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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 6, 2007
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    Loudoun County, VA
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    46

    Default Generator - gas or propane

    With all the crazy weather we are having I am looking into a generator. I know I want one that I can run the water pump, water heater, barn and about two rooms of the house off of. My big question is gas or propane. I have a propane tank but I am afraid that I might burn through the propane and the truck could not get up my drive to refill it and then I have no heat if the power comes back on.

    Does any have any recommendations. I think I need a generator about 7000 to 8000 watts. Still doing research.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
    Location
    NE TN, USA
    Posts
    6,201

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    Propane. It's a lot less maintenance and the fuel doesn't go bad like gasoline does.
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2012
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    506

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    Hubby says propane for fuel but that the generator size you are looking at will be underpowered. If he were to buy one to power the equivalent at our place we would be looking at a 16,000-20,000 watt generator.
    Last edited by Crackerdog; Nov. 13, 2012 at 01:08 PM. Reason: I'm a dork



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 4, 2010
    Location
    Newtown, CT
    Posts
    595

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    Well, we have a gas generator in the size you are talking about. We didn't want to spend the bucks on a propane generator, but ours works just fine. We had a transfer switch installed and that together with the generator was about $2500. We have ten gas cans that I fill when I think I will need them. I use the gas for other things too (quad, lawnmower, and you can use it in the car if you don't want it to sit). Our generator runs the house heating system, water heater, well pump, refrigerators, microwave, television, a few plugs and some lights. It starts easily, and while noisy, we love it. Our neighbors have a propane generator and they paid upwards of $7000 for all of the same services, but their generator clicks on automatically, versus our which we have to wheel out from the garage and manually swap over. Their generator is about as noisy and consumes enough fuel that we would both run out at about the same time. Good luck!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,158

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    If your generator is bigger, think propane, maybe get it it's own designated propane tank, connected to the other, so you can use either in a pinch.

    That is what we did in our old farm house, that had a 1000g tank for heat and cooking and a 500 g for the 10K generator.

    Once we went all electric, propane deliveries became more questionable there for everyday use, all propane went to the generator.

    Gasoline is ok for the smaller generators, but the bigger ones run better on diesel or propane/natural gas.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    11,770

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    Quote Originally Posted by showidaho View Post
    but their generator clicks on automatically, versus our which we have to wheel out from the garage and manually swap over.
    I think this is a big part of your decision. A permanent set up or a temporary set up.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 25, 2005
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    147

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    Based on my own experience I would say "Propane - and go large." You can't have too much power in a generator. Nobody has ever said, after the power goes out and the generator goes on, "Oh, we shouldn't have bought the big one, we really only need the furnace and the well and three lights."

    Also, a generator that goes on automatically is a real blessing, because it will go on without you having to do anything at all. If you're sick or injured or laid up for any reason, you don't have to go and start your manual-start generator (possibly in the dark/cold/rain/wind). Also, if the power should happen to go out when you are not at home, for an hour or a day or a weekend, you're covered. In my own case, I feel much more secure now that I know my well pump is going to carry on working regardless of local rural power issues, so the horses (and the house, but that's secondary) WILL have water. Since I travel for clinics and lectures and such, there are times when I'm not at home, and there are certain farm-related responsibilities (water, for one) that are quite enough of a PITA for me, the owner - they ought not to be inflicted on whomever is farm-sitting!

    Our big generator does a self-test every Tuesday morning - it turns itself on for about fifteen minutes, then turns itself off again. The sound isn't annoying - it's reassuring. (Well, my dog initially thought that something Very Large was growling, because the sound of the generator powering off really is very much like a growl. It took him about four weeks to adjust, but he has learned that it's just another normal weekly noise, like the garbage truck beeping its way down the drive.
    Home page: www.jessicajahiel.com
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    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
    Posts
    8,526

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    Quote Originally Posted by Topper View Post
    With all the crazy weather we are having I am looking into a generator. I know I want one that I can run the water pump, water heater, barn and about two rooms of the house off of. My big question is gas or propane. I have a propane tank but I am afraid that I might burn through the propane and the truck could not get up my drive to refill it and then I have no heat if the power comes back on.

    Does any have any recommendations. I think I need a generator about 7000 to 8000 watts. Still doing research.
    Start by going here:

    http://www.yamaha-motor.com/outdoor/...or/sizing.aspx

    You can get an idea about the size that you need by adding up the wattage requirements of your various appliances.

    Now, do you need to run everything at once? No!!!!

    This is an emergency system. If you've got lots of money buy a big, whole house unit and you can thumb your nose at nature (at least for as long as the propane holds out). If you're like most folks then you're looking for a "bridge" to take you to regular power restoration. Get a bit creative.

    How about some specifics:

    Hot water heater: You only need it for a relatively short period of the day to wash up dishes, take showers, etc. So as you calculate need look for things you can turn off while the water heater is on.

    Well pump: In theory you can run this periodically by keeping drinking water in containers, barn water in tanks, etc.

    Heating system: If you're in a real cold weather zone then you'll need this more than other stuff, but even here you can "sequence" the run time, turn down your thermostat, and put on a sweater (or two).

    A/C System: Unless you've got a medical issue that requires it the A/C is off for the duration of the emergency.

    Refrigerator and Freezer: Turn freezer on for a couple of hours and then off. DON'T OPEN IT BUT ONCE A DAY!!!!! Keep the fridge closed except when necessary. If can make ice the put your day's supply of drinks into an ice chest; if you can't then drink stuff at room temperature except at meal time.

    Lights: Low draw, normally, but too many can strain the system.

    Appliances: Some, like "fast on" TVs, draw current constantly and be a bigger draw than you think. Unplug everything but one, regular TV. Anything with a resistance heater (coffee maker, griddle, toaster, etc.) gets run and then turned off. When one of these comes on something else might have to go off. You'll have to monitor your load. Also, unplug the computer, WiFi network, etc. Plug them back in and use only as required.

    Radio: low draw; keep it on for news and information.

    Barn: what do you need to have powered up in your barn during an emergency? Frankly I can't think of much. Turn the horses out and leave them out until the emergency is resolved.

    Wiring: If you want to do this the easy way then rewire what you want to use into one set of circuit breakers and the stuff that's not being used into another set. Then all you need to do to "monitor" your load is turn off one set of breakers. This will cost some money but may save money in generator capacity you don't have to buy.

    Being without power is no fun. I've been through four hurricanes on land and I can testify to that. We've been without power for as long as four days as a result of a winter storm. Didn't like that, either. Whatever you buy, unless you're flush, will not allow you to live the normal, profligate, American life style. Suck it up and live more simply if you've no electricity.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


    2 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
    Location
    Northeast
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    10,259

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    The advantage of propane is that under emergency conditions, if you have a decent sized tank, you can keep chugging along. Gas stops being available when the power is down because gas stations can'r pump either.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2001
    Posts
    6,703

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crackerdog View Post
    Hubby says propane for fuel but that the generator size you are looking at will be underpowered. If he were to buy one to power the equivalent at our place we would be looking at a 16,000-20,000 kilowatt generator.
    I just have to point out that 16,000-20,000 KILOwatts is 16,000,000-20,000,000 watts or, 16-20 Megawatts, or the same power output of 3-4 large diesel locomotives.

    I don't think you need that much.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2011
    Posts
    907

    Default

    If you have an electric water heater, that would eat up most of you 7-8,000 watts...

    There are generators out there that will run on propane, natural gas, and gasoline.

    http://www.yamaha-propane-natural-gas-generators.com/

    The whole house automatic backup generators have come down a lot in cost and would be a good option on propane.

    Is your barn on the same panel as your house? If not, you will probably need 2 generators.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2012
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    506

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    I just have to point out that 16,000-20,000 KILOwatts is 16,000,000-20,000,000 watts or, 16-20 Megawatts, or the same power output of 3-4 large diesel locomotives.

    I don't think you need that much.
    Ooops, my bad! Thanks for catching that!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,158

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    I just have to point out that 16,000-20,000 KILOwatts is 16,000,000-20,000,000 watts or, 16-20 Megawatts, or the same power output of 3-4 large diesel locomotives.

    I don't think you need that much.
    I am sorry to disagree.
    For a whole house, all electric, that would be about right for around 2000 to 2500 square feet, standard medium sized house.

    Any less and you need to cut down on what you are using, which is fine also.

    Our 10K was only servicing the mere basics in our house with propane heat, was not enough once we went all electric.
    Electric furnace heat strips are greedy.

    Our portable welder is also a gasoline 10K generator.
    That is what we used, before we bought a real generator with a transfer panel.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2011
    Posts
    504

    Default

    For a whole-house or "close to whole house" situation, Propane (or natural gas if available) is the way to go. For the former, you can always up-size the tank if there is discomfort with the supply situation.

    My plan is for a 20kva natural gas whole-house implementation at earliest opportunity...losing electric means loss of water and septic, as well as other things like heat and light. The small portable generator I have kept our food fresh, the sump pump pumping and our communications up and running for the 5 days we were out from Sandy with our wood stove keeping us warm, but we absolutely didn't appreciate the lack of running water. Natural gas "just flows" for us so it's the logical choice for our generator needs.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2012
    Location
    southeastern NC
    Posts
    14

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    We live in the middle of nowhere. A whole house generator does the trick for keeping power to the water pump, my prime concern, and the whole house, too.
    Ours runs on propane and has been a lifesaver during hurricane season.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2001
    Posts
    6,703

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    I am sorry to disagree.
    For a whole house, all electric, that would be about right for around 2000 to 2500 square feet, standard medium sized house.

    Any less and you need to cut down on what you are using, which is fine also.

    Our 10K was only servicing the mere basics in our house with propane heat, was not enough once we went all electric.
    Electric furnace heat strips are greedy.

    Our portable welder is also a gasoline 10K generator.
    That is what we used, before we bought a real generator with a transfer panel.
    Read what was written. They said you need a 16,000 -20,000 KILOWATT generator.

    There is a difference between a KILOWATT and a WATT. About 1,000 times as a matter of fact. You, specifically, have a 10 KILOWATT generator. 1,000 KILOWATTs is 1 MEGAWATT.

    The generators on diesel locomotive put out 5,000 KILOWATTS. If you ask for a 20,000 KILOWATT generator, they are going to look at you VERY funny. Even our research buildings don't have generators that big. At the hospital, yes, we have 2 20,000 KILOWATT generators and they occupy 1/8 of an acre, including pad for underground fuel tanks.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2006
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    3,281

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    We are getting a smaller propane one. All we are really interested in keeping going is the refrigerator, a couple of lights and cell phones. We already have gas (propane) fire and stove and are on city water (on a farm, which I still think is weird).
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
    www.dleestudio.com



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,158

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    Read what was written. They said you need a 16,000 -20,000 KILOWATT generator.

    There is a difference between a KILOWATT and a WATT. About 1,000 times as a matter of fact. You, specifically, have a 10 KILOWATT generator. 1,000 KILOWATTs is 1 MEGAWATT.

    The generators on diesel locomotive put out 5,000 KILOWATTS. If you ask for a 20,000 KILOWATT generator, they are going to look at you VERY funny. Even our research buildings don't have generators that big. At the hospital, yes, we have 2 20,000 KILOWATT generators and they occupy 1/8 of an acre, including pad for underground fuel tanks.
    Right, now I catch that.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
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    11,770

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_in_PA View Post
    losing electric means loss of water and septic, as well as other things like heat and light.
    Confused, how would losing electric make you lose septic. Do you have a sewage grinder pump or something? Septic works on gravity and other than the people who decide to put a toilet room in the basement when their lateral invert is mid basement wall I do not know anyone who has a sewage grinding station and force main in their house so that is why I ask.


    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    At the hospital, yes, we have 2 20,000 KILOWATT generators and they occupy 1/8 of an acre, including pad for underground fuel tanks.
    And those are usually diesel because diesel is far more efficient.



  20. #20
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    Aug. 25, 2007
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    8,526

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    The generators on diesel locomotive put out 5,000 KILOWATTS. If you ask for a 20,000 KILOWATT generator, they are going to look at you VERY funny. Even our research buildings don't have generators that big. At the hospital, yes, we have 2 20,000 KILOWATT generators and they occupy 1/8 of an acre, including pad for underground fuel tanks.
    Are you in a flood risk area? If so, do you take any special steps to protect the tanks, pumps, and feed lines?

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



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