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Old 07-04-2011, 11:05 AM
Robin56 Robin56 is offline
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Default How Long Would a Generator Last?

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I know the title is a bit vague but it was the best I could think of at the moment. I'm wanting to buy a portable generator, not just for a SHTF situation, but also for hurricane preparedness. There's lots of information on generators but, since I'm fixing to leave for a 4th of July family reunion, I have little time time to go thru them all.

My question is a rather basic one. Whatever type of generator I'd buy would be powered by gas, propane, diesel, or some other type of fuel. But if you have limited storage capabilities for fuel storage, eventually your fuel is going to run out. Then the generator would be of no use.

With my financial situation, I can't afford everything I'd like to have for any type of emergency. So, I'm wondering if I should spend the money it would take to get an adequate generator or use the money to buy more of the many other items I'd need that are expensive (to me, anyway).

Of course, the generator would be very practical for a hurricane scenario because the power will be up again eventually (as it was when I went thru Hurricane Ike). But for long term use in a BAD scenario, my fuel would dry up after awhile.

I'd sure appreciate any input. I'm looking at a generator on Amazon and the reviews on it seem to make it a good choice -- especially since I have $110 worth of gift certificates for the site. But that $110 might be better spent on other preparedness items.

Thanks in advance and Happy 4th to All.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:16 AM
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Diesel engines tend to be the longest lasting. They're also not too picky about fuel. You can burn everything in them from used motor oil to vegetable oil, etc. You can also make biodiesel fairly easy from oil crops that you can grow and process yourself.

But for long term, I think it's better to just break the dependance on electricity alltogether. A generator is great for getting your family through a week long ice storm, or for waiting until power is restored after a hurricane or something. But it's not a survival necessity, and in such a situation, really doesn't serve a whole lot of purpose anyway.

The downside is that diesel generators cost a whole lot more and are a lot larger and heavier.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:32 AM
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I'd put my money on a solar array with battery back up.Expensive if you buy a turnkey set up....but if your mechanically inclined you can do alot of the work yourself....My son did and he's about 40-50% off the grid with 4 Large collecters tied together.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:48 AM
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I have a diesel,and a propane gen set, the diesel will last for years running 24/7 diesel fuel will last for years the diesel gen are very expensive, I rely mostly on my solar set up I am with CO-retired you are better off with solar. good luck JT
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:50 AM
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What size genny would one need to run a small window unit AC?
Old 07-04-2011, 11:53 AM
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Batteries will only last a few years. - such would limit solar options Post SHTF.

May also want to have a secondary way to start the generator.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:55 AM
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No way to tell how long it will last. What brand is it, what motor is on it, what RPM motor is it, how well is it maintained. Most small gennys are 3600 RPM made for short term. Change that oil often, run it often under load, use sta-bil in the stored fuel.
They certainly aren't meant to be run 24-7 for very long, plus it would get expensive as they use quite a bit of fuel.
Figure out what size you need, spend the extra money for a good one, add a tri-fuel adapter so you can store less fuel and not be in line for gasoline, if there is any to be had.
These are just my opinions. I have a Generac 8000 wired to a transfer box professionally installed so no need for all those extension cords. I also have a smaller 3500 and a 5500 at my shop.
Lastly, remember these things are dangerous. Storing gasoline is dangerous. They also put out carbon monoxide, a lot of it. Install a battery operated CO detector.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:02 PM
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A generator can last a lifetime as long as it is well built, well maintained, and not abused.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:25 PM
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I was told to watch operating RPM on any diesel genny I was pricing. Main thing is to figure how many watts you need. I have a LOUD 6500 gasoline genny that ran about $700. I bought a Honda 5000is last week for $3400. Much quieter!

I sell produce and have 8 freezers full. Saturday the lights went out for four hours and this 100 degree heat started raising my temps pretty quick, but senior Honda saved the day. Left that noisy one out in the barn.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Category5 View Post
What size genny would one need to run a small window unit AC?
Take a look for the watt rating of the AC unit. Should be on a label stuck to it. Add 2-3x for starting surge.

That said a 5000 BTU is about 550 watts, a 8000 BTU is about 800 watts therefore it does not need much of a generator. Something in the 2500 range would do it.

Regarding Generators. All the portable generators are rated for standby use. A continuous duty rated generator will be much more expensive and generally be diesel powered and 3 phase 480V.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:39 PM
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I just got a generator that would be for short term outages and I figured it out like this.

I would only need a few hundred watts for things like cell phone and battery charging, a laptop computer, a light or two, a fan, whatever. I wouldn't need these things 24x7, just occasionally. The biggest wattage items I would need (want) are my fridge/freezer, a small microwave and maybe a coffee maker. To do all o f this stuff would take running the generator maybe 2-3 hours a day specifically for the fridge/freezer to keep stuff from going bad too fast. The microwave and coffee maybe a few minutes per day. Miscellaneous stuff again an hour or two per day. I figured that I would only need a maximum of 900 watts at a time, so I bought a small 1500 watt generator. I could have gone bigger, but they burn through the fuel faster too. Mine is rated to run at half-load for 9-10 hours on a tank of gas. It has a 1.3 gallon tank. I can store 7 gallons of gas (and do so) with the 2 containers I have.

Since I would only be running the generator for about 4-5 hours per day at 30-60% load I can theoretically go for 2 days or so on a gallon of gas, so 7 gallons should see me through a 10-14 day emergency. If I only get a week out of it, it still better than nothing, as it saved my fridge/freezer food from going bad before I could eat it all.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:01 PM
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we have one which can run the fridge/freezer or the furnace, enough to get us through for a week or 2, and useful in all the small shtf power outages we have here in central IL because of tornado, storms, blizzards, whatever. We won't be counting on it long term because it will draw attention to the fact that we may have more than our neighbors...
after the 1st 2 weeks or so, no genny and lie low. but it is a useful part of the plan and has saved us several fridges and freezers full of food, and kept us warm several nights when we otherwise would have been very cold. as a tool, they surely have their uses. We just don't count on it as anything other than as an alternative stopgap measure.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:19 PM
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I have one from sears it was 800 is 5600 with an 8600 surge its hooked up to the power pole and when we loose power (like once or twice a week around my area if someone passes gas the wind blows the lines down) we tunr it on it run everything in the house exept central ac and water heater but runs a window unit it runs about 12 hrs with 5 gal gas
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:35 PM
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I have 3 generators. I have a Honda 2000ei that I got to power my Truck camper when out in the boonies. It will power the AC and fridge but not the Microwave and AC at the same time. I used this one during IKE 24/7 for a week.
When they said we were going to be without power for another week and a half I got a 5700 watt McCulloch to power the Wash Machine and other items. I have since converted this to a Tri-Fuel and keep it at the house.
I just go a 10000 Watt Briggs and Stratton with a V-Twin engine. This one is to power my RV with twin AC's at my Retreat. This one is very nice and I am looking into converting it to Tri-Fuel also. I will only need it for the AC's during the summer. I have Solar to do the rest or use the Honda for Coffee/Microwave during the Fall, Winter and Spring.
That said I would get a good Briggs and Stratton Generator in the 5700 to 6500 range for post Hurricane or temporary power outages. The Honda was really nice during this time as no one even knew I had it or that it was running.
There are ways to reduce the noise level of the bigger portables. I stack hay all around mine and this cuts down the noise tremendously. But in a subdivision even this would alert your neighbors to the fact that you have one. But then everyone will be using theirs also. They were all over our neighborhood after IKE.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:41 PM
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Get into solar?

Fuel availability may become problematic for a generator.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:47 PM
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I have been looking at add the Efoy model Menthol fuel cartridge set up to my power needs to charge the battie bank in those winter month's where the sun is not enough ..

Goggle there name Efoy and you see the maker and model of there system .They can be used in a home as long as the air is flowing and you have a bucket under the unit drainage outlet to catch the water that it produces.

The model i was looking at is the Efoy 220 model it there largest model and it runs about $8900.oo dollars and yes i know that is a bit much for the unit but there is reason why i chose it ..

1-it can be run indoors and not have a problem

2-the fuel cartridge is design for plug and play set up

3-the diff sized fuel cartridge comes in the following sized M5-5-liter's of fuel-M10-10-liter's of fuel-M28-28-liter's of fuels

4-it the size of a mircowave oven for compactness and protable use ..

the cost of one M10 fuel cell is about $69.oo dollars and yes that is a costly unit to fuel .But my use only one a week to charge the battie bank it should last me about two months before it need to change it out ..

The design is beening used in the remote areas to charge the socalled oil field unit battery remote unit's . AS one person put it ..It can go for a couple of months of basic everyday chargeing before i need to change out the fuel cell on the unit ..

This gentlemen battery bank was 8 12.volt 140.amp hour batties for a remote oild field tracking pipe system and it keeped them charged every four days it ran and it ran for about 7 hours in a day to charge the battery's in the houseing unit ..

The cost is a big plus for the people but in the long i like the fact that it can be ran indoor's and that way i can keep a eye on it for those times when you need to have power but do not need to anounce to the world you have power ..

the picture of the unit in the snow is from western Canada in the oil field

here is a few picture's of the unit .
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fuller View Post
A generator can last a lifetime as long as it is well built, well maintained, and not abused.
Yes, and can also last minutes. Spin a bearing and its toast. Before anyone decides it didn't have oil etc. Everything was correct. Brand new...lasted minutes. Company very sheepish about it! If its mechanical, crap will happen. That said, for the most part the fuel might become unavailable before one fails
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:39 PM
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I have twin Devilbiss 6750 gas generators. During the floods of 2008 I ran both of them virtually non stop for 30 days. I still have them they are fine. They are splash lubricated so I changed the sae 30w oil every 100 hours of use, in other words "alot" Diesels or propane are probably the way to go but they are indeed pricey.

I guess the watch word here is maintenance...I have a used oil heater so it was a win - win...Both have 10 gallon gas tanks and at 50% load will run 24 hours.

Edit - FYI - I was going through about 100 gallons of gas per calendar week. In a SHTF scenario I think that would be hard to maintain. Fuel wise I am concentrating on wood and kerosene.
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:24 PM
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For a small generator the honda eu2000 is a good choice.
I run mine out on the beach to power an a/c in a truck camper and it will run about 10 hours on less than a gallon of gas.
I have a 9k gen with a kolhler at home but it wolfs down fuel (gas) at near 1 gal per hour
Its to expensive to even use it for more than a day (60.00 ish)
Im thinking of selling the 9k and get a 5k honda.....
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:51 PM
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Many good opinions have been given here on which generators and how to calculate loads. I was in your same position about 10 years ago, wondering if I should get a generator or have alternative means of light, power, etc.

I think a lot of factors come into play, and some have already been touched on in this thread. I don't know your personal situation at all, so I'll just list some ideas to consider:

1. What is your home location like? E.g. - are you urban, suburban or rural? Will your neighbors also be likely to have generators, or will they absolutely pinpoint the engine noise straight to you?

2. What is security around your home? I would never leave a generator running unattended, and I would never leave it out unattended either. This is due to the slight risk of fire as well as the moderate risk of theft.

3. What do you intend to want to run on the generator? E.g. - are there easy substitutions for what you want to run on generator power that you could run on battery or solar power? There are battery operated fans galore, but I never heard of a battery operated window AC unit.

4. Are you able and willing to store a good quantity of fuel? This is an investment in properly vented storage containers, the fuel itself, and fuel stabilizers where needed. This also means having a safe and dedicated space for storage of the fuel as well.

5. Are you physically able to lift a generator and put into place (there are rolling carts for many models) and able to lift a gas can and pour fuel? Are you able to do your own maintenance on the unit?

6. Are you willing to maintain the generator in periods of disuse and do a periodic generator start to run it and check for issues?

7. Are you willing to put the cost into accessories, such as the necessary heavy duty power cords that you will need to run the appliances you deem as necessary? If so, please get these cords at the same time you get the generator and store these together. Do not count on getting these power cords later, because these will be near impossible to find in a local emergency situation.
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