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Old Dec 13, 2007, 2:07 PM   #1
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Okay we got hit very hard in Oklahoma with the recent ice storm. Over 1 inch of ice in my neighborhood, andwas withoutpower for a little more than 52 hours. I lost every tree except the new chinese pistache planted two years ago. So I have started looking into purchasing a generator to be prepared for next time, but don't know really that much about them. I'm sure some of the members here have some experience with them and know what features I need to be looking for in one.

Things like automatic voltage regulation, is it needed - does the voltage vary greatly from the output of a gas powered generator?

Low oil shutoff, sounds great in theory, but do these things gobble up oilthatoil needs to be monitored that critically, or can it just be checked when refueling?

Most generators I have been looking at say 10 run hours at half load, does that mean 5 hours at full load or does it consume more than twice the fuel to run at full load versus a half load.

Does it make sense to buy two 5000 watt generators or one 8500 watt generator at about the same cost? I'm thinking I could have one turned off if I didn't need the additional power, but fire up the second one when power demands increase. Wouldn't this save fuel?

Electronic start would be nice, but isthe manual startany harder than starting a lawn mower?

Thanks everyone.
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 2:39 PM   #2
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Ishino,

Sorry for your bad times. Weather related calamities like this are tough.

I went through the whole generator thingafter getting nailed by 4 hurricanesin 2004.

The decision making process must include what exactly you want available to run when you are without power.

If you want whole house power the way to go may be a permanently installed system like a Guardian. They automatically come on when the power goes off and isolate the house from the power grid through a transfer switch. These will probably supply the cleanest power, too. Many times these run on diesel or propane.

The portable generators are a viable solution too if you are willing to just have the necessities for sustenance for a few days. Fridge, some lighting, etc. Heating will be the biggest load, more than likely.

So, what you need to do is add up the wattage you want to operate when the power is down, size the appropriate generator and add a fudge factor in for starting loads.

The biggest mistake people makeis not really figuring out what they want to run and getting a unit too small. Remember too that starting current for all this stuff is much higher than steady state operation, too. Even a coffee maker or a toaster can be over 1000 watts.

Dennis
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 3:44 PM   #3
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having grown up in new orleans i can't add to dennis's info. some good solid advice. i can add tho that it's very expensive to power a house with a home generator. do you have gas available?? perhaps using it instead of electricity for heat would take care of the biggest load. a couple of years ago i added a gas line to my house and it was fairly easy to do.

ishino,
i truly know what has happened to you. it's happened here 4 times since the big one new years eve night of '78-'79. my wife is from henrietta and they got nailed as well. please be safe and be thankful it's just been property so far.
on a lighter note; be sure to include your battery charger in the must have list.

roy
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 6:24 PM   #4
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The big expensive propane models are the best, just waiting to jump into action and you will hardly know the power went out. The smaller gas powered versions (don't get smaller than 5,000 wat) are more expensive to run but less expensive to purchase. If you get a gas gererator, get a good one such as a Honda, they are extremely quiet, very efficient and last forever.

I got a Honda during out last big ice storm and we have not had one since, so I just start it a couple times a year just to keep it ready.

Tom
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 10:58 PM   #5
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Get yourself a wind generator, solar panel water heater (Ihave one, urgently needing maintenance), solar photovoltaic generating panels, ground effect heat pump (powered by the above), and a BIG storage battery, kept charged from the mains when it's working. We'll all need these before long, to cope with energy shortages. But I expect them to reach the USA last, I fear.

Sadly you folk are the only people with the money to afford them. Remember our grandchildren will have to inhabit our leftover world.

Keep smiling, where possible!
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 11:10 PM   #6
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thanks for everyones input and advice. after reading your post tom, a trip to sam's club resulted in finding a 8750 watt honda generator. has all the bells and whistles. it is now sitting in my garage with 20 gallons of gasoline in preparation of round 2 here. they are saying 4-8 inches of heavy snow with a high moisture content and 30mph winds. they say it is a good chance we will experience power outages again since they think the heavy snow and strong winds will snap the lines. we still have 1/8 of an inch of ice on everything still. fun times...
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 5:03 AM   #7
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Ishino,

DO NOT RUN IT IN YOUR GARAGE!!!!!

Make sure it is outside and the exhaust can't enter the house.

Many people had whole families perish from carbon monoxide poisoning after our storms.

Please be careful.

Dennis
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 8:56 AM   #8
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If you run it in your garage run a hose outside from the exhaust and you will be fine just like running a car in the garage when you are working on it. Also don't forget to throw the main power switch when you hook into your electrical system so some lineman working on the down lines doesn't get blasted from your generator.

Enjoy

Tom
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 1:54 PM   #9
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they slap about 20 warnings all over these generators about not operating it indoors or in a garage and about not hooking it up to your house unless done by an electrician. operate in well ventilated areas only. i'm ony storing it in the garage. next time power goes out it will be going in the backyard under the back porch with the exhaust pointing away from the house and chained to one of the brick columns.

alan you are right aboutthe needs ofrenewable energy sources. we are making progress here in the US, wind powered turbines are springing up everywhere in oklahoma.
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Old Dec 15, 2007, 1:56 AM   #10
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Sounds you like you got it covered Ishino. The only thing I can add is that you cannot have enough gasoline. When the power goes out, it generally takes out the gas stations too. After three hurricanes in one year I lay in 40 gallons of gasoline in June. I have friends who fill 55 gallon drums.

Tim
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