auxiliary power activate.

That last power outage only lasted a few hours, not almost two days like the one last week.  This winter is almost over, but we’re probably going to pull the trigger on an emergency preparedness upgrade in the form of a propane generator.

Why propane?  Well, we have the necessary infrastructure, since we have two propane furnaces (only used for backup these days), and a 500-gallon propane tank behind the garage.  We’re looking at a 7kW unit, which would be big enough to run all the essentials in the house.  Once it gets in, we’ll have it wired into the existing panel out in the garage, where the propane line comes into the house already, and venting won’t be a problem.  Chances are we won’t have to use the genny more than once a year at our current rate of power failures (National Grid is pretty solid out here), but when we do have to use it, I’m sure we’ll be glad to have it.


11 thoughts on “auxiliary power activate.

  1. I don’t know how many $$ you have for this project, but there is a nice looking unit @ Northern (Generac model 5837); it’s 7kw propane, auto start, w/transfer switchgear.
    Not a bad price for the convenience.

    And no, I don’t work for them…

  2. Homer says:

    If I may suggest, when you install the transfer switch (a code-required device) spend a little more to have some extra circuits added to it, which will probably mean running fresh Romex, in addition to moving a few existing circuits to the box. . Everyone puts things like the furnace, refrigerator, etc. on the generator, but it’s really, really handy to have one outlet in each room powered up as well, and almost certainly your house was not wired with that in mind when it was built, so just moving a circuit to the transfer switch box won’t do it – that’ll give you something like every outlet in the master bedroom on backup power, and zero outlets in the kids’ rooms.

  3. Tim Hirst says:

    You my already know this, but just in case.

    It’s a VERY good idea to run a gen for 30mins each month. It helps with both the reliability and life of the gen. The run needs to be under mid to high load to put some head into the system.

    You can also get oils or additives which are good for controlling corrosion in infrequently run engines.

  4. Montie says:

    I had never given much thought to a generator for the household until the huge ice storm we experienced in Tulsa a couple of years ago. living in an older mid-town neighborhood, all our power lines are above ground and suffered mightely. I ended up buying a 6.75 kW unit and for the first few days of the 18 days I was without power ran everything on extension cords.

    A few days in though, a buddy who is a licensed electrician wired a coupling into my box so that I could power essentials on the generator without worrrying about tripping in every room. Only had to use it once since then for a 20 hour outage last summer, but it’s great peace of mind.

  5. Toni says:

    We installed one a few years ago-best thing we ever did! We got ours from generators direct (the manufacturer) with a great price & free shipping. It runs itself for about 10 minutes every Saturday (you can set the date & time) so you know it’ll be ready when needed.
    Just make sure the transfer switch is installed properly-you don’t want the power going out to the lines.

  6. Al Terego says:

    “Why propane? Well, we have…a 500-gallon propane tank behind the garage.”

    Plus, a hundred five-gallon jerry cans of gasoline take up a lot of space, provide the makings for a rather spectacular fire/explosion, and are (personal experience here) not the easiest/safest things to tote into town for filling…not to mention hard to do when most of the filling stations are powered down also.

    Yeah, in your situation, go propane for sure. Mine is gas due to the need for portability, LP’s only shortcoming. And our motorhome holds 75 gallons, has its own 4KW Onan and (based on that personal experience above) a gas line tap for the Yamaha 6.6KW. It and about ten cans get filled whenever a himocane threatens, so we should be good; I’d rather not find out, but better safe than sorry…


  7. NYEMT says:

    If you can swing it, go a little bigger. 7Kw is enough to run the bare essentials in a modern house. I’d recommend a 9 or 10Kw. It gives you a little overhead, in case you need to run, say, both those furnaces in an emergency. Or you add a big freezer one day. Or another fridge for the garage. Also, if you want to have internets while on gen-power, you’ll want surge protectors and AC filters for the ‘pooters, and they leech a little power. I also second the suggestion for a dedicated generator outlet or two in each room. There are also timers you can get that will automatically start and run the generator periodically, as suggested by Tim.

  8. JB Miller says:

    Propane has a better shelf life.

    Propane Companies will even give you a 2000 gal tank if you sing a contract with them for propane,

    Heat, cooking and power. Good stuff.

  9. Kristopher says:

    They make you sing a contract? Acapella, or do they provide music?

  10. Michael says:

    Based on personal experience, I’d recommend a 10-13kw diesel. Why? An extended outage really uses a lot of propane. My genny setup included an inverter that allows me to run lights but not fridge without the genny running. The auto setup that starts your genny once a wk is a good idea.

  11. Will says:

    I have a vague recollection that 12kw is the minimum that can be hooked up to a house. That is either per our regional utility co., or the state. (calif)
    Also, that hook-up has to be designed to keep it from feeding back into your incoming power line, so as not to kill any power line workers. Needs a licensed electrician who is experienced in installing it.

    With generators, bigger is better. You don’t want to be running it at, or near, capacity.

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