Portable Generators

Discussion in 'Camp Wordforge' started by Ancalagon, May 26, 2014.

  1. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    A friend of mine got a fully assembled trailer from harbor freight on one of their deals for like$275. Honestly, there are some great deals even if the quality is dodgy.
  2. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Yeah, my general policy is to buy Harbor Freight first, if it breaks, take it back and get a new one, if it breaks again I know that a) I'm using it enough to justify buying high quality and b) high quality is needed for this tool.

    I *think* I've saved quite a bit this way.

    However for something like a generator, I'm gonna go with a product a bit more proven.
  3. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    As for the Wen, they came back and I got a new one. Work on the van and other commitments has kept me from breaking it in. Hopefully this weekend.
  4. mburtonk

    mburtonk mburtonkulous

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    This is how my dad always hooked ours up, IIRC. Vermont snowstorms were a lot worse when I was growing up.
  5. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    I was at Harbor Freight last weekend and they had signs claiming their Predator brand got better quality marks than Honda's generators. I have no idea how they determined this or if it is even true.
  6. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    no power outages this season. Couple in the area but our lights just flickered. Maybe a thunderstorm will knock down some trees in the warmer months.

    Really hard to rationalize the expense if you don't have another purpose for the thing.

    Now to get to work on zombie fortifications. I might need a metal detector to find the bomb shelter buried out back.
  7. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    I've been thinking about getting a not so portable generator that runs off of propane. My fireplace is one of those nice looking fake ones that runs off LP anyway.
  8. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    My parents lived near Sherrills Ford on Lake Norman. They'd lose power for a week at a time. With electric heat and a well it meant they'd hole up in a hotel.

    Do you have a propane furnace? A large generator would run a heat-pump and maybe resistant aux heat but you're talking a $6,000 generator. A gas furnace only needs about 800 watts to start and the 100watts to run while burning gas.
  9. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    I've got a heat pump. I figured I'd be buying a $5k+ generator.
  10. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    ooooooo. generator envy. Update us as you go down that rabbit hole. Please.
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  11. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    What do you think of Northern Tool's calculator for figuring out what kind of generator you need?

    I didn't see a Heat Pump listed, but I figured it's the same as Central air. It told me I only need 11 kW Surge and 10 kW rated. If that's the case, I could go with this one and it's less than $5K.
  12. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    how many tons is your A/C? (or how many square feet is your house). 1500 sq ft requires 3 ton A/C in our part of the country. That's 36,000 BTUs. The chart talks about 10,000 BTUs.

    Searching the internet 3 tons pulls about 14Amps at 240 volts. 14A*240V=3.3KW constant rate. Their estimator looks ok except calling central A/C 10,000 BTUs. That 20KW generator ought to cover you, just be careful not to run A/C, stove, and dryer at the same time. Less than 5% harmonic distortion should be ok for TVs, computers, etc.

    Auxiliary resistant heat will use more watts than the heat-pump. If you ever use it that's another thing to consider.

    Consider installation costs. I'd guess about $1,500 for the pad, gas plumbing, and electrical, but that's a swag. If you're handy under $500 ought to get you everything you need to install it.

    Fuel consumption at half load is 2.3 gal/hr propane. Full load 3.6 gal/hr.
  13. mburtonk

    mburtonk mburtonkulous

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    We just moved this weekend. Looks like the new house has a line cutoff and a big plug to hook up to a generator. Will investigate further...

    In other good news, wood fireplace, so we can get by without power or natural gas if I stock up some wood.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  14. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    I don't know how many tons my AC is, but my house is 2600 square feet.
  15. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Do you have 1 or 2 A/C units (upstairs, downstairs)? 2 starting at the sametime may exceed 20kw surge. You just have to manage it so they don't start at the same time (turn off one at the thermostat) as the normal operating power requirement is within 20KW with both running.

    Also, check the manufacturer's data plate on the outside unit(s) for normal and peak power requirements (probably in amps).
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  16. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    I've just got the one. The upstairs is unfinished.
  17. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    It's probably a 3 ton A/C. Depending on how well it's insulated that would be enough. With just one A/C unit 20KW is plenty.

    If it goes below freezing and you use aux-heat, that's resistant heat strips (old fashioned electric heat). Those can use 8-10KW. The inside air handler would have these installed and may give some indication how many watts are installed. Either way 20KW should be plenty in a generator.
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  18. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Harbor Freight has their version of the Wen (red case instead of yellow) on sale for $429 this month if anyone is interested.

    Screenshot_2017-07-01-12-00-36.png
  19. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    I dragged mine out (generator) over the weekend to test it.

    Took about 5 pulls (generator) and then started (after putting in a quart of gas). It probably starts easier on a full tank.

    Shut off the house power at the main breaker. Shut off the single circuit that this ties into to isolate it from the rest of the panel. Connected via extension to the inlet plug I put on the side of the house. Set the generator on eco mode.

    Lights on the single circuit (happily it meanders all through this 50s ranch) were on. Any electronics worked without a fuss. I turned on the microwave (also on this circuit). It ran without a fuss; I could hear the generator speed up to full throttle though. It ran on low throttle for the rest of the time.

    Let it warm up and then shut everything down in the reverse order. Up ended the thing to dump the gasoline into a container. Ran it until it stopped (about another 10 minutes on what was left in the carb and bottom of the tank). Changed the oil. Dumped the 5 gallon tank I reserved for it in the car and refilled with fresh gas plus stabilizer.

    The microwave pulls about 1,000 watts and there was plenty of power for this and miscellaneous lights, ceiling fans and devices around the house. Shouldn't have any trouble running the fridge, freezer, furnace fan, but not all at the same time.

    Just in time for Irma. (realistically it won't see any use until the next bad ice storm, and maybe not then)
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  20. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    yay. Power went out at 10pm last night.

    Like Stephen King wrote the weather--complete silence, no lights outside, except the booming of trees exploding and flashing arcs as they touched off power lines.

    The silly WEN generator worked better than I expected.

    Turned off main circuit breaker to street. Isolated one circuit that wanders through the house (50's wiring) by turning it off, and switching on the connection to the outside power inlet. Filled it with gas. Pulled 5 times and it started and ran evenly. Set "eco" mode and it idled down. Plugged in the extension to the outside house inlet. And there was light, and it was good.

    Ran an extension from the inside half of the inlet to the pig-tail I'd wired to the furnace with its own selector (main/auxiliary power). Furnace fired and blew warm air. And it was good.

    Rerouted power to the fridge. Lights dimmed for half a second, generator revved up and the fridge purred as normal. Cracked open a cold one, and it was good.

    By morning Marietta Power and Water had restored service. Comcast's cable was draped over the neighbor's car; I wrapped it around a tree trunk to get it off the car and road. Marietta Power guy showed up (neighbors had called about a power line down on their car (oh no!!)). We laughed about it. Comcast apparently left enough slack in a coil to avoid snapping the line. No internet outage; and it was good.

    Surprisingly, after running for 8 hours the WEN still had half a tank left (per the gauge). Probably burned more than half, but there was still plenty left in the tank.

    IMG_20171209_092105915.jpg IMG_20171209_092052661.jpg
    IMG_20171209_113609138.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  21. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    Until Dec 10th they have the Predator 4000 on sale for $289. 4000 starting watts, 3200 running watts, 6.5 hp, 212 CC motor. It even comes mounted in a rolling dolly cage. It is on their website now.

    I believe they also have a 25% off online coupon for online purchases. That would bring the cost down to just $216.75.
  22. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    The problem with the non-inverting type generators is they have to run full throttle (3,600 RPM) all the time to maintain the correct 60 cycle AC frequency and even then there is more variance than is healthy for electronics. As such they burn a lot of gas and make a lot of noise. They're less expensive to buy.

    Inverter type generators convert DC to AC electronically internally so the gasoline motor can run at any RPM. Typically they have automatic throttles that reduce the engine speed when load is less. Running the fridge and furnace periodically the generator was idling most of the time. I started it at 10pm and checked it at 6am; it had burned less than a gallon of gas over 8 hours. It's rated to run 6 hours at half throttle on a full tank so I was expecting to have it run out of fuel in the middle of the night.

    With the loads I was running it looks like it would have run at least 12, maybe 16 hours before needing a refill. Tank holds 1 gallon per the specs. It seemed to take more than that, the two gallon container I used to fill it was less than half full after filling the generator's tank. It looked about half full in the morning, but the tank is not symmetrical top to bottom. I didn't pay attention to how full the 2 gallon gas can was when I started. Next time I'll check this.

    It only produces 1,600 watts continuous 2,000 peak. If it's overloaded it shuts down. Didn't have that problem with both the fridge, furnace, and a bunch of LED, CFT lights on. The data plates on the fridge and furnace show peak wattage at about 800 watts each. The furnace is gas so other than starting up it probably uses less than a couple hundred watts to run its fan while it's firing.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  23. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  24. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    I saw that earlier today.

    Bad timing thanks to owing a bit to the IRS this week. :mad:
  25. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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