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    Senior Member Dwanton's Avatar
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    Default Whole house propane generator ?

    Does anyone use a whole house propane generator ?

    Looking into upgrading my portable generator so I can use my air conditioning unit and or heater when needed with everything else in my house .

    I use a 5500 watt generac portable now that runs everything except our electric stove and heat pump ( which is a heater and air conditioning unit in one )

    I am just wondering how much propane a 14000 watt system would use - and seems it would cost me $4000 to purchase and more to install .

    I can get a 17500 watt gererac portable generator for $2600 and it has a 16 gallon gas tank , and uses about 1 to 1.5 gallons per hour .
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwanton View Post
    Does anyone use a whole house propane generator ?

    Looking into upgrading my portable generator so I can use my air conditioning unit and or heater when needed with everything else in my house .

    I use a 5500 watt generac portable now that runs everything except our electric stove and heat pump ( which is a heater and air conditioning unit in one )

    I am just wondering how much propane a 14000 watt system would use - and seems it would cost me $4000 to purchase and more to install .

    I can get a 17500 watt gererac portable generator for $2600 and it has a 16 gallon gas tank , and uses about 1 to 1.5 gallons per hour .
    If you have natural gas where you live i would go that way much cheaper than propane and its always there' No tanks to fill, or to run out of.

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    Default Just did this same thing

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwanton View Post
    Does anyone use a whole house propane generator ?

    Looking into upgrading my portable generator so I can use my air conditioning unit and or heater when needed with everything else in my house .

    I use a 5500 watt generac portable now that runs everything except our electric stove and heat pump ( which is a heater and air conditioning unit in one )

    I am just wondering how much propane a 14000 watt system would use - and seems it would cost me $4000 to purchase and more to install .

    I can get a 17500 watt gererac portable generator for $2600 and it has a 16 gallon gas tank , and uses about 1 to 1.5 gallons per hour .
    We just installed a 14 kw propane generator after several extended power outages last year. This has worked perfectly, the power didn't go off for more than a minute since installing it in March. As to fuel usage the unit we installed uses 1.4 gal. per hour at full load. Just be aware that due to the flow rate if you use 100 gal. tanks you have to have two hooked up in parallel as the flow rate is high enough to engage the emergency shut off if only one is used. We buried a 1000 gal. tank as I am planning to replace an almost 12 year old hydronic boiler with a high efficiency gas unit in the near future.
    !4 kw runs my heat, well pump, half my A/C, 2 sump pumps,( the real reason for it) microwave , freezer, satellite and tv as well as some general lighting. Hope this helps.
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    Senior Member DynamoBT's Avatar
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    We have a 13 kw propane generator. It runs parts of our house as we have a specialized need to run quite a few freezers full of raw dog food for our business. It uses about a gallon an hour. We have had prolonged outages since we've had it. And had to "feather" our useage since we only have a 100 gallon propane tank. One big ice storm, they couldn't make propane deliveries because of roads closed. We'd run it for a hour or two and then turn it off for four hours. And we kept it off when we went to bed. So, I advise a bigger tank for one!!! We really should have a bigger tank. But even as is, the generator sure does give us peace of mind over losing power. The generator is hard wired into our house electric panel. It's a great system!
    Marilyn

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    Senior Member Dwanton's Avatar
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    We don't have natural gas where I live and they are not gonna bring it out here , same goes for cable TV .

    i only have one 100 gallon propane tank now . It's expensive as gas so not sure which way I wanted to go .

    Seems as money wise - the gas generator which is half the money is the way to go - at 17500 watts I can hard wire it with an outside box , just plug it in and go . Also with the electric start , my wife can turn it on little complaint ( I hope ) .

    I have a 2.5 ton heat pump / air conditioner unit and a small 1000 SF house with full basement .
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    SpyderLovers Sponsor SpyderAnn01's Avatar
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    In Michigan our house had a Generac whole house generator with an automatic transfer switch. We were in the country so it was a propane unit. We lived there for 6 1/2 years and never had an extended power outage but we did have a number of short ones. There is no better feeling than to know that you're not going to be without anything when the power goes out. The units are on the loud side but the only people who could hear ours were our neighbors who were sitting in silence in their houses with no power With the transfer switch I wouldn't even have to reset clocks when the power would go out.

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    PostZilla member Bob Denman's Avatar
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    You buy a generator and then hope that you never have to use it; kind of like life insurance!
    The Missus and I are considering our options right now for a 10kw Generac for our house, and a small 3.5kw for our office next door.
    Our power usage is pretty minimal, and if the grid goes out, we don't feel the need to power the entire house anyway. The well pump, furnace, basement (freezers) and the kitchen on the first floor and that's about it.
    In the office we'd only need to power the furnace in order to keep the building from freezing up in the Winter.

    There's a lot of options out there, but i'd have to say that I think that Generac is the way to go! (IMHO!)

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    Senior Member tobor9's Avatar
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    Right now we have a 5k portable gen that i can roll over to the house and plug in to an outlet outside and throw some breakers(main off,Gen on and all but HVAC) and run the house(all gas appliances ) Someday I want a Generac on natural gas,but too much$$ as we have lived here for 35yrs with only 1 long outage named Hugo.
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    PostZilla member Bob Denman's Avatar
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    We're actually concerned about Wintertime power loss due to the potential for the house turning into a lump of ice and busted pipes...

    Out with the old; in with the "WOO-HOO "
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    Senior Member dannymax's Avatar
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    I have an 8,000W w/13,500W surge gasoline generator I set up in the garage and trenched into the back side of the panel, plenty of power to run the whole house. I looked into a propane unit, even had a crushed stone pad prepared to mount it on, but changed my mind. In the event of a big ice storm, or similar catastrophic event, it may be very difficult for the propane trucks to get in here (we live back in the woods) but I should always be able to get to town on my 4 wheeler for gasoline. Plus I didn't care for the amount of propane required for the exercise cycle.....seems like you could go thru a tank a year even if there were no outages.
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    Motorbike Professor NancysToy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannymax View Post
    I have an 8,000W w/13,500W surge gasoline generator I set up in the garage and trenched into the back side of the panel, plenty of power to run the whole house. I looked into a propane unit, even had a crushed stone pad prepared to mount it on, but changed my mind. In the event of a big ice storm, or similar catastrophic event, it may be very difficult for the propane trucks to get in here (we live back in the woods) but I should always be able to get to town on my 4 wheeler for gasoline. Plus I didn't care for the amount of propane required for the exercise cycle.....seems like you could go thru a tank a year even if there were no outages.
    If the town is out of power in a major storm, there will be no working gasoline pumps. Think about it.
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  14. #12
    Senior Member bruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannymax View Post
    I have an 8,000W w/13,500W surge gasoline generator I set up in the garage and trenched into the back side of the panel, plenty of power to run the whole house. I looked into a propane unit, even had a crushed stone pad prepared to mount it on, but changed my mind. In the event of a big ice storm, or similar catastrophic event, it may be very difficult for the propane trucks to get in here (we live back in the woods) but I should always be able to get to town on my 4 wheeler for gasoline. Plus I didn't care for the amount of propane required for the exercise cycle.....seems like you could go thru a tank a year even if there were no outages.
    How do you vent the exhaust with the generator in the garage? Whole house generators are the way to go if you can afford one. Using a transfer switch and power box works best. I've seen some people who pull their power meter and plug a portable generator in to the socket. BAD MOVE. What they don't realize is the power feedback to the main pole can kill a powerline worker. Here in eastern NC we've had outages from hurricanes, tornados, and ice storms. The longest we were out was 8 days after hurricane Fran in 1996. We currently use a portable gen. for the fridge and some lights.
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    Senior Member Dwanton's Avatar
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    I really appreciate everyone's input .

    I comes down to cost , -- cost of the unit , cost of install , cost of yearly maintenance , and the cost to fuel these things .
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    I totally agree with Bruiser about the transfer switch, it's a must . You can get either a manual or automatic version depending on your situation. If you can deal with a period of time after a power interruption a manual will suffice.
    Our problem was basement water. We live in an older home that sometimes got some water in really wet conditions so we had a waterproofing system installed. This worked perfectly until we got 13 inches of rainover 2 days last Sept. Even then it was ok until the power went out. Had a 5500 watt portable unit that used to be adequate until we discovered it wouldn't supply enough current to run both of the pumps together.Til I could reconfigure things to allow them to run we were flooding about 8 inches deep and that only took me about 30 minutes. If we hadn't been here I don't know how bad it would have been. I guess it would have just completely destroyed everything up to the first floor as the waterproofing system collects water so well it now flowed in unimpeeded to the sumps and out through the basement. We didnt get line power for 3 days and in that time I put about 15 gallons of gas in the portable, and the pumps ran almost continually. Now the generator starts within 20 seconds of an outage wether I'm here or not. If I'm here and dont need it to run I can just turn it off. But if I'm not here at least I can rely on it to run and not have a real disaster.

    As far as cost you are correct on the unit, the tank was another $1600 dollars including a line to the deck for the grill and I had the means to do the excavating. Propane here gets a lot less expensive if you get a minimum of 300 gal, abuot $1.18 per gallon. This is why the oil boiler is getting replaced also even though it's just my backup for heating.
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    SpyderLovers Sponsor SpyderAnn01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by piernik View Post
    I totally agree with Bruiser about the transfer switch, it's a must . You can get either a manual or automatic version depending on your situation. If you can deal with a period of time after a power interruption a manual will suffice.
    Our problem was basement water. We live in an older home that sometimes got some water in really wet conditions so we had a waterproofing system installed. This worked perfectly until we got 13 inches of rainover 2 days last Sept. Even then it was ok until the power went out. Had a 5500 watt portable unit that used to be adequate until we discovered it wouldn't supply enough current to run both of the pumps together.Til I could reconfigure things to allow them to run we were flooding about 8 inches deep and that only took me about 30 minutes. If we hadn't been here I don't know how bad it would have been. I guess it would have just completely destroyed everything up to the first floor as the waterproofing system collects water so well it now flowed in unimpeeded to the sumps and out through the basement. We didnt get line power for 3 days and in that time I put about 15 gallons of gas in the portable, and the pumps ran almost continually. Now the generator starts within 20 seconds of an outage wether I'm here or not. If I'm here and dont need it to run I can just turn it off. But if I'm not here at least I can rely on it to run and not have a real disaster.

    As far as cost you are correct on the unit, the tank was another $1600 dollars including a line to the deck for the grill and I had the means to do the excavating. Propane here gets a lot less expensive if you get a minimum of 300 gal, abuot $1.18 per gallon. This is why the oil boiler is getting replaced also even though it's just my backup for heating.
    That is a huge point. If you don't have the automatic transfer switch you've got to be there or you could have huge problems.

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    Motorbike Professor NancysToy's Avatar
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    I might add that you not only need a transfer switch, but you need a way to control the amount of load, if your generator or wiring cannot handle the entire house coming on line at once. Residential transfer switches have separate breakers for selected critical circuits, and do not run the remaining circuits, so their load is controlled and cannot exceed the generator or wiring rating, so they won't cause a fire. heed this advice, a friend tried to do it cheap and easy, and burned his shop to the ground that way. This is one area where things should be done strictly according to the electrical code!
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    Quote Originally Posted by NancysToy View Post
    I might add that you not only need a transfer switch, but you need a way to control the amount of load, if your generator or wiring cannot handle the entire house coming on line at once. Residential transfer switches have separate breakers for selected critical circuits, and do not run the remaining circuits, so their load is controlled and cannot exceed the generator or wiring rating, so they won't cause a fire. heed this advice, a friend tried to do it cheap and easy, and burned his shop to the ground that way. This is one area where things should be done strictly according to the electrical code!
    You are very right Scotty, if you don't know how to do this correctly it can be very dangerous. I observed a neighbor wiring up an outlet once that he was going to use for a quick way to plug in his portable unit. Knowing his electrical expertise was limited went over to see what he was doing and found out he used a 15 amp recepticle and was complaining he had to make his own extension cord because nobody had one with male plugs at both ends! Offered some help and we fixed it up so he didn't kill himself or someone else or cause damage to his property.

    Also, generators designed as home backup are usually better regulated and less likely to damage electronics than some smaller units for general use. Ive ruined quite a few cordless power tool batteries and chargers on construction sites trying to use poorly regulated or surging generators to power the chargers.
    Last edited by piernik; 07-08-2012 at 07:07 PM.
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    Senior Member dannymax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NancysToy View Post
    If the town is out of power in a major storm, there will be no working gasoline pumps. Think about it.
    If things are that bad the propane trucks won't be getting filled either, besides....I have access to 550 gallons of gasoline, that'll hold us over for....well, 55 days, give or take.

    The exhaust is vented out the wall of the garage, which is detached from the house.

    Transfer switch? That'll be me! The generator is hard wired to the backside of the panel to a dedicated 220v breaker, just a matter of shutting down the main and kicking on the gen. breaker....which is all the $500 transfer switch does anyway.

    As for needing to stay home during a power outage....where else would you be? You should be home keeping an eye on the 'castle'.
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    The transfer switch eliminates the possibility that the breakers are switched in the wrong sequence feeding back to the utility power and energizing a line someone may be working on . Code requires that there is a way to keep this very thing from happening, it could kill someone if it does.
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    Senior Member dannymax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by piernik View Post
    The transfer switch eliminates the possibility that the breakers are switched in the wrong sequence feeding back to the utility power and energizing a line someone may be working on . Code requires that there is a way to keep this very thing from happening, it could kill someone if it does.
    You're absolutely right, it could have a bad outcome....that's why this kind of set-up isn't for everyone.
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    What most don't realize is that when you backfeed into the utility with 120/230 volts is that transformers work backwards also. Although the inrush current would most likely trip your generators breaker its possible if it didn't you could energize the primary with what is in the area here 13000 volts!

    By the way our last outage was when the neighbor a few houses down ran a rented high lift into said 13000 volt line on a bright sunny day. He lived after being defibrillated by emergency responders but he has a hole in his elbow and his foot. Also destroyed his tractor and the lift and nearly burned down the house he was painting the roof of.
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    Senior Member Dwanton's Avatar
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    I do have an electrician friend that will do all the wiring for me .

    When I buy the unit I am going to make sure I get all the parts necessary for safe hook up .

    The 17500 watt Generac portable unit will take care of my whole house and that will be at half the cost of a stand alone propane unit . I use a 5500 generac portable unit now and it powers everything except my 3 ton a/c heat pump system and hot water heater .

    After this last storm and no power for 5 - 7 days for some , a lot of friends are all now looking into a more perminent system -- and these days we have to look for the most affordable way and can't just throw money and get the best system available . ( I wish I could )
    a couple friends drove from 2 to 3 hours away to buy portable generators because they never thought they would ever need one and all local stores were sold out . Luckily I have had one hooked up for a few years now .

    I am doing the research not only for me but probably more than a few friends . as for most , money is an issue , not everyone has access to $6000 . and a $2000 unit that will do all that a stand alone will do and hooked up the same way , except turn on by itself when the power goes out .

    Just about every storm is predicted and we know it is coming , so we can get ready , fuel up get things in place when needed . Yes it would be nice not to worry about anything , but me personally , I am not financially in that position right now . So I am leaning towards the generac 17500 portable generator . But I am going to hold out til I fully learn what I my needs are and what I can afford .
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwanton View Post
    I do have an electrician friend that will do all the wiring for me .

    When I buy the unit I am going to make sure I get all the parts necessary for safe hook up .

    The 17500 watt Generac portable unit will take care of my whole house and that will be at half the cost of a stand alone propane unit . I use a 5500 generac portable unit now and it powers everything except my 3 ton a/c heat pump system and hot water heater .

    After this last storm and no power for 5 - 7 days for some , a lot of friends are all now looking into a more perminent system -- and these days we have to look for the most affordable way and can't just throw money and get the best system available . ( I wish I could )
    a couple friends drove from 2 to 3 hours away to buy portable generators because they never thought they would ever need one and all local stores were sold out . Luckily I have had one hooked up for a few years now .

    I am doing the research not only for me but probably more than a few friends . as for most , money is an issue , not everyone has access to $6000 . and a $2000 unit that will do all that a stand alone will do and hooked up the same way , except turn on by itself when the power goes out .

    Just about every storm is predicted and we know it is coming , so we can get ready , fuel up get things in place when needed . Yes it would be nice not to worry about anything , but me personally , I am not financially in that position right now . So I am leaning towards the generac 17500 portable generator . But I am going to hold out til I fully learn what I my needs are and what I can afford .
    your plan is probably 100 percent right in your case, not everybody has the same set of requirements for sure. 99 percent of the time I would be ok with just the set up you describe, but, having gone through the situation and seen what could happen I had to try to eliminate the chance that it could happen again. I did mine in stages, I installed my emergency panel and transfer switch several years ago when I upgraded the electrical service. That sufficed until we had the waterproofing system installled and had a power outage after record rainfall. Will it ever happen again, Who knows, probably not. That all said, safety is the most important aspect, I can repair anything that is damaged but once someone is gone, well ,you can't fix that.
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    PostZilla member Bob Denman's Avatar
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    And I thought putting batteries in the TV remote was tough...
    Transfer switches, killing folks, fires... This is so far over my head now that I feel like the cavemen at the beginning of "2001; A Space Odyssey" when the obelisk showed up onscreen...

    Out with the old; in with the "WOO-HOO "
    2014 RT Limited: #2444: Born on Jan 30th, 2014

  28. #25
    Senior Member dannymax's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
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    The Obe.....what?
    '09 SM5, Hindle pipe, K&N, sport rack, backrest, Givi shield EVO swaybar, Symtec grip heaters, Spyderpops belt guard....some other stuff.

    Don't worry about the bullet with your name on it,
    Be afraid of the one saying 'To Whom it May Concern'!

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