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Old 11-01-2012, 10:59 PM   #16
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Planning for a home generator


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Most outages here are no more than a day. So I could get by with staggering use of things like fridge, microwave, heat, fish tank, etc... Avg current draw is about 8. Hows $400 sound for a 3750w peak?
The $400 unit will probably produce dirty power. Your microwave probably won't work with it, and I think someone told me that my daughter's aquarium equipment wouldn't run with dirty power.

Check with the manufacturer's specs to determine how clean the generator power is. Ask questions about the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and about the automatic voltage regulation (AVR) range, if it has an AVR. My cheapie unit had only a capacitor that gave it almost no voltage regulation, and I was told that the THD was in the range of 35%. A better THD would be 5%, and some have said that 10% is fine. AVR should keep the voltage range plus or minus 5%. Most generators also have a frequency range - mine keeps the range between 58 and 62 hz; the power company is consistently 60 hz, and some devices need soemthign that consistent.

You could use an inverter that runs from a marine or storage battery on your aquarium. This will produce pretty clean power at 115 or 120 volts. A 300-watt (square wave, not perfect sine wave) inverter costs about $30. I have three storage batteries I use with my camper, and used them to power inverters for the most sensitive electronic equipment when I used my old generator. I charged one battery while I used the other two.

Once again, the best bet is to call the manufacturer of your aquarium equipment and the manufacturer of your generator to determine if the generator you want will suit your needs.

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Last edited by Arnold Ziffel; 11-01-2012 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:48 PM   #17
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Planning for a home generator


Dirty power is usually an issue with electronic items. Granted electronics is a major part of todays electrical items but most generators are well within the specs of what is required. Any overly sensitive item could be protected with a battery powered UPS which provides instant backup in a failure and a short amount of time to get the generator going. UPS' also provide clean power all of the time.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:48 AM   #18
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Planning for a home generator


Good points. Some of the equipment are pumps but some does have electronics. A UPS or whatever would work is not out of the question. I also use a computer controller that connects to the DSL so I'd like to see how feasible it would be to have the DSL modem and wireless router on a UPS battery so the controller can text me if the power fails. THe controller controls the aquarium pumps, heaters, LEDS, just about everything.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:31 AM   #19
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Planning for a home generator


I agree... if you have gas heat, cooking and hot water, and no other big cycling inductive loads like a well pump, a small generator will serve you just fine. I have a 4500 watt unit and it easily powers my furnace, refrigerator, network as well as a couple rooms of lights and TVs. Definitely get a transfer switch like a Reliance with a proper inlet box. Consider getting a tri-fuel conversion to avoid the whole gasoline thing. Especially good if you have natural gas which gives you an unlimited fuel supply... unless the whole nat gas system is compromised like in some of the islands affected by Sandy.


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I disagree. The people who did what you said have been waiting on line for hours and hours and hours to get more gas to fuel up their 8,000w+ generators while the people who bought the modest 5,500w or smaller generators have what they need while using half the fuel.

Buy what YOU need, going too big will be inefficient.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:08 AM   #20
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Planning for a home generator


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A transfer switch is not the only way to legally enable a generator to power a home safely.
Quite so. I forgot about interlock kits as I've never used one.

I have my own quandary when trying to size the generator I need. I only want to back up a few things like refrigerator, freezer, a few lights. But the problem is the well pump. It has a 1.5hp motor because the well is more than 700 feet deep. While a 7 or 8 kw generator might run it, it would never be able to start it.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:35 AM   #21
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Planning for a home generator


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Originally Posted by schatzi View Post
Most outages here are no more than a day. So I could get by with staggering use of things like fridge, microwave, heat, fish tank, etc... Avg current draw is about 8. Hows $400 sound for a 3750w peak?
Just as a point of reference... we were vacationing in Davis WV (Blackwater Falls) last summer when the Derecho wind storm hit. We had no power for eight days.

So you figure that that long an outage has to be a once-a-decade event, right? Earlier this week Sandy dumped two+ feet of snow on Davis (up to 4 feet on the ridges). As of this morning, 75% of the customers in Tucker County (where Davis is located) were still without power.

If you have natural gas service you'll be fine. For propane or diesel, you'll have to do some calculations on consumption per hour. I would consider gasoline as a last resort only.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:33 AM   #22
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Planning for a home generator


Size your generator by you needs, not your pocketbook. And don't try to plan for the 100 year storm or you will drive yourself crazy. Some people will experience a few outages over a period of 10 years...some will have them yearly. Here we have ice storms in Feb or March and the last one had us out for 4 days. That was 4 years ago. The most recent one lasted only a few hours. My decision to install a standby was the fact that we had to toss out $300 worth of food. I installed a 7kw Generac, installed a propane tank and a small gas stove / fireplace in the family room. The generator backs up the refrigerator and freezer, the family room lights and outlets, the kitchen (microwave and toaster oven) and the office. This keeps me online and the phone working. That install was under $3000...including filling the LP tank. As I get older I didn't want to drag out a generator in the worst of weather or store 20 gallons of gasoline for a "just in case" scenario. And I wouldn't expect my wife to drag out the generator in case I couldn't be there. I spent more than if I purchased a portable...but in 45 seconds after a power outage I have restored everything I need to be comfortable.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:39 AM   #23
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Planning for a home generator


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Dirty power is usually an issue with electronic items. Granted electronics is a major part of todays electrical items but most generators are well within the specs of what is required. Any overly sensitive item could be protected with a battery powered UPS which provides instant backup in a failure and a short amount of time to get the generator going. UPS' also provide clean power all of the time.
Some UPS's don't take too well to generator power. I called APC, one of the major makers of the higher end models. They said that the noisy/dirty power of a generator can make the UPS not operate correctly. The UPS may not see clean power, so it can jump to the battery whenever the generator is on (until it runs out of battery power, or it can switch back and forth from battery to generator power constantly, which will drive you nuts and isn't good for the UPS).

Here's a thread discussing this:

http://forums.isxusergroups.com/mess...messageID=4870

I would call the maker of your UPS unit to tell them about the type of generator and the cleanliness of the power you intend to use, and ask them about whether the UPS will work with the level of cleanliness that your generator will supply.

Sorry to keep throwing little monkey wrenches into your plan, but I had problems with my UPS and my generator.

By the way, Missouri Bound: Do you know of a brand of UPS’s that works well with generators that don’t cost an arm and a leg? I believe that APC had some that worked with generators, but were very expensive.

Last edited by Arnold Ziffel; 11-02-2012 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #24
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Planning for a home generator


Exactly! And the way it usually works is that once you buy a generator the power grid gets a whole lot more reliable. That's what happened to me. After suffering through about a dozen power outages over an 18 month period I got a generator... and haven't had an outage since, even with the direct hit by the derecheo or the close approach of Sandy. The power company caught so much grief they trimemd trees and upgraded feeders in the last year so it is a lot better now here.

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Size your generator by you needs, not your pocketbook. And don't try to plan for the 100 year storm or you will drive yourself crazy. Some people will experience a few outages over a period of 10 years...some will have them yearly.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:12 PM   #25
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Planning for a home generator


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Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
Quite so. I forgot about interlock kits as I've never used one.

I have my own quandary when trying to size the generator I need. I only want to back up a few things like refrigerator, freezer, a few lights. But the problem is the well pump. It has a 1.5hp motor because the well is more than 700 feet deep. While a 7 or 8 kw generator might run it, it would never be able to start it.
Are you sure ?

1.5hp is only a little over 1000w,
lets say 10a at 120v.
7 OR 8kva should start it and run it !
Is this 7 or 8 Kva a peak rating or continuous ?
The older style gennys have a better tolerance for short term overloads, and will happily start most motors.
Perhaps your genny does not have much in reserve
to allow for peak surges.

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