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Generator recomendations

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Posted by amdx on June 3, 2010, 12:48 pm

 I live in Florida and have a (home) business with many chest freezers.
I'm going to purchase a generator for hurricane season.
I did have a 5000 watt generator. I stored it for three years until I needed
  A power company transformer failed and I didn't have power.
So I pulled out the generator and connected it to my freezers.
 It worked great for about 4 hrs and it died, the field coil burned up.
This time I'll spend the money and do it right.
 I want one big enough so I can run the whole house, at reduced demand,
 but the freezers are the big concern.
 So, (off the top of my head) I'm looking at 12000 to 18000 watt.
 Need recomendations for a care free generator that will (hopefully) get
very little use, but must work 5yrs or 10 years from now.

PS. I know when I get to powering the house I'll need
a tranfer box.

Posted by Ecnerwal on June 3, 2010, 1:54 pm

Any generator should not sit for 10 (or 3) years - it should be run
under load for an hour or so every month, at minimum. The oil should be
changed once a year, minimum. My personal choice based on a lot of
research was a Northern Lights diesel. Made in USA, no problems with
odd-ball chinese/indian parts, extremely reliable reputation.

If you have natural gas available, and expect it to remain available
through a power outage, that might change your fuel choice (and that
might affect your brand choice in this case, since I think NL only does
diesel, but I could be wrong.) In any case, my basic set of what to look
for - 1800 or 1200 rpm operation (1500 or 1000 for the 50 hz folk
elsewhere) - meaning a 4-pole or 6-pole generator head. Two-pole 3600
(3000 50 hz) rpm generators beat themselves to death in short order.

Upgrade to the best muffler they have, they get tiresome to listen to.
Figure out where you're going to store enough fuel, if not using NG. It
gets very hard to find during an outage.

Get your sizing a bit less top of the head - you want one big enough,
but not loafing. You may also find that it's economically rational to
upgrade your chest freezers to consume less power year round, and let
you buy a smaller generator - or to chuck them all for a much better
insulated walk-in freezer with efficient compressor package. If you
won't be opening the freezers during the outage and expect to be at home
for most of it, you can switch off and run only some of them at a time
for an hour or so, then switch to others, and they should all stay
frozen if they have good insulation. A generator that will run your A/C
unit OR your freezers is generally going to cost much less (and use less
fuel) than one that will run both at once and a bunch of other stuff

Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Posted by amdx on June 3, 2010, 4:18 pm

  Thanks for the info on the generator. Ya, I suspect your right,
in that I should run it occasionally. Duly noted.
Regarding freezers, I have a walk in, but the chest freezers
work out better for our business. The blower in a walk in
freezer drys out our product with all the air that circulates.
 Chest type will keep good for 4 to 6 mo.
 Good thinking on the either/or approach, I have an
easy way to isolate the freezer/air conditioning. I also
have thermometers that read out on my computer
and give warning if temperature goes above 5* F.
 Thanks, Mike

Posted by John B. Slocomb on June 4, 2010, 1:53 am

I worked for years for a company that did oil support work in remote
areas and most projects required us to provide our own camp. Our
experience over the years was that almost any commercial gen-set was
suitable and that one should size the gen-set by anticipated load X
1.3 or 1.5. Over the 20 years, or so, that I worked for them I can't
remember ever having a gen-set problem. We did proper maintenance,
changed oil and filters frequently, and to the best of my recollection
we never did more then buy a set, load it on the barge with the rest
of the camp and a year, or more later, when the project ended,  bring
it back to civilization and sell it as a used generator. The sets
operated 24/7 at the site.

But you do need to do a proper load survey on your requirements in
order to size the gen-set. Guessing is usually in error and usually
toward the low side resulting in an over loaded gen-set.

When I worked for another company that had a base maintenance contract
for the Air Force, in Thailand, we had a lot of portable generators
with auto-start, that were connected to any facility that required
power if commercial power failed. If I remember correctly these were
started and warmed up monthly and oil and filters changed on a
calendar basis as an hourly basis meant that they might never be

John B. Slocomb

Posted by vaughn on June 3, 2010, 2:08 pm

Do you have natural gas available?

If not, consider propane.  Make gasoline your last option, (though tri-fuel
keeps all of your options alive).  The biggest problem with seldom used gasoline
engines is the gasoline turning to jelly in the carb.  Also, you can only store
gasoline for about a year.  After a hurricane, gasoline is very difficult to
buy.  Nothing is more useless than a generator without fuel.  Propane gas stores
forever, and does not degrade your carb.  Some generators make less power on
gaseous fuel, so plan a bit of extra capacity and/or pay attention to the
specifications of what you are buying..

I have my generator connected to my natural gas system.  There is a small chance
that natural gas will not be available after a hurricane, so I keep enough
propane to last us a few days.

You will get all different opinions about what generator to buy.  Unless you are
very handy, the quality of your local dealers will be part of the equation.
Others may say different, but avoid the lower end of the Generac line like the


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