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Posted: 8/11/2014 8:50:44 AM EDT
My parents need a home portable generator. I was looking at the Champion 3000 watt version, but I wonder if it will be enough. Major concerns are the fridge and the oil burner to heat the house (hot water heat).

How much generating power should I be looking at for these and a few lights?
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:21:32 PM EDT
Bumpity. Parents need help and all that.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:24:29 PM EDT
The fridge is chump change. Several hundred running watts, and maybe 400-600 watts starting surge.

However, without actually looking at the nameplate on your oil burner, there's no way of knowing how much power it consumes. So, there's no way of knowing if a 3 KW generator is big enough.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:28:47 PM EDT
The reason you may not have many replies is that your post is vague. The wattage or amperage of the things they want to have emergency power will help decide the size. Are you going to have it stationary and run generator power to a transfer switch? Have Genny on patio/deck and run cords? Generator with electric start? Do they have place and time for gasoline storage and rotation? Do they have natural gas or LP on property?

I can help on generators but cannot read your or your parents minds. What is your budget? Can you do electrical work?
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:50:54 PM EDT
I have a Coleman 5500. It can power most all electrical stuff except my A/C and clothes dryer. My biggest concern in S. FL are hurricanes and major infrastructure damage (ie. no gasoline). My plan is to stock up on gas, 20 gallons, plus the 5 gallon fuel tank and run the generator for 4 hours, off for 8 hours. During the 4 hours on, the refrigerator/freezer will cool food to keep it from spoiling, we get the laundry done (wash), cooking on stove or microwave, hot water heater, recharge cellphone, watch news, internet, etc., and all electrical things that need to get done. If neighbors want to run an extension cord over, they are welcome, as long as it does not tax the generator. Then it all gets shut for the next 8 hours to conserve gas. Once the gas is gone, its back to the stone age. I'd rather run the generator sparingly and be able to go for over a week than to blow my gas supply in the first 48 hours. Make sure that the generator can run your largest consumer of electricity, even if it can only run that single item. You can always use the items at different times.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:56:37 PM EDT
Honda. Don't mess around.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 4:59:11 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By SamBoga:
Honda. Don't mess around.
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This +1. I love mine.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:26:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/11/2014 5:27:11 PM EDT by PurpleOtter]
Cant go wrong with a Caterpillar..




What! He didn't say HOW MUCH he needed to power...
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:31:06 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By X-CaptHook:
I have a Coleman 5500. It can power most all electrical stuff except my A/C and clothes dryer. My biggest concern in S. FL are hurricanes and major infrastructure damage (ie. no gasoline). My plan is to stock up on gas, 20 gallons, plus the 5 gallon fuel tank and run the generator for 4 hours, off for 8 hours. During the 4 hours on, the refrigerator/freezer will cool food to keep it from spoiling, we get the laundry done (wash), cooking on stove or microwave, hot water heater, recharge cellphone, watch news, internet, etc., and all electrical things that need to get done. If neighbors want to run an extension cord over, they are welcome, as long as it does not tax the generator. Then it all gets shut for the next 8 hours to conserve gas. Once the gas is gone, its back to the stone age. I'd rather run the generator sparingly and be able to go for over a week than to blow my gas supply in the first 48 hours. Make sure that the generator can run your largest consumer of electricity, even if it can only run that single item. You can always use the items at different times.
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You are asking a lot out of that little 5.5KW. Have your tested this theory yet? Mine would really show it whant my two refrigerators and freezer kicked on all at the same time. Add an A/C and water heater or stove/microwave? I don't think so. You will likely have to do some extension cord juggling. Neighbors? fuggetaboudit.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:33:07 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By PurpleOtter:
Cant go wrong with a Caterpillar..

http://www.uspowerco.com/generators/large/oiif91ZNXeS7.jpg


What! He didn't say HOW MUCH he needed to power...
View Quote



OP is from NY, he will need to have extra power for his FSA neighbors too. Good call!
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:40:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/11/2014 5:42:38 PM EDT by jblomenberg16]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By PurpleOtter:
Cant go wrong with a Caterpillar.....

http://www.uspowerco.com/generators/large/oiif91ZNXeS7.jpg


What! He didn't say HOW MUCH he needed to power...
View Quote


....nor can you go wrong with a Cummins

http://www.cumminspower.com/en/



In all seriousness OP, you probably want something in the 5500watt range like the others have posted. Sizing a portable generator for your home loads is pretty straight forward. While there a number of online tools out there, if you can do simple math you can pretty much size it. Take the Amperage of the breakers for the circuits you want on the Generator, multiply that by nominal voltage (usually 120 or 240), and you are left with Watts of power for that circuit. Obviously the loads on the circuit won't pull that full Wattage or the breaker would trip, but you want to have some reserve capacity for motor starting, etc.

For example, a typical household circuit will be a 15A breaker x 120V = 1800W. Take that times 3 circuits, and you are at 5400Watts. Overly simplified - yes, but you get the point. The other thing to consider is how you are going to power those circuits.

I personally wired a special generator panel (is supplied by both utility and generator through a two position switch that isolates each power source) for our home when it was built, and run it off a 5500W Onan set. I have 2 Fridges, 2 freezers, and some very basic lighting and power outlets on that panel. The total of all the circuits on the panel is more than 5500W, but I've carefully set it up to where if need be I can toggle some circuits on and off in a long term outage. I don't have any HVAC on the generator, as a typical HVAC unit is going to have much higher power demands than a small generator can run. The key to making a 5500W set work is managing the loads. You don't need all of the fridges and freezers online constantly. You just have to keep them cold enough so as not to defrost. In a real power out situation you also can get by with minimal lighting and creature comforts.

I'm not going for complete uninterrupted comfort druing an extended power out situation. But I do want to keep the cold stuff cold, and be able to cook basic food for my family, even if that is in a crock pot, toaster, or electric skillet. Our house is well insulated, so in extreme weather we have a pretty good window of time before the house reaches the extremes. In the winter we can always put on more layers of cloths and get under blankets, and even run a small space heater if we had to. In the summer, well...we could also manage with shade, fans, etc.

If you goal is complete and uninterrupted comfort and a continuation of your normal lifestayle, you need something in the 10,000Watt Range, if not higher depending on your HVAC system. You are now talking some major $$$, and probably at that point want an automatic start generator, automatic switch gear, and a very large fuel source.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:41:32 PM EDT
For short term backup power, use a Power Inverter, and set of batteries.

If the power is only down for a few days, you won't have to fire up a generator.

If power outage goes long term, you can just run generator for 8 or 10 hours at a time, charging batteries with maximum output. much more efficient than running a generator continuously, at partial load.
.
A good quality Power Inverter will have an ( Automatic ) transfer relay built in, so it can cut over to battery power even if you are away from home, thus keeping your freezer, sump pump, furnace, etc backed up.
.
Then when power comes back online, it will charge the batteries back up.'.
Check the battery electrolyte a few times per year, keep the tops clean, and tweak the voltages a little bit as the batteries "age"

Clean, silent AC power, beats the heck out of going out to start a generator at Oh-Dark thirty in a blizzard, or having to listen to the generator running all night long, just to keep your furnace going.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:43:30 PM EDT
5kw runs everything in my house as normal except for the clothes dryer. It is OK if my well pump and furnace turn on arcthe same time. Just be smart about it and only turn on what you're using. The more electricity you use, the faster you burn up the fuel.

As said above, figure out how much is needed to run the things you want to run.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:46:31 PM EDT
Find out the starting surge of all of the big stuff. I wanted the 2000w Honda until I figured out I needed 2100 just to get the sump pump going. I ended up going a bit overkill with a 6600w Yamaha that a friend wanted to unload. Heavy and loud. Hindsight, I would go with the 3000w Honda mentioned above.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:48:25 PM EDT
I've got a friend who went with the whole house thing because his wife has medical issues and their house can't be without power. That, and well he's got more money than God and he can afford the whole house thing. There could be a major storm and they'd only notice it for a few seconds while the power kicks over to generator.


During the ice storm about 5 years ago, he said he ended up with every damn relative he had (and some he didn't know he had...) knocking on his door because it was "just them" and "just a couple of days..."

IIRC, he ended up letting his kids and grandkids have the place for the duration while he and the misses checked into the Marriot.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:50:19 PM EDT
Depending on your budget, consider an interlock kit or transfer switch. Having a plug outside and not having to deal with extension cords is very much win.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 5:55:39 PM EDT
Forget the nameplate on big box store models when looking at rated capacity, a 5000 watt unit is best loaded to only 3500 for any life span. One horsepower is 746 Watts plus change, to handle loads the generator needs 2 horsepower per rated kilowatt. That engine also drives the cooling fans and must handle starting current of motors.

Things have gotten complex as small engine manufacturers mostly rate torque, not power. Good OHV engines running 3600 RPM generate 1 horsepower per two cubic inches. Side valves are about 1/3 hp per cubic inch.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 6:24:39 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Skibane:
The fridge is chump change. Several hundred running watts, and maybe 400-600 watts starting surge.

However, without actually looking at the nameplate on your oil burner, there's no way of knowing how much power it consumes. So, there's no way of knowing if a 3 KW generator is big enough.
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+1
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 6:25:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/12/2014 6:50:19 AM EDT by Skibane]
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Originally Posted By jblomenberg16:
In all seriousness OP, you probably want something in the 5500watt range like the others have posted.
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If it turns out that his oil burner only draws a few hundred watts - and he doesn't anticipate having to power any other loads at the same time - then a 5.5 KW generator would be a needlessly expensive, heavy, noisy and fuel-inefficient choice for him.

Again, without knowing his actual power needs, there's no good way to make a recommendation.
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 6:26:29 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By SamBoga:
Honda. Don't mess around.
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I have a Champion generator and it works well, loud as heck but it works. I just bought a Honda EU300is to run my camper and its very quiet and provides clean power for electronics.
I just made a deal to sell the Champion to my buddy for $200, it's still like new with very few hours on it. He's happy and I won't miss it!
Link Posted: 8/11/2014 6:34:49 PM EDT
Wow, thanks everyone for all the replies. I'll have to swing by their place and check the boiler and water tank. I think they just had an outside outlet for a generator thinking they would need it after last years winter storms and hurricanes.
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