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Generators and storm proofing ?

brucem
brucem Member Posts: 44
As I write this my plumber is installing a new Williamson Gas fired steam boiler. I asked him so we can eventually hook a generator to it when the power goes out. I have read a few of the threads here about it, with many of them getting pretty long.
Main issue making sure the power from the generator not feeding back into the mainlines.
I live in New England and the power can go out, but very rarely lately, except for a few weeks ago when it just shut off for no reason.
Right now the plumber is going to run a plug from the boiler and into a 120v receptacle.
First my needs in a generator: I only want to power the Boiler and vent and maybe a Fridge, thats all.
Requirements for a generator-Quiet, easily ventable,portable, and hopefully doesn't cost a whole lot and doesn't mind sitting idle for months.
Where to put it. I could put it under my porch, and run and exhaust outside. Porch in not occupied, but fumes could still get into the house..
This(hopefully) will very seldom get used. If the power goes out, first thing would be to shut off main switch at panel, unplug Boiler from house receptacle, plug into generator, start generator. When power goes on, shut off generator, unplug boiler from generator, plug back into house line, Turn on mains again. Would that be right ?

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,546
    Steam Boiler low draw
    Fridge 2 problems.
    a) In rush current can be 10 to 100 Run Load.
    b) Computers on board.

    Unless you want to go big and fancy, Forget the fridge, it's the winter put it on the back porch or outside in a clean garbage can

    Honda makes a small gas-powered gen that will run the boiler and maybe a few led lights!
    WMno57
  • brucem
    brucem Member Posts: 44
    I want to keep it as simple as possible.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,546
    If your local code allows a cord and plug then do it. As I said the small Honda gen will run the steamer!
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 663
    edited October 2022
    Generators when running should ALWAYS BE OUTSIDE. They make lots of CO. When not running they can be stored inside. They should be started bi-monthly. What kind of storage do you have? Garage, Shed? You could run it every two months for five minutes, dump out the gas, and put the gas in your car when you are done. The little portable Honda Inverter generator is very nice. You could lock it to something immobile with a chain.
    You will not be back-feeding, so you do not need to turn off the main breaker. Some knuckleheads back-feed their whole house through the dryer outlet with a suicide cord. You won't be doing that, so no worries.
    You can buy 100 percent gasoline (no ethonol) that will store longer.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,440
    All oof the above, only I will reiterate: it does NOT get stored, never mind run, under the porch. Somewhere else for storage, and when it's running outside somewhere in the yard.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • brucem
    brucem Member Posts: 44
    I just read that backfeeding was a serious concern and didn't want to take any chances. What is with Inverter generators ? Plus why are they so expensive?
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 663
    60 HZ power requires the generator to run at 3600 rpm (or a divisor of 3600 but more $$$$$ so 3600).
    3600rpm is loud and causes the engine to blow up after 1000 hours.
    Inverter generators can run at any speed (QUIET) and will not only make 60 Hz, but cleaner power. Modern electronics need clean power.
    And now @Jamie Hall will explain "clean power".
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 663
    edited October 2022
    Inverter generators cost more because you are buying three things, a motor, a generator, and an inverter.
    A cheap basic generator is two things, a lawn mower motor, and the cheapest 2 pole generator. They are like a Harley, very good at turning dinosaur juice into noise.
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 636
    I have the Honda 2000 inverter generator. Eco setting is very efficient. I converted it to run on LP fuel. LP never goes bad. Doesn't foul the carburetor. Generator is very quiet and the exhaust is way less noxious than gasoline.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,440
    I think I'm being teased -- but that's OK! Basically, "clean" power" referring to AC power is power where the voltage or current (take your pick) varies smoothly and continuously with time, and so does the rate at which the change takes place -- both going from current flowing in one direction to current flowing in the other direction at a constant rate or frequency (60 times per second on this side of the pond, 50 times in most of the rest of the world).

    It's very easy to make an inverter which goes from one way to the other -- but does so abruptly. Full bore one way, then full bore the other. Many lower quality inverters try to mimic clean power by going from one direction to the other in discrete steps -- perhaps only one or two, perhaps more -- but that still doesn't meet the criterion of smooth and continuous. It is considerably harder -- and takes more components -- to make one which actually does the job smoothly and continuously and still has decent efficiency in the conversion.

    Why does it matter? Because anything connected, if it has either capacitors or magnets, will see those steps not as steps, but as voltage or current spikes, and they don't like that. They may also see the wrong frequency -- those stepped wave forms have many other frequencies in them besides the basic 60 or 50 hertz --and this may confuse the electronic circuits.

    How tolerant the connected device depends on what it is. Motors, for instance, may see voltage spikes high enough to burn through the insulation. Full wave rectifiers with capacitor smoothing may fry the caps. Seom devices use switching power supplies -- and they can manage pretty well but can feed back other forms of "dirt" into the connected wiring, generating their own spikes feeding back at various random frequencies.

    You can generate very clean power from a two pole generator, but it takes careful design of the magnet coils, the field structure, and the armature. Used to be pretty common. Not so much any more. Another area where the dead men did pretty darn well!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    heathead
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,119
    You need to keep a portable generator OUT OF AND AWAY from the house when it is running.....no exceptions.


    You can plug the refrigerator in with an outdoor rated extension cord. You can plug the boiler in the same way. Just make sure all the safety controls remain active and and that the boiler is disconnected safely from the house power when the generator is used
  • ronbugg
    ronbugg Member Posts: 11
    I have a Honda 3500 w with a 6 circuit transfer switch. Ru boiler, freeze, refrigerator, microwave n a few lights transfer switch is connected to main panel using a 12/4 cord to connect generator. Honda is nice and quiet, fuel efficient. Ran for 52 hours during storm a few years ago.
  • brucem
    brucem Member Posts: 44
    OK I see the point now about Inverter generators, thanks for the explanation. It does say the generator should be at least 20 feet away from the house. Thats just not possible in my lot, it would be in another yard! My entire lot is only 40 x 60. Looks like Honda is the way to go.
    Can you pipe the exhaust away somehow ?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,440
    brucem said:

    OK I see the point now about Inverter generators, thanks for the explanation. It does say the generator should be at least 20 feet away from the house. Thats just not possible in my lot, it would be in another yard! My entire lot is only 40 x 60. Looks like Honda is the way to go.
    Can you pipe the exhaust away somehow ?

    No -- just let it exhaust in free air. Not near a window or door if you can help it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,546
    OK I see the point now about Inverter generators, thanks for the explanation. It does say the generator should be at least 20 feet away from the house. Thats just not possible in my lot, it would be in another yard! My entire lot is only 40 x 60. Looks like Honda is the way to go. Can you pipe the exhaust away somehow ?
    No -- just let it exhaust in free air. Not near a window or door if you can help it.
    Point the exhaust down wind. 
  • brucem
    brucem Member Posts: 44
    I'm liking the idea of a generator and plugin Boiler. OK the cost is a little high, but it should last me a lifetime, and if it happens to be in the winter, the snow makes a great chiller for liquids, know what I mean,nudge nudge, know what I mean, say no more?
  • fentonc
    fentonc Member Posts: 178
    How much power does the boiler actually draw? If it’s very little, one of those big battery bank + inverter units like an Eco Flow Delta or similar might work well. Many of them have a pass-through UPS mode where you could just leave it plugged in all the time and it would automatically kick in if the power goes out. No venting, no maintenance, if it runs down you could drag it out to your car to charge it up again.
  • brucem
    brucem Member Posts: 44
    edited October 2022
    Not sure how much it draws, I know it does have some sort of vent device, but its not a fan, just closes it when its not on I think. Sounds like kind of a waste, especially in my old house. But its probably a requirement of some sort.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,546
    A gas fired steam boiler will draw near nothing. Maybe 3-5 amps for the Gas valve and transformer? Short term operation a USP will probably operate it for 10 - 12 hours. A small generator may burn 8 - 10 gals of gas in 8 hours.

    You do have to look at the fuel and where you're going to get it. After Sandy Gasoline and LP were almost unavailable. If you could get it, you were in line for several hours.
  • fentonc
    fentonc Member Posts: 178
    Yeah, it just depends on your personal situation. If your power draw is quite small (and it sounds very small), a UPS/battery bank thing that could be charged from the 12V port on your car or a solar panel you lay out in your yard could probably keep you going close to indefinitely with relatively little hassle. If you have large loads that really need to be supported, a natural gas generator is the way to go, but it needs to be tested and maintained. Gasoline generators are somewhere in the middle, since you need to do more maintenance for them and have confidence you can get fuel when you need it, but they can also support larger loads.

    I have a hydronic gas boiler setup, and i'm working on wiring up a transfer switch and getting a battery bank for it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,440
    One really has to sit down and take some time to analyse what you need to power (and what else would be nice, but not necessary) and how much power that takes, then sit down and figure out what fuels are going to be available (the sun is nice, but for bigger loads the batteries and collectors get cumbersome. Natural gas is great -- if you have it. I'd love to be using diesel myself, but have you priced diesel generators? And then there's gasoline, with a wide variety of models and sizes -- but as has been mentioned availability in an extended power outage can be iffish, and how much are you willing to store on site?). And then, how long is the power likely to be out?

    There is no one size fits all solution.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    fentoncmrhemi
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,203
    These portable power units are getting better all that time. In winter, lights and heat is all you need. Food can be placed outdoors or in a garage to modulate temperature 

    All sorts of solar options plug into the power supply. On my homebuilt camper I have 90 watts of solar, a deep cycle battery. It runs lights and a 12vdc cooler for days,week s even with a bit of solar

    https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/question-of-the-week/the-portable-power-station-challenge/
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • rconkling
    rconkling Member Posts: 49
    Home battery back up. You will be able to take advantage of rebates via the inflation reduction actl

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdeZz4QvxG0