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Author Topic: Selecting a generator  (Read 37990 times)
W6EM
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« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2013, 08:33:32 AM »

........ The key to long term home power is propane. I have 1000 gallon tank. Propane never goes bad. Starts right away and the engine always has clean oil. With all home self start generator start the battery is the biggest factor.
  Hmmmm.  I didn't check, but if you live in CA earthquake country, I sure hope your 1000 gallon propane tank is underground.  And, that you've provided some flexibility in your piping from it.  In my days in CA, saw plenty of tanks take off during seismic events.

Some thought it smart to install "seismic valves" on tanks to auto-shut-off the gas when quakes happen.  Then, have them bypassed after things like garbage and dump trucks rumbling along falsed shut offs.

I now live in AL, where earthquakes aren't a problem.......At least, so far.  My propane tank is underground and there's flexibility in the connections.

Another problem that is actually worse than battery failure is auto transfer switch failure.  Most folks don't exercise the entire package, and when the time comes for the auto transfer to do it's thing......it doesn't.
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W8JX
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« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2013, 09:19:37 AM »

Propane is nice for sure but there is still much to be said for a self contained portable gas unit that can be move as needed and interfaced with house. Mobile unit tend to be far more survivable in disasters. 
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KE4DRN
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« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2013, 04:59:14 PM »

hi

Marathon stations sell gasoline without any alcohol added at one  pump.

73 james
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W6EM
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« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2013, 05:39:32 PM »

hi

Marathon stations sell gasoline without any alcohol added at one  pump.

73 james
Thanks, James.  Good to know.  I'll go there for my small HP engine fuel. 
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W8JX
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« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2013, 05:30:13 AM »

hi

Marathon stations sell gasoline without any alcohol added at one  pump.

73 james
Thanks, James.  Good to know.  I'll go there for my small HP engine fuel. 

If you buy plus, like I always do, it rarely has alcohol added to it. I do not use 87 in anything especially cars because it is a throw back from 70's and 8 to 1 compression. You will find that generators with modern high compression OHV engines run smoother to the feel under load, especially on a hot day, with 89 vs 87.
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AF6AU
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« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2013, 02:34:13 PM »

As others have mentioned, depends..... There is more to consider than watts. Ignition noise (RF noise). Audio noise. Fuel type. Used for emergency too? Maintenance? Do you even need a generator, or perhaps a 150-300 watt solar panel and a deep cycle battery would be better? A solar panel, regulator, and a Deep Cycle battery would make zero noise audio or RF wise. Maybe both a small generator and a solar panel? Use a deep cycle with solar unless it's cloudy, then charge with the generator. Either way you don't have to hear that engine all the time. Watch Craig's list, you find solar panels for a bargain if you keep an eye out.

The little harbor freight 900 watt generator is a 2 stroke, and you need to keep blended fuel handy, and a spare spark plug. Unless you are familiar with 2 strokes, go for a smaller 4 stroke (keep reading..). They are inherently quieter, and will take on extra muffler quieting more readily. Typically they last longer as well. And for fuel, without the need to blend for a 4 stroke, any decent gas will do, but as others have mentioned, use a good mid-grade or premium gas, they run better with the extra octane, as air cooled engines under moderate load have hot cylinder head temperatures, and are more octane sensitive to pre-ignition than a liquid cooled engine. Advice, you are better buying a 10-15 year old used-in-good-condition Honda generator from a RV'er that's up scaling, than a new generator from Harbor Freight. Hondas are easy to fire up, reliable, serviceable, quiet, make clean power, last a long time, and have high resale value. Always test them first! Having several hair driers make perfect generator dummy loads as a single hair drier can pull 800 to 1200 watts.

Personally, I have a group 27 deep cycle (Wal Mart), a 280 watt solar panel (18 volts, 15.5 amps), 20 amp charge regulator, a 25 amp battery charger, and an old 1000 watt Honda generator. During field day, the solar panel and battery keep full charge all day, and running a IC-735 and a 12 volt camp fluorescent, it will easily go all night (but I can't). I have yet to need the Honda to charge the deep cycle.

If you are a handy person, and a pack rat like me, you can take a old 4-5Hp engine, a belt and sheaves, and spin a car alternator, and build a 14 volt charge generator.

Visit the camping and RV websites, and if you adventurous, the doomsday prepper type sites, they have lots of info on generators and solar stuff. If you live in a windy area, consider wind power as well.  Either way enjoy going operating off the grid.
73's AF6AU
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W8JX
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« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2013, 05:22:02 PM »

The little harbor freight 900 watt generator is a 2 stroke, and you need to keep blended fuel handy, and a spare spark plug.

I have been using 2 stroke snow blowers for over 10 years and never had fouled plug issues. On Harbor Freight unit, it is important to shut fuel off when done and run carb dry. I use Amsoil 100 to 1 in mine at a 85 to 1 mix and it is smokeless.
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W6EM
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« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2013, 06:39:26 PM »

Propane is nice for sure but there is still much to be said for a self contained portable gas unit that can be move as needed and interfaced with house. Mobile unit tend to be far more survivable in disasters.  
Maybe the unit would be, but hardly a storm season goes by that doesn't have another sad story of folks running small portable generators in improper places like garages (to keep them dry) and ending up as fatalities from CO ingestion.

A properly designed and installed outdoor machine and transfer switch unit is much more dependable and safe when the time comes for it to be used during power outages.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 06:51:36 PM by W6EM » Logged
W8JX
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« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2013, 03:56:52 AM »

Propane is nice for sure but there is still much to be said for a self contained portable gas unit that can be move as needed and interfaced with house. Mobile unit tend to be far more survivable in disasters.  
Maybe the unit would be, but hardly a storm season goes by that doesn't have another sad story of folks running small portable generators in improper places like garages (to keep them dry) and ending up as fatalities from CO ingestion.

A properly designed and installed outdoor machine and transfer switch unit is much more dependable and safe when the time comes for it to be used during power outages.

I ran mine in garage one year with door fully open when it was raining. Bad thing about a outside unit it is exposed to elements and temperature swings more so it needs to be run often and need more maintainance. A portable can sit for a year or more with ease and still run on demand if you run carb out of fuel when you put it up. 
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W6EM
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« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2013, 09:03:16 PM »

The fact that you lived to tell us about your garage operation is pure luck.  Had there been air flow from your garage into your home, such as could easily occur with a door left ajar to run an extension cord inside, could have cost you your life.

Outdoor units are designed to be operated outdoors.  Not talking about a Coleman Powermate or Honda portable either.  Something like what Kohler or Generac offers that are designed to operate outdoors.  More maintenance?  Don't think so.  Draining the gas tank wouldn't be necessary if natural gas or propane fuelled.  No sprained backs from trying to lug heavy machines from the garage outdoors, erect a tent to park it under, or worry about disturbing the neighbors with inadequate mufflers.  And, no hazards associated with refueling a running gasoline-powered generator.  Of course you could grab an umbrella and a flashlight, kill the engine and shut off the power, then try to fill'er-up without an explosive ignition or fire.
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W8JX
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« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2013, 04:10:27 AM »

The fact that you lived to tell us about your garage operation is pure luck.  Had there been air flow from your garage into your home, such as could easily occur with a door left ajar to run an extension cord inside, could have cost you your life.

Outdoor units are designed to be operated outdoors.  Not talking about a Coleman Powermate or Honda portable either.  Something like what Kohler or Generac offers that are designed to operate outdoors.  More maintenance?  Don't think so.  Draining the gas tank wouldn't be necessary if natural gas or propane fuelled.  No sprained backs from trying to lug heavy machines from the garage outdoors, erect a tent to park it under, or worry about disturbing the neighbors with inadequate mufflers.  And, no hazards associated with refueling a running gasoline-powered generator.  Of course you could grab an umbrella and a flashlight, kill the engine and shut off the power, then try to fill'er-up without an explosive ignition or fire.

You have not seen my garage, the size and volume of it and prevailing winds. It is a none issue. As far as run time, I do not run 24/7 and shut down at nite but it will go 14+ hours between refills. As far as the hazard of refueling, if proper sized containers are used it is not a problem. If someone has trouble safely handling gas then they should not be using one. As far as maintenance, a external does require more because it sees wide daily temp swings and should be run weekly logging total run time for servicing. A properly stored portable unit can sit idle for a few years and still run on demand.
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W8GP
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« Reply #41 on: November 10, 2013, 08:22:00 AM »

I consider fuel stabilizers and carb draining an un-necessary hassle, the best thing to do is to run it for an hour every 6 months or so.That way you can identify a problem with the unit before you really need it. Even that is probably overkill since fuel is usually good for at least 2 years.But to each their own.
                   I recommend the Honda EU series, especially if you're going to actually USE it. Higher initial cost, but well worth it.
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KE4DRN
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« Reply #42 on: November 10, 2013, 05:27:40 PM »

W8JX, do you allow your genset to cool down before refueling?

Running any type of engine inside a garage, open or closed is not a good idea.

But what you do is your business.

We had an older couple running a genset outdoors, problem was they had a window open,
when the furnace was running it pulled in air from the window and the man died from
CO poisoning, the only thing that saved his wife life was she had an oxygen generator in use.

Recommend a good carbon monoxide detector on each floor of any home.

73 james
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W6EM
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« Reply #43 on: November 10, 2013, 08:01:05 PM »

W8JX, do you allow your genset to cool down before refueling?

Running any type of engine inside a garage, open or closed is not a good idea.

But what you do is your business.

We had an older couple running a genset outdoors, problem was they had a window open,
when the furnace was running it pulled in air from the window and the man died from
CO poisoning, the only thing that saved his wife life was she had an oxygen generator in use.

Recommend a good carbon monoxide detector on each floor of any home.

73 james
Thanks, James, for sharing this.  As this tragic example points out, it is very easy to get enough negative pressure differential to draw exhaust gas inside occupied living areas in ways you wouldn't expect.
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #44 on: November 11, 2013, 03:02:39 AM »

Do you even need a generator, or perhaps a 150-300 watt solar panel and a deep cycle battery would be better? A solar panel, regulator, and a Deep Cycle battery would make zero noise audio or RF wise.
Depends on the charge regulator and/or inverter. Some of those MPPT grid-tie inverters are supposed to be pretty RF-noisy, while the simplest non-switching lead acid charge regulators tend to be less RF-noisy. Switching regulators are a bit of a gamble - perhaps their noise is outside the bands you're going to use, or perhaps you can filter them.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2013, 03:58:50 AM by LA9XSA » Logged
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