Share whatcha know about electric generators (for home use)

Do you have an electric generator you are happy with?

Do you have some hot tips to shorten the learning curve on picking a good one, running one, maintaining one?

Is there a forum you know of that stands out for its solid advice on electrical generators?

It’s hot as fuck in here in Texas, and we have very little confidence in the current condition of our electrical grid. We’d like to go solar, but we need a fix ASAP to bridge our gap between right now and when we get our system installed.

Thanking in you in advance, wherever you are on the planet,
A Uri survivor

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I’m afraid that I have little useful knowledge related to your exact question; but there is one tidbit that might be useful if AC is, in fact, the essential use case for the generator.

You can get AC units fueled by propane(either piped to a natural gas grid or from canisters), I believe they are popular in RVs and some other tenuously grid-linked situations; and both the acquisition cost and the efficiency of one such unit might compare favorably to the alternative of a relatively small(and thus inefficient) heat engine producing electricity in order to drive a motor to shove the Carnot cycle of your AC unit in the desired direction.

I’m afraid I don’t have any useful specific advice; but I would recommend giving that avenue a look unless you must also have support for other electrical loads.

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You might enjoy these…

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I have a friend up the hill from me who will just give me a $2000+ electric genny (gas fuel) that was not winterized properly and needs a teardown and clean up. That’s too OGNAP (O God Not Another Project) for us right now.

Mr. Carlson’s lab is a treat. We were using a few of his videos when we still had our Tektronix 565 oscilloscope (tubes! silver solder! one channel working). He is truly a happy mutant. And competent.

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Am familiar with propane fridges but wow, had not actually thought about propane AC units. Holy cats!

Thanks.
Will alert my better half. This is a real possibility.

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propane

Just remember, safety first…

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We just went through the adventure of hooking our well pump temporarily to our generator. We’re RV living on our property while we build the house, so we’ll see how far this takes us.

We got a Westinghouse 7500DF and so far are pretty happy with it. A/Cs need a big peak load to get started, and this one peaks at 9500w when running of gasoline. It also runs on propane at slightly lower power. It’s sold as a house backup and has a 30amp 120v/240v outlet, as well as 4 20amp/125v GFCI outlets. I’ve heard people say on various forums that the hondas are better, and that sometimes lower rated generators can be more trustworthy than higher rated, but more “big box” brands.

The forums have been mixed. I did get some good information from a survivalist forum, but wow do you have to have the stomach for the “humor” there…

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Yikes.
Not the most ideal efficiencies, at least on the RV forums (fora?).

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This Old House also put out this nice succinct video on wiring a transfer switch for using a 30amp generator as a hpuse backup

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Thanks for this.
And gaaaah, the Euclidean layout of the copper plumbing!

Will have to see about swapping out a shortish run of aluminum (yes) wiring from the main breaker to the indoor breaker panel as long as we are at it. I am told the rest of the indoor wiring is copper.

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It uses a wanker rotary engine? /s

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Never use a double-male extension cord to plug your generator straight into your house’s wiring. This is illegal, can damage the house’s electrical system, and has a risk of exploding the transformer that serves your house or otherwise shutting off power to your neighborhood to protect the circuit.

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We plan to open the main breaker (this is what connects house power to grid power), before any connecting of other stuff.

Once we get the transfer switch installed, connecting and using any generator will be a simpler matter, but we will still probably open the main breaker (on the outside of our house) before engaging the transfer switch. IANAE but I believe in engineering-speak, this is called a “safety factor of 2.”

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As well as frying some linesman (of any gender) who’s trying to fix problems on lines which should be dead, and not just locally, as those pole transformers work just fine in reverse. (I saw some nice videos of one-off solutions to run power to someone’s private island on a lake by using a pole transformer in reverse to step it up to a high voltage transmission line to the island, and then back down.)

Don’t do that.

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we have a 5500 watt generac generator which is currently in the shop for routine maintenance. it works well but has been hard to crank recently, thus the maintenance. we got it because both my wife and i use sleep equipment which, for my wife, includes nighttime oxygen. we have a small electric radiant heater which can easily be run with our equipment. if the grid becomes a serious problem this summer, we have enough wattage to run a 1200 watt window unit. we do not have enough capacity to run our hvac unit along with our sleep equipment.

for a longer term outage we could run our refrigerator, deep freeze, and a window unit during the day and then unplug ether the refrigerator or the deep freeze for our sleep cycles. one might wonder why we didn’t get the capacity to do all of that at the same time and the answer is that our older son got the generator at half price in an auction held by his hardware store warehouse.

the key to keeping it running is to check the oil level regularly, have it maintained once a year by a licensed technician, and to crank it at least once a week and let it run for a bit each time it’s cranked.

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Totally hearing you on maintenance.

That’s pretty much the key to the whole schmear once we get the size / wattage / fuel thing sorted.

I do maintenance on our gas mower (I have used up / destroyed several Neutons, which were electric battery mowers that our land was very rough on; lordy I do wish I could afford a Stihl electric mower, but I digress).

I use stabilizer in the gas mix 100% of the time. Finding ethanol-free gasoline at a reasonable price in SW ATX is very challenging, but I sense that ethanol-free gas would be key to the longevity of a gas-run genny.

https://powerequipment.honda.com/lawn-mowers/fuel-recommendations

Yikes.
Well, your system just has to be good enough and I sure hope y’all never have to deal with a blackout. CPAPs and other life-supporting or -affirming equipment is an absolute must. I hear you.

Oh my.
Auctions.
Hmmmmm…

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We actually do use an illegal double male connector for our generator when needed. It is a little bit of a pain to use, because you have to cut off the main so as not to backfeed the grid and endanger the workers trying to get power back, shut off power to anything with heating elements (stove, hot water heater) and minimize usage. But it keeps the power to the well pump and the lights on. Working on installing solar, which will make a huge difference, as well as a gas tankless water heater, but those are not ready for prime time just yet.

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With apologies for cross-posting:

@HMSGoose
@navarro

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marsvtx

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