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Old 10-12-2012, 05:39 AM   #1
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whole house generator, buried tank


Hello All:
I am purchasing a house in the country (kind of). It's all electric but I would like to install a whole house generator with buried (preferably) gas tank not propane.

I cannot find anyone who 1. installs a tank or 2. delivers natural gas to the tank.

I'm buying in Stafford, VA (outside Fredericksburg, VA).

Your suggestions are greatly appreciated (and quick).


Last edited by momof2labs; 10-12-2012 at 05:51 AM. Reason: duplicate
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:25 AM   #2
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whole house generator, buried tank


Nobody I've ever heard of delivers natural gas - it's either piped to your area or it isn't. What you want is propane. Check the yellow pages; any propane distributor will supply and install a tank once you have an account with them. I have an underground tank, and it didn't even cost me anything. If the only propane device is the generator, the tank would just need to be topped off once a year or so.


Last edited by md2lgyk; 10-12-2012 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:27 AM   #3
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whole house generator, buried tank


what suggestions are you looking for? in my locality i'd have a few options.
1) Propane delivery (option at cottage)
2) NG piped to the house ( what i use for heat and F/P) (option at house and cottage)
3) fuel oil delivery

i've not heard of natural gas delivery to a storage tank, i think underground tanks require loads of permits and inspections and such that i dont hear anyone doing this. The on site fuel storage i hear of is propane and above ground gas and diesel tanks. I also believe a hefty deposit or bond or something is required for underground tanks ( for eventual removal and disposal and soil remediation should there be a leak.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:37 AM   #4
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whole house generator, buried tank


My underground propane tank was installed about four years ago. There was no special permit, inspection, or deposit required. Propane doesn't contaminate the ground, it just evaporates. An underground oil tank would certainly be a different story. But in most places, they are now prohibited.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:06 AM   #5
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whole house generator, buried tank


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Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
Nobody I've ever heard of delivers natural gas - it's either piped to your area or it isn't. What you want is propane. Check the yellow pages; any propane distributor will supply and install a tank once you have an account with them. I have an underground tank, and it didn't even cost me anything. If the only propane device is the generator, the tank would just need to be topped off once a year or so.
The house is on heat pump (4 units). There's no natural gas to the house so it looks like propane is the way to go. I will call the propane distributor. What great advice!

Stafford/Fredericksburg, VA
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:14 AM   #6
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whole house generator, buried tank


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what suggestions are you looking for? in my locality i'd have a few options.
1) Propane delivery (option at cottage)
2) NG piped to the house ( what i use for heat and F/P) (option at house and cottage)
3) fuel oil delivery

i've not heard of natural gas delivery to a storage tank, i think underground tanks require loads of permits and inspections and such that i dont hear anyone doing this. The on site fuel storage i hear of is propane and above ground gas and diesel tanks. I also believe a hefty deposit or bond or something is required for underground tanks ( for eventual removal and disposal and soil remediation should there be a leak.
Looks like propane is the way to go. (Natural gas isn't close). From whay I understand, propane evaporates and isn't a problem.

Thanks.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:24 AM   #7
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whole house generator, buried tank


In VA to hook up a generator your going to need possibly two permits, one for the gas install and one for the wiring.
There going to check the location of the generator to make sure it's far enough away from any windows and doors, soffit vents, even dryer vents.
There going to want to make sure your not just trying to back feed without proper interlocks, making sure the right materials were used, and the lines were pressure tested and far enough below ground.
Big mistake having an underground tank if it's only going to be used for that one generator. Check with your suppler but anyone I've delt with if you do not use at least 100 gal. a year your going to get hit with a rental fee.
In my area it ran $130.00 a year for just an above ground 250 gal. tank, underground was even more.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:06 AM   #8
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The house is on heat pump (4 units). There's no natural gas to the house so it looks like propane is the way to go. I will call the propane distributor. What great advice!

Stafford/Fredericksburg, VA
Do you really intend to power your entire house with a generator? You're not going to like what a unit that size would cost. I assume you meant just selected circuits.

Before getting into the propane issue, you first need to determine what size of generator to get based on what you want to power. Any place that sells standby generators can help with that. It will give you an estimate of the propane usage when ghe generator's running. Then determine how long you need it to run, i.e., does the power go out for days at a time or just short periods? With that information, the propane supplier can properly size the tank you'll need.

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Old 10-12-2012, 09:18 AM   #9
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whole house generator, buried tank


There are just a few things I would consider necessities in a power outage, refrigerator/freezer, microwave or 2 burner 120V hotplate ( for boiling water if nothing else), a couple of lights( possibly clamp on work lights with relatively long cords). If you are in "country" and on a well, the pump.

To keep aware of developments, a radio or small TV, one or both with optional battery power, Lap-Top or other battery on-line connection, cell phone and corded telephone, not cordless.

Don't know about you, but I'd also want a big pot to make boiled coffee over a fire. Maybe a small propane grill, reserved for emergencies.

In fact you might wanta consider costs of purchasing and fueling propane heating and cooking appliances with larger tank vs electric.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:52 PM   #10
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4 heat pumps. Your 50 KW or better, if you want to be able to run all 4 heat pumps, plus some the aux heat.

Might want to consider getting LP furnaces, and connect the heat pumps to them. then if you have to switch to generator power, you can use the LP furnaces for heat.

Doing that, might en-able you to get a way with a 30 KW generator to run the heat umps for cooling in the summer, fridge, freezer, and a few other circuits.

A 2,000 gallon tank would be about the size you would want.
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:00 AM   #11
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4 heat pumps. Your 50 KW or better, if you want to be able to run all 4 heat pumps, plus some the aux heat.

Might want to consider getting LP furnaces, and connect the heat pumps to them. then if you have to switch to generator power, you can use the LP furnaces for heat.

Doing that, might en-able you to get a way with a 30 KW generator to run the heat umps for cooling in the summer, fridge, freezer, and a few other circuits.

A 2,000 gallon tank would be about the size you would want.
Dear BeenThere:
Thanks for your reply. I must make a correction: I think I have 3 heat pumps not 4. My new home is an hour's drive away so I'm recalling from memory which is not always reliable.

Yes, I would be very interested in installing propane for the heat pumps to use. Excellent suggestion!

Thanks.
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:09 AM   #12
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Your indoor units would be remove. LP furnaces installed and coils for your heat pumps to use. The furnaces become the blower/air handlers. With a large tank, you can shop around for the best price in summer, fill the tank up, and not have to pay a high price for topping it off in the middle of winter. LP tanks are only filled to 80% of their capacity rating. This is to allow room for expansion. So a 2,000 gallon tank will only be filled to 1600 gallons.

A generator that works automatically, will come on for X amount of time every week to exercise it. And the larger they are, the more LP they use during this exercise time. So you want tom make sure you enough LP to cover all uses. To keep from refilling when the price is high in the winter.
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:50 PM   #13
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whole house generator, buried tank


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Dear BeenThere:
Thanks for your reply. I must make a correction: I think I have 3 heat pumps not 4. My new home is an hour's drive away so I'm recalling from memory which is not always reliable.

Yes, I would be very interested in installing propane for the heat pumps to use. Excellent suggestion!

Thanks.
I have such a setup in my log home. It's called a hybrid system. A standard heat pump, but the backup is a propane furnace in the crawl space. The system is programmed to switch to the furnace when the outside temperature drops to 25 degrees, or can be manually switched at any time. Besides the advantage of being able to use a significantly smaller standby generator, the air that comes out is toasty warm. But even if you "only" have three heat pumps, a retrofit would be seriously expensive.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:25 AM   #14
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whole house generator, buried tank


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There are just a few things I would consider necessities in a power outage, refrigerator/freezer, microwave or 2 burner 120V hotplate ( for boiling water if nothing else), a couple of lights( possibly clamp on work lights with relatively long cords). If you are in "country" and on a well, the pump.

To keep aware of developments, a radio or small TV, one or both with optional battery power, Lap-Top or other battery on-line connection, cell phone and corded telephone, not cordless.

Don't know about you, but I'd also want a big pot to make boiled coffee over a fire. Maybe a small propane grill, reserved for emergencies.

In fact you might wanta consider costs of purchasing and fueling propane heating and cooking appliances with larger tank vs electric.
Thanks for your reply notmrjohn.

I'm on well and septic. The septic is slightly uphill (Grrr) and of course, I do want to be able to run the well pump. When I move I plan to take my existing wood stove insert (that's another question I'll have). My new home has 4 woodburning fireplaces! (Yea). I'm also planning to take my gas stove in hopes of being able to hook it up to propane. I think there's something that allows me to switch over. Oh, my... looks like I still have so many questions (and I thought I knew so much).
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:09 AM   #15
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whole house generator, buried tank


"there's something that allows me to switch over" Some conversions are as easy as flipping a few levers, or connecting to a different inlet. Others require a bit more work, replacing pressure regulator, orifices or even burners. Even easy change often requires resetting the simmer "notch" on burner control. LP is at higher pressure. If you still have owners manual or find one online, it will tell you what is required for change. Maker will sell kit if needed. Your LP provider can supply parts for easy switch or do more complicated ones.

If wood insert is zero clearance you have no big problem. Even if insert itself is not, consider zero clearance flue pipe for it.


Septic is uphill from well? That is a grrrr. Hope it is proper distance away and well has proper casing. Is septic fed by a pump from a holding tank? Definitely have that on generator, or axillary gas powered pump.

Give at least a passing thought to water storage tank, a mini water tower, well pump could fill that when you have power, and mite not have to run as often from generator unless you needed higher pressure, it could also be a settling tank if well water has sediment.

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