Advice for home generator systems – international association of penturners electricity in the body


We have natural gas piped to the gas bubble disease house for space heating, water heating, and a gas range. Loss of electric power means that we also lose our furnace and water heater because they need electricity for their controls. Fortunately, we have a gas fireplace that will provide enough heat to keep the house from freezing up (which is a major concern – we have serious winters).

1. A gasoline-powered generator that has to be set up when needed doesn’t make sense. In the event of a real, prolonged power outage, nearby gas stations probably also would not have power, so it would be difficult to impossible to find a supply of gasoline. So if we do a generator, it will be a permanent installation with a natural-gas engine and with an automatic transfer switch. I know that generators are available that can use propane, but I’m not aware of any that use heating oil.

2. I’m an engineer with many years of experience in planning power systems – both at grid level and in industrial applications. Based on that experience, I know that the sizing of an emergency generator is usually related more to the inrush of the loads that must be served than it is to the total demand of the loads. That is, the generator must be sized to support starting of the largest motor in the home. In our case, that’s the grinder pump. The general rule of thumb is that the generator rating in kw should be 5-6 times the horsepower rating of that largest motor. On that basis, the smallest generator that makes sense for us is 5kW.

3. By code (and for safety reasons), a generator must be located outside the home, and its exhaust must be 10′ away from any windows and from air intakes for furnaces. I’m pretty sure my wife would not be happy with a generator right outside our bedroom (they are relatively gas exchange in the lungs quiet, but not silent). The ideal generator location is close to the electrical service panel. And in most jurisdictions, there are likely to be limits on the minimum distance between a generator installation and the property line. These constraints present us with some challenges, but they are surmountable (but would increase the installation cost).

Our house is in a residential subdivision in a rural area about 5 miles away from the distribution substation, and both the local distribution and the house drop are underground. However, the feeder from electricity deregulation in california the substation is overhead, and continues on through many miles of farm land. Our exposure to local interruptions is based almost entirely on the weather exposure of that overhead feeder. In addition, however, we also experience very occasional grid level events (ie, events originating behind that distribution substation). We typically experience 5-6 interruptions per year; most are very brief and the only negative consequence is that we may have to wait 15 minutes or so for the TV box to reboot. In the 15 years we have been in our home, we have had two prolonged outages where a generator would have been useful – one that lasted overnight, and one that lasted two days. Having said that, I have to also note that the one prolonged outage was 12 years ago, and since then the local utility has reinforced their distribution service in our area. So there has been improvement in both the frequency and duration of interruptions.

My electricity is stored in Hupp solar batteries. I have twelve of them (24v system) and they come in their own metal case and weigh in at around 200lbs each electricity jokes puns battery. On a normal charge I can get 36 hours of electricity. I have all the modern appliances that most homeowners have except, I don’t have a microwave or electric coffee pot, way too much amperage draw. An electrician could easily set up a system like this that would allow you to store your electricity in the batteries so that when you needed the power you’d have it. If your power goes out for an extended period of time then you just run the back up generator, charge the batteries and your good to go. Now the expense part. The generator cost will be in the neighborhood of $10,000.00. The batteries run, for all 12, around $7,000.00+ but these are the expensive ones that you’ll never have to replace in your lifetime. There are less expensive batteries on the market that you can check out. The inverter and other parts aren’t that expensive but I’m thinking you could get a very reliable system that would run gas and supply shreveport everything in your house, and I mean everything, for probably around $25,000.00 or less. I know, sticker shock, but you’d never be without power again. The system I have includes solar panels and some other extras but I’ve only had one gas 10 ethanol incident with my system and it was easily fixed. The other nice thing about it is that it’s a value adder to your home value and if you ever decide to leave, you can pack it up and take it with you. And you might be eligible for federal or state alternative energy credits. I did get some back on my taxes but can’t remember how much. As for noise, I have an exhaust system that is very quiet and can hardly be heard, I keep the generator in an insulated shed.

Almost forgot. I have three non-electric propane heaters for the second bedroom, laundry room and my shop. I also have an on-demand hot water system so no water heater. My propane stove uses batteries to ignite the gas for the stove, no matches needed. I heat the main part of the cabin with wood that I get off my own property. I use just at 400 gallons a year of propane.