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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    1,780

    Default Portable Generator

    Am considering purchasing a residential, portable generator.

    We live in a four-season part of the country where, from time to time, we lose electric utility service. Usual cause is spring/fall high wind or ice in winter. The utility company is pretty good about restoring service. Longest we have been without service was two days.

    Our two-story house (w/ full basement) is a modest 1,600 square feet. We run three window air conditioners in the summer. In the winter, radiator heat is provided by a high-efficiency, gas-fired boiler. Kitchen has a large refrigerator/freezer and gas stove. Clothes dryer is electrically heated. Hot water heater runs on gas. Service panel is 220.

    I spotted a 7,500-watt electric start Honeywell portable generator on sale for $750 (Costco Internet price includes battery and shipping). Features include eight-hour run time at 50% draw and low-oil shutdown. Lowe’s offers a 7,500-watt transfer switch kit for $285.

    My vision is to plug the generator into the transfer switch and keep the house functioning near to normal in the event of a power outage. Might have to refill the gas tank if the outage is extended and cut back on power usage to keep demand within the delivery capabilities of the generator.

    It happens that an electrical contractor is at our house this week and next upgrading wiring, switches, lighting, and outlets. I could add the installation of a transfer switch to the work order.

    What have been your experiences with portable generators? Good? Bad? What should I consider before making a decision with respect to the generator? What should I know about the transfer switch project? Is this a straightforward installation for a contractor? Does it make sense to install a transfer switch?

    Thanks, guys!
    Last edited by deerfield; 09-13-2012 at 11:30 PM.
    2007 Outback
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    Stuart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    s.e. washington state
    Posts
    2,061

    Default

    I think it is a good idea but the transfer switch is not cheap and the inspection will look at how your house main breaker is tied in as the utilities and the generator can never connect. I have my motor home generator available and I would run a power cord into the house for the frig, some lights and the fan to the gas stove. The power has never been down long enough to do that.
    1998 Mobius
    310 HP PCM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    1,537

    Default

    I had to live on a generator for a couple of weeks after hurricane Ivan. Given your position and what you are looking for, bite the bullet and get a whole house backup generator. It will be about double (2.5 X) the cost, but it will be better.

    I keep thinking that I will sell my generator and do this. My portable generator is diesel and it would power everything in my old house except the central A/C. I found that the generator was never running at half draw when you are having it run your house. You will run through fuel faster than you think. One last thing, the diesel was LOUD. When you have a whole neighborhood running generators, it will make you proud that your diesel is louder than all of the others.

    Good luck.
    1997 MasterCraft 205

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snellville, GA & Lake Sinclair
    Posts
    6,890

    Default

    my neighbor has one of the larger one of these

    http://www.generac.com/Residential/

    I don't know that what you have in mind will be enough to power your home. Maybe a few essentials such as the fridge and a few lights, but you'll have to have some wiring re-run so only the items the generator will power are on a dedicated subpanel that you can switch over to the portable generator power, when needed.
    Drew
    New ride: 2012 Mojo
    Old ride: 2008 OBV

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Hudsonville, MI
    Posts
    17

    Default

    I have a generator set-up that is quite simple and effective. I use a simple Craftsman 4200Watt and it powers all the things I need(Lights, fridge, freezer, TV, but no A/C). My house is approx 3000sq. ft. I could get a bigger one if that is ever a need, but the once or twice a year I use it, works well. My neighbors are always jealous.

    A truly simple way to run a generator is to create a double male power cord and backfeed your system. This is done by simply plugging it into one of your existing power outlets. You will have to play with what power outlet is the best as depending on your house wiring it will feed to certain areas of your house. What the Electrical company does not like about this is that you could be backfeeding power to the lines on the street if you do not turn off your main. That is the key function of the Transfer Switch to prevent this from happening.

    KEY SAFETY ITEM AND RESPONSIBILITY IS TO TURN OFF YOUR MAIN POWER SWITCH BEFORE DOING THIS AND NO BACKFEED CAN OCCUR TO THE STREET AND ANYONE WORKING ON THEM.

    You will then need to turn it back on after disconnecting your Generator and City Power is restored(Watching for my neighbors lights to finally turn back on is my indicator!).

    What I did to make it a little better, is I had a 220 "Welder" Plug put in my garage so that I can backfeed 220 to my system and everything connected will run. Where as if you only backfeed 110 through a Power Outlet at most half of your Circuits will be powered.

    Works great and was cheap. I do like the whole house General systems that are automatic and run on Natural Gas, but we don't lose power often or long enough to justify.

    Matt
    Matt
    New Boat-2012 LSV
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Lake wallenpaupack PA
    Posts
    846

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mfogt View Post
    I have a generator set-up that is quite simple and effective. I use a simple Craftsman 4200Watt and it powers all the things I need(Lights, fridge, freezer, TV, but no A/C). My house is approx 3000sq. ft. I could get a bigger one if that is ever a need, but the once or twice a year I use it, works well. My neighbors are always jealous.

    A truly simple way to run a generator is to create a double male power cord and backfeed your system. This is done by simply plugging it into one of your existing power outlets. You will have to play with what power outlet is the best as depending on your house wiring it will feed to certain areas of your house. What the Electrical company does not like about this is that you could be backfeeding power to the lines on the street if you do not turn off your main. That is the key function of the Transfer Switch to prevent this from happening.

    KEY SAFETY ITEM AND RESPONSIBILITY IS TO TURN OFF YOUR MAIN POWER SWITCH BEFORE DOING THIS AND NO BACKFEED CAN OCCUR TO THE STREET AND ANYONE WORKING ON THEM.

    You will then need to turn it back on after disconnecting your Generator and City Power is restored(Watching for my neighbors lights to finally turn back on is my indicator!).

    What I did to make it a little better, is I had a 220 "Welder" Plug put in my garage so that I can backfeed 220 to my system and everything connected will run. Where as if you only backfeed 110 through a Power Outlet at most half of your Circuits will be powered.

    Works great and was cheap. I do like the whole house General systems that are automatic and run on Natural Gas, but we don't lose power often or long enough to justify.

    Matt
    This is my setup. Its ghetto and not code but way cheaper than a transfer switch. Gotta make sure you turn the main panel switch to off. Then turn the geny on. For the one or two times i need it this setup is much cheaper.

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