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Old 07-04-2012, 09:06 AM   #101
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... I broke down and bought one of these:
+1
I bought the exact same unit about a year ago, based on a three-day power outage from a massive windstorm.

It sits in the garage (exhaust is vented outside) and is amazingly quiet for its size.

I use Sta-bil gas treatment in my stored gasoline, and run the generator for 10 minutes once a month to keep it from gumming up.

Honda has always been a leader in the small engine department, and these quiet generators of theirs are among the tops in the class.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:12 AM   #102
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It all sounds great when you're buying it, but I can't help think "maintenance hog". It also sounds like a lot of money to preserve a refrigerator full of groceries (~$250?) and to cool off a room.
Personally, I would not care much about AC. My current less than $1k genset is sufficient to run my four freezers which are packed full around harvesting/hunting season. My main issues would be getting water out of my deep well, or in winter running the fan of my natural gas furnace. These are hard wired and can't currently be run with an outside generator. Never needed to try yet, but if it is -40F outside it might not take much longer than 50 hours for the first pipes to start freezing if one does not have any means to heat the house. There we talk about major $ damage.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:13 AM   #103
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Aw shucks, ERD50. I forgot that when it comes to mechanical power generation, bigger is better. Out with small nat gas generators. In with heavy duty diesel generators. Why not use the same reliable technology that the utility companies themselves use? I will admit that there's nothing like a big massive iron flywheel to keep the machine speed constant, the turbo-encabulator encabulating, and the electrons flowing.

Nords, I dunno about toughin' it out in the 115F heat. OK, I can survive on ramen noodle for a few days, or maybe even a week before my hair starts to fall out. But to sleep rolling in your own sweat, ugh..., it's not for me. I am not that tough. I think even the native Americans who inhabited the SW did not stay in the low valley during the summer. They headed up to higher country. They had the whole land to themselves, OK, between themselves. Why stay locked in one place and get fried?

And there is nothing like the rumbling of a diesel genny to lull you to sleep.

About the idea of using the traction battery of a hybrid or EV as energy storage, and the car engine+motor as the generator, I forgot that the Volt should be more suitable than the Prius. The former has a larger battery, which means it does not have to start up its engine to recharge as often as the Prius would. There's got to be a nerd out there working on this as we speak.

And if you use lead-acid battery, please note that even deep-cycle golf-cart batteries will have their life shortened if discharged more than 50%. Regular car batteries? You may get 10% of the Ah. And the Peukert effect is much more pronounced with lead-acid batteries than other modern types, such as the new-fangled lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4).

So, back to a small 2KW generator to keep your tenderloins frozen, your beer cold, and the window A/C in your den humming. Surely, a family can camp out in a small bedroom, parents and kids, pets and goldfish too. It's much more comfortable than camping in tents, no?
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:54 AM   #104
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It all sounds great when you're buying it, but I can't help think "maintenance hog". It also sounds like a lot of money to preserve a refrigerator full of groceries (~$250?) and to cool off a room.

And to stay current on the firearms you're gonna need to defend your property when someone else wants you to "share the power".
I've heard that the sound of a running generator attracts zombies. So there's that...
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:07 PM   #105
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Personally, I would not care much about AC. My current less than $1k genset is sufficient to run my four freezers which are packed full around harvesting/hunting season. My main issues would be getting water out of my deep well, or in winter running the fan of my natural gas furnace. These are hard wired and can't currently be run with an outside generator. Never needed to try yet, but if it is -40F outside it might not take much longer than 50 hours for the first pipes to start freezing if one does not have any means to heat the house. There we talk about major $ damage.
What you need is a transfer switch, not the Jesus cord. If you have a deep well, then probably you need minimum 5kw genset for the 1.5-2hp rated pump. Heating can be supplemented with a portable kerosene heater; one tank fill should last some time.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #106
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I've heard that the sound of a running generator attracts zombies.
And women/men of "ill repute" (take your pick) ...
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:21 PM   #107
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Seriously, I think for most people, a small generator is the most practical thing. The Honda line of gensets with inverter technology is very attractive, although Yamaha (see FIRed's earlier post) and others also have it. They exist in capacities ranging from 1KW up to the 6.5KW like the ones several posters have. The 2KW units tend to be the size that one person can reasonably carry around, and they are good enough to run a small life-supporting A/C.

An additional reason these are so quiet (in addition to being well designed and made) is that they use inverter technology. For the uninitiated, please let me explain.

Ordinary gensets usually run at 3,600 rpm to produce 60Hz AC power, like Ratto described. They run at the same speed, even at light or no loads. On the other hand, the inverter gensets have speeds that vary with the load, to produce power as demanded. The internal electronics convert this power to DC, then convert it back to AC 60Hz with an inverter circuit. Voltage and frequency regulation are done with precise electronics (Mechanical engineers, eat your heart out!).

These inverter gennies cost more ($1K for a 2KW), but try to price a PSW (Pure Sine Wave or True Sine Wave) 2KW inverter alone and see what that costs.

The Honda 2KW units can even be paralleled to double up their outputs, using a special cable. They are synchronized electronically, not mechanically. Yeah, try the latter!

Some RV'ers do the paralleling so that they can run the typical 13,500 BTU/hr rooftop A/C with a pair of Honda 2KW gennies. One 2KW genny cannot get such A/C started, although the A/C consumes less than 2KW once it is started.

By the way, I have seen an RV charger/inverter for RVs that can use the attached battery bank to produce power in synchronization with a small genset to help the latter start a load like the above A/C (it works similarly to a grid-tie inverter for residential solar installations). It's not cheap though.

PS. I have read blogs of some RV'ers who carry enough batteries and an inverter powerful enough to run the above AC for 2 or 3 hours. Their RVs are converted buses!
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:31 PM   #108
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Aw shucks, ERD50. I forgot that when it comes to mechanical power generation, bigger is better. Out with small nat gas generators. In with heavy duty diesel generators. Why not use the same reliable technology that the utility companies themselves use? I will admit that there's nothing like a big massive iron flywheel to keep the machine speed constant, the turbo-encabulator encabulating, and the electrons flowing. ...
Do I detect sarcasm?

Someone earlier in the thread commented on the difference in size/cost between these household models and the commercial units. I don't think anyone was 'surprised' by the difference, or wouldn't realize that 'bigger is better', but I was just pointing out some of the technical trade-offs that were made that accounted for the size/cost difference.

Personally, in a geeky sort of way, I thought it was interesting that the thing speeds up under load - it's just the opposite of what we would expect. But that makes a difference in the power they can squeeze out, and probably extends the relatively short life by running slower with low loads. And that frequency drift might affect some equipment. I think they were able to re-program their UPS (or bought different ones) that are not as selective about frequency before they drop to battery mode.

No, homeowners don't need utility-grade equipment, but they might be interested in what those trade-offs are. There were some long threads on different forums about modding that power control board to reduce the frequency shift, as others had issues with it too. Just passing it along to the crowd here.

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Old 07-04-2012, 12:35 PM   #109
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No sarcasm, just joking and teasing!

Don't blame you though. I think I have said in some earlier post that I tend to get carried away that even a close friend once told me that he could never tell what I meant.

Peace...

PS. It is very true that heavier equipment lasts longer. Their design is different. Your post reminded me of the common Onan genset that I have in my RV. It is relatively expensive ($3500 for 4KW, no fancy inverter technology) and heavy. It probably outlasts the portable Honda. Or so I hope.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:42 PM   #110
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What you need is a transfer switch, not the Jesus cord. If you have a deep well, then probably you need minimum 5kw genset for the 1.5-2hp rated pump. Heating can be supplemented with a portable kerosene heater; one tank fill should last some time.
Yes, I actually have considered these options but have not been motivated to do anything about it yet because of these reasons:
- We never had a really long power failure yet (yeah I know this is a REALLY good reason )
- Due to the complex construction of my "homestead" I would actually need not one but two hard wired gensets and transfer switches just to cover the well and furnace, since they are powered by two separate service panels in two different buildings several hundred feet from each other.
- What I did not mention in my previous posting, I actually have two NG fireplaces that are also 85% efficient heat sources. I'm guessing they should be able to keep my house above freezing point for quite a while. Never tried kerosene heaters myself but I have heard people who used some during multiday power failure having to repaint their ceilings afterwards due to oily residue from (low quality?) kerosene.

In any case, while I may be able to get by with a small genset and NG fireplaces, I definitely need a transfer switch for my service panel that powers the well pump. Even though I enjoy living in cooler climates, I don't especially like snow baths as a substitute for hot showers. Also, I have absolutely no interest it spending over $20k on two hard wired gensets with auto sensing transfer switches to cover all of my power needs in the case of a major outage. But then again, if we ever lose power for 100+ hours, I might change my mind.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:51 PM   #111
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No sarcasm, just joking and teasing!
.
OK - no problem! It is hard to tell sometimes, and some of my own posts that I thought were totally innocuous ended up getting read different from what I intended. It happens.

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Old 07-04-2012, 12:53 PM   #112
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As an amend to our friend ERD50 for my joke earlier, I would like to point the following out. That is when making comparison, we should take note of the difference between devices.

For example, the inverter gensets I described above tend to be very quiet when running under a light or no load. Why, they are just idling. But load them up to their power ratings, and they rev up, getting significantly louder. Probably still more quiet than the cheapo brand, but not as quiet as before.
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:49 PM   #113
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Never tried kerosene heaters myself but I have heard people who used some during multiday power failure having to repaint their ceilings afterwards due to oily residue from (low quality?) kerosene.
Full-time RV'ers commonly have a problem with running out of battery juice to power the electric fan of their heating furnace. So, many of them use a fan-less propane heater with a catalytic burner. They supposedly burn clean and produce no carbon monoxide. To keep from taking up all the oxygen in the enclosed airspace of the RV, these heaters have an integrated oxygen sensor to shut themselves off when necessary.

I have no need for these, but many RV'ers use them. They simply open a window a crack to let fresh air in.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:13 PM   #114
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Due to the complex construction of my "homestead" I would actually need not one but two hard wired gensets and transfer switches just to cover the well and furnace, since they are powered by two separate service panels in two different buildings several hundred feet from each other.
Oh, I see. That's tough. If you plan to hook up generator to your well pump for the time being, then you probably can get pretty good deal of pre-wired manual transfer switch (6-8 circuits) and pre-wired plugs/cable (15-20ft) rated at 5-6kw on Amazon. They do go on sale from time to time.

For heating, those NG fireplaces or portable heaters with oxygen depletion shutoff valve are definitely more convenient to use than kerosene even though kerosene has much higher energy density and is much less flammable.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:55 PM   #115
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Boy, oh boy! According to this Web article published today, a million people are still without power. Some poor souls will not have power restored until Jul 10. That's almost a week away. Temperature up to 100F. Oh, misery...

More Than 1 Million Without Power After U.S. Storm - Bloomberg

And the article has this quote: “The lightning in these storms went after the transformers which affects a wider area than trees falling on power lines.”

I learned a new word from the above article: derecho.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:22 PM   #116
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We installed an 18kw Generac generator six years ago as a part of our disaster preparedness plan. It comes on about 15 seconds after the utility power goes out.

The best part about these residential generators with an automatic transfer switch is avoiding the power surge that can destroy electronics and appliances. The generator won't turn off until the utility power is fully restored.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:41 AM   #117
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We installed an 18kw Generac generator six years ago as a part of our disaster preparedness plan. It comes on about 15 seconds after the utility power goes out.

The best part about these residential generators with an automatic transfer switch is avoiding the power surge that can destroy electronics and appliances. The generator won't turn off until the utility power is fully restored.
That looks really cool. In the six years, about how many times have the genrator kicked in as the power went out?
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:55 AM   #118
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Boy, oh boy! According to this Web article published today, a million people are still without power. Some poor souls will not have power restored until Jul 10. That's almost a week away. Temperature up to 100F. Oh, misery...

More Than 1 Million Without Power After U.S. Storm - Bloomberg

And the article has this quote: “The lightning in these storms went after the transformers which affects a wider area than trees falling on power lines.”

I learned a new word from the above article: derecho.
I heard about derecho many years ago; hope to never hear again.

It's sort of bad to be without A/C, but fans and fridge?
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:59 AM   #119
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This was less than a mile from my house.

RAW VIDEO: Power lines knocked over in Fairborn | www.whiotv.com
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:20 AM   #120
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More local info...just down the street.

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