What kind of generator?

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Ok...I've finally become informed of the Y2K bug. I've just found this site, and frankly, I don't even know where to start or what to do! It seems to me that a generator should be my first priority. But what kind? How big? We live in a rural area with a well for water, but we need power to operate it, and power to operate our propane furnance. Any experts out there who can give me some advise on what type of generator to buy, and where to find one? Thanks!

-- Sheila Ross (sross@bconnex.net), June 13, 1998


China Diesel, baby!

www.chinadiesel.com I think. Their generators sip fuel, are noisy, and last a long, long time.

There's a book about them written by a guy who lives in OR and has run an entire house + office + shop all 110V for ten years now. It's called "More Power To You!" by H. Skipper Thomsen (c) 1990

- ken

hell, I'd get one. keep in mind they are backlogged.

-- Ken (k150@yahoo.com), June 13, 1998.

You'll get two answers......propane, or diesel. Propane advocates note that propane can be kept indefinitely, whereas diesel fuel has a lifetime of from 1 to 2 years, depending on who you believe.

A diesel generator is like the energizer bunny, on and on, and on. A good one -- and China Diesel is a good one, as well as being about the least expensive one -- doesn't use much fuel. A 500 gallon oil heating tank will last a long, long time.

Gas generators are cheaper. If you believe this will all be over in a month, it's the cheap way to go.

I don't, so I went diesel.

You can get diesels through

Northern PO Box 1499 Burnsville, MN 55337-0499 1-800-533-5545 http://www.northern-online.com

or China Diesel 15749 Lyons Valley Road, Jamul, CA 91935 http://www.chinadiesel.com 619-669-1995

China Diesel is now backordered 6 months on their 8 KW unit. Suggest you get in line. That will still get you the unit by January of 1999.

-- Rocky Knolls (rknolls@hotmail.com), June 13, 1998.

ANYONE KNOW ABOUT THERMOELECTRIC GENERATORS? The dealer info says they run on long-lived propane, create useful waste heat, are very silent (in contrast to diesel) and supposedly have no moving parts which makes them like diesels in term of low maintenance. Anyone have actual experience of them? Thanks, Charlie

-- Charles Michael (charliecmt@hotmail.com), June 14, 1998.

Dissel is definitely preferable for long-term use, but a friend asked me the other day about the noisy and short-lived, but cheap, gasoline generators. Frankly, I don't know the difference between a Honda and a Coleman in that category. Anyone have any recommendations/suggestions?

-- J.D. Clark (yankeejdc@aol.com), June 14, 1998.

All that I know is that the Honda salesmen call Coleman "disposable generators."

-- Rocky Knolls (rknolls@hotmail.com), June 14, 1998.

If you have a tractor they used to make generators that ran off of the PTO. Heck any good farmer can get a PTO transfer and hook it to a generator. Mount the generator on a small trailer and there you have it. Ie. if you have a tractor you already own the diesel half of the generator. If you don't have a small tractor (or even a big one then maybe you ought to think about having one they can be mighty useful for other things.

-- Paul Cordes (latemarch@usa.net), June 14, 1998.

I Have a background in the Electrical field and I would like to address the Tractor PTO type generator. I think connecting a generator to an existing tractor is a good Idea, but there is some further considerations before you purchase. 1.) What is your electrical needs, how many KW will you need? 2.) If your Kilowatt requirements are low and your Tractor is large then will you run effectient or will you consume a large amount of fuel. Fuel may be as scarce as generators then and you may want to run lean. 3.)You need to match the PTO RPMs to the rate RPMs of the Alternator. The alternator must turn at a predetermined speed that is determine by the number of magnetic poles and the require frequency and that should be 60Hz 4.)Inorder to set the correct RPMs for 60Hz you need a frequency meter or if you know the set RPMs and have a tach. that will work also. How about Methane Digesters and a gas generator set? Just feed it your Organics.

-- Larry Hays (redhillslake@onlinemac.com), June 14, 1998.

On generators that run off a tractor PTO, I've seen a 20KW Generac unit that was new a few years ago. Tractors usually have a tach with a mark on it that shows the proper RPM for PTO use -- the generator is designed to run at that RPM (usually 540 at the PTO shaft).

What kind for Y2K? For intermittent outages, a gasoline generator will be fine. If you're expecting long-term or permanent outages, you're probably better off using a generator to wean yourself and your family off electricity altogether.

Fuel, especially in rural areas, might be put to better use for transportation. In an urban area, the noise a generator makes would attract attention. My opinion, you're better off looking at alternate ways of making heat (wood stove) and light (candles, lanterns). If you're a diabetic, refrigeration is a must for keeping insulin; propane refrigerators are still available.

-- Larry Kollar (lekollar@nyx.net), June 17, 1998.

I went w/a friend (who is totally "off the grid" and recommends going solar panels, as he has done) to look at generators at Sears. I got one their "Power and Hand Tools" catalogs which has a section on generators and lists the am't of wattage for the most common electric appliances. (I'm sure there are more xtensive lists elsewhere). The gasoline generator prices were not as high as I xpected.

Of course, one must decide how many appliances they wish to operate, add up the total wattage they need and then buy the appropriate generator to produce the energy needed. It seems that most gasoline generators use a lot of gas. How much can you store? Haven't looked into propane yet - like prices for the tank and the propane, compared to the same for gasoline.

My friend says that Honda generators are very good and are quieter than most other brands; he says I should be sure the generator is also DC so that I can use a battery charger for rechargeable batteries for flashlites, etc.

The big energy user is the fridge. You could move north where they still cut hunks of ice for the old-time ice boxes - and take lots of warm clothes. Or, you could move to Hawaii, where you don't need to heat or cool your house, and you could get a smaller generator just for the fridge and a couple of light bulbs - assuming you can survive w/out your TV, VCR, Microwave, electric can opener, electric toothbrush and, horrors of horrors - your computer....

Incidentally, a good company for environmentally-oriented products, and energy-conserving products, is "Real Goods" in Ukiah, Cal.

tamie smith

-- tamie smith (tasmith@nm-us.campus.mci.net), June 18, 1998.

First rule is don't pay retail! There are still lots of used industrial quality generators out there if you are near a large metropolitan area. If you are not get a hold of the "Buy-n-Sell" type want adds or "Little Nickel" if you are out West. Find out which ones are online, get online and search for "generator" of course RV's will come up skip through all those and you will be amazed at what you will find. Used gasoline or Propane RV generators are a good choice. I have a 6.5 KW Onan which I will convert to Propane for about $350 with a kit from Northern. I have looked at no less than five used generators in the last month from $2,000 to $5,500. None smaller than 15KW all had 3 Phase capability, one was 30KW on a trailer converted to propane and an ultra quiet muffler system. I have 3 generators one is fixer the other is a 800 watt mini 2 stroke that is smaller and weighs less than a 12 volt battery. It is indispensible if a vehicle or a boat needs a 12 volt jump start and you can't get another vehicle close to it. It will put out 12 or 110 volts for on hour on 16 ounces of mixed fuel. Very handy to have.

-- Douglas V. Dorsey (Douglas.Dorsey@PSS.boeing.com), June 19, 1998.

The discussion here so far has been very good, but something that has been left out is the design of the generator. Almost all of the generators that are sold at places like Sears are designed for occassional use -- that is, when the power goes off for a day or two. Their engines run at 3600 rpm and they are not designed to provide power on a continuous use basis. If you are expecting a long-term power outage, you need to buy a generator like China Diesel sells: a continuous use generator that runs at 1800 rpm. Both Kohler and Onan make excellent generators that fit into this category, if you're not inclined to wait 6 months for a China Diesel. Both propane and diesel (but not gasoline) are good choices for such a generator, but since you are going to be storing propane anyway for your furnace, it would make sense to get a propane generator.

-- Ryan Booth (ryanbooth@hotmail.com), July 04, 1998.

This is an old thread being resurrected - Question: I'm in the market for a small generator for occasional use (table saw, general construction tools for post Y2K repairs & remodel around the house for self and neighbors).

In the classified I found an Onan, 4000W, 3 phase, propane.

Can this 3 phase be used for the purposes I outlined above?

Thanks in advance.

-- PJ (Just@here.com), February 19, 1999.


Yeah, I see no reason why not. You may have to rewire the genny's output, but a call to Onan will tell you that. My China diesel is the 8 kw, last Feb, I was going to buy the 23kw and the sales rep there informed me that it had 3 phase capability which is nice cause you can sometimes find 3 phase tools cheap. The point is I did not HAVE to use it that way.

Good Luck,


-- Will Huett (willhuett@usa.net), February 19, 1999.

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