Gas generators for the home

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Any of you folks have a gas generator as a back up power supply for their homes?

We lose power maybe once a year but since I live near the coast and with what appears to be more active hurricane seasons, it got me thinking.

I'm not asking for buying choices as much as opinions if anyone here as them.
 

maflynn

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Basics of my house, perhaps the frig, TV, my laptop. In the winter heat would be a plus, etc.
 

balamw

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Aug 16, 2005
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New England
Any of you folks have a gas generator as a back up power supply for their homes?
I just (literally last week) had one installed.

We were out for 5 days after the 2011 Halloween nor'easter and would much rather not do that again.


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Basics of my house, perhaps the frig, TV, my laptop. In the winter heat would be a plus, etc.
That was my plan too, but the cost difference to a unit that would power the whole house (minus maybe the AC) was relatively small and the larger unit was quieter so we let ourselves get upsold.

B
 

maflynn

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That was my plan too, but the cost difference to a unit that would power the whole house (minus maybe the AC) was relatively small and the larger unit was quieter so we let ourselves get upsold.

B
I can see that happening, so easily. Living on the coast I'm worried about losing power though we've not had too much of an extended outage. The biggest outage we've had was one when the substation transformer blew in town. I was out of power for almost a week. That was difficult.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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I live on Long Island and I contemplated one after Sandy as I was without power for 9 days. Kind of lost the desire after my gf asked what good would it do since gas was not readily available after Sandy?
 

maflynn

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I live on Long Island and I contemplated one after Sandy as I was without power for 9 days. Kind of lost the desire after my gf asked what good would it do since gas was not readily available after Sandy?
What I found on my initial research is that the portable units use gas, and you need about 20 gallons a day to run it. Not really feasible to have these types of units going for more then a day since we can't have that much gas stored and I agree that in those situations getting more gas will be troublesome.

They also have the non portable types that type natural or propane gas, those can run a bit longer due to the options of using large tanks for the propane, but the non portable/hard wired are more expensive.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,397
12,511
What I found on my initial research is that the portable units use gas, and you need about 20 gallons a day to run it. Not really feasible to have these types of units going for more then a day since we can't have that much gas stored and I agree that in those situations getting more gas will be troublesome.

They also have the non portable types that type natural or propane gas, those can run a bit longer due to the options of using large tanks for the propane, but the non portable/hard wired are more expensive.

I live in a condo so the higher end or more permanent solutions are not really viable for me. I also don't want to be storing gasoline in my garage.
 

hallux

macrumors 68030
Apr 25, 2012
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My parents have a 5500W "portable" generator. It does a good job powering all the basics. They had a 30-amp outlet installed in the garage and run to a pair of ganged breakers in the box, makes for a simple switchover, runs everything but the A/C, oven and clothes dryer.

As far as getting fuel, if you're in NY I think there is a new mandate (it was proposed anyway) that service stations have connections available to hook up a generator to run the place so they can still pump gas in emergencies.

Also, it may take 20 gallons to run for the entire day but do you REALLY need to run it ALL day? The fridge should be good for a few hours once it's gotten down to temperature and you don't need lights during daylight. Put your network gear on a UPS and that should last between generator runs, though around here if the power is out the internet is also out.
 

Plutonius

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2003
8,524
7,442
New Hampshire, USA
Any of you folks have a gas generator as a back up power supply for their homes?

We lose power maybe once a year but since I live near the coast and with what appears to be more active hurricane seasons, it got me thinking.

I'm not asking for buying choices as much as opinions if anyone here as them.
I highly recommend one. We got a portable one that would power the entire house except for the dryer and stove (unless other stuff is turned off). There is no need for us to run it at night (it's very loud and we don't want to leave it unattended outside at night). Like a car, it uses a certain minimum amount of fuel to run but it will use more if you are powering a lot. If you are not powering it at night (7 hours) and keep the electricity use to only where you need it, I found the gas use not too bad. We keep the generator filled with gas and also keep three five gallon containers filled with gas but we still need to make a gas run if the power has been out for days.

Put your network gear on a UPS and that should last between generator runs, though around here if the power is out the internet is also out.
FIOS FTW. I like that I still have internet even if area power is lost and cable is out. I can also still watch TV with my Roku :D.

Edit: We have a Generac GP8000E if you are looking for suggestions.
 
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4JNA

macrumors 68000
Feb 8, 2006
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midwest 101

living in the midwest (US), bad weather is always a possibility...

went with a dual approach. don't care about a/c, but wanted enough power for a few lights, fans, hot plate, and the furnace blower. got a small gasoline unit and a conversion kit for running on propane/natural gas. figure 3 different fuel sources meant i should be able to run no matter what when needed. had a nat gas plug piped to the exterior wall with a weather proof quick disconnect that i installed a lock box over the top of. ran a separate electric service to a couple inside rooms, the utility room, etc. which means no cross connection, just a couple plugs to move back and forth (furnace plugged into grid power, or generator power). works well, easy enough the kids can do it.

inside, wanted silent or quiet charging, small device power. went with a pedal power generator. i've been riding/racing for most of my life, so pedal power was a no brainer, plus i've got two kids who like to make a game out of it... an endless supply of energy right there!

nice to have the piece of mind that come with having a back up plan in place. hope for the best, expect the worst and all that.
 

MegamanX

macrumors regular
May 13, 2013
221
0
I can see that happening, so easily. Living on the coast I'm worried about losing power though we've not had too much of an extended outage. The biggest outage we've had was one when the substation transformer blew in town. I was out of power for almost a week. That was difficult.
that can also depend.

For example after Ike hit houston power was out for a while but the natural gas lines worked just fine.

This means if you had a home generator that ran on natural gas you were fine.
My parents would cook food for those few days by taking a match and lighting the gas stove that way.
 

satcomer

macrumors 604
Feb 19, 2008
6,838
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The Finger Lakes Region
After the 5 day Derecho outage I just got some camping equipment (stove (Propane)) and hand cranked water purifier. These items for cooking and water were the things that I learned that I needed the most.
 

senseless

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
1,813
217
Pennsylvania, USA
My biggest concern after a massive storm is a flooded basement and no way to get the floor pump running. This could cause a major mold infestation. Second would be losing all the food in the refrigerator. So, yes, I did buy a small gasoline generator just for those 2 items.

For a larger home, the permanent ones that run on nat gas are a great idea.

Try this Consumer Reports review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Wm0mFb2Aw
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
We have a protable 5500 Watt geny for use when power is gone. I have 2 deep freeze and the fridge to run when power goes out so not having any backup is not a good thing.

You do not need to run the geny the entire time. When power was out we usually ran it for an hour or two, left it off for 4-6, then turned it on again. We usually went through 5 gallon of gas in a day.

A family friend lives out in the country and had a whole home generator hooked up about a month ago. It runs on propane and can power his entire house.
 

hallux

macrumors 68030
Apr 25, 2012
2,944
592
FIOS FTW. I like that I still have internet even if area power is lost and cable is out. I can also still watch TV with my Roku :D.
If only it was an option! They live in what is or has been one of the nicer areas locally (home prices in the $200K-$350K range), and people in that area can generally afford the service but there's no timeline for introduction. There are less-wealthy areas that have it already. I think a lot of the holdup is that Verizon wanted to bury the fiber (not a terrible idea) but the town won't let them dig up next to or under every street to install it. Many areas of town have above-ground copper-based utilities (cable, power, phone) still.
 

Moyank24

macrumors 601
Aug 31, 2009
4,334
2,450
in a New York State of mind
Generator Recommendations

I live in Houston and we just got hit with a whopper of a flood. Luckily, I never lost power for a second, but almost 80K people did. Hurricane season is starting next week, so I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a generator, just to be safe, especially with 2 kiddos in the house.

Does anyone have any recommendations on a generator that could just power the essentials of my house? How many watts would be sufficient? I know nothing about them, and would like to be somewhat informed before I go shopping.

Thanks in advance for all of the advice!
 

luckydcxx

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2013
1,158
419
I live in Houston and we just got hit with a whopper of a flood. Luckily, I never lost power for a second, but almost 80K people did. Hurricane season is starting next week, so I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a generator, just to be safe, especially with 2 kiddos in the house.

Does anyone have any recommendations on a generator that could just power the essentials of my house? How many watts would be sufficient? I know nothing about them, and would like to be somewhat informed before I go shopping.

Thanks in advance for all of the advice!
many factors come into play. How big is your house? What are you looking to keep going if the power goes out? central air, refrigerators, microwave?

I like Briggs and Stratton ... hasn't failed me once (knock on wood) and have had it for about 3 years.

Other factors include ... do you have natural gas? propane? do you want a portable gasoline generator?

I would recommend a natural gas home standby with an automatic transfer switch.

It automatically comes on when the power goes out and automatically turns off when the power comes back.

http://www.briggsandstratton.com/us...erator-systems/products?category=Home+Standby

i think 10kW should be able to run most, if not all of your house (unless you have a mansion).
If you want just the essentials then 8kW should be fine.
 
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adk

macrumors 68000
Nov 11, 2005
1,937
21
Stuck in the middle with you
A unit around 5,000 watts will be enough to run your fridge, a small window air conditioner, a few light bulbs, and a TV/DVD player.

Remember that you'll need a lot of gas to run your generator - I'd budget about 10-12 gallons per day to run a 5,000 watt generator.
 

AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,482
11,738
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
After being without power for almost a month following Katrina, we got a Generac. It has already paid for itself between flash floods, and just typical monsoon season on the gulf coast. We figured out what were the minimum we would want powered, and worked from there.

So the Generac covers the fridge, two window a/c units, internet, microwave, coffee pot, and lights. (I can't remember for sure, but I don't believe it covers the washing machine.)
 

hallux

macrumors 68030
Apr 25, 2012
2,944
592
If you want a standby unit that's always connected and ready to go, the installer should ask you what you need/want to run and figure the size based on that, they will also hook up the needed circuits to the transfer switch during installation.

My parents have a 5500 watt unit that's a "portable". When they had their electric service upgraded they had a circuit put in that they can hook up the generator to to run the house. I think it's a dual 30-amp circuit. When I've run it for them, I kill the air handler breakers so the central air won't try to run and the generator handles the load just fine. They have 2 fridge/freezer units and a chest freezer. The TV and network equipment also run fine though the cable system doesn't work during power outages. They have hot water heating, not forced air (the air handler is JUST A/C upstairs), and that also runs fine on the generator.

I'm not saying don't get the standby with auto-switch, but you can get what you need on a budget also. If A/C is something you NEED to run, the standby may be your best option due to the load from the compressor.
 

A.Goldberg

macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
2,363
8,637
Boston
Honda.

My parents have a portable 5000w Honda generator from the (early 90's). It spent the ~10 or so years of its life at my parent's house, and the latter at their summer house on the water. Despite the moist, salty air that ruins everything, this thing has never had an issue.

In the late 90's my parents built a house and installed a commercial grade Kohler standby generator. It's big. Really big. I forget the wattage- 20,000? It runs the entire house though. It's a big house, central air, pool, multiple refrigerators, dryer, dishwasher, etc. The only non-electric appliances are the stove (natural gas) and furnaces (oil). There are a couple areas of the house heated with electric and radiant heating (fluid pumps). The generator came in handy a few years ago when CT got that blizzard on Halloween and they didn't have power for 8 days. They live in a wooded area, so power outages are not out of the question during storms. It too has been very reliable.

Kohler makes smaller standby generators as well. I've heard good things about Generac. My uncle is an electrical engineer (and so happens to be a master electrician on the side) and he recommends the 3 brands I mentioned.

I'd be afraid to buy a cheap no-name generator. I know people who have and have had trouble finding parts. They've also ordered parts/manuals only to find out their model# does match the company's specifications.
 
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