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Thread: Generator?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Broomfield, Colorado
    Posts
    84

    Default Generator?

    During an extended power outage, what are the items that you want to be able to run off of your generator?

    If there is an extended power outage of more than just a few hours – a couple of days to whatever. What items do you want to make sure that you can still run? The following is the list of items that I have thought about, but I wanted to see what everybody else thought was important, in case I want to add it to my list.

    1. Water pump
    2. Refrigerator/freezer
    3. Washing Machine
    4. Battery charger
    5. USB Charger
    6. Laptop computer
    7. Radio
    8. Lights (only a couple)

    This puts me well under 2000 watts for everything except the water pump, with the refrigerator/freezer and washing machine being the only real power draws. My understanding is that the water pump could draw up to 4000 watts itself, during startup (most pumps are three wire 240 volts which I understand requires a step-up transformer and really cranks up the amps). So it looks like a either a 7500 – 10000 watt generator, or a couple of 4000 generators – in either case it looks like a $1000.00 – 1500.00 cost for basic generator(s).

    So, really two questions:

    First, is there anything that you would add to my list of items that you would consider “need to have”?

    Second, is my basic understanding of the power required for a water pump correct, or am I off base on this?

    I’m just trying to make sure that my list is still current and that I am not missing something that should be obvious, or maybe even not so obvious.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Canadian border state that begins with a "M"
    Posts
    716

    Default

    Have cooking taken care of?

    We live life with only a 4kW inverter for our home, but use propane for the frig/freezer, hot water, and stove. The inverter runs everything, just not everything at the same time. The big wattage items like the wife's hair dryer, the vacuum cleaner, microwave, and well pump we just don't run all at the same time. Any two aren't a problem.

    Really might need to investigate the well pump requirements, 220/240v is the most common I think. It should be on a circuit breaker of it's own, so seeing if it's on a 220 breaker or 110v would tell that much. Else, got a multimeter? Check the voltage at the pressure switch. Might look all around the pressure switch, pressure tank, and maybe inside the well head too - usually the well driller/pump installers will leave the pump manual/info somewhere. The envelop that holds your furnace manual is another common place.

    Might look at something like this for the well pump, could let you get by with a 5kW genny: https://www.amazon.com/Supco-Relay-S.../dp/B008FM8X3Q The cap stays charged normally when the pump isn't running, and discharges when the pump starts and it's calling for the increased startup torque. Doubt the capacitor would stay charged long if the generator wasn't running, but if you have a standard pressure switch with electrical contacts that close to start the pump when the pressure is low, you can defeat that easily by adding a switch (or even a piece of cardboard between the contacts) so it only starts when you want it to. Once the generator is running for a couple minutes and the cap charges, turn on the switch (or pull the cardboard out) and the pump starts softer without needing to pull as much from the generator. Supposedly helps start a dying pump that doesn't want to start, and maybe increase the life of a otherwise good pump motor too. There's similar ones made specifically for refrigerators too.

    Guess I'd really try to get by with a 5kW if possible, standard size and about the largest portable available. Another consideration for the genny might be if there's an authorized service center close by, we only have Hondas because 1) they're reliable, and 2) there's a dealer closeby with parts and service.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    NJ (anti gun I know, I live it)
    Posts
    866

    Default

    I would only worry about what is necessary to run. Most should be able to go a few days without a washing machine. The other things you need to consider the bigger the generator the more fuel you will need to have on hand. I have a 4K and it runs the items below without any issues. A tank(4 gallons) will last about 10hrs depending on demand. I have 30 gallons stored and have a plan to run it sparingly if needed. Having the correct electrical cords is vital. Don't skimp on those. For smaller items I use a plug in outlet box.

    Refrigerator
    Sump pump only if it's raining of course
    Stand alone freezer
    Wine refrigerator
    Lights

    Extras I can and have run while powering these other items.

    Chargers for phone, laptop and or batteries
    Tv
    Cable box
    Internet
    AC

    I have taken the time to eliminate a few things that would draw a large amout of power.

    I have alternate heating if needed
    I have many propane tanks for grilling and cooking as well as plenty of charcoal and wood.
    I have the ability to harvest rain water.

    Best way to test is turn off power in your house and give it a go. I have been fortunate enough to have a chance to see what works when power has been taken out by storms. One time was caught with a fouled spark plug. Luckily I was able to remove it and clean it up with a wire brush. I now have three spare. Maintenance for your gen is key. Changing oil, starting it at least once a month and draining the fuel when not in use. They are great to have but could only save you for a short time.

    Hope this helps.
    "Improvise, adapt & overcome"
    Clint Eastwood - Heartbreak Ridge

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    2,719

    Default

    Depends on where you live...Furnace or heating? Probably no AC, but what about ceiling fans and such? Sump pump? Water pump? Sewage lift pump?
    Minimal lighting, some appliances in the kitchen (coffee maker, microwave)
    Refrigerator and freezers (no need to run continuously)
    Security systems? Radio and TV?

    The washing machine, dryer, etc are intermittent loads for most. When I lived totally off grid I'd run the genset once or twice a week, doing the high draw things like washing, vacuuming, running the dishwasher, using my power tools....the generator was an 8kw China Diesel that could run most of that and charge the battery bank at the same time. Daily household loads (including the refrigerator and freezers) were handled by the battery bank and inverter.

    The well pump was on it's own solar... I didn't have a sump or lift pump. Heating was wood in the stove.
    Good medicine in bad places

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East TN Smokey Mountains
    Posts
    3,877

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    kinda an oddball suggestion (I am good at those, LOL)
    a bit of an overkill but two birds with one stone.
    find an old RV with a propane or diesel generator then you have a BOV and a generator.
    of course more money than just a generator, but you might also get a working propane fridge.
    We found an ancient 1982 Winnebago with a working 4kw propane generator that would supply all your loads and only paid $3,000 for the RV.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    2,749

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    I have a 5500 watt generator that is only for our upright freezer and our fridge. That's it. Well, maybe to also run the coffee maker once a day for the wife. My small solar setup is for everything else (lights, fans, usb charging, etc. ect. ect.).

    I really need to get a new battery bank as well as a new pure sine wave inverter so I can run the fridge and freezer off the solar if I have to.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,153

    Default

    Note on "start-up load". There is something called a "hard start" or "soft start" (different terms, mean basically the same thing) kit that provides boost to help get a heavy load started. You might consider seeing if something like this is feasible for larger appliances/loads, such as the water pump.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Canadian border state that begins with a "M"
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    716

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    Quote Originally Posted by 91CavGT View Post
    I really need to get a new battery bank as well as a new pure sine wave inverter so I can run the fridge and freezer off the solar if I have to.
    Your old inverter was running fine on first/last check Cav, it's now buried under 3 layers of heavy-duty tinfoil and sitting in a box on the shelf as a spare

    I used a modified sine wave for my frig for a couple years before switching to an evap propane model. Only problem I ever noticed was the auto defrost wasn't working correctly, got a lot of frost buildup and couldn't figure out why. Replaced the element and the timer module, same thing. Other than that, and not sure it was even related, the modified sine wave was working fine with our frig.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    2,749

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    Quote Originally Posted by marked View Post
    Your old inverter was running fine on first/last check Cav, it's now buried under 3 layers of heavy-duty tinfoil and sitting in a box on the shelf as a spare

    I used a modified sine wave for my frig for a couple years before switching to an evap propane model. Only problem I ever noticed was the auto defrost wasn't working correctly, got a lot of frost buildup and couldn't figure out why. Replaced the element and the timer module, same thing. Other than that, and not sure it was even related, the modified sine wave was working fine with our frig.
    I tried running my upright freezer off of my modified sine wave inverter and the freezer gives an error message. My old inverter is a really good one, but it is too big for my needs. Xantrex makes a smaller one that would be perfect. I need new batteries first though. Mine are on their last leg and I am nursing them along. Out of 6 good 100 amp/hr batteries that I bought in 2012, only 2 now hold a charge and their combined capacity is now down to about 50 amp/hr.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    7

    Default Generator?

    Just get a generator that has about 8kw peak with a 220v 30amp outlet. Make a cable that has a both ends male plugs. The generator end will have a 30amp 220v twist lock and the house end the dryer outlet 4 prong and back feed your house. The cable should be at least 10 gage 4 conductor. Just remember two important thing: before back feeding the house turn the main beaker OFF . Otherwise you will kill the guy on the poll that's trying to fix the problem. The second always connect the generator plug last. Please be safe.
    Last edited by AverageJo; 02-15-2017 at 07:52 PM.

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