Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Generator Power As An Option

With hurricanes threatening it has me thinking about alternative power. Where I live we don’t worry too much about hurricanes. But we have power outages all the time. One of our resources for alternative power is a generator.
Generators come in many sizes and capacities so make sure you buy one that will meet your needs. Here is some info that may help you to decide. This is what generators can handle.
Small portable: 3,000 to 4,000 watts; $400 to $800 for most (more for inverter models)
What it can power: The basics, including items such as...
• Refrigerator (600 watts)
• Microwave (1,500 watts)
• Sump pump (600 watts)
• Several lights (400 watts)
• TV (200 watts)
Midsized portable and small stationary: 5,000 to 8,500 watts; $500 to $1,000 for portables; twice that for stationary
What it can power: Same as small models, plus...
• Portable heater (1,300 watts)
• Computer (250 watts)
• Heating system (500 watts)
• Second pump (600 watts)
• More lights (400 watts)
Large portable: 10,000 watts; $2,000 to $3,000
What it can power: Adds choice of...
• Small water heater (3,000 watts)
• Central air conditioner (5,000 watts)
• Electric range (5,000 watts)
Large stationary: 10,000 to 15,000 watts; $5,000 to $10,000 or more, plus installation
What it can power: Same as large portable models, plus...
• Clothes washer (1,200 watts)
• Electric dryer (5,000 watts)
Pick a model with a wattage at least equal to the total for what you're powering. Manufacturers also suggest totaling the higher surge watts some appliances draw when they cycle on.
What if you have a well pump?
For a pump that is 1.5 horsepower you will assume you will need about 2.25 horsepower of electrical power due to the starting surge and resistance loss in the power line.
2.25HP = 1679 Watts. So a generator of 2,000 Watts or 2kW should be sufficient. A 4,000 watt generator would work and provide some extra power too. Just make sure it has a 240V capability and outlet. Use 10 gage wire rated for sump pump use.
You can hook up your generator to your house through your dryer outlet. This is for informational purposes only. Consult a qualified electrician before using any type of hook up. Doing this is dangerous for power workers. A transfer box that keeps your power isolated to your house is the best way to hook up a generator. But, like explosives, I want to know what to do with them. I want the information. Hooking up your generator through your dryer outlet may be illegal in some places. I will not include instructions how to do this because it is dangerous. IF you do this, know that you take a chance with someone’s life. If it is an EMP or something extreme like that, you will not have to worry about a lineman fixing anything! This is the only reason I want this information.
A generator can be an asset in a grid down problem. I would not use it as my only source because it too can fail (Two is one, one is none). Some don’t like this idea because you have to store fuel. Fuel can be used for many things beside my generator but if not stored properly can be dangerous and is perishable. There are many things that run off fuel such as vehicles, tractors, lawn equipment, chain saws, shredders and log splitters. These can be very advantageous in a grid down scenario.
Besides generator power there is wind and solar power, if you have running water there are water turbines too. Find more than one source and keep parts and maintenance of these systems.
Since this article is about generators, the next article will be about storing fuel.
Semper Paratus
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