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jgln 09-06-2012 09:00 AM

Home Backup Generators
Anyone have one? Any suggestions, comments, help? Bad experience, good experience? Would you do it differently if you could?

We lose electric enough that I think we need one. Last time was close as it went beyond 12hrs without power and food begins to defrost and we have a big chest freezer full of food. We also have a well so no power = no water once the pressure is gone. Plus it just plain sucks. A couple times here in NJ people had no power for weeks...could you imagine???

I know I am going to hire an electrician to hook it up to the house because I don't want a bunch of extension cords running through the house or going out to fiddle with the thing during a storm.

We live out in the country (well, it is NJ but) so I am not worried about the noise disturbing neighbors, nearest is hundreds of feet away, mostly farmland.

broadbill 09-06-2012 01:04 PM

How much do you want to spend? The automatic, whole house systems are really nice but will run you big bucks. The manual, run extension cords plan is cheap but a PITA...then there is the whole gamut in between.

There are also less-than-safe ways of running a generator into the house, called back-feeding, but you could really hurt/kill yourself or someone else (like a guy working on your powerlines). I don't recommend them.

I have a hybrid system that takes advantage of a second circuit panel box that I had to have installed when I moved in. I had an electrician rewire the system to put all the circuits I wanted to be run by a generator put into the second box. The second box is energized by a circuit breaker that allows you to shut off power coming in from the first box (main), and it also has a circuit breaker that controls a 30A plug in the garage. The generator plugs into that inlet in the garage.

Now here is the critical part. The electrician installed a restraint bar that isolates the second box from the first box when the circuit going to the generator plug is open. Either the second box is getting power from the generator and not from the first box/main (when the power is out), or it is getting power from the first box/main, but never both. This prevents you from inadvertently back-feeding generator power back out the grid. The bar also prevents power from going out to the generator plug when the main power is on.

This is essentially what a transfer box does, and you'd probably go that route if you don't already have a second box. But putting in a second box may be a cheaper alternative. I'm adding all of these details about my system as another way to skin a cat. I offer it up as something to discuss with your electrician....informed consumer and all that.

GoldMiner 09-06-2012 01:20 PM

I went with the transfer switch option after our 4.5 day outage in early July this year.

The generator plugs into an outlet mounted on the outside of the garage.

Of course it'll probably be a few years until an extended outage, lights haven't flickered since installation.

jgln 09-07-2012 06:48 AM

Thanks, yeah I think I need to sit down with an electrician and discuss just what we want and about how much it will cost and go from there.

Here in NJ I saw on TV today our governor wants to pass a bill that would fine power companies for not having in place a plan to restore electric quickly. Some areas were out for weeks.

Beer-lord 09-07-2012 01:08 PM

What's growing in my area, due to hurricanes, is a natural gas generator that kicks in if power goes off. But, the decent ones start about $10K and, I was told by someone that if only half the homes in the Metro New Orleans area used these, the supply of natural gas is not nearly enough. But, it's a great idea for the future.

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