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Thread: Home Generators

  1. #1
    awg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Newcastle, NSW

    Default Home Generators

    It might be relevant to enquire if anyone has knowledge/experience of generators for home use when power is blacked out.

    We had 6 days of lost power a while back, when storms bought down hundreds of trees..a real lifestyle eye opener.

    With the heat related problems in SE Oz, would be handy to have one.

    Any opinions, recomendations welcome, I am sure ASIC wont mind.

    I want mine to be movable,(weight?), preferably 4 stroke, and probably capable of 5 to 6 kW.

    That should be enough to run a fridge, small aircon, maybe a computer and a light or 2? ...or is that not enough kW.

    comments about older, cheaper 2 strokes also sought

  2. #2

    Default Re: Home Generators

    good thread.

    I'm interested as well.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Home Generators

    Check out this site for what size you need. - Honda generator FAQ

    Price guide here - Generator Power

    Have you also considered gas or 12V options for certain applications. Just imagine you are camping except at your own home.

  4. #4
    Money can't buy Poverty Glen48's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Re: Home Generators

    I saw a small Genny which was flat out running a Fry pan, Power doesn't seem much until you hook up a genny and load it up.
    I would look for a Cheap Diesel 4 cyl from the Wreckers and get a lecky to wire it up with Circuit breakers.
    With a petrol unit you will be up all night filling it up. Look how much Fuel a mower uses and they are about 4 HP when you could need 15+ HP. Noise will be another prob. You could go all the way and use the Exhaust to heat your water.
    Maybe we all should get on and chill out for a few yrs.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Home Generators

    A fridge uses between 600w and 2kw, depending on size and difference between internal and external - that's peak draw, but you'd need to size according to peak draw that unless you're willing to switch off your computer when the fridge thermostat kicks in.

    Computers draw 300-600, unless you have crazy dual videocard setups, in which case even 1kw is still about the limit

    Small aircon is usually 1.2-2.4kw. (Portable ones anyway)

    You know the limit for light globes.

    So I'd say a 6kw model would do you okay.

    If I had unlimited money, what it'd do is set up a solar array on my roof with a large battery, and a backup generator. That way, I can make use of the solar power when power is good, and reduce my electricity bill/carbon footprint (if you believe such stuff) and you could also charge up the batteries during the day, and use a generator if you drain your batteries too quickly, which should be rarely. Low noise, low fuel, and benefits during good power. What more could you want (aside from it being free).

  6. #6

    Default Re: Home Generators

    I've posted lots on the electricity situation at the moment in the "what temperature..." thread. A large part of Melbourne is blacked out at the moment (literally right now).

    As for the generator, I'd be seriously worried about anything which involves running electronics and an air-conditioner or fridge at the same time from the same generator. The start up current of the fridge or A/C is huge and that's going to do some nasty things to your electronics.

    I would strongly recommend that you run the electronics via an inverter fed from a battery. And have a battery charger of decent output running from the generator keeping the battery charged. That will avoid the nasty fluctuations you'll otherwise get due to the big non-electronic loads on a small generator.

    As for size and type, it depends on what you want it to do. If you just want to run the computer then you won't need much power at all. 1kW will be plenty.

    But if you wanted to run an electric hot water cylinder, for example, then that will be up to 6kW just for the water heater.

    If you wanted to run an electric oven and cooktop then you're looking at somewhere around 12kW just for that.

    So, lights etc very little load and much the same with electronics. Anything that produces heat (kettle, oven etc) will use a lot of power.

    Most homes would have the equivalent of 15 or 19kW (depending on age) available from the mains and that is generally more than enough. If you had, say, 8kW then that will be fine as long as you're not running electric hot water, cooking or big heaters (you could put the hot water on, just don't do it when you're also using a lot for other purposes - the grid works on the same principle with off-peak hot water).

    How much fuel? As a rough guide, expect to get about 1.5kWh from a litre of two stroke fuel at the most. So running 6kW will be 4 litres an hour. A 4 stroke will use less, but still expect 3 litres an hour for 6 kW. For a diesel, expect around 2 litres an hour for 6kW. Those figures are obviously very approximate.

    Lots of other considerations too. Noise is a big one if you're in a residential area since cheap petrol generators generally sound like lawn mowers. Fumes may be an issue too if you're in a flat etc - obviously the generator is put outside but your neighbours may not be happy with petrol fumes if they like the windows open (but if you let them plug a few things in they probably won't complain...).

    Also, how long do you want it to run for? If you just wanted to keep your computer going during a rolling blackout then a battery and inverter would be an easier option than a generator. Obviously that's different if you're looking for 24+ hours running the whole house.

    Cheapest new units are generally about 0.85kW running on two stroke. You'll find them for $99 on sale at times.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Home Generators

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf1976 View Post
    I've posted lots on the electricity situation at the moment in the "what temperature..." thread. A large part of Melbourne is blacked out at the moment (literally right now).
    I can`t believe a capital city is blacked out at the moment.Maybe because up here in Qld. it only happens rarely during severe storms or even rarer from industrial strike action.

    Lots of other considerations too. Noise is a big one if you're in a residential area since cheap petrol generators generally sound like lawn mowers.
    Lol, noise and exhaust fumes would be extremely annoying.
    Never let anyone dictate your life path.

  8. #8
    The Contrarian Averager So_Cynical's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Sydney - Muntinlupa

    Default Re: Home Generators

    If u want to plug the house in...you'll need about 8 KVA to run the minimum fridge,
    freezer, tv, 3 lights, small aircon, etc...and ear plugs for the family or stereo on full.
    Statistics: 172 Closed Trades since July 07, Trades: Winners 135 - Losers 37, Expectancy/$1 Risked: $0.78

  9. #9

    Default Re: Home Generators

    If anyone's interested our little 850w 2 stroke camping generator ran our plasma, Foxtel and a small fan last night for about 5 hours during the blackout down here due to 2 main feeder lines going down at about 6.00pm.

    Its was very weird having 3/4 of our city in darkness and also running the gauntlet driving through the city with no traffics lights was an experience.

    More importantly we used bagged ice to cool the liquid refreshments and the kids had a great game of murder in dark...

    As these blackouts are getting more prevalent I will be getting a 6.5hp 4 stroke generator and have it setup properly by my sparky mate.

    I also like smurf's inverter idea for low wattage appliances which can also be run off your car battery if needed.
    Last edited by glenn_r; 31st-January-2009 at 08:30 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Home Generators

    Thx for the replies, got some good ideas, specially Smurf.

    I am trade qualified in electronics and can install & maintain much equipment.

    Should have clarified that I also want to use the unit occasionally on my rural block, so weight and portability was an issue, hence the 6kW models are probably the heaviest I can move.

    When we had no power for 6 days consecutive, it blows your mind, so my ideal compromise set-up would be. (This is only for the most basic existence)

    * 6kw 4-stroke gen ( for the heavy stuff)+

    * solar panels ( unsure of wattage/price) (for the luxuries)+

    * invertors running off 12v car batteries ( I keep 4 to 6 for all my cars), (these for computers for voltage stability)

    If i had no portability issues, I would go for an older, larger model..you can sometimes get old ones real cheap, I once got offered to buy a 100kW+ unit, with huge diesel engine, for scrap value.

    I'm a bit tempted to go for one of those ex-army sets, or similar, if I can find one at the right price..will have to do more research...they could be hard-wired in and run the lot.

    You have to maintain them regularly whatever size & age you get, as they wont run on old fuel, and the small carburettors tend to require re-kitting, especially if not used often!

    I insofar as noise re neighbours, offer them an extension cable for a loan to cook diner, also additional muffling of the motor would be sensible and practical in a good installation.

    Some fellows I am accquainted with hold various positions within the electricity industry, they are all unanimous that planning and infrastructure building and maintenance standards are declining.

    This would suggest the chance of more blackouts in the future

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