Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by ccgirl, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. ccgirl

    ccgirl DIS Veteran

    Jun 25, 2009
    Okay, so after this latest blizzard and losing my power for days (90+% of the town was out) I need to bite the bullet and get a generator. I don't have a ton of extra money for it. Can you get a generator for under $800 that will do what I need (see below)?

    What the heck do I look for? I have a 2100 sq ft house with FHW gas heat. I would want to run my furnace (I think it's actually called a boiler) for heat, My family room outlets (t.v., light and outlets to charge phones etc), and my two fridge/freezers and microwave. I have no idea how many watts I need. I was thinking I would like a propane fueled generator as all the gas stations around didn't have power either. The ones that did have a generator ran out of gas.

    Any assistance would be appreciated.
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  3. jmkjr72

    jmkjr72 DIS Veteran

    Dec 20, 2009
    more then likely not
    you will need to figure out what you need for watts before you can even think about a gen
    the thing is each one of those pumps for your furnace probably suck a lot of juice depends upon how old they are
    my guess is you are going to need at least 5000 watts probably more like 8000 watts
    and dont forget that you will need a proper to code install that doesnt allow your juice to go back down the line
    those parts are normaly 200 to 300 bucks alone
    in realty for a propane set up you are probably looking at 2 to 3 grand plus install
  4. JessB320

    JessB320 DIS Veteran

    Jul 20, 2012
    There is a huge resale market, going used will be your cheapest option . I will say propane units will be harder to find as they are not are popular as diesel or natural gas. Your budget is a little on the low side even for used but you may get lucky. A 20-30 KW natural gas unit is pretty common for home use. I would first contact a general contractor or new generator sales manager to get an idea of what option and size you need, then just google used generator sales, you will find several companies most will ship to you and arrange hook up. Good luck
  5. Denise W

    Denise W Disney Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    We have a 6500 watt portable gasoline generator which we have used in our 2700 square foot house to run most things except the stove or washer/dryer. We are now having a whole house natural gas generator installed which will start working automatically when the power goes out. It will add value to the resell value and we don't have to worry about losing power again. We will then sell our portable generator.
  6. davedmaine

    davedmaine DIS Veteran

    Mar 30, 2011
    You'd probably be fine with a 7500 watt which would run you around $1k. Do yourself a favor though and have an electrician set up your panel so you can just plug into it (rather than running extension cords throughout the house). Go with gas and just have a couple 10 gallon cans full and ready. That should get you through any outage.
  7. seashoreCM

    seashoreCM All around nice guy.

    Aug 25, 2001
    Some of the problems you might run into:

    1. The generator makes too much noise and disturbs the neighbors.
    2. The number of watts seems okay but when the furnace starts and the refrigerator is already running (or vice versa), it overloads and shuts down. With 7000 watts or more you probably won't have this problem but they do make a lot of 4000 watt (give or take) generators.
    3. The AC frequency is not perfectly 60 Hz or the waveform is not close to a sine wave (is dirty) causing random errors with computers or microwave ovens.
  8. SwimBikeRun

    SwimBikeRun Mouseketeer

    Oct 8, 2012
    It's going to be close.

    Best thing to do is get the wiring done now/ahead of time. Sometimes the "kits" (switches) are hard to find.

    I'd have to look at the watts on mine, maybe it's 6500? But mine is set for kitchen, furnace, family room outlets and lights and most of the first floor outlets. I have a gas stove so I don't need it for that.

    The microwave may be a no go. They suck a lot of juice. You might be able to run it if the furnace is off. I only run my generator during the day. I shut the whole thing down at night as the fridge will be fine overnight and the house warm enough. You don't burn through as much gas either. And if it's hooked up right it's not that much work to do that.

    Be careful with used generators. A lot of people do not take care of them/change the oil/etc. Make sure it is well taken care of.
  9. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

    Dec 30, 2005

    After Sandy passed through last October, our neighborhood was without power for several days. Someone had a generator which was so loud, you could hear it several blocks away. It was driving everyone crazy - very annoying.
  10. kirstenb1

    kirstenb1 DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2010
    Great advice!!! We keep several containers of gas ready for the generator in the winter. If we don't use it, it goes to the riding lawnmower in the summer. We live in a rural neighborhood of 90 homes on total 450 acres. Most of us have generators and chainsaws, and try to help out those who don't. The power lines in our neighborhood are buried, however, the state road that bisects our entrance has above ground power lines. So we lose power several times a year, between winter and summer. We bought our 5k generator many years ago, and it has paid for itself many times over. One thing we'd do differrently, is, it has a pull start motor, like a lawn mower. As you can imagine, a pull start is the dickens in cold weather. DH always says our next generator will be a Honda push start.
  11. HeatherC

    HeatherC <font color=blue>Alas...these people I live with t

    May 23, 2003
    So sorry you got hit so hard by the blizzard. We are also in MA, but by Sturbridge so we got off easy this time.....tons of snow but power stayed on. First time really....which is also whywe got a generator a few years ago. Best purchase we have ever made. Truly...we have used it for several winter storms, hurricanes, tornados, Halloween snowstorms...for a week at a time.

    We bought a Briggs and Stratton Storm Responder from Tractor Supply and it has been problems at all.

    In fact, my brother and his family and my sister and her family both went and bought the same one this past fall. Which was great since they also lost power last week and just got it back on Monday. They are in southern Rhode Island.

    It is 5500/ 85000 watts and runs everything on our panel. We just don't use everything at once. In other words, we can keep our fridge, lights, tv, heat, pellet stoves, and well pump going. But we dont use electric oven or microwave. Do use crockpot, coffeemaker and toaster oven, however. Also can use the top burners for our electric stove...just not the oven.

    We also don't turn everything on at once. We will use lights on main floor with tv. But not every tv and light at the same time. If we start pellet stoves, we turn off the oil heat, etc..

    We paid about $800. It is gas powered, and we keep enough gas to run it for a week.

    Tractor Supply was very helpful and can probably answer any questions. You should also get a transfer switch. An electrician can help with that.

    Hope this helps give you some ideas. It truly has paid for itself several times over already.

    Best of luck to you!

    PS. Our house is about 2500 sq ft if that helps.
  12. HeatherC

    HeatherC <font color=blue>Alas...these people I live with t

    May 23, 2003
    Forgot to mention....they are loud. But EVERY house in our neighborhood has finally got one. So now they all run in harmony.:lmao: May be annoying, but a lifesaver when you have no heat and water and it is 12 degrees out. Trust get over the noise annoyance factor real quick.;)
  13. MinnieForMe

    MinnieForMe DIS Veteran

    May 15, 2007
    Honda makes generators that don't make noise and are fantastic with gas usable. They are made for camping. However, they don't come cheap. Ours was about 3k and it does not run the entire house. However, I can live with having heat, a sump pump, freezer, and two outlets in the kitchen working.

    When our neighborhood loses power, it sounds like a battle zone except for our house.
  14. amylevan

    amylevan DIS Veteran

    Aug 31, 2005
    We've lost power for lengths of time due to Sandy, irene, and a freak halloween snowstorm in the past 2 almost every house in our development has a generator now. We joke about the noise, but really what else can you do?

    Anyhow, there are online calculators that you can input what you want to run and it will tell you how big of a generator you should get. I would start there.
  15. mjkacmom

    mjkacmom DIS Veteran

    Feb 20, 2006
    We lose power so much here, that we are used to the noise of the generators. We joke at how quiet it is, and all you can hear are the rumblings of generators. Unfortunately, we don't have one, but we do have a few industrial extension cords to plug into our friend's generator across the street in an emergency (our finished basement floods, and we need to run the pumps/wet vacs).
  16. momto2girls

    momto2girls DIS Veteran

    Jan 21, 2004
    That's what we did. I have so much more peace of mind now! If the power goes out, the generator automatically switches on. We don't have to worry about having gasoline, etc. We have a very large house and it was fairly expensive, but so worth it!
  17. ccgirl

    ccgirl DIS Veteran

    Jun 25, 2009
    Wow! Thank you so much everyone. You have all been so helpful. No disrespect meant but I would never get annoyed with my neighbors for having a generator to save their home. A lot of homes in our area had their pipes freeze and burst. We had people rushed to hospitals for hypothermia. All hotels around were full. The nearest shelter had to close as their generator would not work. Gas stations were out of power so no gasoline nearby. There are still people without power.

    I totally forgot about crockpot and toaster oven! I could use those instead of my stove and microwave.

    I would definitely have an electrician come out to wire it. I don't want extension cords running into my house having to leave a door or window open.

    A Tractor Supply Store just opened in the next town. I'll have to check it out.

    What are the natural gas generators? Are they expensive?

    Thanks again everyone. You have been most helpful.
  18. TaraPA

    TaraPA Can't live without a ticker!!!!

    Sep 6, 2000
    Hey fellow Lehigh Valley Disney fan!

    We are in the middle of installing a natural gas whole house generator. This is different from a free-standing generator (which I think is what you're looking for). I mean, it's free-standing, but it's permanentely installed like an AC unit. As soon as the power goes off it will kick in. It's hooked right into our natural gasl line.

    It turns out to be a much more expensive project than we though. While the unit, 10,000kw was roughly $6K with installation, there are also fees involved for prepping the site with a concrete pad, professional site plans prepared, pre-installation inspection, permits, extending the gas line (which includes trenching), post installation inspections, etc. We also needed to upgrade something - the gas meter maybe? All those extra things have made this easily a $10K project.

    Most of our neighbors went with a 15,000kw unit, but I think they plan to run their entire house. With the 10,000kw unit that will not nearly cover the whole house (appx 6000sq ft). We have it set up to run a fridge in the garage, a stand alone freezer in the garage, the well pump (we have no water when the power goes out) then the entire basement level. It will also run the heat on the basement & 1st floor levels. We can move into the basement next time the power goes out. We didn't need anything hooked up in the kitchen as we have a gas range, which works without power.
  19. Bowen9475

    Bowen9475 DIS Veteran

    Jan 29, 2002
    We are in central Massachusetts. We lost power for 5 days in the ice storm of 2008 and for 6 days in the 2011 Halloween storm, as well as a few other lesser times. Last spring we had an electrician wire a gasoline powered Generac 5500 watt portable generator. The total price for purchase and labor was about $1800. We used it for the first time during the Halloween storm of 2012. Our house is about 2000 square feet. I was absolutely amazed by how much we were able to run. We didn't use the stove, washer or dryer. My main concerns were our well, furnace and refrigerator. In addition to those we were able to use our big screen TV and two smaller TVs, DYD players, just about all lights and outlets, my hair dryer and curling iron each morning, even our garage door opener. We didn't always have everything on at the same time but our electrician later told me he thought we would have been fine to do so. I was also amazed by how long the generator ran on one tank of gas. It was one of the best purchases we have ever made. We didn't lose power with the recent blizzard, but if we had I would have felt a lot better about it, having used the generator last fall. We were one of the last families in the neighborhood to get one so we all make noise together :)
  20. ccgirl

    ccgirl DIS Veteran

    Jun 25, 2009
    Wow! Thank you for that. I know Central MA usually loses their power a lot more than we do. I am fine with not using the stove or washer/dryer. We don't have a well or garage doors either. Like you, my main concern was the furnace and refrigerator. As long as I can use a crockpot, coffee maker and toaster oven I would be fine. I wouldn't use them at the same time.

    It sounds like this is probably the way for me to go. As much as I would love the system the PP posted about that uses the gas lines; it is way out of my price range. This last storm is the longest we have ever lost it. We usually don't lost it at all and when we do; it is usually restored within a few hours as we are on the same lines as the village water pumps and a few other essential places.

    Thanks again everyone. The information has been very helpful.
  21. windycitymom

    windycitymom DIS Veteran

    Jul 14, 2006
    I just bought a generator from Costo when it was on sale. It's the Westinghouse 7000W/8500W peak portable generator with 25' power cord. I paid $699 (originally $899). The reviews on it are great! I bought it online and am still waiting for it to show up. I plan to have an electrician come in and wire so all I have to is plug it in from the outside if the power goes out. If our sump pump goes out, we get water in the basement.

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