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Old 08-29-2010, 08:07 PM   #11
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I use portable gennies a lot when restoring old or derilict buildings, over the years I have come to recognise the better ones. One major points to consider are the windings to the motor, a lot of the cheaper Chinese and Indian makes are made with copper coated windings and simply do not last. I would look for a Briggs and Stratton. Or something with a Honda engine.

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Old 08-29-2010, 08:41 PM   #12
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The easiest way to tell if a generator is large enough to what you want to do is to figure the amperage draw. Then get a genn that will handle that plus 20%. For example if you are running say 6 60 watt bulds then you will have an amperage draw of about 3 amps. To figure out how many amps a genn will put out is easy too. Watts divided by volts=amps. 6000watt genn will put out 50 amps of power at 120 volts. Generators are alot like welders and have a duty cycle. That is what gets a lot of people into trouble. They see 6000 watts and figure its large enough, but they never check duty cycle. Most genns only have a 65% duty cycle. That means they will only put out that 6000 watts 65% of the time. Home Depot and the like do not sell a 100% duty cycle genn. If they do I have never seen one. Harbor Freight duty cycles are like 20%. I actually have one that I use for camping and have for years, but I also know not to run it at maximum draw. On my service truck I use nothing but lincoln that I can run at maximum draw for days on end. Hope this helps.

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Old 08-29-2010, 08:58 PM   #13
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Don't buy a cheap one I bought one from Northern and it quit after a month and then after another 6 months the next one quit as well. I have several generators and do a little research and get a good one.

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Old 08-29-2010, 09:12 PM   #14
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I have a Generac 6k petrol with a honda engine thats done 6550 hours and still purrs like a kitten. Admittedly it is a supersilent model.

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Old 08-29-2010, 09:12 PM   #15
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Okay gents. Thanks for the info.

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Old 08-29-2010, 09:19 PM   #16
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As JD already pointed out one of the big factors is allowing for something like 4 - 7 times the normal "running" amperage to get an electric motor started. You have to remember that each refrigerator / deep freeze has it's own motor. Forced air heating system means another motor (blower fan). What if you have a well pump for water? So what kind of peak output (start-up) current would your generator have to produce if all of these motors happened to start up at the same time?

Then factor in all your lighting, entertainment, and general outlet usage. It all adds up - quickly. I have a portable gasoline generator that I use for emergency power at home. (10KW) That has to be able to run 2 refrigerators, 1 deep freeze, furnace, microwave, and minimal lighting in the house. That's about the maximum it can handle under sustained usage. But it has more than paid for itself several times over already by keeping the electrons flowing during some lengthy power outages around here.

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Old 08-29-2010, 11:47 PM   #17
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Rough rule of thumb- powering most things, find label, amps times volts equal watts. Powering a motor, amps times volts TIMES TWO- for that start up surge. Do a bit of net surfing, and will show typical power loads for different things.

Stuff with a heating element will typically pull a lot of power. Remember a fridge or freezer does not need to run 24/7 IF YOU KEEP THE FLIPPING DOOR SHUT. When we go onto self contained mode, the freezer gets 30 minutes of power 2 x a day. And a modern fridge has a nasty little thing called a defrost cycle that pulls a lot of power.

Longer and skinnier a cord, the more power you lose.

Our setup has been refined over the years for OUR needs- but is limited to 2500 watts (5000 surge). We use a heavy duty inverter (changes 12 v DC to 120 AC) hooked to deep cycle batteries (Ours are 460 amp/hours) . They can charge from solar or from a vehicle connection. We run the inverter only when we need power, and do not use it for things we can do otherwise (coffee pot is a percolator sitting on the camp stove). We do not try to plug into the house system, but 10 g extension cord direct to appliance getting the power. We have run over a week at a time on our own utility system.

Anyone planning to keep a generator- besides size, and how it connects, please consider- exhaust fumes getting into house, securing the generator, using a good stabilizer (Seafoam gets my vote) in the fuel, having OIL for the engine, and check with the maker to see if you can use synthetic (extended run time between changes.

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:35 AM   #18
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Keep your eyes open for deals. I picked up a 3500W generator for $180 at Aldi's of all places a couple years ago. Get a couple of those and you can power both sides of your breaker box pretty well. Don't go nuts with heavy loads, and don't expect to run multiphase appliances like a dryer.

Here's a tip that will work in a pinch instead of using a transfer switch. Find two outlets that are on circuits on opposites sides of your breaker box. Make two male-male pigtail extension cords, maybe about a foot long each. If you lose power, kill the main breaker (that's really important) and plug both of those pigtails into your generator(s) and plug in regular extension cords into the pigtails on one end and the outlets on the other. As long as you don't overload the amperage for those circuits, you can effectively provide power to your whole house.

Obviously, your generator must be able to handle the load. 5000W or above should be OK for most folks. But running heavy draw stuff like A/C may not work. You should be able to run compressors on your refrigerator/freezers, furnace motor, lights, clocks, radios.

We keep about 40 gallons of fuel stored at all times. I recommend you keep several gallons on hand...generators aren't much use if you can't run them.

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Old 08-30-2010, 02:02 AM   #19
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I keep 20 gallons of gas mixed with Stabil in Jerry cans in the garage. I use it up once a year and then replace it with new. So there's always some gas available. I also never let the fuel go below half a tank in the vehicles.

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Old 08-30-2010, 02:03 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkt View Post
Make two male-male pigtail extension cords.....
And just be aware that if someone accidentally snags the extension cord and pops it out of your wall outlet, that the male terminals on the extension cord plug will be the HOT part of the circuit!

That is the very reason they make power outlets the female part of the connection - to prevent exposed live conductors should a cord get pulled out of the wall.
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