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Thread: Standby Generator Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Hudson Valley NY
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    122

    Standby Generator Question

    Does anyone currently have a whole house standby generator? I am in the market for one but don't know much about them. I'm considering a 16kw or 20kw unit, natural gas hook up. Looking at a Generac and was wondering if anyone here has one and how it has held up. The electrician was here and thought a 16kw would be fine but a 20kw would do everything with no problem. Any thoughts or recommendations on what I should be watching for? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
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    3,134
    I've always heard get more than you think you'll ever need.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    I have a small 5 KW/11 HP unit. Our house is 5 bedroom affair about 3000 ft. last time I used it I opened the breaker for the heat pumps but let everything else un an with all the lights, ceiling fans, appliances I checked with my clamp on and found that I was only about 6 amps per leg on the 220 side one leg I think was 8 and the other was 4 or 5. I figure I could also run my smaller heat pump. without tripping the 20 amp breaker built into the unit. I was amazed at how little power I was using and it was night time.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    470
    Late reply, but I only occasionally stop by.

    We have a Generac at this house, had one at the last house, and my parents have one. My previous one and my parents' I did the physical install and the control wiring. A friend who does that sort of thing installed subpanels and a plumber did the gas connections. We bought both units at Costco (the same week--we got a few looks and a nice rebate check that year!) This house came with one which is a few years older. I do the annual maintenance which is pretty simple and economical, mainly cleaning, checking, changing oil and filters not much different than a car. My parents have a Mobile Link unit on theirs. I get texts whenever its state changes or if it would detect a problem. I wish we had that but its not compatible. Ours is good peace of mind for my wife if I'm travelling, which has really declined in recent years, knock on wood. Its critical for my dad who is reliant on oxygen and is homebound.

    The previous house one and my parents' are both 16KW units which power 100A subpanels. That allowed feeding about 3/4 of the house but not outbuildings at each. We selected circuits to move to the subpanel to maximize comfort/safety/security. This house I have a 16KW and the transfer switch sits between the meter and the main panel, but I don't have an outbuilding here either, unless you count the unpowered 12x12 shed. Old house ours ran a 3T heat pump no problem summer or winter, though in the winter that didn't make sense since we had a natural gas furnace for backup. My parents' runs their 6-headed Mitsubishi split system no problem. Both houses had wells, sump pumps, fridge, freezer, etc on them. The newer units can automatically interrupt an HVAC compressor if they need to.

    Our power consumption is probably pretty low if the AC isn't running. Our entire house is LED except for 720W of candelabra based bulbs in a chandelier in the foyer (which I finally ordered LED bulbs for) and a few fluorescent strips in the garage and basement. Guessing our next biggest load is a dehumidifier or the washing machine. Or maybe all my IT gear

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Hudson Valley NY
    Posts
    122
    Thanks for the info. We settled on a Generac 22kw unit. This will run the entire house plus the shop. We had to get a building permit, go figure , so we are just waiting for the approval to get started.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,828
    I had a small 3500 kw unit in 2009 when the big ice storm hit. We also have a propane stove for back up heat. When the power went out for six days (we were lucky, some people were out for six weeks) the unit was used only a couple hours at a time to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold and allow us to watch some DVDs. I had stored about a dozen 6 gal. jugs of water which was used for toilet flushing. When things returned to normal my wife declared, "if this happens again I want to be able to flush the toilets". Wife speaks, hubby listens. I shopped around and ended up with a 10kw unit from Sam's Club. It will run the furnace, well and a number of other items but I would not call it a 'whole house'. It wouldn't be used for heat as the back-up propane provides that. At under $1,000.00 I consider it a good investment. I run about every other month for 15 to 30 min. to keep battery up. The Generac spoken of seems to be the standard but is costly. I have a friend with one on a 500 gal. propane tank. It starts automatically, self-starts and runs twice a month. And cost north of $15,000.00.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    96
    When shopping for a big generator, also consider looking at welder/generators. The prices on these are sometimes much lower than an equivalent emergency generator, but if you want fully automatic transfer and start capability you had better stick with a Generac. Some welder/generators have the ability to generate 8-20,000 watts of 240 vac power, be used for welding, or a combination of the two at lesser capacity. Miller even has one that produces 3 phase 240 volt ac power. We have a Miller Bobcat. Ours is a gas engine and it's mounted on a truck for welding work, but it provides out emergency power to the house through a heavy duty cable that gets plugged in when the power goes off. the 8,000 watts won't run the heat pumps or the hot water (water heater is gas), but it does a fine job of running the rest of the house.

    Charley

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Hudson Valley NY
    Posts
    122
    I have a 6k sears which runs a lot of the house but not the big things. This all started last year at Thanksgiving. We have a duel fuel Viking range, gas stove top, electric oven. With 15 people coming for dinner our power goes out. Now I'm running around town with a half cooked turkey trying to find a oven to use. We figure if were going to stay here it will make things better if we install a complete system, one where I don't have to go out in a storm to hook up and get running. As for cost, we are lucky to have natural gas out here in the sticks. Don't know why its here but it is. The 22 kw. installed with the automatic transfer switch is less than half the 15k in Franks post.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    470
    Over $15K either its a huge generator, a really complicated install, or he got ripped off. The 22KW with a 200A transfer switch is under $5K online. I'd expect to pay a more to a dealer, but not $10K more even installed.

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