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backup generator

This is a discussion on backup generator within the Urban and Rural Survival forums, part of the Survivalist, Prepper, Bushcrafter, Forest Rangers category; First I want to explain that generators are rated in watts but appliances are probably rated in amps. Always make sure on a generator listing ...

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  1. #1
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    backup generator

    First I want to explain that generators are rated in watts but appliances are probably rated in amps.
    Always make sure on a generator listing that you are looking at run wattage versus surge wattage.

    So, to figure the amperage a generator will provide you divide the wattage by the voltage. a 4000watt generator would be 4000 divided by 120(voltage) or 33amps maximum.

    On the other hand, to figure the wattage of an appliance you know the amperage of you multiply voltage times amperage. So a 9.6amp air conditioner I have would be 9.6 times 120 equal 1152watts.

    Never figure you can get by with minimum size generator.

    As for myself, I need 240VAC for my well pump so got a 5500watt generator in 2003 & has a 30amp 240VAC plug. Can't run everything in the house at the same time but don't have to. Generator saved my butt from the 2004 hurricanes. Also nice that it will power my arc welder.
    Denton likes this.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntingHawk View Post
    First I want to explain that generators are rated in watts but appliances are probably rated in amps.
    Always make sure on a generator listing that you are looking at run wattage versus surge wattage.

    So, to figure the amperage a generator will provide you divide the wattage by the voltage. a 4000watt generator would be 4000 divided by 120(voltage) or 33amps maximum.

    On the other hand, to figure the wattage of an appliance you know the amperage of you multiply voltage times amperage. So a 9.6amp air conditioner I have would be 9.6 times 120 equal 1152watts.

    Never figure you can get by with minimum size generator.

    As for myself, I need 240VAC for my well pump so got a 5500watt generator in 2003 & has a 30amp 240VAC plug. Can't run everything in the house at the same time but don't have to. Generator saved my butt from the 2004 hurricanes. Also nice that it will power my arc welder.
    Also keep in mind your amperage will be limited by the weakest link in the system. For example, if your wire from your generator to the transfer switch is 10 gauge the maximum amperage rating for that wire would be 30 amps only. If you hook up a 9000 watt generator to a circuit with 10 gauge wire and a 100 amp breaker you are asking for an electrical fire.
    Denton likes this.

  3. #3
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    I though you just kept plugging things in until the cord got hot then unplug a couple. Joking, you make a good point. We have 3 and use only what is needed if the power goes out. Another thing to remember is isolate any thing you are running on a generator from the grid, you could kill a repair worker.
    Denton likes this.
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  5. #4
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    Thanks Smitty901. Too many times uneducated "electricians" think they can just run the generator feed into their fuse/circuit breaker panel and run what ever they need to. Not think that the generator will be sending power down the line to whee that unsuspecting repair worker is handling wires knowing they're dead. OPPS. Happened in ILL during a tornado disaster.
    I really want one of these!Hidden Content

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by paraquack View Post
    Thanks Smitty901. Too many times uneducated "electricians" think they can just run the generator feed into their fuse/circuit breaker panel and run what ever they need to. Not think that the generator will be sending power down the line to whee that unsuspecting repair worker is handling wires knowing they're dead. OPPS. Happened in ILL during a tornado disaster.
    I am pretty sure it is illegal in most places to back feed into the grid. Most places require either a transfer switch or an interlock device be installed which would only allow the generator to power your panel if the main breaker is in the off position. People don't realize when your little generator runs back through the transformer on the pole the voltage gets stepped back up considerably and you really can kill a linesman who thinks the power is off.
    tinkerhell likes this.

  7. #6
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    You are correct hence the term "uneducated electricians" referring to the home owner who is uneducated or the neighbor who knows how put a wire under a screw and think they are an electrician.
    I really want one of these!Hidden Content

  8. #7
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    I don't touch my breaker panel.

    My normal largest load is a 15,000BTU AC. Where I put the generator the AC gets directly plugged into it. Everything else is via extension cord & time shared.

    But I do have to roll the generator out to the pump house every morning to run the well pump.
    Last edited by HuntingHawk; 12-22-2014 at 12:01 AM.

  9. #8
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    I've seen some unique ways of wiring a home to make it compatible for a generator. While extension cords may not be the easiest, I feel it is the safest for the home electrician. In my new house down here in AZ, I was amazed to find the normal way for a furnace to be wired to the home was thru a standard 120 volt, 15 Amp 3 prong grounded plug. Al I have to do is pull out of the outlet and connect to the generator I don't have yet. But I'm working on it.
    I really want one of these!Hidden Content

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by paraquack View Post
    I've seen some unique ways of wiring a home to make it compatible for a generator. While extension cords may not be the easiest, I feel it is the safest for the home electrician. In my new house down here in AZ, I was amazed to find the normal way for a furnace to be wired to the home was thru a standard 120 volt, 15 Amp 3 prong grounded plug. Al I have to do is pull out of the outlet and connect to the generator I don't have yet. But I'm working on it.
    I use a 3 prong 240 volt outlet that is usually powering my pool pump. The problem is as I described above, it is a 30 amp circuit with 10 AWG wire which limits me to 30 amps of draw for my panel. I use what is called a "suicide plug" to connect it... LOL

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntingHawk View Post
    First I want to explain that generators are rated in watts but appliances are probably rated in amps.
    Always make sure on a generator listing that you are looking at run wattage versus surge wattage.

    So, to figure the amperage a generator will provide you divide the wattage by the voltage. a 4000watt generator would be 4000 divided by 120(voltage) or 33amps maximum.

    On the other hand, to figure the wattage of an appliance you know the amperage of you multiply voltage times amperage. So a 9.6amp air conditioner I have would be 9.6 times 120 equal 1152watts.

    Never figure you can get by with minimum size generator.

    As for myself, I need 240VAC for my well pump so got a 5500watt generator in 2003 & has a 30amp 240VAC plug. Can't run everything in the house at the same time but don't have to. Generator saved my butt from the 2004 hurricanes. Also nice that it will power my arc welder.
    Knowing that math and cognitive skills will be grossly compromised when the SHTF, I have taken the liberty of doing the math and putting labels on all of my gear that I will want to run and on my inverters
    TG, Slippy and Smitty901 like this.
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