Full Backup Power System for Home

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  #1  
Old 01-07-14, 04:03 AM
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Full Backup Power System for Home

My plan is to have a professionally installed full backup power system for my 1,100 square foot home. Permits; inspection by the city etc to make sure it done 100% proper by the book. My question is where to start, finding a right company to do this is critical as there are many small ones that say we can do it but can they do it right. Should I start looking at a government web site that has registered qualified companies to do this type of work or talk to my city department(s) locally. My budget will be between $10 -$15,000, a full backup system that will not fail me during power outages. Thanks for any input, of course this will be done come the summer time.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:32 AM
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Automatic propane/ng units in the 20,000 watt size (adequate) will run about $5k installed with switchgear. I would not ask the government help of any kind. After all where does their expertise lie? Most box stores carry quite good Generac (other) brands, offer licensed installation, and warranties. A reputable electrical supply house, likewise can give you pricing versus needs.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 06:38 AM
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Best place to find reputable companies is talking with friends or other professionals. A good reference is worth 100x more than a flashy advertisement in a paper.

Get 2 or 3 quotes, get and check the references from the one that you want to go with.

The fine folks here can probably help ensure you get the system you want and need.

Good luck!
 
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Old 01-07-14, 06:48 AM
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Automatic propane/ng units in the 20,000 watt size (adequate) will run about $5k installed with switchgear. I would not ask the government help of any kind. After all where does their expertise lie? Most box stores carry quite good Generac (other) brands, offer licensed installation, and warranties. A reputable electrical supply house, likewise can give you pricing versus needs.
A 20KW generator for $5K installed?? What planet is that on?? A 20KW Generac by itself costs nearly that much around here. Full installation with proper switchgear would be nearly double that.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 06:52 AM
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I'd find the system you want first (Generac and Kohler come to mind) then call the company for a CERTIFIED install company. An electrician might be able to install it...but what if he knows nothing about small engines?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 07:07 AM
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Md2lgyk, GE 13k whole house with switch gear $3300. Said 20k, but they are a little more. Install for $2k would not be on Mars. Thanks for the subtle nudge.
 
  #7  
Old 01-07-14, 07:12 AM
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With that budget and a small house, you might be best off including dealers in your search. Turn key installation, service contracts, prompt warranty service are all of value. You do need a load calculation to determine size. I'm using 10kw(9kw NG) Generac with a whole house switch for a 2000 square foot house, with load shedding for a couple of high amp electric appliances. If your house is heavily electric, central air, electric range, well pump, water heater, etc., you might have to go to 20kw. A dealer or qualified electrician can help you make the choice.

An example of the value of a dealer (Generac) is the extended warranty that covers all parts and labor for 4 years and a 5th year, all parts. You have to have dealer service to be eligible for this additional warranty. You won't get that from a big box.

I note that you're in Canada, so there may be some differences.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 07:37 AM
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Here's a 20 KW unit with service entrance rated automatic transfer switch. Cost with tax will be roughly around $4,900. Installation cost will vary according to the house, site and gas piping required to power it. I'd think this could be installed for around $5,000 to $6,000 PLUS $4,900 for the generator; plus the cost of mechanical work (gas piping) and permits. Expect the generator cost to go up by $500 to $1,000 if the contractor furnishes it. Most strict municipalities will require two permits, an electrical permit and a mechanical permit. Some very strict municipalities have screening requirements and noise ordinances the unit must meet during the weekly exercise period. Noise requirements are generally waived during a power outage. Don't buy anything till you check your local requirements.

Generac 20,000-Watt Air Cooled Automatic Standby Generator with 200-Amp SE Rated Transfer Switch-6244 at The Home Depot

I think to find an installer I'd look to an electric supply house who could recommend some smaller contractors who do this type of work. I'd ask for references and get at least two estimates.

you might be best off including dealers in your search. Turn key installation, service contracts, prompt warranty service are all of value.
I like the idea of quick warranty service, but my experience tells me that Generac isn't at all selective or picky when it comes to choosing dealers, service is definitely their weak point I have seen SOME authorized Generac dealers who sneak installations past inspectors without permits as well as some of the worst electrical and mechanical work I have ever seen. One case in the last couple of years was a Generac unit at a small nursing home by an authorized dealer. The city caught the generator after the fact and fined the installer and it didn't even come close to meeting the state requirements which brought the nursing home a big fine from the state. I don't know what happened after the lawyers got involved.

I am not trying to knock the legitimate Generac dealers out there because there are a lot of them, but just trying to point out that you cannot just assume a Generac dealer is a good or legitimate contractor just because they are a dealer.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:25 AM
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"...I am not trying to knock the legitimate Generac dealers out there because there are a lot of them, but just trying to point out that you cannot just assume a Generac dealer is a good or legitimate contractor just because they are a dealer."

Did not say that the same diligence was not required in selecting a dealer as with any contractor. I was pointing out a couple of legitimate advantages that a "good" dealer can offer.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 09:16 AM
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All great post's, my budget was me assuming the cost. Very helpful info, notes taken and will follow advice given. We have a huge Home & Garden show next month may be a place to check out and ask questions. I would rather deal with a local company, this way referrals will be easier to check out.
 
  #11  
Old 01-07-14, 11:12 AM
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I would rather deal with a local company, this way referrals will be easier to check out.
Remember,
Originally Posted by chandler
Most box stores carry quite good Generac (other) brands, offer licensed installation, and warranties.
The licensed installers contracted with by the box stores are typically local professionals who can provide local references.

I haven't been able to beat their prices for a turn-key, parts-and-labor, approved installation by much.
 
  #12  
Old 01-07-14, 11:16 AM
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Remember, the less the emergency load is , the less the fuel consumption . This I vital if the fuel is gasoline .During Hurricane "Sandy" , there was a refueling problem for cars and people needing gasoline for their generators.

Basic calculation ---- X Kilowatts = X gallons-per-hour fuel consumption
 
  #13  
Old 01-07-14, 11:40 AM
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Here are places to start for Generac and Kohler dealers in Canada. I'm sure there are comparable sites fother brands. A dealer estimate is a good place to start. If they don't meet your goals, you will be better educated to purchase in a store or online and hire contractors.

Generac Power Systems - Residential Dealer Locator

KOHLER Generators | Find A Dealer : Sales And Service
 
  #14  
Old 01-07-14, 02:32 PM
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Most box stores carry quite good Generac (other) brands, offer licensed installation, and warranties.
I should have mentioned this also. This is one area that it's hard to beat a big box store. Their agreements with the major manufacturers means the manufacturer and dealer don't have to advertise as much but they get the referrals from the massive amount of foot traffic and national ad campaigns of the box store.

This is an area where boxes excel (as opposed to carpet, cabinets, doors, windows, etc), not to mention they often have discounts and deals which can apply.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 02:56 PM
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That explains how they're able to offer such a good deal!
 
  #16  
Old 01-07-14, 06:14 PM
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Big boxes sell at the exact same price as online generator sellers. You need to understand the random quality selection of big box installation contractors - you don't get to pick. If things are different in Canada, you need to go to the store and ask if you can investigate the contractor that you will get. As for price, my local Lowes was quoting outrageous installation charges compared to local contractors and dealers. You have to compare all and understand what you are getting - landscaping for site, plumbing for gas, utility for propane or NG supply (pressure regulation and BTU capacity of the meter) and most important, electrical. You may also need to deal with zoning and possible noise issues and likely need permits and inspection for possibly all of the above.

Big boxes do not offer service contracts. Unless you do a great deal of research, yourself, you are wise to look for an installer with a qualified electrician to determine size options, with or without load shedding for whole-home, before you decide what to buy. Waltzing into a big box and buying the pretty unit sitting on the floor and having them arrange installation is not a good idea.

All warranties require repairs to be done by an authorized dealer/service facility. Do you want to have a good relationship with one, if you have a problem during an outage?
 
  #17  
Old 01-08-14, 09:36 AM
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Cool Things I learned the hard way about generator

I purchased a 20kw Oneac generator in 2005. I selected Oneac because there is a huge certified company nearby & I can get qualified support if needed. That's the good part. The bad part is I learned just enough about generators to choose one. The things I didn't know are listed below:

There was one surprise after another. I understood the cost of the generator, it is the other important things I was not fully aware of that really increased the cost.

I can suggest that after you price the generator, just double the cost for the concrete pad, sales tax, the cost of an in ground tank for LP, shipping, then find out how to get it off the delivery truck (it is 900 lbs). I hired a company to wait for the delivery truck and move it to the cement pad. Don't forget getting a qualified electrician and the right transfer switch for the generator.

Next up: The electrician had worked with Generac generators for years & felt qualified to hook this Oneac up. Well, when smoke was coming from my fans and ceiling lights he realized something was wrong and shut it down. The Oneac people showed him what caused it and stayed with him until he completed the job. Since that time the Oneac has been problem free.
 
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Old 01-08-14, 10:13 AM
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Oneac is a brand I have never heard of, is that an import?
 
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Old 01-08-14, 10:49 AM
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Maybe it's an Onan?...................
 
  #20  
Old 01-08-14, 11:33 AM
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The 20kw and less air cooled generators are around 400 pounds. Some like Generacs only need a gravel pad. Most brands can be purchased with the appropriate switch included.
 
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Old 01-08-14, 01:34 PM
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Whoops, it is Onan

CasualJoe You are right. It is Onan. I made up a new name for it.

Oh you guys are so smart. You named it right GunGuy45.
 
  #22  
Old 01-09-14, 04:03 AM
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The Generac backup system they have can use diesel; gas or natural gas. I have natural gas already at my home and apparently the natural gas system still operates when the power grid is down. Not sure on that one? I have a very large cement patio at ground level in good shape so this will save a little as the generator can be place on this which is in the backyard.
 
  #23  
Old 01-09-14, 06:25 AM
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Yes, natural gas is normally still available during power outages. Not when it's an earthquake, but winter storms, tornadoes, etc.
 
  #24  
Old 01-09-14, 06:47 AM
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You may need to pay for a gas line or meter upgrade to get the flow rates needed to run the generator
 
  #25  
Old 01-09-14, 09:33 PM
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With a 15k budget to power a 1100 sq ft home you could afford to buy a real generator. I would skip the consumer grade lawn ornaments that pass for generators these days. Taylor power, Gilette or even Baldor or Winco make fine generators that are prime power rated. A prime power rating means the generator is designed to be used 24/7/365. It is a bit overkill for standby use, but you know that the unit wil perform when needed.
 
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