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Whole house generator
Old 02-18-2021, 08:06 PM   #1
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Whole house generator

OK, of the 6 kids that my mom had all 6 of us were without electricity at some point in time during this storm, some for over 4 days (one in Oregon who lives way out in the boonies, others in Texas)...


I was lucky and was out only about 5 or so hours, but had people over who wanted to take a warm shower and get some good hot food before going back to their house...


My oldest sister is now wanting to look at a whole house generator as she does not want to be placed in that situation... my DW wants me to get one also as we think that it might get worse with stronger hurricanes and such...


SO, does anybody have one?
What brand did you get?
What is the output?

and how much did it cost in total?


Any negative things that I need to be made aware?
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:08 PM   #2
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The typical whole house generator is hooked up to the natural gas system, which also had problems in this last storm in Texas. Keep that in mind when shopping.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:19 PM   #3
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We have one for the whole house. We did a bit of research and ended up with the more expensive option of a Cummins (Onan) which is the same one that utilities and hospitals and other essential services use. We have a 1000 gallon propane tank as the fuel supply, since we are not on the gas grid. Itís a big investment and after the events of this week I am sure the demand and backlog for home backup will be high, so expect a longer wait than usual to get one installed.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:27 PM   #4
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You could go with a Tesla power wall solution but they are expensive.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:33 PM   #5
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We have a Honda 2800 watt generator for emergency use. We installed a 30 AMP weatherproof outlet for the generator, connected to our main breaker with an interlock that switch switches off the main breaker into the house and breaker to the solar panels. You don't want to put power back into the grid while your generator is active. The solar panel inverters switch off when it does not detect grid power. This is by design. We don't run the panels with the generator since we can't discharge the excess electricity back to the grid and we generate far more than we consume during the day. We switch off non-essential circuits such as the pool pump when using the generator. The generator can run about 12 hours with a tank of gas. We have only used it 3 times in the last 5 years.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:46 PM   #6
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Here in Southern California, the power company may shut off power during high winds and dry vegetation times.
We have natural gas for hot water and cooking.
I bought a Generac 4500 watt generator some time ago. The main use ifs for the fridge and freezer. I have a heavy duty 6 foot appliance extension on the fridge, so I do not have to pull it out to get to the plug.

I have a heavy duty 3 way tap, where the third tap goes to a power strip so we can charge laptop, smart phones, and readers.
For extended outages, which we have not had, I would hook up the TV and satellite system. I might even hook up the WiFi router so I can use our laptop with the internet.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by skyking1 View Post
The typical whole house generator is hooked up to the natural gas system, which also had problems in this last storm in Texas. Keep that in mind when shopping.
That was my first thought as well. Did you (the OP) lose natural gas during this event? Fuel is the main issue with generators. Remember when the grid went out in the Midwest/Northeast? There was no electricity so unless you had a stockpile of gasoline, those smaller gasoline units didn’t do much good. The gas stations couldn’t get the gasoline out of the ground.

I have a Generac liquid cooled whole house generator and it’s great, but as you just experienced, it really hard, if not impossible, to prepare for any situation. I wouldn’t let what is happening be the main reason for getting a generator. It may never happen again. Also, before I had my whole house generator, I got by very well with a 2000 watt Honda generator. With it, I could run a refrigerator, my sump pump and my furnace. Not all at the same time, but I could be okay. Plus, it was very good on gasoline. Oh, and don’t forget, you don’t have furnace if the natural gas goes out, assuming that’s the fuel you furnace uses. If not, and your furnace/heat is electric, you’re going to need a pretty big generator for sure.

My point is to focus on the problem your trying to protect against and then evaluate your possible solutions keeping fuel issues in mind. Also, as was mentioned, you’re going to pay one hell of a premium if you purchase this soon so take your time to do your homework.

In my case, we lose electricity for a half day or so a few times a year. Stuff happens. But, we’ve never lost natural gas (yet), so the unit we have is very nice but it’s a luxury and there’s other ways to get by. FWIW, I would have got a small unit that was tied into the electrical system (automatic transfer switch), but that only runs a few circuits. That’s what I had at my other house. This house came with the big generator that runs the whole house.

ETA: You could get a Ford F150

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/18/some...ter-storm.html
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:56 PM   #8
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We have a Generac whole house backup generator that runs on natural gas here in PA. It switches automatically when the power goes out. Several of our neighbors have followed our lead after seeing we had power when they didnít. It runs the whole house including HVAC systems. The longest weíve needed it was about 21 hours. Power has been lost in both the summer from thunderstorms/hurricanes and winter ice storms. I think it is a 20kw system. It cost nearly $10k all in and about $300/yr for service. It did fail on us once with a faulty oil sensor. Apparently that was a problem at the time with many systems and it took three weeks to get it fixed because of difficulty getting the parts. No problems since. There is a test run once per week, so you can feel confident it will normally work fine when you need it. The oil sensor failure we had was after four hours of running, and we were without electricity for about four more hours. Overall we are pleased. It was really a lifesaver when we were on a cruise a few years ago and my father-in-law was home alone. It ran 21 hours straight.
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:06 PM   #9
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We have a Honda 2800 watt generator for emergency use. We installed a 30 AMP weatherproof outlet for the generator, connected to our main breaker with an interlock that switch switches off the main breaker into the house and breaker to the solar panels. You don't want to put power back into the grid while your generator is active. The solar panel inverters switch off when it does not detect grid power. This is by design. We don't run the panels with the generator since we can't discharge the excess electricity back to the grid and we generate far more than we consume during the day. We switch off non-essential circuits such as the pool pump when using the generator. The generator can run about 12 hours with a tank of gas. We have only used it 3 times in the last 5 years.
Freedom56, can you give me an idea of the cost involved in your setup? This past summer So Cal Edison has been turning off the power when high winds and fire season and I think it's only going to get worse and I need some kind of backup.
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dash man View Post
We have a Generac whole house backup generator that runs on natural gas here in PA. It switches automatically when the power goes out. Several of our neighbors have followed our lead after seeing we had power when they didnít. It runs the whole house including HVAC systems. The longest weíve needed it was about 21 hours. Power has been lost in both the summer from thunderstorms/hurricanes and winter ice storms. I think it is a 20kw system. It cost nearly $10k all in and about $300/yr for service. It did fail on us once with a faulty oil sensor. Apparently that was a problem at the time with many systems and it took three weeks to get it fixed because of difficulty getting the parts. No problems since. There is a test run once per week, so you can feel confident it will normally work fine when you need it. The oil sensor failure we had was after four hours of running, and we were without electricity for about four more hours. Overall we are pleased. It was really a lifesaver when we were on a cruise a few years ago and my father-in-law was home alone. It ran 21 hours straight.
Who did the installation? Asking for a friend (who lives less than hour from Limerick).
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:44 PM   #11
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In January 2018, I had a stand-alone fully automatic Generac generator installed outside next to my house. Model Description: 7.5 KW / LH420 GEN + 8C 50AT/S NO W It is a 60 Hz Air-Cooled Generator, 7.5 kW PowerPact. (Just copied this info off the guideline manual I kept when they installed.) Total cost for the generator itself, concrete pad it sits on, and installation was $5,614. I also paid an extra $1,764 for a 5-year annual maintenance contract. There was also the $199 electrical permit and the $48 mechanical permit for the company to set it up and connect it to the electrical panel in my garage. You need gas for this generator to work, so I also paid the City about $400 to have them run a gas line from the street to my house.
If you take your time and do research on different models, get several bids, and are more mechanically minded, you can probably get a much better deal than I did.

If there is a power outage, the generator comes on automatically and stops automatically when power is restored. The generator is equipped with an exercise timer, which comes on once a week and runs for about 12 minutes. It sounds like a lawn mower. You can set it to come on any day of the week and any time of the day. (You would not want to set it at midnight to wake up your neighbor - lol!) I think this exercise timer is to make sure the generator is in good working order.

This size generator is enough to keep my fridge/freezer working, lights, TV, sump pump, furnace fan, etc. But it would not be enough to power everything in your house. I try to keep just the basics on so as not to put much stress on the generator.

This sounds kinda crazy, but the only reason I went through all this trouble and expense was to keep the sump pump in my basement working. Twice, my nicely finished basement flooded because the sump pump stopped working due to no electricity during an outage, and those outages usually occur during the Winter rainy season when the water table level gets high under my house. I did not want to be out of town on vacation and come home to a flooded basement again. I had a mechanical back-up pump, but it was not reliable and the sump pump box area was too difficult to enlarge to put in a better back up. Peace of mind is costly, but to me it was worth it . . . I think. If not for the sump pump, I probably would not have done it since we don't usually get extended power outages or extremely low temps up here in the Pacific Northwest.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:10 PM   #12
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I did not know about the optional 7.4-kW generator onboard the new hybrid F-150. That's nice.

However, even the ICE version of the F-150 can get a 2-kW generator. It's not going to be as fuel efficient as a small portable Honda generator, but in exchange you get the big fuel tank of the pickup to help with the run time. The hybrid F-150 also has the option of a 2.4-kW, which can run for 85 hours with a full tank.

Details are here: https://news.pickuptrucks.com/2020/0...generator.html.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:14 PM   #13
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As for me, I have a DIY system of an 8-kW solar array and 32 kWh of lithium battery (that's equivalent to 2.5 Tesla Powerwalls), and 4 inverters of 2.4 kW each.

If the sun does not shine, I can fire up the 4-kW Onan generator built-in to my class C motorhome. It burns 0.5 gal/hr at 1/2 load, and if the 55-gal tank of the motorhome is full, the generator is allowed to draw about 40 gal out of that, for a run time of 80 hours.

An inverter generator will slow down its speed when the load is low, and is fuel-efficient when not fully loaded. A traditional generator like my Onan will run at a constant speed no matter the load, hence is not efficient for light loads. I would use it to charge the lithium battery until full, then turn it off. My 4 inverters/chargers can suck up AC juice to charge the battery at a rate exceeding the Onan's 4-kW output.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:51 PM   #14
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An issue I see and experience is I have a gas powered big portable generator.

Newer generators can be duel fuel, since gas goes bad (and constantly rotating 20 gallons of gas will be forgotten to be done). Could a person store a bunch of 20/40/100 lb propane tanks for years without it going bad ?
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Old 02-19-2021, 12:49 AM   #15
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We have a whole house generator, it was intalled by rge previous owners. Its been great when we lose electricity. One thing you might want to think about is placement. They can be very noisy and the prevous owners put it right on the other side of the master bed wall on the main level. Its loud enough that we cant sleep with it on.
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Old 02-19-2021, 12:58 AM   #16
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An issue I see and experience is I have a gas powered big portable generator.

Newer generators can be duel fuel, since gas goes bad (and constantly rotating 20 gallons of gas will be forgotten to be done). Could a person store a bunch of 20/40/100 lb propane tanks for years without it going bad ?
Read another thread regarding weather, and in there, folks talk about their propane generators and how propane can be stored for years as it does not go bad. It won't flow well once the temp is below -20, but it's the butane not the propane in the tank that is the issue.
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Old 02-19-2021, 01:36 AM   #17
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I think it's smart to get a generator no matter where you live. The fact is; unless something changes, things are not just going to fix themselves. Outages and their causes are going to continue to grow. As to what generator you should get depends on your tolerance to your outage and duration. If it's a few hours or just some primary circuits that you need, then probably a high quality 6KW inverter style generator will do. Honda makes an excellent one that can run on gas, propane and natural gas. If, however, you want the whole house to run everything as if there were no outage, then, depending on the power sources you use, you may need to get a rather large whole house generator. Something at least 11Kw and probably more like 22Kw if yours is an all electric home with 4 or more living in it. It may also pay to have an auto switch installed in case you aren't home. Nothing like being out of town when an outage hits and all the fridge food goes south.
My generator runs all my electrical needs year round if needed, but I run many of my major energy appliances from Propane. I have a 500 gallon propane tank and several vendors who compete to fill it. Right now is the highest price time of year for propane and it's right around $2.60 a gallon. In July, one company has a special at $1.20 a gallon. I probably go through $800 a year in propane. Water heater, cooking, heating, clothes dryer are all propane. I also plumbed to my generator and converted it to run on propane as well. Which is something you should consider as well; fueling a long term outage. If power is out, gasoline is not gonna be pumped either. Plus the fuel storage and refueling can be dangerous. Propane never goes stale and is quite stable for storage and application.
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Old 02-19-2021, 04:15 AM   #18
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My sister and her husband had a generator installed about 2 years ago (New Jersey). He has to be on oxygen and they were having a fair amount of power outages and storms, one outage lasting 9 days. So, having a generator became a necessity. It cost $10,000 for the whole house and by the sound of it was an involved installment. It runs on gas from underground and comes on and goes off automatically. Money well spent and has since come on many times.

Been wondering if generators will become commonplace to new homes (like furnaces or heat pumps) due to increased climate instability.
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Old 02-19-2021, 04:25 AM   #19
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My family up North has a Generac 16KW whole house generator. Several years ago it cost $12K. 1x a year, there needs to be a service - oil change, spark plugs, filter which runs $300. 1x a week the generator kicks in for 10 min to run . if you are out of power for several days or longer, the tech needs to be called for an oil change after 3 days of straight run time. Oil change $150. If the generator is covered in snow, you must dig it out to ensure that the vents on the unit are clear of snow. If the unit is not clear of snow and the generator runs, you can breathe the carbon monoxide going into the house and that could prove to be fatal. With a power outage, AC/Heat , lights, and all electrical outlets can be used including up to two fridges. The tech said if you do the wash,dry , cook and have every light on, heat or AC that would be overloading the generator. Skip the wash/ dryer and cook sparingly was the advice. The neighbor next door to my family had no generator so we ran an electrical cord to their house so they could power a fridge, one lamp and charge their phone. The generator is very loud, can be heard throughout the whole street, wear earplugs while going to sleep. One power outage was over 6 days. The generator can be a good selling point when the house is up for sale. Less than 5% of homes where my family lives has a whole house generator. It is a great investment and piece of mind when the power goes out. When the power goes out all your neighbors will know you have a Generac. One can hear it running non stop from far away.
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Old 02-19-2021, 04:59 AM   #20
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We have a Generac whole house backup generator that runs on natural gas here in PA. It switches automatically when the power goes out. Several of our neighbors have followed our lead after seeing we had power when they didnít. It runs the whole house including HVAC systems. The longest weíve needed it was about 21 hours. Power has been lost in both the summer from thunderstorms/hurricanes and winter ice storms. I think it is a 20kw system. It cost nearly $10k all in and about $300/yr for service. It did fail on us once with a faulty oil sensor. Apparently that was a problem at the time with many systems and it took three weeks to get it fixed because of difficulty getting the parts. No problems since. There is a test run once per week, so you can feel confident it will normally work fine when you need it. The oil sensor failure we had was after four hours of running, and we were without electricity for about four more hours. Overall we are pleased. It was really a lifesaver when we were on a cruise a few years ago and my father-in-law was home alone. It ran 21 hours straight.

We also have the same kind of system here in SW PA, using natural gas, but it could be hosed/piped up to a propane tank. But that adds another layer of regulations and cost.
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