Master thread for disasters and generators.

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dmenezes

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Oct 23, 2020
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An update for those using my numbers of 60% increase in my electric bill to estimate break even time for solar!
I was able to find a new 3 year contract at only 33% increase and a cancellation fee of only $49.00. Once the war in Europe is over I expect the prices will drop and I will switch to a better contract with a more highly rated company.

Congrats on the new contract! Everything considered, sounds like quite a deal!

With the price of gasoline predicted to continue increasing over the foreseeable future, the little Honda EU2200i generator is looking better and better.
Won't the gas price also go down once Putin gets his a$$ kicked out of Ukraine?
 
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Bob2650

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The commodities market price of natural gas was 2.418 almost three years ago when I made the last contract and yesterday it was 8.34 so yes +33% hurts but it is a lot better price than I would find if the electric utility companies expected natural gas prices to stay high. Almost half of our electricity in Texas comes from burning natural gas. The increase in natural gas cost probably requires us to re-compute the feasibility of running a whole house generator on natural gas. Return on the investment becomes less important than the convenience of not hauling gasoline versus the ease of repair/replacement and flexibility of a more portable system. I suspect using less electricity when on a generator has become a lot more important to most of us than which fuel we use. The cheapest regular gasoline contaminated with alcohol was $4.39 this morning in my area. It is a lot higher in many places.
 
idleprocess

idleprocess

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I suspect using less electricity when on a generator has become a lot more important to most of us than which fuel we use.
A common line of thinking when considering offgrid living is that it's easier - and cheaper - to save a watt than produce a watt.

Even if not taking the minimalist route, In my casual research it's become apparent that a soft-start modification for HVAC compressors is an obvious way to save on both the capital expense of oversizing a generator to meet startup loads as well as saving considerable fuel when running due to using a smaller overall unit.
 
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Bob2650

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The kind of soft start mod that is an additional start capacitor and relay is something I have never used but it looks very good on paper. Anything that can reduce the start current can be very good.
The thing that makes me nervous about generators and AC start-up surge current is burning up either the generator or compressor. This can happen even when the generator should be big enough according to the generator specs. The theoretical ideal power supply will have zero impedance. This means that the voltage will not go down when a high current load is applied. Of course this does not exist in the real world but the power company does a fair imitation of that. The voltage of the generators we might use for a whole house gen set will sag quite a bit compared to the power company voltage when starting up the biggest load it was sized for. An extension cord on a portable generator makes this sag worse, sometimes very much worse. That is impossible to avoid because you absolutely must get the generator out away from your house because of the carbon monoxide. I use wire rated at double or more the generator's rated current for the given length or wire; 10 gauge wire for the 15 amp Honda and a 6 gauge SO wire snake for my larger gas hog portable generator. The typical "large" portable generator trying to start something rated at half of the generator capacity is going to be really pushing the issue. This extremely brief sag in voltage makes it harder for the motor to get going and the extra time spent in start conditions can put tremendous stress on an AC compressor or other larger motor like a well pump. Over time a lot of cycles will take a toll in reduced lifespan of the equipment.
A variable frequency inverter on the air conditioner compressor motor eliminates most of the start-up surge problem. I have 27 years experience working with industrial variable frequency drive inverters.
 
BVH

BVH

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My compressor soft start device lowered the original 121 Surge Amps to 58 Amps. No negative effects yet after 2 years. It's a 4-ton, side yard style condenser/compressor unit.
 
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Poppy

Poppy

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I am enjoying this thread, there is always something to learn.

As fuel prices rise, I agree, that it may be prudent to reduce the load/watts thereby reducing the amount of fuel needed to create those watts.

In my house the largest single electrical load would be for air conditioning. I opted to go with a 120V inverter unit that will not supply 220/240V to my central AC. It will however power a window 120V unit.

If there is a power outage during the summer, we'll live in 1/3rd of the house (block it off from the rest), Maybe only 1/4th of the house, and still be comfortable. So... we'll sleep in the family room. That's much better than a tent!

I suspect that the AC unit, once it gets started, it won't cycle on and off very often because it will be undersized for the demands put upon it. The next time I buy an AC unit, I am pretty sure that it will be a inverter unit. It just makes sense.
 
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dmenezes

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I am enjoying this thread, there is always something to learn.

Ditto, impressive how technically adept and knowledgeable many people here are, even on subjects quite distant from flashlights.

As fuel prices rise, I agree, that it may be prudent to reduce the load/watts thereby reducing the amount of fuel needed to create those watts.

Tell me about it. I live off-grid and right now I'm using a Raspberry 4 with a "portable LCD" plus USB mouse+keyboard and averaging 12W instead of my main (and decidedly much more capable) computer which I've clocked at 60W, also average. 48W saved looks like small potatoes until you start to consider all the hours and days it's used, then even small savings start to pile up.

In my house the largest single electrical load would be for air conditioning. I opted to go with a 120V inverter unit that will not supply 220/240V to my central AC. It will however power a window 120V unit.

If there is a power outage during the summer, we'll live in 1/3rd of the house (block it off from the rest), Maybe only 1/4th of the house, and still be comfortable. So... we'll sleep in the family room. That's much better than a tent!

I suspect that the AC unit, once it gets started, it won't cycle on and off very often because it will be undersized for the demands put upon it. The next time I buy an AC unit, I am pretty sure that it will be a inverter unit. It just makes sense.

My AC is diesel-powered -- meaning when the weather turns too warm, I turn the ignition on my motorhome and drive to somewhere cooler ;-) which in Chile is never too far away (the Andes are always within a 300km drive, and then I just have to choose how high I want to go).

But regarding capacitors: my heaviest 'unavoidable' appliance here is the refrigerator; last year I replaced the malfunctioning propane refrigerator that came with the motorhome for a residential model, and it used an average of 60W. Investigating matters a little, I found out it had no running capacitor and thus presented a very inefficient power factor of 0.6. I researched it a little more and learned how to calculate the needed capacitor to correct the PF, and an Amazon purchase and USD 9 after I had the capacitor which corrected it to 0.96 and thus saved me over 1/3 of the used capacity. Been literally a much happier camper since then :)
 
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