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Old 10-27-2012, 09:35 AM   #41
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I think if you're using a generator then the lack of hot water is the least of your problems...
+1

In my case, getting water at all would be my primary concern. I pump my potable water from a private well from the depth of 400 feet. Takes a pretty large generator just dedicated to the well pump to get it going. Cold shower is still much better than no water at all.
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Old 10-27-2012, 05:26 PM   #42
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When we were house-hunting the availability of natural gas was a major item since it's so much cheaper than electric to heat with. Even the clothes dryer is gas, it costs ~$50 more to buy but it doesn't take long to get that back in operational savings.
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Old 10-27-2012, 06:10 PM   #43
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+1

In my case, getting water at all would be my primary concern. I pump my potable water from a private well from the depth of 400 feet. Takes a pretty large generator just dedicated to the well pump to get it going. Cold shower is still much better than no water at all.
Right. Many people don't realize how much potential power is available from the power line nor how much energy individual devices actually require. They think that they can go to Costco and get a generator and an extension cord to power the whole house. Thus my comment about the electric water heater, as a 'frinstance.
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:50 AM   #44
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Right. Many people don't realize how much potential power is available from the power line nor how much energy individual devices actually require. They think that they can go to Costco and get a generator and an extension cord to power the whole house. Thus my comment about the electric water heater, as a 'frinstance.
They also don't understand about motor start current. Buy a generator then wonder why it can't run something even though it would appear to be able to from the wattage.

Had a friend who tried to run an electric frying pan on one of those little 600 watt camping generators.
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Old 10-31-2012, 12:13 PM   #45
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They also don't understand about motor start current. Buy a generator then wonder why it can't run something even though it would appear to be able to from the wattage.

Had a friend who tried to run an electric frying pan on one of those little 600 watt camping generators.
Surprised he just didn't try an arc welder.
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:26 PM   #46
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Some thoughts on energy efficiency.

KWH cost. When we bought our current home in 2004, in a different town, we accidentally lucked out... First of all, our town is "unitary", with water, sewer, electricity and waste mgt, all under one roof. The best part was the cost of electricity... 15 years ago, the city bought a hydro electric plant on the Illinois river. Our current KWH rate is $.0675... 25 miles away, in our camp, the electricity is provided by Commonwealth Edison @ $.14 /kwh. We figure that the difference comes to about $800/year, based on our current use. Something to think about for those who may be choosing a new retirement city.

Our natural gas rates are also low, and of course now getting lower... heat, and HWH. A side note here... One of the perks for us with this house, was a gas fireplace. Not very energy efficient, at best, but since it was new for us (only wood before), I went to the local Home Depot and asked how much it would probably cost... per hour... The answer was about $.75 to $.85 per hour... Wow... "We'll have to get one of those electric fireplaces with the fake fire." We didn't even use the gas fireplace the first year... Then, checking up a little further, and figuring BTU's and how high the flame should be to be efficient... We found our the "expert" wasn't so much... Our actual cost is closer to $.15/hr. We now have a cozy fire just about every day when the temperature goes below 50 degrees.

Now, another thought about efficiency that was a surprise to me... Our house is built with vaulted ceilings, ten to 14 feet . My friends, and my kids warned me that it would be impossible to heat, and would cost a fortune. No so... The absence of an attic, means that the insulation between the roof and the ceiling is more efficient (according to some local builders)... Don't know if this is true or not, but our heating/cooling cost is very low.

On generators... we bought a small generator 3500W when we bought the house... I thought it would be a simple project to set up a switch over to the house circuit... Hah!.... forgetaboutit!... It's still in the original carton... Those who paid for a switchover panel, know what I'm talking about...

How much do you pay per KWH?
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:47 PM   #47
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Today in the Texas Hill Country it is about .091 per kwh. At that rate solar has a 30 year payout since there is no state subsidy, so it is not economic.
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Old 10-31-2012, 04:44 PM   #48
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I have a demand rate that varies with time of day, and the summer/winter season too. It can be as high as $0.213/KWhr in the summer afternoon to as low as $0.066/KWhr at noon in the winter. As this is in the SW, the above two numbers correspond to the highest and lowest electricity usage times of the year.

Averaging out over the entire year, I paid $0.103/KWhr for the last 12 months.
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:02 PM   #49
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Chicago western suburb, .046 cents/kwhr for electric starting this fall w/ community pricing, 3 year guaranteed.
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:58 PM   #50
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........ I thought it would be a simple project to set up a switch over to the house circuit... Hah!.... forgetaboutit!... It's still in the original carton... Those who paid for a switchover panel, know what I'm talking about...
I'm not sure what issues you encountered installing a transfer switch, but the Gentran I linked to is easy to install . It has color coded and numbered wire pairs and you just remove the wire off the circuit breaker, then replace with one wire off the Gentran and wire nut the wire you took off the breaker to the second wire of the numbered pair. Repeat for each circuit. Then you plug the generator into the Gentran box or install a plug in outlet outside and run a heavy gauge wire to the Gentran box.
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:04 PM   #51
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Chicago western suburb, .046 cents/kwhr for electric starting this fall w/ community pricing, 3 year guaranteed.
I am pricing out the cost for a long extension cord...
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:13 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu
........ I thought it would be a simple project to set up a switch over to the house circuit... Hah!.... forgetaboutit!... It's still in the original carton... Those who paid for a switchover panel, know what I'm talking about...
I'm not sure what issues you encountered installing a transfer switch, but the Gentran I linked to is easy to install . It has color coded and numbered wire pairs and you just remove the wire off the circuit breaker, then replace with one wire off the Gentran and wire nut the wire you took off the breaker to the second wire of the numbered pair. Repeat for each circuit. Then you plug the generator into the Gentran box or install a plug in outlet outside and run a heavy gauge wire to the Gentran box.
.................................................. ..................
.................................................. ..................

Hmmm... been a while so I'm not sure I remember the problem, except, as I recall the switch cost about $400, and required permanent wiring... Also remember some worry about backfeed into the utility lines... Either way, a little bit of and expense and aggravation to hook up a $249.00 generator.

Extension cords ok for my use. BTW... that little thing is heavy.. and no wheels.
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:44 PM   #53
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Chicago western suburb, .046 cents/kwhr for electric starting this fall w/ community pricing, 3 year guaranteed.
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I'm interested in this aggregate billing savings... Is the .046 cents for the total cost ie. the total Bill divided by the KWH.?.. or is it for electricity supply only. As I recall my kids, who live in Naperville had the offer, which dropped the supply price by about .017 kwh but that the total bill including delivery charges and taxes dropped to a little over $.10/kwh.

In Florida, we have had smart meters installed, which send the usage amount direct to the city for billing. Our community had a big presentation of the program, which is supposed to save us money, but from the amount of enthusiasm displayed by the promoters, my guess it that somewhere along the way it's going to cost us more... Something about off-peak savings for the city...

Dunno, my feeling is trust, but verify... Seems like every good deal ends up costing...
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:59 PM   #54
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We switched to the smartmeter and the time-of-use price plan quite a few years ago (7 or 8?). It was free of charge, and they promised that if we did not save money compared to the fixed rate schedule, they would switch us back. Initially, we were skeptical, but were soon convinced.

Even now, they still show in the invoice how much we save each month, and we save money every month. For example, it was $56 last Aug, out of a bill of $375 (would have been $431 for the fixed rate). Over 12 months, the savings were around $300.

The only lifestyle change we have to make is for me to set the pool pump timer to run off-peak, and to avoid electricity usage during the on-peak period. The latter effort mainly includes avoiding taking showers and running laundry loads. Cooking, TV watching, computer usage, etc... are done as usual.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:03 PM   #55
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Today in the Texas Hill Country it is about .091 per kwh. At that rate solar has a 30 year payout since there is no state subsidy, so it is not economic.
Note that that is the total rate power to the local utility is .074 and the distribution charge is about.015 /kwh. It is a municipal utility so not a participant in the wild and wooly free market in Texas.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:06 PM   #56
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Electric water heaters are real energy hogs. I have a natural gas water heater and it runs on about $1 day.
$1 a day? My entire gas bill outside the winter heating season is less than that, including clothes dryer, stove and bbq. When we had an electric dryer, at SCE rates it cost almost a dollar a load.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:14 AM   #57
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.................................................. ..................

Hmmm... been a while so I'm not sure I remember the problem, except, as I recall the switch cost about $400, and required permanent wiring... Also remember some worry about backfeed into the utility lines... Either way, a little bit of and expense and aggravation to hook up a $249.00 generator.

Extension cords ok for my use. BTW... that little thing is heavy.. and no wheels.
The transfer switch is kind of expensive but it is a limited-market thing. It isolates your generator from the power lines which prevents two things:

1. It prevents backfeeding to a power line that the power company's linemen believe are dead (yeah, they're supposed to check, but...) and electrocuting someone.

2. Without being isolated from the power lines when the power does come back on your generator and the power company's generators are going to get into an argument about phase control. The power company will win. If you're lucky this will result in merely tripping the breaker on your generator. If you're not lucky your generator will explode, rupture the fuel tank, and the gasoline will start a fire.

That's one reason why the instructions say don't plug the generator into a wall outlet and expect to power the house. Only bad things will happen.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:31 PM   #58
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The transfer switch is kind of expensive but it is a limited-market thing. It isolates your generator from the power lines which prevents two things:.......
One clever alternative is a sliding lockout switch for the breaker box. You basically have the generator wired into one 220 volt circuit and a mechanical slide prevents this generator breaker and the main breaker from both being in the on position - thus making it foolproof to the extent of engaging both grid and generator at the same time. You do have to constrain consumption to match generator output.

Some new panels come with this as an option, older ones can be converted.

Generator InterLock Kit
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:02 PM   #59
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That interlock is a clever and inexpensive way to achieve the separation of the two powers. I did not know about this.

The only drawback is that one loses the ability to have the electric grid staying connected to at least one lighting circuit, so that one can tell when power is restored.
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