school me on standby generators

Brewer

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We're buying a home soon in Tennessee and it'll be our first with natural gas utility. Top of the to-do list is a standby generator. Previously (in Mass) started with a Honda EU2000 then upgraded to EU7000 with transfer switch. Now with NG, going automatic and instant-on sounds mighty nice. Questions:

1) Do you have a brand, model, etc. that you recommend checking out or avoiding? No need to count kW -- I'll do that with a local dealer/installer.

2) Any special considerations or lessons learned to keep in mind? For example, it's the South but I'm inclined to get it cold-weather rated as if in New England to avoid what Texas is going through now.

3) Would you hold onto the EU7000 with jerry cans and also install a manual transfer switch, just in case NG utility fails or goes stupid expensive? On one hand it seems a bit much and ties up some cash. On the other hand I'd rather be prepared to go truly off-grid even if only temporarily. And two is one, one is none.

Thanks as always.

EDIT:

Already slowly reading through these two threads but started my own since it's more narrow criteria and some may have new insights a few years later.


 
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rep308

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My Parents had a Generac connected to their natural gas line. It would kick on damn instantly when the power went out. They lived on Cape Cod which has a 3rd world quality power grid.

Once a week it would fire up for a few minutes and email them a report on the condition. It was serviced yearly and under contract. I'm not sure if it was sized to run the AC as well but it did handle the whole house.
 

G617

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Generac with a transfer switch is a great option for whole house

One thing to consider, if you go generac now (with town natural gas), you could always get it converted to propane later and add a propane tank. That would allow you to be "off grid"
 

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We had a Generac with automatic transfer switch installed at our NH home. We already had propane here and there is no NG in this area. It's been great as we lost power for 17 hrs a month or so ago and we were down for less than 30 seconds. Everything worked and we were comfortable. It's a great investment.
 

Orion2k

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I would do propane and get a big tank. Currently my Briggs and Stratton runs off a 500 gallon (400 gallons actual) propane tank. By going propane you're not depending on a utility to provide your power. In the event of a gas line failure or distribution plant issue you still won't have power on NG but with propane you control your own situation. If there is ever a major cold snap, with so many appliances drawing on the NG grid, you may not have enough gas in the system to run the generator.

You could also go diesel and run off a 275 gallon home heating oil tank but diesel generators are much more expensive.

On another note, if you do decide to go NG, you should check with the utility to see if they have sufficient capacity in the line that feeds your neighborhood to handle the requirements of the generator. I believe they call it inches of water column. Another thing to look at is will the community you live in allow propane in the city limits, especially since NG is readily available. That issue comes down to first responder and utility maintenance safety issues.
 

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I have a 20kW Kohler natural gas unit. It is fantastic to not even be sure if power has been restored after an outage. I have to walk down to that end of the house and see if I can still hear it running. Takes any inconvenience out of a power outage. Power goes off...seconds later the generator has taken over.
 

appraiser

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Most of my neighbors have a propane tank buried in the back yard and a Generac with auto transfer.

Look at events in Texas recently, you'll find the Natural Gas supply was not reliable

 
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We're buying a home soon in Tennessee and it'll be our first with natural gas utility. Top of the to-do list is a standby generator. Previously (in Mass) started with a Honda EU2000 then upgraded to EU7000 with transfer switch. Now with NG, going automatic and instant-on sounds mighty nice. Questions:

1) Do you have a brand, model, etc. that you recommend checking out or avoiding? No need to count kW -- I'll do that with a local dealer/installer.

2) Any special considerations or lessons learned to keep in mind? For example, it's the South but I'm inclined to get it cold-weather rated as if in New England to avoid what Texas is going through now.

3) Would you hold onto the EU7000 with jerry cans and also install a manual transfer switch, just in case NG utility fails or goes stupid expensive? On one hand it seems a bit much and ties up some cash. On the other hand I'd rather be prepared to go truly off-grid even if only temporarily. And two is one, one is none.

Thanks as always.

EDIT:

Already slowly reading through these two threads but started my own since it's more narrow criteria and some may have new insights a few years later.


If the Honda are Inverter generator I'd just convert to propane. As someone pointed out having NG doesn't mean you can, it depends on supply.
 

smokey-seven

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Talk to Generac about propane/NG I know a nat gas unit can run on propane but it involves some mechanical conversion.

Another vote here for Generac. Size is up to your electrician and what you want it to do. Auto shift over is nice, especially when you are not around. The switch gear and wiring is not cheap.
 

Uzi2

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1. Always have a back up......keep ALL of your existing gensets, cans, extension cords, parts, etc. A portable generator can always be brought to a remote site if needed......one attached to the house cannot.

2. Don't buy too much generator. Calculate your power needs ( with some headroom ) and get an appropriate KW rated set.
3. Stock up on oil, filters,.....high rpm gensets ( above 1800 ) need their oil changed frequently during potential long run times.
4. Definitely get a "winterized version" for anything running on compressed gas, if that is the path you take.

5. House the unit from the weather, insects and especially mice.....they'll ruin anything they get into and be sure to have adequate air flow for operation, especially in 100 degree summer heat.

6. Natural gas means you are still "grid" dependent.....propane, gasoline or diesel are true independence.

7. Use the best fuel cans you can find.....cheap cans will always fail.
 

Palladin

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Generac's have more failures and problems than any other brand. The company I work for maintains 197 Home Depots, we're in the process of changing out all their Generacs to Kohler.
On the residential side, the problem is similar. Just because they're the number one home purchased brand. That's due to advertising, more than anything else. Personally, I have a Briggs & Stratton. My next house will have a Kohler.
If you want to run central air conditioning, I agree with the buried propane tank. Get a thousand gallons. Also anywhere between a 16 kW to a 20 will suffice
 
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I have had a Generac in my NH home for 15 years. Never an issue except a bad relay that didn't switch over that was corrected quickly. It has ran for up to 7 days during the worst of the storms. It runs on propane now as nat gas is slowly coming into the area. The cause of most problems is a failure to maintain. I've seen many that wait until there is an issue to call for service . I have a independent service guy that comes out years. I'm in the process of upgrading to a much larger whole house system that will run every electrical need. Not that the 8kw doesn't but this will power every circuit without any issues.

My tech gave me one issue that probably few think about. they have the weekly exercise run when they aren't home. worst idea. He has mine run when I'm usually home so if there is an issue, it's found and corrected before I need the unit for power.
 
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I've had a Generac for 5 years with no issues. Denfinately get an Automatic Transfer Switch; the system starts the geny and turns the whole house over, then when power comes back on it switches you back to the grid and runs a cool down cycle before shutting down the geny.

If you go NG keep in mind you're still dependent on a utility being there to provide the fuel; I have a 500gal Propane tank buried (they only fill it 80%). That would run my generator for a week straight on a full load. But for long duration outages I shut down the system at night.

As for sizing you can also get a switch that has load shedding; so when/if my 1 hp well pump needs to come on the system will shut down my AC Compressor. The benefit here is that I can get away with a 16k generator instead of a 20/22k.
 
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