How to select a generator for my house

Old 08-23-18, 08:56 AM
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How to select a generator for my house

Let me start out by saying that I know nothing about generators. Having said that, I would appreciate any and all information needed to select a generator. I would like to be prepared for future power outages that are quite common in Florida due to lightning and hurricanes.

I don't need a whole house generator, just enough power to run the refrigerator, a small chest freezer, ceiling fans, TV, computer, a few lights, etc.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge...buzcar
Old 08-23-18, 09:50 AM
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First, do you want to run all those things simultaneously? If so you will need a much larger generator. One able to supply what all those devices draw when running. You also need to include extra capacity for the surge of current some appliances like refrigerators need when starting. If you can get by running only a few items at a time, say run the fridge for an hour then unplug it and run the freezer you can get away with a much smaller generator.

At my house I have a large diesel generator that can run the AC, well pump and washer & dryer. When the power is out we run it only when needed. It's big, loud and consumes a lot of fuel. For all the time in between when we just want a few lights and the TV the I run a small Honda 2'000 watt generator that is very quiet and sips fuel.
Old 08-23-18, 10:22 AM
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A few questions and suggestions:

Can you run it off Natural Gas? NG is usually preferred if you have it, then you don't have to worry about gas cans, gas going bad, etc. Plus NG can basically run forever.

It sounds like you want a "temporary" solution rather than a hardwired, automatic generator. You would roll it out when you need it, connect the gas line, plug in a special extension cord, start the gen, then manually flip a few switches to connect your appliances to the gen. This is definitely the cheapest method, but requires some 'work' when the power goes out.
The automatic generators are great, but are significantly more expensive and require more installation labor.

With just a few appliances and lights, you could get a generator and a few extension cords. Temporarily run the extension cords into the house and connect what you need. No electrican required.
Alternately, you can install a transfer switch, which allows you to basically switch a few circuits in your breaker box between standard line power and generator power. Much easier, but adds a few hundred dollars to the setup.

Take a look at the Generator Sticky too, some good ideas there too.
Old 08-23-18, 02:12 PM
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The current issue of Consumer Reports has a graphic that shows what size generators you could use for combinations of various items. It should be available at your local library.
Old 08-27-18, 10:06 AM
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The items are pretty low load and most any generator would be OK ~ 2000W up to 5000W is the range you should be looking at. Prices vary widely based on brand, engine quality and noise. At the very high end will be Yamaha and Honda, some of these are multi-fuel capable, will be $1000-$2000. At the low end will be private label imports you can find for $200 on black Friday. Smaller generators use less fuel so it's a balance to get one that just a little bigger than you need so you can run longer on the same gas.

A couple #12 gauge extension cords to run into the house through a cracked window or garage are really all you need. A hardwired transfer panel makes it easier to hook up and you don't need to leave a window open for the cords.

No matter what you have to plan a spot where the hookup cord will reach for the generator to run outside fully ventilated. It cannot run in a garage due to the carbon monoxide danger, nor should it run directly next to an open window or door as the CO can be drawn into the house.
Old 08-27-18, 10:48 AM
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When you size a generator..... things like cooking, water and septic pumps also need to be considered.

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