@HankWalker: I would save some circuits for any neighbors living within extension cord distance. When power was out for week+ in Houston after Hurricane Ike, those with natural gas generators would power their neighbor's fridge. Less power for yourself, but it builds up major "they owe you" neighbor credits.
That is a really good point -- I wish I'd thought of that -- I could have saved a circuit to power all of the sockets mounted on the outside of the house.
Having said this, I believe there is a power socket on the generator itself (I'll have to look when I get home) -- plus we could always run extension cables from inside the house -- but the main thing is that I believe all of our immediate neighbors have small gas-powered generators.
Still-and-all, you make a great point -- I will certainly do this if I ever have occasion to install a new generator or make modifications (like upgrading it) to this one.
I would save some circuits for any neighbors living within extension cord distance. When power was out for week+ in Houston after Hurricane Ike, those with natural gas generators would power their neighbor's fridge. Less power for yourself, but it builds up major "they owe you" neighbor credits.
@Rcurl: If I had known how great these things are I woud have found a way to get one long ago.
I agree, me too.
I have no plans to move ... but if we ever do, one requirement will be a natural gas supply -- and if we ever build from scratch (if I will the lottery), then the generator will be in the specs from the get-go.
After the big blizzard about 20 years ago we were without power for more than a week. No power, no phone, no cell coverage...nothing.
After several days the snow cleared enough that I could drive to a friend's house where there was a working phone. I was looking for a portable generator, but as you might expect they were in very short supply after a weather anomaly like the blizzard. I finally found a 5KW manual-start generator that someone had returned to one of the big box hardware stores and was fortunate enough to nab it. I set it up in the back yard and as I was uncoiling the cable towards the breaker panel the power came back on.
Well, it served us well for a number of years but it had the shortcomings that it was too small to run very much of the house, and being manual start, it was difficult for my wife to get it going by herself. We looked at whole-house natural gas generators but couldn't afford one.
Last year I did some consulting work for a local generator company and while I was there I straightened out some problems with their phone system. I didn't bill them for it because it was a trivial thing for me. Apparently the phone system problems had been a BIG problem for them, because to show their gratitude they gave me a used 25KVA natural gas Generac system. They even came out and did the gas plumbing! All I had to do was the electrical part of the installation.
As you found out, it's really a secure feeling when the power goes out, there's a few seconds of silence, and then the generator springs to life. We've put 55 hours of run time on the generator in the last year. We've got more than enough power to run everything in the house. If I had known how great these things are I woud have found a way to get one long ago.
@David: Would it be rude of me to ask how much your generator cost?
I could have got it for about $4,500 if I'd purchased it directly over the Internet, and I believe they would have delivered/placed it where I specified, but if I wanted it moving after that it would have been my responsibility. I opted to let H.C. Blake purchase it because rthen they take full responsibility for installing it and maintaining it and everything, so it cost a bit more but I think it was worth it.
FYI The real cost is in the insrtallation -- adding the extra electric panel and the transfer switch and all that stuff -- it would be a much better idea to have this all installed from the beginning if you were building a new house.
@David: Air conditioners are rare (and not often needed) in Zim. and most people have a small gas (propane) type 2-plate cooker and cylinder for cooking when the power is off. So you can get by with 2-5 KW.
To be honest I would have been happy with less, but it was one of those "good," "better," "best" type choices. A solution that could run the entire house 100% would have been mind-bogglingly expensive. At the lower end I could have had something that would just have run the fridges and a few lights. I opted for a middle solution -- here in Alabama it can get really hot in the summer (it's about 94F these last few day sand it can easily top 100) -- it can also get %^&* cold in the winder with ice storms and suchlike. My generator is NOT hooked into the HVAC's emergancy heating coils -- just into the general-purpose heat-pump -- so it's enough to stop us boiling or freezing.
It's also nice to have most of the plug sockets powered up (you can plug in small lights and suchlike) -- plus the main family room's lights and TV and cable and Wi-Fi.
If we were just looking at the power going down for an hour here or there I wouldn;t have bothered -- it was loosing it for 10 days that was a "wake-up" call -- I opted for a solution that would keep us going for a while if things really went pear-shaped.
@David: We don't have piped gas in Zimbabwe so most people have a petrol (gasoline) or diesel generator.
Everything is a trade-off -- given a choice I would have loved a big tri-fuel generator (just in case), but in reality I don't think I'd ever use anything but the natural gas.
I did some research at the beginning -- the beauty of natural gas is that it tends to keep on coming after all else has failed (excepting a MEGA-disaster like a big earthquake that breaks the lines -- and I'm hoping we don't run into that here in Alabama).
FYI While I was having the generator installed, I also had the house's main electric hot water tank replaced with an 80-gallon Natural Gas version that doesn't need electricity at all.
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