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maroonandwhite

What size backup generator?

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I'm looking to purchase a backup portable generator for power outages. We usually have at least one a year and it may take a day or two to get fixed. I'm basically wanting to keep the refrigerator going along with some lights and possibly the well pump. I've seen contradicting numbers on what size I would need. I'd like to hear from you folks that have one.

Ill be connecting it into the system through my welder outlet with the main breaker off.

There is a large price gap in between a 5k watt model and the 8k~9k models so I'd prefer to save the dough where I can. It will likely only be used those one maybe two times a year. I don't want to shell out the dough for a Honda either. I'm looking at less than $1000.

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You don't need to get a Honda, but get a Honda motor. Many generators have them now. I would recommend an 8500/7500 in size so you have a little room to spare.

I haven't looked lately, but Sams carried one called a Black Maxx in that size for $999. Only thing I would suggest is getting one that has a self idler for when there is no load being put on it. It will save gas. You can also get a tri-fuel conversion to run them off natural gas, propane, or gas.

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go as big as the money you have.  if you go to small it will not run the items you need.  refrigerator and well pump has a big pull on startup then goes to a lower pull when running.  

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I have the Black Max from Sam's Club that Hozzie mentioned. It will run lights, refigerator, deep freeze and electric water heater since only one element is active at the same time. I suggest a manual transfer switch be installed. I am not a electrician but have been told there is a slight chance current can be sent to grid with main braker turned off. I didn't want the liability of possibly killing a lineman so I had a electrician install a transfer switch. 

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I put in a transfer switch as well. If you are familiar with wiring it is pretty easy.

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Smallest I have used is a 3k, it ran the fridge, and some lights and a fan but it could of handled more.  I now have a 3k (also a welder) and a 5k as well as a Honda 2000i which I use with my travel trailer.  I run everything directly from the gen, so no switch required.  Of course, around here most power outages are short lived so haven't had the need to wire one in.

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Keep your eyes peeled on Craigslist (I use http://www.searchtempest.com to search it). You can get a good deal if you're patient. I searched every few days for about 6-9 months but ended up with a deal on a Honda EU6500is. I have yet to see even a EU3000is for as cheap as I got mine.

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A 5k will run most if not all of what you need as long as you aren't going to use it to provide electric heat. That takes a ridiculous amount of power.

Keep in mind that if you have changed out your light bulbs to LED(2 watt or less), they will draw almost no current compared to incandescent(60watt) or even fluorescent(14watt). It adds up.

Electric motors pull a lot of power as well, small kitchen electrics, vacuum cleaners, etc.

Be careful using a generator to run electronics, it doesn't provide "clean power" meaning the voltage fluctuates considerably unless you have something to clean it up and stabilize the voltage. Voltage fluctuation will ruin electronics quick.

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Unless it's an inverter generator, like the Honda EU series or the comparable ones from Yamaha. Nice clean sine wave off of those.

 

I have an electricity monitor that tells me how much is coming in via the meter. I could run everything in the house except the range, A/C, microwave, and dryer off of a 2Kw as long as I don't have everything on at once. Like nightrunner said, switch to LED bulbs and you can light up the night and not strain even a basic genset.

With my 6.5Kw, I could run any one of those too except the A/C. It could run it, but may not have enough to start it. It would probably work, but over time could damage the A/C motor. Plus I'd have to wire it all up and don't want to bother with that. I can live w/o A/C as long as I can keep a fan going. Gas heat means all I need in the winter is the blower motor and the 6.5Kw is plenty strong for that.

Edited by monkeylizard

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Thanks for all the tips guys. I won't be running any sensitive electronics. Basically just lights, fridge, freezer, and maybe the well. I plan to setup a propane heater inside with the tank in the shop for emergency heat. I'm thinking my new house will be tight enough and small enough to stay warmish for a day or so. And we have plenty of blankets.

We also plan to use all Led bulbs where we can.

Sounds like a 5k watt may do what I want. I like the price point on the Black Max 5k too!

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From what you describe a 5K should do just fine.  I can run freezer, fridge, multiple lights, a couple of TVs and room to spare.  I strongly suggest you install an interlock plate system on your breaker box or a transfer switch for safety reasons.

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I use Diesel. Gasoline is made to go bad and with todays EPA emissions, the carb's are very sensitive to gasoline turning into snot. Stabil works to a degree but is only a temp band aid especially on ethanol gas. The only way to own a gas job that wont see much use is you must drain the carb completely inbetween uses. The other option is get the LP or NG conversion. Im sticking with my 8K oil hammer.

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4 hours ago, maroonandwhite said:

Thanks for all the tips guys. I won't be running any sensitive electronics. Basically just lights, fridge, freezer, and maybe the well. I plan to setup a propane heater inside with the tank in the shop for emergency heat
 

I also live in Fayette county. Wilson Well installed by new well pump a year ago. It is all electronic and 240 volt. My 5000kw, 120/240v generator will not run the well pump. Electricity was too "dirty" as my electrician said. Many newer fridge and freezer have all electronic controllers.

Edited by TN_Jim

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I also live in Fayette county. Wilson Well installed by new well pump a year ago. It is all electronic and 240 volt. My 5000kw, 120/240v generator will not run the well pump. Electricity was too "dirty" as my electrician said. Many newer fridge and freezer have all electronic controllers.

That's odd. They actually ran mine on a small generator to "prime" it due to the fact I didn't have electricity out there at the time. I guess we will see. That's really the least important on my list. If the water isn't hot I can't really do much with it. Just want to see and keep the food.

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3 minutes ago, maroonandwhite said:


That's odd. They actually ran mine on a small generator to "prime" it due to the fact I didn't have electricity out there at the time. I guess we will see. That's really the least important on my list. If the water isn't hot I can't really do much with it. Just want to see and keep the food.

 

Same here, with "they used  a generator". It was mounted to the trunk and was actually an inverter.

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Same here, with "they used  a generator". It was mounted to the trunk and was actually an inverter.

Could be the case. I didn't see it in person when they did it.

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The advantage to smaller is you don't need as much gasoline on hand. I have a similar setup to what you are talking about. I folded the two 110v circuits on top of each other so I can run all the 110 circuits in the house with a 110v generator. I use a Honda 2000 inverter generator, available for about $800 new and is very quiet. Runs frig, small freezer, any lights we want to use, tankless propane hot water heater, backup propane hot air furnace, all my computers and a 42" flat screen. At our old place we also powered a sump pump indirectly which is probably about the power of a well pump (it was a big submersible pump). If I ran the generator on high it would run the pump but I like running in energy saver mode (quieter and less gas). I bought a 2kw inverter at Harbor Freight and hooked it to a spare 12v battery and put a small charger on the battery during power outages plugged into the outlets powered by the generator. Since the sump pump and well pump is intermittent the battery had plenty of time to get recharged between runs.

I run my generator on Av Gas which is expensive but has a shelf life of 3+ years, I keep 10-20 gallons on hand in an out building in sealed Jerry Cans. I also have several old cars and a tractor that I run on ethanol free gas that I can siphon extra fuel in an emergency to extend my run time. My little Honda will run around 8 hours on less than a gallon of gas. I know a fellow that put in a huge generator to power everything and then burned so much gas he couldn't keep enough on hand. 

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30 minutes ago, Jeb48 said:

I run my generator on Av Gas which is expensive but has a shelf life of 3+ years, I keep 10-20 gallons on hand in an out building in sealed Jerry Cans. I also have several old cars and a tractor that I run on ethanol free gas that I can siphon extra fuel in an emergency to extend my run time. My little Honda will run around 8 hours on less than a gallon of gas. I know a fellow that put in a huge generator to power everything and then burned so much gas he couldn't keep enough on hand. 

2

If you are looking at running a larger generator than NG or Diesel are a much better choices.  They last longer and are much easier to store but he isn't looking for a whole house generator.

As for the original question you can get a cheap load generator for under a 1000 bucks.  They eat a ton of full because they only have 1 mode full power.  They are really only good for short term usage and everyone within a mile will know you are using one.  They also produce really dirty power.  On the other hand you can get a generator with a built inverter Honda makes really good ones although there are others.  They are quit and they use less fuel as they only run at a level to provide the needed power so even if you get something that can produce 5k but you are only using 2k you generator will only being using the fuel to generate that 2k unlike the cheap ones that use 5k worth.  

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Most modern electronics are much tougher than they used to be. In general they will run with any decent generator. They will also run just fine on decent inventors. If you get a good inverter (whistler ((my personal choice)) or cobra) an 800 watt will run just about any relatively modern fridge or freezer. You only need to run them about 20 minutes every couple of hours to keep them cool. If it is really hot pack blankets around your freezer for extra insulation.

I have a 14 year old regular 3500 watt Honda generator that ran electronics in my house anytime we had an outage. We bought it to use with our camper and everyone said if I didn't get an inverter model I would fry everything. Nope...Don't get me wrong, I think the Honda inverter generators are great, I just couldn't afford one large enough to power the a.c. on our camper.

On to well pumps. For the last few months the Honda has been running our well pump at our property on weekends while we are up there working on the land. Our well is a bit over 300'. The motor is rated for 5.4 amps @ 240 volts. When it kicks on the generator barely blinks. Maroon and White, I would be curious to know what your pump is rated to pull. It would then be interesting to put an amp meter on and see what it actually pulls. If you have a regular electric meter it would be good to also see what the voltage drop is on startup. Might be a bad or failing motor or maybe the generator is not putting out what it should.

 

Mark.

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If you have the money a 15kw kubota diesel powered genny is top shelf. They use ford oil filters and are very efficient at 70% load capacity. The non turbo models sip fuel and run like a sewing machine.
15 kw can run all of your appliances water heater and a 3.5 ton central air unit
If you need good coverage the black max will get u through a black out


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I've just about talked myself into a Honda eu2000i. Just for the fact we can use it for camping as a bonus. From all the videos I've watched on it I can run the essentials I am looking for.

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7 hours ago, maroonandwhite said:

I've just about talked myself into a Honda eu2000i. Just for the fact we can use it for camping as a bonus. From all the videos I've watched on it I can run the essentials I am looking for.

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Your thread has talked me into getting one as well...just been looking and trying to find the best price. Northern Tool and Home Depot have them for $949 so let us know if you find a smoking deal somewhere.

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Your thread has talked me into getting one as well...just been looking and trying to find the best price. Northern Tool and Home Depot have them for $949 so let us know if you find a smoking deal somewhere.

If you order online from northern tool you can get a $50 or $100 gift card. Just sped $50 more for the $100 gift card. Free shipping.

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24 minutes ago, Dane said:

Get a propane generator such as 

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/generac-3-250-watt-propane-gas-powered-portable-generator?cm_vc=-10005

 

Propane can sit for years and still power the generator.  Also doesn't cause all the carb issues that gas powered does. 

I like that, I wonder how it compares to a gas run engine as far as runtime.  I do like the fact of it being able to sit unused without worrying about the carb. 

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