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Monday, July 16, 2012

Generators?

Can anyone offer some advice? I acquired one of these:

















To wire into this:
















To leave me an outlet here:













Leave the landscaping (or lack of) comments to yourself please. I'm not good at it! 

 
That I can plug a portable generator into. After researching the NEC (Article 702):

















"Optional Installation of Fuel Fired Generators for
Emergency and Standby Power Supply Systems for
One and Two Family Dwellings", we are cool. 



So now the problem is what generator. 

I have researched the Briggs and Stratton, the GENERAC, and the Powermate. 

The B&S model motive power is made in China, but has an extensive warrenty network. The GENERAC is made in WI, but apparently warranty and customer service sucks. Maybe that will change now given the current political climate in that state, but I don't want to find out the hard way. 

The Powermate is powered by a Honda engine (gasoline). 

I am leaning toward it just because of the motive power. It is the Powermate PM0497000. 


Some previously noted that Diesel is more widely available  during SHTF stuff, but I have a reserve of fuel:








These will be good for at least 30 gallons of gasoline if need be. 

OTOH, there is more madness in my method. I am trying to get a modular detached garage in the back yard. I need to recover these:


 






















1967 Cadillac De Ville Convertible, driven into a secure storage location under its own power back in 1988. Not moved since. For the sharp eyed people yep, that is a Firebird behind it. It was my Grandmother's. I guess I get it honestly!


The other car? The same:














A TRUE 1964 and half Mustang. 

My intent is to retrive them and stick them in the new garage. Then get them back on the road.  I don't want to replace the breaker panel in the house just to power it. I can use the generator. Excersises the generator as well. 

Anyone have any thoughts on gensets?



 

26 comments:

  1. Kinda depends on what you are after.
    Getting through a power outage / natural disaster aftermath, or EOTW scenario.
    Also depends on how much money you want to spend.
    Our Coleman 5.4 Kw gasoline generator got us through the aftermath of Hurricane Ike like a champ. Cost around $600.
    My dad had a natural gas whole house generator installed that cost a bunch.

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    1. kx59- I'm looking for something to get me through a small bump here. If it goes EOTW, I'm taking it with me somewhere else where I have friends, land, and a remote location. I have to sleep sometime, right? The Honda powered one is right around 1K.

      Thanks!

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  2. I tend to favor the Honda gensets, but they're pretty pricey. Keep the oil changed in them, and after a short (~10 hour) break-in, they'll run forever.
    Briggs & Stratton used to be fixable by any lawn mower shop, but unless you put a bigger muffler on them, they're LOUD!
    I don't understand the "motive power" part. Do you mean just the engine, and who it's made by?

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    1. Yes, I mean that the Powermate has a Honda engine. The genset is not labeled as a Honda generator though.

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    2. OK, that's kinda what I thought you meant.
      One reason the Hondas cost more is that they're inverter units, with a lot of electronics inside.
      The engine spins a high-frequency alternator, and the AC output is synthesized from the alternator output.
      You have to carefully look at the sine wave output with an oscilloscope to see any "artifacts", but it's done that way as it's much more efficient. The high-frequency alternator uses much smaller and lighter magnetic components, resulting in an overall reduction of size and weight. It's the same reason aircraft use 400Hz AC power vs 60Hz.....smaller magnetic components.

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    3. drjim- Thanks. I am all over that too. The sensitive stuff around here has true UPS inverter stuff on it. You know what I mean. If I can get raw power to run the well pump and fridge, everything else is gravy.

      We have an OLD CAT 85Kw genset at work and it throws up a pretty good wave. I will of course test the unit I get. I think I have a Fluke handheld o scope around here somewhere!

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    4. Yes, almost any genset that has a 120 Volt alternator on it will produce a clean sine wave output.
      How well it's voltage and frequency regulated is another matter entirely!
      If I were getting one bigger than the Honda EU2000i that I'd have, I'd also get a dual-fuel kit for it.
      That way I could run it from either gasoline -OR- propane. The problem with my Honda is that the kit I was looking at is an either/or situation due to the fact that the generator is fairly small physically, and there's not enough room "under the hood" to support a carburettor that can handle both fuels.
      Mayberrys has excellent prices on Honda generators.
      http://www.mayberrys.com/Honda/generators/generators.aspx

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  3. The Honda motors are tops for reliability. That said, my Briggs and Stratton starts up with just a harsh glance from me now that I've stopped neglecting it.

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    1. Well, a harsh glace from you would motivate most, LOL! I am leaning to the Powermate, but everyone is out of stock right now. I assume they are all up in your neck of the woods.

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  4. If you *HAVE* to go with gasoline as the fuel, then go Honda. They are bulletproof as long as you change the oil (and filter) regularly (or after each use during a power outage. Use Stabil pr Pri-G in the gas in the tank and run the carb empty.

    The one thing about gas is that it goes bad in a few moths, so you have to rotate your stored fuel regularly. It is a pain. But if you don't then things go sour when you can't afford to have them do so. Store your gas outside, or in a ventilated shed...and secure it well, or it will leave you.

    If you want other than diesel, and depending on where you are and what you use for heat, propane is an option for some. Never goes bad, and stores easily. Hard to steal that big tank too.

    Whatever genset you use, if it is portable, plan on securing it. Heavy chains work. And expect any portable generator to be fairly loud. You can mitigate this by making a collapsible shelter about 6' high to place around it so that the sound is muffled and/or goes up rather than horizontally. Fence panels or the like. Not a bad idea to make a rain cover for it too, if yer planning to use it in bad weather.

    I would still recommend that you consider diesel. they run longer, last longer, the fuel lasts forever, never goes bad and is usually available after gas runs out at the stations. (and, in a pinch, you can 'borrow' from nearly any construction site with heavy equipment).

    While Briggs motors have come a long way to compete with Honda, Honda still has a significant edge in reliability. Honda brand generators last forever, Honda powered ones (with different generator heads) may or may not last.

    Generac generators are great, in the larger sizes (10-15 KW and higher. Smaller ones are generally rebranded units from other manufacturers. You may or may not ever find parts for them. Nor will you ever be happy with the service.
    YMMV.

    I would determine how long (in hours of operation) you want to plan for....Briggs and generacs are only 200-300 hour units. Honda's last 2000 hours. (all figured with proper service) But you will pay nearly twice for the Honda than for the Briggs.

    One intermediate step is the Northstar generators from Northern tool. Honda engines and decent generator heads. More than Briggs or Generac but less than Honda generators.

    Ya gets whatcha pay for.

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    1. Good comments.
      I *have* seen Diesel fuel go bad, though, and water in the fuel is a huge no-no. Sta-Bil makes a Diesel additive to both absorb the water, and kill any microbes which can grow in the fuel. Most diesel sets come with a fuel/water separator, so as long as you do any maintenance required on it, you should be good-to-go.
      In very cold weather Diesels can be a bit cranky to get going, due to the lower volatility of the fuel, so keep a can of ether handy!
      And always keep some spare parts on hand. I keep several spark plugs and carb rebuild kits on-hand, even though I haven't had to use them. Not sure what spares you'd want for a Diesel, maybe a spare injector, and some filters.

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    2. Diesel gets contaminated, but it doesn't go bad. Gas does go bad over time (loses volatility and makes varnish). As you say, treating the fuel makes all the difference with diesel. Treating gasoline can extend it's life for up to a year, but that is all. Diesel is good forever as long as you don't get microbes growing at the water/oil interface. Worst case letting diesel sit will separate the water and filtering will clean the fuel well enough to let it be usable in a pinch...

      I have used diesel that was stored 30 years ago, and except for the water (condensation) at the bottom of the tank, was fine. Treated once, then left alone in a vented container. Try that with gas...

      Most modern diesels have good injectors and preheaters and can start in up to -25F. Older diesels may or may not, and will require ether or a heater to start. .

      Your suggestion of spares is a good one. Add fuel filters to that list.

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  5. please read my review of Troy Built Generator from June 25th. Also if you do the work yourself and your house burns down you are liable and the insurance company won't pay spit. Seems like to nice a house and some really nice toys to risk it. hope this helps. the rat

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    1. Nice review Rat! Thanks! I'm going to have one of the guys that works for me pull a permit (he has an unlimited electrical license).

      Yeah, there are a few toys around =)

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  6. If you go with gas, you might as well consider the conversion kits that allow you run it off of propane and natural gas as well.

    here is an article from someone who has converted his to do this and a link for the kit as well:

    http://ericpetersautos.com/2012/07/15/dont-depend-on-just-gas/

    http://www.propane-generators.com/

    matt

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    1. Matt, you just knocked one out of the park!

      I have a honking propane tank in close proximity to where the genset would plug into the house.

      Fantastic!

      Thanks Bro!

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    2. propane is,as I stated above, a better alternative if you have it than gasoline. Propane doesn't go bad with time.

      your gennie will last longer on propane too, at least the motor.

      Check specific fuel consumption numbers when making the decision though. You can burn a fair amount of propane with a generator. But a big tank will last for a long time. Figure about 4 lbs per hour more or less for a 5KW genset at half load as a rule of thumb.

      Still a better fuel than gasoline.

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    3. Mr.B Thanks I concur. The fact I have a tank of it here does not hurt either!

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  7. I personally like diesel generators because they are designed to run for days on end with little care. As far as hooking it up to the house, I use a simple hookup which is fool proof and completely safe if I do it but is NOT legal to any building code but as I've said before I don't care what the government likes, it's my house not theirs.

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    1. Duke, thanks. The diesels do have merit.

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  8. I know nothing, except that those are some pretty cool looking cars!

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  9. In addition to stabilizing your gasoline you should consider adding Marvel Mystery oil. I've spoken to several small engine mechanics who swear by it.

    I also suggest you at least look at ETQ (Eastern Tools and Equipment) generators. They have clean power and run quietly and efficiently for the money paid. Quite good value. If you can spare the extra $ for the Hondas, though, they are hard to beat. But I keep a generator for emergencies. So far I've only run the thing to check it out and make sure it starts.

    As someone mentioned above, rotate your gasoline. I stabilize. I keep a generator only powerful enough to run my refrigeration. When blizzards/hurricanes are approaching I lay in about 15 gallons of gas (plus the autos). When it is time to check the generator I pour the gas into the autos and refresh the cans. Have a small can handy as handling 5 gallon cans to fill the genset can get messy. Fill the small can from the larger ones.

    I also keep some small inverters handy that I can use with my jumper boxes to power small lights (CFLs), etc.

    I also keep big bags of tea candles handy. They give off more heat than you might imagine and a handful can warm a small room quite nicely in a pinch.

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    1. Thanks and welcome! I appreciate the advise.

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  10. I've got a 5000 watt (6250 surge) Generac. I haven't had to do any customer service or warranty claims so I can't say to that. Otherwise I like it though it is a bit loud. I have another muffler I'm going to adapt to it as soon as I get the storage room set the way I want it. So far I'm just using it to run critical systems directly when the power goes down but (thanks to you and your musings on this subject-Thanks!)
    You going to build your garage yourself?

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    1. Six, I can't build a picnic basket! Shame you are so far away, I would hire you as the GC for it in a heartbeat! I will post about the transfer switch installation.

      It looks like a concrete pad with a prefab structure right now. I'm sorry, 20K bids for conventional construction? No HVAC, no finish work, really?!?!?

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