Whole Home Backup Generator?

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Cdub5_
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Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Cdub5_ »

I've been wanting to add a whole home backup generator for quite some time.

Generac seems to be all I can really find. Are there any other brands out there that you think are better than Generac?

Since I've moved to this house there have been some brutal extended periods of time with no electricity. I'm willing to pay whatever to not have to go through power outages again.

My home is about 2,400sqft and I'd want a generator to supply power for at least 90% of the entire house.

If any of you have a whole home backup generator installed I'd like to hear how it has worked out for ya, as well as anything you may not like about it.
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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Ware »

We recently installed one at our new house - a 22kW Generac.

I considered Generac, Kohler, and Cummins - and even looked into Briggs & Stratton. Dealers and installers will have reasons why their brand is the best, but at the end of the day I think all of the major players in the air cooled ~20kW standby generator market have substantially similar offerings - each with their minor pros/cons.

We ended up going with the Generac primarily due to availability and local service support. Events like Covid, fires out west, and Winter Storm Uri have significantly increased demand for standby generators. I remember reading an article earlier this year where the Generac CEO was quoted saying they can’t make them fast enough. Their stock is a good indicator of what is happening in that market:

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We are running dual transfer switches to back up our two 200A panels. We have two panels, but more so due to the number of circuits than the actual load. Our heating, water heating, cooktop and clothes dryer are all natural gas, so that helps reduce the amount of backup power we need - especially during the winter months. LED lighting is sort of a game changer too. For air conditioning, my Generac transfer switches have built in load shedding for up to four units. It basically monitors the frequency of the generator and won’t let lower priority units start if the generator is loaded up too heavily. A/C compressors pull a lot of current during startup, but much less once they’re running. As long as we use some common sense, we shouldn’t have any issues being able to use anything we need during an outage and keep the house comfortable.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Ware »

Being new construction, we were able to plan on everything being in close proximity to help minimize installation costs. Our panels are on the other side of that wall, inside the garage.

I bought my generator and transfer switches online from Electric Generators Direct. Their lead time was significantly shorter than ordering one from a local dealer. I suspect because I was buying from an allocation they already had on order. I think I still had to wait over a month.

I don’t remember what our total installation costs were, but the concrete pad was minimal because we were already pouring for the A/C condensing units. The gas plumbing was just considered another drop (flat rate), and we paid the electrician to wire it up while he was there doing the rest of the house. A retrofit would cost more.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Retromower »

Cdub5_ wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:22 am
I've been wanting to add a whole home backup generator for quite some time.

Generac seems to be all I can really find. Are there any other brands out there that you think are better than Generac?

Since I've moved to this house there have been some brutal extended periods of time with no electricity. I'm willing to pay whatever to not have to go through power outages again.

My home is about 2,400sqft and I'd want a generator to supply power for at least 90% of the entire house.

If any of you have a whole home backup generator installed I'd like to hear how it has worked out for ya, as well as anything you may not like about it.
Really, Generac and Kohler and the 2 names you want to be looking at.
I worked for Generac for about 10 years when I lived in Wisconsin. I was a tester and a repair tech. Generac makes some really great home standby generators.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by MasterMech »

Where I'm at now, power outages are thankfully rare. So anything more than a portable is pretty low on my priority list.

Back in NY, this was not the case. I had a 10kW "portable" that was setup on a manual transfer switch. 2-3 significant outages a year, thankfully my heat was wood/oil (in that order! 8-) ) and I only needed it for the well pump and appliances. Stove was electric though so outage cooking was microwave/grill/woodstove.

Before the decision to move, I was considering buying a diesel genset (likely a military surplus unit) and operating it with my 550 gal oil storage. Possibly upgrading to an auto transfer switch too.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Cdub5_ »

Thank you guys for the info,

@Ware you have got one of the coolest houses, hands down. You literally thought of everything when you planned out your home. Great job, man!

That Generac stock is giving Tesla a run for its money! Look at that parabolic gain after the '20-'21 winter! If I wasn't so deep in crypto in hindsight Generac should have been an obvious play.

Generac will most likely be the way I will go. I was hoping they weren't all "advertising" and actually produced a quality product. Makes me feel more at east when shelling out that sort of cash.

Thanks again, everyone :thumbup:
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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by jayhawk »

Generac ...can't go wrong. I haven't done any homework on vendors but do know Matt Risinger had a Champion unit (could be a sponsor) that kicked in during the Austin freeze. I don't think it's the Lexus...
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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by ALPHA »

I have a new Generac on the way for my home 46KW for my home. Currently I have an 18KW (I think). Doesn’t power my A/C, the whole kitchen goes dead. The substation in my area is a joke, power can go out for a couple of days. My salesman was emphatic I could do a 24KW and make it work with load shedding. I don’t think he understood just how much I meant when I said “whole house”, as in my pool better be running along with everything else. So I overbought based off his calculations. I also wanted the more quiet air cooled engine.

Cummins makes a great generator too, the Generac’s are built in my backyard and are the most supported here.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by SWB »

We just received a quote for a 22k Generac which we'll probably accept. Our electrician said it would be 6 months before one was available though.
Question for @Ware ......I was told placement too close to our AC units would make them work harder as the exhaust would be sucked in. I noticed yours are pretty much set up the way I wanted ours. Any problems with the set up?

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by ocean-front »

I had a 22kw Generac installed before we even moved into our new house.Living on the ocean we have hurricanes and NorEasters to contend with annually.Seems Generac has cornered the market in my area since that is all you see around here.Great customer service from 2 different electrical companies that are sales and service.I have had zero trouble since installation 5 years ago, used it twice for power outages lasting a couple of days and never missed a beat.There are 12 homes along my street and it is funny to go outside on Saturday and Sunday morning and hear generators starting up to do the weekly 5 min. run.Best investment made and a big selling point for your homes value.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by Ware »

SWB wrote:
Sat Oct 02, 2021 5:55 am
We just received a quote for a 22k Generac which we'll probably accept. Our electrician said it would be 6 months before one was available though.
Question for @Ware ......I was told placement too close to our AC units would make them work harder as the exhaust would be sucked in. I noticed yours are pretty much set up the way I wanted ours. Any problems with the set up?
I think the installation manual calls for 3ft of clearance on 3 sides, 18” on the back, and 5ft from overhangs above. I cheated that a little on the right side where my mini split sits, but didn’t see any access concerns. The exhaust on the Generac comes out of the grate on the left end as you’re facing the front of the generator.

You can make the case that an increase in ambient temperature around A/C condensing units causes them to work harder, but I would question how much the generator really affects that from several feet away - especially on an intermittent/emergency basis. The generator will produce heat while it’s running, but a lot of it will naturally rise.

So to answer your question - that’s not really something I’m concerned about.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by MasterMech »

Ware wrote:
Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:35 am
SWB wrote:
Sat Oct 02, 2021 5:55 am
We just received a quote for a 22k Generac which we'll probably accept. Our electrician said it would be 6 months before one was available though.
Question for @Ware ......I was told placement too close to our AC units would make them work harder as the exhaust would be sucked in. I noticed yours are pretty much set up the way I wanted ours. Any problems with the set up?
I think the installation manual calls for 3ft of clearance on 3 sides, 18” on the back, and 5ft from overhangs above. I cheated that a little on the right side where my mini split sits, but didn’t see any access concerns. The exhaust on the Generac comes out of the grate on the left end as you’re facing the front of the generator.

You can make the case that an increase in ambient temperature around A/C condensing units causes them to work harder, but I would question how much the generator really affects that from several feet away - especially on an intermittent/emergency basis. The generator will produce heat while it’s running, but a lot of it will naturally rise.

So to answer your question - that’s not really something I’m concerned about.
This is an easy game of "Fact or Bull". Measure ambient temp as close to nearest HVAC condenser unit as is practical and take measurements without and then with the genset running (under load preferably). During the cooler months, any extra ambient heat will be a boost to a unit functioning as a heat pump. Just saying. :thumbup: Not that I would rely on that as a design consideration. Just saying it works both ways.

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Re: Whole Home Backup Generator?

Post by SWB »

MasterMech wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:40 am
Ware wrote:
Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:35 am
SWB wrote:
Sat Oct 02, 2021 5:55 am
We just received a quote for a 22k Generac which we'll probably accept. Our electrician said it would be 6 months before one was available though.
Question for @Ware ......I was told placement too close to our AC units would make them work harder as the exhaust would be sucked in. I noticed yours are pretty much set up the way I wanted ours. Any problems with the set up?
I think the installation manual calls for 3ft of clearance on 3 sides, 18” on the back, and 5ft from overhangs above. I cheated that a little on the right side where my mini split sits, but didn’t see any access concerns. The exhaust on the Generac comes out of the grate on the left end as you’re facing the front of the generator.

You can make the case that an increase in ambient temperature around A/C condensing units causes them to work harder, but I would question how much the generator really affects that from several feet away - especially on an intermittent/emergency basis. The generator will produce heat while it’s running, but a lot of it will naturally rise.

So to answer your question - that’s not really something I’m concerned about.
This is an easy game of "Fact or Bull". Measure ambient temp as close to nearest HVAC condenser unit as is practical and take measurements without and then with the genset running (under load preferably). During the cooler months, any extra ambient heat will be a boost to a unit functioning as a heat pump. Just saying. :thumbup: Not that I would rely on that as a design consideration. Just saying it works both ways.
I'm not too sure the estimator wasn't tryin to make the install a little easier for his team. I'm making them run all the gas / wiring from one side of the house to the other. He did his best to dissuade me but I'd already made my mind up.
We're getting ready to pull the trigger on several home improvement projects, I've barely started and I'm already frustrated with a lot of these contractors.

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