Observatons on running genset for a week

exmarJuly 8, 2012

Hi Folks,

Like a lot of you, we recently had a power outage which lasted three hours short of a week. Ran a generac 3250W genset 12-14 hours per day. The little generac covered itself in glory, started right up, took the loads, didn't mind the over 100 degree temps every day, etc.

What I learned from this:

Been in this area for over 60 years and am very familiar with power outages and generators, however, never seen an extended outage in summer? We almost routinely get them in late winter or early spring due to ice storms. So, when I got this unit, I sized it for a frig, freezer, and the "entertainment center" and a couple of lamps. Heat and cooking is by propane so power is not required. Works just fine during the winter. I intentionally didn't get a larger unit as the 12 hour run time was a key factor. Slipping and sliding around refueling after an ice storm ain't fun, neither is driving 17 miles for more gas. I once had a homelite monster which had to be refueled every 3-4 hours!!

This time however, the temp was over 100 during the day and was typically 90 at night. I didn't have the power to run any A/C units, couple of fans only. Being with a post menopausal female in that situation ain't fun....:-)

Also, historically, running a large upright freezer and side by side frig for 12 hours kept everything frozen and nice and cool. The key however is the ambient temp was around 70, NOT over 100. We didn't lose anything in either of them, however, the temp climbed higher than I liked in both. Being conservative, guess I'm just not comfortable letting a small engine run when everyone is asleep.

Adding to the fun and excitement was the fact that the county water supply system had no power to any of the wells, so they took out generators and left them running. Folks immediately stole them.... In phase two they took a generator out to a well, filled that tank, went to the next, filled that tank, etc. until they returned to the first one and started over. We have had a whole 5 PSI to try to water garden, flowers, etc. (crispy critters now).

What I've learned, the new "energy efficient" frig's, freezers, etc. don't use a lot of power, but in high ambient temp's they run almost continuously. Amusing side bar to this was that all the local TV and radio stations were urging folks to empty and throw out everything after 4 hours without power?

When I replace the generac, I'll probably go up to a 5KW so I can at least run one A/C unit. Refilling is still a concern to me. The "yolks on me" as many times in this and other forums I've "opined" that you should always buy bigger than you think you need, LT's, GT's, etc.

Couple of other amusing things. With the massive outage a lot of gas stations couldn't power their pumps, so gas sales were down, (ignoring the irritation folks had driving all over southern ohio trying to find gas) so, in the middle of all this, gas prices jumped thirty cents, then the following day another twenty five. My wife (an accountant) said, if your sales are down, you just charge more to satisfy your overhead and proftit margins. Now "everybody and their dog" is buying generators, I've attached a link to one that three neighbors have ordered. Made in China, one year warranty, not returnable if oil or gas is installed, but the price is right. Now, that's scary.

Just sharing some lessons learned, guess an old dog can be taught.


Here is a link that might be useful: 10KW (?) genset

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The price is right for a reason. It is cheaply built and may or may not last. What good is a warranty if there are no parts or service centers available? Remember, the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
Have a look at a permanently installed home stand by system. They run on natural gas or propane, your choice. The big advantage is instant response to a power failure 24/7 even if no one is home. Best to purchase from a local dealer who can come to your house for installation and service, buying on line will only lead to frustration later.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 3:35PM
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permanently installed home stand by system. those are usually 10KW or more and start out at 12 to 15 large. Most home owners can't afford that for what if situation comes along every 10 years. Most generators are used once or twice then they sit for years, most don't think about them till then need them and usually they won't run from setting or mice has chewed up all the wiring inside.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Guys, just sharing some lessons learned for some of you to perhaps think about before investing in a genset.

Yeah, a big, auto transfer, weekly self start, etc. etc. is the way to go if you have a ton of $$ My brother put in one of those, I think it was just under $4,000 (Generac) and we did the installation. So, if you got the $$ go for it.

Personally, since I bought this unit three years ago, this is the first time I've had to use it-remember, we didn't have a winter last year and the year before guess we were lucky. I do periodically start it, am rabid about stabil, etc. in the gas and keep it ready to rock and roll. Also, and most important, close the gas shut off and run it dry after every run.

Maybe the unit I mentioned that folks are buying around here would be OK for "occasional" use if proper steps are taken with the gas. I just found it amusing that it claims a 25% surge capacity over the steady state 8KW rating.

And, yes, propane or natural gas is preferable if you have it AND are willing to pay the additional $$ and provide an enclosure for it's permanent installation. For an occasional use, I think it's wise to just have something in the barn (properly maintained) you can wheel out and connect.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:29AM
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Your biggest problem is the 'post menapausal female'.
I've got one of those, and it's worse than any other
problem in the whole wide world. Peace be with you,
my brotha.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Thats why use solar panels like me. I have enuff panels to power my home without the cities power. But i also have an Lp generac generator as well.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 3:47AM
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Please forgive me all 4 i have not figured out how to post more than 1 pic at a time yet.
This is my very large, high quality battery bank using 2 volt cells. I have 96 cells that are connected in this series to make up my battery bank that stores the solar energy and powers all the loads in my home for up to 4 days after power loss. Each of my lead acid cells weighs over 400 pounds (Very big batteries). This bank can store over 1400 kW of electrical energy. And what made me do this is the area i live in has a tendency 2 lose power every time it storms. I got tired of sitting in the dark days on in waiting on my power to come back on. Now i have so many solar panels that the city just about cuts me a check. Of corse this setup was very expensive but it pays for itself in entergy bills saved.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 4:19AM
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Kubota, very impressive installation, would you share what the payout was in years for this? I've thought about solar or wind, but we only spend about $75/month on elec.



    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:48AM
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Very nice to know that the baby generac will hold up so well. That must have been a serious workout for it. I hope my 7K unit from costco would do as well. And yes, it will run one of my house air conditioners.

Interesting info Kubota. What worries me about a setup like yours besides the initial cost is the problem of replacement cost of the batteries. How long have you had this setup and do you have any idea when replacements would be expected?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:55AM
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I have no idea each battery has a 10 year warranty. I paid nearly $800 4 each 1 ill say $16Gs just 4 the batteries. I have Ben building on this since 2008 the company i bought these batts from said i may have 2 replace one about every 10 years with sole use of power everyday. But i have so many panels on my roof that during the day i only have 2 use 4 of them my wife says its overkill. When the city inspector came out they tried 2 git me to hook up my 3 neighbors because i have way more than i need. I draw enuff solar power im independant from city power. But i recently found out that their are bigger batteries than what i have these are 2v and i found out i can get 48v sealed batteries that are supposed 2 be way better and take up much less space. Over all i have invested somewhere in the neighborhood of $90G's i think. But that includes my entire setup my panels, batteries, the inverters ane the rest of the stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Solar equipment provider

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Kubota, Thanks for the response. Let's see, call the $75/mo I pay for elec an even hundred, so that's $1200 per year. Divide that into $90K and that's a 75 year payout. No, you said that your system would power three homes, so divide by 3 and it's now a 25 year payout.

You must be in a state which supports "private" generation. Last time I looked into it, 6-7 years ago, Ohio wasn't one of those. My elec. bill of $75 is broken down into all kinds of sub categories, "generation" is only 1/3 or $25, the rest is transmission and distribution and a lot of other crap. So, if I put in a system, I could get rid of the $25 but still have to pay the $50 for the privilege of being connected. You have to be connected if you're going to sell power to them. Also, as I recall, the T&D charge was based on how much power you used. So, if I'm generating and selling to them, they pay me, but at the same time, the more I sell them, the more they can charge me.... We just gotta get more lawyers in this country!!!! :-)

Don't get me wrong, I really admire and respect what you're doing. If I was younger and had the $$ I'd be doing it too. Also, it's been some time since I looked into it here, maybe with the "green" movement the Ohio PUC has changed some things.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Shoot i saved alot. My monthly electric bill was well over $600 a month nearly twice that in the winter. In my town (north little rock, Ar) the city taxes the crap outta everyone. Now with my setup they gitting every bit of $6 a month and thats strictly the cities recycle fee. I just about had to sue the city rite after i got my system installed cause the dumb meter guy kept reading my power tranfer meter. Mind you in the first 5 months my system stored roughly 6 megawatts a month before i cut it off from the city. Especially when i started getting $5 and $6000 electric bills.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 3:20AM
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OMG!!!! "My monthly electric bill was well over $600 a month nearly twice that in the winter."

I think I'm going to go out and kiss my electric meter!! :)

Thanks, you've given me something to be thankful for.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 7:30AM
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But the only reason my bill was so big is my home is 5000 sf 2 floors plus attic space and basement plus a 4000sf shop/office and garage that i use to store all my equipment i use for my lawn care company. Im sure my bill could have been much higher than what it was.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 12:31PM
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Anyways i had to hunt down this old electric bill from April of 2008 this was a small one. And is what made me decide to go solar.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Holy cow! That blows my mind that your bill is that much. I have 8300 laying hens on the farm with a 9 by 16 foot cooler that's kept at 45 degrees 24 hours a day and 16 3 foot barn fans running nonstop right now. I also have central air in the 2600 square foot house (granted, we keep it at 80 degrees) My bill will be around $750 this month. In the winter, it's around $300 a month...

I had considered putting up solar when the gov't was handing out money a couple years back, but didn't like the 25 year return-on-investment. That, and our higher altitude yields a lot less sun time.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 8:02PM
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Here in Arkansas weve ben setting record tri-digit temps for the last month (4 weeks straight above 100°) even with my air set on 80° all 8 of my air units to both buildings only shut off for about 3 out of every 24hrs. Even with my panels this is the 1st year ive gotten an electric bill in over 4 years since installing my system. Im getting ready to install a bigger power alternator that will supplement my existing setup.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:32PM
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