Portable generator

ladeer

Six Pointer
Hey does anyone have any input on portable generator? I read reviews on line but sure if they are real or not. Im looking to keep the freezer, some lights, heat pump if possible. If not space heaters. Stuff like that. I was looking at champion or Briggs and Stratton storm response. I think it has 6500 running watts.
 

bowtoot

Ten Pointer
Contributor
6500 running watts will be pushing it for a heat pump(especially the heat strips) and other loads. You can probably get by with space heaters and the loads you listed. I am not a big fan of the Chinese motors on most generators, but if you take good care of the fuel system(no ethanol and drain the bowl when done) you should be alright.
 

bwfarms

Old Mossy Horns
I’m going to knock out the Heat Pump question first, generally a minimum of 14,000 watts to crank a heat pump. This is not a hard fast rule, very important to know your heat pump load requirements; for this reason I cannot advise you. An underpowered generator will bog and you risk heating up wire/components. Repair/replacement is not worth it.

For your smaller stuff you will need to find the wattage specification for each device, it will be recorded somewhere on them. Hard to pin down without knowing your devices because they do vary. On average a space heater is 1500 watts, freezers are all over (can be higher than 400 watts), lights/TVs don’t really use much. Depending on your devices you will likely be able run 2 space heaters, a freezer and living room at the same time with room to spare on 6500. Add up everything being used at one time but be mindful if things require cranking, you will need to compensate for that. To be safe run a few hundred watts below max. The more load you have on does run up fuel consumption. Running loads of 50%, 60%, etc. will stretch your fuel. Keep in mind under loading wastes fuel, might as well use it or lose it. Be mindful of your amps and wire diameter. Space heaters may not shut off if temps never reach threshold of thermostat so I wouldn’t use your house wiring in case it overheats wires. Instead use heavy drop cords preferably on 30 amp 240v plug, check wire periodically for overheating. You will most likely need to shut off breakers or unplug devices to use some things, helps to keep notes of each device’s watts and amps. For example when using a microwave, unplug space heater(s).

As far as small portable generator brands, I currently have two Champion dual fuels (7500 and 8000, both running watts). I don’t have extensive use but the 7500 owned for a year, the 8000 is new. 7500 is cranking just fine, been used with hard pulling power tools. Followed start up and shutdown procedures and ran at least monthly. The 8000 has yet to be tested under serious load but works as should and honestly has some nicer features over the 7500. Both are electric start, I will never own another without it. Only ran ethanol free gasoline so far, propane will only be used if out of gas because the wattage is less.

Have a retired Homelite 4500 with a Briggs flathead, it was really limited in scope. It got to be a finicky turd you had to time and choke just right with hard pulling. I reckon after nearly 20 years it was tired, unknown hours but it got a lot of use pumping wells.

May not help but I also have Winco PTO generators that have given great service. If you have a tractor that’s an option.
 

Rescue44

Twelve Pointer
I’m going to knock out the Heat Pump question first, generally a minimum of 14,000 watts to crank a heat pump. This is not a hard fast rule, very important to know your heat pump load requirements; for this reason I cannot advise you. An underpowered generator will bog and you risk heating up wire/components. Repair/replacement is not worth it.

For your smaller stuff you will need to find the wattage specification for each device, it will be recorded somewhere on them. Hard to pin down without knowing your devices because they do vary. On average a space heater is 1500 watts, freezers are all over (can be higher than 400 watts), lights/TVs don’t really use much. Depending on your devices you will likely be able run 2 space heaters, a freezer and living room at the same time with room to spare on 6500. Add up everything being used at one time but be mindful if things require cranking, you will need to compensate for that. To be safe run a few hundred watts below max. The more load you have on does run up fuel consumption. Running loads of 50%, 60%, etc. will stretch your fuel. Keep in mind under loading wastes fuel, might as well use it or lose it. Be mindful of your amps and wire diameter. Space heaters may not shut off if temps never reach threshold of thermostat so I wouldn’t use your house wiring in case it overheats wires. Instead use heavy drop cords preferably on 30 amp 240v plug, check wire periodically for overheating. You will most likely need to shut off breakers or unplug devices to use some things, helps to keep notes of each device’s watts and amps. For example when using a microwave, unplug space heater(s).

As far as small portable generator brands, I currently have two Champion dual fuels (7500 and 8000, both running watts). I don’t have extensive use but the 7500 owned for a year, the 8000 is new. 7500 is cranking just fine, been used with hard pulling power tools. Followed start up and shutdown procedures and ran at least monthly. The 8000 has yet to be tested under serious load but works as should and honestly has some nicer features over the 7500. Both are electric start, I will never own another without it. Only ran ethanol free gasoline so far, propane will only be used if out of gas because the wattage is less.

Have a retired Homelite 4500 with a Briggs flathead, it was really limited in scope. It got to be a finicky turd you had to time and choke just right with hard pulling. I reckon after nearly 20 years it was tired, unknown hours but it got a lot of use pumping wells.

May not help but I also have Winco PTO generators that have given great service. If you have a tractor that’s an option.

I agree with the electric start. Like the idea of dual fuel, although, as you said, less wattage. 1st and only time I used the generator during an emergency, generator damaged the refrigerator compressor. I called an appliance repair man I've known for years about the fridge not working. He said I was like the 5th person to call him with the same problem. He has a whole house generator and he had the same problem with a fridge compressor going out. Told me to file a claim with insurance company. So...that can happen. The freezer was newer and it was ok.
 

lasttombstone

Kinder, Gentler LTS
Contributor
For what it's worth, here is my experience with generators. I have had one at this house for the 25 years I have been here. The first was a Coleman 5000W that burned up when I went bed one night with it running and the power came back on during the night. Never made that mistake again. I now have some off brand 5500 with a Briggs motor that is wired straight into the back of the circuit panel in the garage. The generator is actually in a separate room outside of the garage and on it's own circuit breaker. It has run everything I need whenever I've needed it. I have a wood stove so all it needs is the circulation fan. I do keep the well pump turned off at the circuit breaker unless I need water. Then I'll shut things down, run the pump to fill the tank or take a shower or whatever then shut it back off. It runs whatever lights I want, the tv, fridge ,2 large freezers and pretty muchwhatever I need.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
Not sure about the loads and all and this probably won’t be popular, but the predator brand genny’s from harbor freight are what I’d go with. I know a lot of guys who have them that use them for bowfishing and they’ve never had issues. And some of these will have hundreds, if not thousands of hours on them.
I think they go as big as 9750 inverter.
 

Hunterreed

Eight Pointer
The problem with running a heat pump is the electric strip heaters in the air handler. Most are minimum a 10kw and only run as supplemental or auxiliary heat when the heat pump,the outdoor section compressor is in defrost or can't make much heat in lower temperatures. This is where gas furnaces,gas package units and dual fuel systems are a plus because they run on very little power. With a little electrical know how a heat pump air handler could be wired to have the heat strips supplied by a separate breaker that could be switched off during power outages. Then the air handler blower and heat pump section would run independently on less than 30 amps unless your system is a 4 ton or larger
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
You can always get one and run drop cords for stuff you need to run in an emergency. But the best way to do it requires advance planning. Buy a generator, get a sub panel (with gauges) wired properly and installed with a locker bar, get a HD outdoor power outlet and the heavy cable to plug from the generator to the outlet.

I have a 8500W dual fuel Champion generator, that has worked well for me for about 7 years, but I do not use it much. I run it twice a year just to keep it working. I do have to pull the battery and keep it on a tender or it will die, even with the battery switch off. When it sits for a long period of time, it takes a while to get it started, but it has run fine for me and even runs 220V circuits for the well pump and water heater (no heat pump). I have a flex hose hooked up to the house propane tank with a valve a few feet away.

Heating/AC is the highest use of power, and is difficult to run well from portable generators. I recommend an alternative heat source such as a wood stove or gas heat and just remove that from the equation. Then run fans on generator power to circulate the air.

Interestingly, I tried to crank the generator a week ago for it's semi annual maintenance run, and for the first time it would not crank on gasoline. Not for anything. Not with starter fluid. This machine has only been used with NE fuel, and the carb is run dry every time. I finally did get it started on propane and it ran fine. And that right there (and fuel versatility) is why I bought dual fuel.

IMO, generators for emergency use require advance planning and regular maintenance. Failure to do either of those makes it only partially usable.
 

roundball

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
After using several large extension cords running off the first small generator for several years after I got it during ’97 Hurricane Fran…I got a larger Rigid Yamaha 6800 watt generator from Home Depot, installed a generator panel and selectively moved critical downstairs circuits from the main house panel into it...(not heating, just use the fireplace).

More convenient / safer with a commercial power failure…lets me toggle the physically connected pair of breakers in the generator panel...(left end of the row of breakers in the small panel)...which:
(A) Disconnects power from the commercial panel (that also provides down-line safety).
(B) Allows the generator panel breakers to be powered by the generator’s power cord.
Then I connect the heavy duty power cable (top right) outside to the generator.

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JoeR

Eight Pointer
Not sure about the loads and all and this probably won’t be popular, but the predator brand genny’s from harbor freight are what I’d go with. I know a lot of guys who have them that use them for bowfishing and they’ve never had issues. And some of these will have hundreds, if not thousands of hours on them.
I think they go as big as 9750 inverter.
The #1 killer of these units (and for plenty of others) is that they get some corrosion on the slip rings from sitting around, then the brushes bounce, then the electronic voltage regulator smokes. At that point it is only good for scrap. If you give them a quick wipe to clean them off first, those cheapo units can often run for quite a while without trouble.
 

pattersonj11

Old Mossy Horns
Heat pumps, air conditioners, microwaves, and stoves/ovens will pull loads. You can make a 10,000 watt unit buck and kick if you throw 4 stove burners on high. Some coffee pots can pull bad as well as some space heaters.

you can use some load management and get by with most things but you can hang it up on a big heat pump or air conditioner with anything less than a 12,000 or bigger portable. When you get into that size...they really aren’t all that portable anyway.

anything with heating or cooling capability is a pull on a generator. If you use it for freezers and fridges, you can plug them in and listen to the generator. You will know when it is too much load.

don’t try heat pump or air conditioning. Those are expensive and if it starts surging, you can fry the small electronics.

pumps pull hard as well.

We used a 6500 watt to power a house, but we only hooked up freezers, fridges, a couple lighting circuits, and a small split unit A/c. If we wanted hot water, we had to kill the freezers for a couple hours to let the water heater heat up. Once it heated, we had hot water for 12-24 hours.

we moved on to a 10,000 watt generator but haven’t had a storm to test it out. I know it makes electricity, but I haven’t played with it to see what all it will pull. I know 4 stove burners on high was too much when I tested it out.
 

dubbeltap69

Six Pointer
Contributor
Ca
The #1 killer of these units (and for plenty of others) is that they get some corrosion on the slip rings from sitting around, then the brushes bounce, then the electronic voltage regulator smokes. At that point it is only good for scrap. If you give them a quick wipe to clean them off first, those cheapo units can often run for quite a while without trouble.
Can you elaborate more about that? Clean internally or externally?
 

bigten

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I have a 9400w dual fuel. Wattage is 8450 on propane. If I have my numbers correct, I should be able to run my 110v circuits but a big NO on the heat pump, water heater etc. I installed a 50a plug for connection, made a double male connector cable and lock out the main from the power meter. Looks as if I may be testing it in the next 24 hours or so...
 

Lastfling

Four Pointer
Here’s my setup. The 100 amp house panel is wired to this transfer panel which has 100 amp house breaker on one side and 30 amp generator breaker on the other. With the 7500watt dual fuel gen I have I should be able to keep the lights on and wood stove fan going along with the fridges , freezer and well pump as needed. With outage I plug in generator to outside receptical, switch breaker from house 100 amp to gen 30 amp and can still go into house panel and turn individual breakers on and off as needed to reduce generator load if needed as the entire panel is wired to this switch.

I also had the electrician run 8ga wire so if I got a bigger gen the 30 amp receptacle could be changed to 50 without requiring additional wiring.

All this is subjective of course as it hasn’t been put to use other than testing when installed
 

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JoeR

Eight Pointer
Ca

Can you elaborate more about that? Clean internally or externally?
Sure. You want to clean the slip rings under the brushes. It's not really that hard on most generators, but some are a bit of a pain. This video shows the slip rings at around the 6 min mark.


Use strips of abrasive pads like these to clean them. Roll the engine over by hand while you buff off any corrosion. If you store your generator inside, it's really unlikely this would be a problem. If they are stored outside, you definitely want to do this.
 

SomeHuntingGuy

Eight Pointer
Lots of good advice here.

I’ve used my 5500 Generac for Matthew and Florence, as well as for lots of uses around the farm.

stick with what others have said above & pick a good one.

I have an extra carb, just in case the Generac decides to have a problem when I need it most.

Keep non-ethanol fuel w Stabil on-hand, in the most air-tight container you can find.
 

DBCooper

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I have a utility building that has a 230W circuit (for a welder). I had my electrician buddy wire me up a cord (from that service) that runs to my generator. So, when the power goes out, I switch off my main (so I don't backfeed the lines) and I then I have the circuits I need (lights/freezers/etc.) color coded with pink duct tape. I shut off the non-pink circuits and crank the generator (9KW). It'll run most anything I want to run....but sometimes you have to switch other things off (like, if I want to run the water heater or water pump). I have a wood stove with a blower that'll run us out, if we run the blower.

I need to figure out a way to know when the power comes back on. I'm sure my buddy could rig me a light that would come on (rigged on the power company side of my main). As it is, my neighbor knows my conundrum...and calls me (when the power comes back on).
 

woodmoose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
I need to figure out a way to know when the power comes back on.

that's the issue - thankfully Lumbee River EMC sends text messages on status of expected repair time and then when they get it back up - we had to "opt in" for that - maybe your power company does the same -
 

DBCooper

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
that's the issue - thankfully Lumbee River EMC sends text messages on status of expected repair time and then when they get it back up - we had to "opt in" for that - maybe your power company does the same -
If it's dark out, I have a pole with a lamp (from Duke). Not an issue. I'll check it out.
 

bwfarms

Old Mossy Horns
that's the issue - thankfully Lumbee River EMC sends text messages on status of expected repair time and then when they get it back up - we had to "opt in" for that - maybe your power company does the same -

I get text notifications for all my services, Duke and Randolph. I did have to sign up.
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I need to figure out a way to know when the power comes back on. I'm sure my buddy could rig me a light that would come on (rigged on the power company side of my main). As it is, my neighbor knows my conundrum...and calls me (when the power comes back on).
The way my panel is wired, the circuits on my sub panel are permanently "moved" from the main panel. Those circuits no longer exist in my regular panel but are now controlled on the sub panel. As such, when I switch to generator power, only those circuits are being operated by the generator (and cut off from house power), and there are other circuits in the house still operating as normal. For instance, my LR, kitchen, and entryway are all on the gen. sub panel , but I think the hallway and one bedroom is not. If the hallway light comes back on, I know power is restored.

BTW, The wood stove blower is on a generator circuit, but I also have deep cycle batteries and an inverter that I can quietly run it on overnight.
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