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Old 11-08-2012, 01:45 AM   #46
garandman
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A related thread.

I'll chime in because Hurrican Sandy has highlighted our dependence on grid power. We have several generators for work back up, and we're having our house wired next week so we can run the [gas-fired] heat, hot water, and fridge through the fuse box rather than running extension cords or using some sort of back feed hookup which is dangerous as hell.

I'll start with the wiring first. A gas or oil fired heating system only needs electrical power for the circulation pump. These pumps are fairly small. But they usually do not have a plug so they can be run directly from a generator.

What some people do is to "backfeed" power into the house. They shut off the main circuit breaker, then make a double-ended male extension cord and feed power into an outlet. Often they use an electric dryer plug, since it is a 30 amp circuit.

Why is this a bad idea? I'm not an EE or electrician but I'll offer my understanding of the issues. First, you have a lot of power pushed to a male plug. Should it be disconnected, there's the risk of shorting it out when it comes in contact with anything conductive. The second issue is that outlets have no circuit protection where you are feeding the power in: that's all back at the fuse box. Finally, if you do backfeed the grid, you are endangering the lives of line workers.

For these and other reasons, there's a name for these hookups: they're called "Suicide cables." I'm told that if you burn your house down with one, your homeowner's insurance will not cover the house, though I haven't verified that. Bottom line for me is that 1,000 or 2,000 oe 3,000 or 6,000 watts at 120V could easily kill someone so I'm not cutting any corners.

Wiring a house with a transfer switch is usually under $1,000 and to put in a plug for your heat is only a few dollars even if you have an electrician do it. Something to think about.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:39 AM   #47
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Now a word about "Inverter Generators" and why you might care.

Most standard generators run at 3600 rpm to generate the requisite 120V. They may not be at full power, but they use a lot of fuel and make a lot of noise. Noise is annoying and alerts some not-so-nice people that you have a generator. Fuel consumption is a much more significant issue, since around here at least, the kind of storms that generate widespread power outages usually include lots of downed trees, downed power lines, and snow. That means you'll have to travel outside the area to get gas, and you won't be alone. In a metro environment like NY/NJ or Boston for that matter, you put you and your family at a lot more risk with those kind of sojourns.

So what's the deal with inverter systems? Honda has an explanation here.The big advantages are cleaner output and lower fuel consumption and more compact size/weight. There are some disadvantages as well: cost, limited max size/output, and most don't have 240V output.

Unlike conventional generators, the inverter systems can put out 120V at partial throttle. So Honda and others can reduce rpm based on the actual load. Inverter systems are efficient to begin with but this capability greatly increases run time per tank. The EU2000i has a 1.1 gallon (4 liter) internal tank and will run 4hrs. @ rated load, but more than double that - 9.6 hrs. at 1/4 load.

2000 watts is pretty small, so lets compare "whole house" generators. A Honda EU6500is uses 1 gallon per hour at full load and 1/3rd gph at 1/4 load. A Honda non-inverter model uses the same amount of fuel at full output, and can run at half-throttle only under no-load. So while Honda specs show it uses 2/3rds of a gph at half throttle, as a practical matter you're going to be using 1gph whenever it's running.

Most inverter systems can be "daisy chained" to double output. You can hook up two Honda EU2000i's with a parallel kit to double the output to 3600 watts continuous 4,000 watts max. In "eco-mode" the rpms of both units will rise and fall together, so you have a system that's a lot lighter, portable, and fuel efficient than a single larger unit would be.

If you are using your generator to run heat, hot water and fridge (plus some lights etc) like we will, the much lower partial load fuel consumption starts to make a big difference in the amount of fuel you have to store.

A buddy in NH who loses power regularly has two Honda EU2000i's and the parallel kit. During the day he runs both and they have TV, use a PC, make coffee, etc. At night, he shuts one down so it can run the heating system. The big benefit from his perspective is that it will run all night on a gallon of gas.

Honda sells an EU2000i "Companion" which has a 30 amp outlet and costs $100 or so more. If you are only buying one, with hindsight that's what I would have purchased, because the UPS at work has a 30A plug and most home setups do as well. So if you are in the market for one, I suggest you consider the companion (street price $1,100) versus the standard model (street price $1,000).

Don't underestimate fuel supply problems. Here's a "Crisis Map" showing where most fuel outlets are shut down 10 days after Sandy hit. Here's NYC. For all intents and purposes, you can't find a gas can within a t least a 100 mile radius, let alone gasoline. I've heard that all the stores in Western MA are sold out, but haven't checked locally.

We purchased a Honda EU3000is ($2,000) to run the office and an EU2000i ($1,000) for home. And almost every brand/type can be purchased for less. And in the last year we've used them for a total of 70 minutes. Worth the expense? We could sell them at this instant for what we paid, 10 times over.There are several areas where skimping on quality and reliability are bad choices: concealed carry firearms, and generators to help keep your family safe and comfortable.
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:31 AM   #48
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I have a Honda EU2000I
Was a great, light weight unit.

It worked well until super storm Sandy moved the ocean to where it's usually not.
Now that the ocean is back where it often stays we found the poor generator took a salt water swim.

Got to it quickly so there's nearly no corrosion. Flushed everything out, blew out the crud, cleaned the carb, but no spark.

Anyone have a wiring diagram?
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:20 AM   #49
gofast1320
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Transfer switch

Reliance makes a transfer switch kit that has the power inlet box, transfer box, gen cord. All you need to hook-up and run up to 7500 gen set to the house.
I used their inlet box and dedicated a 50 amp circuit in my main box to it. It stays off-line till power is out then we throw mains off along with none essential internal breakers, fire up generator and turn on breakers we want to power can keep fridge, freezer, heater blowers running as needed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by garandman View Post
A related thread.

I'll chime in because Hurrican Sandy has highlighted our dependence on grid power. We have several generators for work back up, and we're having our house wired next week so we can run the [gas-fired] heat, hot water, and fridge through the fuse box rather than running extension cords or using some sort of back feed hookup which is dangerous as hell.

I'll start with the wiring first. A gas or oil fired heating system only needs electrical power for the circulation pump. These pumps are fairly small. But they usually do not have a plug so they can be run directly from a generator.

What some people do is to "backfeed" power into the house. They shut off the main circuit breaker, then make a double-ended male extension cord and feed power into an outlet. Often they use an electric dryer plug, since it is a 30 amp circuit.

Why is this a bad idea? I'm not an EE or electrician but I'll offer my understanding of the issues. First, you have a lot of power pushed to a male plug. Should it be disconnected, there's the risk of shorting it out when it comes in contact with anything conductive. The second issue is that outlets have no circuit protection where you are feeding the power in: that's all back at the fuse box. Finally, if you do backfeed the grid, you are endangering the lives of line workers.

For these and other reasons, there's a name for these hookups: they're called "Suicide cables." I'm told that if you burn your house down with one, your homeowner's insurance will not cover the house, though I haven't verified that. Bottom line for me is that 1,000 or 2,000 oe 3,000 or 6,000 watts at 120V could easily kill someone so I'm not cutting any corners.

Wiring a house with a transfer switch is usually under $1,000 and to put in a plug for your heat is only a few dollars even if you have an electrician do it. Something to think about.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:16 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by garandman View Post
No love for the Yamahas? And the Homelite generators have Robin Subaru OHC engines - what about those?

Homelite is now owned by the company in China that makes Ryobi and several other products.

I bought my parents a nice (expensive) homelite back in the mid 1980's when they were still a US based company. This past summer when the power was out for 4 days, a bearing supporting the end of the Rotor failed. Parts could no longer be found for it. I took the rotor to a machine shop and had them turn the damaged shaft down and fitted an Oillite type bearing for it. The cooling fan had melted, and I was lucky to find one on ebay (new old stock).
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:35 AM   #51
garandman
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Originally Posted by emerson.biguns View Post
Are there any small diesels?
Yes. They are most popular with people who heat with oil, since they thus have a fuel supply. As far as I know all the small diesels run at 3600rpm. Don't know anyone who actually owns one. Around here, most house-sized fixed backup generators run on propane or natural gas.

Yanmar makes several.

Aurora in Canada also makes them.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:28 PM   #52
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I'm looking at getting a portable tri-fuel generator to power our house via transfer switch. Avg. cost for the parts/labor is around $1k, so that's the first step.

2nd step would be to find a tri-fuel generator so I'm not limited to just gasoline; the thing could run off our natural gas stub for the grill, or propane cylinders. Anyone familiar with this brand: http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect....enerators.html

The tri-fuel units appear to be high output and maybe not exactly 'portable' in the sense of moving them around easily (lifting into truck beds, trailers, etc.) A separate 'suitcase' type unit might be nice to have too.

Not that we ever lose power for extended periods, but it's nice to be prepared.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:56 PM   #53
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I have this old Generac 5000w thing I bought at Costco in 1999. It's just a little bit louder than my Mustang Cobra with open headers. Works okay though.

Went to a Boise state football game last weekend and walked around all the tailgaters in the parking lot. Many of them had generators running for their tv's etc. Damn, some of those things were so quiet you almost couldn't hear them.

Borrowed a Honda 2000w job from a friend a few times for camping. It was a joy, quiet and sipped gas as previously stated here.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:53 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garandman View Post
Yes. They are most popular with people who heat with oil, since they thus have a fuel supply. As far as I know all the small diesels run at 3600rpm. Don't know anyone who actually owns one. Around here, most house-sized fixed backup generators run on propane or natural gas.

Yanmar makes several.

Aurora in Canada also makes them.
I was at the local Kubota dealer yesterday and they have two Kubota diesels generators in their show room. I think that they were 11Kw but I didn't study them all that close. $7800 I think.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:01 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by kobudo28 View Post
I was at the local Kubota dealer yesterday
And you didn't take me with you...

not that I've made up my mind or anything...
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:45 PM   #56
kobudo28
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And you didn't take me with you...

not that I've made up my mind or anything...
Well, I had a consulting gig after I left. I suppose I could have picked you up on the way back through. It was dark by then, but I am sure that you have a flashlight. The PD might have cuffed you and stuffed you given the two excavators stolen from Towneline a couple of months ago. I'd bail your ass out....."Officer, I'll vouch for him, he is only lusting after a new tractor. He just sold his excavator so he isn't they guy who drove off with two of them recently."
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:49 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Wolfgang55 View Post
I keep my Honda eu2000i, this thing is worth the $, but shop around, can be had for high 8xxs.

It is also putting out clean juice for the lap tops. Just don't turn tour back on it......they will grow legs.
Just paid $899, free shipping for a Honda EU 2000i. I have a utiltiy shell in my truck that has been repuposed into a truck camper. Already got to use it to run power tools for the hatch installation. I am concerned about the theft issue so I purchased a heavy duty motorcycle lock/chain to lash it to my tube bumpers. Will that be enough?

I wanted one of these for a few years, and now I'm in a positon to need and buy one. BTW, there is an RV parked near my dad's marina on the street, generator is obnoxiuosly loud from down the street. I would think it would really be hard to sleep with that much racket going on..

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Old 11-09-2012, 04:16 AM   #58
garandman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scootertrash View Post
Just paid $899, free shipping for a Honda EU 2000i. I have a utiltiy shell in my truck that has been repuposed into a truck camper. Already got to use it to run power tools for the hatch installation. I am concerned about the theft issue so I purchased a heavy duty motorcycle lock//
Probably not. The handle is plastic and easily cut through. There is a metal anti-theft bracket that fits on top - about $36. But I've read accounts of people leaving their campsite for 15 minutes and coming back to find a cut chain and no generator. Harbor Freight sells bolt cutters for $10 and up and their super-duper model is $22. Supposedly heavy aircraft cable is harder to cut but there are also battery powered cutoff saws available that will go through anything in short order.

I'm planning to get some sort of steel cage. There are outfits who sell diamond plate boxes for about $300 but that's pretty steep to my mind. Some homeowners also mount a battery powered motion detector alarm near where the unit is installed. Those are cheap - $20 on up.

If I have to use mine at home, it's set up behind the house and I don't plan on turning on any lights that would be visible from the street. One of the reasons I got the Honda was that it is quiet enough that if anyone else is running a generator, they won't hear this one. I'll also put a large plastic bin over it with some cutouts for air and exhaust.
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:15 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garandman View Post
A related thread.

I'll chime in because Hurricane Sandy has highlighted our dependence on grid power. We have several generators for work back up, and we're having our house wired next week so we can run the [gas-fired] heat, hot water, and fridge through the fuse box rather than running extension cords or using some sort of back feed hookup which is dangerous as hell.

I'll start with the wiring first. A gas or oil fired heating system only needs electrical power for the circulation pump. These pumps are fairly small. But they usually do not have a plug so they can be run directly from a generator.

What some people do is to "backfeed" power into the house. They shut off the main circuit breaker, then make a double-ended male extension cord and feed power into an outlet. Often they use an electric dryer plug, since it is a 30 amp circuit.

Why is this a bad idea? I'm not an EE or electrician but I'll offer my understanding of the issues. First, you have a lot of power pushed to a male plug. Should it be disconnected, there's the risk of shorting it out when it comes in contact with anything conductive. The second issue is that outlets have no circuit protection where you are feeding the power in: that's all back at the fuse box. Finally, if you do backfeed the grid, you are endangering the lives of line workers.

For these and other reasons, there's a name for these hookups: they're called "Suicide cables." I'm told that if you burn your house down with one, your homeowner's insurance will not cover the house, though I haven't verified that. Bottom line for me is that 1,000 or 2,000 oe 3,000 or 6,000 watts at 120V could easily kill someone so I'm not cutting any corners.

Wiring a house with a transfer switch is usually under $1,000 and to put in a plug for your heat is only a few dollars even if you have an electrician do it. Something to think about.
If you have a main disconnect in your breaker panel then you can trip it off and safely back feed. Drier plugs have a lot of contact force, they do not accidentally unplug. There is breaker at the generator and one in the panel. It is ac, they do not know which way the power originates. If you do not have a main you can not back feed. I have back feed for many weeks. I have rearranged breakers and use a clamp on amp meter so I have balanced loads. This is beyond the ability of many folks, they should not backfeed,. There is nothing inherently dangerous about it

I live out in the country, a big storm and it will be a week or more before I have power. I backfeed my house every time. I change my water heater to 110 V and I can run my house, some lights, computer, fireplace fan or attic fan refigerator, freezer, and water heater on 3000 watts. There is some switching off of loads to run washer or stove or microwave, and I have to air dry everything and hand wash dishes. Basically life continues and my 3K watt gen will burn 5 gallons a day.

Rod
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:44 AM   #60
papalobster
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Originally Posted by garandman View Post
I'll also put a large plastic bin over it with some cutouts for air and exhaust.
This is an almost sure fire way to destroy the generator with excessive heat.

Working field returns at Baldor, I saw many portable units where the owners tried to dampen sound by covering thier generators with anything from plastic bins to hay bales (yes, they will cook themselves in snow country too). Most damage occured on the engine side due to the oil burning off. Low oil shutdown is nice, but chances are some damage had already occurred.

Remember they are air cooled engines that generate a lot of heat, you don't just need to worry about exhaust fumes, but the heat the engine gives off as a cooling medium.

But you need to realize that the generator side also needs a good deal of cooling air as well. You're power will fall off as the windings heat up, and once the varnish burns off the windings, you are left with a very expensive flywheel on your engine.

A determined thief will take your unit despite your best efforts to secure it (see the post above). A chain is really effective against the casual thief. If it's not in use, just lock it inside your truck/trailer. Or find a way to bolt it down. For homeowners, if theft is really an issue, run the generator on your roof
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