Clean Emergency Generator Power

in Home Energy

generac xp6500 portable generator 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:

All electrical wiring was done by a licensed electrician familiar with home and commercial generator systems.

System Performance

APC UPS displayOther 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).

Connections

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.

generac front panelWhy 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).

Entrance panel and generator transfer panelBottom Line

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.

  

Related posts on Stonehaven Life

Are Longer Power Outages the New Normal?
Keeping Warm During a Power Outage
Extreme Weather ā€“ 5 Home Protection Tips

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David

Hello,

Did you consider Honda generators, and what was the deciding factor to use a Generac XP series? Would your reconsider the generator choice after living with it for a while?

Thanks

Rick

David,

I’ve read nothing but good reviews on Honda generators but the price was out of my range. I went with the Generac mostly because the price was reasonable and Generac builds generators for all types of applications from large industrial models and stand-by residential models to portables. I went with a portable since were in a rural area and will never be connected to a natural gas line.

Fortunately, we’ve only needed to use it a couple of times for a few hours so far, but I’m happy with the performance. I also run it for about 15 to 20 minutes every couple of months to keep it operational.

Andy

Hi Rick,
I enjoyed reading your article, thank you for the information!
I was wondering if you have tried running a heat pump with your Generac generator? If so, how large a unit do you have? Do you know what the THD is on your generator?

I wish I had read your article before I made my purchase, however I did do a little research and made a very similar purchase. My main purpose was to run a well pump, water heater, and some lights. I like you, found the very clean inverter type generators with great THD to be out of my price range for the power requirements I required. I purchased a WH7500e with a AVR so not to damage my electronics. I checked the THD and found it to be between 7 to 13 % depending on my load. I too chose to install a UPS on my computer and electronics, a 1500 class TripLite to add a little more protection.
I have a friend that has a WorkHorse 9000 generator, and I measured its THD to be around 4%, The reason I chose the WH7500e over the WorkHorse is because the Westinghouse unit is a little more fuel efficient. I then ran across a WH2000iXLT generator with a THD of below 3% that could run my electronics and maybe a few lights. It is very quiet, and can run 450 watts for only 0.075 gallons per hour! I found it on sale for about 1/2 the cost of a comparable Honda. I know Honda is a great reliable little generator, but I had to give this one a try! Like the Honda generator the WH2000iXLT can also be run in parallel with a second unit, doubling the power output to 3600 watts, and 4400 watts starting capacity. So far, so good!
Thank you,
Andy

Rick

Hi Andy,

I’m glad you enjoyed the article. The only spec I found for Generac’s ‘True Power'(tm) technology is ‘less than 5% total harmonic distortion’. I’ve had absolutely no problems with electronics even after running for 9 days on generator power after Hurricane Arthur hit us in July 2014 (http://stonehavenlife.com/5-lessons-from-a-hurricane/). My XP6500 is plenty for my particular situation but I really don’t know how much wattage a typical heat pump draws. It might be possible to run a mini-split heat pump off a generator of your capacity. The main thing would be to manage the load by turning off other heavy draws when the heat pump is operating.

Good luck with your generator – hope you rarely need to use it.

Rick

Angel

Iā€™m in the market for a 10000 watt , or bigger, generator with a power inverter in it. Do you have anything that would fit my needs?

Rick

Hi Angel,

I don’t sell generators. Just sharing what I’ve learned while setting up my own backup system.

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