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Home Generator Plan
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Sep 14, 2021 08:43:44   #
jerryc41 Loc: Catskill Mts of NY
 
This is interesting. The local electric company will give homeowners $550 the first year and $300 a year after that if they use their whole-house generators during peak demand times. Considering the cost of gasoline or propane, I don't think homeowners would come out a head, especially after paying $3,000 - $5,000 for the generator. This would run from June 1 - September 30 every year.

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Sep 14, 2021 08:55:13   #
home brewer Loc: Fort Wayne, Indiana
 
home generators are not renewable energy.

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Sep 14, 2021 09:04:34   #
DirtFarmer Loc: Way too close to New York City
 
Not cost effective.

Also, most home generators are a hassle to set up to power your home. If you have an automatic transfer switch the installation cost is significantly higher. And you will have to reset all the electronic clocks twice a day or give up using them to tell time. Not to mention all the other electronic things that will have to be reset.

A whole house generator that will power your A/C and electric oven/stovetop will set you back much more than $5K (depending on the size of your house). For my house it would be $15-20K. Electric heat? Forget it.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance on your generator.

I would estimate that your annual cost could easily exceed $3K.

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Sep 14, 2021 09:13:04   #
pendennis
 
We live in an area (Metro Detroit), where power outages are a fact of life, especially during the severe weather seasons of summer and winter. The local HVAC contractors have back orders for whole house generators booked for months in advance. Most popular are the Generacs, and they seem to be a good idea. Our close friends had one installed at their new home, and it's been a real asset. They have natural gas, and the Generac cuts in after about a minute, and no need to worry about buying propane. Theirs has kicked in around six times since the house was built in 2019.

The problem is not whether people "need" renewable energy. Windmills and solar are not viable, especially in mass distribution, so the near term solution (15-20) years is to invest money in making the current system more reliable. DTE has a huge problems with above-ground electrical lines with overgrown trees causing downed lines during storms. However, to move those overhead lines underground would cost nearly as much as the original overhead line cost.

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Sep 14, 2021 09:16:01   #
JBRIII
 
Huge battery packs powered by solar are the thing of the future for this sort of stuff, even cars can be used. Of course there, you could be left high and dry if peak demand followed by outage.
No way with gasoline type, I have one for emergencies, burn lots of gas and need to use and replace gas periodically to keep gas in good condition, pain in the butt. Doing all summer would be way too much trouble and much too dangerous in my opinion.

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Sep 14, 2021 09:41:12   #
fourlocks Loc: Londonderry, NH
 
I'm not a fan of the idea. I'd be willing to bet home generators put out a whole lot more emissions than created by the equivalent electricity from a power plant with emissions controls especially if the power plant has a mix of hydro, nuke, wind, etc. I have a Generac but I hate to use it largely because of the noise and sheer inconvenience (it's not hard wired with an auto start feature).

I just received a $45K estimate from a reputable solar power company to install enough panels to replace 100% of my electricity (I have baseboard electric heat so I use a lot) plus two Tesla batteries to see me through power outages. Right now, Tesla batteries run $5K apiece but that should come way down once they increase production. I'm thinking I might buy one or two batteries and just enough solar panels to keep them charged as a way to eliminate my Generac for power outages.

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Sep 14, 2021 10:00:48   #
cedymock Loc: Irmo, South Carolina
 
jerryc41 wrote:
This is interesting. The local electric company will give homeowners $550 the first year and $300 a year after that if they use their whole-house generators during peak demand times. Considering the cost of gasoline or propane, I don't think homeowners would come out a head, especially after paying $3,000 - $5,000 for the generator. This would run from June 1 - September 30 every year.


Your electric company must be vastly different from mine (peak demand are specific times of day).
Peak times for my area;
November 1st to March 31st / 6:00 am to 9:00 am
April 1st to October 31st / 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Cost per kWh off peak $ 0.0550
Cost per kWh on peak $ 12.141
I have never used more than 6 hours a month peak time ( most times below 4 hours ).
Last month off peak energy charge 1,182 kWh $ 65.01
Last month On Peak charge 4.147 kWh $ 50.34

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Sep 14, 2021 10:43:33   #
boberic Loc: Quiet Corner, Connecticut. Ex long Islander
 
The decision depends upon how often you lose power and your house and the saesons most likely involved in power failure. Obviously winter poses the most danger. Failure in warm weather may be inconvenient but not dangerous. But in cold weather failure obviously can be a serious problem. Your health situation must also be considered. All that said, for those in cold winter locations, a whole house generator may be a good investment. Maybe even better that a coupla high end new camera bodies and new mirrorless compatible glass

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Sep 14, 2021 11:08:47   #
DirtFarmer Loc: Way too close to New York City
 
It all depends on what you mean by "whole house" generator. I have a 7KW generator that cost less than $1K and it will do all the important things in the house: lights, well pump, furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator, freezers, microwave, and some outlets. It doesn't do the A/C nor the cooktop/stove, which take a lot of power. It's a gasoline generator and uses the same fuel as my car, so every few months I fill my car from the gas cans and go fill the cans with fresh gas. We have a propane grill which we can use to cook something during extended outages.

But as noted above, it's a hassle to use. The hassle is worth it when you need it. In our area we use it maybe once a year. We do get short outages (1 hr or less). The power utility will email us about what they're doing and give an estimate of the time it will take.

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Sep 14, 2021 14:10:55   #
tramsey Loc: Texas
 
Last February it got down to twenty eight degrees above zero for five days, many people died I know for many that twenty eight degrees is an every day winter event but in Texas it was disastrous. I grew up in North Dakota and twenty eight was almost shirt sleeve weather. Both my wife and I are not spring chickens (80+) and our health is not in top form, especially my wife who has many problems. I bought a small generator just enough to run the central a/c which if also our heat, the fridge and a light bulb or two. The cost was a little over a thousand. I hooked it up to natural gas (the house is all electric) and with a switch so it would automatically come on. That was more than the generator! But now we are set

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Sep 14, 2021 22:50:58   #
TriX Loc: Raleigh, NC
 
Jerry’s power company has to size the distribution system for peak, not base load, so if they can get enough homeowners to handle the peak load, they can use a lower rated distribution system. Now whether it’s worth it to the consumer is highly doubtful. A whole house generator is nice to have if you live in an area with regular outages, but you really need natural gas (propane is expensive and you may not be able to store enough for extended use in addition to your heat). Also, switching the mains for the entire house rather than just 5-6 circuits requires an expensive transfer switch plus you’ll really need to run your computer, router, etc on a UPS so they don’t die during the switchover. They are very convenient, but not cheap - typically 5-6K.

Since we have very infrequent outages (an occasional hurricane or ice storm), I have a portable 6KW generator with a natural gas conversion kit so it will run on natural gas, propane or gasoline. Since I have natural gas, I don’t need to store gasoline which is a major PIA as I did in the past. The kit is about $225-250 and really makes an emergency generator painless. I simply pull the main breaker, plug it into an outdoor 230V outlet (which I installed for that purpose), and it will run everything except the A/C. Total cost - about $800 including the conversion kit.

One thing to be aware of. Most modern gas furnaces use a PC board for control rather than simple relays, and many systems use the same controller board. The catch is that the controller is very sensitive to the AC line frequency which must be in the 59-61 Hz range or it won’t start. If your generator doesn’t use a frequency controlled inverter, its frequency varies with the engine speed, which even with the speed governor, changes with load. So... if you need your generator to run your furnace in an emergency, better test it before you need it to make sure the frequency is stable enough to start your furnace.

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Sep 15, 2021 06:31:18   #
jerryc41 Loc: Catskill Mts of NY
 
DirtFarmer wrote:
Not cost effective.

Also, most home generators are a hassle to set up to power your home. If you have an automatic transfer switch the installation cost is significantly higher. And you will have to reset all the electronic clocks twice a day or give up using them to tell time. Not to mention all the other electronic things that will have to be reset.

A whole house generator that will power your A/C and electric oven/stovetop will set you back much more than $5K (depending on the size of your house). For my house it would be $15-20K. Electric heat? Forget it.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance on your generator.

I would estimate that your annual cost could easily exceed $3K.
Not cost effective. br br Also, most home generat... (show quote)


I have a portable generator - on wheels. I wheel it out, plug it in, and pull the starting cord a few times. Then I have to remember to check the gas tank. It runs everything but the stove and clothes dryer. It's a nuisance, but it's better than flashlights. When I bought mine years ago, it came with the unit to connect to the breaker panel in the house. Very nice setup.

I know people who have the whole-house units. They run for fifteen minutes a week on propane to keep things working, and they turn on and off automatically if the power goes off. They run on big tanks of propane. As you said - $5k.

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Sep 15, 2021 06:33:35   #
jerryc41 Loc: Catskill Mts of NY
 
TriX wrote:
Jerry’s power company has to size the distribution system for peak, not base load, so if they can get enough homeowners to handle the peak load, they can use a lower rated distribution system. Now whether it’s worth it to the consumer is highly doubtful. A whole house generator is nice to have if you live in an area with regular outages, but you really need natural gas (propane is expensive and you may not be able to store enough for extended use in addition to your heat).


Yes, propane is expensive around here, but the more you buy, the lower the rate. I gave up on my propane room heater because the price kept going higher because I didn't use it often enough. Now I wear a sweater or a jacket, depending on the temperature. : )

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Sep 15, 2021 06:51:53   #
Lonnie77 Loc: Kennedale, Texas
 
Two things that are difficult to live without, electricity and water. Yes I know there are other things but this is my story so let it go. Last winter both stopped flowing. So I bought a 9K watt duel fuel generator and installed a breaker to isolate in coming power. Turn off the breaker, connect the power cord, start the generator and there is enough power to run the entire house. I have about $2k invested. Need to keep a supply of propane on hand I do not want to use gasoline.

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Sep 15, 2021 07:19:28   #
Walkabout08
 
A bit less than a year ago I started to seriously undertake a whole house propane generator. We live in the woods and are subject to frequent power outages, generally 8-24 hours, on rare occasions several days. It then occurred to me that a lithium battery pack a la Tesla’s would be wiser and greener and less maintenance hassle. Fast forward 10 months and tomorrow I’m getting the foundation for a tracking solar array with a 13.5 kwh backup battery installed. No more electric bills and if it generates the electricity it’s supposed to I will ditch my AC compressors and the oil burner and install high efficiency electric heat pumps. I’m also exploring if/how I can use my ev vehicle battery in the event the new in-house battery runs out and the sun refuses to shine. An extreme case of project scope creep!

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