1. Welcome to Tacoma World!

    You are currently viewing as a guest! To get full-access, you need to register for a FREE account.

    As a registered member, you’ll be able to:
    • Participate in all Tacoma discussion topics
    • Communicate privately with other Tacoma owners from around the world
    • Post your own photos in our Members Gallery
    • Access all special features of the site

Home backup standby generator options, I need some advice!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by wesb1023, May 3, 2019.

  1. May 3, 2019 at 6:20 PM
    #1
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    I need advice from someone who’s not trying to get every last dime that I have.
    I live near the coast of NC, and I’m in the market for a whole house generator. I’m so confused right now that I want to scream! I’ve currently been in contact with generac and I’m getting a free home assessment, which I don’t want, for free, but it’s free so what the heck? Anyway to the point, what I want....
    I want a 20-22kw air cooled gen set propane powered. I want the unit permanently installed as an appliance. I would like to simply be able to walk outside my house, manually start the generator (electric start), then step to the side and throw my manual transfer switch to generator power.

    Is that really too much to ask? I found out for sure today that if I purchase a generac home standby generator system, they are designed and warrantied for automatic transfer switches and automatic start. I am used to the more industrial style of gen set. Many are not auto equipped, and to me, simple is best.
    I was told by generac today that the homeowner versions were not available for auto, off, and manual modes.

    The problem...
    no one seems to offer a 20-22kw manual standby generator. It’s too big to be a portable, yet too small to be commercial. Every company is pushing full automatics, which have benefits, but I also see flaws. What flaws? They are inefficient as you know what on fuel. I’m in the middle of nowhere, so I obviously have to have a large propane tank to feed the unit. I’m fairly conservative, as I see absolutely no need at all for my generator to start, transfer power and continue to burn 2plus gallons of propane an hour when no one is home during the day. No power when no one is home doesn’t hurt anything at my house. The freezers are not being opened, and so on and on. I’m never gone for more than a few days and I have plenty of folks who would be happy to come start my generator in return for staying in a cool or warm house until I get back. I simply don’t want an automatic generator, but I want one standing by ready to go as soon as I am.
    Can anyone in this occupational field give me some advice?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. May 3, 2019 at 6:33 PM
    #2
    koditten

    koditten Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Member:
    #112077
    Messages:
    11,718
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Kirk
    Central Michigan
    Vehicle:
    04 trd x-cab 4 x 4 3.4l
    Reserected from the dead.
    How big is your house?

    My place is 2000 square feet. I had mine speced out to run the A/C, fridge, freezer, sump pump, garage door circuit, kitchen microwave and lighting for the main bedroom and bath as well as each family room.

    Mine came to 14K at the heaviest load.

    I have never had a situation that over taxed the generator.

    As for wanting to choose when your unit runs, the all come with an auto/manual/off switch.

    Keep yours switched to "off" and it will not run until you switch it to manual or auto. The transfer switch won't throw until it detects 10 seconds of no line voltage.

    You must have a huge place to need the 20kw's you think you need.

    Hope this helps.

    Kirk
     
  3. May 3, 2019 at 6:40 PM
    #3
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    I don’t have a huge place. 1400 square foot, plus garage. The power company says with my smart meter that I’ve never pulled over 18kw at once. They recommended at least a 20kw. That’s where I got the numbers from.
    I also thought like you just said, just leave it in the off position like the larger units that I’m used to at work. According to the generac rep today on the phone, it’s going to start when the power goes out regardless. I’ll then have the option to walk outside and turn it off. I really hope this dude was wrong, because that’s what my plans were before today’s conversation with generac.
     
  4. May 3, 2019 at 6:47 PM
    #4
    Frito

    Frito Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Member:
    #171253
    Messages:
    1,313
    Sounds like you got it nailed down...

    We had a "whole house" full auto 15K Generac that ran off propane. Had the Big Green Torpedo in the yard.
    Handy when no-one is home, (FLA in the winter) you know things will be taken care of, heat and frozen pipes were my main concern.
    We had a woodstove at the time and shut the genny down at night when we were home though.

    My takeaway is that 15K was overkill and Generac (at that time anyway ?) was obnoxiously loud.
    Propane is pretty expensive too and if that thing ran day and night for 3 days or so, you had a hefty bill as we did when it was new and a novelty.

    When I do it again I will find something that will run the fridge, the burner, well pump and a few lights and outlets.
    If you have propane anyway, put in a propane kitchen stove. Forget the microwave.

    I think a quiet little gas sipping Honda in the 5K range with an extended fuel tank is on my list for my next go around.
    We use one of their 2000 units when we're on the road and it is a pleasure.
     
    Austinguy likes this.
  5. May 3, 2019 at 6:53 PM
    #5
    koditten

    koditten Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Member:
    #112077
    Messages:
    11,718
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Kirk
    Central Michigan
    Vehicle:
    04 trd x-cab 4 x 4 3.4l
    Reserected from the dead.
    Just because you maxed out at 18kw does not mean you need a unit that will put out more than that.

    You need to decide what things need to be powered in an outage. I bet you will find that your loads are much less.

    Remember, you can choose what things need to run. For example, do you really need lights in the basement? Especially if you keep nothing down there .

    Sounds like you need to talk to a real electrician. They can very quickly tell you what loads you would really have.
     
  6. May 3, 2019 at 7:01 PM
    #6
    Radarninja

    Radarninja Safety 3rd

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2017
    Member:
    #221167
    Messages:
    1,043
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Ryan
    Northern California
    Vehicle:
    06 taco
    Chromed out radiator cap
    Yeah think about what actually needs to run. It’s common the gen set only runs the “essentials”.
    But you do you on that.
    I work on industrial gen sets, Kohlers mostly.
    If you turn the switch off, from auto. It will not start.
    I’ve left remote sites and had them not start after forgetting.
    Also you could just turn the propane valve at the engine off and that will do the same.
    On propane, every propane dealer is a piece of shit, so if you are super remote you may want an extra big tank.
    I went from 500 to 1000. After they wouldn’t come out to a remote site for such a low quantity.
    Good luck
     
  7. May 3, 2019 at 7:03 PM
    #7
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    Very true, I’m going to let the generac guy come do the assessment and see what he says. He will be here next Tuesday afternoon. I was mainly thinking about the ease of installation as far as a load shedding box is wired compared to a simple transfer switch and everything having power on it. Then I can just choose when the generator is running and when it’s not. I was without power for 5 days during Florence last year. My 8kw portable was enough to run the basic items. If that storm had been in the dead heat of summer, I know I would have wanted my a/c running full blast.
     
  8. May 3, 2019 at 7:07 PM
    #8
    Frito

    Frito Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Member:
    #171253
    Messages:
    1,313
    Our Generac had such a switch..... we left ours on "Auto" because it was programmed to run once a week to keep the battery charged.
     
  9. May 3, 2019 at 7:11 PM
    #9
    koditten

    koditten Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Member:
    #112077
    Messages:
    11,718
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Kirk
    Central Michigan
    Vehicle:
    04 trd x-cab 4 x 4 3.4l
    Reserected from the dead.
    That is a mistake. The battery charger runs off the house power as long as there is power. The generator engine does not charge the battery.
     
  10. May 3, 2019 at 7:13 PM
    #10
    Frito

    Frito Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Member:
    #171253
    Messages:
    1,313
    No Sir..... No mistake.

    We bought that circa 2000 and it sold with the house a couple years ago.

    Wouldn't surprise me if some changes were made in the last 20 years though..... you ?
    :smack:
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  11. May 4, 2019 at 5:36 AM
    #11
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    Well I’m going to find out on Tuesday damn it. Lol, I’m going to make a list of all of my questions so I don’t forget. I do know that the larger diesel gen sets I mess with at work are equipped with a battery charger and block heater. It uses utility power to charge the battery when it isn’t running, yet they also have regular belt driven alternators for battery charging while the generator is running. Most small engines have the alternator located under the flywheel for battery charging with the engine running. I was also under the impression that these smaller units were equipped with a battery charger, that requires utility power to keep the battery ready to go when it’s needed. The weekly or biweekly start and exercise is just to make sure everything stays in working order. I don’t need all the WiFi bells and whistles these are coming equipped with these days, but unfortunately the price doesn’t change without it.
    At my job we go around once a month and start every gen set whether it’s an automatic unit or not. I had also planned on doing this same task myself to my personal generator, instead of using its automatic exercise function. I actually might start looking at used units that I can just set up how I want it without worrying about voiding some stupid warranty.
     
  12. May 4, 2019 at 6:29 AM
    #12
    Sprocket

    Sprocket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Member:
    #218835
    Messages:
    356
    You seem to know exactly what you want and are not inclined to listen to the professionals - good luck.

    The Generac people I've dealt with know their stuff. 20kW will serve a 400A 120/240V panel - but you know what you want so get it.
     
  13. May 4, 2019 at 6:38 AM
    #13
    0xDEADBEEF

    0xDEADBEEF Hmmm

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2019
    Member:
    #285037
    Messages:
    367
    Vehicle:
    2000 4WD MT Single Cab
    Rust, dents, miles.
    I bet they don't have full manual ones to prevent islanding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islanding No way they're going to trust the average joe to manage that. It might even be a legal requirement.

    I don't have any experience with home generators, but Generac's commercials sure are dramatic. From that I'm guessing they're marketing toward people who know absolutely nothing about what they're buying.
     
  14. May 4, 2019 at 6:53 AM
    #14
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    I will listen to the professionals. I also know what I want. That’s where the confusion comes in. I want a whole house generator, I’m going bigger than I currently need because of things that I may change in the future. It’s like buying a gun safe, it’s a big heavy investment, but I bought one that I wish now I had gone bigger, even though it was the perfect size at the time.
    Unlike diesel generators, these smaller units aren’t subject to wet stacking when they are not in full load range.
    My problem comes in where what I want just isn’t manufactured anymore at least. I’d rather have the old school set up, like a portable unit, but permanently installed. I don’t doubt that the professionals know their stuff, I’m just trying to find common ground on a unit that is offered, and will do what I want. I’m also open to different manufacturers, not just generac.

    I’m also not totally against the automatic unit. I work with the department of transportation. They send us home during and throughout a hurricane. At that time I would utilize the automatic function of the generator, just to keep me from having to go outside to start it when the power fails. I just don’t want it to be in that mode at all times throughout the year when bad weather isn’t coming. So my biggest concern is whether or not the newer units are able to be set to the off mode, and not start during a short power failure during the day while I’m at work.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  15. May 4, 2019 at 7:34 AM
    #15
    Toy4me

    Toy4me Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Member:
    #85061
    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Tom
    NNJ
    Vehicle:
    '10 DCLB TRD Sport MGM
    My understanding is running your a/c will be your biggest challange. My electrician told me this takes a lot of generator power. I am using this https://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com/Generac-5943-Portable-Generator/p5508.html to run my 3k sq ft home. It is wired right to the panel and there's a transfer switch in the panel. Runs the whole house no problem. The exception is it won't run the central air a/c. My workaround is to have a stand alone portable a/c unit. If we have a summer power outage I put this in our large family room and close the door and we are comfortable sleeping there.
    Edit; our home has N/G so it takes very little electric to have heat. Ymmv.
    I'm reading the op as being cautious to not being taken advantage of by sales people, not as not wanting to listen to the professionals.


    Never heard the term "islanding", but after reading your link I know what that is and the term I know it as is "backfeeding". My panel has a lockout latch that only allows power from the grid in one position and from the generator in the other. It's at the top of my panel.

    panel.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  16. May 4, 2019 at 7:45 AM
    #16
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab
    A/C is a must! After all the storms I’ve been through, that’s one of the reasons I’m investing in a whole house generator. A/C and heat for the winter is on the top of the list. Here in eastern NC, we are not fined or penalized for pulling out the meter on the side of the house. As a matter of fact my tamper tag has been cut since hurricane Matthew a few years ago. My power company requests us to pull the meter when hooking up a portable unit. They would much rather us do that than someone get killed from back feeding.
     
  17. May 4, 2019 at 8:12 AM
    #17
    wesb1023

    wesb1023 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Member:
    #54586
    Messages:
    358
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Westley
    Eastern NC
    Vehicle:
    04 Double Cab

    Exactly! I’ve spoken with one generac dealer on the phone already. They said just to prepare me that what I wanted the 22k with automatic transfer switch (because they don’t offer a manual) turn key install normally averages $12,000.00.
    The unit itself is on the website for 5k. Where the hell is the rest of the money going?? Even on the generac website they say to expect $2000.00 for installation. I’ll purchase a used or new unit online and set it up myself to the point of having the electrician install the transfer switch, way before I purchase myself and the dealer a generator for the both of us.
     
  18. May 6, 2019 at 8:19 AM
    #18
    hikerduane

    hikerduane Stove & lantern collector, retired

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    Member:
    #174876
    Messages:
    1,223
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Duane
    Meadow Valley, Jefferson USA
    Vehicle:
    '16 Blazing Blue Pearl TRD Sport AC V6 manual, tow pkg
    RCI sliders fuel tank skid plate, tail gate insert
    I had a Electrician install a double throw switch on my garage breaker panel. When I run my small generator, I just throw the switch. Only thing my small genny won't run is the clothes dryer. 3.5kw, runs my well, lights, TV, toaster also. No A/C needed here.
    Duane
     
    shakerhood likes this.
  19. May 6, 2019 at 2:24 PM
    #19
    cruxofthebisquit

    cruxofthebisquit Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Member:
    #18936
    Messages:
    3,415
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    John
    Orange Texas
    Vehicle:
    2000 TRD
    OME and worth every penny.
    I bought an Onan out of a RV for 300 bucks because I didn't want to spend 'my last dime'.

    Coverted it to NG and only run it when I want. Small house but I can run everything on that Gen. You could if you cut back to basics.

    edit: I think with getting an Elec. buddy to wire it in and the 2 switches installed I'm in for about a thousand bux.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    koditten likes this.
  20. May 7, 2019 at 7:33 AM
    #20
    06Tacooo

    06Tacooo Earth Czar

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2015
    Member:
    #173140
    Messages:
    311
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Earth
    39.219437282548 -83.421077728271
    Vehicle:
    06 Off Road Access Cab Indigo Ink Pearl
    Michelin Defender LTX M/S2, ABS kill switch, Tech Deck, Mirror riser, Ride-Rites
    Here's my solution to the problem(s). My home is also about 1400sf all electric. I bought a new GP17500E Generac portable. It will output 80A/240VAC continuous. I ran the 50A/240VAC generator feed directly to my main panel and installed a MANUAL transfer switch in the panel (simple lockout slide bar). I ran the 30A/240VAC feed from the generator to a Reliance CRS-302 manual transfer switch at my heat pump (also serves as the required disconnect). Allows me to easily switch to genny power, utility power, or off. I also installed 2 voltage/current digital meters at the panel, mounting them in 2-gang box and a cut-to-fit blank cover. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVH64HW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 They display phase A and phase B of the generator's connected load and output voltage. That way I can control any overload by switching breakers on and off, if necessary. In 5 years I haven't had to, and it runs the entire house, including heat, a/c, well, aerator, water heater, etc. I was prepared to install a soft starter on the heat pump if needed, but the 30A. genny circuit handles starting a 2 ton heat pump easily.

    The generator lives in a 8'X12' shed, with an installed wall exhaust fan, which provides complete air changes every 50 seconds. Works perfect, keeps the genny cool even in the hot summer, keeps the noise enclosed and 40' away from the house, and no modifications to the generator exhaust. It holds 15 gal. gas, burns 1 gal./hr. 99% of outages around here last 1-4hrs. I have backup stabilized gas that I rotate, stored in a separate building.

    I also installed a smoke detector type sounder and a switch to the utility line at the main breaker. I turn it on when power goes out. When it beeps, power is restored, I turn it off, go shut down the generator. It's intrinsically safe.

    This is a simple setup, meeting all NEC requirements and has no "automatic" devices to rely on. I don't need any load control panels, remote monitoring, etc. Suits my self-sufficient demeaner perfect.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019

Products Discussed in

To Top