Electric vs. generator for barn?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Patt, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    The barn is almost done just waiting for the metal to get here for the roof and sides. We were originally going to run a power line down to the barn, electrician quoted us $1,200, he will have to dig a trench to run the line under ground quite a ways.

    So anyhoo we got to wondering if maybe it wouldn't be better to get a generator instead. It will only be powering lights and occasionally tools and such. We have never had a generator though and so I have no idea what one costs, what it costs to run one etc. If you have a link to a site that lines it all out that would be great and also any personal experience.
     
  2. Harry Chickpea

    Harry Chickpea Well-Known Member Supporter

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  3. sandc

    sandc Well-Known Member

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    If all you are going to be running is an occaisional tool and primarily lights, a gen might be a good choice. You have to ask yourself if you really want the noise of a generator everytime you do anything out there. You could get a portable genset and wire a breaker box up so that the power in side was a plug that went to the gen. That way you can take it other places as needed. A basic portable 5500 watt gen can be had on craigslist for around $350 in our area or around $600 new. This would also give you power at the barn during one of our wonderful ice storms that tend to knock power out.

    If it is just a price concern, maybe you can rent a trencher and run the wiring from point A to point B yourself. While you have the trencher you can also look at running trench for any new outdoor faucets you want.

    Another option would be to forget about running tools down at the barn (or go cordless) and add in a solar panel or two with a couple of batteries to run your lights.
     
  4. plowjockey

    plowjockey Well-Known Member

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    Trench and run the wire yourself. Have an electrician connect both ends. Should be much less expensive.

    Firing up a gen, evertime you want lights, would get old, IMO, unless you had no other option, which you do have.
     
  5. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What he said. The electrician might try to make you think you can't do that but it is not true. You can rent a trencher for a hundred bucks and dig the trench in no time.
     
  6. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Well it took us all day to run the water lines with a ditchwitch due to all of our rocks. :) But yeah we can run the trench and wire the barn, we wired our cottage so that's no problem. It's just attaching it to the pole that makes us nervous.

    We don't have a generator yet but it's on our list of things to aquire so we were thinking the barn would be a good place for it. It's going to be general purpose: animals and feed storage plus an office and a work space to work on the trucks and such.
     
  7. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    How deep do you run water lines down there? Wiring only needs to be 2 feet.
     
  8. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Only a foot for water lines. Why does electric have to be 2 feet?
     
  9. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I suppose it depends upon your state, but at 1 foot it would be easy to hit with a roto tiller, shovel, etc.
     
  10. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Fraid not, we have too many rocks. It took a whole day to do water lines with a ditch witch.
     
  11. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    Exactly.
     
  12. Old Vet

    Old Vet Well-Known Member

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    If you get a generator plan on ruining it for 15 minuets each week and use stabil in the gasoline. Other wise you will get ready to use it and find that you can't start it.
     
  13. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    For only a few minutes of light each day and an occasional small power tool you might consider an inverter and 12 volt battery. That would save starting a generator for each use. The battery could be charged with the generator as you power larger tools with more wattage, welder, table saw, etc.

    Cheapest in the long run would be trench and line or since rocky an overhead line on poles. They last decades.
     
  14. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If the barn is not far from the house and with ocassional needs, then an heavy duty extension cord from the house may do.
     
  15. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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    use conduit if you run power, but I would put in power
    and a big enough wire to run a arc welder and compressor if not more if cheaper to do it now instead of redoing it later,

    if you ever need a tank heater or some thing that needs 24/7 power your genreator will be very expensive,
     
  16. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...............Run the power , after all , Your DH might just have too spend a few Cold nights:bouncy: in the barn , lol ! , fordy
     
  17. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7

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    Agree with others .. run the power yourself. So it takes all day. Still it is cheaper than what an electrician would charge.

    We did our home ourselves with the help of our electric company and it only cost us the materials. However, when we ran electricity (and water) out to the barn, out to the shed and way out back to the buck house, we hired a professional. It was quite costly and still wasn't done right. We had to redo some of it and we keep having to turn one of the breakers on just for the light to work in the tool shed. grrrrrrr
     
  18. Witterbound

    Witterbound Well-Known Member

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    A decent generator is probably going to run you at least $600, so running the electric line is going to cost an additonal $600, even if you pay someone to do it. If you go to your barn very often, it's going to be a real pain to start up the generator every time is dark and you want to turn on a light. If there's any way you can afford it, run the electric down there. I've got a separate meter at my barn, so the electick company paid to run the wire down there, then all I had to do was hook it up. The downside of this is every month I have two electic bills, and the barn bill often doesn't meet the minimum...
     
  19. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7

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    Witterbound, the electrician placed a separate breaker box in our barn, running it off the main breaker box that the electric company put up. [The main breaker box had a 200 amp ? line running to it from the electric company's lines. The line from that breaker box to our trailer was 100 amp (not sure if it is called "amp" or something else). The electrician attached a 2nd 100 amp to the main breaker box and ran it to the box he set up in the barn; and from there, breakers were set up to handle lights & outlets to all our out-buildings.] All the lines "between" buildings were buried with the water line 2-1/2' under ground and the lines running "inside" the buildings were placed in conduit.

    This means we only pay ONE electric bill and it has not been any larger than it was before all this outdoor lighting was set up.
     
  20. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Ok so we will just get a back-up generator for the house then and run the electric down to the barn. We don't have any place clear of trees to run a regular line from the pole which is why we need to put it under ground.