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rfuerst911sc 10-21-2018 08:13 AM

how many here have a whole house generator ?
We have passed one year in the retirement home and life is good :D except for the occasional power outage :( . Being in the mountains it doesn't take too much for trees to come down and snap power lines . In the past year it has happened 3 - 4 times that I remember with the longest power outage being overnight . I have a Honda 3000 inverter generator that is mainly for the camper but I did use it to power the fridge to keep food from spoiling . But when the power goes out in summer you sweat your nads off and in winter freeze your nads off .

So am thinking about installing a 20KW home generator with the goal of being able to run the fridge , the 3 ton AC/heat pump and well pump at the very least . Add a few lights and the electric water heater and now we can survive like humans until power is restored . I know Generac is a popular/well known brand don't know if that's good or bad . I know Kohler and I see Briggs and Stratton makes them now to . We have a 500 gallon LP tank so LP would be the preferred fuel choice . Currently the only items running on LP are the furnace ( back up to heat pump ) and range top .

Like anyone else I want the most bang for the buck , saying that the B&S air cooled generators have a better price point then say a water cooled diesel powered as an example . Based on our first year in the house a generator would put more run hours on itself doing weekly run tests vs. actual down time from power outage . So those of you that have generators what do you have and how do you like them ? What would you change if you could ?

Dantilla 10-21-2018 08:24 AM

I'm on a steep, private road on a mountain. Once the snow falls, we're pretty much on our own.
We bought the generator from the former owner of this house. A Miller welder/generator that uses a Cat diesel engine.

I exercise it once a month or so. Sometimes just start it and let it run, sometimes disconnect the house from the utility grid and turn on everything electric in the house to make it work a bit.

Screendoor 10-21-2018 08:36 AM

We have a Generac 11KW. Had it for 5 years. I would try a Kohler next time. The controller on the unit started to fail at year 2. Then the got hit by lightning. The controller was $400 from Generac. Way over priced. The other thing is figure out worst case situations for surge. We have a well pump and when the electric waterheater is on and the well pump kicks in the unit shuts down. Too much surge for 11KW unit.

Seahawk 10-21-2018 09:01 AM

I have looked at this from a number of angles.

We are the last stop on the grid and there are many, many trees in the area. We lose power 3/4 times a a hurricane, we have lost power for a week at a time.

The first few years I ran cords to run the fridge and other essentials, which gets old.

About 15 years ago we put in a separate electrical panel for the generators (I have two - gas powered and diesel powered - run one at a time) so I can power all essentials plus a portable a/c unit.

Works really well. Maintenance on the generators is easy.

That said, if we decide to stay here after my wife retires, we are going to put in a first floor Master Bedroom extension that will include a whole house propane generator.

sammyg2 10-21-2018 09:54 AM

Jims5543 10-21-2018 10:21 AM

I have a 17KW standby on my house. It runs the 3 Ton AC, the fridge and pretty much all the electronics in the house aside from the electric stove and pool pump. In other words, it is like the power isn't even out.'
I have a Generac Unit that I purchased in 2005, I take really good care of it and it has not given me a problem.

When power is out I will power mine down every 48 hours and do an oil change, I run Mobile 1 and some Lucas Synth oil stabilizer in it.

Every 2-3 years I do a tune up, spark plugs, air cleaner oil change.

I have it under cover (pergola with plastic over it) so it is not exposed to the weather as much.

If I could install it again, I would put further from the house and put something between it and the house so the sound would be muffled more.

After I installed in 2005 I did not really need mine until 2 years ago, then between Mathew and Irma I had about a week each with no power. It was worth every penny I spent on it.

cabmando 10-21-2018 10:22 AM

My parents have one of the 20Kw Generac whole house systems that run on propane. When the derecho came through about six years ago, their power was out for over a week. Other than hearing a hum because the generator is near the home, you couldn't tell their power was out. 1 fridge, 1 small chest freezer, well pump, A/C and all lights wasn't an issue. They have propane hot water, propane range and propane clothes dryer. The things are expensive initially but they are nice when the power goes out.

Craig T 10-21-2018 10:46 AM

Following closely.

Our move from Ventura, CA to Hilton Head Island, SC is less than a year away. Very few houses we've look at in HHI have generators, yet twice in the last four years they've had storms knock out the power for extended periods of time. I'm budgeting a whole-house diesel generator into our move costs.

I can live with having to leave for a few days if a hurricane is coming, and I can live with cutting up and hauling out some toppled trees, but I don't want to live without power.

I'm told to expect to spend $10K-$15K or more to get a good whole house unit installed and hooked up. :eek:

rfuerst911sc 10-21-2018 11:24 AM

Craig T that estimate sounds high to me but it depends on the size of the generator . From the little bit of research I have done a 20KW generator with transfer switch can be purchased new for 4500.00 and up . So with some smart shopping lets say 5K . It shouldn't be too hard to find a qualified electrician to hook it up for 1500.00 maybe a little less . The last piece of the puzzle is the cost to hook up to the fuel source . I think a total install price of 7K is possible . Maybe find a good used unit for sale and save even more .

minoclan 10-21-2018 11:27 AM

20k Cummins Onan.

Arizona_928 10-21-2018 12:11 PM

Propane are cheaper then the diesel genies.
The generac use those air cooled kohler. Nothing too wrong with them, just you aren't going to get the amount of engine hours out of them compared to a diesel, and/or water cooled engine.

There's a few kw calculators online to determine how much power you need. The hp and depth of the well pump will prolly be the highest consumer of power.

rfuerst911sc 10-21-2018 12:24 PM

I just looked on local CL and there is a 15KW four cylinder Generac for sale for 2000.00 . I've sent the seller a text asking for details , being 4 cylinder I assume it has to be watercooled . 15KW might be on the light side but it is setup for LP which is good . We'll see if this goes anywhere .

Scott R 10-21-2018 12:35 PM

We have two, one 17kw diesel that can run the entire house during a storm conservatively for a week with the solar supplementing and the batteries. The second is a smaller 15kw gas that I can use in an emergency to keep refrigeration going after that or forced air heat at night.

Gretch 10-21-2018 01:38 PM

I put in a Gentran panel and have a 6.5KW Honda "portable" (it is on wheels but heavy as all get out, "portable" with a tractor, maybe) that I keep in the garage. Electric start, so have to keep battery minder on it. Gasoline powered. Will run 7 hours on a tank, but has a load sensor and drope to idle when there is no load. When I do have to use it, I generally shut if off at night fire it back up in the morning.

When power is out I plug it in power it up and leave it just outside the closed garage door. I powers the oil fired heating system and all circulators, the well pump (1,000 ft well) freezers and fridge, my office and window AC and kitchen essentials as well as living room entertainment system. We get power outages on average once a year or more.

Couldn't live here without it. 18 years old and still runs like a charm. I could have put an automatic propane set up in, but it did not seem worth the $ or maintenance issues to me.

Googam 10-21-2018 03:33 PM

We installed a natural gas 22kw Generac whole house generator last year. Went online 2 days before Irma. Power was out for 6 days. Mathew prompted me, when power was out for 5 days. This Island is famous for hanging oaks & old pines. Our neighborhood is one of the oldest & if any limbs fall, our whole grid goes down (175 houses). It fires up within 15 seconds of power loss, auto exercises for 15 minutes each week. 5 year warranty. Change oil & plug based on run times. Best home improvement I ever made. I am the envy of the neighborhood.

RSBob 10-21-2018 06:03 PM

Generac 17Kw multi fuel portable-ish. We lost power for a week in winter with temps in the 20s and 30s before the purchase which prompted me to get one which ran on propane, gasoline and CNG depending on what’s available. The gas stations couldn’t pump gas because no power. Also have a 500 gal propane tank, so we can run 24/7 for 7 days the whole house excluding dryer.

MBAtarga 10-21-2018 06:11 PM

Costco 20kw generator $4400.

Edit: Don't have one - but knew Costco carried them and were reasonably priced quality units.

Fly Mach .86 10-21-2018 06:21 PM

This is a very interesting thread. It reminds me that back in the 60's (Yep I'm that old), some hippie types wanted to live on a commune and "get back to nature". The only thing they couldn't live without was electricity. Electricity used to be a luxury back in the day. Now it's an absolute necessity. Kinda like the personal computer nowadays. :D I have threatened for years to get a small Honda generator. For when the big quake hits.:confused:

Crowbob 10-21-2018 06:41 PM

I've got a 15kw PTO gererator that runs off a sub-compact diesel tractor. It's mounted on a 3-point hitch carry-all sitting on a heavy duty dolly with casters. A power inlet is mounted on the side of the house that goes to a transfer switch at the panel in the basement: 1) Totally portable 2) no engine to maintain 3) runs on diesel (no need to store/rotate gasoline) 4) best bang for the buck if you've already got a tractor.

In inclement weather the tractor sits outside running the gererator which is inside the garage. As a rule of thumb you can gererate 1kw per 2hp at the PTO.

Downside: 1) the tractor is preindisposed during outages, i.e., you can't do tractor-y stuff when gererating power. 2) if the tractor doan start you're SOL 3) LOUD because the tractor is running at WOT. 4) there's nothing automatic about the set-up. Somebody's got to have the know-how to operate the tractor, the gererator and how to hook-up the electric parts. 5) neighbors want to use the shower and fridges.

dafischer 10-21-2018 06:55 PM

We had a 14KW Generac whole house standby installed after Sandy hit the East. And as luck would have it, we haven't had an outage that severe since then, longest being 4 hrs. However, it is nice when the power goes out, count to 10, and power is back on, water being the most important (we have a well). We have it serviced once a year, with oil and filter, air filter, plugs, and valve adjust, which runs about $225 per service.
Tough to put a price on peace of mind. Very happy with it.

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