looking for a generator

The place for general talk about gun, shooting, loading, camping, survival, and preparedness related tools and gear, as well as gear technology discussion, gear reviews, and gear specific "range reports" (all other types of gear should be on the back porch).
gandalf23
Case Shiner
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:48 pm
Location: Dallas, Texas

looking for a generator

Postby gandalf23 » Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:56 pm

We lost power for 36 hours, from about 4pm on Thursday to about 4am on Saturday.

So the wife in on board with getting a generator.

It looks like I can run everything but the A/C on 4kW. The furnace, oven,stove, hot water heater and dryer are all natural gas. The big thing is the fridge, but that shouldn't be more than 2kW, I think.

Looking on craigslist there are a lot of options.

We're in south Dallas, we've got natural gas piped to the house, we've got a little over an acre, and we back up to the Greater Trinity Forest, so it's pretty quiet and secluded.

The first one I looked at is an older Onan from an RV. Onan 4.0 kw CCK Generator It's supposed to be pretty quiet, and last forever. It's $400.

I think to run the A/C we need 10kW, and there are two trailer mounted 10kW generators for sale right now,

one that runs off of diesel, 10 kw Diesel Generator and Trailer

and one that runs off of propane, 10K Kohler Generator

I kinda like the idea of the trailer mounted ones, as then I can use them along with my welder and weld stuff outside the shop. Or out at the farm.

Can I convert the propane one to take natural gas, and then reverse that when I need it to be mobile?

Anyone have any experience with any of these and can offer some advice? Or offer advice anyway :) ? Anything I should look for, aside from firing it up, make sure it runs, and check the output with a multimeter?

Thanks!

User avatar
Termite
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 8715
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:32 am
Location: central Louisiana

Re: looking for a generator

Postby Termite » Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:40 pm

gandalf23 wrote: The big thing is the fridge, but that shouldn't be more than 2kW, I think.

Most home refrigerators are 250-400 watts running, 3-5 times that start up surge.

For your home AC unit: Find out the wattages of the compressor, condenser fan, and evaporator fan(inside blower). Add them together. That will be your run watts. Surge amperage varies, but rule-of-thumb says that a 4 ton AC unit needs a 12kw gennie to be comfortable; however, a smaller gennie may carry it OK if you add a "soft-start" module to the compressor.
"Life is a bitch. Shit happens. Adapt, improvise, and overcome. Acknowledge it, and move on."

User avatar
randy
Moderator
Posts: 7218
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:33 am
Location: EM79

Re: looking for a generator

Postby randy » Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:03 pm

gandalf23 wrote:Can I convert the propane one to take natural gas, and then reverse that when I need it to be mobile?


I know some of the local fire stations have that set up, usually run on natural gas, and have parts on hand to convert to propane if something happens to the natural gas supply. I don't know how easy it is to do or how long it takes.

I would have had a natural gas back up generator on our house years ago except that the 60+ year old gas lines won't provide enough pressure to run the generator and our furnace and hot water heater at the same time. Which (the furnace, or more properly the blowers) was kind of the point. We did not size it to run the A/C. I think we were in the 10-12Kw range for our house (furnace, fridge,, a few lights on each floor, the ham shack and the garage door).

I looked at putting in a propane tank, but since everything is natural gas, we wouldn't use enough propane to make it worth the vendor's time to lease the tank, so I would have had to buy the tank, install, plus the initial fill, which boosted the price out of our budget.
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".

User avatar
JAG2955
Active Shooter
Posts: 3044
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:21 pm

Re: looking for a generator

Postby JAG2955 » Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:11 pm

I have a Honda EU2000I. It sips gas and is slightly louder than a sewing machine on eco-throttle. It may fill a void for you if you're planning on getting a large one (i.e. don't fire up the 10k diesel to do a small project). It's portable, easy to maintain, and a 5-gallon can of gas will keep a refrigerator running for 99% of catastrophes.

Not to derail this thread, but I would like to jump in here with some questions for the masses:

How much gasoline do you feel comfortable storing in an attached garage? Same question, but diesel. Would you feel comfortable storing it immediately outside the house in a construction box? Or in a truck-bed transfer tank that is stored in or out of a garage?

User avatar
Termite
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 8715
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:32 am
Location: central Louisiana

Re: looking for a generator

Postby Termite » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:11 pm

I keep anywhere between 15 and 55 gals of gasoline on hand. I don't have anythin that runs on diesel, but I did have 40-50 gals of kerosene/Jet A at one time.
"Life is a bitch. Shit happens. Adapt, improvise, and overcome. Acknowledge it, and move on."

User avatar
HTRN
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 10763
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:05 am
Location: Under your bed with a knife
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby HTRN » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:27 am

JAG2955 wrote:I have a Honda EU2000I.

I keep looking at the Yamaha 2000 watt jobs - they're small, light(meaning easy to store in a basement, out of the way), good on gas, and best of all, two of them can be chained together for higher output using a special cable. I believe the Honda can also do this as well.
EGO partum , proinde EGO sum

Describing what HTRN does as "antics" is like describing the wreck of the Titanic as "a minor boating incident" ~ First Shirt

Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum

User avatar
workinwifdakids
Active Shooter
Posts: 3594
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:57 am
Location: SoCal
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby workinwifdakids » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:47 am

You're correct. I know some Honda EUs are chainable x2, but I believe they all are. Now if only they weren't so darned expensive.
And may I say, from a moral point of view, I think there can be no justification for shoving snack cakes up your action.
--Weetabix

User avatar
evan price
Trigger Junkie
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:24 am
Location: OH-IO The heart of it all!

Re: looking for a generator

Postby evan price » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:06 am

OK, I know OP lives in Texas, which is hot and humid, but running A/C in a grid down is a flipping luxury not a necessity.

Figure your needs to include a couple of nice box or pedestal fans, running the Refrigerator and freezers, and some task lighting, maybe the microwave, well pump, anything that is critical.

As cruel as that sounds (and yes, Texas is sticky hot) humans have lived without A/C for longer than with A/C.

Propane-Natural Gas conversion involves a different orifice in the burner and sometimes a different vaporizer/regulator unit. Normally it's not a 'hard' thing to do but if the genset doesn't offer a propane alternative you may need to do some digging in parts catalogs to find conversion parts that will be suitable. It's not that hard to figure out but it can be more than a phone call to attain.

First question to ask is, "Do I need 240-volts?"
If yes, you are automatically going to have to step up to the over-6kW class of generator. Home A/C is pretty much going to require a 240-v source.
If you can keep your needs to a 120-volt source you can go with smaller, quieter and more efficient units (also cheaper).

Small generators, under 4kW, are a crapshoot. Most of the home improvement store units (Generac, Homac, Powermate, etc) are all Chinese made units. The weak spot is the generator head itself. A lot of them are non-repairable.

The Chinese have cloned the Honda GX engine and it's usually such a good copy that Honda parts will fit it. Avoid the Briggs & Stratton or other US-branded motors...while they are not BAD motors, the Honda clone (if it is a good one) is actually a better choice IMHO from a lot of tinkering with small engines. There are literally a Brazillion of these on construction sites and tool rental stores and back sheds all over the world and parts are everywhere.

Next up I would say the Subaru/Robin engines. They've really spread in the US sphere. They were very popular in Asia, but again, Chinese efficiency has made them cheap and reliable. They aren't Hondas but they are close.

If you want big power (like 8kW or above) the Onan and Kohler are the big names.

Stay away from Briggs and Stratton, Kawasaki, etc.
Good for bargain lawn mowers, not good for 24/7 run time in my experience.

http://www.amazon.com/All-Power-America ... B0018E1XQ2

I'm talking about units like this. Total power output is limited to a single 20-amp 120-V circuit.

http://www.zoro.com/i/G7610985/?utm_sou ... 7AodzHEAlQ

120/240 volt unit. 5kW continuous, 40/20 amp.


I'll also recommend the bigger Diesel generators if you can find them. The Chinese also clone the Yanmar L-series Diesel engine. These are still not as good as the Yanmars I've worked with but they are not bad. The advantage of Diesel is the fuel stores so much better than gasoline and you can burn more choices of fuels if you need to- kerosene, heating oil, jet fuel, waste veggie oil, transmission fluid, etc.
Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc

http://ohioccwforums.org/
Ohioans for Concealed Carry:THE source for Ohio CCW information and discussion!

gandalf23
Case Shiner
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:48 pm
Location: Dallas, Texas

Re: looking for a generator

Postby gandalf23 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:04 am

I figure I'll get that 4kW Onan, but I thought I'd ask about the others, just in case they were an awesome deal. I don't plan on running the A/C on a generator, we have fans and such that we can run that'll keep it ok. Worst case we stay in the master bedroom and power up the window unit. In the winter we've got a gas fireplace, so no worries there. Plus a gas stove.

User avatar
workinwifdakids
Active Shooter
Posts: 3594
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:57 am
Location: SoCal
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby workinwifdakids » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:10 am

Here's my thought on A/Cs. Think about a couple of redneck A/C units, the ones built from an ice chest and a desk fan. I built one and whoo boy did that thing cool down a room. You could power a couple of those and a dehumidifier with your generator instead of sucking up all your gas with a whole-house A/C unit. I'm looking at a way to charge up a couple smaller batteries that will run those desk fans, and then charge another set of the batteries from either solar or the generator (or both), at the rate of use. That's the plan anyway. So think about it.
And may I say, from a moral point of view, I think there can be no justification for shoving snack cakes up your action.
--Weetabix

Aesop
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6149
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:17 am
Location: Califrutopia
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby Aesop » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:24 am

Good plan, but help me out:
What goes in the ice chest in that equation, and where does it come from?

But yes, if A/C is needed, cooling but one room, as small and well-insulated and sealed as possible, is the solution.
"There are four types of homicide: felonious, accidental, justifiable, and praiseworthy." -Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

User avatar
arctictom
Active Shooter
Posts: 3203
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:57 pm
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby arctictom » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:41 am

I wired in the nessary back up circuits , back up switch over circuits are really nessary , and my calc came to arround 3500 watts , so I have a 4kw primary and a 2 kw backup , and my planned running time is a max of 6 months ( winter) and I store fuel on the property for a month . So 4 kw sounds right as you go bigger they will use more fuel and more maintence etc, So keep it reasonable .
You live and learn.
Or you don't live long.

User avatar
evan price
Trigger Junkie
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:24 am
Location: OH-IO The heart of it all!

Re: looking for a generator

Postby evan price » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:20 am

FWIW, those propane powered trailer units were originally used by telephone/CATV installers for use in underground trunks. We used to have vans with similar units built in with Ford industrial engines running from the vehicle fuel tank, they used the generator's radiator to heat air for blowing through the ventilator.
Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc

http://ohioccwforums.org/
Ohioans for Concealed Carry:THE source for Ohio CCW information and discussion!

User avatar
workinwifdakids
Active Shooter
Posts: 3594
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:57 am
Location: SoCal
Contact:

Re: looking for a generator

Postby workinwifdakids » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:12 pm

Aesop wrote:Good plan, but help me out:
What goes in the ice chest in that equation, and where does it come from?

But yes, if A/C is needed, cooling but one room, as small and well-insulated and sealed as possible, is the solution.

Well, if it's not the zombie apocalypse the ice comes from the freezer you're running with your generator. The question seems to be: should we run a whole-house A/C unit with a generator or not? My answer is, if you can run a freezer and a couple of desk fans, you can make a single room A/C. That's good until your gennie is out of juice.
And may I say, from a moral point of view, I think there can be no justification for shoving snack cakes up your action.
--Weetabix


Return to “Gear Talk and Tech”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests