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adam_broussard

Whole home generator

Adam Broussard
June 27, 2018

We are building a ~3000 sq ft home in Louisiana and plan to install a natural gas whole home generator.


Any recs on brands?

Comments (55)

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    Many different brands use a Generac actual generator. I cannot remember my brand, but it does have a Generac generator. I've had it now for several years - can't remember exactly when I got it but at least 6 years ago. It works like a dream! It's gives me a huge feeling of security. I have pulmonary problems and must use a percussion vest, nebulizer and oxygen on a daily basis. If the power goes out, the local electric company cannot give me any "priority" service - they simply tell me to go to a hospital.

    Also, when I'm out of town on a vacation, I need not worry that the power might have gone out and I might return home to a smelly, mess in my two refrigerators. I also don't worry about being freezing cold in the winter, or suffocating in the summer.

    It comes on every Wed afternoon at a particular time, and runs for 5 minutes. This is very important - even gasoline powered portable ones should be started up weekly. Few people do so, and then are greatly surprised when there is a power outages and their generator won't start up.

    It's very important to have a generator serviced regularly. There is a record in mine that tells my guy exactly when the battery was last replaced and when it was last on and last serviced. The man who installed it with his brother who owns an HVAC company, is a handyman who regularly works in my neighborhood and so he has a rota and stops by to check it regularly. I do not need to be home.

    THe only downside is that it's rather loud and I always feel guilty when my neighbors must open their windows when the power goes out (more likely between April and Nov in my area) and they not only are uncomfortable but they must listen to my generator and know I'm VERY comfortable. I sometimes offer to let them put their stuff in my refrigerator out of my guilt!

    We did not need a plumber as the gas was right there - just a LOT of electrical work for the new box. Mine runs everything in my house but one 2nd floor bedroom (rarely used) and my electric clothes dryer. I do have lines in my basement if they outage was long enough that I had to do laundry. I most likely will buy a gas dryer when I replace this one.

    Adam Broussard thanked Anglophilia
  • sktn77a

    Our neighbor has a large natural gas Generac and it self tests every Saturday at 11.00am. You can set your clock by it........ because it's so LOUD! ;) I guess they all are. Just one comment whatever you get - don't expect it to run your AC.

    Adam Broussard thanked sktn77a
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  • Elmer J Fudd

    Not just for location, anglo, it's to size the pipe through the house and all the way back to the meter. Pipe size of each branch off the main line depends the length and on the number of gas using items connected down that branch and the specific gas requirements of each. The required size of the main trunk line similarly depends on length and the totality of usage requirements for all items and where the connections are.

  • North Texan

    sktn77a, down here they expect it to run the a/c and size it for that. The real bummer is the huge starting load of the a/c units. For instance, a common load to start a 5 ton uint would be about 13-18kW, where it takes about 6kW to run it. The most common reason for a failure for a system to run an a/c is the inability of the salesman and/or installer to consider the various loads they system is being installed to handle. Even a 20-26 kW genset can easily fail to start an a/c because of the other loads they installed. The average salesman/installer considers the a/c load once, without realizing the a/c will cycle on and off, requiring that huge push each time. A hard start kit can help, but only a properly configured system, possibly with automatic load-sheding, can do the right job.

    Adam Broussard thanked North Texan
  • just_janni

    There are smart load balancing things you can do to help a generator. I am doing whole house - and I mean WHOLE HOUSE and it will be 50Kw plus. We're in the country - so we'll be one of the last with power restored.

    Adam Broussard thanked just_janni
  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    Elmer, all they had to establish was that the gas company had put in a new meter which was different than the previous one - not sure what the difference was. Luckily, they had!

    sktn, my generator runs BOTH my HVAC systems. I have one for the 1st floor and one for the 2nd. AC works a charm with my generator! I would never have paid that much money for something that left me very, very hot and humid!

  • Elmer J Fudd

    I'm surprised your install didn't included any re-plumbing, unless they were able to branch off right where the meter is. A generator can consume at or much above the rate of a large home furnace and that's a big demand (and diameter pipe) to supply that and everything else.

  • opaone

    Generators are likely going the same way as petrol cars. Here we are seeing a significant increase in battery systems like Tesla Powerwall or Powerpack and sometimes along with solar.

    I don't think I'd invest in a generator that will soon be seen as antiquated technology.


  • sktn77a

    "sktn, my generator runs BOTH my HVAC systems. I have one for the 1st floor and one for the 2nd. AC works a charm with my generator!"

    That's great. How big are you AC units and how big is your generator?

  • Elmer J Fudd

    opaone, I'd say it the other way around.


    Battery systems are going the same way as electric cars. The proof of concept has been accomplished and they will be important at some time in the future. It's still early days and as of now, they're not an acceptable like-for-like substitute for the older technology because of limited battery capacity and too-high prices.


    If you want to travel long distances and not always on the highway system, you need a car that fills up at a service station. If you lose power in a fixed location and need to be able to fill in the loss for a few days at a time or more, you need a generator. Because these battery systems are still quite limited in capacity. And, very expensive.

  • Adam Broussard
    Anglophilia,
    How big is your generator?

    We will have two a/c units. One for living downstairs and one for sleeping quarters upstairs.

    Are there any brands to avoid? Or find the one that will handle our load for the lowest price?
  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    I don't know the tonnage of my AC systems, nor do I remember what size generator I bought. As I'm not home, I can't check.

    But I DO know that my house is approx 2800 sq ft, pretty evenly distributed between the 1st and 2nd floors, the 1st being slightly larger.

    I definitely wanted a system that could keep as much of my house running as possible. As I said, I cannot turn the lights on in 1 2nd floor room that is rarely used, and I cannot run the electric clothes dryer. But everything else works quite seamlessly. I think I paid about $7-8000 for it at the time. It was a lot of money but well worth it for my piece of mind with my health issues.

    My son got one at about the same time - he lived in CT in a house that had 6400 sq ft. His generator ran on propane (no natural gas) and covered only part of the house. It was invaluable when Hurricane Sandy came through. He did say that in retrospect, he should have had a designated propane tank just for the generator. I think he would have gotten one, but got divorced a year later and the house was sold.

    Adam Broussard thanked Anglophilia
  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie

    I think Generac is the most popular when it comes to residential market.

    It will be noisy, so you definitely want to plan a good place to install it away from the home. Hopefully you have nice neighbors. They are very loud.

    Adam Broussard thanked Austin Air Companie
  • homechef59

    While Generac is the most popular, it has a lot of detractors. The top of the line whole house generator is the Cummins/Onan.

    Whatever you select, be sure your house panel is properly configured for optimal use. Make sure you understand its operation thoroughly. And, don't let your local plumber/electrician do the installation. It's a specialized setup and requires some specialized knowledge. Have the generator installed by a professional. It's easier to do it right the first time.

    Adam Broussard thanked homechef59
  • jrb451

    I signed up to be contacted when the Tesla wall battery became available in my area. I liked the instant on feature that operates like a UPS. Tesla is looking a little shaky lately so I may have to look at NG.

  • just_janni

    I am getting a whole house generator and I am going to be able to run EVERYTHING. To do a Power Wall to do that would have been ridiculously expensive (like 3 generators worth...)

    Adam Broussard thanked just_janni
  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    Homechef, my handy man and his brother (who owned and worked as an HVAC tech) had no problem with my installation. They have installed hundreds of these. The biggest part of the installation is all the wiring. I have a large, separate box for my generator in my garage, next to the other panels.

    As for installing it a distance from the house - I don’t think that is possible. Like AC compressors, they need to be close to the house, my generator is right next to the two compressors; my son’s was also.

  • jn3344

    I have the cummins mushroom style. It is loud. And in my opinion, the electrician installed it too close to the house.

    The cummins tech was very good. We got a gratis service call which he filed under "start up." He told me what was wrong with the electricians wiring so he could come out and redo it.

    I still have an issue if it starts up when the heat pump and the emergency strips are all going. It pops the circuit breaker. But if im there I can rejigger things so it doesnt happen.

    If we are away for more than a day I turn off the heat pump at the panel. Then there are no problems. It doesn't often freeze here.

    Like I indicated before we were looking at 26kw generators but the price difference was extreme and I was feeling tapped out budget wise.

    In 3 years it has kicked on 6 or 7 times. The longest for 4 days. Mostly its between 4 and 24 hours.

    Adam Broussard thanked jn3344
  • alphacrux

    ‘If you want to travel long distances and not always on the highway system, you need a car that fills up at a service station. ‘

    I beg to disagree. I’ve happily made several cross country trips in a Tesla using their Supercharging network. The cost to “fill up”? Nothing.

    For home back-up, consider that the lowest cost may not always be the best choice. What value do you place on quietness, instant start-up, and lack of required maintenance? Obviously, nothing. So be it.

    Consider it similarly to the choice between a variable speed A/C and single speed A/C. Why buy variable speed a/c if single speed a/c will do the job for cheaper? That is fine if you don’t really value comfort- I’ve, variable speed can dehumidify better. I understand about a budget. But sometimes cheapest is not always the best choice.


  • Elmer J Fudd

    Yes, you can make cross country trips. Not necessarily taking advantage of the Superchargers, that in the great expanses of the country are only along some of the more heavily traveled interstate highways and not along others. As I said. And, I'd read that unlimited supercharging is no longer included with each Tesla car for free. When you pay the kind of prices Tesla charges, you can be sure that a factor for recharging was indeed paid for and was never free. And yes, people don't always choose cars for just for economics. I don't. But many I know who drive Teslas try specious arguments to suggest otherwise.

    Variable speed A/Cs are as uneconomical in my temperate and not humid area as are electric cars.

    If I got anything for in-town driving, I might consider the Bolt. Chevy kept their mouths shut and beat Tesla to the punch, now by quite some time, with a moderately priced car with over a 200 mile range. Gasoline isn't expensive and it is so much more flexible, I'll stick with that as a fuel until the dollars and cents of electric cars are more reasonable.

  • alphacrux

    Most area of the us are in range of superchargers. See supercharge.info. In area that aren’t, they can be recharged at slower rates from ordinary 120v/240v wall outlets and many level 2 destination chargers.

    Free supercharging is still available for model s/x with a referral code from a current owner.

    sure, the cost of “free”charging is built in the purchase price. The s/x is never going to be inexpensive. Rather their first sedan/suv was designed to be upscale to support the growth of their company.

    The bolt is a good car. Perfectly fine for everything but rapid cross country.

    evs are not yet more economical than ice cars, not yet. We are still in an early adopter phase. But I’d guess within 5 years that will change, certainly within 10.





  • Elmer J Fudd

    I don't know if you follow company matters but it's clear many in the financial world are starting to tire of Musk. Especially his public hissy fits when asked valid questions about the hype Tesla puts out and about the problems they're having. Besides the ongoing manufacturing problems, battery advances seem to be a real pacing item too. Or maybe I have that wrong?

    There will be more electric cars every year but I think there will still be plenty of gas powered cars 10 years from now. More interesting issues are whether Tesla in its current form, and with Musk in charge, will be around some years down the road and if it will be a significant player. Many think not.

  • alphacrux

    Many think so. We’ll find out.

  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie

    As for installing it a distance from the house - I don’t think that is possible. Like AC compressors, they need to be close to the house.

    It's cheaper to install closer to the house, but there are many applications that allow for up to 100 feet of line set and in some cases slightly longer than that when it comes to AC compressors (IE: Condensers).

    Typical installation into a home is anywhere from 15 to 25 feet with only a 10-15 foot rise for single story. So many cases would allow to install the AC condenser 75 to 85 feet from the structure depending on the length of run into the structure as well as vertical rise. (It's all scientific).

    Because of adding the additional line set, the refrigerant charge is increased so there is another form of expense. If you want to look at pictured examples of a long line set install click on my pro icon to view pictures of a long run line set application that I installed back in 2011.

    Installing a generator would be not much different, just longer wire runs, longer gas run for operation. The reason you would do it, is to place it somewhere where noise is less objectionable. (you're not doing it to save money in other words.)

  • clt3

    We have a whole house Generac that will run everything. It ran for 5 days when hurricane Sandy hit and we live in NE Ohio! We spend the winters someplace warm and found out 2 winters ago that the oil had become thick because it was so cold and it wasn't testing itself. Would have been big trouble if we had needed it to run. We then opted in to the wireless notification option. It will now let the installer (and us) know if something is wrong. Money well spent.

  • homechef59

    If your generator is excessively loud, consider installing an Acoustifence. Acoustifence

    Noise blocking fabric fence material.

  • bry911

    Sorry to head back to the Tesla tangent, but there are not that many financially savvy people who are looking at Tesla as a promising company. I don't think that many people believe that Tesla will be a significant player down the road. Many of Tesla's shareholders believe they will not make it, they just believe that if they do turn around they company will do incredibly well. In other words, the company is a bargain because of the likelihood of failure.

    Their bonds have been downgraded to B3 and that is pretty deep into the junk bonds, which is important because they have only a few months left to pay back $2 billion of debt. We all know that they are using the roadster and semi reservations as an attempt to get enough cash to pay back the debt. In their 2017 Q4 letter they were expecting $1 billion in customer deposits early this year. However, they aren't panning out.

    In large part Tesla is a manufacturing company who can't manufacture at a profit. I suspect the market will let them continue for a while, but their financing costs are starting to get pretty high, and they still haven't even gotten the 5k Tesla 3's per week that they needed to achieve 6 months ago, and with half a million reserved already there are going to be a lot of not so happy customers.

    ----

    I wouldn't give Tesla any reservation money unless you are completely willing to lose it. That means I certainly wouldn't give them the $250,000 for a Roadster reservation.

    .

    .

    Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

  • jrb451

    Tesla's wall battery web page gave the option to sign up and pay $500, refundable, to pre-order a wall battery. Or, the option to be notified when they became available in your area. I chose the latter.

  • Elmer J Fudd

    Further to bry911's comments (that I agree with), my hard copy of this morning's San Jose Mercury News had a front page article (curiously dated yesterday but after press time) about Tesla's Model 3 and operational woes with comments from experts. The tone is neither optimistic nor complimentary. And in it are cites of the litany of hype and unmet promises the company has made.




    Tesla - current woes

  • opaone

    A bit off topic, but...

    opaone, I'd say it the other way around.

    Battery systems are going the same way as electric cars. The proof of concept has been accomplished and they will be important at some time in the future. It's still early days and as of now, they're not an acceptable like-for-like substitute for the older technology because of limited battery capacity and too-high prices.

    If you want to travel long distances and not always on the highway system, you need a car that fills up at a service station. If you lose power in a fixed location and need to be able to fill in the loss for a few days at a time or more, you need a generator. Because these battery systems are still quite limited in capacity. And, very expensive.

    This was somewhat the case some years ago, not today. There is nowhere in the U.S. that we can't go in our 4 year old Model S. We've driven to Canada, Florida, Maine, California and innumerable places in between, numerous times. Long distances are not a problem.

    We get about 270 miles on a full charge (that costs us about $9 at current electrical rates, less once we have solar). There is little difference between electric and petrol cars running out of fuel - both need to be filled. There are enough charging stations around that this is not a problem.

    Interestingly, I've recently experienced more fuel anxiety in my petrol SUV than my Model S. My S begins every day with a full tank so unless I'm driving more than that in a single day (E.G., taking a long trip) then I never need to worry about filling up. I have to remember to find a gas station and take time about once each week to fill my SUV.

    From a cost of ownership standpoint: Less fuel costs, less maintenance, etc. Fuel (electricity) for my Model S costs me about $2800 per year less than for my previous petrol car — nearly $12k less over 4 years. That's significant by itself. No oil changes. No brake pad or other brake stuff thanks to regen braking. Much simpler drivetrain so no other drivetrain maintenance and Tesla drivetrains are expected to go for about 1 million miles without maintenance.

    Finally, there's safety. Tesla's are the safest cars on the road. People walk away from crashes in Tesla's that would result in death in other cars. Much of this is due to the battery system located in the pan of the car and the structure around it that prevents the car from being squashed laterally. Also the lack of a fuel tank reduces fires, small motors that don't infiltrate the passenger compartment, and being bottom heavy massively reduces rollovers.





  • Elmer J Fudd

    As I said earlier:

    "And yes, people don't always choose cars for just for economics. I don't. But many I know who drive Teslas try specious arguments to suggest otherwise."

    20,000 miles per year (including cross country driving) in a gas car won't cost you $2000/year in any reasonable Tesla-sized car. But if you want to say you saved $2800, great! Was that enough to buy the car?

    Be happy with your car, it's not a choice i would make but I'm happy if you're happy. Keep the facts in your evangelizing. And stay tuned for what the real auto makers come up with in the coming years, Tesla may not be able to compete with real expertise and manufacturing experience that comes on later but stronger. They're showing that shortcoming now.

  • opaone

    Economics was not much of an issue for my buying a Tesla but it is a big factor for many people and it was a point that you'd raised. In my case it was part altruistic environmental and part new tech toy on the block to play with. However, having driven electric for some time now we'll never go back to gas again. FWIW, my next car is a Porsche Taycan (Mission-E) that I'll hopefully have by this time next year. For my wife I think it will be Tesla Model X's for a very long time in to the future.

    Back to the OP's deal... We'll have Tesla Powerwall's for our backup. It will be more expensive up front than a generator but will not annoy our neighbors with weekly test runs, should not require any maintenance, and should have no ongoing costs of energy or maintenance to run it. Since we are in a net-metering state we'll have be able to get any advantages from time-shifting but those in states without net-metering can likely pay for a powerwall system fairly quickly.

  • opaone

    As to Musk's missed prognostications.. Yep, it's annoying. But as a long list of people have pointed out, Musk projects accomplishing 4x what anyone else would or could and then delivers 2x. He's a very long track record of doing what people have consistently said couldn't be done. He's totally turned the rocket and launch industry on their heads and has created the first new car company in about a century.

    Time and time again people have said that whatever his next thing was with Tesla couldn't be done but he's consistently delivered. The Roadster would never sell more than a dozen units, they'd never get the Model S out, they'd never get autopilot to work, they'd never get the Model X out, they'd never get the Model 3 out, they'd never get to 1,000 units/week, then 2,000, then 2,500, then whatever. Tesla semi was only a pipe dream and we'd never see one. Launch a Roadster in to space? Seriously?

    He's frequently late by his calendar but has consistently delivered and far sooner than anyone else has been able to do anything. A number of auto industry executives have said that he's going from concept to production two to three times as fast as they believe they could. When, in response to nearly a half million pre-orders, he moved the Model 3 production date from late 2018 to mid 2017 a long line of people said nobody could make 2018 so 2017 was ludicrous. He was late by his calendar but has also delivered over 30,000 Model 3's before his original 1st delivery date which was 2 to 3 years before most people thought possible.

    So, I for one, have no problem giving a down payment for Tesla product and currently have down payments for Powerwall and Solar Roof. Debating Roadster but as a lifelong Porsche fan I find the Taycan difficult to pass up but we'll see.

  • bry911

    I absolutely love Tesla as tech company. I love driving one, frankly, I love the look on people's faces when the car just goes. However, I never let my heart stand in front of my wallet. I don't care anything about what Elon Musk has done in the past, I don't care about all his accomplishments and what they mean. I don't care about "industry expert predictions."

    When we are talking financially I care about the financials and Tesla is in a very precarious financial situation. In the end, the company is losing $2 billion in net income every year, and to date owners have managed to accumulate $4.2 billion of stockholders' equity for the low low price of only $9.2 billion of paid in capital. They consistently have loss on cash flows for operating activities.

    Aside from the $2 billion of expiring debt, Tesla has current liabilities of $5.5 billion and another $9.4 billion coming due in the next three years. Troubling for a company only making $12 billion in revenues and even more so for a company whose Gross Profit hasn't broken 20%. Currently, assuming that Tesla doubles its gross profit and doesn't spend a single dollar on administrative expenses (something no corporation has ever managed to do) they would still need to increase revenues by 50% just to not have a bond issue. Using realistic numbers Tesla needs to increase revenues by 400%.

    If you don't believe me download a DuPont calculator and plug the numbers in on your own.

    ------------

    Tesla isn't going out of business yet, their plan of robbing Peter to pay Paul using preorder money will keep them around for a while. Plus people want to see if they can make it because if they can persevere through these stages they may eventually become great. However, in the end it is a simple cash flow problem, you can't run a company by spending more producing products than what you sell them for and currently that is what Tesla is doing.

    So I stand firmly by my assessment, don't give Tesla pre-order money unless you want to lose it.

    ---------

    As for the environment, buying expensive new cars are really not good for the environment, there have been many studies that show the environmental impact on electric vehicles is worse than repairing and reusing old cars. If you want to really help out the environment become a vegetarian.

  • Elmer J Fudd

    I don't know if either of you is in Silicon Valley as I am but here and among people I know, driving a Tesla comes with undesired baggage that I, frankly, wouldn't want to deal with. The "look on faces" here isn't as bry describes seeing (or thinking that he sees) wherever he is. It's more along the lines of "Hmm, you didn't know better and drank that Kool-Aid too?" Those who are strictly geeks are understood (and ignored anyway), others cause head scratching.


    I'm happy with my German cars and gladly fill up when needed. Anywhere.

  • opaone

    Oh, totally forgot about the extent to which Musk has revolutionized the power industry across the globe with massive power pack systems that are replacing gas fired generators typically used for backup and peaking fill-in. These battery systems not only cost less than the gas fired peakers but respond much faster.

  • Elmer J Fudd

    You left out - cured the common cold and de-nuclearized Russia.

    Which of these business lines that you admire so much is profitable? Gross profit was down and overall losses were up for the most recent quarter. How long do you think that can last? Get your Tesla products while you can, they'll be collectors items. Like Ford Edsels.

    Sorry, Adam. Just have a low tolerance of fanboy propoganda that ignores reality.

  • opaone

    From a VC and PE standpoint it's quite important to look at the people running the show. Musk, Straubel and Shotwell are putting together a rather good track record.

    Profits are not yet a significant concern for long term investors. You can have little profits now or invest what would be those little profits in future products and have much bigger profits later that dwarf the little profits in current dollars.

    What is important is the value of the brand, products, technologies and operations being produced. Here both Tesla and SpaceX look very good. Solar City and Boring not so much. Personally I think the opportunity for Boring is in goods transportation rather than people, but I'm not the founder so don't get much of a say.

    As to @bry911's numbers. That's one way to look at those numbers but is a very myopic short term view. Tesla is operating more profitably than other auto manufacturers but their ratio of new future product development to existing product revenue is reversed. Tesla's cost (and timeline) to develop a car is well below that of other manufacturers. As the, now Dieselgate jailed, CEO of Audi said "I wish we could develop a car for twice as much as it costs Tesla to do so." And it's important to consider how revolutionary are the cars that Tesla are developing and how much more the development and manufacturing should cost than it actually is.

    It's also critical to realize that vehicle production could likely become a small part of the company. Tesla Energy could see 4x or better annual growth in the coming years as power companies and governments line up for their load balancing and backup solutions.

    SpaceX is similar. They are developing, manufacturing and operating at about 1/2 the cost of other launch companies. And that gap is increasing as they begin to re-use launch vehicles.

    As I said above, I have no problem giving Tesla a down-payment for a battery or solar system for my house.

  • bry911

    If you really want a company that is doing amazing and transformative work with electricity, you should look at Turbulent. We are currently doing a year of testing to see how many Turbulent hydro generators our property will support, and may put several on the property.

    While they have very specific location requirements, they are actually a green technology that makes a difference. Quick calculations of our usage and generation with even one generator we will be selling between 120 and 200 Mwh back to the power company every year.

    We already have a signed commitment letter with the power company as we decide how many to do.

  • opaone

    A buddy of mine is using a micro hydro for backup power. When their power goes out he opens up the gates on a holding pond. The flow drives the hydro and powers his house and studio. He can get about 30 hrs from it before the pond gets down too low. I'm not sure if he's using a Turbulent system or not.

    He says that overall it's not overly efficient because it uses a lot more power to refill the holding pond than it generates but it's worked well for him. He's slowly deploying more solar so hopes that will take him mostly off-grid in a year or two.

  • bry911

    A buddy of mine is using a micro hydro for backup power. When their power goes out he opens up the gates on a holding pond. The flow drives the hydro and powers his house and studio. He can get about 30 hrs from it before the pond gets down too low. I'm not sure if he's using a Turbulent system or not.

    He says that overall it's not overly efficient because it uses a lot more power to refill the holding pond than it generates but it's worked well for him. He's slowly deploying more solar so hopes that will take him mostly off-grid in a year or two.

    Yes, your buddy definitely has a problem...

    ETA: Do whatever you want, you have obviously picked your side in this debate and are out to discredit other sides. The problem being that your argument is largely selective and tangential.

    Saving generators from landfills with batteries... Great job, since the environmental impact of battery production is exponentially worse for the environment than almost any other product you might use in your home. Every pound of battery produces about 450 pounds of toxic materials just in the mining process, while production into batteries produces more than double that. Photovoltaic cell production is nearly as bad.

    If you want to be off grid, just because you don't want to deal with the power company that is fine. But if you are doing these things to be green, then putting micro-hydro generators on ponds that are not fed by natural streams is destructive and silly. Powerwalls and poorly utilized micro-hydro generators, like many other green technologies, are too often done because people want to show off their green toys.

  • opaone

    At the time he installed it I think his only other viable option was a diesel generator. No idea how green his hydro solution was compared to the diesel option. More than anything it was an interesting solution.

    The lifetime pollution issues are a bit more difficult than your explanation and they are changing rapidly so what something was just 3 years ago is dramatically different today. From a traditional power generation standpoint coal is still the worst. Oil/Petrol next and then Natural Gas. Nuclear is either cleanest or worst depending on your view of the problems of spent fuel rods and hot water waste. Hydro also has some undesirable externalities like killing fisheries.

    Of renewables, Wind becomes cleaner than NG after about 2 years but it comes with problems such as bird deaths, migraine inducing vibration/noise and some people, most notably some east coast supposedly environmentalist Democrats, think it looks ugly.

    IIRC, Solar took about 5 years to become lifetime cleaner than NG in 2016 and is a bit better today.

    All of these benefit from batteries for load balancing, but wind & solar in particular. I've not looked at analysis of how batteries impact renewables vs traditional sources so no real idea.

    On day of delivery an electric car is quite ugly from an environmental standpoint vs a petrol car. It catches up and surpasses petrol pretty quickly though. I believe they're equal after a bit less than 3 years (U of MN study) and from there on an EV is overall lifetime cleaner. This is using the U.S. average power generation so as our sources become cleaner so will EV's.

  • danielj_2009

    Just came across this thread and had some passing comments:

    - The most important thing about a back up generator is that it is reliable. Generacs and similar natural gas (in my case) generators have been around for a long time and the bugs are worked out. I'd go with tried and true because you when you really need it you really need it.

    - My town does not allow generators to be tested on weekends. Mine tests every Tuesday at 11:30 am. Only the squirrels and deer hear it.

    - I'm not a Tesla hater, but there's this:

    https://jalopnik.com/5887265/tesla-motors-devastating-design-problem

    - Also, from an environmental standpoint, Tesla's are not electric vehicles. Electricity is not a natural resource. They are coal and fossil fuel powered vehicles. Just sayin'.

    - https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/4721171/terrifying-tesla-video-shows-unstoppable-electric-car-inferno-that-took-35-firefighters-to-extinguish/

  • opaone

    - I'm not a Tesla hater, but there's this:

    https://jalopnik.com/5887265/tesla-motors-devastating-design-problem


    Wow, that's dredging up some ancient history. That was an issue with the first roughly 200 cars (effectively beta's) ever produced by Tesla. Letting your car sit for half a year or more unplugged (and against Tesla's user manual) was akin to driving a petrol car without ever changing the oil. Both will ruin them.


    But while not changing your oil will still brick a petrol engine, this was made a non-issue for the all Model S's and subsequent Tesla's.

  • danielj_2009

    So with the newer models is it impossible to brick it? IC engines are obviously well known so things like changing oil are routine. Tesla's are new tech that people aren't familiar with so it is worth pointing out. Apparently this has been solved.

    Many people also don't consider where the electricity comes from, even the overly smug enviro's, and the sales guy definitely isn't going to point that out. 40% of our energy supply comes from coal, so they kind of are coal powered cars.

  • Elmer J Fudd

    I agree with opaone on this, that's ancient history for a young company and evolving technology.


    If you want to pick on something, pick on their truth stretching regarding Model 3 production delays. One of their chief engineers, a guy with a background that included Apple, has recently left the company. I'm sure they'll come out and say they're better off without him, he was a problem.

  • Thomas Adams

    When I wired my house I put all the circuits I would want on a generator in a separate sub panel. I only need a simple breaker interlock to switch from 100a utility power to my 50a portable generator. My system is not automatic and the generator is not connected when not in use so certainly not a system for some but will supply power to my critical circuits when needed. My system is not big enough to run my A/C but will run the FAU's in the gas heat mode. I chose the critical circuits in advance to wiring my house so only the important circuits will be energized. No expensive transfer switch needed in my case. My last house was in an older area and we had frequent power outages every time there was high winds but my new house has not had those issues with all the power companies wires underground. Anyway I strongly advice to check here https://generatoron.org for actualized models!

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    My daughter and SIL have a similar set-up to yours, Thomas. That would NOT work for me! I am far happier with a whole house generator that operates on natural gas. I can run everything (two HVAC systems, 2 refrigerators) on my system. The only thing it can't run is my clothes dryer, but that's not an issue for me as I live alone and have clothes lines in my basement where w/d reside. When I someday replace the dryer, I will get a gas one "just in case" and for re-sale.


    I love that when I'm out of town, I need not worry about storms and outages. One summer, power was out for 10 days. Fortunately, DD was due in about 4 weeks so did not join us that summer, so she could come over and empty out my two refrigerators. No worry now - it's all automatic and I love that! My DD and SIL have had trouble getting out to get gasoline to run theirs in a few winter ice storms - trees down blocking the streets. One does not want to store a lot of gasoline at ones house!

  • jrb451

    Well, I was hoping that the cost of a Wall Battery would go down as production methods improved but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Tesla’s latest version costs around 30% more Than what was being sold a year ago.

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