Help/Advice/Experience, or all 3!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by dmarie, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. dmarie

    dmarie Well-Known Member

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    Hi there:
    I posted a similar request a while back but no response, so will try this site.
    On Monday a microburst went through this area. While it was not confirmed as a tornado it did as much damage in the 20 minutes as one--very scary, especially since I alone while dh was away!
    Anyway--here we are almost 48 hours with power restored. So, here is the question(s) due to our power being out several times a year, we have tossed around the idea of finally biting the bullet and investing in a generator. How many of you own one? Neighbours up the road had theirs on for the past 2 days and the noise of it almost drove me crazy! Are there quieter ones?
    While I'm at it how many of you have solar? or compost toilet? etc. etc. I am weary of depending on the utility companies, not to mention the cost!
    Would sure appreciate anyone's comments and thank you so much in advance!
    donna (northern Ontario)
     
  2. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

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    Composting toilet is a good idea, especially for Northern Ontario where the shield makes septic systems a nightmare.... There is a thread on these somewhere on HT, do a search. I think it might be called "Septic vs. Composting Toilets".

    I hate generators and their noise. Assuming that you do not want to go totally alternative energy due to the set-up cost, my philosophy is to have a wood stove as back up heat so no one freezes to death, or the pipes burst. As for all the rest of it, power outages aren't frequent enough or long enough to really make extensive back-up systems worth it. If you are exceptionally isolated, that might be another matter. Then a generator might make sense, but someone else would have to give you advice on that...
     

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What are you wanting to keep running during outage? How much wattage?

    Inverters can be purchased and used off of you car battery (while running)....the higher the wattage the more money...$100USD will get you a substantial inverter and most vehicles are quiet if the muffler is properly installed

    So I own a 400w inverter...$40USD
    I own a Xantrax600 powerpack (rechargable 3 reg outlets) $160
    I have a 15w solar panel $80
    I have a jumpstarter/tire inflator($50) that can be tied in series w/ Xantrex

    And we have a last resort 1500w Coleman gas generator that can be backfed thru the dryer electrical receptical. The thing is so loud it will wake up the dead :rolleyes: Cost $500

    All have earned their keep IMO...I dont like open flames or lamp oil fumes.
     
  4. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I own one of the light towers like you see at construction sites and highway repair areas. It has a Kubota diesel engine and the generator makes 6600 watts at 110/220 volts. It is self contained with proper monitoring equipment and is designed to run 24/7 and is portable as it is mounted on a trailer. This complete device sold at auction for $700. This is a great way to get an affordable generator and one that should last forever as a backup. I can power up anything here on the farm that I feel is essential with its output. Since the engine has a full car size muffler the noise is minimal.
     
  5. davaseco

    davaseco HERE chickie-chick-chick

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    We have a generator as a back-up. Yes, there ARE quiet ones. In our experience the HONDA generators are the quietest. Granted they are more expensive, but they are quiet. We have a Briggs also. A little louder than the Honda, not deafening loud like some, but a whole lot cheaper.
    Beggers can't be choosers in rough times. I'll take loud over nothing at all. been there...done BOTH.
     
  6. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    Owen Co., Indiana
    There are quiet mufflers available for most generators...the construction kind that are simple and loud. They'll run you almost $100. Most real back-up generators are quiet. One of these days I'm going to salvage the generator out of an old R.V. it's quiet enough, you can easily sleep with it running right in the R.V.
     
  7. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    If youre just using it for the fridge and freezer it doesnt have to run all the time anyway. A little noise is better than losing all your food. Mine is 5500 watts and is no louder than a riding mower. Where you locate it has a lot to do with how loud it sounds inside. During Hurricane Floyd the power was out here for over a week. Generator noises sounded comforting to everyone around here then
     
  8. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I have never heard of backfeeding through the dryer plug. Is it safe? Do you have some sort of internal link so you don't backfeed into the power lines and zap someone?
     
  9. LagoVistaFarm

    LagoVistaFarm Well-Known Member

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    "I have never heard of backfeeding through the dryer plug. Is it safe? Do you have some sort of internal link so you don't backfeed into the power lines and zap someone?

    The main feed/breaker needs to be off. If not its a mess if the power comes back on. I think a check list would be in order.

    BTW Bob did you read Joel Salatin's new article on Turkeys?
     
  10. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Nope, got a link?
     
  11. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    I use 8 trojan L-16 batteries,about 1600.00-1700.00 nowadays.A heart 458 inverter/charger 2000 watt mod sine wave,about 600 dollars.Ive run about 3 days with it without problem,I recharge off the grid.We seriously conserved though,one light/tv and sat and freezer/refer.

    Got a honda eu-2000 recently to back it up, 2000 watt max genny(1600 continuous,i forget),quietest genny out there(hate genny noise),about 900 or so on ebay IIRC,so I can charge up,or use its power directly on anything that must have pure sine wave,like a digital controlled something.

    Agmantoo has the best genny of all IMHO,Ive been looking,they dont go for 700 here,he got a super deal on a super genny.You ever see one reasonably priced,grab it,they are awesome.

    Here is a good link showing some systems posters have
    http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=126457

    BooBoo
     
  12. littledoe

    littledoe Well-Known Member

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    Our Briggs is very loud, but most affordable for us. I'd love to have some solar panels. One day :rolleyes: My wonderful husband kept the generator running for thirteen days during hurricane Rita so I (5 months pregnant at the time) could have a window unit air conditioner. I didn't even ask him to do that...such a thoughtful guy. Cooking on a two burner propane stove for a family of six was fun, though. :) We actually did get a kick out of the whole family living in one tiny room together. That said...he changed the oil on that generator frequently.
    This is a must to keep them running smoothly. Lots of people complained about their generators burning up during the hurricane outage. Come to find out, they were running them for extended periods without changing oil.

    Malissa
     
  13. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband is a salesman of plumbing heating and electrical and holds a Master oil burner license and a Journeyman plumbing license....one of his electrical customers/contractor told him to do it that way...(we got rid of the clothes dryer years ago and it is convenient to use the receptical)

    all breakers are off....it is backfed and because it wont run both the furnace and water pump(draws too much for generator)....first we run the water to fill hot water tank (boilermate-works as a seperate zone on furnace) then the furnace breaker is turned on to heat water/HWBB...then switch back to water pump and washing machine

    I must also say that we use a homemade superduty type extension cord built specifically for said purpose. And the generator was not left running for more than three hours....after we showered did laundry the fridge/freezers were given a couple hours of juice.
     
  14. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have a generator also that we keep for back up. I hate the noise as well, but we don't run it for more then a couple hours at a time when we need to. Just long enough to keep the fridge, freezer cold. We also have it wired into the well pump so during the time that it's on we can at least flush the toilets, water the critters and store water for our own use. We lost our power for 2 days last winter due to a storm. The generator worked out well during that time and I didn't lose any food in the freezer. Although DH did make sure that he got up early in the morning and run it for a while. For heat & cooking we used our wood burning stove and for lights we have lots of oil burning lamps.
     
  15. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i've been back feeding through a welder recepticel for years now...it is not the safe way to do it.. but.....you MUST keep your head screwed on at all times or you will make a deadly or at least costly mistake.

    as an alternative,,,,if you would like to just feed a few circuits of your home you can build a "circuit" transfer box using normal three way light swithches:

    you could build a box containing as many three way switches as circuits you want to generator feed. the common leg of each three way switch would be wired to a circuit. one switched leg of each switch would be fed from its normal circuit breaker. the other switched leg of each switch would be fed from the generator. so with the switch in one position, gets it feed from the normal breaker, in the other position, gets feed from the generator...no chance of back feeding or burning up your generator.,,,,but it would be on a circuit by circuit wiring....i really want to be able to feed my entire house, farm, and shop. still can't afford a 200 amp transfer switch.
     
  16. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I take it you have a pretty big generator?
     
  17. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Zeal!

    its a long story (and somewhat driven by my neighbors) but i started with a 6000watt, then got a 30 Kilowatt pto at a going out of bus. sale.....then built 15kwatt using a imported clone of an antique lister diesel engine.(the kind that will run off of about anything you put in the fuel tank) . just purchased two antique generators and i am working on building an antique Witte oilfield engine pulling a generator mostly for kicks,,,,or is it a mental problem?

    I think the price of the safe and correct transfer switches needs to come down. for the price of a 200 amp transfer you can purchase a 400 amp homeowners quality breaker cabinet with two dozen breakers in it.
     
  18. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Wow, generator rich! I think I have generator envy.

    I really am in desparate need of a good diesel generator.
     
  19. sewsilly

    sewsilly Well-Known Member

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    We too live in hurricane zone, and own a generator. We have to power the well, as well as some power usage if the power is out for several days. Noisy, yes, necessary, too...
     
  20. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    few years ago a cane went through North carolina,,,,can't remember which storm it was,,knocked power out in henderson, nc for about a week. people got desperate. loosing freezers full of meat. (i take that having a stocked chest freezer is a southern thing?) anyway, one of my students came in to class with this story: his neighbor left a genertor running over night to try to catch up his freezer from the outage....the next morning he awoke hearing the generator running, but the freezer was not.....when he went out to investigate, he found his push mower running, but generator gone.... true or not i don't know.

    my story,,,3 phase power comes directly from a substation to a pole in one of my pastures. my farm/house are fed from bottom phase wire. everyone else on my road is fed from the top wire splitting off the same pole.... being the bottom wire, my power is usually the last to fail from a fallen tree, ice etc. everyone elses power being from the top and least protected wire (from falling objects) fails more often... a few years ago everyone lost power except us...by day four people were comning by asking how we had power,,,,by day ten,,,,well it sometimes got nasty... being without power never bothered me....kinda like camping out, but when i had my first child, born during winter, and always wanting to be prepaired for problems,,,,i purchased the little 6k unit. great insurance,,,,,had uninterrupted power for 5 years. never used the gen during the first five years....

    the 30K, got it on a real deal,,,,now i can use my welder and do emergency repairs if i have to...or if a real long term problem, drive a few of my neighbors houses at the same time.

    the lister diesel,,,,got tons of used motor oil (we maintain over 30 internal combustion engines on the farm, last i counted anyway). and wanted to build something anyway.

    the others,,,i collect and work on antique engines as a hobby and to support a local show. but...the old engines, especially the oil field engines will run from natural gas, LP, kerosene, gasoline, about anything you feed them. they are workhorses that will run 24/7/years. makes me feel a little secure. maybe falsely so but...secure.