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Thread: Seriously thinking about whole house generator either liquid propane or natural gas

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Seriously thinking about whole house generator either liquid propane or natural gas

    Living here in Louisiana every time there is a hurricane start thinking about a whole house liquid propane or natural gas generator. Most likely a generac as that is what is offered by lowes. Anyone have one and how is it fueled LP or NG. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks Frank

  2. #2
    Boolit Man
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    Frank-- I did a complete evaluation of my circumstances, i.e. what is your current power use, strictly electric or natural gas. My home is powered by both. The electric is forever going out lately but my natural gas has never gone out in the 40 years that I lived here in NJ. I could have gotten a Generac but I wanted the flexibility to switch other fuels if need be. Gasoline is out as it is too dangerous to store and goes bad due to the alcohol content. I have small portable gasoline generator which is on a wheeled cart and I have converted to natural gas. I also have the conversion kits for liquid propane bottles (4 Bottles) if the natural gas should go out. If the natural gas goes in my area these people will be eating each other for breakfast. The snowflakes are helpless. My electric needs are small as I only need electricity to run communications, the thermostat on the heater (if in Winter) and refrigerator/freeze. I keep a good supply of pre-cooked can and packaged food in event the refrigerator/freezer fails. Your only limited by your imagination. Good luck.

    --fjruple

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Frank, I have a Generac 22kw and a 500 gal propane tank buried. It just ran from Sunday the 10th till Saturday the 16th and never missed a beat. I had it put in when the house was built a couple of years ago having already been through a couple of hurricanes. I'd consider it a darn good investment.

    James

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    winelover's Avatar
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    When I built, in rural Arkansas, a whole house generator was stipulated in the house bid. NG is not an option for me. Went with a 22K Generac.....that is the largest air cooled unit, offered. Move up to liquid cooled and cost is prohibitive for most homeowners.

    I have a 1000 gallon propane tank that is buried. Since I own the tank, I am able to shop for the best price on propane. Summer is the cheapest time to buy. Usually go through, 100 gallons per year. Tank gets topped off, every other year.

    I have a 4000 sq. ft. ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) house. Geo-thermal heating and cooling. Most appliances are electric, except for fireplace, cooktop and clothes dryer. I have a 90 gallon water heater, leased from the electric provider. That is one of the biggest drains on the electricity usage. I have a 40 gallon propane water heater installed as a backup.......for use only for an extremely extended power outage. Been here 5 years and never had to fire it up, let along put water in it.

    Generator is 5 years old and only gets it's once a year maintenance......oil and filter change. Did put in a new battery, before last Winter.......just because. Unit is set up to run/exercise, once a week for twenty minutes. Longest power outage was four hours.......however, we are prone to ice storms. Few years before I moved here, there was a big ice storm that left residents without power for two weeks.

    I was a Boy Scout and like to "be prepared".

    Winelover

  5. #5
    Boolit Man

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    I have a Generac 22000 and I wouldn't be without it. Where I live the electric goes off if it's cloudy. Just over the last two weeks it's run for two day's. Do it ,you wont regret it. Propane

  6. #6
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    Same here, don't hesitate. I have an 8kw Generac. It runs on propane. Longest run was 5 days.The only thing I can't run is the a/c. I have a window unit if needed for the bedroom. No natural gas available here. The utility wants an arm and a couple of legs to run the pipes up the street I live on.
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  7. #7
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    rancher1913's Avatar
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    I have a 60kw diesel that has not seen active duty in a long time. it runs fine but is a manual start and manual load transfer and we haven't lost power for more than a few hours in a long time. the solar and ups system take care of the freezers so just just have not needed it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    Don't forget to change the oil and service the power source ever time it gets used for more than an hr. You never know when the next time will be or for how long. Starting with fresh oil will all but guarentee dependability, while neglect will always preclude failure.
    Information not shared. is wasted.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    About twenty years ago, my mother became paraplegic as a result of surgery she had to go though. I remodeled her house to make it barrier free. Where we are in southern MI, we do loose power at times due to storms, etc. Since she had an electric bed, had to transfer back and forth in to a wheel chair, etc., I felt it was a necessity that we put in a generator. She was alone except for the help I had coming in for her and my 3 to 4 visits a day to make sure things were O.K.

    My folks had a 1,000 gallon L.P. tank. Since you never knew when the power would go off - i.e. summer or winter - I needed it to power their circulating pumps on their hot water boiler, the garage door, stove/oven/fridge, lights, AC, deep well pumpetc. I had a company come out and do an evaluation and they suggested the size to put in to meet the requirements. It ran on the LP, electric start from a car batter and they wired in the necessary switches, etc. to the service panel.

    It was set up to kick on at 5 pm every Tuesday for a weekly "test" and would run for 15 minutes. When it kicked in and the power changed from the regular service to the generator, I never noticed a flicker in the lights nor a "lag" of any kind. I'm guessing that it was needed probably once a year over the remaining ten years that she lived.

    My only comment would be that if you put one in, have it installed correctly - i.e. if you don't know what you're doing, hire someone who does. I had her generator serviced once a year on a regular basis. Too often, folks put these in and then forget that they do need to be maintained - batteries replaced, etc. - then when they are actually needed, thee can be problems. And it goes without saying that anything that creates an "exhaust" needs to be installed so that there is no possibility of carbon monoxide build up in a living space. When I was working fire/rescue, I remember several times that we responded to where generators had been placed where they shouldn't be (portable generators) and there results on several of them were deadly.

    If I lived where there were frequent possibilities of wind storms, tornado or hurricane, I wouldn't hesitate to have one installed - especially when you are looking at extended power outages. In the forty plus years we were at our house on the farm, I think the longest we were ever out was about four days - fortunately we could go to my mother's house and take showers, cook, etc.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    double post - sorry

  11. #11
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    In storm surge or other flood prone areas, a ground generator installation may just contribute to your overall losses. A friend of a friend put a big one in at his place near Baytown, Texas (near the coast, east of Houston). Rising Harvey water killed it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    After I retired as a lineman, Mrs Lightman declared that the response time to outages was too long. I guess she was spoiled with my bucket truck being parked in the driveway! I looked at lots of options and bought a Generac 22KW. I was all electric so I had to have gas run to the house. The gas line was close enough that my service line was free. The plumber charged me $175 to provide the necessary material and hook up the generator. As a licensed electrician, I did the electrical work myself. There is a farm co-op here that I had an "in" with and the generator cost about $5000 including a concrete pad and a 200 amp auto transfer switch. Most Generacs will run on either propane or NG with the turn of a screw.

    Now, Generac has a bad name! After I retired, about 1/3rd of my neighbors bought this same unit. A few of them had trouble, including me. First, the control board on mine would not program. Two weeks later, with a new control board, the motor came apart on the first test run. Four weeks later I had a new motor and everything has worked ok since. It seems that they just throw them together at the factory to get them out of the door and let the warranty folks deal with them. All of this was covered under warranty, although I was pretty apprehensive by now.

    I looked at several options before making this purchase. I have a 70 hp diesel tractor and considered a pro driven unit. The trouble hooking it up every time and dealing with keeping fuel ruled this out. Same thing with a large portable unit. I really wanted a diesel unit because of the long life but the expensive service and dealing with fuel ruled this out too. The Generac, with its air cooled engine and running on natural gas was just too convenient to go another way.

    I would recommend looking to see what sells where you are located. I went with Generac because they were established in the area, with parts and support available. There are other brands, just as good or better.

    Being in a flood zone is something to consider. Build a raised platform if you think water will get that high.

    Whatever you choose, I encourage you to hook it up legally and correctly. Back feeding receptacles in your house is dumb and dangerous. So is doing anything that will back feed through the meter. Don't plan to pull the meter either. Power companies frown on this and as soon as they find your meter unplugged they will probably put a lock on it and maybe charge you a large tampering fee. Do it right!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    rancher1913's Avatar
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    so I guess using a double male cord and pluging into the dryer outlet would be wrong

  14. #14
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    Brother in MS purchased and installed Generac after Katrina. His home is mainly propane, Heating, water heater and range. (works for pipeline and gets good discount) His set to kick on monthly. And he has used it rarely over past few years. Probably a day or two max a year. But it is there......
    No issues that I know of. I'd love one here in NWA, I'm all electric except propane cooktop I just put in. Dang NG is quarter mile away, and they won't run closer. Geez!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

    farmerjim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rancher1913 View Post
    so I guess using a double male cord and pluging into the dryer outlet would be wrong
    But it is OK to plug it into the 50 amp welder outlet.
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  16. #16
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    Wifes parents have one. A Generac fueled by LP from a buried 500gal tank. He wired it for instant on if the power cut out and off when power came back. Works great
    Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Count me in I have a 10k Generac ,wife on oxygen and I have to have electric /self installed going on 7yrs(LP) runs test once a week year round /got it at Home Depot .Keeps freezers /computer/water and some lights/outlets going and the wife happy . Get one and get independence

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I've had a 20kW Generac Guardian with solid state ATS panel and 500 gallon propane tank for five years.
    My model was replaced by the 22kW version currently sold. If doing it again I'd get a 1000 gallon tank.

    http://preparednessadvice.com/tag/generator/

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  19. #19
    Boolit Master



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    Is there a stationary unit out there that will survive an EMP?
    Being human is not for sissies.

  20. #20
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    EMP survival is a matter of adding the proper surge suppressors to every wire in and out of the generator cabinet.

    An option with going water cooled(yes more expensive) is the ability to use the waste heat to keep your house or garage/shop warm! Many of the guys using diesel for backup to solar are doing this. Free heat!

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