Whole house Generator options??

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by rantingredneck, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. rantingredneck

    rantingredneck ....glutton for punishment..... Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    OK, I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy having electricity. I enjoy it enough that I'd like to have a whole house generator installed. Pretend I know nothing (because on this, it wouldn't be wrong...). I have questions:

    1) Roughly how much generator do I need to run a 4200sqft two story house with 6.5 tons of HVAC (heat pumps) total? Is that even feasible?
    2) If the answer to one is either "you can't do that" or "You have to be Jeff Bezos to do that" how much would I need to run just the downstairs. 4 tons of HVAC lights, a couple TVs Fridge, Freezer, modem/router, well pump, stove... I'd be OK with shutting off the upstairs and dwelling downstairs only for a week or so worth of outage like after a bad hurricane or ice storm.

    3) I'm roughly planning about an 8 to 10k budget here. Too much? Too little? Just right?

    4) any recommendations for reputable electricians in the Alamance County area to do a turn key installation?
     
  2. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Do you have natural gas piped to your place?
    Because I don't think you want to try to rotate enough stored gasoline to run this operation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  3. BlackGun

    BlackGun Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Very expensive with heat pumps. To do the entire house you will need a commercial grade unit basically. You can accomplish a lot with multiple generators as well. The budget is low for the entire house needs for everything but remember not every thing is in demand at once and a generator with load shedding will help. I would limit the heat to ground level and and look at all lights and appliances operating. Well Pump or city water? Electric water heater or heaters as in multiple.

    Budget for comfort and sustainability for four weeks max. Heat, hot water, and range on gas lowers generator output requirements. This is why I like gas stuff. plus it last longer than a stinking heat pump.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  4. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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    In a former life I had a great deal of exposure to Very Large Data Center UPS and generator installations. Net: There is no free lunch, very deep pockets are required and even then its a over/under bet on cost versus the expense of being down. No business invests in this stuff based on the comfort of people. In fact, you'd probably be surprised how many businesses decide not to do anything at all.

    The system ( whatever it is) as a whole takes more than money, it takes labor to keep it up, test it and maintain it. You add more stuff, which adds more things to fail and wear out. Anything with diesel/gas has storage issues- permits, leaks, keeping fuel fresh, etc. UPS and starter Batteries go to crap and have to be replaced.

    And yes, even the "smart" stuff you add to keep power up and running ( detection and load transfer) can tank your power when nothing is wrong at all if they fail.

    Seen it all, but I keep my own footprint small, only run what I need and pocket the re$t.
     
  5. thrillhill

    thrillhill Super Moderator Staff Member Charter Life Member Sponsor

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    Most folks in your situation that do run whole house systems use propane.
     
  6. Qball

    Qball Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    This has been running my entire house since 3:00pm this afternoon and is still purring along at 1800 rpm. 25kw Ford 2.5L running on a permanent Piedmont Natural Gas connection with an Eaton Cutler Hammer automatic transfer switch.

    My house is around 5500 - 6000 square feet. I have two large Trane units for HVAC.

    However, with regards to cost, our house was custom built and the generator was installed, piped, and wired during the construction with the generator being a forethought. I'm not an expert but I think it gets more expensive if the generator is installed after the house is built and the generator is an afterthought.

    Here's ours:

    IMG_20180911_185659634.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  7. BlackGun

    BlackGun Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I take it you have no natural gas available seeing you have heat pumps. That means your going to need piping and a large tank.
     
  8. BlackGun

    BlackGun Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    @Qball and @fieldgrade live in castles. There is no budget for castles.
     
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  9. rantingredneck

    rantingredneck ....glutton for punishment..... Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Yep, this would be a propane install. Plenty of room for a tank
     
  10. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    2300 feet now.
    I happily sold the last place last year. And it only needed 3.5 tons of HVAC (I had 4). Walk out (flooding) basement made for a lot of space under roof, but it didn't require a lot of heat/ac, and I had a gas line for heat and hot water.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  11. BlackGun

    BlackGun Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Sorry I meant @rantingredneck.
     
  12. cold1

    cold1 Member

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    If possible install some form of gas heat and don't use the heat pump for heating when on generator. That will lower the electrical need during winter outages.

    A.C. is not a huge drain
     
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  13. rantingredneck

    rantingredneck ....glutton for punishment..... Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I could honestly get by with our gas logs on the ground floor in the winter. They put out serious heat
     
  14. Silver_Bullet

    Silver_Bullet Rogue One Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    http://www.generac.com/all-products/generators/home-backup-generators#?cat=6&cat=214&cat=217&cat=249

    2 22kw generators and at least x2 200lbs propane tanks for all of it. It’ll run maybe a few days or so and it’ll be expensive power. Just downstairs you could get away with one, or one would work for the entire house if you are careful with what you run. That HVAC is just going to take a lot of amp to start.

    I can run most my house on a 12kw portable, just not everything at once, but I’m in a 1456 with garage, not a Castle :D

    I used a 6500 during Florence, trying to make the gas last longer, did without ac, but ran everything else like 2 freezers, fridge, lights, pc, tv, and fan. It was cloudy and cool all those days. I’d of had to run the 1200o if the sun would have came out. It would’ve costed also.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  15. Scsmith42

    Scsmith42 Member Benefactor Charter Life Member Supporting Member

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    Off the top of my head, you will need the following.

    Genset in the 25kw range to run the entire place.
    Automatic Transfer switch matched to your incoming power (either 200A or 400A)
    You will want a disconnect located in-between the ATS and the meter, sized at either 200A or 400A depending upon your power.

    For fuel tanks, at 25KW you will probably consume around 1 gallon per hour per 5KW. So if you're pulling 15KW on average of your 25KW max, you'll be looking at around 3 gallons per hour of fuel consumption, or 75 gallons per day of propane. A 1000 gallon propane tank is usually only filled to 750 gallons, which would be around 10 days of operating at 1/2 load. You can get burried 1000 gallon tanks from your propane supplier.

    Again, this is off the top of my head. The actual fuel consumption number may be slightly different.
     
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  16. KnotRight

    KnotRight Active Member Charter Member Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    I had one installed in December 2017. To begin with, my house only has a 200-amp service. The house is 3,800 sq. feet on 2 levels. There is a separate AC unit for each floor. We do have nature gas for heat, hot water and a outside gas grill. Per a couple electricians, I am only using maybe 135 to 140 amps. The problem that I had was my gas meter is on one side of the house and the panel is on the other side and no easy way to run the wire through the attic so we decided to dig a trench around the house.
    Nobody lives upstairs (kids are gone) so we decided to get a Generac 16 KW. It will run the bottom of the house but ran into a problem with the Generac panel. They was not enough breakers to run everything. So we elected not to power the range and oven since we have the gas grill and micro-wave.
    The cost was right about $8,000 but that included an extra $1,000 to run the wire. After all said and done, I wish I went with the 22 KW for and extra $1,200 and the whole house would be done.
    BTW, if you have nature gas, make sure your gas meter is big enough to handle the generator. We had to get a larger one but there was no cost.
     
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  17. NCFubar

    NCFubar Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how often and long your power outage is. I will say for your home I’d at least go with the medium duty inline 4 water cooled engine type rather than the twin cylinder air cooled engine. The inline 4 handles the job easier and a little quieter. Propane is slighty more umph to it when running an engine but if you think you’ll be more reliant on a generator, say rural power co-op, a diesel generator is more fuel efficient and is cheaper ... my Uncle’s diesel Generac in in mountains runs about 4-5 days on the 100 gallon internal tank and he has another 250 gallon auxiliary tank which is ag diesel (no road tax) and filled by the local distributor when called.
     
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  18. ncav8tor

    ncav8tor Lifetime Charter Member Charter Life Member

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    Excellent thread!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  19. 346ci

    346ci New Member

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    I've been looking at getting a stand by also. The diesels are twice the costs of the NG/LP motors, while diesel is much more fuel efficient you are going to pay for it.

    This is the one I'm looking at, comes with the transfer switch; https://www.norwall.com/products/Cu...mp-SE-Rated-Automatic-Transfer-Switch-RS20AC/
     
  20. Burt Gummer

    Burt Gummer Comfortably Numb Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Buy and old 50hp tractor and get a PTO driven generator. Get one big enough and you can run the neighbors house also
     
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  21. jimmyjames8

    jimmyjames8 Active Member Supporting Member

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    2700 sqft and I got 2 quotes recently after contacting 3 authorized Generac installers, $12K for 22KW genny and xfr switch installed and thats for NG powered. I can buy the genny and the switch for half that. Guess I will have to do without till the installers run out of work.
     
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  22. 12151791

    12151791 [This Space is Available for Rent] Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    that's where I am too - i will wait until the hurricane season is over by a month before starting the request for quotes.
     
  23. Butter

    Butter CEO of eating brisket Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I have a 20k Generac running off a 325 propane tank that was installed when I built my house. For some reason Im thinking it was around $6-7k for the install
     
  24. Scsmith42

    Scsmith42 Member Benefactor Charter Life Member Supporting Member

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    That’s a nice looking package, at a good price. Cummins bought out Onan about 10 years back.
     
  25. Grim

    Grim Member

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    We have them at our business and they're HIGHLY problematic and almost never work the way you would want them to.
     
  26. jim borzumato

    jim borzumato New Member

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    we built a new home in 2017, i had the breaker box, ng connection, cement pad poured on the
    same side of the garage. we installed a 16w generac. total cost for all $7125. during florence
    it ran for 20 hrs. we rstimate it cost $24 for ng.

    jim
     
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  27. Ikarus1

    Ikarus1 Avtomat Krishna-kov

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    It would be easier to reduce the amount of wattage required than to provide enough to run an entire 2500sq ft home. Might want to think about a multi-source solution ie: solar, led lighting, multivoltage well pumps, etc.
     
  28. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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    Pretty good numbers/ recommendations. Also pay attention to where you site the thing. Installers always want to put it where it easiest for them, but if the noise of that sucker is right under your bedroom window the joy of voltage quickly fades !

    Observation: I have looked at a fair number of "off the grid properties" ( tire kicking but maybe one day...) where there was a cabin and 30-40 acres. Almost all of them used Solar or Wind with batteries, propane, wood and a portable genny. Some of these places were quite large cabins, one was 2000+ sq ft. Not one had a real substantial permanent generator install. None. Nada. Zilch. And these are places where people live from 6-8 months a year up to year round !

    I'd have to ease into that lifestyle-
     
  29. Qball

    Qball Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    My 25kw is still running since 3:00pm yesterday. The power is still out. It may be running through the weekend.

    When I get my next Piedmont Natural Gas statement from the meter reading during this period, I'll post the amount on here in this thread for informational purposes.
     
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  30. JohnFreeman

    JohnFreeman You can reach 113, but you can never leave! Benefactor Charter Life Member Supporting Member

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    Such are the reasons that centralized power generation generally makes $en$e . Commercially generated electricity is a real bargain.

    Gen's are really good for backup, but I'd certainly not want to have to pay to power a whole house... Mr Q, it will be interesting to see the hit to the gas bill.

    Sure is nice to have electricity...
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
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  31. Qball

    Qball Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I'll post two separate statement amounts. One the month before this storm, and the one after.

    This generator ran for two weeks non-stop back around 2006 or so after a bad ice storm.

    Obviously the gas bill went up. But not as much as you would think. We don't live in the house as we normally do when there's not an outage.

    Even though it can run the whole house, we still like to only keep essential things on and keep as much stuff off as possible so the generator won't be under a heavy load the entire time.

    But I'll post the two back-to-back statement amounts as an FYI.
     
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  32. Lafayette Gregory

    Lafayette Gregory Les-ter not Ly-Chester

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    You are talking about the whole house and doing so with out to much expense. Hmmm...... How about deciding just what ya need to get by for two weeks. Do ya need heat? maybe install a wood stove or a more convenient pellet stove, or even gas logs for heat in the winter. Do ya really need air conditioning in the event of a disaster? Maybe well placed fans will do the job? With the elimination of running the full HVAC off the generator, you can drastically reduce the cost of setup of a good generator. All that's left is lights and refrigerator/freezer.
     
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  33. Jake

    Jake Happy to be here

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    I can't recall my HVA
    My house is about the same size as yours. Two levels, with one mostly below ground. Two HVAC units, electric water heater.

    I have a 20kW Briggs & Stratton natural gas powered generator, air cooled. It cost $8,200 installed in 2012. That includes the transfer switch and smart breakers that roll power between the largest hVAC, the water heater, and the range. It kicks in automatically and self tests weekly.

    I have been on generator power the last 30 hours, and aside from the low rumble, I can't tell I am not on Duke Energy.
     
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  34. Qball

    Qball Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Nope. You don't need any of that stuff. I think I paid around 9k for this generator. When we built our house, before the concrete pad was poured, the electrical contractor ran the plumbing for the wiring under ground and the plumbing contractor ran the gas line for the generator as well. The cost of doing so was negligible.

    About 6 or 7 years ago, we had a bad electrical storm on a very hot and humid night. Transformers were blowing all around.

    I remember it was around 90 degrees at midnight with very high humidity,
    but not inside my house. That outage lasted several days.

    Nope. No one needs everything in their house wired to a whole house generator. Not at all. But if you can do it, then why not?
     
  35. DK65

    DK65 Happy to be here

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    Has anybody done a DIY kit just to run your furnace? I am looking to get a small, somewhat portable generator. I am debating between a transfer switch and a “hack” kit of a disconnect on the furnace.

    We can deal with no lights and no TV, but no heat would be a problem. We have city water and gas heat.
     
  36. bigfelipe

    bigfelipe TSA Director Charter Life Member

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    Jesus... This thread makes me love my tiny house even more. I can run the whole house including the HVAC with a 2000watt Honda... $900 all in and maybe $10 in gas per day...
     
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  37. KnotRight

    KnotRight Active Member Charter Member Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    I can live being cold (really does not get very cold in Savannah) and not often have power outages in the winter. But in 90+ degree temps with heat index above 100, I will pay the extra to cool the house. I had a gas 5500 generator that did the lights, fans, CPAP, refrigerator and freezers but had to have a bunch of gas on hand.
     
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  38. lowspeed

    lowspeed Happy to be here

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    Just throwing this out there. Several years ago before I sold my farm, I bought two diesel generators from Delk's in Thomasville. Both were military surplus and ran great. One was a 100kw unit powered by a Detroit diesel, and the other was a 65kw diesel unit. If you're considering using diesel power, it might pay you to check into military surplus.
     
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  39. BASIL

    BASIL Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Our power was out from 3pm Fri till early this am. I have a 10KW propane duel fuel
    that I bought last year black Friday sale for $500. It will do most but not all of my house.
    1,800 sq ft. I have to switch off the water heater while taking a shower for the well pump.
    Then I turn it back on for a bit to heat up the water. I would like to have a true standby.
     
  40. jim borzumato

    jim borzumato New Member

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    its all a preference, its a free country. we all ng except for the a/c and lights. we have city water and sewer, why not be comfortable.

    jim
     

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