Whole-house back-up generator?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rubycon, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. rubycon

    rubycon Monkey++

    Looking at buying a propane fired back-up generator for times when the power goes out. I've been reading about a variety of these, but I can't get a non-biased review. If you've got one, what suggestions, ideas, recommendations, etc... do you have?

    I'm looking for something between the 10-14kw range, permanent mount with the propane tank either above-ground or buried.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I don't have a whole house machine, mine is a lot smaller, gasoline fired. But I have specified and selected a number of units for small utilities. Look into dual fuel machines. Don't tie your money up in a single unit, go with two smaller sets, they run more efficiently at higher loads. You start one and keep the other in reserve until the load requires it. You will need automatic load sensing and paralleling switchgear this way, but you will have at least part load backup if one machine croaks. The initial expense for a home owner is daunting, but if power outages are frequent in your area, payback will show up in fuel savings
  3. tommy20/69

    tommy20/69 Monkey++

    stay away from the natural gas ones . there was so many people thats had them with hurican gustav and they didn't have power do to the city going around and shutting off the gas because of gas leaks . . alot of people thought they was being smart thinking they would have power but nope they was without power just because some house had a tree fall on the gas meter a few houses down. propane is ok just try to make sure you have a way to fill it in a shtf thing gas might be easier to go run out and sighon out of cars rather than propane will.if it was me i would go with a small 10,000 watt deisel or gas maybe two of them have one as a standbye unit.
  4. overbore

    overbore Monkey++

    It is, Son, a question of what fuel systems you trust as there are valid points about NG being shutoff. I have a Ng system that has a propane tank as backup should the backup generator's gas supply fail. The basic unit is Honda powered ONAN unit , the black pipe ( code requirement) { has copper in it to prevent rusting and corrosion} 1" manifold -- hint, hint, has a simple ball shutoff valve system to shut off the NG and to allow the propane to flow. I have a DPDT manual switch so that there is no chance of back-powering the "dead" lines and killing someone the other side of my transformer and the whole house can be powered. Send me pm if I may help you more- no I sell nothing ; just experiences to share. Overbore
  5. enough

    enough Monkey++

    I looked at the whole house NG/Propane systems last year. I opted to go with a simple, small gasoline generator instead. My primary reasons were that, first I could find gasoline in more places than propane or NG if the gas lines are shut down at home. Secondly, the NG engines were not rated for what I consider a long life. I think the ones that I was looking at, were rated for 700-800 hours of use. Are you kidding me? That's just a month of continuous use!

    Instead, I opted for a sixty year old Winco generator that was built like a tank and runs off a little Briggs and Stratton. I could easily find a replacement for it if needed, or adapt another engine to the purpose.

    Just my two cents.
  6. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I went with a portable Briggs & Stratton Generator that was on clearance at HD. For a couple of reasons.
    1) The wife and I were lookin' at selling the house soon and didn't want to invest in the generator only to leave it behind when/if we moved.
    2) Price, we were still workin' our way out of debt and needed to save some money
    3) Fuel, as it has been mentioned before gas is "generally" easy to come by. So with that in mind, I converted my gas powered generator to "tri-fuel" - Gas, LP, and NG
    4) It's "portable" (though the thing weights quite a bit) so I can get more use out of it. As an example our church recently had a gathering at a park - no power, so they used my generator to power the music/sound equipment - it worked great the generator ran for 7 hours straight, without a hiccup.
    5) It's just a small engine - parts are everywhere and they are easy to work on. (though I'm sure the same can be said for the whole house stand by genny's too)
  7. tommy20/69

    tommy20/69 Monkey++

    to me unless there is a severe medical reason there is no need to have to run a generatort 24/7. 8 hours out of every 24 hour period is good enough to freeze up all your freezers and have a good nights sleep with you a/c . and if your smart do your cloths at night if you wanna wash them with the washer while the generator is running. plus running it at night is alot cooler on the engine than having it run at 12:00 noon. but like i said unless t you have severe medical reason you are waistin fuel and just burning up your generator running it 24/7. if you want to watch tv then get two 8d batteries and have them charging while the chenerator is running then when you shut it off run your tv and satelite box off the power inverter connected to the batteries. a small 19"tv and a satelite box will run for hours off two 8d batteries. done been through way to many huricanes and been without power . i am now setup and i have a few systems so loss of power is not an option for me .
  8. enough

    enough Monkey++

    I'm not sure if the 24/7 was directed towards my comment. In the event it was ... I agree with you. I don't run it all the time. Just enough to keep the frost on the meat. :)

    I was using the math to illustrate how short the expected life of those aluminum cased engines was. [winkthumb] Compared to my 60 year old winco, its pure garbage. I can't say that for all whole house standby generators though. Just the ones in my price range.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    In this climate, 24/7 is pretty well needed to keep the furnace operating. Not to mention the well pump if you are inclined to wash a bit now and then. Agree with all the other reasons to not idle the machine. I suppose getting up and starting it now and then for heat, and living with wild temperature swings inside the house is doable, but my old bones would not be happy. In my case, there could well be a good reason beyond the TV for a battery bank and inverter to run the circ pump and burner. Might have to look into that a bit.
  10. rubycon

    rubycon Monkey++

    Thanks for the information and insight guys. I've got to buckle-down and make a decision in the next month. I like the idea of a portable unit as opposed to a fixed unit, however I've got to talk to an electrician and figure out how I can easily run power to the "necessities."

    Thinking about this unit: Generac Guardian 4582

    Again, thanks!
  11. jimy

    jimy Monkey++

    It's relatively inexpensive to go with a manual transfer switch and a portable gas generator. Selecting and moving necessary circuits should be easy for an electrician to to do as long as the wiring into the panel is accessable. Good luck.
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