[LincolnTalk] electrician recommendation and advice for generator

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[LincolnTalk] electrician recommendation and advice for generator

Cathie B
Hello list,
Does anyone have a recommendation for an electrician who can provide some guidance on installing a generator?  

Also, does anyone on the list have advice about generator installation? We are on Tower road with no gas lines. We have a heat pump with back-up electric heat, and well water.  So, if the power goes out, we'll have no water or heat.  Having just moved from NJ where we lived through 10 days without power during Sandy, we are especially worried about managing power outages this winter.  I would love any insights on how others have handled this, either through a portable generator or permanent propane-powered generator.

thanks so much for any advice,
Cathie

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Re: [LincolnTalk] electrician recommendation and advice for generator

Dennis Liu
Excellent planning!  Some in Lincoln lost power for a significant duration last winter, so it's better to be prepared, IMHO.
 
My $0.02:  Standby automatic generators are awesome, but are not cheap, and may be unsightly to some (you may be able to build an enclosure around it).  You'd need to have a propane (or diesel) tank to supply it.  The automatic transfer switch is not inexpensive either.  But friends who live in NH and Maine love theirs, since their power goes out more frequently and for longer periods.  A friend spent about $25k all-in on his system, but that's because his wife had one requirement for the dealer:  "No exceptions permitted."  Which meant that when the system kicked in, they didn't want to be able to run everything in the house "except..."  :-)
 
As an alternative to a permanent automatic generator, we went with a compromise:  we bought a "portable" but still fairly large generator on wheels, and store it in the back of the garage.  We had the electrician install a manual transfer switch (when we built our house) -- it's mounted next to our main panels. 
 
I went down the list of everything I wanted to run -- primarily the furnace and hot water heater, the refrigerators, microwaves and induction top, but also the media center, wireless routers and the FIOS box (hey, gotta keep one's sanity during a power outage, no?).  I added up the power draws, which determined the capacity I needed from the generator (remember, there is a difference between start-up/peak power need and running power needs).  Now, I don't expect to run hot water AND the refrigerators AND the heat AND be able to cook simultaneously, but we should be able to do most of that. 
 
All of the circuits that power those items are wired into the manual transfer switch.  In case of an outage, I'd have to wheel the generator over to the corner where the main electrical is; there is an outside plug and a huge-gauge cable to plug the generator into the system.  Once the generator is fired up, I just flip the switch, and all of those selected circuits are now running on generator power.  Once the main power comes back on, the lights not on the generator circuit will come back on too, which will alert us that we can switch it back.
 
Or, if you only need a few specific items to run, you could always go the least-expensive way, which is to get a portable generator and just run heavy duty extension cords to where you need it.
 
Knock wood, we haven't lost power for more than an hour or two in recent years (we did lost it for 3+ days a month after we moved to Lincoln in 1996), so we haven't had to use the system yet (and thankfully so, since, in the course of natural evolution, various things have been piled on the generator in the garage).
 
Costco actually sells both kinds.  The automatic generators start at $3,500, but it's a little small.  The ones that will keep *everything* in your house running are $10k-$15k, plus the cost of the switch, and the labor charge.  For less than $1k, you can pick up a 7500-10k watt portable generator, and the manual switch is a few hundred bucks, IIRC.
 
Your electrician will be able to offer much more advice, most likely.
 
Hope this helps!
 
vty,
 
--Dennis
 


From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Hans & Cathie Bitter
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2013 10:31 AM
To: [hidden email]
Subject: [LincolnTalk] electrician recommendation and advice for generator

Hello list,
Does anyone have a recommendation for an electrician who can provide some guidance on installing a generator?  

Also, does anyone on the list have advice about generator installation? We are on Tower road with no gas lines. We have a heat pump with back-up electric heat, and well water.  So, if the power goes out, we'll have no water or heat.  Having just moved from NJ where we lived through 10 days without power during Sandy, we are especially worried about managing power outages this winter.  I would love any insights on how others have handled this, either through a portable generator or permanent propane-powered generator.

thanks so much for any advice,
Cathie

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Re: [LincolnTalk] electrician recommendation and advice for generator

Jeffrey Birchby
In reply to this post by Cathie B
Cathie,

We live near you (Twin Pond) and have a similar set up (well water, etc).  Since moving here we have lost power for a total of 10 days a year each of the last two years, so having a generator has been a huge plus (it came with the house).  I hear that this is uncommon, but so far it has been our history.

Our set up is a standby generator, with a dedicated propane tank near it outside the house, which is then wired to a transfer switch in the house.  We recently had to replace the generator (and rewire)  so having been through that process would share the following recommendations

1) Decide on what you really want out of the system.

If you want to have a system that powers a dedicated core of items (something like an 8k generator that might be 2,000 for the unit including the switch), or a system that can selectively power everywhere but not all at once (20k generator that might cost 4,500 for the unit including the switch). Even bigger options exits... An electrician should be able to tell you exactly what your options are.

2) Get pricing from multiple electricians for doing the install if you order a generator separately online.

We found that the electric work quotes varied tremendously, and that the overall price was reduced significantly by purchasing the generator directly ourselves, and getting quotes from multiple electricians.  You also will either need an electrician who can work with propane lines, or a separate plumber assuming you have the unit hooked up to a propane tank.  We ultimately used Downing Electric, (978-568-9201) but if you are looking for multiple quotes and others don't add new names, you can try the lists available on generator company sites such as -- http://www.generac.com/Residential/DealerLocator/


Also worth noting, you need to be careful about the idea of an enclosure around the generator.  Since they are engines and give off exhaust, depending upon how this is done could be a big issue and current codes prevent a unit from being in even an open shed or similar.

Jeff Birchby


On Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM, Hans & Cathie Bitter <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello list,
Does anyone have a recommendation for an electrician who can provide some guidance on installing a generator?  

Also, does anyone on the list have advice about generator installation? We are on Tower road with no gas lines. We have a heat pump with back-up electric heat, and well water.  So, if the power goes out, we'll have no water or heat.  Having just moved from NJ where we lived through 10 days without power during Sandy, we are especially worried about managing power outages this winter.  I would love any insights on how others have handled this, either through a portable generator or permanent propane-powered generator.

thanks so much for any advice,
Cathie

_______________________________________________
Lincoln mailing list
[hidden email]
http://nine.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/lincoln



_______________________________________________
Lincoln mailing list
[hidden email]
http://nine.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/lincoln