Author Topic: Any generator advice from those affected by the East Coast Power Outage?  (Read 5881 times)

Offline gringogigante

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I've been hearing a lot of the massive power outage that the storms knocked out for a while (Some are still out, I hear). Are there any SP members that were affected and have advice about generators that performed well or did not?

I guess for that matter, is there anyone that has been seriously affected by a prolonged power outage have any practical advice about generators?

Chris

Offline cmxterra

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First rule: Have some kind of generator

Second rule: Have fuel for said generator


Offline Klonus

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Generac is a great brand. But I should say I'm a bit biased since my other half works for them lol.

Offline TexasGirl

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Chris,

During hurricane Ike my power was out for 13 days, so I stayed with friends in the neighborhood that had a Generac natural gas whole house generator.  We fed it a pint of oil each day, and it ran 7 days straight.  Would have been nice if it would have run longer.  The service people that came said those were never intended to even run a whole week, and generally will need service after 100 hours run time.

My ex and I owned a Generac 13kw whole house propane generator for about 15 years.   

I have worked with many commercial generators in data center and emergency communications applications.  Most have been Onan's.  The Generac house units run at high RPM (~3500) while the Onan's all ran at half that speed.  The 300 kw Onan where I worked trucked on without a hitch during Ike and never needed a drop of oil.  Put a good dent in our 3,000 gal of stored diesel, though!

My next fixed generator purchase would be an Onan, hands down.  That being said, I have a Honda EU 2000i inverter type, and a Robbins Subaru 3.5kw portable (paid $150 for it like new).  Both of those are great for their intended purposes.

So basically, estimate what your requirements will be and then find a generator that will meet those requirements. 

~TG

Offline gringogigante

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Chris,

During hurricane Ike my power was out for 13 days, so I stayed with friends in the neighborhood that had a Generac natural gas whole house generator.  We fed it a pint of oil each day, and it ran 7 days straight.  Would have been nice if it would have run longer.  The service people that came said those were never intended to even run a whole week, and generally will need service after 100 hours run time.

My ex and I owned a Generac 13kw whole house propane generator for about 15 years.   


Great advice. Did you and your ex ever have to use your 13kw Generac? If so, how did it run? I'm trying to find out unit was just your neighbor's bad Generac or if y'all ha problems too?

I'll be going NG on mine as I have a NG line running to the back of the house that the previous owner wisely put in. Then maybe a small propane and diesel portable generator as well.


Offline Rob_Cleveland

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The best advice anyone ever gave me was to use your car as a generator in a short-term emergency. It won't run your refrigerator, it wont run your air conditioner, it won't run your electric heater, but it will provide you with light and communication and will long outlast the short-term disaster. You can pick up a little 750 watt inverter capable of running some CF or LED lights, maybe a TV, and a radio for $30 in some cases. With that and a $1 power strip, a $5 extension cord, and the things you already have you will be better off than the guy with a $200 generator that runs out of gas in two hours! You use high powered appliances with your car running at idle and use your car's battery for an adequate amount of light for cooking or reading.  It will also run a electric blanket to keep you warm. When the inverter starts screaming, start your car! A useful add-on would be a $100 deep cycle marine battery and a $10 trickle-charger kept in your home for the same purpose. Thank you Steve Harris!
I live in an apartment. When the power goes out, I run my vacuum cleaner! I watch TV! My lights are the only ones on! Why? To start conversations with my neighbors on emergency preparedness and how it relates to them. Be the example! (and have a backup plan)

Offline TexasGirl

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Chris,

Ours ran for three occasions for a couple of hours each, but never for an extended outage.  These were mainly "squirrel in the transformer" type disruptions.  We did have one full day that the power was out overnight, but the Generac failed to start.  It was (and still is) set to exercise once a week, but apparently that was the week the battery decided to croak.  They may have corrected this problem by now, but the bottom pan (frame) of the Generac began to rust out in the first year.  We had found out this was a typical problem with units from the 90's. 

I would suggest researching that, as well as a slower speed, longer running model.  You may do better talking to the actual service crew staff instead of sales people or Internet reviews. 

Although their forte for long-runs has been diesel, I'd still recommend an Onan.  I know someone who picked up a very low hours RV (propane) one for a song, and uses it in a permanent installation for the house.  It's not as big (3.5 kw I believe) but it runs their critical items, they also added an automatic start/changeover relay kit, so it functions just like the big units.  The smaller unit is more frugal on fuel, and very quiet, too.  A whole-house does great with a significant load on it, but wastes a lot of fuel in a low-load/no-load condition.  That armature has to spin at full RPM whether loaded or not.

Also, get out and listen to some installed units during their exercise times, or in loaded conditions to get a feel for what you would be buying.  Keep in mind that there is a LOT of noise with the high RPM units, they tend to sound like a riding lawnmower on steroids.

~TG

Offline LdMorgan

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Longevity should be the first requirement for an emergency generator.

After that, fuel economy and a very good muffler.

Even in a short-term emergency there will be people out stealing generators on Day One. Sound will draw them.

A small generator can be anchored pretty reliably with two 4' ground anchors, a good lock, and a few feet of strategically looped logging chain.

The chain secures the generator and then attaches to the anchors. Once attached, neither ground anchor can be unscrewed to get it out of the ground.

Nobody will be casually tossing that baby into the back of a pickup truck at 3AM.

Tools would get it loose eventually, of course, but that's easily handled by sleeping light and pointing a large shotgun.

Anyone that has an emergency generator should set it up and test it before it's really needed. That makes sure it will actually work, and that you'll know how to make it work when you need to.

Offline Oil Lady

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I'd like to make a motion that this thread be set as a "sticky" thread.

Anyone wanna second that motion?

Thox Spuddy

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Generac is a great brand. But I should say I'm a bit biased since my other half works for them lol.

I see a Generac inverter for a very competitive price. How does it compare to Honda? Yamaha? According to whatever info your insider could provide?

Offline mangyhyena

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The best advice anyone ever gave me was to use your car as a generator in a short-term emergency. It won't run your refrigerator, it wont run your air conditioner, it won't run your electric heater, but it will provide you with light and communication and will long outlast the short-term disaster. You can pick up a little 750 watt inverter capable of running some CF or LED lights, maybe a TV, and a radio for $30 in some cases. With that and a $1 power strip, a $5 extension cord, and the things you already have you will be better off than the guy with a $200 generator that runs out of gas in two hours! You use high powered appliances with your car running at idle and use your car's battery for an adequate amount of light for cooking or reading.  It will also run a electric blanket to keep you warm. When the inverter starts screaming, start your car! A useful add-on would be a $100 deep cycle marine battery and a $10 trickle-charger kept in your home for the same purpose. Thank you Steve Harris!
I live in an apartment. When the power goes out, I run my vacuum cleaner! I watch TV! My lights are the only ones on! Why? To start conversations with my neighbors on emrgency preparedness and how it relates to them. Be the example! (and have a backup plan)

Seems like good advice to me.  That should provide a few comforts without investing in a generator.

I believe a battery bank can be charged from a running vehicle's engine, so that might be something to look into.  A running vehicle shouldn't attract as much attention as a running generator during a power outage.  And, using it to charge a battery bank wouldn't require running the engine 24/7.  Would probably use more fuel than a generator, but that might be offset by the money saved on the purchase of a generator.

I'm looking to build the icy ball, with help from someone with HVAC experience, in an attempt to side step the electric requirement for refrigeration during a prolonged power outage.

Just fooling around with potential alternatives.