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Generator monitoring question
Old 07-26-2019, 10:04 AM   #1
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Generator monitoring question

Hi everyone. As many of you know, I'm a snowbird (FL/MD). We use wifi cameras and thermostats and water sensors to keep track of our empty house, and for the most part that works great.

Leaving the small house in FL is a no brainer, as it's a block bunker with a new roof and new AC system. Barring a hurricane it will be fine.

Leaving the big house in MD for 6+ months has also been pretty easy, largely because we have a full(ish) house generator (45KW, state of the art 12 years ago) that helps assure we won't have to deal with frozen pipes and such, although I still drain them before I leave. However, one year I came back and discovered there had been a circuit board glitch and the generator hadn't been exercising and I assume wouldn't have worked had it been needed. Luckily it hadn't.

So now I'm trying to figure out a way to monitor the generator while I'm away. I've tried turning on a nearby inside wifi camera microphone and listening to the engine start. That sort of works, if I can be somewhere totally silent and have my ear buds on. I'd like to find something a bit more reliable. I haven't been able to find a automated process. Some of the newer generators have an app you can use, but mine's too old.

I was hoping there was an AC outlet I could plug a light or something into that would only be active when it was on, so I could just check the camera and see that it's on. But I couldn't find anything. I've also considered tapping into the exhaust pipe of the propane engine to push air up into one of those little dancing Christmas decorations. If I look out the camera and it dancing, everything is good. The only other thing I can think of is hiring the generator company to check it every month, but that's too damn expensive.

However, I know there are a lot of people here with a lot of knowledge, so I thought I'd throw it out to the crowd. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:09 AM   #2
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https://factorypure.com/products/gen...SABEgIZpvD_BwE

GENERAC WIRELESS LOCAL REMOTE IN HOME MONITOR FOR STANDBY GENERATORS NEW
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:09 AM   #3
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:10 AM   #4
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fixed!
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:11 AM   #5
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Yeah, I'd looked at that and others but they won't work with my generator.

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System is compatible with both air-cooled and liquid-cooled models that utilize an LCD display. Not compatible with H-panels, EcoGen and CorePower
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:14 AM   #6
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did you talk to the company that installed your current generator?

45KW is bigly huge! We had a 16KW in houston that powered a 3400 sq ft house and one ac unit
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:16 AM   #7
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Hmm, I think I'd just make sure I wasn't dependent on the generator for anything while you are away. If you drain the pipes and empty your freezer/refrigerator, how important is it? What does it do for you, keep the heat going? What would you do if it went out? Hire someone to go in and fix it, or wait until you get there anyway? If you have a critical room you need to keep warm enough, a bare incandescent light bulb is probably good enough and cheap enough backup.

But to solve your problem, if it is powering the thermostat, would you get any kind of alert if you weren't getting a reading from the thermostat? I would probably be most closely monitoring my temps during a storm or cold snap, so even if you didn't get an alert you would see that you weren't getting a reading from it, that would indicate some kind of problem--generator, wifi, or thermostat. You probably have a plan for the latter two anyway, right?
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:22 AM   #8
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We don't empty the freezer, although I do use the high tech monitoring system of freezing a cup of water and putting a quarter on top. And we keep the heat pretty low, around 48 degrees. It seldom gets that cold in the house just based on the sunlight. And we do get notices from the thermostat when the power goes down. You're right, we could do that and we'd probably be fine. But we do have the generator and I'm an OCD belt and suspenders type. I was just hoping someone had a clever idea, although I'm still a bit partial to the dancing snowman concept.
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:57 AM   #9
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:11 AM   #10
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I'd guess that when the generator exercises, it produces power, but the transfer switch keeps it inside the generator switch. So, I'd think you could tap into the power output where it enters the transfer switch.

A low tech tell tale would be a 110 volt analog clock that runs when powered and stops when not powered. Put the clock where a camera can view it and you can check how long the generator ran. I'm sure there are higher tech solutions.
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Generator monitoring question
Old 07-26-2019, 08:11 PM   #11
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Generator monitoring question

I was thinking of a flapper valve / rain cap like you see on earth moving equipment engines with vertical exhaust. Here’s one at Grainger for $16.
https://www.grainger.com/product/ANT...ain-Cap-44Z130
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Old 07-27-2019, 08:30 AM   #12
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We have an Arlo camera on ours. and have it programmed to turn on each week at the time the generator tests. DH attached a couple bright orange plastic strips to the output of the generator where the air exhausts, so we can see those waving when the generator runs. This is also helpful when we are not at that location, and we have known power outages in the area.
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Old 07-27-2019, 10:15 AM   #13
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What about an hour meter on the generator and put a wifi camera pointing to it?
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Old 07-27-2019, 10:37 AM   #14
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What about an hour meter on the generator and put a wifi camera pointing to it?
A better idea!
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Old 07-27-2019, 08:51 PM   #15
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We have an Arlo camera on ours. and have it programmed to turn on each week at the time the generator tests. DH attached a couple bright orange plastic strips to the output of the generator where the air exhausts, so we can see those waving when the generator runs. This is also helpful when we are not at that location, and we have known power outages in the area.
This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! I've already got the camera set up, and the strips are even more low tech than using an inflatable ornament.
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