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Old 11-21-2011, 11:47 AM   #1
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So I'm looking at generators, and I know one thing for sure. I want it to be tri-fuel compatible, as it's the most versatile. It's cheaper and easier to find a good gas powered one and convert to tri-fuel with a kit for $200. The concern I have is the size of the generator. If I get one big enough to run my house, I'll need to install a transfer switch which could cost around $500. That's a big pill to swallow, not to mention the cost of a generator that big ($1000). If I step down in size to run just the important stuff....freezers and refridgerators....and coffee maker...I could reduce the total cost significantly, to say....$600.

Any thoughts?

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Old 11-21-2011, 12:15 PM   #2
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I paid a touch over $700 for mine - through amazon. It'll power the sump pump, fridge, well pump - although probably not all at the same time. I have a Generac 5940 GP6500 8000W (surge, runs at 6500). I see it's $850 now, though. Unless you're expecting long-term outage - maybe focus on the important things?

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Old 11-21-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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I bought a 10 yr old coleman 5500 cont. at a garage sale for $125 , couldnt pass it up , it was clean started on the first or second pull if you remember to turn the choke on that is . I have powered 5000 watts of halogens in my boat with it and no problems , no surging, to shut downs , doesnt use oil and is on wheels . I have 200 amp service in my house and 100 amp service in my garage I have a pigtail in the garage box that pushes back to the house , I turn the main off in house to prevent feedback to the lines and prevent problems when the power does come back on . I power only whats needed furnace , fridge, freezer which could be unplugged if its cold enoughs as its in the garage , and a few lights and radio maybe a TV if needed . Craigslist is a great place to find like new/ new generators, every winter people buy them up some rarely use them and some are like new and they take a $100-$200 beating just to get some of their money back and repeat the following winter . My neighbors did that for yrs but atleast they had it if they needed it .

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Old 11-21-2011, 04:56 PM   #4
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you can never have a generator big enough If you're at all comfortable working in a panel, then hooking up a transfer switch is super easy. I have a 6500/5000 watt, and it is personally the smallest I would ever recommend. I'd much rather be in the 8,000 running range. WRT tri fuel... I wouldn't waste my money. If I were to buy another gen set, it would either be diesel for portable or natural gas for fixed. If it's for SHTF, then it won't matter how many different fuels you plan for, none will be available! If I ever replace my unit with something bigger, I may also get a 1,000 watt unit too.

What ever you decide to get, make sure you frequently run it and LOAD IT. Also don't forget fuel stabilizer if it's gas. Especially don't forget to top off the fuel... True story, years ago GM used to religiously test their Turbine Generator each and every month. Then one day they actually lost power. Generator started up just like it was supposed to and ran for a period of time until it didn't. Turns out, NOBODY CHECKED THE FUEL LEVEL!

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:39 PM   #5
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I've got a Generac XP8000E (model 5708) runs to 8kW and surge to 12kW. I runs pretty good and starts easy. Lowe's carries them for about $1,300.00, but I'm sure you could find one for less At 50% load it burns about 3/4 gallon gas. I use mine to backup my solar system batteries. It replaced a 15kW Generac Guardian auto-start/auto-shutdown propane. If you are at high altitude (I'm at 5,600 feet) the gas and diesels are more efficient than propane. The 15kW burned 3 gallons an hour and took 1.5-2 times longer to get my batteries to float. The XP8000 isn't the perfect answer to any application, but this one is going on a year old and has served me well.

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Old 11-22-2011, 01:11 PM   #6
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I have a 3500 and it is plenty for me. $400

I run;
Freezer (only once a day is required).
Fridge (every 2-3 hrs, leave door shut and don't keep opening for no reason)
10k btu ac unit. Runs it all night no sweat, literally...
Coffee maker
All the lights in the house. Have lots of LEDs and CFLs. Light load is only 210 watts.
48in LCD tv.

Having lots of gen time thru 4 hurricanes, I can speak from experience. I have lived off a genset a total of 27 days, with 12 days in a row the most at one time.
You may have a genset, but do you have fuel or can you get fuel? NG is usually still going after a storm. Gas is hard to store in large amounts. Propane stores well and tanks weather storms well. Tri-fuel is a great idea.

For your consideration... http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/category_generators


Making sure you can run your genset is the most important consideration, IMO.

Jimmy

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Old 11-22-2011, 02:14 PM   #7
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I haven't had much luck keeping my gas generators running. No matter what, the lousy gas messes up the carbs. My next generator is going to be diesel. They are efficient, diesel fuel stores pretty well and my tractor fuel tanks will hold 60 gallons of fuel "Just in case." But the initial cost is higher.

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Old 11-22-2011, 02:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by partdeux View Post
WRT tri fuel... I wouldn't waste my money. If I were to buy another gen set, it would either be diesel for portable or natural gas for fixed. If it's for SHTF, then it won't matter how many different fuels you plan for, none will be available!
With all due respect, I tend to disagree. Gas power should be the last resort in a SHTF scenario, as you can't store it, and if you run it at all on gas, you have to keep running it on gas once in a while in order for the gas not to do significant damage just by sitting in the lines.

My idea with tri-fuel is to be able to hard wire it into my natural gas line in a typical power outage scenario, and someday with a transfer switch, if I can afford it, but be able to run it on propane in the SHTF scenario. Those tanks I can buy and stock, little by little as I can afford to. Once those run out, then turn to syphoning gas out of anything that used to move and hope for the best.

Additionally, I can run it on propane while it's sitting in my garage, with minimal ventilation. Can't do that with gas.

It's the larger size with transfer switch that gives me pause. I think I like the suggestion that you can never have enough power. I might opt for a 10K surge / 8K continuous unit, and when money permits, do the transfer switch.
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12fretter View Post
With all due respect, I tend to disagree. Gas power should be the last resort in a SHTF scenario, as you can't store it, and if you run it at all on gas, you have to keep running it on gas once in a while in order for the gas not to do significant damage just by sitting in the lines.

My idea with tri-fuel is to be able to hard wire it into my natural gas line in a typical power outage scenario, and someday with a transfer switch, if I can afford it, but be able to run it on propane in the SHTF scenario. Those tanks I can buy and stock, little by little as I can afford to. Once those run out, then turn to syphoning gas out of anything that used to move and hope for the best.

Additionally, I can run it on propane while it's sitting in my garage, with minimal ventilation. Can't do that with gas.

It's the larger size with transfer switch that gives me pause. I think I like the suggestion that you can never have enough power. I might opt for a 10K surge / 8K continuous unit, and when money permits, do the transfer switch.
We agree more than you think. My expectation, if NG stops flowing, you're not going to find gasoline and life is very very bad with generator being the last thing on your mind. I hadn't considered the garage and propane scenario.

WRT transfer switches... I haven't actually put one in yet, but they look pretty simple and easy to install.
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:46 PM   #10
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I have a Koehler 12Kw NG generator tied into my place with an ATS. I also work for the power company, so I have some thoughts on this issue.

In 10 years of data, the area I live in has never had a NG "outage". It's highly reliable and much more resiliant to the weather than power lines are to wind and trees falling.

One thing I can assure you is that the power never goes out in the middle of a nice afternoon when you can see everything thanks to daylight and you aren't rushed back inside because the weather sucks.

It's always in the worst possible conditions, wind and rain, and almost always in the middle of the night.

Now, if you want to get up, get bundled up, get your generator started and monkey eff the basketball around trying to get the circuits of your house tied in so your fridge/freezer contents don't go to waste and whatever you deem necessary, you are a much better man than I am.

There is ZERO downside to the ATS after the installation. It's a huge resale factor up in our neck of the woods (PNW) where power outages are common in winter months, and when I am not home because I am working on storm duty, I don't have to worry about Household 6 trying to mess with the generator just to stay warm.

Power goes out, within 5-8 seconds the generator clicks on, ATS transfers and the house is warm, lit and safe. No muss, no fuss and no worries.

Peace of mind goes a long ways, and since I am rarely home if the weather is that bad, it's nice to know that my gal and my dogs are warm, safe and entertained without anyone getting hurt.

YMMV -

JD

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