Author Topic: Portable generator recommendations?  (Read 2631 times)

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4873
Portable generator recommendations?
« on: August 29, 2021, 06:57:02 PM »
Can we talk home generators?  I've researched several times and never pulled the trigger, but it seems like time.  Ideally, I'd like one that has some solar charging capacity so I don't have to keep gas around.   I'm talking about something portable, since we are in a rental.  Definitely doesn't need to run the whole house or anything.  Enough to charge phones and other basics, I suppose?  I'm not even sure what I need to be thinking about, actually.  Honestly, I haven't been through a harsh winter--with or without power loss--since I was about 7 years old so I don't quite know what we'd need, but I'm not expecting to run the fridge and freezer to keep food from spoiling or anything like that.  Just to keep us safe and relatively comfortable for a few days.  (So I guess maybe we'd want to be able to run at least a small space heater?  We have a fireplace and it is natural gas.  Does that usually stay on?  Our stove is gas as well, so if I can count on that, I guess I wouldn't need a crock pot or any cooking capacity, either.)  In our area, I think it's pretty much only winter storms we need to prepare for.  Anyway, what generator do you have, and what do you love or hate about it?   Of course I'd like to be able to spend as little as possible, but I'm willing to spend money for quality, and solar instead of gas.  Clearly, I'm pretty clueless so any tips are welcomed, even if they seem obvious, in case I don't know whatever it is.  Even if that is just to tell me I don't actually need a generator. 

(If it matters, I'm in the greater DC area.  We get winter, but generally not especially intense or brutal winters, at least not pre-climate change.)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2021, 07:13:21 PM by Villanelle »

ender

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6878
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 06:33:21 AM »
From reading that it's not clear to me why you actually want a generator.

What scenarios are you wanting to insure against?


Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4873
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2021, 10:21:22 AM »
From reading that it's not clear to me why you actually want a generator.

What scenarios are you wanting to insure against?

Mostly winter power outages.   (I realize my last parenthetical may seem to contradict that fact!  I guess I was mostly trying to convey that I shouldn't need to be able to keep us safe and functioning for weeks while we dig out from meters and meters of snow, and after a wide-spread, catastrophic loss of power, in sub 0C weather.  More like a few days likely no worse than slightly below freezing.)

uniwelder

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Appalachian Virginia
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2021, 10:38:18 AM »
A 1500 watt inverter hooked up to your car might work for you. Here’s a good article https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/02/can-a-pint-sized-power-inverter-replace-a-generator/index.htm

Nate R

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI (Bay View)
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2021, 10:42:21 AM »
I 2nd uniwelder's thoughts.... I think this is likely the best tradeoff for up front cost and usability.

sonofsven

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 832
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2021, 06:56:19 PM »
I've seen two different "power station" style units at Costco recently that are basically a rechargeable lithium battery pack invertor that is a generator equivalent. You keep it plugged in I assume and fully charged and when the power is out you use it until the battery is drained, then find a place to plug it in, or possibly re charge it with your car (might take a while) or solar panels?
Obviously there are pros and cons to this type of unit.
I was there looking at a small (2200 watt) Firman gas generator that is $50 off (439.00); I think I'm going to get it.

Morning Glory

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3882
  • Location: The Garden Path
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2021, 07:18:53 PM »
We had one from harbor freight, it was fine, but probably bigger than we really needed. Our issue was sump pumps. The basement would rapidly fill with water at certain times of year so we had to drag the generator over if the power went out. We put wheels on ours but it was still a chore

Your gas stove should still work, but not the fireplace (it has electric blowers). Gas hot water should still work too, so you can trickle it to keep pipes from freezing. Of your house is well insulated it should take more than 24 hours for the temp to drop below freezing.


Sandi_k

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 648
  • Location: California
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2021, 08:24:32 PM »
My husband used to work in the movie business, and did a lot of remote work where power generation was a Thing. We currently have a 2000 Watt Honda "put put." It's pretty quiet.

We've been able to run our internet and our fridge/freezer with it when we have had power outages in recent years.

He would recommend something a bit more powerful, and something with an inverter. If you want something to handle climate controls, he recommends a 7000 Watt inverter generator, reasonably quiet. You will have to have an electrician install a transfer switch. He also recommends that you only get Honda or Yamaha brands, as the others (in his experience) are not as reliable.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2021, 09:08:58 PM »
Your stove will work with normal power outage (you may have to light it with a grill lighter). Do not use it for heat as you will get CO poisoning (that was a big issue over here in Texas during the Great Freeze).

The natural gas fireplace will also work with the same caveat (though some have battery-powered lighters). Make sure your chimney vent is open and the chimney is moderately clean (no nests) to ventilate properly and not start a fire. 

For reference, during the freeze our 3500 sqft house' gas fireplace kept only the living room reasonably warm (50F with 10F outside). Fireplaces are really only for warming the immediate area in front of them.

An option for additional warmth (or warming a separate area of the house) is a wood-pellet stove. It'd be more practical than installing a new fireplace as only the vent needs to be installed. They are a bit more effective at preserving heat within the house due to their ventilation design.

The blower for a natural gas heating system will use up to 3.5 kW to start. Some systems support soft start (ramp up a bit slower to avoid the initial power surge needed to start the motor rotating). You will need a larger generator and electrician to hardwire it for the house (including a transfer switch that automatically detects grid failure and turns on the generator). Total installation cost currently is ~$12-20k depending on size and installation considerations.  There is (still) a backlog of installation requests due to everyone in Texas trying to get one before the next winter.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2021, 09:13:51 PM by Abe »

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4873
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2021, 09:30:11 AM »
Your stove will work with normal power outage (you may have to light it with a grill lighter). Do not use it for heat as you will get CO poisoning (that was a big issue over here in Texas during the Great Freeze).

The natural gas fireplace will also work with the same caveat (though some have battery-powered lighters). Make sure your chimney vent is open and the chimney is moderately clean (no nests) to ventilate properly and not start a fire. 

For reference, during the freeze our 3500 sqft house' gas fireplace kept only the living room reasonably warm (50F with 10F outside). Fireplaces are really only for warming the immediate area in front of them.

An option for additional warmth (or warming a separate area of the house) is a wood-pellet stove. It'd be more practical than installing a new fireplace as only the vent needs to be installed. They are a bit more effective at preserving heat within the house due to their ventilation design.

The blower for a natural gas heating system will use up to 3.5 kW to start. Some systems support soft start (ramp up a bit slower to avoid the initial power surge needed to start the motor rotating). You will need a larger generator and electrician to hardwire it for the house (including a transfer switch that automatically detects grid failure and turns on the generator). Total installation cost currently is ~$12-20k depending on size and installation considerations.  There is (still) a backlog of installation requests due to everyone in Texas trying to get one before the next winter.

We are in a rental so something like a pellet stove or hardwired system isn't possible, but given that this would be a pseudo-emergency type situation, having one area at a semi-comfortable temp seems like it would be more than enough.  If we camp in the family room in front of the fireplace, that's workable.  When we lived in Germany with no a/c and it would get into the 90s, we set up the portable a/c in one room and we just lived there, sleeping, eating, leisure time, etc., all in the primary bedroom.  Not ideal but fine.  The fireplace is in an open-concept room with somewhat high ceilings (~10ft) so not ideal, but as long as the fireplace worked  I'm sure that with some blankets and sweaters, and maybe some creative use of hanging blankets to make a curtain to better close off the space (or even setting up a tent inside to catch and hold more of the heat) we'd be comfortable enough. 

You also mention the blower on the fireplace.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like I won't be able to use the fireplace unless we install (rental...) something to make it work with a generator.  Is that correct?  If it matters, it has a pilot light and turns on with a light switch.  If that's the case, then we'd need a generator to run at least a space heater, and the more I think about it, the more I realize we'd probably need that anyway, to help with a possible frozen pipe situation.

MissNancyPryor

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 463
  • The Stewardess is Flying the Plane!
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2021, 10:13:48 AM »
This is more than you need to solve your problems but maybe it will help others.

We have a lot of wind storms and occasional ice storms that can cause multi-day outages here in the land of big trees.  I have personally spent more than 20 days out of power in freezing temperatures in the last 6 years, the longest stretch was 8 days of freezing blackness.   

I originally got a Pulsar 2300W inverter type generator ($450) so I could lift it easily myself and keep a fridge running.  After a 5 day outage last winter I decided I needed a serious upgrade.  I researched and waited and got the WEN GN6000W ($500) at exactly the right time, watching prices.  That same unit went up to over $900 based on California shutting down the grid and Northwest wind storms, so I waited until good weather caused a price lull and got a good deal.  I just checked and THIS IS A MOMENT for anyone considering one-- today it is $475 on Amazon.  It moves like a wheel barrow so I can get it into position when needed and is highly rated by users. 

I installed a manual transfer switch at the house myself (the Reliance 6 breaker unit) and can now easily run my gas furnace, critical area lighting and internet, the microwave, and 2 refrigerators all at one time.  Fortunately my water heating is gas with no electricity required.  The transfer switch was a much better price at Home Depot vs. Amazon when I got it, like $100 less for some reason, so it does pay to research.  Total cost for the switch and all materials including renting a concrete drill to go through my foundation was only about $400.  Obviously if you are renting your home this is a no-go but maybe the detail helps others. 

I am officially bullet proof.  For about $1000 I have secured myself from the weather and can also easily welcome family, friends and neighbors to my refuge when things are bleak.  I will sell my barely-used inverter generator for maybe $250-300 at the peak of bad weather and it will be a bargain to whomever gets it while nicely offsetting my costs.

Side note- I considered an automatic transfer switch system set up connected directly to natural gas but the cost was about $7000 for the smallest unit and that was out of stock for months even if I did want to devote the permanent space to it in the yard.  So I will have to cart around my generator and keep ethanol free gas around, but knowing I am covered makes this a reasonable trade off for the relatively infrequent demand.     

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4328
  • Age: 31
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2021, 01:31:46 PM »
This is more than you need to solve your problems but maybe it will help others.

We have a lot of wind storms and occasional ice storms that can cause multi-day outages here in the land of big trees.  I have personally spent more than 20 days out of power in freezing temperatures in the last 6 years, the longest stretch was 8 days of freezing blackness.   

I originally got a Pulsar 2300W inverter type generator ($450) so I could lift it easily myself and keep a fridge running.  After a 5 day outage last winter I decided I needed a serious upgrade.  I researched and waited and got the WEN GN6000W ($500) at exactly the right time, watching prices.  That same unit went up to over $900 based on California shutting down the grid and Northwest wind storms, so I waited until good weather caused a price lull and got a good deal.  I just checked and THIS IS A MOMENT for anyone considering one-- today it is $475 on Amazon.  It moves like a wheel barrow so I can get it into position when needed and is highly rated by users. 

I installed a manual transfer switch at the house myself (the Reliance 6 breaker unit) and can now easily run my gas furnace, critical area lighting and internet, the microwave, and 2 refrigerators all at one time.  Fortunately my water heating is gas with no electricity required.  The transfer switch was a much better price at Home Depot vs. Amazon when I got it, like $100 less for some reason, so it does pay to research.  Total cost for the switch and all materials including renting a concrete drill to go through my foundation was only about $400.  Obviously if you are renting your home this is a no-go but maybe the detail helps others. 

I am officially bullet proof.  For about $1000 I have secured myself from the weather and can also easily welcome family, friends and neighbors to my refuge when things are bleak.  I will sell my barely-used inverter generator for maybe $250-300 at the peak of bad weather and it will be a bargain to whomever gets it while nicely offsetting my costs.

Side note- I considered an automatic transfer switch system set up connected directly to natural gas but the cost was about $7000 for the smallest unit and that was out of stock for months even if I did want to devote the permanent space to it in the yard.  So I will have to cart around my generator and keep ethanol free gas around, but knowing I am covered makes this a reasonable trade off for the relatively infrequent demand.     
This is amazing info, thanks.  I didn't realize such an option really existed between my "$500 generator with a bigass extension cord running up through a window powering a single space heater on low" system we threw together last winter out of necessity during a lovely New Years' power outage, and $7k+ for a big fancy automatic system.

I'm on a well pump and electric hot water, so I may need a little more oomph than your unit for a minimum threshold of usability if I were to go that route, but this is great information to have.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2021, 04:34:14 PM »
Your stove will work with normal power outage (you may have to light it with a grill lighter). Do not use it for heat as you will get CO poisoning (that was a big issue over here in Texas during the Great Freeze).

The natural gas fireplace will also work with the same caveat (though some have battery-powered lighters). Make sure your chimney vent is open and the chimney is moderately clean (no nests) to ventilate properly and not start a fire. 

For reference, during the freeze our 3500 sqft house' gas fireplace kept only the living room reasonably warm (50F with 10F outside). Fireplaces are really only for warming the immediate area in front of them.

An option for additional warmth (or warming a separate area of the house) is a wood-pellet stove. It'd be more practical than installing a new fireplace as only the vent needs to be installed. They are a bit more effective at preserving heat within the house due to their ventilation design.

The blower for a natural gas heating system will use up to 3.5 kW to start. Some systems support soft start (ramp up a bit slower to avoid the initial power surge needed to start the motor rotating). You will need a larger generator and electrician to hardwire it for the house (including a transfer switch that automatically detects grid failure and turns on the generator). Total installation cost currently is ~$12-20k depending on size and installation considerations.  There is (still) a backlog of installation requests due to everyone in Texas trying to get one before the next winter.

We are in a rental so something like a pellet stove or hardwired system isn't possible, but given that this would be a pseudo-emergency type situation, having one area at a semi-comfortable temp seems like it would be more than enough.  If we camp in the family room in front of the fireplace, that's workable.  When we lived in Germany with no a/c and it would get into the 90s, we set up the portable a/c in one room and we just lived there, sleeping, eating, leisure time, etc., all in the primary bedroom.  Not ideal but fine.  The fireplace is in an open-concept room with somewhat high ceilings (~10ft) so not ideal, but as long as the fireplace worked  I'm sure that with some blankets and sweaters, and maybe some creative use of hanging blankets to make a curtain to better close off the space (or even setting up a tent inside to catch and hold more of the heat) we'd be comfortable enough. 

You also mention the blower on the fireplace.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like I won't be able to use the fireplace unless we install (rental...) something to make it work with a generator.  Is that correct?  If it matters, it has a pilot light and turns on with a light switch.  If that's the case, then we'd need a generator to run at least a space heater, and the more I think about it, the more I realize we'd probably need that anyway, to help with a possible frozen pipe situation.

Sorry, must've made an assumption about your heating. The blower would be for a whole-house heating system that runs on natural gas. If you have electric whole-house heating then the power needed is very high and probably not feasible without a whole-house natural gas generator (which probably wouldn't be allowed by your landlord unless you pay?)

The fireplace just needs a natural gas line and a lighter to run, no electricity necessary. Just make sure the chimney is clean. I think that and jackets+blankets will be sufficient. Be careful with a tent or any other enclosed space as you may trap toxic gases. I think putting a blanket across the openings to the living room is a better idea and will allow adequate airflow to the fireplace.

AccidentialMustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 740
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2021, 05:11:04 PM »
If you're in a rental and have a car, have you considered a hotel as an option? Most all of this needs either a place for the generator to live that doesn't CO poison you or fancy electrical transfer switching stuff which a rental is not going to have. I've lived in the midwest most of my life and I can count the number of times I've been in a multi-day power outage on no hands (eg, zero). Clearly, if you do this in freezing temps, shut off the main water valve and open the taps to minimize damages.

You might get more mileage out of a reasonably priced UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). It is basically a box with big lead-acid batteries designed to keep your (desktop) computer running during a brief (5 minute) power outage. Eg, when the grid has a power flicker. Recent ones have USB on the front to charge phones and such -- shut down most of your load on it and it'll boot up and charge the phone many times.

If you need it for longer than that, get a high capacity car power adapter you can use to charge the UPS from the car while idling. Or drive somewhere with power and charge it there (work, starbucks, whatever).

This won't run a space heater/fridge/etc -- too much power draw -- but you can use it to charge a cell phone or run your internet router for a long while.

Morning Glory

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3882
  • Location: The Garden Path
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2021, 05:58:27 PM »
Your stove will work with normal power outage (you may have to light it with a grill lighter). Do not use it for heat as you will get CO poisoning (that was a big issue over here in Texas during the Great Freeze).

The natural gas fireplace will also work with the same caveat (though some have battery-powered lighters). Make sure your chimney vent is open and the chimney is moderately clean (no nests) to ventilate properly and not start a fire. 

For reference, during the freeze our 3500 sqft house' gas fireplace kept only the living room reasonably warm (50F with 10F outside). Fireplaces are really only for warming the immediate area in front of them.

An option for additional warmth (or warming a separate area of the house) is a wood-pellet stove. It'd be more practical than installing a new fireplace as only the vent needs to be installed. They are a bit more effective at preserving heat within the house due to their ventilation design.

The blower for a natural gas heating system will use up to 3.5 kW to start. Some systems support soft start (ramp up a bit slower to avoid the initial power surge needed to start the motor rotating). You will need a larger generator and electrician to hardwire it for the house (including a transfer switch that automatically detects grid failure and turns on the generator). Total installation cost currently is ~$12-20k depending on size and installation considerations.  There is (still) a backlog of installation requests due to everyone in Texas trying to get one before the next winter.

We are in a rental so something like a pellet stove or hardwired system isn't possible, but given that this would be a pseudo-emergency type situation, having one area at a semi-comfortable temp seems like it would be more than enough.  If we camp in the family room in front of the fireplace, that's workable.  When we lived in Germany with no a/c and it would get into the 90s, we set up the portable a/c in one room and we just lived there, sleeping, eating, leisure time, etc., all in the primary bedroom.  Not ideal but fine.  The fireplace is in an open-concept room with somewhat high ceilings (~10ft) so not ideal, but as long as the fireplace worked  I'm sure that with some blankets and sweaters, and maybe some creative use of hanging blankets to make a curtain to better close off the space (or even setting up a tent inside to catch and hold more of the heat) we'd be comfortable enough. 

You also mention the blower on the fireplace.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like I won't be able to use the fireplace unless we install (rental...) something to make it work with a generator.  Is that correct?  If it matters, it has a pilot light and turns on with a light switch.  If that's the case, then we'd need a generator to run at least a space heater, and the more I think about it, the more I realize we'd probably need that anyway, to help with a possible frozen pipe situation.

Sorry, must've made an assumption about your heating. The blower would be for a whole-house heating system that runs on natural gas. If you have electric whole-house heating then the power needed is very high and probably not feasible without a whole-house natural gas generator (which probably wouldn't be allowed by your landlord unless you pay?)

The fireplace just needs a natural gas line and a lighter to run, no electricity necessary. Just make sure the chimney is clean. I think that and jackets+blankets will be sufficient. Be careful with a tent or any other enclosed space as you may trap toxic gases. I think putting a blanket across the openings to the living room is a better idea and will allow adequate airflow to the fireplace.

My propane fireplace had an electric blower, so was not useful in the event of a power outage. When it ran it kept the whole living/, dining area (~300sf) toasty warm. I didn't know they even had gas fireplaces without a blower

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4328
  • Age: 31
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2021, 06:31:57 PM »
If you're in a rental and have a car, have you considered a hotel as an option? Most all of this needs either a place for the generator to live that doesn't CO poison you or fancy electrical transfer switching stuff which a rental is not going to have. I've lived in the midwest most of my life and I can count the number of times I've been in a multi-day power outage on no hands (eg, zero). Clearly, if you do this in freezing temps, shut off the main water valve and open the taps to minimize damages.

You might get more mileage out of a reasonably priced UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). It is basically a box with big lead-acid batteries designed to keep your (desktop) computer running during a brief (5 minute) power outage. Eg, when the grid has a power flicker. Recent ones have USB on the front to charge phones and such -- shut down most of your load on it and it'll boot up and charge the phone many times.

If you need it for longer than that, get a high capacity car power adapter you can use to charge the UPS from the car while idling. Or drive somewhere with power and charge it there (work, starbucks, whatever).

This won't run a space heater/fridge/etc -- too much power draw -- but you can use it to charge a cell phone or run your internet router for a long while.
Along this line, most recent laptops I've noticed keep their USB ports "live" while powered off.  I've used my laptop as an oversized smartphone battery bank in recent years during outages and it's been remarkably useful.

ROF Expat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2021, 12:58:58 AM »
I live in the DC area when I'm in the US and still own a house there.  I'm not sure you need a generator at all. 

Is your rental in a newer neighborhood with underground power lines?  If that is the case, prolonged power outages are very rare, and DC winters just aren't that harsh.  In all my years in DC, I have never heard of gas being cut off from a storm or other disaster.  So you can probably count on gas to cook with and a gas fireplace to keep your living room warm enough to camp in.  If you have a gas or charcoal grill, it will back up your gas oven.  It rarely stays cold long enough for frozen pipes to be an issue in the DC area, and in the event that it is, a single space heater in a SFH isn't likely to resolve your problem.  If the power goes out in a (for DC) deep freeze, I'd turn off and drain faucets on the outside of the house and hope for the best.  It is, after all, a rental.  Your refrigerator and freezer will keep food safe for days if you don't open the doors too much, and in winter you can just put stuff in a cooler on the porch or in the garage.  You'll need electricity for lights and to charge phones and other minor electronics, but you can do that from a good sized power bank and maybe some rechargeable batteries for things like flashlights (and recharge from your car). 

If you live in an older neighborhood with above ground power lines, power outages are likely to be more common, but I still wouldn't get worked up about it.  If your neighbors tell you that outages are frequent and prolonged enough that they all have generators, you will probably want to get one yourself.  In that case, I'd keep it simple and get a small inverter generator.  If you do that, please familiarize yourself with generator safety before you actually need to use it.  A lot of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators after hurricanes.  And store the generator and gasoline safely when not in use.   

sonofsven

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 832
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2021, 07:33:55 AM »
The unit I saw at Costco was a Yeti Goal Zero, it might be just what you're looking for. Kinda spendy though. But no gas.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2021, 08:27:14 PM »
The unit I saw at Costco was a Yeti Goal Zero, it might be just what you're looking for. Kinda spendy though. But no gas.

I have one for running the fridge and a laptop as needed. Also have commercial-grade boat/RV solar panels to charge it during the day. For low-load things like that it works. However, it will absolutely not be sufficient for a heater and is basically an expensive toy for glamping.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2021, 08:28:56 PM by Abe »

Car Jack

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1995
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2021, 08:53:39 AM »
List the things you need to have powered.  You can also tactically unplug things and plug in other things with a lower power generator.  So when you need your furnace to start up, unplug the refrigerator, as an example.

Do your research and pay attention to continuous power delivery and peak.  When motors start up, the peak is important as that level is only there for a couple hundred miliseconds.

If it needs to be quiet or light, then you'll have less potential power delivered.

If you do go the car inverter route, don't go to a cigarette lighter for power....clip directly to the battery.  Note that you can run more than one inverter and plug different things to each.  You're going to have to keep the car running if you don't want the battery to go dead.

What I power and what I have:  First, I bought the last generator at Lowes during the heavy snow that shut down power for 3 days at my house.  First time in at least 2 decades that our power was down for more than an hour.  So this is a monster 5500W Generac that has a handle to pick one end up and wheels on the other.  I'd guess it weighs 200 pounds full of gas.  I set it outside the basement door, about 20 feet away and run the cord into the basement door.  Downstairs, I power our downstairs refrigerator, I hardwire in our oil furnace and oil water heater.  Plug in the cable box and sump pump.  Extension cords up the stairs.  In the kitchen, a light and the refrigerator.  Second floor, tv, cable box, laptops, lights and cell chargers.  Cord to the other end, where my son's room is.  His computer and monitors and lights.  Cord down some spiral stairs from his room to our office where our router is.

So all this runs fine with the generator.  It will slow a bit with a heavy load, like a refrigerator compressor motor starting.  The gas tank is pretty big.  I don't remember exactly how big, but maybe 8 gallons.  I keep the gas fresh by cycling it through with my discount gas buying (like this week, I buy a $500 master card gift card and get $1.50 off each gallon up to 20 gallons.  I fill my car and a bunch of 5 gallon gas cans.  So I empty the generator into a can and use it in the car and fill it with new gas.).

This is a big unit....bigger than you would want.

GreenNewDeal

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2021, 09:46:48 AM »
Quote
If you do that, please familiarize yourself with generator safety before you actually need to use it.  A lot of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators after hurricanes.  And store the generator and gasoline safely when not in use.   

This is a potentially life-saving response. Generators are incredibly dangerous and lead to deaths after outages. If you're running it to power a fridge/phones, it is worth it?


MissNancyPryor

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 463
  • The Stewardess is Flying the Plane!
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2021, 04:25:40 PM »
Quote
If you do that, please familiarize yourself with generator safety before you actually need to use it.  A lot of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators after hurricanes.  And store the generator and gasoline safely when not in use.   

This is a potentially life-saving response. Generators are incredibly dangerous and lead to deaths after outages. If you're running it to power a fridge/phones, it is worth it?

Seems like most of the CO deaths you read about during storms are people trying to heat indoors with the hibachi grill and similar equipment.  Tragic ignorance.   

For many considering a generator it isn't about keeping the wifi on.  The most recent outage for me was 4 days in freezing weather.  Anyone living in a mild climate who is worried about only charging cell phones and never being out long enough to lose a freezer of meat can probably just get a simple lithium battery backup and call it a day.

CO detectors (as well as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers) should be standard equipment in every home.  Invest in those first then get your generator.  Use it correctly.  Totally worth it.     

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
Re: Portable generator recommendations?
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2021, 07:51:46 PM »
Generators aren't that dangerous if instructions are followed. The real danger is expecting one to start up in an emergency without regular maintenance and testing.

In Texas most deaths from the Great Freeze were due to use of poorly ventilated natural gas stoves and fireplaces for heat. Owning a generator that could power the central heat's blower would've literally saved many people's lives.