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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    118

    Default recommendation for portable generator

    Am looking for recommendations for portable gas generator - to "power" the essentials in 1400 sq ft ranch-style house.

    Have done a lil'research and am baffled at price differences of Honda generators, compared to others. Are the Honda generators that much better than others, or is it the name, Honda? Have owned a Honda mower for decades, so got no complaints when it comes to durability.

    Have no problem spending more for a better generator, but was curious what others would recommend. Generac appears to be popular brand. Also noticed some portables powered by LP gas. Seems easier than hauling around gasoline, but would probably also need more than one tank.

    We're in New England so there are times snow and ice can knock power out for a while. Last time was a couple years ago, and it was out for 8 days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,967

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    Honda generators, in general, produce cleaner power, fewer and lower spikes that can damage equipment and appliances. Their E series are designed to be extremely quiet and produce very clean power so you can run sensitive electronics from them. If your appliances are newer, then they are likely loaded with electronics, which means the E series will be the best choice.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    crylakel,

    Welcome to the wonderful, bizzaro world of emergency electric generators, and all of the crazy fun there is in protecting your home & family from the woes of a power outage.

    I've been at it for 10 yrs & am still learning how not to panic when the power goes out here in my central Mass. home---it hasn't been easy learning how to run my 3k-watt Honda gasoline-driven portable gen--my biggest fear has always been a local ice-storm that takes down all the branches, & the power lines along with them & the area is without power for over a week---since I have forced hot water heat (like I believe YOU do from your past posts) my biggest fear is what happened to a close relative who lives nearby a few years ago---they lost their heat & then the HW rads & heating pipes froze & burst & they had to pack up the kids & live with us for a while, surprisingly at least THAT time I never lost my elec power, but my relative paid a lot of $$$ to have the damage repaired---many of the heating pipes inside the walls & floors also froze & much of the HW heating pipes had to be replaced---sheesh, what a mess!

    After that experience, they opted to have a whole-house automatic standby natural gas-fired generator installed for $7-$10k that separates the house from the local power grid, comes on automatically during a power failure, & subsequently goes off automatically & reconnects to the main power grid when the city power comes back on---a small annual maintenance fee is charged to make sure the system is working properly & will be there in the event of a future power outage.

    I'm more of the diy-type & have learned thru much trial & error how to disconnect the main panel from the local elec co. & attach the small Honda so that only the heating system & a few lites & the tv keep running until power is restored; I lost my elec power last winter & had to again go thru the drill of setting up the unit outside, disconnecting from the main panel & city lines & connecting to the heating system & after a number of hours & trial & error I was able to restore heat.

    I paid $1500 for my small Honda, & as dj says, they run more quietly than the others & generate a "clean sine-wave" of AC juice that is less likely to harm electronic circuits; but since these small, portable units are designed to be run outside, Generac & Troy-Built & others for approx $700 are noisier, but will do the job as well for the (usually) short time they are needed.

    The phrase "run outside" is important---all of these units emit a lot of carbon monoxide, which is poisonous, & at the same time odorless, so that each year lots of deaths & injuries are caused by CO poisoning----since it's not a good idea to try to rev up a portable gen outside while the snow & wind is still flying, it's best to turn up the house heat at the beginning of the storm while you still have power & wait till the wind & snow subsides, then put the gen in one of those plastic storage sheds (Home Depot/Lowes)---or build a modified dog house with a swing roof to protect from the weather & read up (below) on how to make safe connections; most homeowners have relatives or friends who already own a portable gen & it is best to enlist their help in learning the basics, if you decide to go the route of a portable gen; it's imperative to go through several "dry runs" with someone knowledgeable in this stuff to learn the ropes before an actual outage occurs; gasoline is dangerous to store & handle in a garage & also causes building fires, injuries & deaths; gasoline is never available for sale during the actual outage, since the local gas stations all run their pumps by elec, & everyone is desperate for any station that may be open; so homeowners are forced to store 5-10 gallons in the garage or in the basement, which is dangerous & can be asking for trouble; many of the same precautions observed when using a snowblower apply to using a gasoline-fired portable generator.

    Most modern cars have an anti-theft device in the gas tanks these days, so it's hard to siphon needed gasoline from your own car in such an emergency.

    The sites below illustrate the different portable gens available & offer suggestions on how to make connections---however, be advised that electricity is DANGEROUS, especially the high voltages & amperages associated with the main elec house panel, which usually run between 100 amp to 200 amps---that's a lot of amps & can cause serious injury, so it's best to hire an electrician to install the relatively simple connections that will enable you to safely temporarily connect your generator to the heating system in the event of a temporary outage, so that at least you'll have heat---you can rely on batteries to power lights & radios, etc. until the main power come back on.

    DO NOT as a few sites suggest attempt to backfeed your generator output through a dryer outlet connection, or any other wire---these electrical lines are not large enough & are not designed to handle the amperage & voltages involved.

    Better is a gen run on natural gas or propane; 5 gal. propane tanks are considered safer to store in a garage & its fuel doesn't deteriorate so rapidly, but even here there are risks.

    Always have at least 1 or 2 battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in your home & garage because poisonous CO is odorless/tasteless & can't be detected until it is too late.

    Since you state in a past post that you have a fireplace in your home, consider calling in a contractor for some quotes as to if it is feasible to have a wood stove or pellet stove inserted into the fireplace to provide heat in an emergency.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...ome%20use&sm=1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2FDO3SVnVE
    Last edited by brewster; 02-21-2014 at 06:29 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,398

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    There is a reason for the price difference - and Honda's prices are justified. It's a better machine.

    You want a generator for the long haul, one the starts and performs when you need it. One which is quieter and more efficient. Still, even a Honda requires maintenance. If you do get one, learn how to service it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Montreal Canada
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    Just so that everyone knows what to do in case of a prolonged power outage and no back up power, in an area where the temp is below freezing. You can before the house freezes
    1) drain all the water out of the domestic water pipes then blow out the rest with compressed air.
    2) fill all the p-traps with plumbers anti freeze. do not forget toilet tanks, washers hose taps ect.
    3) turn off the power to the hot water tank then drain the tank completely. You do not want the power to come back on when the tank is empty.
    If you have hot water heating system then go to step # 4
    4) Turn of the power to the hot water boiler, then shut off the water supply to the heating system first then open the drain on the boiler. then starting at the top of the house open purgers on every radiator and leave them open, take your time you do not water coming out of a rad purger if there is a water above the rad your about to open.

    Once the power is back on close every thing you opened connect the pipes to compressed air to see if anything is broken. If everything is tight then gradually start to fill the system before starting up the heating and hot water system. Be sure the air is out of all the systems before turning the switch back on.

    The reason to use compressed air to test for breaks if something is broken it just leaks air not water.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    ***, tons of great info here - thanx

    yes, have natural gas, hot water (Buderus boiler) heated house, & looked into standalone generator (couple of quotes - 8w for $6K). have a pellet stove and a friend brought over their portable generator a few years ago - unsure though if it was a "large enough" one cuz could hear power "surge" and stove ran "oddly". but it heated the area .... the noise from the generator (was out in driveway) was pretty bad. standalone seems a "wiser" choice when one has natural gas, & if price isn't an issue.

    am actually looking now for the portable for a relative's house since they heat w/oil, don't have a fireplace, and the price of propane (and recent concerns re: shortage) turned them off to standalone w/propane tanks.

    checked Honda site and saw two 6500s portables - $2,900 and $4,900 ....


    Quote Originally Posted by brewster View Post
    crylakel,

    since I have forced hot water heat (like I believe YOU do from your past posts) my biggest fear is what happened to a close relative who lives nearby a few years ago---they lost their heat & then the HW rads & heating pipes froze & burst & they had to pack up the kids & live with us for a while, surprisingly at least THAT time I never lost my elec power, but my relative paid a lot of $$$ to have the damage repaired---many of the heating pipes inside the walls & floors also froze & much of the HW heating pipes had to be replaced---sheesh, what a mess!

    After that experience, they opted to have a whole-house automatic standby natural gas-fired generator installed for $7-$10k that separates the house from the local power grid, comes on automatically during a power failure, & subsequently goes off automatically & reconnects to the main power grid when the city power comes back on---a small annual maintenance fee is charged to make sure the system is working properly & will be there in the event of a future power outage.

    you have a fireplace in your home, consider calling in a contractor for some quotes as to if it is feasible to have a wood stove or pellet stove inserted into the fireplace to provide heat in an emergency.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...ome%20use&sm=1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2FDO3SVnVE

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,949

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    There are lots o'hurricanes round these parts and many folks have generator of various types.

    My 2 cents worth:

    1- Get one that put out 220v
    2- Get one with a variable governor, so the speed (noise) changes by itself when more or less power is needed. This will make it quieter at night and use less gasoline.
    3- Getting fuel after the blackout can be a problem if the gas station doesn't have power. Have a few 5 gallon gas cans ready. When the blackout passes, use the stored gas in your cars as stored gas goes bad over a few months.
    4- If you have a whole house disconnect, you're in great shape. After the blackout, cut yourself off from the grid by turning off the disconnect (very important), plug your 220v cord from the generator into your panel via an appropriate receptacle, then fire up the generator.
    5- You'll figure out pretty quickly how much stuff you can use in your house before the generator has problems. Avoid heat making electric appliances, TV's, and lighting.
    6- When the neighborhood power comes back, cut off the generator, unplug it, and turn the house disconnect back on.

    My Portable generator put out 5500kw, and it runs everything in my 1100 SF home except the HVAC. (dryer, water, stove are gas) We don't have to worry about what's running.
    Last edited by HoustonRemodeler; 02-22-2014 at 10:12 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,789

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    All good advice above. My caution is do not be oversold. While whole house generators are convenient they are expensive to operate. A neighbor has one on propane and was using 4 gal an hour to operate it during an outage. Consider a smaller unit just big enough to run essentials I have a Reliance Transfer Switch which is easy to install. If you use one get one rated for a bigger generator than you get, that way you can easily switch different circuits on and off as needed without overloading the gen. If yo go with a gasoline generator, get some gas stabilizer to put in the tank during storage. Run the generator every couple of months with a load to keep it magnetized and the gas line and carburetor from varnishing up. Learn how to flash a generator.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,757

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    JLMCDANIEL,

    I give, what is to "flash" a generator? I have never heard that term before.

    What familiarity I have with generators is from motorhoming. Most RV's have one onboard. The RV generators tend to be high end units and quiet. You don't want to be trying to sleep in an RV with the generator load and vibrating the whole unit. They tend to be slower running to keep them quiet.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,789

    Default Re: recommendation for portable generator

    Quote Originally Posted by ordjen View Post
    JLMCDANIEL,

    I give, what is to "flash" a generator? I have never heard that term before.

    What familiarity I have with generators is from motorhoming. Most RV's have one onboard. The RV generators tend to be high end units and quiet. You don't want to be trying to sleep in an RV with the generator load and vibrating the whole unit. They tend to be slower running to keep them quiet.
    Generators stored for long periods of time can lose their magnetism. The unit still runs but outputs no voltage.
    http://www.ehow.com/how_7987906_flas...generator.html

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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