Whole house/stand by generators

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by joec, Oct 1, 2018.

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  1. Oct 1, 2018 #1

    joec

    joec

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    Living in Wilmington, NC , I am now convinced I want to buy a stand by generator. I have a 5500 watt Honda generator that is wired into my electrical panel, but the issue after Hurricane Florence, was getting gasoline for the generator. I have natural gas connected to my home.It was a stressful 8 days without power. My first appointment for a salesperson with the Home Depot generator supplier, is Monday Oct 11th. Anyone with good knowledge of this process, I would appreciate any insight.
     
  2. Oct 1, 2018 #2

    Snoonyb

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    Have you contacted HONDA to see if there is a conversion kit for your existing?
     
  3. Oct 1, 2018 #3

    joec

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    Yes, and was told by their dealer that it would not work on the new 10,000 watt generator I was going to buy to upgrade. My 5500 watt was good, but I needed bigger to get the job done I want.
     
  4. Oct 1, 2018 #4

    Snoonyb

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    And, you expect what from the home desperado generator "expert"?
     
  5. Oct 1, 2018 #5

    elbo

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    google "generac generators " for info from experts, not from h. depot Generac gives their web address there
     
  6. Oct 1, 2018 #6

    joec

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    Not sure how to answer this one, but just want to get whatever insight I can from others that may have had one installed.
     
  7. Oct 1, 2018 #7

    oldognewtrick

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    X2 on contacting Generac.
     
  8. Oct 1, 2018 #8

    joec

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    I used to own a equipment rental business. I sold it almost 20 years ago, so I am out of touch with companies that manufacture generators, but when I was in business, Generac was considered a low end product. I will be looking for a Kohler generator off the start. The reviews I just read online, has done nothing to change this opinion.
     
  9. Oct 2, 2018 #9

    WyrTwister

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    Get an estimate from a plumber and include that in your budget . And an estimate from an electrician . Ask both for advice .

    Decide if you want a manual or automatic transfer switch & do not leave that out of the budget .

    Wyr
    God bless
     
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  10. Oct 2, 2018 #10

    Angie

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    Find a person that specializes in generators if you can. I have a son in law that is in the business of whole house generators in southern Florida. They just put in one the size of a chest freezer and a 1000 gallon in the ground tank. It will run their home for 20 days full house use.
    So, I'd say get an estimate from a generator business as they cover the generator, and all aspects of installation.
     
  11. Oct 3, 2018 #11

    joec

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    I have a friend who had neighbors on both sides of him that had stand by generators and both were without power following the storm due to breakdowns. I had one friend that his ran perfectly. It seems to be a quality of product thing along with proper maintenance that is the key. The bad reviews online, seem to be coming from folks that purchased these from Amazon and did the installation themselves. I continue to research this.
     
  12. Oct 3, 2018 #12

    windowman@verizon.net

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    I looked into whole house generator Generac in particular with transfer switch. (+/- $4000.00 ). My installation location was adjacent to exterior electric meter and gas meter. Suprised to see installation also in $4000.00 range. Absolute highway robbery. Have 7500 watt Generac portable with transfer switch panel that will have to do. Consideration: In heavy storms they sometimes do turn off natural gas lines. I do have three vehicles that hold 106 gal of gas between them
     
  13. Oct 3, 2018 #13

    WyrTwister

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    If I had one , I would exercise it about once a month . Probably change oil & maybe fuel filter ( if a natural gas model has one ) annually . And check the air filter .

    Do a visual inspection for loose / damaged parts .

    Thing is , if you can not commit to preventive maintenance , you are probably throwing your money away . Out of sight out of mind often means neglected .

    Be aware , some localities turn the gas off in case of natural disaster . To prevent fires .

    Wyr
    God bless
     
  14. Oct 4, 2018 #14

    hornetd

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    One way to deal with a possible shut off of the piped natural gas supply is to have dual or tri fuel control installed and to have propane on site. Do keep in mind, though, that fuel tanks need protection from flying debris caused by microbursts, hurricanes and tornadoes. Be sure that in providing protection from wind blown projectiles that you do not make a space that will trap leaking gas. Propane is heavier than air and can accumulate in the enclosure until it is ingested by the generators air intake. The likely result is a backfire of the engine which would ignite the accumulated gas. If the enclosure is open at the top then a deflagration would occur that would ignite anything which is combustible within the gas cloud and burn anyone within or very close to the cloud. If the enclosure is complete with a roof and closed door then the deflagration might become a detonation as the pressure rises. Since a detonation is supersonic it is far more destructive and would destroy the enclosure and damage the fuel tank.

    --
    Tom
     
  15. Oct 4, 2018 #15

    joec

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    Thanks for the info. We did not lose natural gas during the entire 8 days we were out of power during Hurricane Florence, but I see where this is a possibility. I will ask the folks that I get to do the maintenance agreement.
     
  16. Oct 5, 2018 #16

    slownsteady

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    A properly installed unit should run automatically once a month. You shouldn't have to remember to do it and find the time.
     
  17. Oct 5, 2018 #17

    JoeD

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    My neighbours unit runs once a week at 2 PM Wednesday.
     
  18. Oct 5, 2018 #18

    WyrTwister

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    The generators / automatic transfer switches Can come with this feature / ability . But I am pretty sure you must order / pay for that feature .

    Wyr
    God bless
     
  19. Oct 5, 2018 #19

    hornetd

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    I have never seen a partial home type panel that was provided by the generator supplier come with that automatic exercise feature on any of the smaller standby generators. On whole house systems with an automatic transfer switch it is often; as Wyr pointed out; an optional extra. I have seen more than one of the whole house systems have improperly bonded generators. If the neutral of the generator is bonded to the Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC) then the transfer switch must transfer the neutral so as to comply with the National Electric Code (NEC) and to avoid having Neutral currents flowing on exposed metallic portions of the electrical system. The voltage drop on the Neutral conductor could create a dangerous touch potential on those conductive parts.

    Example: I helped to rewire the bath houses at a church youth summer camp which had been constructed in the 1950s. The metallic boxes of the wiring were bonded to the neutral and there was no Equipment Grounding Conductor in the rag wire Romex. [I have no idea if bonding metallic boxes to the neutral was ever an NEC permitted practice but it turned out to be very dangerous.] The branch circuit to the bath houses were long runs from another building. One Camper received an injurious shock when she came in to take a shower after swimming. She was wearing a wet bathing suit, barefoot, and standing on a slab on grade concrete floor. When she tried to turn on the lights she received a shock which resulted in muscle contraction through her entire body. The stronger muscles won the contest and threw her across the room. She suffered injuries which required hospitalization. As I had worked as a church volunteer at the other camps operated by my church I was called in and ended up supervising the rewiring of most of the camp to eliminate the multi grounding of the neutral on the load side of the Service Disconnecting Means. We also installed GFCI protection for every room which had a concrete floor and in all the other places the then current NEC required GFCI protection.

    I then checked both of the other camps that the church operated in the Mid Atlantic area and discovered similar problems; albeit not quite as generalized; in all of the buildings were rag wire had been used. I measured touch potentials as high as 30 volts in many parts of the other 2 camps. I took the time off of other work to correct every bit of it. Almost all of the rag wire is gone now except for the overhead lighting that is well out of the reach of anyone unless they use a ladder. Since those circuits were above concrete floors they all had GFCI protection added with new 2 wire +Gnd wire run to all the switches. Nothing that is within reach of people still has no Equipment Grounding Conductor. Procedures posted at each panel now require "Double Block and Break" isolation of the circuits which remain without a EGC. The isolation switches of each such circuit are double poled and switch the neutral with the energized conductors. with the Isolation Switch and the branch circuit breaker opened, tagged out, and locked out double block and break of the neutral is achieved.

    --
    Tom
     
  20. Oct 5, 2018 #20

    rokosz

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    After a number of Northeast storms my wife _really_ wanted a generator -- small change for some storm victims but a week without power is tough. I wanted a portable just to keep the fridge freezing. nope. (nearly) whole house. Generac, auto switch over and needed to upgrade our LP system to 1000gal. tank. (excavation, permit, burying the line, besides teh unit expense) I say nearly because we can use the A/C -- but not the ovens or dryer at the same time. A small compromise.
    Our Town Hall put in Kohler gens. I've had no probs with the generac. I change the oil myself but now its in need of a periodic tune-up. Its a small engine tune-up. Somehow, I get the feeling it'll be 400$. I can get a Porsche tune-up for that. In 3 or 4 years its been called upon for maybe a total of 10 hours. like the other posters say: professional install, stay on top of the maintenance. And it is a bit of a gouge business -- but what in Electrician Land isn't? Like Don Henley says: How bad do you want it? I shopped around and probably saved 1-1.5K. I did the tank slab and line excavation myself and probably saved ~500$ (lot of rock (rented a mini-mite) and a 30' long, min 2' deep trench) Overall spent about 12 or 13K. But its a selling point for the house...

    My only real gripe was within one year the battery died, installer said Generac doesn't warrant the battery, neither does the installer. Really? what the flatulence? They replaced to the tune of about $250 installed. the tech was nice enough to give me the specs on the battery so I can diy if it happens again.

    Know b4 you buy: your neighbor/friend who gets 20 days on a tank. Take a look at the consumption rating for whatever unit you're considering. My unit burns a min. of 2.35gal/hr and a max of 2.6 or 7. Do the math and it ain't 20 days - on a full tank. we use the tank for some hot water and cooking and weekly exercise (yup, every Wed at 2pm)-- that's about 50-75g/yr. Then keep in mind once you lose power and your tank runs low -- will a LP delivery truck make it into your driveway? Yeah, NG through utility pipes is a sigificant, on-going, advantage -- unless they're damaged in the cataclysm.

    My idea to stretch a tankfull and save some $ and CO2 is that I (will) turn the unit off overnight. the house is tightenough to stay cool or warm and the fridge will have no probelm for 6-10 hours.
     

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