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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know a lot of you have had some hard earned experience with portable generators & I wanted to ask some questions:

I have a 4 bedroom 2300 ft^2 house with an areobic septic system. City water, no water well
What size generator is needed for

1) Bare minimum use (1 fridge, 1 freezer, small window AC, and occasional septic)?

2) What size unit for full house "normal living" useage?

I would like to keep them portable (i.e: can move them on wheels without a crane) I don't have a clue as what wattages would be needed, but I need to be looking for something "just in case".

Thanx for any comments!
 

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1) 3.5 or 5KW
2) 20KW or more depending on what you need to run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Too Tall. That gives me something to work with. I just want to make sure I have enough capacity!
 

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DS1262
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Your post does not contain enough info to determine what you need. First, you need to decide what all you are going to power. Then look at the data plate on every item to determine it's power consumption. Add these up and it should total not more than 75% of the capacity of your generator. UL requires the data plates on all appliances to have the voltage and current (amperage) use of the item. To get the wattage, simply muliply volts times amps and that equals watts. If you have 50, 100 watt light bulbs, you have used up a 5000 watt generator. Also remember that the starting current for appliances is much higher than the run current. Keep that in mind when sizing your generator. You may have enough power capacity to run it, but it won't help since you can't start it. If you overload your generator, it may continue to run, but produce lower voltage. Motors such as those in refrigerators, freezers etc. will quickly overheat and burn up on low voltage. So if you get a cheap genset, it could prove very costly in the long haul. Also , if your house is total electric, make sure that Momma doesn't crank up that 10kw range at the same time that 10kw hot water heater is operating or your 20kw genset is toast.
 

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Amp Clamp

Go and buy an amp clamp turn on everything that you want to
run and check the amps on each leg of your breaker box. Volts X Amps = Watts if you don't know how to do this find a friend that does or hire an electrician. It's probably easier than trying to add up all the various wattages in your house.

Randy
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the help guys, this gives me something to start with. Time to pull out the sharp pencil & go to work.

This type of info is just what I needed!

PDS
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Tortuga, we may be looking @ this one. It's nice to know that the 3500 was a little small. I saw your post about the whole house system. That is a NICE set up! Un fortunatly, with my wife & son in college, that may be a little much, but we will see . . . .
 

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The amount of generator you want to be able to run, really depends upon your fuel source. For "whole house" systems, with available fuel, figure about $5 to $6 per hour at 20-25KW. My EU2000 would run my refrigerator, freezer and septic pump, and used about 6 gallons of gas per day. The closer you run a generator to full capacity, the better is does, generally speaking. Running one at half load or less creates more problems than it solves. The idea of having 2 of them, makes good sense. One big one, and one little one, and at least you have light to sleep by at night.
 

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I used a 5500 watt Genset for 13 days and it had no problems with my fridge, window unit (6500 BTU) all of the cieling fans and 1 each at a time: microwave or dishwasher or washing machine or coffee maker.

I added all of the amps of the "critical equipment" and came up with about 2800 watts.

I will be upgrading to a 17-25kw genset in the very near future, if for no other reason to avoid the never ending refuel process.

I mainlined my genset into the house and that in-itself made live livable. Just no central A/C.


Remember, with Ike we were VERY lucky with the weather. Just imagine 100F and 95% humidity had this happened 1 month earlier.
 

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Elder Angler
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Reliance Controls makes a variety of manual transfer boxes that you ought to look at. Simple enough to wire in your self or you can pay to have them wired.

http://www.reliancecontrols.com/
 

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DS1262
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One other thing to consider when looking at gensets is the fuel source. Gasoline and diesel have a "shelf life". Propane or LP gas does not. A genset is used so seldom that a gasoline or diesel engine could have problems with the fuel getting old or clogging fuel systems. With LP gas, you can hook it up to a tank and forget it and it will be there ready to go years down the road. However, all backup gensets should be exercised monthy under load.
 

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One thing I didn't see anyone mention was the fact the motors & esp. compressors have considerable current draw during start-up. That's why generators have two ratings... running & starting. If you don't consider the start-up of your major appliances (a/c, refrigerator, freezer, etc.) you will have wasted your efforts.

Electric dryers have two different loads (well three sorta). The heater & the motor (which will have different starting & running currents).

Consider all of these when sizing your generator.
 

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Cheaper to stay in a hotel at $100 a night every 10 years than storage and keep up of the equipment .

1) 4000watt to 3500 watt

2) natural gas for fuel and hooked up to your fuse box 15kwatt and up
 

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Set up a 4 prong 240/120v 30 amp socket with transfer switch in a good location. Buy a good RV extension cord and back-feed your house with a maximum of a 6500 watt generator. Turn off your central AC breakers, electric stove and oven and your good to go. The portable generator is easy to store and can be used at other locations.

 

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4500 sq ft house - but all that matters is what you are running. I was running a honda 3500 watt and that would power 1 fridge, 1 small freezer, at small TV, 8 lights, and a portable A/C for the bedroom at night after the lights were off. When the well pump would come on I needed to disconnect the fridge and the freezer. Went out and bought a 5000 with 6800 surge and had no problems after that.

I added several circuits for ceiling fans after that and 52in LCD TV. You could see a little dimming when the well pump would kick in, but worked fine. I would keep the aerobic off and run the sprinkler pump once a day to maintain a good level in the gray water tank.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have purchased a larger unit and not worried about the septic but you do need to figure your fuel use. That 3500 honda was using 10-15 gal/day vs the 20-25 gal/day for the 5000. By the way, that old honda is probably over twenty five years old. I bought it used almost twenty years ago and have run the h*** out of it with nothing more that oil changes and one carb rebuild. Buy a good unit and it will pay for itself in the long run.
 
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