The material presented on this page is intended to start you thinking about what you can do today that might someday save your life. If nothing else, our "Tip o' da Week" might just make your life a bit easier when a disaster strikes. We do not present topics that cost a lot of money (like structure reinforcement.) These are "do it yourself" projects and are relatively inexpensive.
Introducing the Hatsuden Nabe
Part One may be viewed from this link.
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In the last episode we talked about generators. If you have decided that you need one, we're sure you have a few questions like:
The Data below is far from complete, but will give you an idea of the tradeoffs between power, run time, and volume levels.
Watts: Watts out: Run time/gal: Motor Size: Volts: Amps: $ Brand: Model: Note: Rating Continuous 1000 900 3.8 hour/gal ? 120,12 7,8 $ 700 H EX1000 X Q 1400 ? ? ? 120,12 ? ,8 $ 750 H EG1400 X Q 1750 1400 5.5 hour/gal 3 Horse 120,12 14,15 $ 550 C 1750 X 1800 1400 ? 5.5 Horse 120,12 12,8 $ 900 H EM1800 X 2500 2100 3.0 5.5 120,12 17,8 $ 950 H EG2500 X 2500 2300 3.1 5.5 Horse 120,12 17,8 $1100 H EM2500 X 3000 2250 1.1 5 Horse 120 19 $ 350 C 2250 L 3500 3000 2.1 8 Horse 120,240 29,14 $1200 H EG3500 X 4000 3250 3.0 6 Horse 120,240 27,13 $ 700 G G4000 5000 4000 3.4 7.8 Horse 120,240 33,17 $ 850 G G4000XL ER X 5000 4000 ? 8 Horse 120,240 33,16 $ 450 C 4000 L 5000 ? 0.8 11 Horse 120,240 21,8 $2100 H EM5000 ER X 5750 4600 1.3 9 Horse 120,240 38,19 $ 600 C 4600ER ER 6250 5000 0.83 Hour/gal 10 Horse 120,240 41,20 $ 650 C 5000 L 6250 5000 0.75 hour/gal 10 Horse 120.240 41,20 $1000 C 5000ER ER X C=Coleman Powermate H=Honda G=Generac ER=Extended run, 5 gal tank X=extras like low oil shutdown, quieter, electric start, etc. Hard to tell the whole story! Q=quiet L=loud!
We have not included data for Generators exceeding 10 Horse Power.
First off, if you have ever taken a look at a generator you will find an outlet like shown. It looks exactly like your wall outlet doesn't it? In fact, it is! If the generator is a 240 volt model, it will also have a another outlet for the 240 volt power. The generator will also have a circuit breaker with a push-button reset.
Notice that the plug on the generator is intended to have devices plugged into it. Also notice that it is a socket, meaning that the connections are protected from accidental contact. The rule is that if power can be supplied at a connection, the supplying connector is a socket. Notice that on your appliances, the connector is a plug (since it doesn't supply power).
There are only two safe ways I know of to get the power into your house.
The easiest way is to use an extension cord. But there are two critical notes you need to know about using extension cords.
|Max length of wire in feet for 120 volt, 2% max voltage drop allowed|
|Current and power for 120 VOLT||Max extension cord length for given wire size|
|Max length of wire in feet for 240 volt, 2% max voltage drop allowed|
|Current and power for 240 VOLT||Max extension cord length for given wire size|
From the above tables, a few things should be pointed out:
Voltage drop can be calculated using Ohm's Law which is given by... Voltage drop = Current (amps) x Resistance (Ohms).
Let's take an example where you might want to use a 200 foot, 14 gage extension cord to run a 1000 Watt flood lamp:
A 3.6% voltage drop is above our recommended 2% max voltage drop given in the table above (for 120 volt). Either the wattage of the lamp must be reduced, or a larger size wire (12 gage) must be used. The larger size wire has less resistance per foot, so the voltage drop will be less.
The only safe way to power items in your house without using an extension cord is to have a Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT) transfer switch and sub panel installed. It's an expensive proposition, but is the only legal way to connect a generator to your house wiring!
The diagram shows the addition of the DPDT transfer switch. Note that the loads you have determined to be necessary in an emergency must be moved from the main breaker to the sub panel. When the transfer switch is in the normal position, power is routed through the switch to the circuits attached to the sub panel.
When power is lost and generator power is to be used, notice that the switch must be moved to the "generator as source" position. Once the switch is moved, the desired loads may get power from the generator connection. Even if main power is restored, the desired loads are isolated, and will continue to receive power from the generator until the switch is returned to the normal position.
Notice that there is a special connector shown on the diagram. This is the only place that you will find a plug with exposed contacts mounted on a piece of equipment in your house (except your computer). It is a connector that is panel mounted with a recessed set of male contacts (like a plug, not a socket). Remember from the text above that anything that can be the source of power has a socket. Since the opposite ends of the transfer switch are wire to connector and the source in the main breaker panel, the connector can never be delivered power from the main.
We are going to quickly mention a very dangerous method for connecting your generator to items in your house. Our intent is to discourage you from this practice!
This unit, from my personal emergency supplies, is a 500 Watt Honda. It's an oldie, but a goodie. This is a VERY quiet model and it eats like a bird. The power output is low, but the operating hours per gallon of gas makes it look like a perpetual motion machine!
The cost of a small generator like this one is about $500-$600. You pay a high price for the low noise levels. Now, just to make you sick, I wanted to tell you what I paid for this generator. I bought it from a guy who had it sitting in his scrap pile behind his house. He told me that a friend gave it to him because it needed a new motor. He priced a new motor and decided it was going to cost too much. I bought it from him for $10, and took it home to determine what could be salvaged from it. I found that it had a large rust hole in the gas tank, the carburetor jets were clogged, and the float bowl was full of rust chunks. A few hours later, it was up and running!
Now this little generator is nothing fancy, and requires the user to adjust the output frequency when it is first started, but I think the inconvenience is worth the $490-$590 dollar savings!
Several years ago, I was in a store looking at the Coleman 2250 generator, when an old man mentioned that he had a generator he wanted to sell. He was a Ham radio operator, and had used an old Heath 1000 Watt generator for emergency power for his Ham gear. He said he wanted $150 for it and I went over to take a look. I eventually decided that I wanted the 2250 Watt generator for several reasons, but the point is that you CAN find a deal on a used one if you try.
I remember sanding in the gas line in Princeville on the island of Kauai the morning that Hurricane Iniki was about to hit. A man pulled up in a truck and was trying to sell a generator to the folks in line for gas. There were no takers! After Iniki, the island was without power for 3 months. I wonder if that man sold his generator that morning and if he regretted it?
This is what I think is a "great buy", from the table above. It's a Coleman 2250, and runs for about 1 hour per gallon of gas. For about $350 on sale, it provides big bang for the buck. However, I use the small generator if at all possible. Fuel is a major concern, but sometimes you really need the juice. I sized this generator so I could run a 7 inch circular saw if needed for making emergency repairs to my house.
Notice the modifications that were necessary to keep the neighbors happy. This generator is VERY loud. You pay a premium price for silence, and although this is a great value ($/Watt), the stock unit will cause you (and your neighbors) to go deaf! What?
I added some pipes, and a small car muffler to help reduce the noise. Also note the addition of a set of wheels and "move handles." These additions added up to another $75 or so but were worth it!
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