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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am planning to get a gas generator soon. I've never used one before or have even seen on in use personally. I have figured that I need about a 3000 watt genny, NOT taking into consideration start up surges, so I am going to get around 6000 watts to be on the safe side.

So I understand they have a certain number of outlets depending on the model, and then I plug extension cords into it and run them into the house. Now, from that point can I then plug surge protectors into the extension cords and plug MORE surge protectors into those, and then individual appliances into those? I am mainly thinking fish stuff, since I have 4 tanks in different areas of the house and each tank has it's own surge protector with light, filter and heater plugged into it.

So to sum up I would like to:

1) run heavy duty extension cords from genny to house
2) Plug 1 surge protector into each extension cord
3) Plug multiple surge protectors into the surge protectors in #2 above
4) Plug individual small appliances into the surge protectors in #3 above

Is this how it's done or am I gonna start a fire?

I am also wondering where I'll put this thing when in use. I have no deck or patio or driveway or anywhere out of the elements, yet what I've read says not to use them in rain or snow. But that's when the power goes out. I have a covered dog house I could put it in, but that seems lame.
 

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It falls under the catagory of "You might be a Redneck", saw horses or garbage cans, sheet of plywood or 2x4s on top to make a shelter. Drape a 10x12' blue trap over that. Tarp held in place with bricks. Yes, it screams Larry the CableGuy. But, you could assemble that in a few minutes if those parts were in your shed.

If you have natural gas forced air heating, have a furnace guy or an electrician wire in an outlet box & switch that you could plug an extension cord into to run the blower motor on your furnace. I don't know about D.C area but, here in Chicago durn blizzard power failure we always have Gas service but not Electric to run the fans & electronic ingnition on the furnace.

We have had to light(matches) the range burners on the stove and use the fireplace to heat the house.

Also look into how much run time you have per gallon of Gas. Be sure you have enough gas. I know that sounds obvious, like having a working flash light & batteries yet most people don't and are not prepared.
 

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you could also hook it to a "suicide switch" to power the whole house. This is what we have at my house. Luckily my dad knows an electrician who could hook it up the right way and not kill us all in the process. haha
 

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well it depends on how involved you want this to get. a 6000w should power everything u need for your home but they will be large an heavy to move by yourself*just something to think about* i would only go with a honda they are stupid quiet you will thank me later when your tryin to sleep.

i personally like the 2000w ones as u can daisy chain them to make more power but are able to be moved by one person which is nice becuse that time will come. you can also cut one off to save fuel as that might be a issue you run into unless you get a naty gas thats hardwired into the system its something to think about. also you can hardwire them into your breakerbox with some work but dam thats nice to have no cords going every which way then having to move appliances etcetc not nessasary but dam usefull and a headache saver!!!

alot of the new generators have build in protecters just like your home. keeping them out of the elements is good for any engine but it wont stop working if u have it outside an it snows/rains just gotta make sure the intake is dry and the exauste is being removed freely. you can use them in a garage but need to know that its sealed from your house as ive seen alot of shotty work that isnt sealed or draws air into the house from the garage sad but true so know how ur system works.

the covered dog house would be a NO in my book due to the fact no free flowing air which would make the exaust go into the intake. but imo it really doesnt matter if its outside just keep the water off it to keep it from rusting like any engine there not any different than your car!!

hope that answered most of your ?'s
 

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well it depends on how involved you want this to get. a 6000w should power everything u need for your home but they will be large an heavy to move by yourself*just something to think about* i would only go with a honda they are stupid quiet you will thank me later when your tryin to sleep.

i personally like the 2000w ones as u can daisy chain them to make more power but are able to be moved by one person which is nice becuse that time will come. you can also cut one off to save fuel as that might be a issue you run into unless you get a naty gas thats hardwired into the system its something to think about. also you can hardwire them into your breakerbox with some work but dam thats nice to have no cords going every which way then having to move appliances etcetc not nessasary but dam usefull and a headache saver!!!

alot of the new generators have build in protecters just like your home. keeping them out of the elements is good for any engine but it wont stop working if u have it outside an it snows/rains just gotta make sure the intake is dry and the exauste is being removed freely. you can use them in a garage but need to know that its sealed from your house as ive seen alot of shotty work that isnt sealed or draws air into the house from the garage sad but true so know how ur system works.

the covered dog house would be a NO in my book due to the fact no free flowing air which would make the exaust go into the intake. but imo it really doesnt matter if its outside just keep the water off it to keep it from rusting like any engine there not any different than your car!!

hope that answered most of your ?'s
This is what we did. I just forgot to put that it's hardwired into the breaker box in the garage. Our garage isn't connected to the house thought so that may not work depending on where the breaker box is located.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know any electricians so having any switches put in or hardwiring will probably be out of the question right now. I appreciate the suggestion tho and will at least look into the switch for the furnace blower to see what that would cost. Labor is so expensive in this area though that I doubt it'll get done this year and I'll have to stick with extension cords for the time being. I can only afford the genny cause my job is giving us gift cards used with the company credit card "points" to either home depot or amazon. Money is kinda tight at the moment.

Now no one actually answered the questions about the extension cords and surge protectors, so can anyone give me some specific answers about that? Is what I envisioned correct?

The suggestion about getting 2 gennys is something I also considered - how do you daisy chain them together? If it's affordable I prefer that so if one goes bad the other would hopefully still work. I have to look into the cost of 2 smaller vs 1 large one. I do have a husband who can move it around, although that's about as far as his handyman skills go. Which is another concern with maintenance on the genny - he won't do it and I dunno how.

The dog house I mentioned is very large (built it myself for a 100 pound dog) and has a large opening in the front and I could skew the roof a bit for better exchange of air (it's an "A" roof that just lifts off). It also has a few small vents drilled into the sides of it. And it's plenty far away from the house for safety purposed.

We've lost power twice so far this year and we usually lose it from one storm or another at least once a year, and I'm just sick of tossing out all the food in my fridge and worrying about my fish tanks.
 

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When we used a portable 5000W gasoline generator a few years ago, we set it on the concrete patio.

We used a heavy duty extension cord and ran it through the dryer vent (disconnected from dryer) and plugged the opening with a towel to prevent air from entering the house.

Then hooked up a 6 outlet multi-strip bar to the female end of the extension cord. We then used 3 heavy duty extension cords to run from the multi-strip bar to each aquarium power strip.

The remaining outlets on the multi-strip bar were used for the chest freezer, floor lamp (for lighting) and the boyfriend was able to rig a temporary heavy duty pigtail cord for the furnace (propane) since there was a junction box in the furnace room where the Romex wiring for the furnace power was located.

Just so you know, our generator needed to be filled with gasoline every 2 hours. You also need to perform regular maintenance on the generator as recommended. When we needed to use it 2 years later, we couldn't get it to start and had to replace the spark plug. It's also important to have fresh gasoline available.

There is no real need to keep it covered though I did shovel snow around and away from the unit when we used it.

It's also important to read the literature and follow the mfg. recommendations for extension cord use. A refrigerator would definitely require a heavy duty extension cord and you will want to keep it as short as possible in relation to the generator location.


You can set the generator on the ground, just be sure it is not near any flammable material such as dry vegetation.

You don't need multiple surge suppressors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah gas storage is gonna be a big issue that I'm still trying to figure out. Thanks for the info it was very helpful.
 

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Yeah gas storage is gonna be a big issue that I'm still trying to figure out. Thanks for the info it was very helpful.
There are enzyme based fuel stabilizers that can keep gas fresh for up to 2 years. The most important thing to do when shutting off a generator is to RUN THE CARB DRY. turn off the fuel valve at the tank and let the generator stall. if fuel is left in the carb for an extended perod of time it will gum up and clog your carb. Old fuel+clogged carb=no start. Even if stabilizer is used you should run it dry. The best way o hook these up are to the panel, then just turn off your main breaker so as not to backfeed into the grid. Natural gas or propane(providing you have a large enough tank on the property is the best way to go but can get pricey.
 

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I don't know any electricians so having any switches put in or hardwiring will probably be out of the question right now. I appreciate the suggestion tho and will at least look into the switch for the furnace blower to see what that would cost. Labor is so expensive in this area though that I doubt it'll get done this year and I'll have to stick with extension cords for the time being. I can only afford the genny cause my job is giving us gift cards used with the company credit card "points" to either home depot or amazon. Money is kinda tight at the moment.
It wouldn't cost much more to put a "transfer switch" at your breaker box. That switch will isolate your power from the pole completely so that you don't "back feed" your electricity out onto the pole and waste it or possibly injure a worker or blow your system up when the power does come back on. Then you can run your house just like you normally would, except for electric stoves and water heaters, which take way more than 6000w to run.

Now no one actually answered the questions about the extension cords and surge protectors, so can anyone give me some specific answers about that? Is what I envisioned correct?
You want to go to an electrical supply outlet locally and buy SO 14 gauge 3 wire bulk and use their plugs, which are heavy duty. It's not too expensive that way, but I forget what I paid for 100' of it.

http://goo.gl/E1Kwn


The suggestion about getting 2 gennys is something I also considered - how do you daisy chain them together? If it's affordable I prefer that so if one goes bad the other would hopefully still work. I have to look into the cost of 2 smaller vs 1 large one. I do have a husband who can move it around, although that's about as far as his handyman skills go. Which is another concern with maintenance on the genny - he won't do it and I dunno how.
Overkill IMO. Maintenance means checking the oil and changing it if necessary per the manual. Adding Stab-Bil when you store it or running it out of gas completely so that the carb doesn't get gummed up with gasoline varnish.

The dog house I mentioned is very large (built it myself for a 100 pound dog) and has a large opening in the front and I could skew the roof a bit for better exchange of air (it's an "A" roof that just lifts off). It also has a few small vents drilled into the sides of it. And it's plenty far away from the house for safety purposed.

We've lost power twice so far this year and we usually lose it from one storm or another at least once a year, and I'm just sick of tossing out all the food in my fridge and worrying about my fish tanks.
Whatever works, just DON'T die of CO!! Common sense, right?

When I lived in NC our power went out 5 times a year it seemed. Odd that Lake Norman was right there and Duke had all this power capacity in my front yard practically....alas, it did indeed. I bought a 3500 watt Coleman Contractor genny, and rigged it up as described above and used it quite often. I never worried about surge protectors or other black magic and I ran computers, synthesizers, all manner of household electronics with nary a hiccup. Realize that "surge protectors" that you buy at Walmart are pretty much useless for...well, I can't think of anything they're really useful for! False peace of mind maybe...

GL
 

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If money is tight then forget about hooking it up to the panel for now. HD extension cords(14ga min) will work just fine. As for the dog house idea I would cut another opening at the back for cross ventilation and possibly plug a box fan into the generator to blow air over it if it is hot out. Having somebody put an extention cord type pigtail on your furnace with a DPDT switch to disconnect it from the rest of the house is a must. If the power goes out in the winter you will be happy you did it. Don't forget that the longer the run from the generator and the higher the amp draw of the appliance, the heavier the gauge of wire in the extention cord(numericlly lower) will have to be.
 

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There are enzyme based fuel stabilizers that can keep gas fresh for up to 2 years. The most important thing to do when shutting off a generator is to RUN THE CARB DRY. turn off the fuel valve at the tank and let the generator stall. if fuel is left in the carb for an extended perod of time it will gum up and clog your carb. Old fuel+clogged carb=no start. Even if stabilizer is used you should run it dry. The best way o hook these up are to the panel, then just turn off your main breaker so as not to backfeed into the grid. Natural gas or propane(providing you have a large enough tank on the property is the best way to go but can get pricey.
this is an understatement! while i dont use stailizers i know that withing 1 month todays gas does degrade but if you shut off the fuel and just run it dry by leaving it on till it stalls*easy way* or draining it you will have no problems your fuel line should have a filter to catch any debris if it doesnt put one on it helps the novice person so u dont have to clean the bowl of the carb as it should catch it befor it gets there. so let me repeat this as most shops will charge 60-75 for a carb clean/tune up, dont leave fuel in the carb unless your using it and once a year change the oil its as easy as opening a soda bottle open drain fill 5 min tops, just watch how many hours its in use vs when it needs a change just like a car.

really do reviews on the gen that your looking at, after useing several honda are my 1st pick if you can find a place that has them ready to go listen to them the sound alone might sell u kinda like a drag car vs a road car huge sound decibel difference.

i think all your ?s were covered an some if not shoot away
 

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Those Hondas are extremely quiet.

Also, in an emergency the generator doesn't need to be run non-stop. You can cycle the generator to conserve Gas.

The fridge & freezer will hold temp for 1 to 3 hrs., outside of Sub Zero winter temps. If the house is well insulated it will hold temp for several hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The Hondas are out of my price range - way too expensive. I'm not worried about the noise - when the power goes out there are a bunch of gennys running in my neighborhood anyhow.

Unfortunately my house is not insulated well at all - my kitchen used to be a screened in porch (now all windows) and it didn't even have heat in it when we bought it. We did put some vents in there but it's still extremely cold in there as well as on the 2nd floor. Heck I'm wearing thermals right now, lol, and I'm still cold. We need to insulate the attic but my husband can't do it, I can't do it, and eventually you run out of money to pay people to do these things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh, and I have no idea without ever having owned a genny exactly how to shut if off a the fuel and let the carb run dry, but I suppose I can figure that out once I get the thing and find some vids online or something. I'm a little bit handy when it comes to some things, like wood working - but I have no idea how to maintain something with a motor. We replace our lawn mower every few years cause they just die. I may have to find someone to service the genny for me once a year.
 

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These are easy things to learn that set a foundation for you to learn other things later on also, and leads to not having to pay people for things that you can do. Knowing how to change oil in a motor is something everyone should know.

I know a lot of terms are being thrown at you, which may make it seem complicated, but its not. Generator maintenance is not letting it gum up, and keeping clean oil in it. These aren't hard to do, I am sure there are a million videos online that can show you visually how to do it. You should take a look at some, and you will see just how easy it is, and you'll be happy you didn't pay someone to do it.

Also, having just gone through all this Hurricane Sandy crap, I can't stress the importance of having some extra gallons of gas on hand. The way that situation was handled here was embarrassing. Do not overlook this fact. Nothing would be more irritating than having a generator to power things but no gas to power the generator.
 

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should know and do know are not the same, hell ive ran into people that dont know how to change a car tire just like op said mower wont last more than a couple years, i am one of those people that fixes an flips them as there quite simple. as unless they are super abused its going to be bad oil and a rebuid on the carb 80-90% of the time.

best think i can tell op is that change the oil/airfilter*/sparkplug* every year or more depending on your usage *will vary depending on usage etc. all of this i would expect any able person to do. paying someone to do this is ok but u should learn how to do it just incase of an emergency, an your gettin this item because of one so imo u should learn how it works and why. i would put my faith in that op could do this!! if not your going to spend more $ as shops norm go 60-75 for a simple tune up airfilter,oil,sparkplug for 10min of work tops, so even if it takes u 3x taht u just paid urself $60 an hr and most people dont make that.
 

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Wendy when you do go to buy your generator make a list of some the points listed so far. Like how to drain & refill with oil and how to run the carburetor dry.

Then have them show you at Home Depot or where every you end up buying your generator.

Off topic:
I'm on my 4the lawn mower in 30years. I bought one of the new Electric Mowers with rechargeable battery. Simple plug it in overnight. I have a double lot. I get two full cutting of the whole property per charge and I do part of the vacant lot behind my house that is near my Dog kennel run. (20x100'.)

What I like the best is how quiet the motor is, it sounds like a ceiling fan on high. I can cut the grass at 6am in the summer and not wake up the neighborhood. It's much lighter than the gas mower was too.
 
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