Generator (General Discussion)

by Kenny K, Tuesday, March 06, 2018, 17:48 (202 days ago) @ lisa


We weren't really planning on getting a whole house generator right now because in our house near Lakewood fulltime yet. We'll move there full time when retire - soonish I hope. But in 2016 we were up for an extended weekend visit and on that Saturday the power went out - for what seemed like a long time. The biggest issue was loss of water and loss of toilets, since we have a well. That upset my wife.

We had our's installed by Graese Electric in Crivitz in 2016/2017 (over the winter - yes, we were crazy). He's a licensed Generac dealer.

Our generator is a Generac 16 KW whole house generator. Our's runs on natural gas (we were lucky to have natural gas - an unlimited power source), but of course they also have propane units. I think they'd avoid a gas unit since gas can go stale over time. The size needed was determined by Graese using a Generac size estimation software tool. I had found the tool online and went through it myself and got the same result. The unit we got has a feature that places priority on certain circuits, so if there is too much demand, certain circuits such as the furnace and refrigerator have priority. At least that was my understanding.

The cost was $6600. That included the generator and installation. This included a pretty sophisticated transfer box that is the brains of the unit - between the generator and the house's circuit panel. There was also a little bit ($100-200) for the gas line installation - which involved local HVAC/furnace company.

I would guess there are options to get a smaller unit if you're willing to put very limited appliances on it. First in my mind is the furnace, sump pump, sewer pump - if you've got one, well pump, refrigerator/freezer, and the water heater (best if a gas water heater). A good dealer should be able to help you with that. BTW, I think Generac is a Wisconsin-based company, so I like that too.

Ironically, just before we got the generator, we had something happen - maybe a storm surge - when we were away that tripped only our refrigerator circuit breaker. We came up to the house some amount of time later to find everything in the refrigerator turned to a disgusting soup. We managed to get it cleaned up and left it off & open for a long time to dry out, but now one of our rules is we only put contents in that are in hard containers - so at least disgusting soup is 'contained'.

Part of process for the generator installation was that I had to do a "BTU Load Survey" which was basically going through all of the gas appliances in the house (furnace, water heater, gas stove, and gas fireplace), finding each their BTU labels, and recording the listed 'BTU/hour' min & max, and the gas supply pressure (inches of water) min & max. That was needed to determine if the default gas meter we had was sufficient.

Installation was excellent. Graese kept in touch with me and made arrangements with the gas contractor (who did the gas 'plumbing'). By the way, I had Graese Electric install a whole house surge suppressor in the circuit panel - to be safe.

It is a boat load of money, but it also provides a lot of peace of mind. The unit allows me to look at its history. It auto-runs every two weeks for five minutes, and I can tell if it starts due to a power outage and when it shuts off due to power coming back on. Everytime we come up to the house I check for that.

The noise from the generator sounds exactly like a riding lawn mower running next to the house. As a matter of fact when the generator first did the self-test run I wondered why a riding lawn mower was next to my house - and then I realized what it was.

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