Buying a Generator

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Old 08-20-20, 04:34 AM
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Buying a Generator

I am planning to get a generator in the case of a power outage event. What should I be looking for when I am purchasing a generator?

I was told to look into an Inverter Gasoline Generator because they are more efficient and quieter. Is this true?

https://www.costco.com/firman-2900w-...100367440.html

Also, since this is run by gasoline, most likely it will give off carbon monoxide and therefore should not be used inside the home right? Are there any other hidden danger of using a generator beside the fumes and the handling of gasoline?

Does it uses any octane of gasoline?

Thanks
 
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08-22-20, 05:28 AM
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Yes use a stabilizer if you're going to store the unit with fuel in it (not recommended). Even better is to store it with non-ethanol fuel and a bit of stabilizer (or use aviation fuel and skip stabilizer altogether). All fuel will breakdown over time. A lot depends on the storage conditions. Be sure to keep it full right to the brim, no air space. Or no fuel storage and no possible degradation.
Or you can do what I do. I keep regular fuel in my generator, winter and summer, all year round, and start it once a week without fail. We have occasional power outages at any time of year. Bit of a pain in the middle of winter, but very satisfying knowing it works every time. All my other gas powered items (2 cycle or 4 cycle) I empty completely for winter storage.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 04:44 AM
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This is a good guide. Maybe I want to look into a solar generator.

https://www.lowes.com/n/buying-guide...r-buying-guide
 
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Old 08-20-20, 05:55 AM
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Think about this. You want a generator for emergency use during a power outage. You'll be inside your house, most likely with windows closed. The generator will be outside, not under or near a window or vent, at least 15 to 20 feet away. Noise will not be a problem. Those inverter generators are meant for camp grounds and situations where you may be running them for a very extended length of time. They also cost by at least a 1/3 more and go up in price as you need more power rating.
You will not want to use extension cords running from the generator to the house. You will or should use an Interlock or transfer switch. That will be integral with you existing circuit box. This is code!
Next you want to size your generator to handle the most important items you will need during a power outage. Such things as sump pump, freezers, refrigerators, furnaces (not A/C), lights in the rooms most needed. If you want power to the whole house as if there is no power outage then you want a whole house generator (expensive, $5000 to $15,000).
Not familiar with solar generators, but just the name says you need sun, and a storage battery, and inmost cases power outages result in bad weather with no sun and usually lots of water.
One more point, inverters are very compact and not easy to work on if needed. Everything is contained in a sealed case. A regular generator is more open, in other words the carb and chock and fuel lines are accessible.

Edit...all generators can use regular gasoline. But nonethanol gas is suggested. If you don't want to spend the extra monies on nonethanol gas, use a gas treatment, run the generator at least once every two weeks, use the gas shut off vale and not the switch to turn off the generator (let it run out of gas) and empty the tank and carburetor completely for winter storage .
 
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Old 08-20-20, 06:04 AM
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I cant comment on a "solar" generator but, if you choose to go with a gasoline model:
If you're concerned about noise, Honda is known as one of, if not the quietest generators out there & is a very good product in my opinion. However, it is somewhat pricey when comparing price with other gasoline models.

Personally, I have a 4000 watt peek Predator from Harbor Freight. I've had it for about 3 years with no issues. Put the choke on, flip the power switch, about a half pull on the cord & it cranks the first time.... every time.
It has really been a good generator for me.

If I were to buy again, although I've had no issues so far, I'd get at least a 6500 peek watt generator. Remember, the higher the wattage its rated for, the more things you can power. When it comes to days without power, you may find there are a few other things you may want to run.
A larger stationary home generator may also be an option to run the entire house. If you haven't looked into it, you maybe surprised how affordable they are for what they are.

This is the only generator I have ever owned so I cant speak for any other generator.

Never, ever use a generator inside the house.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 06:10 AM
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Maybe I want to look into a solar generator.
I assumed you were joking but they actually exist, however, they are very small and you know power never goes out at night.

Your biggest decision, do you want a whole house automatic system, one that kicks on automatically?

Do you want a nearly whole house system, one that has a transfer panel so you can run different circuts in the house?

Or do you want a small system that runs select items through extension cords?

Each has it's pluses and minus.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 06:28 AM
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Or do you want a small system that runs select items through extension cords?
Most generators only have 2 to 4 outlets. Having that many cords running through the house and very likely long lengths and small gauge is not ideal.
I do not recommend this. I know it's done all the time, but it's not a good practice. Fine for running equipment such as tools when power is not easily available.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 06:35 AM
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Having that many cords running through the house and very likely long lengths and small gauge is not ideal.
It's not the ultimate solution but works for a vast majority of owners.

In my case where the generator sits I have access to the kitchen to run the refrig, access to the basement to run the freezer (when we had one) or even to the sump if needed.

12GA cords to run one appliance at a time, keeps the beer cold while we enjoy the relative peace and quite on the deck knowing that we're not going to loose a couple hundred dollars of food!
 
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Old 08-20-20, 07:00 AM
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Much depends on how often you have power outages and how long do they last. I probably use my generator 3-4 days every couple of years. Our last outage lasted 4 days. Electricity was restored 5 hours after I bought a new generator.
Because of the low usage I do the extension cord thing. I have four 12 GA cords that are more than adequate to supply the power we need during an outage.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 07:01 AM
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Marq, I could count on you to use the heavy duty cords and properly run the cords safely and not over load the generator.
But I question whether most people will spend the bucks on 12 gauge cords and properly ground the generator and keep the generator a safe distance from windows and doors.
Actually I'm surprised you have not wired a generator directly into your home. You seem do do everything else pretty much by the book.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 08:36 AM
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The generator was purchased 10 years ago after a week long power outage and we went for 8 years never needing it so it was a good insurance policy.

Last year we used it twice but the outage only lasted a short time, and our only requirement is to keep the frig running so it's just not been high on the to-do list.

In fact for what we use it for I certainly dont need that 7500 watt unit, should have gotten something a lot smaller!

 
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Old 08-20-20, 09:23 AM
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Hi, it may be best to select an inverter do to that fact they produce cleaner power which new electronic devices like better.
Geo
 
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Old 08-20-20, 10:39 AM
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i'll comment also to say, we bought a our generator when we sold our home in town (subdivision) & bought a home 10 miles outside of town. I know that when bad storms come through, power companies get to the most populated & most essential areas first. The rural areas & less demanding areas are last to get service. So, keeping that I mind, that was our primary reason for buying our generator.

However, I have used my generator for many outside projects around our property. A generator & a pancake air compressor can come in very useful on a rural 5 acres.
Additionally, we have 120 acres of property in another parish (county) that we take care of. Again a generator etc comes in handy.
Like us, if you do very much DIY activities, you'll find more & more uses for a small - medium size portable generator.
We just recently, bought a storage building & a new shop (both portable buildings). These were just framed up buildings. I have all but completed the storage shed. Hopefully getting finished with it this weekend. I used my generator to run the window heat & ac unit (mounted in the wall), run power tools, pancake air compressor etc while wiring, insulating & finishing the inside. Of course once I had electricity, I used that instead of the generator.

So, besides home use for occasional use when electricity goes out, think about other uses for it in the future otherwise & buy appropriately.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 10:46 AM
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I bought a Ryobi 6500 W generator during our last power outage. Not what I wanted but at the time the only one I could find within driving distance. It does the job.

Again IMO it comes down to a couple of things, how often will it be used, what do you need it to do and what's your budget. That last one is often ignored when discussing generators but here is an example - a "quieter" well built Honda 7KW Inverter/Generator sells for around $4500. A Generac 6.5KW sells for $799.

My last generator lasted for years and probably had more quarterly maintenance hours on it than actual usage hours. I keep my gas tank full (I add a stabilizer) and have never had a problem.Finding gas might be a problem during an extensive outage. Last month it was nearly 36 hours before we could get out of our neighborhood.

If I understand the grounding requirements correctly a portable generator need not be separately grounded except when it is providing power to a house through a transfer switch.
 
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Old 08-20-20, 11:34 AM
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If I understand the grounding requirements correctly a portable generator need not be separately grounded except when it is providing power to a house through a transfer switch.
It's my understanding that if it's bonded then that requirement is not needed, because grounding takes place at the house transfer switch. Am I wrong?
 
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Old 08-20-20, 01:04 PM
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I found this article that quotes OSHA requirements - https://www.jadelearning.com/blog/grounding-requirements-for-portable-generators/


 
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Old 08-20-20, 02:20 PM
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Followup question:
(Dont mean to hijack the thread. Remove if necessary)
How sensitive are newer furnaces/boilers with spark ignition (no pilot light)?
I replaced my old natural gas boiler with a Weil McLain boiler with electronic spark ignition.
I have a 3300W generator which would easily run my old boiler. Biggest current draw was the circulator.
But since the new boiler is electronic spark (no pilot light) do I dare use my generator?
A 2000W invertor type would be ideal, but, well, I already have a generator.
Or, is there some circuitry I could add in-line to smooth my generator output?
 
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Old 08-20-20, 02:40 PM
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How sensitive are newer furnaces/boilers with spark ignition (no pilot light)?
And this is why I stay away from electronic ignition systems. We've had pilot lights for at least 50 years or more and never a problem.

I would call the maker and the installers and ask how your warranty would be affected if while using a generator, the ignition goes bad.
 
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Old 08-21-20, 08:30 PM
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Thanks for all the replies.

For sure, I will not get a whole house backup generator.

The regular gas generator comes in EPA III and Carb. What are the differences?

https://www.harborfreight.com/engine...enerators.html

Also I read from one of the posts to use a stabilizer in the fuel when storing. Is this safe to store from fire 💥🔥? Is a fuel stabilizer also required if I buy the inverter version?

 
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Old 08-22-20, 04:07 AM
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epa and carb are both emission regulations typically the California regulations are stricter not sure you really have a choice as stores typically will not sell a generator that would not be compliant with your state, for most states epa regulations would be adequate but California and a few others may require the carb emission requirements.
probably a good idea to use a stabilizer.
 
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Old 08-22-20, 05:28 AM
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Yes use a stabilizer if you're going to store the unit with fuel in it (not recommended). Even better is to store it with non-ethanol fuel and a bit of stabilizer (or use aviation fuel and skip stabilizer altogether). All fuel will breakdown over time. A lot depends on the storage conditions. Be sure to keep it full right to the brim, no air space. Or no fuel storage and no possible degradation.
Or you can do what I do. I keep regular fuel in my generator, winter and summer, all year round, and start it once a week without fail. We have occasional power outages at any time of year. Bit of a pain in the middle of winter, but very satisfying knowing it works every time. All my other gas powered items (2 cycle or 4 cycle) I empty completely for winter storage.
 
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Old 08-22-20, 05:32 AM
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to use a stabilizer in the fuel when storing
But I'm telling you guys, stabilizer only keeps gas good for a year, if you are like me and that generator comes out once every 5 years, or more, you better drain it!

I use stabilizer every year but it doesnt last forever!
 
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Old 08-22-20, 06:52 AM
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Thanks for the last three posts. I am still unclear should I get the EPA III or Carb version. They sell both at harbor freight.

As for the storage and stabilizer, very good points!

Norm, where would I get non-ethanol or aviation fuel? Big box stores?

I know I should not run a generator in an enclosed space, including a garage. Is 15 feet from the house or window enough?

Originally Posted by Norm201
Be sure to keep it full right to the brim, no air space.
Is this to prevent from exploding or fire hazard or is it to prevent fuel from going bad?
 
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Old 08-22-20, 07:04 AM
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Norm, where would I get non-ethanol or aviation fuel? Big box stores?

Selected gas stations in your area. Aviation fuel...Small plane airport.

I know I should not run a generator in an enclosed space, including a garage. Is 15 feet from the house or window enough?
Yes as long as the wind does blow back towards house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm201
Be sure to keep it full right to the brim, no air space.
Is this to prevent from exploding or fire hazard or is it to prevent fuel from going bad?
To keep fuel from going bad, And to small extend to prevent spontaneous combustion. Gas is flammable in the vapor state, not in the liquid state. There are experiments that show you can drop a lighted match into a bucket of gasoline and it won't ignite (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME).
 
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Old 08-22-20, 08:14 AM
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My generator is the only small engine equipment that I keep fully fueled all year long. It's important to keep the tank full because it extends the life of the gasoline. Everything else gets run dry at the end of whatever season they are used for. I keep the generator tank full and I run it unloaded for an hour every quarter. After I run it I top off the tank. I want a full tank of gas because there may be local shortages during a power outage and running it every quarter gives me some confidence that it will run when I need it.

Don't try the dropped match thing. The match won't light the gas in the bucket but it will probably ignite the vapors hanging out above the bucket. The lit vapors will probably ignite the bucket of gasoline and ruin your day.
 
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Old 08-22-20, 11:04 AM
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im very interested in the boiler comment above. i have a sl4100 Solaia Residential Cast Iron Boilers - Boyertown Furnace which is 122K btu and gas bought about 12 years ago. i cannot find any power usage on the unit or manuals. so i have no idea how much id even need if i did want a whole house one. any ideas how much that uses?

alternatively:

we had 3 outages this year. one was 9 hours. very unusual. as an alternative to whole house i can do a 3000 or more generator to do the fridge and freezer (1200 surge watts per the killowatt). then either the oil heater or even a window AC which is 1200. then the router modem laptop. so thats min. 3000 watts needed. i dont mind running the cords and already own 100 ft of 12 gauge i used for my one power tool.

i think id prefer inverter but the standard ones are too cheap to ignore for greater wattage. so unsure which way id go. i have a nice fenced in 'courtyard' (meaning no one can steal it) and its at least 75 ft from neighbors windows and ez to feed thru my windows where i need the extension cords regardless of weather. i dont mind paying for quality or convenicne and i def want minimal maintenance. just starting research so i have a lot to do. but im tired of being 'in the dark' and need to do something.
 
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Old 08-23-20, 01:41 AM
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I din't read all the comments. If I was looking for a generator, it would be a portable model, probably around 6500 watts, and it would probably have to have a GX model honda engine on it. I want dependability and long life. The GX series covers that. Variables unknown could change that.
 
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Old 08-23-20, 09:06 PM
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Re Post #24: Gas boilers use very little electric power, guess at 100 to 200 watts for blower and controls. Circulators use roughly 100 watts per unit. Zone valves trivial amounts. My oil burner uses 300 watts.
 
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Old 08-24-20, 05:36 AM
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any idea what starter surge is. i put a killawatt on my fridge and its 800 vs 165 running. cant put the killawatt on the boiler lol
 
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Old 08-24-20, 06:29 PM
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The rule of thumb is when starting AC motors use 3 to 4 times normal current draw.

Surge is not the word. It is about load. The same motor starting current varies with different conditions.

That is reason to use higher capacity wire and hardware for generator connections. Every little bit helps and can make difference whether motor starts or not.
 

Last edited by doughess; 08-24-20 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 08-25-20, 05:24 AM
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It's called peak vs running wattage.
A typical generator will be advertised as 6300 peak wattage at 5000 running watts
at 50% load will run for 10 hours with a 5 gal tank capacity.
 
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Old 08-26-20, 09:41 AM
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zoinks i knew would be a lot for whole house but one local guy said min 8K to install. when i wanted quotes on portable and transfer switches he gave me someone elses number. i guess they were too big a company to bother with small jobs.

the one thing i'm not clear on ever after all my reading is can any portable be hooked up to a swtich or must you buy a special generator that can be used with a switch. the one i'm looking at only has 4 20 amp and one 30 amp rv.
 
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Old 08-26-20, 01:49 PM
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Basically any generator can be be connected to a transfer switch or an interlock. However, once it's sized to a particular size generator, you can't increase the generator size, due to the plug configuration (30 amp vs 40 amp). You would then need to change the female outlet attached to outside of home and the wiring (3 wire and/or 4 wire depending) to match the new or bigger generator.
So if you're going to go with a gasoline powered generator to supplement power during an outage, then go with nothing less than 30 amp plugs and minimum of 6300 watts peak and 5000 watt continuous running.
 
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Old 08-26-20, 01:55 PM
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ok good to know. some of the units specifically say transfer ready and have special outlets where the one i want is just the normal 20 amp outlets. since theres only one left in stock i may buy it and i can return unopened in 30 days while i do more research. waiting for 2 guys to call me back to do estimates on transfer switches.
 
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Old 08-26-20, 02:05 PM
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This is from mine that I installed back in 2006. It's Connecticut Electric brand. Not sure if it's still made. But they provided a video to DIY. Very easy. But here are the specs. Not sure if it's still to code.

 
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Old 08-26-20, 04:27 PM
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maybe i wont be getting it afterall. the one showed left in stock was a return with gas smell at 25% off. no thanks. . i def wanted inverter and literally only thing left was 6500 non inverter at HD

lowes has zero of anything.

maybe i really dont need one. only had 24 total hours out this year but still annoys me
 
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Old 08-27-20, 07:43 AM
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ive looked at every piece of paper and on the unit but i cannot find watts for my boiler. would the burner be the most juice used by the boiler? i know there are lotta circulators and my computer board but those arent as much as the burner i assume? its only 122K btu, my old one was 250! used tons of oil

 
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Old 08-27-20, 08:41 AM
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I would think the pump would be the item that would need peak starting wattage and use the most running wattage.
 
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Old 08-27-20, 10:31 AM
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three 1/25 HP .71 amp pumps are attached. taco 007-f5

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Taco-007...5-HP-1983000-p

so lets say 2.5 amps to be safe

2.3 is max amps on the burner i have so can round up to 5 amps total of juice used.

no clue what surge would be though.
 
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Old 08-27-20, 02:59 PM
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i called a recommended electrician to see about a transfer switch. at first he said recommded and interlock because it was cheaper than a transfer switch and then when i said pushmatics, he said no way. cannot do that. they dont work right. youd need a new panel. i also realize i can just run extension cords and that option still is on the table for me for what i want to run.

he also told me that id need a 240 portable gennie and 120 would only give me half my panel. well the fun thing is i have 2 panels. the main leads into a long box underneath 2 panels then goes up into each of them and i have 2 main switches on the panels

he said people have not been able to buy houses because of old pushmatics or sometimes banks wont let them. so now i'm considering a new panel even!

however now the only gennie i can find locally is 800 bucks so then we are up to 2800 if the new panel is the higher end of 2K lol. more than i wanted to spend but the idea of a new panel does sound good. i def dont want a whole house gennie and rather spend the money on a new box and portable.

so just wondering your opinions on what he has told me so far. he told me regardles there are no parts and would be till nov. for the box etc. so id just buy the gennie now and use extensions if need be
 
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Old 08-27-20, 03:46 PM
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I made the extension cord decision years ago based mostly on limited usage of my generator but also on cost. I wired an inlet under my deck that I connect to the generator. That inlet supplies 20 Amp receptacles in my basement that are completely separate from the house wrting. . From there it's an easy run for extension cords to whatever we need. Typically the only thing we go without during an outage is the water heater and the electric oven.

The only drawback is that the extension cords can be a trip hazard if they are not routed safely.
 

Last edited by cwbuff; 08-27-20 at 04:42 PM.
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