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Anyone have a “guy” they recommend. Mother wants to get a NG home generator. Home is almost 7k sq ft but she wants one that is strong enough to power 2 AC units and 3 refrigerator/freezers one of which is a large subzero side-by-side.  She’s gone through Lowes and some other Mom and pop shop but they’ve been quoting her $40k plus. I think she’s getting fleeced. 

 

I have no frame of refernece with these things. Anyone know what size is appropriate to power above and if they have trustworthy contacts or people they’ve previously used in Houston would be much appreciated. TIA

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The last one they did for a house of that size (+/- 9K sq. ft.) was, as follows:

38KW Generac, 200 amp service entrance rated transfer switch, inclusive of setting unit, start up, permit with City of Bunker Hill, electrical, pad and battery.

All for the princely sum of $19,749.00

Now you have a point of reference.

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1. You don't need to power the entire house in an emergency. One AC, TV, WIFI, the fridge and some lights in the same area of the house as the AC should be sufficient. 

2. Remind her that it's much cheaper to drive to Austin and check into the Four Seasons (or Aspen / St. Regis)  in the even of a power outage that it is to install a generator. 

3. Installation is only the starting price. Those things don't maintain themselves.

Bernard

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We have have 21KW natural gas Generac with everything you mentioned and it was right at 10K. We did have to upgrade the gas meter and I swapped the aluminum wire out for copper. We don’t need it that often, but when we do it is damn nice. The hardest part was coordinating with the power company to get the meter pulled and put back in a single day.

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40 minutes ago, Bernard said:

1. You don't need to power the entire house in an emergency. One AC, TV, WIFI, the fridge and some lights in the same area of the house as the AC should be sufficient. 

2. Remind her that it's much cheaper to drive to Austin and check into the Four Seasons (or Aspen / St. Regis)  in the even of a power outage that it is to install a generator. 

3. Installation is only the starting price. Those things don't maintain themselves.

Bernard

This is what I think is necessary.  Sure if you can't power the 3 fridges/freezers, you will lose some food, and you may need to close off some rooms for a few days but it should be cheaper than buying the full house emergency power option.  

Now if you're losing power every month, that's another story.

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7 hours ago, deadshank said:

The last one they did for a house of that size (+/- 9K sq. ft.) was, as follows:

38KW Generac, 200 amp service entrance rated transfer switch, inclusive of setting unit, start up, permit with City of Bunker Hill, electrical, pad and battery.

All for the princely sum of $19,749.00

Now you have a point of reference.

Does that price include renting the crane that had to lift it off the truck and onto the pad?

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OK, you won't like this answer because it's going to cause you to do a majority of the legwork. Check Ritchie Brothers Auctions. They have a location in Houston. They usually have several lots of small gen sets. You'll have to find an electrician to wire it in and install a transfer switch (or ask your husband), but that is pretty f'n easy to do. They're diesel powered and very quiet. I mean shockingly quiet.

Edit: Crap, looks like the Houston auction was today.

https://www.rbauction.com/0-AIRMAN--20-KW-PORTABLE-GEN-SETGEL?invId=10750096&id=ci&auction=HOUSTON-TX-2018186

160bf1ac-656c-4936-b11d-f6fa02cbac4b.jpg

Sold for $4500

 

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5 minutes ago, RPM said:

OK, you won't like this answer because it's going to cause you to do a majority of the legwork. Check Ritchie Brothers Auctions. They have a location in Houston. They usually have several lots of small gen sets. You'll have to find an electrician to wire it in and install a transfer switch (or ask your husband), but that is pretty f'n easy to do. They're diesel powered and very quiet. I mean shockingly quiet.

Edit: Crap, looks like the Houston auction was today.

https://www.rbauction.com/0-AIRMAN--20-KW-PORTABLE-GEN-SETGEL?invId=10750096&id=ci&auction=HOUSTON-TX-2018186

160bf1ac-656c-4936-b11d-f6fa02cbac4b.jpg

Sold for $4500

 

Other than the fuel source and non-use storage, this is a great idea. I know several people that have gone this route. 

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It is called load shedding. There is a simple calculation you can even you do yourself to size the generator. Here is a random one from google below. Basically, if you select a few key items, i.e. ac, fridge, freezer to be powered at all time by the generator, you can drastically reduce the generator size still meet code. 

http://www.powerzone.com.pk/load-calculator.php

 

Here are couple of other companies to check out and get quotes from. I would recommend at least a couple quotes. I like the Kohler brand over the more popular Generac. Also, don't worry about the service plan pitch. Most will offer 1-2 years free, but after that, you can probably fine a better service plan deal from another authorized vendor in the city after you free service plan runs out. 

https://www.standbypowerhouston.com/

https://www.qualitygenerators.net/

http://www.generatorsupercenter.com/

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  • 2 years later...

We have a 22KW Generac with auto transfer switch that runs on natural gas. It was right at $8500 installed. I’ve had the oil pressure switch go out and had to replace the battery and terminals, but otherwise it’s been good. The only upgrade I made when we bought it was had them install copper cable from the generator to the switch instead of aluminum since it was going to run across the house. I’m not in Houston so I can’t recommend a dealer.

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12 minutes ago, EE2B said:

We have a 22KW Generac with auto transfer switch that runs on natural gas. It was right at $8500 installed. I’ve had the oil pressure switch go out and had to replace the battery and terminals, but otherwise it’s been good. The only upgrade I made when we bought it was had them install copper cable from the generator to the switch instead of aluminum since it was going to run across the house. I’m not in Houston so I can’t recommend a dealer.

Sorry for dumb question but....do you find out oil switch is bad at regular tuneup or when you need it and it won't start?  I'd imagine reliability is key spec on these things 

 

And how old is yours?  Thanks

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We have a 22KW Generac with auto transfer switch that runs on natural gas. It was right at $8500 installed. I’ve had the oil pressure switch go out and had to replace the battery and terminals, but otherwise it’s been good. The only upgrade I made when we bought it was had them install copper cable from the generator to the switch instead of aluminum since it was going to run across the house. I’m not in Houston so I can’t recommend a dealer.

How many hours did it take for that to happen? My mom and stepdad are probably gonna get one soon. I know I am.
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3 hours ago, Hornbeliever said:

Bump.   Anyone have new thoughts on this?   I wouldn't mind buying one if it's a selling point for future home sale etc.

If not,  diesel generator works too.

We were discussing earlier on one of the weather threads.  We are putting one in our new build. Already decided to wire it up for one prior to this week, but seeing how lousy our grid is now, can’t see how it isn’t a wise move.  I doubt we will do a whole house probably enough for refrigeration, couple of HVAC units (we are doing ducted mini splits (not ductless) so smaller draws per unit but as many as 4-5 total for the house), some plugs and lights, water pumps (rain water collection), septic system, water heater. Willing to by pass half the HVAC, and most of the kitchen. With this week though I have to wonder if pool power needs to be factored in. Counter measures include a decent fireplace and ICF concrete walls for superb insulation plus we are half built into a hill. Given all of that, I’m not sure what that load will be but I don’t want to spend $20k. Would love to come in under $10k all in for a critical system back up. Looks possible based on the power specs on some of them but power needs add up quickly. 

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I would consider getting one big enough for everything. I moved into a house with full generator already set up (22kw). I have a 5k sq ft house, 3 ac units, large garage. I’m in Houston area and we have had it come in big time twice now in the last 8 months.

I had to replace the battery this summer (right before outages) but that was easy. I had annual service in October and for some reason, all the service lights were flashing last week. Manual reset cleared it out and we haven’t had any problems this week.

It has run probably 30 hours with no problems this week. Last summer it ran for 3 or 4 days. One day it got overloaded because my wife was doing laundry, had the dishwasher running, and all ac units were full blast. Turned some things off and reset it. No problem.

Last, mine is really quiet. Lady across the street just got one installed last spring and I can hear hers (in her backyard) more than I hear mine (around the back of my garage). Power goes out, 15 second count, generator starts, another second and lights come back on. It sounds like a VW bug starting up, then just hums along.

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I just ordered Tesla Powerwall for the same purpose. I already have solar so it makes more sense than a generator for me. 2 units, 27kwh of storage, quoted 19k installed before tax incentives. So, 14k after tax credit. After this, I consider it worth it. Never really considered it before. 

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Sorry for dumb question but....do you find out oil switch is bad at regular tuneup or when you need it and it won't start?  I'd imagine reliability is key spec on these things 
 
And how old is yours?  Thanks

It quit one day when the power went out. I had the switch ready for them to install when they came out. The manual is pretty good about having all the part numbers and I’ve been able to find everything thus far.
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How many hours did it take for that to happen? My mom and stepdad are probably gonna get one soon. I know I am.

I can’t remember what the hour count was on it. It can’t be that high. If I’m remember correctly you are close to us. We used Nantz Electric and they did a good job for us. They coordinated with the electric and gas folks (meter needed to be changed out for a larger one). I dealt with them and they handled everything else.
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30 minutes ago, Jkwellborn said:

How long does that storage last with normal usage? In a situation like this, how it is being charged up?

I assume this was for me. Will charge it via solar array (or I guess the grid if I wanted to). Baseline for our house without running dryer or charging car is around 14kwh per day (fridges, freezer, tvs, personal electronics, lights, and low air conditioner usage). So, roughly 2 days without serious energy rationing or recharge with solar. But the solar would be producing, even on days like today, so almost certainly would extend longer. And, it could easily be extended much longer with rationing. 

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46 minutes ago, kmac30 said:

So if your house pulled more than solar was producing would it pull off the battery instead of from the grid?

Love this idea and now I want to figure out how I can work this Powerwall.

It could pull from either. Normally you'd want to pull from the grid in that situation as it would be cheaper (dividing the cost over the life time of the unit, I think a powerwall technically costs about 14 to 16 cents a kwh). You have fairly good control over how all that works. The app (from what I've seen) is pretty sleek. 

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13 hours ago, kmac30 said:

I would consider getting one big enough for everything. I moved into a house with full generator already set up (22kw). I have a 5k sq ft house, 3 ac units, large garage. I’m in Houston area and we have had it come in big time twice now in the last 8 months.

I had to replace the battery this summer (right before outages) but that was easy. I had annual service in October and for some reason, all the service lights were flashing last week. Manual reset cleared it out and we haven’t had any problems this week.

It has run probably 30 hours with no problems this week. Last summer it ran for 3 or 4 days. One day it got overloaded because my wife was doing laundry, had the dishwasher running, and all ac units were full blast. Turned some things off and reset it. No problem.

Last, mine is really quiet. Lady across the street just got one installed last spring and I can hear hers (in her backyard) more than I hear mine (around the back of my garage). Power goes out, 15 second count, generator starts, another second and lights come back on. It sounds like a VW bug starting up, then just hums along.

22kW isn’t that much in terms of cost. That’s under $10k for a generac all in.  This one is under $6k plus install.  https://www.generac.com/all-products/generators/home-backup-generators/guardian-series/24kw-7210-prwview-transfer-switch-wifi-enabled

 

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5 hours ago, troph said:

We will have solar in our new place, but with a large propane tank seems like the generator is a better solution than the power wall - both cost and amount of power we can produce over time. 

The main advantages of the powerwall over a generator are how seamlessly/instantly it can transition the power and the lower maintence. Generators are still going to win in pure KW and KWH for the money. 

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Do these home generators have the ability to ramp down if less electricity is needed? For example my small inverter generator has an efficiency mode that lowers the gasoline usage when I’m only running a tv and modem/WiFi off of it. Or are home generators just full speed regardless of the electricity being drawn off of it?

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2 hours ago, Dahobbs said:

The main advantages of the powerwall over a generator are how seamlessly/instantly it can transition the power and the lower maintence. Generators are still going to win in pure KW and KWH for the money. 

Don’t get me wrong I’d prefer both but she gave me that look.  I think the generator will win out.  
 

im actually curious if the generator can back fill a partial load from solar. 

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Do these home generators have the ability to ramp down if less electricity is needed? For example my small inverter generator has an efficiency mode that lowers the gasoline usage when I’m only running a tv and modem/WiFi off of it. Or are home generators just full speed regardless of the electricity being drawn off of it?

Pretty sure all of them have a throttle that automagically adjust when the load increases.
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13 minutes ago, Dahobbs said:

They'd have to, right? 22+kw is a massive amount of power.

I've seen gasoline generators that regardless of the load, they still run at full throttle burning the same amount of gas regardless of the load.  Or at least that is how they appear to run. 

I know natural gas customers in Houston were asked this week to limit natural gas appliance usage. I would assume home generators are not the most efficient. 

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12 minutes ago, Nice Guy Eddie said:

I've seen gasoline generators that regardless of the load, they still run at full throttle burning the same amount of gas regardless of the load.  Or at least that is how they appear to run. 

I know natural gas customers in Houston were asked this week to limit natural gas appliance usage. I would assume home generators are not the most efficient. 

Yes, I've heard 2nd hand of people who had NG generators systems in the Houston area this week that have basically been useless.  I don't fully understand that, nor did the person who told me the story.  Thoughts?

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I haven't noticed my natural gas shutting off this week in Houston. If it did, then wouldn't people need to manually relight some pilots? 

I thought that the request was made to lower overall demand for natural gas. Perhaps the utility company was worried about the ability to deliver NG to everyone's home if there was high demand.

To be clear, I'm not slamming someone from using a whole home generator during an emergency. That's the point of them. Odds are they are also opening their doors to family & friends, so more people are getting use out of it.  But as more and more people seem to get whole home generators, I hope the utility companies takes that into their emergency planning.

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