Generators

Discussion in 'Survival & Sustenance Living Forum' started by 12fretter, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    I'm usually pretty good at research, but darned if I can find a generator in the 5-7K watt range that is made in the USA. It seems all Generacs in that range are from China. Briggs and Stratton says most of their engines are made in the USA, but I ran across a store that listed a good one for me but specifically said it was not made in the USA.

    Anyone have any clues? I'm not totally opposed to made in Japan, but I won't bet my families lives on made in China.
     
  2. fireguy

    fireguy New Member

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    I think the Northstar generators have Japanese Yanmar motors and US power heads. Hope this helps.
     

  3. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    I have more than a little experience in this department having spent 8 years with the power company. After extensive research, we put a Kohler, natural gas, line fed, back up generator with ATS in at my place that has served us well for the past 7 years. The thing is a tank and our house is NEVER without power.

    Are you looking for a man portable, gas powered option that you can haul out, fire up and plug in?

    Or are you looking for a solution that will power your house for a couple of days if the really bad weather hits?

    Be happy to help with what I have learned if you need some info.

    JD
     
  4. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    Dillinger,

    What I am looking for is enough to keep my two small chest freezers, medium fridge and a couple small things going in the event of crisis. I figured I would need 3600 PEAK watts so I am after a unit with about 6-7Kw peak, and 4-5K running watts to give me enough overhead.

    I want a new unit because the first thing I will do is convert it to tri-fuel. And I don't want anyone elses bad fuel habits.

    I was looking at units like the Troy Bilt which has a B&S engine which I know can be serviced almost anywhere. Just not thrilled about Troy Bilt. On the other hand, my Troy Bilt pressure washer has served me well for 10 years without the least bit of problems. The gen was $649 I think, at Lowes.

    Am I pricing myself into junk or can one be found somewhere around that price?
     
  5. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    12fretter - First off, my hat is off to you for doing your research. A lot of folks don't go to this level. *respect*

    For the casual reader: With appliances like freezers, or anything with a motor, you have a Locked Rotor Current that can double, triple or more the amount of cold current amps you need to start a device. What this means is when you have no power, you plug in your "needed" items and fire up your generator, if it can't ramp up to the required number of amps of draw, it will fail to be able to start the device and could flat kill the motor on the generator.

    One of the problems with home owners and small, portable, plug in generators is that people don't take into account their amperage needs and that these devices can induce power back into the commercial line power which can cause severe problems when the power comes back on.

    I don't expect this to be a problem with the OP. ;)

    12fret - I assume your equipment all runs on 120 and are not 240 volt devices? Because that will up your overall size need on the generator.

    I have seen just about every man portable generator out there over the years of power outages and storm duty.

    Briggs & Stratton and Honda definitely lead the pack when it comes to home purchases in this area and I can recommend both as being reliable, tough and dependable when the lights go out.

    Like some purchases (gun safes of immediate interest to this group) buying a generator is wrought with peril because if you spend the cash and don't get enough power, you will feel slighted. Also once you get in the "comfortable habit" of having access to power when no one else does, your family will soon want you to stretch that to other circuits in the house. :roll eyes:

    While you have identified what your "thought of" peak demand is, you might want to consider doubling that just based on the acceptance of comfort factor which will definitely kick in.

    It's not a cheap investment. I think our unit was around $3,300 which I got on 12 months no interest because free money is cool. :cool: I poured the concrete pad myself and had a buddy do the natural gas plumbing, so I was out about another $300-$400 there. The installation of the Automatic Transfer Switch, which came with the unit, cost me another $200 worth of bar-b-que food and drink because I have another buddy who is a licensed electrician.

    Having said that, the unit & price incurred has paid for itself 2 dozen times over when the power went out and I wasn't home to hook up a man portable unit. It adds value to the house, provides sound piece of mind to me about the safety/comfort of my gal and the dogs if I am not home and gives me solice should anything severe happen weather or zombie wise. :eek:

    The thought of getting a generator is a great one. Analyzing the immediate needs of your household is an excellent first step. But make sure and build in a safety net for yourself in the event of "comfort" because I can assure you - when cold and dark comes, you are going to be MOST happy you did.

    If I can offer any assistance, please hit me up. Good luck with your search.

    JD
     
  6. kfox75

    kfox75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the info on generators JD. You helped me narrow my search down as well.
     
  7. Birchhatchery

    Birchhatchery New Member

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    i am looking in to getting a PTO powered generator one that i can hook the tractor up to and hook it up to the main power and run everything in the house like the power was never out anyone have any expericne with these ive been looking around but found nothing real interesting yet i also would like to find out that can run off of 20-30 hp
     
  8. techiej

    techiej New Member

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    Last genny we had used a Honda G20 based (gas) motor and was great...it was rated 10 kw with peak of 12 kw and had 120 & 240 outlets...elecyric start. The brand was power master but I dont't know if they are still around or not.

    We had the house wired with a disconnect/transfer switch and plugged in via 240.

    Also used the genny to run a MIG welder.

    While I had a Kubota tractor (27 hp) I elected to not use the PTO as I would probably need the tractor at the same time ti clear debris, snow, etc. Also I could jump start the genny from the tractor if the battery on the genny died.
     
  9. RJMercer

    RJMercer New Member

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    PTO generators are super handy if you already have the tractor to turn one.

    They have a few downsides though. The ones I've seen are usually rated to work for about a week a year. If you are in a long term blackout there is a chance the generator won't hold out for long.

    They require 2hp per kw since tractors don't have a governor system to regulate engine rpm. So if I used my tractor to power my house, I have a 34hp tractor so I could only run part of my 24kw service since all I can make is 17kw. Those numbers are pto hp, not engine hp. You lose a few hp getting the power to the pto. Decide what your essentials are and switch off the other breakers.

    They are less fuel efficient than a direct drive diesel generator since the engine rpm has to go through so many gears to get stepped down to the standard cat.1 540 rpm then get stepped back up to 1800 or 3600 at the generator head. 1 gallons an hour or more could be the norm at full load.
     
  10. Birchhatchery

    Birchhatchery New Member

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    i have 2 ford tractors and all i want to run is 3 freeszers 1 fridge and the furnace and maybe a light or to
     
  11. Marthor

    Marthor New Member

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    What kind of generator do you need to turn on the air conditioning?

    With the double whammy of heat wave and big storm putting 3M without power, I bet few people were prepared for that!!
     
  12. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    You would need to consult the manufacturers placcard on the unit. You are looking for "Locked Rotor Current", "Cold Start Current", "Cold Cranking amps" or something like that. It will be indicated that the motor normally runs at "X" but requires, sometimes 3 or 5 times that many to start.

    So in answer to your question you would only need about half the generator to run the A/C, but an "oversized" unit in relation to power available to START it running from a dead stop.

    JD
     
  13. Birchhatchery

    Birchhatchery New Member

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    i was in that storm we lost power for 3 days and its was in the 90s AC was the last of my priorites along with tv i cared only about the meat in my freezer/fridge
     
  14. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    Dillinger, i have a question for you and would like your or anyone else's input on how to do it. the wife and i are going to buy a generator for emergency power outages. mainly to run the fridge, the freezer, a few lights and a few box fans to keep cooled off. i am thinking of about a 5000-6000 watt portable one, gasoline powered. now here is my question, how would you go about hooking it up to the house? do i need a transfer switch? if not what other ways can it be hooked into the house?
     
  15. RJMercer

    RJMercer New Member

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    Most appliances with large electric motors have starting capacitors to help "kick off" the motor from a locked rotor state. If I remember right they are rated at 15% above running load to start them off. A 7500w peak generator works for most folks unless they want to run heat or a/c. I can run a fridge, freezer, microwave and a space heater on my 7500. It loads down from time to time but has not died on me.
     
  16. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Axxe- there are two ways to run things off a portable generator SAFELY.

    First, use flexible cords. The larger wire gauge and shorter the cord, the better. Run them from the generator to the appliance you want to power.

    Second, get an electrician to install a transfer switch and a connection plug on the outside of the house. The transfer switch disconnects your house from the grid, and feeds only those circuits you want to run.

    A 5 kw generator will not power everything in your house. It will power fridge/ freezer, lights, fans, microwave, TV, etc. It will not drive a large central AC or heat pump, nor a water heater/ clothes dryer etc. And you may have to choose what you have running at one time.

    People will talk about a cord that allows you to unplug a 220V clothes dryer, and connect your generator to feed backwards thru that. It is extremely dangerous, both for self and power company crews, and stands a good chance of frying your genset or house wiring. In a word- don't.

    Be sure generator is in a location that you are not going to poison family with carbon monoxide. Typically that means OUTSIDE and away from windows/ doors.
     
  17. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    C3, thank you for the information. you pretty much confirmed what i thought. i think i will go with the transfer switch option. not looking to run heat or AC, just mainly a few lights to be not tatally in the dark, a few fans to move some air and cool off and the fridge and freezer to keep food from spoiling. i can always resort to my gas grille and smoker for cooking if needed.

    i was pretty sure i would need the transfer switch to be able to do it safely. thanks for sharing that information and confirming my thought on this.
     
  18. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Well, there are several ways to go about what you want to do, so I will cover them and give you my suggestion.

    You don't need an ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) because you will not have a generator that will fire up immediately. What is important for your safety and the long life of your electrical components (and your house ;)) is that you need to go to your main breaker panel and turn the MAIN LINE IN breaker to the OFF position.

    This will isolate your house from street power, so when the power comes back on, it won't try to power up your house and compete with your generator.

    Electricities' number one goal is to get to ground, that is how it is made to do all the stuff it does, by using it's innate ability to get to ground. If the line power comes on to your house, and you have power already from your generator, you are going to have two different phase arcs that could cause a very realistic problem for you resulting in blown breakers (best case) and/or an electrical fire (much worse).

    Now an electrician, or you if you are handy, can wire a direct connection for the generator directly into your house main breaker panel. This would be a power outlet looking box off to the side, clearly labeled. With the small size of the generator you are talking about you would then turn off all non essential breakers, connect the power cable from the generator to the connection box you wired up, fire up the generator and voila! Up and running. ;)

    If you don't want to do that, there are two more, more primitive ways to go about what you want to do.

    First one is pull your electrical meter from the meter panel outside. This isn't the best option, but it will get you up and running quickly, so it's more of an emergency DIY job. Take your extension cord from your portable generator, strip it back to bare wire and wrap the positive and neutral around the house side of the meter, there should be a ground bolt in the cabinet for the third connection. MAKE SURE IT'S THE HOUSE SIDE, which is usually the bottom. Fire up the generator and you are off and running.

    The power company in most parts of the country own the meter, so pulling it is technically a no-no, but if you are cold and the power is out, no one is going to file charges. :)

    The other way depends on your house wiring, but for current electrical code it's technically safe, if done properly. Grab your generator, grab your extension cord and plug it into a GFI (Ground Fault Interruptor) outlet in your house. Once again close off the circuits you don't need, open the MAIN LINE IN from the street, fire off the generator and you are good to go. Most houses have one, or more, of these outlets in the bathroom closest to the garage/location of your electrical panel. These are the outlets that have the little push button that says "Test" and "Reset" on them.

    These provide surge protection from the panel into the house, so if anything happens, they collapse and save your components. A lot of newer houses have them in the garage right by the electrical panel because this method has become "popular" with home owners over the years.

    Because electricity doesn't recognize wire direction the generator can "back feed" through the GFI and power up the house. The GFI will provide protection if you accidentally load more than you should (figure about 12 to 14 amps plus loop resistance for the wire on the average 15 amp breaker).

    Of the three I would recommend wiring up a specified "plug in" for the generator above the other two, but if you are cold, wet and pissed off at having to do this on a work night, the other two can get you inside and warming up quicker. ;)

    YMMV

    USUAL SAFETY WARNING: If you don't feel comfortable playing with electricity - DON'T! It's not something to mess around with and it can cause severe damage to you and your home. Always call your local power provider to report an outage and remember it's best to be prepared BEFORE the event than to try and scab something together DURING the event.

    JD
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  19. partdeux

    partdeux Well-Known Member

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    One single piece of advice, figure out what you want to run, and then at a minimum double the capacity. Guarantee "it would be nice if we could run x too".
     
  20. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    Dillinger,

    You wrote:

    "The other way depends on your house wiring, but for current electrical code it's technically safe, if done properly. Grab your generator, grab your extension cord and plug it into a GFI (Ground Fault Interruptor) outlet in your house. Once again close off the circuits you don't need, open the MAIN LINE IN from the street, fire off the generator and you are good to go. Most houses have one, or more, of these outlets in the bathroom closest to the garage/location of your electrical panel. These are the outlets that have the little push button that says "Test" and "Reset" on them. "

    Did I read that right? That seems so simple it's pathetic! I have a 9 year old house with a GFI in my garage as you suggest. That is a great solution! The question I have is this: I don't have the generator yet but when I do, to what "extension cable" are you referring? Does the generator come with some special cable that you can use to plug it into an outlet? The generator supplies outlets, but how to you hook outlet to outlet? Second question is about load. What happens when the requirements by whatever breakers you keep on exceeds the load capability of the GFI? Will it trip? In that case, the maximum load you can run through your house is the max of the GFI which may not be nearly enough. I'm no electrician though, so help!

    The other general question I have is a quality question. At Lowes, they have a Troy Bilt with a Briggs and Stratton. Is that a reliable partnership? Should I instead look for a different name brand or engine?

    Thanks for all your info, and for the rest of the conversation. I'm ready to pull the trigger.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012