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Cranky old man
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello from New Hampshire where we're still cleaning up after last weekend's ice storm. Although this storm was far from the SHTF, it was a major pain in the neck. Like a lot of other people, we lost power Thursday (we got it back this morning) and resorted to using our generator. I'm curious to learn other people's opinions about how to best employ a generator.

I have a 10 year-old 5000W Honda generator hooked up to a gentran box that powers my furnace, well, and the outlets in the kitchen. I typically run the generator for an hour and then shut it down for 3 or 4 hours. On this schedule I can keep the house warm, the refrigerator cold, and have the lights on for preparing meals. I use around 2.5 gallons of gas in 24 hours.

Am I being too conservative? I could run the generator continuously, but:
a) I don't really need power all the time.
b) I keep only 30 gallons of gas on-hand, so I don't want to use up fuel unnecessarily.
c) I don't think medium-duty generators can be run 24/7 for more than a week or so without breaking down.

How are other people using their generators in similar circumstances?
 

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We have 5kw honda that is at least 25 years old. It made it through 3 hurricanes and used heavily. It finally gave up last year and only puts out on one leg of 220. A Honda engine is a damn good engine.
 

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I'm keeping my eye on you
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I use mine in the same manner you have been. Use it during the times it is needed, not as a luxury item. If you waste your fuel, you may not have enough to get you through the event.
 

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Go to guy
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I sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things. If anything I would try to keep more fuel on hand but besides that a 10yo can keep you out of the dark and cold for many years to come. Somewhere down the road in 10-15 years I would plan on replaceing it with a newer and more efficient model but for know I believe that you are doing just fine.
 

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Banned
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ive been running mine for up to 6 or 7 hours continuous after dark running lights and the fridge and the computer. run it for a short time in the morning to make coffee and cool fridge down again. i still dont have my power back,lol. waaaaaaaaa
 

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trois pour cent
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I think if it's meeting your needs then don't change a thing. 2.5 gallons/day is pretty darn good.
I've got a couple of the Honda 2000's and can run about 11.5 hours on the 1.1 gallon tank. Those Hondas are great generators. Real gas sippers.
 

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During Ike, we ran a chinese no-name generator at light load for a week straight, stopping only to refill and check oil. We didn't have any problems. It consumed about 16 gallons a day.
 

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16 gallons a day???!!!!! holy cow im burning like maybe 2.5 gallons a day with 6-9 hours total useage. and medium loads.
 

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You probably don't have to be That conservative. Always use synthetic oils in small engines. It will greatly increase longevity. I won't use anything else in an engine.
 

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Last of the First Line
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Question: How do you get the electricity inside your house? Do you have an external/outdoor hook up to your breaker/fuse panel? Or do you just run extension cords?
 

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Periodically is best in my opinion.

I have a similar set up to what you describe, but don't have oil heat, so I don't have to keep a blower going to keep the heat flowing. You will probably have to have longer run times to keep the pipes from freezing. Having said that, most appliances done need to be powered 24/7.

Generators are most efficient in the middle of their power range, so a 5K generator likes a load of 2500 watts, not a 60 watt bulb or full load. Running a 5K to 10K generator 24/7 for a refrigerator would be crazy, but many people do it. The fridge as an example will be satisfied (keep your food) with a few hours run-time each day. Unless you are the type that has to open the door every few minutes to see if it is still cold, ha.

Running periodically will stretch out the number of days until oil change. Some generators, small gasoline types, recommend oil changes as often as every 25 hours. In an ice storm you don't want to have to hike out for oil every day.
 

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Cranky old man
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Discussion Starter #12
HammerHand,

I use a gentran box hardwired into the breaker box: http://www.gen-tran.com/eshop/10Browse.asp?Category=MTS6-10
The price of the gentran box wasn't the only cost. I also paid an electrician to install it for me. It took him a couple of hours to install. I forget what I paid at the time, it was a long time ago. Normally I do all the work on my house, but I sleep better at night knowing I haven't messed around with the wiring. :)

Best regards,

Mr. Viking
 

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Those cords have a name, their called "widow makers", ha.

I use a manual transfer switch, inlets at the generator run station, the works, totally code compliant. It cost more, but anyone can flip the transfer switch and not go up in smoke.

Most of my buildings have a generator inlet and manual transfer switch. I can power one building at a time. The distance between buildings (voltage drop) precludes a central feed point.

I know I could make a "widow maker" cord, and use it safely, but then I was an engineer and knew what would happen if someone flipped the circuit breaker accidentally, and the grid just happened to came back up, boom. Back when I did that sort of thing, I was the only person around, and still locked the breaker boix door so the breakers could not be flipped back on.

I wanted something that would be safe for my wife, or anyone to use.
 

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Last of the First Line
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864 Posts
HammerHand,

I use a gentran box hardwired into the breaker box: http://www.gen-tran.com/eshop/10Browse.asp?Category=MTS6-10
The price of the gentran box wasn't the only cost. I also paid an electrician to install it for me. It took him a couple of hours to install. I forget what I paid at the time, it was a long time ago. Normally I do all the work on my house, but I sleep better at night knowing I haven't messed around with the wiring. :)

Best regards,

Mr. Viking
Thanks - that's the info I was looking for (and probably just should have asked for).

I know about "installation"... Worked for a plumbing company for a couple of years. "Installation" is where they make their $$$.
 

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Reluctor of dominatus
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277 Posts
I have a coleman 6k that I picked up at Costco, wish I would have spent a few more $$ for a Honda, mine works great but it's a little loud. Runs my fan on the furnace, two fridges and a deep freezer as well as plenty of lights. I have the transfer switch right below the panel and the power inlet box in the backyard where I can keep the generator out of sight behind a locked fence.

I run mine once a month for an hour or two with a load on it, usually my shoplights and an old coffeemaker.
 

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Just livin'
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2,466 Posts
I've got a couple of the Honda 2000's and can run about 11.5 hours on the 1.1 gallon tank. Those Hondas are great generators. Real gas sippers.
The fire service in my area uses those generators for taking into burned out building at night. They are indestructable work horses. Just about every f/f that I know owns their own personal one. Including me.
 

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Green Eggs and Spam
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5,071 Posts
Hello from New Hampshire... I have a 10 year-old 5000W Honda generator hooked up to a gentran box that powers my furnace, well, and the outlets in the kitchen. I typically run the generator for an hour and then shut it down for 3 or 4 hours...
How are other people using their generators in similar circumstances?
EVEN WITHOUT SOLAR ... having a battery bank and inverter, will allow constant power to every wall outlet. The extra power of the genset can be used to put an extra charge into the battery bank. And, the battery bank can be used at night silently!
 

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+ULFBER+T
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Your run time philosophy sounds appropriate. Your generator has an expected lifetime... there's no reason to use it and your fuel unnecessarily.

Everyone should be practicing ways to make the most efficient use of resources... SHTF or not.
 

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Wayfinder
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411 Posts
I have a 12KW Honda gasoline/propane generator that eats 1.25-Gallons/hour at max load. Even with my 500-gallon propane tank, I'd run out in 2 weeks running the generator 24/7. My marine battery charger's automated program charges a battery bank over an interval of 6-hours. That way I only have to run the generator for 6-hrs/day, after which I can run my well, freezer, cube fridge, radio, and minimal lights on batteries. The battery bank is six full sized golf cart batteries that power a 6000 watt inverter. While the well pulls 1700 watts, it only pulls that for a tiny percentage of the day. Most of the power is allotted for the freezer and cube fridge. The freezer averages 150-watts and the cube fridge only 50-watts around the clock. The radio and CFL lights take very little power on average. So I can still run a reasonably modern house for 18-hours/day purely on batteries.
 

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I read that the Honda gen's can be hooked up in parallel. How is that done, is it just with similar Honda 2000's or can it be with different 120VAC generators?
 
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