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Old 05-29-2019, 11:18 AM   #1
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Generator brand?


I'm considering a whole house generator with a whole home transfer switch...

Did load calcs and watched power usage for the house for about 5yrs now 24x7 using a energy monitor attached to the mains (was originally going to do solar...) and estimated I'd need at bare minimum 15KwH but would probably size it at 20KwH just to be safe and for future growth maybe?

That said, what is better Kohler or Generac? Which makes more noise? any issues with either? any pros to either? Is maintenance similar?
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:26 PM   #2
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Re: Generator brand?


Generac is pretty good and have more of the market share.



I have several friends with them and they have been problem free.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:38 PM   #3
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Re: Generator brand?


We are in the process of getting whole house generator installed. The electrical company rated us at 20 kW and will install a Cummings Propane generator with a transfer switch. To fuel it we are purchasing and having a 500 gallon tank buried in the backyard because if you buy the tank outright you can purchase propane from any supplier.
500 gallons should give us electricity for a week (or more).
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:35 PM   #4
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Re: Generator brand?


We have a Generac 22k and transfer switch. Sweet. Comes on every Thursday at 11 am, runs a while, charges the battery, runs diagnostics, then shuts down. Very reliable.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:30 PM   #5
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Re: Generator brand?


A lot depends on the local dealer. The one in my area is an electrician as well as a Generac dealer and he is approved by Generac for warranty work. Main concern with the Generac is periodic valve adjustment as specified in the manual.

I had the gas meter replaced with a higher capacity one and a certified plumber extend a gas line to the location for the generator which was going onto an existing concrete slab. The dealer had to run the electrical conduit and install the subpanel.

I bought the generator package directly and it was shipped to the electrician who then brought it to my house and installed it. From ordering it to installing it took about 6-7 weeks. Friends ordered a generator directly through the electrician more than 7 months ago and the last time I spoke to him he said he was waiting for more customers as he wanted to order the Generac's four at a time.
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:20 PM   #6
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Re: Generator brand?


I just went to Lowe's and saw one on the top of a tall rack and asked to buy it. The clerk told me they were for their installers. So, since I don't take "no" for an answer, I asked for a manager, who reluctantly sold it to me, transfer switch included. I figured it was in the store that it was for sale. They even delivered it on Sunday. I had an electrician buddy do all the electrical stuff. It is more complicated than just running power to it.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:17 PM   #7
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Re: Generator brand?


Our first Generac 17kW windings gave out after 9 years and got in between the rotor and stator and stopped the generator cold.

Talked to the local Generac dealer - who is a very qualified electrician - and he sold me a new 20kW Generac and delivered it in the snow and hauled off the old one.

Since I already had a transfer switch and because the new generator has more amps, I just had to replace the #6 main cables with #3's (except the ground).

My gas supply for the 17kW was way too small, so I put in an 1 1/4" steel gas pipe through the basement from the meter to the generator (ugh). In retrospect, I should have just used 1 1/2" pipe since it's common. Considered using the yellow plastic line because it would have been a heckuva lot faster and easier, but it was expensive and i was afraid of nails, etc., puncturing it, plus it might melt in a fire. There's a funny smell ever since I put it in, though... (just kidding)

So, like the fellow above me said, it's a lot more complicated than just figuring out how much load you have. You have to calculate/look up the size of the wires/cables going from your main panel to the ATS for the amp output and you need to have the gas line and meter correctly sized for the gas load.

So, if you have even the least little nagging doubts about it, just call the dealer.

I like the generac since my dealer is close and they are an experienced and established generator company.

My dealer says that the 20kW is the company's flagship residential product, so the parts and service will not evaporate.

I have not heard anything bad about Kohler, but I have not heard much about them either.

Since we live above 9,000 feet, we get some good snow storms, so I got tired of shoveling out the generator, so I raised it 30" off the ground on a bed of 6x6 landscape timbers; works great.

Also, Generac's have wireless connectivity now, so you can download the Mobile Link app and check the status of your generator while you're away or it's storming out. You have to pay about $50/year for the top service or less for less alert features.

Edit: and, yes, get the next biggest model for less load on the genny and adding more load/circuits/appliances.

Last edited by RockyMtBeerMan; 05-29-2019 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:56 PM   #8
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Re: Generator brand?


If self-install I would go with Generac. Look at the 22kw air cooled rather than 20 kw as it consumes less NG / propane and allows for added capacity. Generac has some special free offers right now.



If getting quotes then look for a dealer that also services and does warranty repairs if ever needed.


The closer to the incoming utilities you can get will save you money.


I have self-installed 3 Generac's. Just wish I could afford the water cooled than run at 1800 rpm.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:22 AM   #9
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Re: Generator brand?


coming from the RVing side of the 'generator' equation, I think you may find that while an RV generator is needed to provide MORE power than the 12v systems in the RV can, for running air conditioning, etc while off-grid, an emergency generator for a home, for the small and few times an outage may occur, is mainly for 'reduced' usage for mostly only 'needed' and required systems, otherwise, not normally doing all of the 'things' you might normally do, and maybe not at the same time. Our RV's Inverter(batteries) handles the fridge and other 120v outlets while not running the generator.

Meaning(?) ... you probably may find that the size of the generator doesn't have to be nearly as large as you might be 'fearing' it needs to be. Every outlet in your home won't need power when there is an outage, washing and drying clothes might can be put on the back burner, or handled differently, etc... although it makes sense that fridges and freezers need fairly continuous power.

Conversely, I purchased a small hand-crank 2000 watt generator for our cabin, after the power went out for about 12 hours during a snow/freezing event back after we first moved in early Dec 2017... ran some extension cords into the house for phone/computer charging, the internet, and a few lights, and didn't open the fridge's door much. The generator was on for all of an hour before power was restored. I guess I would have plugged the fridge in if it had gone much longer.... Haven't had a need to use it since.
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Old 05-30-2019, 11:12 AM   #10
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Re: Generator brand?


If you install a soft start (not to be confused with a hard start) module on your AC system you will probably be able to significantly downsize the the generator.

Talk to a knowledgeable dealer or electrician.

ps.....kW is the term for power usage at a point in time....kWh is the term for power used over a period of time.

Last edited by DanS26; 05-30-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 05-30-2019, 05:41 PM   #11
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Re: Generator brand?


When the electrician finished, he asked me to turn on EVERYTHING in the house. Heat pump to where it went into Aux heat, well pump, stove, oven, lights, anything that used power, and he said I was well below the capacity of the 22k unit.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:14 PM   #12
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A few years ago I was considering getting a generac. After looking at the fuel consumption I decided against it. I was not willing to pay that much in propane. If you are on natural gas it may not be as bad as propane.

I decided the best and most cost effective for me was to install a generator inlet plug, and interlock in panel. I have a small portable generac inverter generator. If the lights go out I can have it plugged up and running in about 5 minutes. Enough power for lights, tv, refridge, and a couple of fans. I went with a gas range and gas hot water also.
This set up was a lot less money. Yes the inverter generators are small but a little power is better than none. They are very good on gas also.
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:53 AM   #13
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Re: Generator brand?


Quote:
Originally Posted by NCmountainCabin View Post
...an emergency generator for a home, for the small and few times an outage may occur, is mainly for 'reduced' usage for mostly only 'needed' and required systems, otherwise, not normally doing all of the 'things' you might normally do, and maybe not at the same time...
^^ This.

I have a 7.5KW whole-house setup, manual transfer. I never max it out.

The electrician (whose job it is to sell you the most expensive installation possible) will add up all your POSSIBLE loads, then add some more to assume all your inductive loads are started up at the same time.

That's BS. Assuming worst case, I'm running the fridge, two sump pumps, the boiler burner and circulator (all inductive loads) along with lights, computers, etc. I can also cook on the electric range. Replace the boiler with the central AC in summer. They don't all start at the same instant, but sometimes just by sheer luck, two might.

I don't usually run the electric dryer during a power outage, but if I did, I'd have to consider not using the range or something. Big deal.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:29 AM   #14
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Re: Generator brand?


Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
^^ This.

I have a 7.5KW whole-house setup, manual transfer. I never max it out.

The electrician (whose job it is to sell you the most expensive installation possible) will add up all your POSSIBLE loads, then add some more to assume all your inductive loads are started up at the same time.

That's BS. Assuming worst case, I'm running the fridge, two sump pumps, the boiler burner and circulator (all inductive loads) along with lights, computers, etc. I can also cook on the electric range. Replace the boiler with the central AC in summer. They don't all start at the same instant, but sometimes just by sheer luck, two might.

I don't usually run the electric dryer during a power outage, but if I did, I'd have to consider not using the range or something. Big deal.

You are not running a fridge and 2 sump pumps lights, computers, the range AND central A/C simultaneously on a 7500 watt generator.



When a contractor is hired to supply and install a generator, the customer is the one who dictates their requirements.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:48 PM   #15
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Re: Generator brand?


Generac also has a built-in valve so you can switch between NG and propane (unsure if Kohler offers that). I'm using NG for mine now, but am getting a propane tank (to bury) in case there's a forest fire and they turn off the gas and electricity.
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