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Old 08-03-2014, 05:29 AM  
costelme
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Default Well Water, Need Generator?

I am getting ready to settle on a house. Never had well water in my life so I am really unfamiliar with how it works.
I do understand that you need electricity to pump water from the well or else no water, no flushing the toilet, no shower.
Here's my big question...
Do I need a generator for the well pump? If so, how big should I go for (I've looked at generators and some are a little pricey)? I have no idea about watts, amps or any of that. It's a small house, 1100 sq ft, just me so it's not like I have a whole family to manage.
Here's my other question, if I get a generator, should it cover some major appliances? Fridge, stove/microwave (right now I have an electric stove), certain lights/outlets?
Advice would be helpful so if I do buy one, I don't go too small for even my well or too large and end up wasting my money.



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Old 08-03-2014, 07:12 AM  
JoeD
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How often and for long do you have power outages?
Your pump should have a pressure tank as part of the system. that will give a bit of water while the pump is off. The size of the tank will determine if you get two flushes or 20 flushes.
If you want a generator for the pump only then you need to know the size and voltage of the pump.



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Old 08-03-2014, 08:00 AM  
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Do you know that you will need a generator or are you asking us? Do you have any reason to think your buying a home without power?

If so, you are going to need a large gas tank too.

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:22 AM  
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I'm asking. Power outages in this area are very few and far between, however, historically they happen with the worst storms where when power goes out, you're out for between two days to a week or more. Hence the reason I'm not sure how much I would need or if I should even bother with a big one since outages are very infrequent. My biggest concern is that my power lines are above ground, right up to the house. Bad wind and rain could be damaging but ice in the winter could be worse.
I have looked at Home Depot and Lowes for generators and found the smallest of the small for a few hundred $ or the largest at several thousand $. I don't even know where to start as far as generators are concerned and how much wattage is appropriate and how much is overkill.
I always like to be over-prepared but overkill really could cost me a lot of unnecessary $. I don't know if I would just need a generator for the well or if I should include the heat/AC, water heater, refrigerator, microwave, stove, a circuit of outlets? I don't know what they typically recommend but I'd hate to get talked into something that's too small and be in deep for a long outage but something too big could waste a lot of money.
Is there an algorithm for determining how much wattage you need? Or do you just add up the max watt usage of all the appliances? Guessing is all I have...I'd rather not do that since I know absolutely NOTHING about home electricity or generators.
Thanks!

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:37 AM  
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During the Florida Hurricanes several years back (4 of them) we were without power several times and once for 4 days. I used a 5KW Honda generator that I bought back in the mid 80's to power the well. I used 2400 watt inverter powered by my tractor battery with the tractor idling to keep it charged. That kept two refrigerators cold and one TV working plus a couple lights. We got along just fine that way. To me spending upwards of $10,000 plus for a whole house generator was overkill.

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Old 08-03-2014, 10:03 AM  
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Thanks for the advice. I appreciate the input!

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Old 08-03-2014, 10:03 AM  
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Generators are for survival mode. Well pump, sump pump, a light and heat & fridge. Get or measure the ratings on these devices and do the math to get the total wattage or amperage. Buy a generator that is 20% more that what you need.

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Old 08-04-2014, 07:35 AM  
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Another thing to keep in mind. It takes at least 3 times the amperage to start a pump motor as it takes to keep it running. So if you have a 1hp submersible pump, the motor will pull close to ten amps on 230 volts which means you need 30 amps to start it. Cheap generators generally don't have this built in feature. 30 amps X 230 volts = 6900 watts. My 5000 watt Honda Generator will start a 2hp motor with no problem. A three horse motor will instantly stall the generator.

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Old 08-04-2014, 08:03 AM  
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I can’t add much to what others have said other than it greatly depends on where you live and how much money you have to spend on a system and what level of comfort you demand. Where I live winter would be the time we most fear and being without heat would be a bigger fear than water. If I can keep my house above 40f I can go stay in a motel for a day or two if I had to. That’s the reason I’m adding a heat source that will use my gas but not require electric.

If you buy a small gen that can run a few things you have to be able to hook it up in a storm and keep it running. The big units tie into the house wiring and disconnect from the line and then power up the whole house or selective circuits. Some are totally automatic and switch back after power comes back. If I had the money sure I would love a system like that but don’t so I do the best I can.

If you are going to go in survival mode you don’t need to run everything at once. You could have a couple lights and the fridge and furnace on line and when shower time comes switch over to your water pump. Like mentioned you will get a couple flushes from the pressure in your tank and then when it comes time to flush again switch some cords around and pump the water tank back up. You have to be careful to keep your loads under the max for the gen. if you get a small gen use it once in a while during the summer just to make sure it’s working well even if you just start it up to do a job away from the house or something.

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Old 08-04-2014, 08:42 AM  
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Most of us just back feed the breaker panel with a small generator until the power comes back on.
I went through my breaker panel and made sure all my necessities are on one leg and then just back feed a 20amp, dedicated outlet to the panel.



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