Master thread for disasters and generators.

dmenezes

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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?
 

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

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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.
 

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

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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

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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.
 

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 :)
 

idleprocess

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+

I.P

Any updates on your gen. doghouse?
No progress since February. But now that it's July I can party like it's 2018 (when I wisely decided to scratch-design and build a shed solo in the summer) and maybe finish it up. I've got 120V AC fans in stock that should offer some >10x the minimum airflow and last I checked lumber had dropped to more reasonable price levels so maybe I should stop waiting for the treated plywood to warp even more.
 

Poppy

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Yesterday I wanted to start my 3500 watt harbor freight predator inverter generator for its periodic checkup. The battery was dead, again! Last year it was dead, and I pulled it and put it on charge, and kept it indoors all winter.

Fortunately it has a pull start, and she started right up.

I wonder... do these units typically have a parasitic drain?
The unit is only two years old. I am thinking that the battery should be about the same age.
 

Poppy

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What is the brand of battery that is in the unit? Quality varies wildly.
IDK scout24. Whatever came with it.

After I started the unit yesterday, I let it run for about 30 minutes. During that time it would have put at least a partial charge into the battery. For giggles, I just went out to see if it would start by way of the battery. At first I thought that the battery was still dead, but then I pushed a little harder and depressed the start switch a little further and the battery cranked the engine and it started.

So now, I don't know if it was operator error, and I didn't depress the switch enough the first time, OR if the battery WAS dead, and it took a partial charge as stated above.
 

dmenezes

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The battery was dead, again! Last year it was dead, and I pulled it and put it on charge, and kept it indoors all winter.
Regardless of parasitic drain from the generator, every battery suffers from self-discharge.

AFAIK, it's not recommended to leave a SLA battery idle for more than 6 months without recharging it.
 

Lynx_Arc

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Yesterday I wanted to start my 3500 watt harbor freight predator inverter generator for its periodic checkup. The battery was dead, again! Last year it was dead, and I pulled it and put it on charge, and kept it indoors all winter.

Fortunately it has a pull start, and she started right up.

I wonder... do these units typically have a parasitic drain?
The unit is only two years old. I am thinking that the battery should be about the same age.
Shouldn't be any drain at all for a generator. A voltmeter check should be done and battery terminals inspected. I just fougnt a starting problem with my car that had both terminals in the end needing total cleaning to fix it and a squirt of lithium grease on them to fight corrosion.
 

idleprocess

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The battery was dead, again! Last year it was dead, and I pulled it and put it on charge, and kept it indoors all winter.
Regardless of parasitic drain from the generator, every battery suffers from self-discharge.

AFAIK, it's not recommended to leave a SLA battery idle for more than 6 months without recharging it.
Trickle-charging is strongly recommended for SLAs in standby operation. Heck, one of the bigger Westinghouse inverter generators features a port for an external trickle-charging AC brick they include with the unit.

A quick scan of the Predator 3500 manual doesn't indicate whether or not the generator recharges the starting battery while running. Might be worth investing in a battery tender and a harness to allow for charge maintenance while inside the unit.
 

turbodog

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SLA is not as bad a flooded/wet battery, but it's still enough to warrant trickle charge.

Most engine charging circuits don't do such a great job keeping a battery in 'top' shape.

I'd trickle charge and still run the unit every 3-6 months.

[From Wikipedia]:
1658075052234.png
 

sledhead

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Not sure if its been mentioned here so…
Honda has a new eu3200i that was released. More power, less weight and has fuel injection, A little pricy as all Honda’s are but well worth it.
 

dmenezes

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Not sure if its been mentioned here so…
Honda has a new eu3200i that was released. More power, less weight and has fuel injection, A little pricy as all Honda’s are but well worth it.

I'd *love* something like that for the fuel injection, if only it was 1000W-or-so sized. 3200W is way too much more than I need or even can use, and the added cost and size and weight and gas usage compared to an EU10i makes it really prohibitive for my case :-(

Come ON, Honda! Are you listening? :)
 

fulee9999

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this topic just became very relevant to me as the electrican team is currently building the generator line for our home power supply, meaning we'll be able to manually switch from grid power to diesel power
also on this topic, if someone in europe want to sell a good used diesel generator hit me up :D
 
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