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After Hurricane Sandy we were out for 7 days. My gasoline gen kept us on line and the fridge cold. Fortunately I could get gasoline from the pump on my campus. If I had to look for gas at the local stations, I  would have been out of luck. Not to mention shutting down over night.

A nat gas generac or kohler unit is in my not to distant future.

Last edited by RSJB18

I am planning to go the backup generator route when I have the money to do it, ASAP. Power around here has been a lot better since Sandy, the utility companies have done a lot of maintenance since then with trees and we also aren't seeing the dips and such I had been seeing (it was so bad at one point that surges and dips routinely were killing equipment like my router, put it on a UPS for that reason).

You can't use heating oil in a diesel engine for the road, besides being dirty, it is also illegal to use something in a road vehicle that doesn't have road use taxes......(not that I care personally), but more because it is dirty (happiest day in my dad's life was when the old oil furnace went out the door in pieces).

I suspect the problem is the sine wave output of the generator, computers and such can have problems on backup generators, it is why they offer inverter generators, it is a lot cleaner. You can get some of the same thing with a UPS unit where the power is continuously fed off the battery and inverter (bypass UPS units feed line power through and then the battery kicks in).

With an automatic backup generator, it depends on your needs, but I agree given that most of the cost of this is the installation cost the difference between a 12kw and a larger one isn't much last I checked (what prices are now, who knows?) and it is worth sizing up.  When they wire backup generators there are a couple of ways to do it, they can wire it into critical circuits only (like heat, sump pump, well pump, refrigeration), you can get one big enough to handle your typical demand (all circuits), or you can wire it to all circuits but if your demand exceeds generator output it is set up to shut down less critical circuits. Me for the difference in cost, I would prob get a 15-20 kw unit (we don't have central ac at the moment, had years ago but decided to forgo replacing it given other priorities, will have it done sometime in the near future.

If you do stay with a 'portable' generator, it is relatively easy to convert it to use natural gas. You would need to get a plumber to create a natural gas outlet on the outside of the house, but converting a generator to natural gas and getting that line outside would be a lot cheaper than a whole house automatic backup.

@superwarp1 posted:

What about those who power off of solar or wind or both.   Those inverters put out pure sine waves?

Depends on the inverter, there are pure sine wave inverters and those using modified sign wave (which I suspect is our old friend, clipped sign wave, like we see on some of the transformers. The honda inverter generator I have has a pure sine wave output for example. So basically depends on the inverter they get installed with the system.


I agree. Ours is natural gas fired. Not quite sure just how that will play out this year. Right now electric is the lowest cost in our area. But with that said I'm tired of sitting in the dark and worrying about loosing the fridge and the insulin inside it which isn't cheap either! Baloney happens. I worked for a university and assisted the utility department. We had underground cable failures, transformer failures, switchgear failures, and the "then" rare flooding. Those systems needed help then and still do now to keep operating. Can't say I'm not a little glad to be retired and out of it. But I appreciate the work needed to repair and maintain the system............ but back to training ON!

Jim K

@RSJB18 posted:

After Hurricane Sandy we were out for 7 days. My gasoline gen kept us on line and the fridge cold. Fortunately I could get gasoline from the pump on my campus. If I had to look for gas at the local stations, I  would have been out of luck.

My northwestern NJ home had no power for 13 days after Sandy. We had to make trips to Pennsylvania for many days to get gasoline for the generator.

No natural gas mains in my neighborhood yet, so I bought a tri-fuel conversion kit for my portable generator, and keep a supply of filled BBQ propane tanks on hand, that I rotate through.

I really can't justify the cost of a whole house generator for the number of outages we get ... but, it sure would be nice to have anyway.

Last edited by EBT Jim
@EBT Jim posted:
I really can't justify the cost of a whole house generator for the number of outages we get ... but, it sure would be nice to have anyway.

I'm getting old and crotchety and I don't feel like dealing with something that I can avoid.  I've lived through a bunch of multi-day power outages, and it's no fun!  I'm looking to spend my kid's inheritance anyway.

Most of our outages last 4-6 hours, but having the 20KW natural gas Genrac has made our life so much easier during those times. We rushed to have the installation the day before Sandy, although the storm wound up missing us. Previously, we used a small Honda gasoline generator on the deck to power just the lights and refrigerators. The breaking point occurred during a derecho where power went off for two days. Every 10 hours or so I would have to fill the tank and waited in line for hours at a gas station. It was then I decided that the whole-house generator would be the better way to go. A friend who didn't have the natural gas line installed the propane version of the same generator.

We don't run the high-wattage electric ovens or dryer when the generator is on. It is set to kick in at 20 seconds after an outage.

It has not been problem free. Once the generator's control board failed during an outage. Another time, during its weekly test run, the starter mechanism failed. Yet in another instance, a failure of the HVAC cold-start capacitor caused the generator to behave erratically.

Since my installation, Kohler has made major inroads into the residential generator market. I don't know which brand would be more reliable.

We have had a Propane 16 KW Genrac for 15 Years which has been excellent. It will run the whole house except the AC units & our train room. I can do without the trains (never thought I would say that) but we need the AC for my wife’s health issues. Having a 20KW Koehler being installed in 2 weeks. We were fortunate that a neighbor is buying our old one. All parties are happy.

When I was a kid and hurricanes took out power for a week or two, my folks cooked on a sterno stove and a hibachi grill while we waited for power to come back.  Nobody had a generator back then.  We would have saved up water ahead of time in jugs since we had an electric well pump, but my main job was to go down to the stream to bring back a bucket of water to flush the toilet.

Captain John

Have you been waiting long to get the Koehler unit? I had the Generac supplier/contractor here back in July. They told me then November 30th would be the install date. I was pleasantly surprised when they called and moved it up 10 days. I have been in touch with them and got the ATS from them and installed by a local electrical contractor. Then just had to wait. Just wondering if all manufacturers have similar time frames.

Jim K

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