FWIW.

csweningsen's picture
csweningsen
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 24 2009
Posts: 8
RE: Backup generators

Siknce this is a topic of broader interest, I'm gong to take it further in what might be considered a "delux" direction, though I found it less so than I originally thought.

I am currently installing a second Genreac automatic-change over, propane powered generator. The first I installed for my inlaws. I researched many solutioins. They were elderly. The previous owner of the house had had a generator in a shed close by the house; but in winter, they would

not be able to make the\ir way out there. So I looked into basement possibilities. That would want a sound-proofed box (at least to a degree), an outside exhaust - or propane - and remote electric start. Remote not necessary, but if you've got electric start, why not.

But then, of course, comes the transfer switch, and associated wiring.

OK, I'm familiar with it all, now sizing and choosing possible candidates.

 

And a Google search for propane generators leads me to the Generact site.

 

Well, the and short of it is that their *package* is so complete, and so well desingned and implemented, that the *overrall* installed cist was les than it would have been if I purchesd a lot less actual utility for them. Here's why.

First, what gave me joy as the installer. The package is *really* complete. Start at the generator - which is not only auto-starting and stopping, but which automatically starts up and exercises itself once a week, to keep lubrication active. Then, a pre-wired waterproof flex conduit with a junction box to mount on the wall and received the wiring from the load center. The generator is in a baked-enamel coated steel enclosure on a heavy plasitc base that only needs a pad of stone to mount.

Then a 30 ft pre-wired flex conduit, pre-wired to the automatic transfer switch; then a prewired flex-conduit to connect to the load center.

 

The transfer switch senses power loss; waits briefly, as many times there are momentary power disruptions that are not true blackouts. Starts and warms the engine, then makes the transfer. When power returns, the process repeats, with a brief  "cool-down" cycle for the generator.

We bought a 7-kw model for under $2,000, freight included. The $10kw I am currently installing was under $3,000 delivered. We bought the latter at our local True Value, which has just initiated a Generac program.

By the way, they have a "cold weather" kit available.

 

Best,

Christian

 

 

 

nigel's picture
nigel
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 148
The winco brand uses a

The winco brand uses a briggs and straton engine or a honda. Briggs and straton license their engines and spare parts to almost any appliance manufacturer, this means briggs and straton have a much better availability for spare parts.

Honda have the best reputation for reliability.

I have never heard of a sportsman brand, find out what engine it uses, if the engine is red and looks like a honda it probably is a reverse engineered honda engine. They can be a pain to get spare parts for but most honda bits should work.

mainebob's picture
mainebob
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 13 2009
Posts: 97
Yes, Generac... syncronicity...

Wow, csweningsen  ... syncronicity...Thanks...

I dug further and found the 8KW Propane Generac package with Auto Transfer switch for $2100.
delivered.  ... has been ordered! YES!

It really looks like this is an ideal solution... No running to the garage to pull out the tri-fuel,
Hooking it up to propane and electric and starting...

Great solution... more work to install but it should be a fun project.

Gas company wants approx $500. for install.... Will negotiate and run the lines and let
them do the connections and aparently a different regulator to run the gen.

Will let y'all know how it goes.

-Bob O

ikursat's picture
ikursat
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 5 2010
Posts: 11
Oh, yes -- Generac!

I recently had the newer 7kw model installed. It is smaller and works for my needs. Sells for about $1,800. This model also has an automatic transfer switch and comes with natural gas or propane connections, which run cleaner than gasoline. Had 2 short power failures since then and it worked great.

Two potential issues to keep in mind:

(1) The electrician needs to be Generac-trained. From my research, it seems that Generac units tend to have a higher glitch rate if the electrical connections are installed by electricians who have not been trained by Generac.

(2) You may want to learn how to operate it manually, because you really don't need the unit to be on all the time, using fuel, during a power failure -- just at night and maybe another hour during the day for water, fridge and freezer. It is pretty easy, and your installer can walk you through the steps.

Cheers!

Ipek

 

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
natural gas and/or propane?
mainebob wrote:

Wow, csweningsen  ... syncronicity...Thanks...

I dug further and found the 8KW Propane Generac package with Auto Transfer switch for $2100.
delivered.  ... has been ordered! YES!

It really looks like this is an ideal solution... No running to the garage to pull out the tri-fuel,
Hooking it up to propane and electric and starting...

Great solution... more work to install but it should be a fun project.

Gas company wants approx $500. for install.... Will negotiate and run the lines and let
them do the connections and aparently a different regulator to run the gen.

Will let y'all know how it goes.

-Bob O

mainebob,

Thanks for bringing up this topic.  I've been following this thread with interest since I'm planning on having a generator installed as well.  By your comments above, do you mean that you are going to run it off of natural gas and not propane?  Just wondering because my question then would be, what happens if your natural gas supply is somehow cut off?

mainebob's picture
mainebob
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 13 2009
Posts: 97
Bean Suppar.... and..

posting doubling up...will try again... this post can be deleted....

By your comments above, do you mean that you are going to run
it off of natural gas and not propane?  

Hi Ao,

The only "natural gas" here is from the local Saturday Night
Bean Suppars :-)

I already have Propane for heat to go with my Woodstove.
I may get the gas company to install a second 100 Gallon
propane tank.

(2) You may want to learn how to operate it manually, because you
really don't need the unit to be on all the time, using fuel,
during a power failure -- just at night and maybe another hour
during the day for water, fridge and freezer. It is pretty easy,
and your installer can walk you through the steps.
Cheers!

Hi Ipek,

Yes, we were wondering about that... If we were away for a long weekend
we could unnecessarily use up alot of popane...
Was wondering if there are any good programmable timer devices that could be wired
into the Generac Auto Transfer switch that would allow one to set
the Generator to only run for an hour every 8 hours or some similar
pattern... to keep refrigeration good.

Thanks
-Bob O
chazp's picture
chazp
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2011
Posts: 15
hybrid back-up power systems

Hey for all you folks using gas, diesel or propane for a backup, OR full time generator for electric,

consider getting a good portable or fixed solar generator setup interfaced with your system,

if you want to save quite abit of run time and fuel usage overall.  

If you really look at your usage patterns, many times you will find you may be only using under 1000 watts

in your home, like maybe at night, or times during the day.  Especially if you go super efficient and power manage your uses.

Why should you run a gas or diesel generator all the time, or even half the time, when you could have a set of batteries charged

up by the sun AND/OR the running generator,  so you could turn the bigger generator off for awhile, and just run on battery and sun

for many things.  Most good solar power systems will include an inverter/charger, that will put up to a 100 amp charge on your battery bank,

from external AC, which will charge up a decent sized battery bank in a just a few hours.  

We have been running hybrid solar/gas generator electric systems for several years off-grid,  

and I  only run the gas generator if I either need lots of watts, or the weather has been funky for solar input and the batteries are down.

I figure you could cut your generator run times and  fuel usages to to 1/4 or less, if you had the right solar setup intertied,

AND did efficient apps and power management.

In a longer "emergency backup power" situation, where you can't get your fuel reserves replenished easily,  

one might want to have some way to really ration that precious fuel, and still have enough electric to run the critical apps, for extended times.

Own your personal, sovereign power.

Chaz Peling

SolSolutions LLC

www.sol-solutions.com

 

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