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Backup Electrical Power Supply. Carbon Monoxide, Generic ?, etc.

Backup Electrical Power Supply. Carbon Monoxide, Generic ?, etc.

Old 05-21-23, 03:23 AM
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Backup Electrical Power Supply. Carbon Monoxide, Generic ?, etc.


Live in a typical Colonial in Mass.

Thinking of getting one of the Generic backup electrical generators.
It would work on our natural gas line supply.

Lots of power outages in the winter, and it seems
like it would be a good investment.


a. Am worried about the Carbon Monoxide potential problem.

Can it be placed "very" close to the house, and one can (safely) assume that
the CO will be dissipated safely due to air/wind currents, etc. ?

Or, is there truly a minimum distance from then house that should/must be preserved ?

b. Is Generic the brand to go with ?
Why ?

c. What else should I be asking ?

Thanks, as always, for the past help,
Old 05-21-23, 04:32 AM
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As a start, read your local building building code with regard to placement relative to windows, vents and structure. Research the reputations of local authorized Generac and Koehler dealers. The unit is only as a good as the guy installing and servicing. Solicit quotes from reputable dealers who can provide a load analysis and answer your questions. It is a big purchase and you need to research the topic to know the right questions.
Old 05-21-23, 05:46 AM
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They are typically placed right next to the house. It is clearance from windows and vents that you need to be aware of.
CasualJoe voted this post useful.
Old 05-25-23, 10:17 AM
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Generac lists clearances as:
  • 18 inches (1.5 feet) from the house
  • 60 inches (5 feet) from doors, windows, and fresh air intakes
  • 36 inches (3 feet) in front of the generator for servicing room
Your locale may have more specifics and may be more strict in certain circumstances.
I would always recommend a CO detector in the house just in case, but with those clearances, you should never have an issue.

Generac is the 'go-to' for most standby generators. Kohler makes good generators as well, but will be more expensive.

The biggest question to answer, which will directly impact the cost, is how large the generator needs to be. It depends on your heating situation and whether you want AC to be usable. Other electric items such as water heaters. well pumps, stove/oven may affect the sizing, but will be secondary. Basically - do you want the minimum possible (heat, a few lights, refrigerator), or do you want to live like there's no power outage?

You may also need to have your gas meter upgraded, but usually the gas company handles that for free.
Old 05-25-23, 02:12 PM
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I have a Generac 22kw and it has been good so far. There are other brands so be smart and research the others. But, Generac is the most popular (notice I did not say best). That means there is a greater chance of long term support like spare parts.

If you go to the Generac website you can download the manual and it will provide the minimum clearances around the generator. But, you will not be permitted to put it in a dangerous location.

The Generac is very loud. Consider it's noise when you choose it's location. Mine is located behind a 10' high retaining wall so it's well shielded from the house. We can clearly hear it when we are on the porch but can still watch the porch tv without trouble and cannot hear it inside the house. My father in law has his about 10' from the house and you definetely know it's running from inside the house and requires turning up the TV volume. It's like a large lawnmower at full throttle.

Because of my massive barrier the generator cannot connect to our wifi. I had to add a passive repeater to get the wifi behind the barrier. You can put a wifi signal strength app on your cell phone and try possible locations to see if your generator will have a chance of connecting. There is a cellular module available but it's extra cost and I think also has a monthly subscription fee. Wifi is not needed for the generator to operate. You do need it if you want to use the app. I find the app mostly useless plus connecting the generator to the web opens the possibility that it is hacked or remotely attacked.

If you get a whole house generator you probably will be required to get a minimum size based on your house's needs. I previously has a 12kw generator and did well with it for 20 years but when I went with a automatic standby generator the codes specified the minimum size and I was borderline for a 22kw. So, you may be required to purchase a larger size than you think.

Consider how the snow drifts around your home and how snow slides off the roof. You don't want the generator getting buried or smashed by a heavy snow slide off the roof.

You won't have to worry about it most winters but Generacs have an issue in extreme cold. There is a fix/option if you want that puts a heater on the oil breather to prevent the water vapor from freezing and plugging the vent. They also have a cold weather kit with heaters for the engine oil and battery so the engine can start in extreme cold.

My previous generator required me to set it up and it was a pain in the rear process. During bad storms we wouldn't shower for fear of being soaped up wen the power goes out and leaves us with no water. I've gotten caught 3 or so cocktails after a hard day and the power goes out. A time when I say honey, get out the flashlights I shouldn't be messing with electricity. Then it's an amazing feeling the first time the power goes out and you just sit there and about 30-60 seconds later the lights come back on and you didn't even have to put your cocktail down. It's a truly wonderful feeling to shower without fear of being caught soaped and no water. So, the generator, transfer switch and installation are expensive but it does come with true peace of mind.
Old 05-25-23, 05:26 PM
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Lots of good info here. Let me just add to it.

When sizing an automatic generator it has to be able to handle all load connected to it.... since it can run when you are not at home. That means electric water heater, A/C, electric heat, etc. If you have heavy loads you don't want or need to be transferred.... they can be bypassed in generator mode.
Old 05-26-23, 07:31 AM
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Calling a Generac "very loud" is just wrong. (It is competitive with all the other brands on decibel ratings. I can only noticeably hear mine in the rooms immediately adjacent to the generator. In the rest of the house, you have to strain to hear it or hear it not at all. Exercise is late morning on a weekday, If my neighbor, whose kitchen and living room are 20 feet away complain during an outage an extension cord from my outdoor 20-amp circuit to his refrigerator and entertainment will change his mind.

Get a good load calculation and go ahead with a properly sized generator - you will be pleased with the result when the power goes out.

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