Sorry for the OT post, but figured this group, if any, might have the
answers. Am looking for a portable standby generator, about 5KW. Can
anyone here recommend a specific **brand** or maybe suggest a specific
brand to **avoid** ?? Living down in Hurricane country (Texas Gulf Coast)
and so far in 18 years have never needed one. Figure I'm pushing my luck
and am thinking about one in the 5KW size range, enuf to run fridge & deep
freeze, a few small wattage (flourescent replacement) lamps + TV and
satellite rcvr, prolly a fan or two. Realize I cannot afford something the
size that would pull our central AC.
Also what about fuels? Gasoline would ordinarily seem easiest to obtain
and therefore most logical, but what about natural gas (not propane)?
W/gasoline you'd be constantly running out to purchase more else stick a
"Georgia Credit Card" in your vehicle tank. 5KW genset consumes between ˝
gal and 1 gal gasoline per hour, depending on load. How much line pressure
would it take for a NG powered genset? (I'm leaning toward gasoline but
thought I'd ask).
Locally available brands & engines
Troy-Built (Briggs & Stratton)
In my straight job, I engineer telecom systems. One of the main
considerations is standby power, as well as tower loads, microwave
At my pre-divorce house, I installed a 20KW NG fueled unit. This
involved pouring a slab, wiring a transfer panel, and re-wiring the
house panels to steer emergency power to "essentials", i.e., main
refrigerator, "beer" refrigerator, furnaces (not an issue in FL, but
certainly important in Chicago), telephone switch, satellite receiver
and TV distribution, TV's, garage doors, alarm system, engine block
heater outlets, etc. Remember to add a couple of open receptacles, as
you will discover that you need them.
I twisted the arms of some of the contractors with whom I worked
everyday, and got what I considered a deal at about $22K total. The used
Onan genset was $15K of that. The automatic transfer panel was $3K used.
At my new house, I have a Honda 5KW gasoline genset on wheels, with the
panel and manual transfer panel pre-wired. Now, instead of everything
switching over automatically, I have to wheel out the genset, fuel it,
attach the cable to the transfer panel, pull-start the genset, and throw
the switch on the transfer panel. Total cost <$800. I have 3 jerry cans
that I try to rotate for other uses. Don't forget the Stabil.
I think that you will find that a NG setup requires permanent
installation to meet codes, both zoning and electrical. And that's where
the bucks start to escalate.
You might consider an LPG-fired genset and a 40# tank, although the
"multi-fuel" gensets usually have a small premium. I went with gasoline,
as I figured it would be easier to come by than LPG if the balloon goes up.
don't forget to check local codes re LP
some cities prohibit anything larger than a 30-lb tank on-premise due to
explosion hazard in a fire
several years (let's see.....2005-1978...OK, a long time ago) I installed
some 5 kW Onan's for the city and county PD's as part of their comm system
upgrades, the two in-town had to be NG, the one out at the cable tower for
the county's base stations were LP
oh, one more thing..........the 5 kW unit for the city PD tended to surge
badly with just a pair of 60-watt solid state bases plugged in, but when we
added the old 100-W tube-type fire dept base to the load, it settled down
it took about 300 watts minimum load to get it to run on-speed
Doggone Langerhans you been looking at my resume? I'm fcc-licensed MW guy
myself (Farinon DVM6/45) and Mitel-certified on phone systems. Small
world, huh? We run 7.5 KW natural gas Onans along our natural gas
pipeline ROW for obvious reasons, the gas is there. These are overkill for
the 6-gig M/W repeaters but there's a small window A/C and an occasional
100W VHF base station and SCADA RTU. In those few tower sites -not- on the
ROW we keep a 200# propane tank because unlike gasoline propane doesn't go
bad in long term storage or gum up the lines plus I can call a guy to go
deliver/fillup and never have to leave the office.
But for HOME... well, that's a whole other matter. I've convinced myself
that gasoline will generally be easier to deal with and I can always drop
a siphon hose in one of the vehicle tanks if/when supply runs short. That
might also cost-justify my thoughts about adding an aux tank on the RAM.
Size-wise I'd love to have a 7.5KW but something that size might need to
be trailer-mounted and I don't have room to store a trailer. 7.5KW also
sucks down a lot more fuel and STILL won't pull the central air. 5KW
-will- meet our needs as long as I can keep the wife supplied with her
hormone pills ;-) and keep the fridge doors closed.
No Xfr panel, even manual pull not really in the budget, plus I'm in an
unincorporated area of the county. Not rural, but we can get by w/shit out
here they might lock you up for in town, like pulling the meter and
clamping straight in w/suicide lugs (obviously no little guys around) or
more elegant, putting a 30A twist-lok on a short pigtail out the bottom of
the service panel and reverse-feeding through a separate dual breaker
(Mains OPEN of course). Po' folk got po' ways... Anyone asks, man that's
the -welder- hookup. ;-)
Alas, I digress. I was mainly looking for recommended brands or what to
avoid if someone's gotten a dud somewhere along the way.
Yep, I got my First-Phone back in 1967, my EE in 1972, and currently
design comm systems including conventional, trunked and cellular sites,
911 call centers, as well as big telephone switching, and all the IT
Just a couple of thoughts......I'm concerned about the "suicide lugs"
approach. You need to plan the electrical loads for:
1. what happens when the mains drop out?
2. what happens in a brown out?
3. what is the start-up load when connecting the genset?
4. how you are going to provide essential power to certain things that
are normally fed through a 3-phase 209VAC distribution panel when your
generator is a 2-phase 240VAC device?
5. what are the implications of inductive loads at both #1 & #3 ?
6. what happens when the mains come back online and you want to switch
back? Your gen will lose a backfeed battle with those mains. Bigtime.
7. a 5KW genset is only good for 40A continuous (if that). How are you
gonna balance that load? Pray that the fishtank heater doesn't switch on
at the same time as the furnace blower, while your daughter is running
Despite the amusement claimed by others, all this stuff is just basic
safety. It seems like you understand, but some of the kibitzers
In retrospect, it might not be too great or costly a task to install a
small (50A) sub-panel and move or extend (breakers and all) the handful of
circuits I've identified as "necessary" over to it. This would allow me
the ability to still manually connect via twist-lok connector the sub
panel either to commercial power or to the gen set and be isolated from
the main. I'll hit the flea markets next weekend too, there's big one N.
of town that just might have a manual transfer switch. Barring that, how
about a 2-pole double-throw NEMA-3 starter w/a little manual override
switch on the coil? (remember, po' folk and po' ways).
Any gensets have GFCI ?
The concept of GFCI is a good one, but depends on a good ground. If you
intend to place the genset in the same spot, it might be worth driving a
good ground rod and pre-wiring a Burndy connector and a good hunk of 3-0
or 4-0 cable.
Most commercial transfer switches will switch each phase, as well as the
neutral. In your application, if you are intending to pipe the
connections (and I hope you do...no Romex) you can use the existing
neutral. This is called a non-separately derived system. The only
problem with this is usually caused by poor grounding in the existing
home wiring, and that problem is ground loops due to parallel grounds at
Here is a good article with illustrative pictures:
All loads drop. (there will be no auto transfer or giant clutch/flywheel
lashup - saw one of those once on a 25kw diesel, gauwd almighteeee)
Again, nothing - no connection to the genset until the load is dropped
completely. Genset load is then pull-rope started and the load walked-in.
When genset needs fuel it also goes completely down, load switched off and
then walked back in again after a restart. This is a poor man's riggin'.
All we need most of the time is lights and cold beer and the TV.
I calculated the total locked rotor requirement as a tad over 50A but
these will not all be fired up at once so I'm thinking I should be able to
bring it all online by walking it in load by load without stalling the
genset. If there's an issue it might be how to address the possibility of
all 3 refrigeration loads deciding to kick in their compressors
concurrently. There's enough there to run 'em all concurrently, but
starting them all at once is a whole other matter and something that may
need to be dealt with. (ideas welcomed) I was actually thinking about the
possibility of a timer on the freezer. The deep freeze can stay off for at
least 6 hrs if we can stay out of it then let it have juice for a couple
hours to recover, i.e., 2 hrs on/6 hrs off then repeat. - wife had another
thought, drop all the refrigeration loads at bedtime and trade the load
for a 10k btu window A/C in the master BR. It gets pretty sticky down here
during hurricane season. Lotta load switching around I agree, but see my
previous about "po' folks and po' ways"
You're blowin' smoke. No residence I've ever seen w/3 ph panel.
No auto xfr for (1) and read my remarx above to (3)
Know better than to even attempt to buck. This will be a manual
disconnect. This isn't a hospital, it's my residence ;-) - we'll know when
the commercial power is back because the AC will come on (wheee!!)
Daughter (and her thrice daily showers) is her husband's responsibility
nowadays, thank goodness.
You're right, a 5KW genset maxes out around 40A continuous (8300 KVA
assuming PF of .6) *AND* assuming it really is 5 KW....... We all know
about assumptions, which is why I'm looking for a 5KW and not 2˝ - I'd
love 7˝ just don't want to have to feed it. Full load vs half load on 7˝KW
genset not much difference in fuel consumption compared to full vs ˝ with
a 5kw unit.
Sounds like you have thought it through.
BTW, up here, us Yankees *do* get 3 phase power in areas newly rewired.
My old house had 2x400A 3ph panels. Actually, it made the gen
Good luck with the project.
You can get 3 ph here too in the new suburbs but it comes with $500
monthly minimum billing. Too rich for my blood. With 2x400A 3 Ph panels
you obviously had more house than most. I'm guessing 6k+ s.f. (?)
Thanks for your assist & thoughts. Now waiting for someone to -answer- my
original post and recommend for or against specific brand(s) >>smile<<
How much do you want to spend? I bought and installed a 15KW Generac unit
last year for the same reason (North Carolina) and the unit was about
$3,200.00 and comes with an automatic transfer switch (12 breaker). I was
also considering a portable but figured that if I was away when it was
needed, my wife wouldn't be able to hook it up. Another problem is that if
there is a massive power failure, the gas stations can't pump and I don't
like the idea of keeping 15 or 20 gallons of gas around. Mine runs on
propane since that is what we have here (no NG in the area) but it is
capable of running on either one with minor adjustments. If I was going to
run it on NG, it would only be capable of producing 12KW and in that case, I
would have probably just bought the 12KW unit for around $2,600 and saved
myself some money.
If at first you don't succeed, you're not cut out for skydiving
< email@example.com> wrote in message
TBone, how has the Generac been working out for you?
I work for a Generac dealer and have installed a bunch of them. Zero
troubles except for the starter motors were poor on the first year or so of
production. The later models have a Delco starter and they have been good.
If your starter is gold colored you have a newer one, the early ones were
black and it will fail sooner than later.
So far so good but now that I have installed it, I will probably never need
it. I must say that the way they wire houses here in NC made it a real PITA
to install it.
The only trouble I had was one of the fuses in the transfer switch was bad
and it was not a whole lot of fun trying to find a replacement. None of the
local supply houses carried it and neither did the HD where I bought the
unit. Come to think of it, they also don't carry the replacement oil
filters for it either but fortunantly I found the correct automotive filter
Gee, thanks for scaring the shit out of me. I went out to look and it has
the gold colored one so hopefully, I'll be ok there.
If at first you don't succeed, you're not cut out for skydiving
We get allot of people calling for oil filters and a odd part or two. HD
here plus a couple other stores sell them so we get to service them too. I
too had trouble finding fuses other than Generac. We generally special order
them from a local electrical wholesaler.
We get a few that install themselves and it does not work when they are
done. Of course it is warranty in their mind, but it ALWAYS is an
Once installed they have been running great. The first few that we got from
the factory had some bugs to iron out, but after the initial shot they have
been great generators. Far better than the last model they built! Those help
keep me employed! My boss has two 8K units on his house, both are broke down
at the moment!
I had to order them online. I also replaced its main breaker to upgrade it
to a 70 amp (since it is running on propane) and the breaker Generac uses
for that is also hard to find. Fortunantly, the online supplier had both.
I had to make some modifications to both the gen unit and the house wiring
to make it work and having that done by someone else would have cost me a
fortune. The only problem I had was a short (pintched wire) on the control
lines between the gen unit and the external box which is what blew the fuse.
Fortunately, it blew the fuse on the voltage sense side so I knew about it
right away when the gen always wanted to run. After repairing the short,
there were no more problems.
It does seem to run well and remains stable regardless of the load although
it doesn't like it much when the AC first comes on. During the break-in, I
had it pretty loaded down and it seemed to handle it with no problem.
Hopefully, I will never need it but I'm glad it's there if I do and it also
gives me another selling point on the house.
If at first you don't succeed, you're not cut out for skydiving
I'm on the Florida Gulf Coast -- bought a DeVilbiss genset just after
Opal in '95, and finally used it after Ivan this past year. It was the
brand that Lowe's was selling at the time, but I expect that it (or
similar) is probably on the market with other badges as well.
It's a gas unit -- 10hp Briggs engine that puts out 5.5kw -- probably
in the 7.5 yo 8.5 kw peak range. It's got a BIG gas tank that will let
it run continuously for 10 - 12 hours. When you stop it to add gas, it
will almost always need some (less than a half quart) oil.
I ran the thing non-stop 24hrs per day for 5 days, and powered nearly
everything in the house (two different legs). The only things I didn't
run were washer/dryer, and central air. It happily powered the fridge
and freezer as well as all of the lights and ceiling fans. I had
pulled the main breakers so as not to fry the local lineman, and a
neighbor had to come over and tell me when the power was back on.
I'm a happy camper -- but it's time to go check the thing and make sure
it's ready to run if needed.
Thanks Mark. Yours is the post I was looking for, someone w/experience
with one of the over-the-counter/lumber-yard/home improvement store
I've had generally good experiences shopping at Lowes' with the lone
exception when we had them lay a ceramic tile floor in our kitchen. Big
mistake! It had to be ripped up not just once, but twice because their
low-bidder contractor didn't know how to "float" an uneven floor. The
first job turned out like a cobblestone road; kitchen table even rocked,
all 4 chairs wobbled, some adjacent tiles out of plane by as much as .375"
Second attempt was only slight improvement. (spec is 0.02 max between any
2 adjacent tiles). After 3rd lay it's still not perfect, but a far cry
from what we started with. In their defense, Lowes did stick by us and
even offered to rip out again and let us bring in a professional flooring
contractor at their expense. I think had we not had fully enough of the
mess & dust for four whole weeks that we would have - and in retrospect
probably should have - but that was a learning experience for everyone
IMO Briggs & Stratton small gasoline engines are hard to beat for the
value & reliability, plus still American made and you can get parts for
literally everything they've ever built. God bless companies like Briggs &
Tried to email you but it bounced right back!
I have a 5 HP Briggs powered generator setup to run on natural gas;
pressure regulator & all just hook up the line. Don't recall the output,
but if you're interested I'll check it for you. I also purschased a carb.
so I could convert it back to gas. I'm in. Ga., so I don't know if
shipping would be cost prohibitive. I don't need it so I'll take $800 for
aka "Tha Driver"
America - made in China! :-(
Thanks Paul, but yours is probably a bit small for what I'm trying to
accomplish. 5HP does not equate to 5KW, more like 2.2 or perhaps 2.5 KW,
which won't meet my needs.
In calculating my load I anticipate somewhere around 2.5~3.5 KW will be my
sustained/static load for 2 refrigerators, 1 deep freeze, 27" TV and
satellite rcvr and a couple lamps and 2~3 fans. The refrigeration/freezer
load is of course cyclical so as long as we can all stay focused on the
need to keep them -CLOSED- and not stand there with the door open deciding
what to have will minimize compressor time and leave us some headroom for
an electric skillet/fry pan and an occasional load of clothes through the
washer. Running the AC is completely out of the question; we'll just have
to suffer. Running the central air would require minimum 10~12˝ KW to get
it to start (locked rotor amps) and I really don't feel like this is
something I need to spend $4~5 grand on. Besides, a genset that big will
be a fuel pig. Refrigeration load, TV/Sat and some lights & fans will get
When planning the size and calculating load, you want to base your figures
on 50% of the capacity of the genset. Running a 2.5 kw load on a 2.5kw
genset is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. Been there & done
Also as I'm reading I've learned that propane fueled units develope more
output than otherwise equally sized natural-gas units. If I understand
this correctly propane has a higher BTU rating per cubic foot than natural
Personally, I have a Generac SVP-5000 since here in NC, we get our
fair share of hurricanes and power outages. I've got mine hooked up
outside to my distribution panel and it runs everything in the entire house
except the AC. I have an electric hot water heater and it'll run that too
but when that's demanding current, you can't really run anything else.
If I were to purchase another generator, it'd be another Generac but I'd
get one a little larger and one with electric start. I'd rather have a
automatic standby unit fired by propane (since I have propane heat) but
for what you are looking for, you should look at the 75D. It's diesel,
runs at a lower RPM and should handle the load required by a household.
Trust me, the first time your power goes out and you start it up and have
power to everything in your house, it'll all be worth it...the misses will
you even more.
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