Generator Dilemmia


Old 11-05-12, 11:49 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 7
Generator Dilemmia

Generator Dilemma

5500 SqFt house with Dock
400 amp service 2 200 amp main panels and 50 amp sub panel for dock off panel one
Well 100 feet with 1 hp pump
Grinder (owned by count and until a change in policy you were prohibited from connecting it to a generator) it has it's own breaker wired to the meter box. The grinder holds between 60 and 90 gallons before the pump runs for a few minutes.
County policy has changed allowing the grinder to be connected to the homeowners panel and a generator.
1 3 ton AC with Gas furnace Main floor and basement
1 3 ton Heat-pump second floor
Gas hot water
2 1 hp sump pump (currently connected to and inverter and large battery bank in case we are traveling or I do not want to get up at 2 am during a power outage ( we average 3 per year that last more than 12 hours Sandy was 3 1\2 days)
Fridge, Freezer, Gas cook-top / electric ovens
Boat lift (needs to operate in storm situations)
All the TV's, computers (i work from home) and other toys in a typical household with 2 adults and 2 kids
Current Solution
7000 Watt portable gas generator connected to panel one through a factory installed lockout breaker. I mange the power with a meter and turn breakers on and off as needed.
This meets our current need with the exception of running water ( the well works but nowhere for the waste to go )
The sumps run on the battery bank and I recharge them with the generator during long outages.

The change in county policy on the Grinders has us rethinking invested in a larger generator system. I figure I have 4 options and are looking for thoughts on the pros and cons of each solution.

Option I
Apply for the permit and have the Grinder connected to Panel 1, put a larger Generator breaker in and upgrade to a larger portable generator that could run the Well, Grinder and a few lights at the same time to be able to flush toilet and take a quick shower (LOML would be very happy), It might even be possible to cycle the AC unit and cool the basement, 1st floor. This would be the cheapest option and give us what we have now plus running water (HUGE GAIN)
I would still need to search out gas and connect the generator during each outage. Not an issue unless on a business trip and my wife needs to do it.

Option 2
17 or 20kW generator with an essential circuit transfer switch/Panel. This would be automatic, run on natural gas but would limit me to choose 16 circuits to connect.
Option 3
17 or 20kW generator with a 200 amp transfer switch connected to panel one and some smart switches to shed the AC and grinder load based on capacity. Again this would be automatic and allow me to manage the powered circuits based on load like I do now. I would still not have AC or heat on the second floor but that is more an inconvenience than a need.
Option 4
Briggs & Stratton makes a 20 kW generator with a 400 amp (2 x 200 ) smart load shedding transfer switch. this would allow me to manage the entire house based on need and available power. I could cycle the Grinder, AC and heat-pump depending on time of day and need.
(this appears to be the only vendor that makes these.)

A couple of question.
one of the contractors (large one) has stopped installing the smart load shedding switches because the fail often and are not worth the cost. Thoughts or experience appreciated.

Another vendor stated that parts for Briggs & and Stratton are hard to get and he no longer recommends them. Again thoughts or experience appreciated.

I am also open to Option 5 if someone has another thought.

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Old 11-05-12, 01:06 PM
czizzi's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 7,070
(tongue in cheek...)

I have a 2500 watt generator and 3 extension cords.....

Sorry, but you brought back some memories. My mom, used to think that roughing it was having to hand wash the dishes at the summer cottage we used on weekends during the 2 months the weather was favorable to head up there. It also reminds me that during Isabel, We were 12 hours or so into the pounding we took here in the tidewater area. Pitch black out, frustrated at the weatherman who knew everyone was listening on radio simulcast yet still did his updates as if everyone was watching him talk to a map on the screen. During a lull in the wind, I poked my head outside to survey the damage from all the trees down and make sure my car was still intact. Only to see the lights on at my neighbors house. No other lights other than candles in the whole neighborhood. Went over, knocked on the door and they were all in the living room sipping wine, TV on and junior playing video games in the next room. Clearly they were having a different experience than me.

Cheers, looks like you have a terrific grasp of where you need to be and I commend that. Would love to even consider the set ups you describe. Sounds like you have a beautiful home and a great family. But don't be surprised if I come knocking on your door during the next major outage.

Sure the experts will chime in shortly.
Old 11-05-12, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 118
Option 1.5

Get a trifuel portable. You would still have to roll it out, but no waiting in gas lines. Natrual Gas is way cheaper than Gasoline BTW. Here is a 12KW unit:


You can get that for 3400 bucks delivered. What kind of budget are you planning? A cheap permantely installed unit costs 4 grand with the install going at least another four grand.

Option 5

Get a 20-30 kw permantly installed natural gas generator with a MANUAL transfer switch hooked up to both panels. No load shedding equipment required because YOU are the load manager. May I suggest one of these:

That one is probably about 15 grand depending on the options, but it is a great unit that will last forever and you will save some cash on the install with a manual setup.

I wouldnt reccomend the briggs unit, unless it has one of thier vanguard motors, I wouldnt touch it with a ten foot pole.

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