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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have pretty reliable power here in our place in Idaho, but we have almost always had a standby generator "just in case" at our prior properties. It was more of a necessity when I built the off-grid solar powered house back in the late 1970's -- that generator was an 1800 RPM Onan unit that was intended for 24/7 use if need be. In Oregon, we had a Generac automatic unit since I was traveling a lot and wanted Sharon to have power if needed, without her fussing with any machinery. Here we needed something less costly but still easy to deploy, so this is what we decided to do:

The generator is a Firman as sold by Costco -- it is tri-fuel so it can run on our natural gas supply without needing to store and refresh any gasoline or hassle with propane tanks. I do have all the propane specific parts if needed to run it off a portable tank should the domestic gas supply be interrupted (earthquake, government incompetence, etc...) This is a big, heavy unit for a portable, so I wanted to put it in a shed to avoid having to store it inside the garage and wrestle it onto place to use it.
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Here is picture of the shed showing the air intake, and another showing the opposite end.
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Inside, the generator is placed on a plywood base over a horse stall mat for some vibration dampening and a bit of sound reduction. The NG plumbing and the electrical connection is fed through the shed wall using RV style access covers. The box is fan-forced ventilated with an attic style unit with shutters that close when not in operation. As you can see above, there is a small muffler, but these generators make a bit of noise running at 3600 RPM with a single cylinder air cooled engine. You can pay much more for a little less noise, but this unit is under 72 dB before the shed and muffler, so it is acceptable.
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Funny story about those wooden handles: The generator comes with a tubular steel U-shaped handle that connects to the frame on each upper side with pins, and then hinges down when not in use -- but that would not work in my case where I had to place the unit in the shed after the fan was mounted to the wall. The solution is a hickory sledge handle cut in half and fitted to the clevis pin in the metal bracket -- there are two, but one is not visible above.

This unit runs well in its shed enclosure, so I am pleased with the outcome. Still need to add a float charger for the battery, since the amount of use this will get is not going to charge it very often.

The output of this generator is connected to my house panel through an "interlock" system such that utility power and generator power cannot be live at the same time. Unlike the automatic transfer switches used in most standby generators, this is quite inexpensive, but does place the responsibility of selecting the active loads when using the generator on the user. A benefit is that any house load can be active if needed, as long as the total power drawn is not above that of the generator's capability. Our house does not have a well pump or any large 220 volt appliances that cannot be foregone until power is restored by the utility...this generator is mostly for lights and refrigeration. Our cook-top is gas, so the electric oven can wait if we are on standby power... Hot water and space heat is gas too, and the generator can run the furnace air circulation fan easily enough.
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Other members here undoubtedly have other solutions to their standby power requirements, so let's see what you have chosen to do...

Chuck
 

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I wanted to install this system but the local authority won't allow a transfer switch like that unless the generator is sized to take the load of the whole house. Shedding load yourself by turning off breakers is not allowed.

So instead I do the same as most of my neighbours and backfeed through a suicide cord, relying on a checklist to make sure I don't electrocute myself or any linesmen. Why is the world so stupid?
 

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We use a Toro unit same size as yours Chuck, but I have to wheel it out of the garage to use it. Generator cord plugs into a wall socket below the circuit panel. Interlock in the panel turns off the grid feed and enables use of a dedicated breaker in the circuit panel. Cord feeds that circuit breaker for gennie input. We can run the entire house except the 220 dryer and stove.
 

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I like your solution for enclosure.
We have generac 8500 portable, gas only. Also same set-up for panel. We have to be selective as we have well pump and boiler to power so minimal lights, electric, and frig, freezer.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
John,

Since your solution works for you, the generator breaker interlock is a very cost effective and appropriate solution. YOU are the one responsible for monitoring it and getting the right loads powered in a timely manner -- and that is a proper way to approach it. Over-regulation is what is causing some of the power shortages already...not to introduce politics into this "how it gets implemented" thread..

Sharon was a bit apprehensive about theft with the generator outside all the time, but it is behind a latched gate and a 6 foot fence. The aliens will need a strong tractor beam to lift it clear of the building... :LOL:

Chuck
 

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Agree, it is my responsibility and the generator will basically run whole house with exception of electric stove/oven and electric dryer. We have no natural gas and boiler is fuel oil. Plus we have wood stove.
The enclosure would help with noise as it's connection is in rear of house by dining room window and free up some storage space in barn. I'm not too worried about theft too much as it wouldn't be in plain view in times of non use.
 

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I have a 5500 watt Onan generator in my toy hauler. I made a cable to back feed my welder outlet in the garage in the event that the power will be down for a while. Of course main breaker will be shut off so I don’t kill a lineman and I think I’ll shut off 90% of them. I would like to run the well and furnace for hot water and maybe a couple lights. We have a great power company here in Templeton so I probably won’t ever need it!
 

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Very interesting thread! I had a generator that I 'back-fed' to my 220 line in the garage and it work fine powering the whole house, you just have to know what you are doing. When I was in Texas last year I helped my son-in-law install a generator hookup using that interlock switch on the main panel. That was a pretty ingenious idea someone came up with. I tried to 'over-engineer' an interlock here at home but never pursued the idea. My son-in-law's generator is that same Firman tri-fuel. Since we installed it, he has never had to use it. But he does test it occasionally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Tom,

The best outcome with a standby generator is to never have to use it...but being ready is the prudent approach. These Costco-sourced Firman generators are pretty cost effective for the type of intermittent use a standby system usually is called on to provide.

When I had my off-grid home in the 1970's I did make a breaker panel interlock so the generator could not compete with the inverter. Modern inverters have built-in transfer switches so interlock that is not necessary now...

Chuck
 

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When my son-in-law said he was getting a Firman generator I thought "what brand is that?". Mine was a portable Generac, a well trusted brand. I did look at the Generac Automatic Transfer Standby models but was reluctant to spend the $$$$. My power here is pretty robust, but you never know when something crazy is going to happen.
 

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@chuckv if you don't mind me asking, what brand/type enclosure is that and size? Looks like Rubbermaid type so may check with Lowes or HD next time I'm over by them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Enclosure is made by Suncast and is model number BMS 2500. I found it more cost effective than anything made by Rubbermaid, and ACE Hardware had it for just under $200 on deep sale at the end of last summer... Attached is the dimension drawing:

Chuck
 

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Thanks. Will look into it's availability around here.
 

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You guys really should watch both Home Alone movies if you're serious about protecting your generators from thieves. How often do you have power outages?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Army,

My enclosure is a protection from weather for my generator (although gravity is a theft deterrent for it... :LOL: ) We do not have power outages much now -- but did have them pretty regularly when the major home building was hapening in adjacent subdivisions, since the utility would 'schedule' a half day or more when cutting over new parts of the local grid.

I have a good friend from a prior employer that started a business making weather protection tent arrangement for operating portable generators as used by those poor folks out in the storms doing utility repairs, and makes his "GenTent" products available to homeowners as well. His main website is here:

I have one to fit my Firman generator...but decided the shed was an easier path to wife approval for exterior storage of the genset. Even Home Depot sells them now... These have plenty of ventilation so the CO alarm on the generator does not get tripped.

Chuck
 

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You guys really should watch both Home Alone movies if you're serious about protecting your generators from thieves. How often do you have power outages?
Only hour or 2 once a year since Sandy knocked us out for a week in '12.
There have been thefts of them here. Former neighbor across the street had theirs stolen from the front porch during night years ago. Another reason I got my CC permit and loud dogs.
When mine is in use it gets locked with chain around deck post. When not in use it's in a locked box body shed.
 

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I honestly don't mind keeping our gennie in the garage, tucked under my folding workbench. I just pull it out, through the laundry room/garage door, through the laundry room and out on the LR porch...plenty of ventilation and it's on the back of the house. Then I attach the cord and plug the cord into the receiver plug under the circuit panel. Fire up the gennie after I do the interlock switch on the circuit panel and turn back on as many breakers/rooms as we need at the moment.
We get occasional outages here...mostly weather related. I've run our gennie 3 or 4 times for short periods in the last year alone. We've only had a few vehicle thefts/break-ins in the 8+ years we've lived in our neighborhood. And besides, I've relied on the BBD12 home security system for decades with nary a failure...that's a Big Brown Dog and a .12 gauge. The door-to-door home security salesmen get disgusted and walk away when I mention the BBD12 too...so there's another benefit.
I'm glad Chuckv started this thread...a good reminder for me to cycle/refresh the gas in the gennie and my two storage Jerry cans into my truck and refuel/retreat the gennie and cans. I do this twice a year using Stabil and Seafoam as additives. No crapenol problems so far...(y)
 

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We had a big 80K generator for the municipal office. It was powered by a JD diesel but I don't recall what engine it was. It was kept at the road garage about 3 miles away. I had robust backup battery power in place for the critical servers and workstations. Enough time to get the road super to have one of his guys bring the generator to the office. I'd connect the line and flip the transfer switch and presto. Once the gennie was running it was business as usual. Other than the diesel engine noise from the generator you'd never know we were running on it. It was actually fairly quiet though. Was a PITA sometimes doing things that way but we didn't have enough outages to warrant keeping it onsite in a 'doghouse'. I dunno if it's a common term but that's what the staff at the company that provided the generator called enclosures for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Army,

"Doghouse" is a fairly common term for such an enclosure.

When we had a rural property with a well, we actually put a commercially made doghouse over the pump/well head to protect it from snow and other weather...those houses for large dogs are made of structural foam resin and are quite tough and provide a bit of insulation too... It did look a bit funny down at the lower end of the property with its beige walls and pastel blue roof. :giggle:

Chuck
 
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