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North Metro Atlanta Snowpocalypse
Old 12-11-2017, 07:33 PM   #1
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North Metro Atlanta Snowpocalypse

Just felt like venting, especially now that it is finally over, about my rather lengthy, as in 65 continuous hours, recent power outage. Was also wondering if any other forum members in the area had similar experiences. This began for me at 5 pm last Friday when i hears the transformer down the street blow and the power went out. I suppose because we are in a very small (33 homes) subdivision, it took the power co a long time to get to us even though the repair once done at 10 am today, Monday, took all of ten minutes to complete. How many power co trucks rumbled along on the main road less than a mile away to fix other issues could have stopped to do this (especially since the first est I got by text was for 7:30 pm on Friday, but suppose the small number of homes affected, 38 in all including 5 that were on that very main road itself, caused us to bumped in priority over and over again.) is a wonder. The most discouraging part was that the next two est given for 10 pm on Sat and again on Sun were also missed.

Oh well, it sure showed me what I, and even my elderly pets, could endure if necessary. Managed to keep the house temp in the low fifties or higher by ratcheting up the gas furnace to max temp to shed a bit of heat even without the fan motor blowing. This with outdoor lows in the mid to high twenties. I did have a few offers of shelter with friends but moving the pets out of their environment and cramming them into an unfamiliar room was a concern too.

Am now looking into a natural gas powered whole house generator. Anyone have experience with these?
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:40 PM   #2
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I have been looking at propane powered generators, being in Southern California, home of multi thousand acre brush fires.
IMO, they are about the same price, and you do not have to worry about the carburetor gumming up. Also, the propane tanks have to be safer than 5 gallon gas cans.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:51 PM   #3
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I bought a gas/propane generator last summer on sale at Costco. Got it home and found out I have to take the carburetor apart to put high-altitude jets in it. I guess I need to get that done rather than waiting until it is needed and I have to do it in the cold. I don't plan to ever use gas in it.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:51 PM   #4
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I actually had an LP powered wall furnace in my tiny first home years ago. Was very efficient as I recall. But what I'm considering now would be tied directly to my existing natural gas service and go on automatically in a power outage and go off once power is restored(no going out into a storm to start a portable generator which with a pull cord would be impossible with my arthritis anyway). These are permanently installed outside the home, like an A/C unit.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:54 PM   #5
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these: https://www.atlantagaslight.com/resi...ces/generators
depending on whether one wants to power only a few essential items or the whole house they can be quite pricey like 3k to 10k or more if one has a large home, which I do not.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:38 PM   #6
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Note that propane-powered generators can be noisy. During outages here we'd hear a loud rumble. It took me awhile to figure out a house almost a quarter mile away has such a generator. If we can hear it inside our place, I'd hate to be right next to it.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:43 PM   #7
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DW and I experienced a power shortage for over a week about 15 years ago after a great snow storm. I had a lot of fun "camping" in the living room on the sofa bed. I still had to go to the mine, but DW was off from school. Fast forward to 2011 or 12, when MIL lost power over a week in WV, when lines were down after a storm in the summertime. We went south and brought MIL home, but we also took extra gasoline to her neighbors who couldn't get any because of power situation. We bought a whole house generator 16kw, and we have used it 3 times for lengthy power losses, but not enough to warrant it's purchase. We have a large freezer and over 1200 bottles of wine that could easily be damaged by a true lengthy power outage.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:47 PM   #8
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these permanently installed ones have a casing around them, with removable panels for access. casing is insulated to reduce noise. what you experienced was probably a portable generator, at least i hope it was, because noise like you describe would a deal breaker with my cats. Although, they were pretty tolerant of the portable generator used by the electricians who were repairing my wiring 18 months ago after a tree limb took down the power line. That was "only" for six days in the summer, however.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:51 PM   #9
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Winemaker, is 16kW enough to power everything in your house, or just a few select items? I was assuming i would need a 20kW or 22kW one to power everything, and my house is only a bit under 1900 sq ft.
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Old 12-11-2017, 10:39 PM   #10
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Note that if you have a modern fridge you can tell from that by looking at the energy guide label. I bought one in 2014 and it uses about 2kw a day. Not having hooked it up to a kilawatt yet it looks like it needs 200 watts or so to run. In the case of a gas furnace, determine the size of the blower to determine the wattage needed. On important point is that if you have natural gas pretty much an generator portable or fixed can be modified to run on natural gas (at a cost of some lost output). If you have gas then it is the ideal fuel if the systems can be matched.Propane is better that gasoline or diesel as the bottles keep essentially forever.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:20 PM   #11
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Newer standby units use a fancy transfer switch which lets you hook up all or most of your home to a modest size unit. It'll run the whole house but not all at the same time. It has priority circuits for heat and refrigeration. Lights and other circuits get lower priority. BIL had a 4 circuit switch replaced by a 7 circuit smart switch on his older unit. Works pretty good. He has everything except the 4 ton AC unit hooked to it.
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Old 12-12-2017, 04:36 AM   #12
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I installed a Generac 16kw generator (natural gas) and 100 amp 16 circuit transfer switch a couple of years ago. The 16 circuits power most but not all of our house. The transfer switch is a separate breaker box fed from the main panel. I moved our 16 most used circuits from the main panel to the generac panel. I found the 16 circuit model to be less $, less install difficulty, and less natural gas demand than a whole house generator.

We have several power outages a year. One was for 2 or 3 days and the generator performed as if there was no power outage.
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Old 12-12-2017, 04:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
I installed a Generac 16kw generator (natural gas) and 100 amp 16 circuit transfer switch a couple of years ago. The 16 circuits power most but not all of our house. The transfer switch is a separate breaker box fed from the main panel. I moved our 16 most used circuits from the main panel to the generac panel. I found the 16 circuit model to be less $, less install difficulty, and less natural gas demand than a whole house generator.

We have several power outages a year. One was for 2 or 3 days and the generator performed as if there was no power outage.
This is the standby generator setup I've been considering (Generac guardian 11 or 16kw system). Power was only out for ~9 hour at my house this past weekend. That power outage was the I've had here in the past nine years, with the next longest being about 20 minutes. As such, I'm having a hard time convincing myself that the generator is needed. I may get it eventually anyway, but a cheaper portable generator is adequate for now.

On the noise front, Ronstar could tell you better but from what I've read it's about the same noise level as an A/C unit.
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Old 12-12-2017, 04:58 AM   #14
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mdmc, sorry to here about the power outage. We are in N Atl and received about 7 inches of snow. Fortunately we only lost power for a few hours Friday night. It flashed on and off into Saturday morning, but we never lost it again.
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Old 12-12-2017, 06:02 AM   #15
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So if power is out for either a short time or a few days do you really need to power your entire house? Or would the fridge/freezer, a/c or heater, tv and a few lights be sufficient?
Another consideration with natural gas standby generators in an extended outage: will the gas company be able to keep up with the increased demand?
Another issue that has kept me from buying a standby generator is when I'm away for a few days or longer and the power goes out for a few days I don't want or need the generator running continuously. I've been trying to find a controller that would allow the generator to run for an hour or 2 every few hours. IOW just enough to keep the fridge and freezer going. If I'm not there then there is no need to run the a/c, etc.
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Old 12-12-2017, 06:23 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by exnavynuke View Post

On the noise front, Ronstar could tell you better but from what I've read it's about the same noise level as an A/C unit.
It is just slightly noisier than our outside A/C unit. I can barely here it inside of the house when it's on.


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...Another consideration with natural gas standby generators in an extended outage: will the gas company be able to keep up with the increased demand?...
Good point. I questioned this as well. My gas service had the capacity for the generator. But I had to have the gas company swap out my 275 CFH meter for a 415 CFH meter. (I think it was CFH - cubic feet per hour)
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Old 12-12-2017, 08:41 AM   #17
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What the heck can you be powering that takes 16KW?

My 7.5KW generator is hooked up via a transfer switch which switches the whole house from utility to generator. I've never even come close to fully loading it.

I do know not to try to run more than a few large appliances at once. I guess most people don't. Still, it's very hard to even approach the full capacity of a 100A power panel. Think about it. If every circuit were operating at full capacity, you'd be pulling 12,500 Watts (W=A*V). That'll probably never happen. Then look at your electric bill and divide the total KWH by 30. That's how much wattage you pull on average. Somewhere between average, and max possible, is your peak load. You can reduce that further by just not running as many big appliances when on generator power.

Do the math and I think you'll find that 7.5KW is more than enough.
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