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#47580 - 08/29/05 07:19 PM How does one choose power generator
picard120 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 763
How does one choose a good power generator to survive through hurricane? I did search the forum but there is no info how to select a power generator. There are many models and brands that it is confusing for regular consumer. <img src="/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

#47581 - 08/29/05 07:39 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
duckear Offline

Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 477
A few thoughts

Add up the electrical requirements (amps) of what you want to run, the add 50-100% and pick one. For example, if something is rated at 15amps, it may require much more at startup. Thing you may want to run. Fridge, freezer, fans on heating system, water pumps, electric blankets, microwave, lights. You have to list your priorities and go from there. Usually what you "have" to have powered vs what you can afford to power (ie size of genset) are wildly different. No two families are the same. 3000W may be great for a single guy, but won't touch the needs of a family of six.

Gasoline and NG are common and cheaper, but these gensets have a shorter life expectancy; a diesel genset is expensive but lasts.

You can either run extention cords to what you need, or have the gen wired into your house, yet isolated so it doesn't send juice back to the wires and electrocute the guy trying to restore your service.

You need to run it periodically.

Having power when your neighbors don't, you need to be discreet. They will come like moths to a light. Maybe good, maybe bad.

Go to the survival section of AR15.com and ask around. There are some good threads there that answer your question in detail.

#47582 - 08/29/05 07:59 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
frenchy Offline

Registered: 12/18/02
Posts: 1320
Loc: France
IIRC , there have been numerous threads on the subject, like this one or like this other one. .

Remember to extend the search range (default = 1 week only).

But maybe you did found these threads, and the info you are looking for is not included......

#47583 - 08/29/05 07:59 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
picard120 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 763
Isn't AR15.com a gun forum? I just check the site a few minutes ago. the forum discuss about guns, ammo. I checked the general forum too but there is no thread about generator.

#47584 - 08/29/05 09:04 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
groo Offline

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 722
Loc: Florida
This all good advice, but you can also do it the way I did...

Buy at least a 5000 watt, gasoline powered generator light enough you can move it around by yourself. Done.

A fancier generator will have more features, all of which are the nice to have category. A Honda engine will run more quietly (so I'm told, I only have the one generator, so I don't know). I plan to run mine outside on the patio, shut it down, wait for it to cool down, then wheel it back in the garage (theft).

If you're pressed for time, especially, any generator is better than no generator. The generator you can afford is better than the one you're saving up for, etc.

Also consider buying an inverter. You can run small electrical stuff without having to set the generator up.

#47585 - 08/29/05 09:30 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
While it's been discussed here before, I'll try to make a summary that will help you out.

First of all, you need to know what kinds of loads you're going to need to power. This will be your primary concern. If you want to run your whole house, with air conditioning and all the lights and all that, then you'll need a fairly large "backup" system. These are big, permanently installed generators that often use propane or natual gas as a power source. These are expensive, costing anywhere from $3,000 for a smaller system up to $20,000 for a large system. They have automatic "cutover" switches that fire up the generator a few seconds after a power failure. They have a decent run time, meaning that if you have natural gas, it will run as long as the gas is flowing, and if you have propane, you can get a few days out of a large tank.

On the other hand if you want to run only a few "critical" loads, you'll probably do fine with a portable generator that you can connect to your house as needed. for example, in my house, I have a well, a septic pump, a fridge and a freezer as well as an oil furnace. These, plus a light or two, are my "critical" loads, so what I did was go to all of the devices and figure out how much power they needed to run.

This isn't too hard. You can do it the easy way, which is to count up the amps on all the breakers you want to power and multiply by 120, then multiply by 0.60 to get the approximate size generator you'll need, as rated in watts. This assumes that all your motors won't be starting up at once - which they probobly won't.

For example, my well pump is on two twenty amp breakers.
My septic pump is on a 15 amp breaker
My fridge is on a 15 amp breaker
My freezer is on a 15 amp breaker
The lighting I want to use is on a 15 amp breaker.

So I add the amps - 20+20+15+15+15+15 = 100
100 * 120 = 12,000
12,000 * 0.60 = 7,200

So, it looks like I'll need a 7,200 watt generator or so. There are 7,000 watt generators, but it's not a good idea to go LOWER than your estimated load - always go a bit HIGHER if you can, or manage your loads so that you don't have the well turned on when the fridge is on. Actually, this is what I do, because our generator is rated for a constant 3,500 watts total, but I use a transfer switch and manage what's on at any given time. Works fine.

If you hook up a generator to your electric system in the house you MUST install a transfer switch.

#47586 - 08/29/05 09:51 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
groo Offline

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 722
Loc: Florida
Your method may be ok for inductive loads, but it way overestimates the power required for resistive loads (are you really going to use 120 * 15 * .6 = 1080 watts of lighting?).

And you don't have to run everything at once. Run the fridge till the compressor stops, then don't open the door. Buy a window AC unit ($110 gets you one with a remote control!), and just cool one room, etc. You don't need a 7000 W generator. Sure, it's nice to have and will be most convenient, but you can get by with less if you'll only run a few things at a time.

#47587 - 08/29/05 10:10 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
picard120 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 763
Honda has generator with built in inverter feature. How durable are Honda generators? Do they last at least 5yrs?

#47588 - 08/29/05 10:13 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
duckear Offline

Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 477
It is guns, politics and about everything else. 50,000 members with a common interest in guns and after that who knows. This is a link to the survival forum. Bear in mind, it is not as genteel as this forum. <img src="/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

AR15.com Survival Forum

#47589 - 08/29/05 10:24 PM Re: How does one choose power generator
groo Offline

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 722
Loc: Florida
Careful... the inverter I'm talking about allows you to run 110V appliances off your car's battery. I've seen a decent one at Costco for $60 that would run my computer, or a small tv / radio / etc.

Previous threads on here have good things to say about Honda engines and Honda generators. I have a generator which is not made by Honda, but which has a honda engine.

I don't know what you situation is, but if you're on a budget, I'd buy the most generator I could for the money, then be careful about how much stuff you try to run at one time. Few people have the financial means to buy a generator that will let them run everything they'd like to run all at once. And even if you can afford it, you have to remember that years will go by that you won't use it AT ALL. So there your money sits, collecting dust.

(My 6000W generator from last year smirks at me each time I get in the car. Power failed during Charlie. So I bought a generator. The power hasn't failed since, and that was with two more near hits after Charlie. *sigh*)

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