Portable Generators

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

  1. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    30,323
    Location:
    Land of fruit & nuts.
    Ratings:
    +15,727
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    38,691
    Location:
    Downtown
    Ratings:
    +21,724
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    38,691
    Location:
    Downtown
    Ratings:
    +21,724
    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

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    9,022
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Ratings:
    +5,204
    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

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    30,323
    Location:
    Land of fruit & nuts.
    Ratings:
    +15,727
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    22,583
    Location:
    N.C.
    Ratings:
    +16,248
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    22,583
    Location:
    N.C.
    Ratings:
    +16,248
    I've got a heat pump. I figured I'd be buying a $5k+ generator.
  10. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    ooooooo. generator envy. Update us as you go down that rabbit hole. Please.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    22,583
    Location:
    N.C.
    Ratings:
    +16,248
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    9,022
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Ratings:
    +5,204
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    22,583
    Location:
    N.C.
    Ratings:
    +16,248
    I don't know how many tons my AC is, but my house is 2600 square feet.
  15. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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).
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  16. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    22,583
    Location:
    N.C.
    Ratings:
    +16,248
    I've just got the one. The upstairs is unfinished.
  17. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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.
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  18. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    38,691
    Location:
    Downtown
    Ratings:
    +21,724
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Ratings:
    +4,189
    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)
    • Agree Agree x 1