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Whole house generator questions


hueyjazz

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We retired to our mountain top log home.  We know we get a couple power outages a year.  Most of these are only a few hours long but the last one was days.   All are from trees falling on power lines which is the price you pay living in the middle of the woods.  I come to figure I rather be comfortable than rough it anymore.   While I know how to hook up a portable generator my wife would burn down the woods trying to do it.  I need an automatic solution with the right features.  We aren't power hogs, but I do have a lot more things with electronics which many are related to being remote for communications. 

I would like clean sinewave power.  I also need to know smart added features to get. 

Two peaks over exist a ski mountain.  We get snow and cold more extreme than most.   I know cold weather features are a must but what? 

From my research, Kohler and Cummins are good makes and those are the two closest installers.  I have an 800-gallon propane tank on property, so I have adequate fuel.   I plan a gravel bed on which a factory concrete pad will go as we do frost heave. 

I think 14kw will be more than adequate and would save fuel cost, but would I regret not having the capacity of 20kw?   I'll need 220 volt for well pump, two zone Mini-split heat pump.   Dryer too?  Everything else is fairly low amp 110V.

And oh, I absolutely hate dealing with salesmen, but I know I will have to get job turnkey.   Or, Is it better for me to better for me to order unit and hire trades?  (Obviously adding risks but is it rocket science?)

I was 40 years a facilities manager.   I have a very good working knowledge of construction and implementation but at this stage in my life I rather have someone else install.  Frankly, I never installed a small generator running off of propane.  (Substation, yes.)    What should I look for in an installer and installation?   I believe any PM service will be well within my capabilities.  Is a service contract really needed if the unit comes with decent warranty?

 

thx

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Over thirty years ago when I was an electrician 10KW was a big unit.

When I had my condo sized by for a generator I was surprised when they recommended 22KW. 
 

The new prevailing thought is to go big, unit runs quieter, and lees strain on the unit. 
 

Kind of makes sense because when I used small units at my house over the years, 2-5KW, I burned them up quickly running  them flat out for sometimes 5-10 days. 
 

I would look at my full load and see what size is almost double and then consider the cost. 
 

Do you have A/C?? 
 

What kind of heat??
 

 

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FWIW, I have a Generac 20 kW that was installed 9 years ago and used quite a few times every year.  Until this most recent storm, I haven't had much of an issue with it at all.  Runs weekly test cycles to verify things are working as intended between outages and capable of running my entire house (well, electric stove/washer/dryer/freezer/refrigerators/etc, TVs, AC unit).  With the automatic transfer switch, we know we lose power and 10-15 seconds later everything works again.  Hardly notice we're without power until it comes back on.  If I was asked if I'd install it again, the answer would be absolutely!

Good luck with your search!

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The owner of the Generac Supercenter of Rochester is an absolute great guy if you’re close enough by to consult with his place. He is a customer of mine and hunts, and he recently bought a new home on one of the Finger Lakes. Fantastic guy who believes in quality service and business practices.

Edited by phade
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We've got a 14kw generac with a 200amp whole house transfer switch.  Basically, it powers the entire house. We have a two head split system, pellet stove, two freezer, and all the other normal household necessities. Above ground pool and a hot tub too.  Obviously didn't have to worry about the pool this time of year.  

The only gas appliance is the kitchen stove, but in the spring the old oil furnace is getting swapped out for propane. 

Last power outage was a little over 24hrs. We took showers, watched TV, even went in the hot tub. 

When we move south in a yr or so, I'll definitely have one installed if the place doesn't already have one. 

Oh.. I did purchase my own generator and transfer switch combo from Generatorsdirect.com or something similar. I subbed out the gas install and the electrical hookups and had them inspected for insurance reasons.  I saved a little under 2k doing it this way. 

Edited by mowin
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Generac owns the residential market. Cat and Onan/Cummins are more common with your bigger commercial gensets. assuming you have a 200 amp service it depends on what your diversity is compared to your connected load, because everything isn't going to run at once. generators don't do well if they're way underloaded. talk to someone about sizing one for your service. it could only serve basic utilities like heat, water, cooking, refrigeration, with minimal lights and receptacles. it could be sized to handle your whole house like nothing happened except your cable or internet is out.

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Going through process myself & im surprised at all the variations  in price quotes . 
I was sized for a 20kv Kohler and received 2 price quotes with entirely different options

Quote #1 

generator , 200 amp transfer switch , Svc disconnect, surge protector on entire house as well as gen set, gas install and InLine Gas Filter (I’m Natural Gas) and he builds a base out of landscape blocks and places Gen Set on top of that .  All permits and gas loads done by installer . I kinda like the  idea of the platform and would do this regardless of whom I choose to install. My thinking is weed whacking, blowing and snow will all be in direct contact if installed at ground level, having it an additional 10-12 high can’t hurt and will make maintenance that much easier being elevated . 
$15,500 est +/-
 

Quote #2

generator ,200 amp transfer switch , & house surge protector . Vendor stated I would need to contact township for setbacks and the like . He also stated I would need to get a plumber to do the fuel install (additional $1000-1500 ) ,I would also need to pull all permits & have it inspected …. 
$12,000 

Now my belief even as a tradesman is not to leave anyone an excuse as to why something failed .. now $15k is a little ridiculous but going a la cart doesn’t seem like a smart decision to me . 
 

im in process of getting some more  estimates 

what’s your opinion ??

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20 minutes ago, TimberGhost said:

Going through process myself & im surprised at all the variations  in price quotes . 
I was sized for a 20kv Kohler and received 2 price quotes with entirely different options

Quote #1 

generator , 200 amp transfer switch , Svc disconnect, surge protector on entire house as well as gen set, gas install and InLine Gas Filter (I’m Natural Gas) and he builds a base out of landscape blocks and places Gen Set on top of that .  All permits and gas loads done by installer . I kinda like the  idea of the platform and would do this regardless of whom I choose to install. My thinking is weed whacking, blowing and snow will all be in direct contact if installed at ground level, having it an additional 10-12 high can’t hurt and will make maintenance that much easier being elevated . 
$15,500 est +/-
 

Quote #2

generator ,200 amp transfer switch , & house surge protector . Vendor stated I would need to contact township for setbacks and the like . He also stated I would need to get a plumber to do the fuel install (additional $1000-1500 ) ,I would also need to pull all permits & have it inspected …. 
$12,000 

Now my belief even as a tradesman is not to leave anyone an excuse as to why something failed .. now $15k is a little ridiculous but going a la cart doesn’t seem like a smart decision to me . 
 

im in process of getting some more  estimates 

what’s your opinion ??

Holy sh|t.. 

I did my own base. 4x4 with crusher run.  I've built dozens of these for clients over the years.  Cost less than $100. 

Look into generatorsdirect.com (or something similar). It's where I purchased my generator with a 200 amp transfer switch/ surge protector. 

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8 hours ago, mowin said:

Holy sh|t.. 

I did my own base. 4x4 with crusher run.  I've built dozens of these for clients over the years.  Cost less than $100. 

Look into generatorsdirect.com (or something similar). It's where I purchased my generator with a 200 amp transfer switch/ surge protector. 

Yeah,  I know .. crazy . The unit with pad & transfer switch is approximately 6,000 . Then need to add the Surge Protectors (2) , Disconnect and additional pad material and of course LABOR … that’s the electrical end

Plumbing is additional.  Add time for filing and unforeseen nonsense and it does add up. In my area 12-14K is the norm . When second quote said 12 I was like that’s great but than mentioned subbing the plumbing and it was my responsibility as well as gathering permits … didn’t sound like such a bargain any longer . 

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So, there's several good websites to get pricing  (With shipping inc.)  I'm in a cold environment so some of this is optional.

Kohler 20 KW 20 RCA-QS203:   $5500

200 Amp transfer panel:  $800

3" factory mounting pad:  $400

Soft start module:  $240

Surge suppression module:  $140

Cold weather kit:  $515

Battery heater:  $220

Oil heater:  $400

This is all factory parts from Kohler.   I highly doubt I need last two.

So, call it $7595 in generator before labor and materials.   Utilities are mostly there in close proximity.  I find it hard to believe there's much more than 2k to install.   What am I missing to justify these install prices? 

I have a salesman coming in a couple weeks.  Should be fun.   Might be like a Jehovah Witness.   

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15 minutes ago, hueyjazz said:

So, there's several good websites to get pricing  (With shipping inc.)  I'm in a cold environment so some of this is optional.

Kohler 20 KW 20 RCA-QS203:   $5500

200 Amp transfer panel:  $800

3" factory mounting pad:  $400

Soft start module:  $240

Surge suppression module:  $140

Cold weather kit:  $515

Battery heater:  $220

Oil heater:  $400

This is all factory parts from Kohler.   I highly doubt I need last two.

So, call it $7595 in generator before labor and materials.   Utilities are mostly there in close proximity.  I find it hard to believe there's much more than 2k to install.   What am I missing to justify these install prices? 

I have a salesman coming in a couple weeks.  Should be fun.   Might be like a Jehovah Witness.   

It's cold here.. no cold weather kit, no oil or battery heater, made my own pad for less than $100.  Just saved $1400. 

In 2022 my 14kw generac with 200 amp whole house switch was $4200.  Electrician was $2200. Gas line install was $750.  

I easily could have done the gas line install myself, but for insurance reasons I chose to sub it out. 

Every place I called for a estimate was at least 6k just for the generator.  By purchasing it myself and subbing out the electric and gas, I saved about $3600. 

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Generatorsdirect has a 22k with 200 whole house transfer switch with AC shielding and Wifi for $5500. 

Might be worth calling some local guys and getting electric and gas quotes. 

Getting the permit from the town was simple, and I think cost $50. The inspection was $250. 

Remember, even if you have a company come in and do everything, you still need a permit, and have to have it inspected.  The company can't inspect their own work. 

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2 hours ago, mowin said:

It's cold here.. no cold weather kit, no oil or battery heater, made my own pad for less than $100.  Just saved $1400. 

In 2022 my 14kw generac with 200 amp whole house switch was $4200.  Electrician was $2200. Gas line install was $750.  

I easily could have done the gas line install myself, but for insurance reasons I chose to sub it out. 

Every place I called for an estimate was at least 6k just for the generator.  By purchasing it myself and subbing out the electric and gas, I saved about $3600. 

Installing gas is an option as a plumber myself but all the reasons mentioned warranty , insurance etc are the reasons I don’t cut corners . I found that if you try to save money and sub everything out in the long run should an issue arise let the finger pointing begin … 

I had one guy out today and my system instant all that straight forward .. I have three sub panels for a detached shop with its own heating unit . So being there’s a 100 amp subpanel the load shedding transfer switch requires  an additional switch .. and so it begins …

tbc 

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Edited by TimberGhost
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Mowin

I agree with you that some of this stuff I rather do myself.  I managed large industrial facilities for over 40 years.  Managing installations of large equipment was my stock and trade.  But really freaking large installations.   Still with the right trades I think this isn't rocket science, but I do appreciate input.

Having and good and stable foundation is a must.  I rather do that myself as no one going to do the job I will do.  And I know needs to be done as property does have springs.   I build for frost heaves.  Ordering, moving and rigging equipment are all in my wheelhouse.   (And I got two SIL for digging one of which looks a lot like Hoss, only bigger)

As far as cold weather, well; I live on top of a mountain and they call me Nanook.  We do go negative, and the cold weather kit is good for engine longevity.  Cheap insurance and it's nothing fancy.  Carb heater and such.  I do think oil and battery heater silly. 

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6 minutes ago, TimberGhost said:

Installing gas is an option as a plumber myself but all the reasons mentioned warranty , insurance etc are the reasons I don’t cut corners . I found that if you try to save money and sub everything out in the long run should an issue arise let the finger pointing begin … 

I had one guy out today and my system instant all that straight forward .. I have three sub panels for a detached shop with its own heating unit . So being there’s a 100 amp subpanel the load shedding transfer switch requires  an additional switch .. and so it begins …

tbc 

No big deal to sub things out as long as they are insured and licensed.  I'm not suggesting hiring someone off of Craigslist. 

Everything still has to be inspected by a licensed inspector. I had to send in a copy of the inspection certificate to my insurance to prove everything passed. 

If you're adding in your shop, that's definitely going to add to the cost. My shop has it's own 200amp service, so it would need its own generator. I shut the water off and drain the line in the winter, don't need water in there that often, even during the summer. 

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