Living in the path of the remnants of Hurricane Irene when she reaches Atlantic Canada, is a good reminder for me to fire up the generator for a bit of exercise, since it hasn’t been used for a few months. This is a good routine procedure with any generator, just to keep it in peak operational condition.
I also thought this would be a good time to follow up on my home generator setup. To get the background on how we came to our decision, check out my "Can Portable Generators Damage Home Appliances?" article.
Having done my research last fall on home backup generators that can safely operate sensitive home electronics, our backup power system includes 3 main components:
- Generator Transfer Panel
- Generac XP6500E portable generator
- APC XS 1300 UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
All electrical wiring was done by a licensed electrician familiar with home and commercial generator systems.
Other than testing the system at installation and a couple of practice runs since, we only had to actually use the generator for a brief period last winter. Since we work on laptops, and our wireless internet antenna is supported by the UPS, we have about 90 minutes of battery time before we have to think about firing up the generator.
The system worked perfectly when we needed it last February. The output of the the generator was just as stable as the utility power (119 -122 volts) and I could check the voltage on the UPS display.
We have power available to critical systems (water pump, furnace, fridge, as well as almost all interior and exterior lighting and receptacles).
The Generator Transfer Panel is mounted beside the Entrance Panel and connects through a 30 amp breaker located in the entrance panel. The generator panel is also connected to a box in the garage hardwired with a 10′ cable with a 30 amp locking plug that connects to the generator output socket.
Since the stove isn’t connected through the generator, the LED clock lights up when the utility power comes back on. It’s a convenient signal to let us know when we can power down the generator.
Why go with Generac?
Generac is in the generator business, which includes large commercial and residential standby generators. Their engines are designed for the gruelling task of running for hours and days on end. After the break-in period (30 hrs run time) our Generac can go 100 hours between oil changes.
Any generator is going to make a lot of noise, but we can’t hear it in the house, even though it’s only about 50 feet away from our offices.
Fit & Finish
The XP6500E portable generator is very well designed and has a flip-up handle and good size wheels for moving it around. The rocker switch for the electric start operates effortlessly. The front panel is easy to understand and includes an hours meter with digital readout which also flashes reminders for scheduled maintenance such as oil and filter changes.
The one thing that bugs me is the fuel shutoff valve – it’s extremely hard to turn on and off and I’m concerned that the plastic knob is going to break off.
I did have to charge the battery before today’s test, which is easily done by plugging in an adapter to a wall outlet for 24 hrs (much like charging your cell phone).
I’m very pleased with the equipment choices for our backup power system, and have confidence that it will be up to the task under more extreme conditions in the days and years ahead.
Of course, the best thing about this whole setup is enjoying a freshly-brewed cup of coffee while we’re waiting for the utility power to be restored.
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