#28
  
Now that the new appliances are in, the HVAC guts have been modernized, and other big projects are behind us, it's time to turn my attention to upgrading the backup power generator.  I've done a search and read through posts that are mostly older than two years old.  I'm looking for inputs on brands and factors to consider.

Here is some info about the house/shop building:

- 3200 sq ft house; built 2004.

- Electrical service is through a 400 amp panel; the original owner was a ham radio guy and electrical engineer; he overspec'd everything; even the wife's craft room has two separate 20A 220 circuits in it.

- 4-ton heat pump with propane auxiliary; this is a new Lennox unit installed in February 2018.  The propane aux unit can heat the whole house and only requires one 20A 120V circuit.

- Water comes from a well on a 220V circuit; hot water from an electric water heater.

- Shop building is 1100 sq ft of conditioned space; power from 80 amp sub panel; heat comes from a 100K BTU propane furnace.

- 1000-gallon propane tank on the property

- Just converted the kitchen cooktop over to propane, so that 40A circuit is gone.

- Current backup power is a 7kw Briggs and Stratton fixed station unit; hooked to power through a manual switch.  The switch over to backup power is a 12-step process to get configured and online.  Reverse the 12 steps to get back onto street power.  I've written the steps out, and my wife can do it if I'm not here, but her definite preference is for an auto-switched unit.  This setup also requires me to manually test the unit once per month, which I'm somewhat less than diligent about.  The most recent power outage had me crank the unit for the first time in over a year; thankfully it started and I avoided the stern looks from LOML who has reminded me on more than one occasion that I need to test the generator.

- Big issue with the current backup generator:  Seems to be susceptible to carb icing when the outside temp is around the freezing mark and humidities are high.  This means it may shut down after about 30 minutes of operation during weather conditions that cause many major power outages (heavy/wet snow or ice storm).  It did this to us once, two winters ago.

Desired features of the new backup power generator:

- Enough power to run the whole house with no consideration for shutting off circuits or the shop building.

- Auto-switching

- Auto test

- Propane powered

Any and all inputs appreciated; thanks in advance.
Reply

#29
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
(06-23-2018, 08:30 AM)WxMan Wrote: Now that the new appliances are in, the HVAC guts have been modernized, and other big projects are behind us, it's time to turn my attention to upgrading the backup power generator.  I've done a search and read through posts that are mostly older than two years old.  I'm looking for inputs on brands and factors to consider.

Here is some info about the house/shop building:

- 3200 sq ft house; built 2004.

- Electrical service is through a 400 amp panel; the original owner was a ham radio guy and electrical engineer; he overspec'd everything; even the wife's craft room has two separate 20A 220 circuits in it.

- 4-ton heat pump with propane auxiliary; this is a new Lennox unit installed in February 2018.  The propane aux unit can heat the whole house and only requires one 20A 120V circuit.

- Water comes from a well on a 220V circuit; hot water from an electric water heater.

- Shop building is 1100 sq ft of conditioned space; power from 80 amp sub panel; heat comes from a 100K BTU propane furnace.

- 1000-gallon propane tank on the property

- Just converted the kitchen cooktop over to propane, so that 40A circuit is gone.

- Current backup power is a 7kw Briggs and Stratton fixed station unit; hooked to power through a manual switch.  The switch over to backup power is a 12-step process to get configured and online.  Reverse the 12 steps to get back onto street power.  I've written the steps out, and my wife can do it if I'm not here, but her definite preference is for an auto-switched unit.  This setup also requires me to manually test the unit once per month, which I'm somewhat less than diligent about.  The most recent power outage had me crank the unit for the first time in over a year; thankfully it started and I avoided the stern looks from LOML who has reminded me on more than one occasion that I need to test the generator.

- Big issue with the current backup generator:  Seems to be susceptible to carb icing when the outside temp is around the freezing mark and humidities are high.  This means it may shut down after about 30 minutes of operation during weather conditions that cause many major power outages (heavy/wet snow or ice storm).  It did this to us once, two winters ago.

Desired features of the new backup power generator:

- Enough power to run the whole house with no consideration for shutting off circuits or the shop building.

- Auto-switching

- Auto test

- Propane powered

Any and all inputs appreciated; thanks in advance.

We live in the country... our main drag doesn't have a stoplight.  In fact, there isn't one in our town.  Losing power was very common, and our backup power was a pain in the butt portable.  Rolleyes
We finally broke down and added a 20k generac.  It is set up exactly like you listed. Whole house power, auto on, auto off, self tests every wednesday. 500 gallon propane, upgraded from 300 when we added the genny.  We cook and heat from that tank, but use is moderate.

The genny starts with full loss, not just a fluctuation.  It will remain running until power is fully restored AND steady.  We have been very pleased, it brings peace of mind knowing it's there.  In the seven or eight years we have had it, it's been pretty much trouble free. Two repairs.  A circuit card, common problem, and a voltage regulator, also common.

We have a maintenance contract for bi-annual service.  Full service once a year, then quick check up six months later, checking for error codes, battery levels, oil, fittings, etc.  Worth every penny to maintain the investment.
Jim in Okie
You can tell a lot about the character of a man -
By the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Reply
#30
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
About the largest you can get in an air cooled model is 22K, after that (I was told) they become water cooled and the price really skyrockets. We had a 22K Generac (actually, it's a Honeywell; same thing) installed about 18 months ago. I would choose between them and Kohler The only thing about the Generac I don't like is the maintenance on the valve train. You have to adjust the valve lash after 25 hours, and then again every 400 hours. If you remember the old solid lifter cars and the effort of adjusting them, that might not be a problem (my 55 Ford had to be adjusted every year), but it' something they could easily remedy is they chose to. As for the load, ours has no problem with a 5 ton geo heat pump, electric range, my 100 amp shop sub panel, electric water heater and the well pump. There's little doubt I could over load it if I tried...but I don't. I put mine on a dedicated 500 gallon LP tank, which should give me roughly 5-7 days power depending on a whole lot of variables.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
Reply

#31
  RE: Backup power fredhargis About the largest yo...
(06-23-2018, 09:09 AM)fredhargis Wrote: About the largest you can get in an air cooled model is 22K, after that (I was told) they become water cooled and the price really skyrockets. We had a 22K Generac (actually, it's a Honeywell; same thing) installed about 18 months ago. I would choose between them and Kohler The only thing about the Generac I don't like is the maintenance on the valve train. You have to adjust the valve lash after 25 hours, and then again every 400 hours. If you remember the old solid lifter cars and the effort of adjusting them, that might not be a problem (my 55 Ford had to be adjusted every year), but it' something they could easily remedy is they chose to. As for the load, ours has no problem with a 5 ton geo heat pump, electric range, my 100 amp shop sub panel, electric water heater and the well pump. There's little doubt I could over load it if I tried...but I don't. I put mine on a dedicated 500 gallon LP tank, which should give me roughly 5-7 days power depending on a whole lot of variables.

When the guy replaced the VR on our 20k, he had us run the AC and me run the big JET Dust collector and turn on the table saw and band saw in the shop... no problem for the 20k generac.  It sagged on startup with the table saw and bandsaw, then steadied out and ran right on...
Jim in Okie
You can tell a lot about the character of a man -
By the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Reply
#32
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
Fred:  I'm probably going to go with 22KW; the price difference above the 15-20KW isn't that much, but like you say, go above that, and prices are a minimum 70% more. 

Marine:  Mind if I inquire about the cost of that maintenance contract?

I read in one of the old posts that  Generac is very strict about following what they recommend for installation and maintenance in order to honor the warranty.  Does that still seem to be true?  I'm concerned about overpriced maintenance contracts being necessary to obtain warranty work.
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#33
  RE: Backup power WxMan Fred:  I'm probably ...
(06-23-2018, 12:26 PM)WxMan Wrote: Fred:  I'm probably going to go with 22KW; the price difference above the 15-20KW isn't that much, but like you say, go above that, and prices are a minimum 70% more. 

Marine:  Mind if I inquire about the cost of that maintenance contract?

I read in one of the old posts that  Generac is very strict about following what they recommend for installation and maintenance in order to honor the warranty.  Does that still seem to be true?  I'm concerned about overpriced maintenance contracts being necessary to obtain warranty work.

The old contract was about $200 per year, but we live an hour from town.  That company went out of business and didn't tell anyone...  The guy that came and did the repair picked up a LOT of his business and we were impressed with his work.  The new contract is $400 per year, but covers both trips, and all supplies unless they have to replace the battery.  They will replace that, and bill me if we aren't home, we have established our credit and trust.

As for the maintenace required to maintain the warranty, we never worried about it for that reason.  We did it because I learned early on... take care of your things properly, and they last.  Then the Corps pounded it into me.  Big Grin .Vehicles, kayaks, bikes, when we went to sell, folks were amazed at the condition.
Cool
Jim in Okie
You can tell a lot about the character of a man -
By the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Reply
#34
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
Like Jim, I haven't been too concerned about the warranty. I wasn't offered a maintenance contract, though if I could get one I probably would.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
Reply

#35
  RE: Backup power fredhargis Like Jim, I haven't ...
(06-23-2018, 05:18 PM)fredhargis Wrote: Like Jim, I haven't been too concerned about the warranty. I wasn't offered a maintenance contract, though if I could get one I probably would.

The company that installed our system "offered" a maintenance contract, but we were so disappointed in the quality of the crew that did the installation we declined.  We looked up generator maintenance on line and found a couple local companies, talked to them about the maintenance contract, and chose one.  We were very happy with that company for many years.  In fairness, that first company went out of business due to a major illness hitting the owner/operator.  He and one other tech were running all the calls... so with him out...  Rolleyes .They should have notified their client list however.

Found the current company/contract the same way.  Big Grin
Jim in Okie
You can tell a lot about the character of a man -
By the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Reply
#36
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
I looked at Generac, and Kohler.  Went with the Kohler based on recommendations from two electrician buddies (who had no axe to grind); theory was the motor was better than the B&S in Generac.  20K unit whole house with the load manager option; installed about $11k (had a long run to my panel from the other side of the house), but thats in NJ and that may be less in your area.  Been almost 5 years now, and about 8 or more short power outages since then, always worked, about 20 seconds after power goes out it kicks in.  Auto "exercise" each week and it goes through its paces.  I can't complain, been good to me.  I lost power for 12 days due to tropical storm Irene in 2011; then 15 days from Hurricane Sandy in 2012; I ain't doing that again.
Credo Elvem ipsum etiam vivere
Non impediti ratione cogitationis
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#37
  Backup power WxMan Now that the new app...
Admiral, the Generac doesn't use a B&S engine, at least not now (maybe they did in the past). They engineered their own engine (they say) specifically for generator use. That said, I would have went with Kohler if that's what my furnace guy offered....I had mine installed with a new HVAC system and got a small discount for the combined job.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
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