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Old 02-21-2009, 10:30 PM   #1
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Generator saves the day

I learned a great lesson during the recent windstorm in the Northeast. You may want to use this as 1) justification for buying a generator, 2) reason to upgrade.

My parents were without power for at least three days, my Honda EU2000 was easy enough for them to use, and they were impressed by its simplicity and low noise.

I simply took two extension cords and ran to two different floors of the house. Had it lasted any longer, I would have had one of these installed:

http://www.generators.us.com/TF151W-...l?feed=Froogle

My Sister's boyfriend on the other hand used 'redneck engineering' with her generator, and fried generator, computer, and Bose Wave radio. I think he incurred what is called backfeed:

http://www.cmpco.com/UsageAndSafety/.../backfeed.html
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Old 02-22-2009, 05:47 AM   #2
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Generators at home

Certeainly the most important thing you should do before using a generator to power your home is to turn off the main breaker to the street power. In the typical home this will be a 200 ampere or possibly a 100 ampere beaker pair.

This also prevents 'backfeed' and prevents the street power from affecting the generator and destroying the generator.

Transfer switches do the job but the one shown only handles 15 amps. Our motor home has a 30 amp transfer switch that does seem to work well but before turning the generator on I always make sure my main power cord is unplugged first, transfer switch or not.

Norm Milliard
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:06 AM   #3
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Arn't generators wonderful! I've been meaning to buy one but couldn't justify it's cost. Now I may have too. But, where I work, which is a whopping 30 second commute from home, we have installed two new Kohler generators. Each generator is a whopping 310 HP John Deere deisel making 200KW of power. They produce enough power to run our entire refrigerated/frozen facility, and the manufacturing facility, office, docks, and outside lights with room to spare. In case of a significant power loss here in Wellsville I've been given permission to take the emergency shelter (Sunline) down to the plant and plug her in. It's some piece of mind but I still would like to get one for home.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:01 AM   #4
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Glad to hear the generator worked out well. For the reasons you discussed, this is why we purchased our generator. We wanted something that was portable for use with the trailer and could provide backup power for key items in the house.

The questions/issue I have been struggling with our generator is how to protect it from the elements. The manual says to not operate it in the rain or snow conditions. I am curious to know what you did to protect the generator from the elements while it operated.
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:08 AM   #5
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We use a small tent - works fine for us!
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer
The questions/issue I have been struggling with our generator is how to protect it from the elements. The manual says to not operate it in the rain or snow conditions. I am curious to know what you did to protect the generator from the elements while it operated.
We've got a concrete block storage shed underneath our rear deck. The shed is immediately to the rear of our basement level carport (roof of the carport is our side deck.) The shed has double doors that give us a 6' opening from the carport into the shed. I leave the generator in the shed with a cover on it year round. When we need to run the generator at home, it's a simple matter of propping one or both of the doors open to provide enough ventilation to make sure there's no CO buildup. The bonus is that the concrete walls of the shed block what little noise the Honda eu2000i makes.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:18 PM   #7
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There was nothing to protect in my case, as we only had wind storms---no rain , no snow.

When camping, I keep it out of the rain. I transport my EU2000 in a small tote. In a sprinkle type of occasional rain, I will occasionally set the generator next to an overturned tote, and use the lid of the tote as a "shield" or "porch roof".
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:59 PM   #8
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One thing to remember for anyone using a Honda series generator is that the air intake is on the bottom of the generator and if you set it on the ground, and the ground is sand, you will suck up quite a bit of sand into the generator

If camped in the desert or on dirt, we take a lid off of one of our rubbermaid storage bins and set the generator on that rubber lid. This keeps it off the dirt/sand and keeps the airfilter clean

I was told this by a fellow camper while in Arizona who said they had ruined a model by leaving it run while sitting on bare ground, which happened to be sand all day long.
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emam
One thing to remember for anyone using a Honda series generator is that the air intake is on the bottom of the generator and if you set it on the ground, and the ground is sand, you will suck up quite a bit of sand into the generator

If camped in the desert or on dirt, we take a lid off of one of our rubbermaid storage bins and set the generator on that rubber lid. This keeps it off the dirt/sand and keeps the airfilter clean

I was told this by a fellow camper while in Arizona who said they had ruined a model by leaving it run while sitting on bare ground, which happened to be sand all day long.
Pat

Thanks for the tip. Good point!!! We do not need to re-learn this all over again.

John
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:29 PM   #10
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So far we have only camped with electrical hook up available, but I agree 110% with Norm. Before hooking up your generator, make sure you are disconnected from the power company!
We have lost power quite a few times over the years, anywhere from a few hours up to one week, mostly due to freezing rain, so being able to run the furnace was most important. We needed 220 Volt to run the well pump. It is so nice to be able to flush the toilets and to take a shower now and then.
In the early years here we got through by borrowing or renting a generator when power failed, usually a 5 hp 2Ĺ kW unit. I back fed through 50 Amp, 220 Volt outlet that I had put in for an electric kiln.
I would turn off the main breaker and then all the other breakers on the main electrical panel. Then I would switch on the breaker for the circuit that I was back feeding through and alternately switch on the breakers for the circuits for the well, the fridge, the freezer, the furnace and some lights, being careful not to overload the generator. Electric motors draw a lot of power when they start up.
If you have only a 110 Volt generator and only need 110 Volts, the same procedure would work, but you would have to make sure the breakers for the circuits you want to use, are on the same side of the "split" in the panel as the circuit you are back feeding through.
We now have a 10 kW diesel generator that sits in the garage, just inside the garage door, and I run it with the garage door raised a few inches.
I bought 20 feet of flexible stainless exhaust pipe and attached it to the exhaust outlet from the generator. I keep it coiled up, and I uncoil it when I need to run the generator. I route it under the garage door, careful not to touch the rubber seal on the bottom of the door, because it does get hot. Then I route it around the corner of the building to prevent fumes from getting into the garage or the house.
I once talked to an electrician about my method, and he said he would do it the same way, so I feel pretty good about it.
I know this has very little to do with camping, but it is relevant to using generators for emergencies when you loose power.
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Old 02-28-2009, 11:18 AM   #11
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I am not trying to be pushy, but the more I read about using any portable generator to power the house, the only 100% safe way is to use a transfer switch.

Form the small one I put in the first post, or a large one for the whole house:

http://www.smps.us/transferswitch.html
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Old 02-28-2009, 11:58 AM   #12
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Safety

Disconnecting your main breaker is as safe as a transfer switch. It's just like the power company removing your meter. Of course a Transfer switch is handy but it would be so rarely used and truly hard to justify the expense.

Norm Milliard
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Old 02-28-2009, 01:37 PM   #13
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Generator

Mark,
I could only justify the cost of a transfer switch if I installed an automatic generator, that would power essentials in my absence, and then, of course, the transfer switch would also have to be automatic.
Norm is right, a transfer switch and the installation is pretty expensive.
My method, described a couple of postings back, would help in using a relatively small RV generator to power a few of the essentials in your house in an emergency on the cheap, and as I said, a licensed electrician told me he'd do it the same way. I feel pretty good about that.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:25 AM   #14
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Our transfer panels at work are of the manual variety. According to our General Contractor/Electrician the manual switch saved more than a few thousand dollars each. When the power to the plant goes down, the power to my house is also down. I just run down to work start the generators and throw the transfer switch at each unit. He also ran a colored light system outside of the main electrical room that lets us know when the city power is restored. I then shut down the unit and throw the switch back to city power.
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