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Generators & Electric Motors General Discussion Antique Generators and Old Electric Motors: Questions and answers about restoring and showing old power generation systems.

Generators & Electric Motors General Discussion

Need Generator Advice


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  #1  
Old 09-04-2019, 08:15:53 PM
David Erb David Erb is offline
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Default Need Generator Advice

Need you help and advise. My daughter lives in south Carolina near Myrtle and would like to get a generator. I know too late now, but for the future.

I followed some postings on here that gentech are junk. She has a limited budget so a Honda is out of the question.

The house is fairly basic, but here are some specifics, 3 bedroom with central air and heat. Electric hot water heater. Public water and sewer so no need there. I'm thinking a 5000 to 5500 watt would be fine. Really just want for refrig and maybe heat or air.

So what reasonable priced brand is a good one.

Thanks for your help

If you don't want your opinion public just pm me.

Dave
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2019, 11:10:23 PM
AngrySailor AngrySailor is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Typical hot water heater is 4000-4500 Watts, add A/C with starting load, any fridges or freezers you’re out of power pretty quick... most of the more economical generators are rated at max output, not continuous and have very little reserve for motor starting. You may have to prioritize loads with 5000-5500 Watts.
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  #3  
Old 09-04-2019, 11:28:29 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

You are not going to run air conditioning with the budget you specify. Look on Craigslist for a used Honda once the hurricane memory fades away. They are the only old ones I still see running after many years when everything else is on the scrap heap.

If you want to pony up for a full house generator then a Kohler 14 kw is the way to go but you will also pay for the electrician to do it and it sounds like that would way exceed budget.
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  #4  
Old 09-05-2019, 07:42:28 AM
Kevin K Kevin K is online now
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

You forgot to mention what fuel your daughter uses for heating. Natural gas, propane, fuel oil, or electricity? That would be a big consideration in the type of generator to purchase. Finding gasoline to run a generator may be problematic after a hurricane.
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Old 09-05-2019, 07:57:28 AM
Peter Holmander Peter Holmander is online now
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Like all my engine collector friends say "Expensive only hurts once" Buy an appropriate sized Honda and never look back. If you do, make sure they take care of the bonding lug issue before you bring it home.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:49:57 AM
Railroads Railroads is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

A 15kw diesel generator with a large storage fuel tank would fit the bill.

Robert
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  #7  
Old 09-05-2019, 01:59:33 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

With the draw of electric water heating, you would have to unplug or turn off everything in the house, to make hot water. As others have noted, you would have to husband your power usage. Run the AC only during the hottest part of the dau. Run the fridge for several hours after pooenning the door, and every 2 houurs for 15 minutes to keep things cool. same for the freezer if seperate. Use hot water at night and turn on water heater while everyone is asleep - at night. Conserve hot water use - take a short shower. Wet, turn off water, soap up, wash hair then turn back on water to conserve hot water supply. A larger diesel unit probably would work best, as noted.
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  #8  
Old 09-05-2019, 02:48:04 PM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

The size of the A/C unit will be a big factor too. I'd size the set for that, and count on adding a start relay and capacitor to the compressor at minimum, or even one of those soft start units. Anything to get the size of set required down, so your fuel reserves last longer and cost less. Running an oversized generator during a week long Power Failure would be very expensive. Of course it wouldn't need to be running all the time, so that would help.

I'd use waste heat for heating water. Virtually zero extra power or fuel required. Just a heat exchanger and circulating pump.

If you want to just stick with electric heat ( VERY expensive from a generator!) I would add a normally closed relay in the heater's supply circuit, with a 24 volt coil energized by the A/C thermostat, such that a call for cool cuts out the heater. When the A/C shuts off, water heating can resume. This would only be enabled when on emergency power

You could instead use a single pole, double throw relay that switches the heater to 120 volt when the A/C is on. That would drop the power from 4500 watt to 1125 watts.

All other loads are pretty much trivial when you have a generator set large enough to start a central A/C unit, except maybe an electric stove. Just use only one burner at a time...

Keith

Last edited by Vanman; 09-05-2019 at 06:54:34 PM.
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  #9  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:38:12 PM
Warwagon Warwagon is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

You have to plan beyond "just a generator".

Does the area have natural gas available?

Cooling the entire house with the central AC is NOT budget friendly. Big thirsty and noisy genset, transfer switch, $install of switch$... Even if the fuel tank(s) on the vehicle(s) are now generator fuel you are still fuel limited including natural gas budget cost if the nat gas stays on.

Gasoline sets have the gas go bad in 6 months. It isn't going to start if you left it full of gas for a year and didn't run it at all. Old gas put into a "dry" tank may run poorly a little while before the carb and filter plugs up. In other words you need to run the gasoline through the vehicle every 3 months and keep the gas cans full of fresh gasoline. Run the genset often to make sure it works and keep it working. Every 30 days for Onans.

Smaller ~4000 Watt genset ideas to power essentials: Fridge, freezer, 15K BTU AC, microwave, few lights, TV. ( And/or well pump, furnace, medical devices...)

The cost of a 15K BTU window AC unit to cool one big room is not high vs. bigger genset cost and fuel cost. If fuel is even available. So $500 for a big window AC unit that has a heat pump mode with a dedicated extension cord. You install this before the bad weather or leave it in year around. They should be on sale now for less at the end of the AC season.

For example instead of whole house AC: Buy 2 window AC units (or hotel style through wall units) and cool the living room and bedroom and alternate what AC unit runs as you move about.

A quieter idea is $3000 for a 15K BTU 120v mini split system installed, but, a transfer switch would be needed. The mini split can be used year around with normal utility power without excess noise.

If you bring in a large propane tank to run the genset it can also run the hot water heater.

IMO Hot water is the least of your concerns during a long power outage. However when you do get to that step with budget remaining as pointed out: alternate heat sources are available.

What is not said is the high cost of a standby backup genset install. The quotes I have received are 3x the cost of the new genset without a propane tank setup. (No NG here.)

Thus the "portable" setup I use and extension cords. A transfer switch is in the plans one day. Regardless the 3800W flathead genset I have used forever on window AC units is very good at turning gasoline into noise. Then I have two 5 gal gas cans to keep fresh and fill that is only around 10 hours of runtime.

The gasoline problems above is why Propane makes sense. A 100 Gal propane tank doesn't go bad like gasoline or diesel and it's 100 Gal. Around 100 hours of runtime on the small set. 40# propane tanks can be filled by taking them to a station.
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2019, 01:00:19 PM
Joe Romas Joe Romas is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

First add up the wattage for everything you have mentioned.
Then scale it down to what you want to spend.
How cold does it get in SC? Since it sounds like an "all electric" home I assume natural gas it out. Maybe a few lights, fan or two, phone charger(s) and refrigerator are all you might really need.
Personally I have a 6k diesel powered generator that was a former light tower, the kind they use on road work at night. It will run most everything in my home including my AC and diesel fuel has a longer starage life then gasoline.
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:50:58 PM
Wayne 440 Wayne 440 is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

I assume you intend to buy a new generator. The first thing to do is eliminate the "maybe heat or air". In other words, decide if you intend to have HVAC or not. Then decide if hot water is a necessity. My guess is that a properly done standby power system to support HVAC and hot water heating is well beyond the limited budget you refer to.

There is a significant difference between a standby power solution to support a 3 bedroom house with HVAC and electric water heating, and one to support a 3 bedroom house with a few lights, refrigerator, freezer, microwave and a TV set or two.

IF you can define the amount of available funds, I'll try to provide more useful advice. IMHO, all of the "reasonable priced" units available today are of about the same quality. Many of them are probably made in the same plant.
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:14:41 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

I work in the small air cooled sector as well as off-grid. There is only one unit that will stand up consistently to off-grid use and has a meaningful warranty there. They have not changed much in many years and all the old ones are still going even with some gross abuse. Can't say that about any other brand.
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:24:48 AM
Railroads Railroads is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birken Vogt View Post
I work in the small air cooled sector as well as off-grid. There is only one unit that will stand up consistently to off-grid use and has a meaningful warranty there. They have not changed much in many years and all the old ones are still going even with some gross abuse. Can't say that about any other brand.
Only thing that comes to mind is a ex military generator. Built solid and quite reliable. Usually diesel powered.

Robert
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:34:53 AM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

The Kohler 12/14 kw air cooled line is what I am talking about.

18 month 1000 hour warranty.

Have seen many go beyond 6000 hours and all of them heavy output for all those hours.

Have never seen one do anything stupid like chuck a rod. Have always been fixable problems. One guy wore out a couple engines but that was surely bad maintenance and the only one of its kind. Another is setting with a broken valve stem but I bet I will fix it some day. Recently I had a bad controller on one of the early ones from about 2004. Otherwise excellent service.
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Old 09-14-2019, 01:30:45 AM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Does Kohler still build their own small engines? Or are these using something else? I assume they're 3600 rpm...
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Old 09-14-2019, 08:31:15 AM
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Billy J Shafer Billy J Shafer is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Stay away from Genajunk.
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Old 09-14-2019, 10:23:52 AM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanman View Post
Does Kohler still build their own small engines? Or are these using something else? I assume they're 3600 rpm...

That is another selling point. They build their own engine. Which has not changed in something like 20 years. They also sell them to John Deere and the like for commercial lawn mowers, you will find them on portable band saw mills and such.

They are 3600 RPM on generators and they just work.

I did not believe in it when I got into this business but I do now. I have seen so many go the distance.

I would rather people bought 1800 RPM water cooled 4 cylinder units too. But you can't talk them into it. Or they can't afford the price tag.

But when these things will go thousands of hours, there is scarcely a need. That is much longer than any standby set will run in its entire lifetime.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:56:03 PM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advice

Wow, that's neat! I haven't peeked at anything modern, but if they're still building engines even half as good as their old ones, they would still be fantastic. I find their old engines to be stunningly well built, given the task they're call upon to do.

Come to think of it, I have seen a sawmill with an air cooled, V twin Kohler. Pretty cool.

Keith
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Old 09-23-2019, 10:26:12 AM
Rodney Dawn Rodney Dawn is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advice

I'd go with a Honda Eu7000 if you can afford it, or a Honda EM11000 due to centeal air needs.

for strictly budget, some of the Honda clones are well made (for the price) as well. I've seen Tool Shed SG6500E's and Predator 7000's go well beyond 5000 hours with proper maintenence. but its a gamble. sometimes you get a really good one, sometimes you get a lemon, because quality control is virtually nonexistant, unlike a true genuine Japanese Honda.
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:08:57 PM
AlexV AlexV is offline
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Default Re: Need Generator Advice

A Honda EU7000 with a generator inlet box and an Interlock on the panel Is a great system. In years to come who known you might be able to find a nice used one than parallel them together an will be able to run just about anything. The Honda EU7000's are fantastic on fuel and VERY quiet. If I'm going gas the Honda EU7000 would be my first choice. For Propane/ Natural Gas I've had very good luck with both my Kohler's
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