generator: portable? hooked to gas line? other options?

I am considering buying a generator for my home. It looks like a portable gas or propane powered model is the easiest and least expensive (as compared to hooking one up to my gas line) but suring hurricane sandy, my power was out for 5 days and my gas boiler did not work (due to electronic ignition) and it got a bit cold. So I'm asking if anybody has any advice. I live in the northeast. Thx!

8 Answers

  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    You basically got to rough it (like camping for a few days) Whorecane Sandy was one of those odd storms. The Utility companies are better prepared for the next time around. You can bet on it.

    Natural gas will not work either because its meter is electric and the gas safety valves in the furnace use electricity and the fan uses electricity.(220V)

    Get lots of warm clothes and firewood and have a campfire outside. Solar power may be the answer but you would have to set that up AFTER THE STORM HAS PASSED or your panels will be BLOWN AWAY.

    The other option is having a large propane tank though I am not sure on the electrical requirements for that.

    . You may be able to do it with a gasoline electric generator though your furnace fan needs to be wired to 220 V AC. for the gas furnace.

    That is why the linesmen hurry to get everyone connected to power ASAP.

    Or get friendly with the neighbors that have a FIREPLACE OR A WOOD STOVE. Forget electricity for your fridge. If it is real cold outside then keep the food out in the cold. Though a fridge can hold most of the cool for about a week.

    Camping gear like a stove that uses White gas is good for cooking on unless you have a propane BBQ. You will live. Your great great great grandfather did on less.

  • Jim W
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    Several reasons to choose each. For emergency use with limited power and safe storage of fuel a diesel power is a very safe choice. Gasoline power is probably the cheapest of the three power sources, propane gives less power from the same unit. Research the newer units that can be used on propane or gasoline with the turn of a switch. Onsite storage of the fuel is critical during storm season. Just because you have gas from the utility does not mean it will be there during a major electrical power outage. The gas company uses electrical motors to pump their product to you.

  • 12 months ago

    Buy a whole house natural gas or propane generator and have it installed by a professional. You will never regret that decision.

  • Dale-E
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    You are on the right track. Gas is the only way for an emergency electric generator.

    Using buried gas utility line often requires a carburetor set up for that specific gas service.

    Having a separate gas tank, might mean having a carburetor for each. The nice thing about utility gas service is its unlimited supply that never needs a refill or struggling with a very heavy gas bottle.

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  • 12 months ago

    If you have the money, a good argument can be made for a battery backup. The Tesla Powerwall supplies 7 days worth of backup. Add solar panels, and you can stretch that ever further.

    Having said that, I live in the Northeast and do use a gas powered portable backup generator. It's 5500 watts and I can power the well pump, furnace, lights, fridge, freezer, and a couple of burners on the electric stove. The key is to be mindful not to run everything at once. As far as hooking it up, check with your electric company about local codes. It's vital that the generator can't backfeed into the utility lines.

    It can be as simple as running some extension cords into the house, but that's not convenient and wouldn't work for your furnace. The right way is to install a generator receptacle on the outside of the house and wire that to a transfer switch at your breaker box. When you lose power, you roll the generator out of storage, plug it into the receptacle, and manually flip the transfer switch. Not something you mess with unless you know the power will be out for hours.

    So the wire, receptacle, and transfer switch will cost upwards of $300 and up, depending on how many circuits you want to run through the transfer switch. It *can* be a DIY job if you're comfortable workiing inside your breaker box (and local codes allow) otherwise factor in the cost of an electrician for a few hours.

    The other concern is maintenance. You need to keep fresh gas in the generator, or at least treat it with fuel stabilizer.

  • chris
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    I was pretty busy during Sandy, helping people I worked with hook up portable generators for all of the reasons you mentioned. Here is the thing, if it's winter and you just want to run your gas boiler, sump pump, fridge and a few lights, sure you could go out in the hurricane / Nor'easter and run some extension cords and drive 50 miles inland to wait in a long line for gas or propane! Or, you could flick a switch, have power in minutes and go help your neighbor figure out his goofy setup before he gets killed.

    The problem with portable generators is they are built to be "portable" and you are spending extra money for that. It's like buying a camper that doesn't leave your yard.

    Most of the people I helped that week, now have a permanent whole house generator. So should you!

    Think about it before wasting your money!

    Plus, if it's summer time, your not going to have a portable big enough to run the AC!

  • y
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    If you have the money, having a whole house installed, sized and all that jazz. Would be your best bet. You already have natural gas, so that is easy enough.

    If you are going with a portable, they have pro and cons. For myself, the run time and the cost of propane at the time, shorter and more expensive then gas. So I went with gas. Many communities require them to be hooked up by licensed professionals now. No homeowner mickey mouse, so factor that into your cost. My town, won;t allow them to be hooked up straight into a panel even with panels that have interlock systems. So look into that and factor transfer switches into your cost. The reason is too many take shortcuts, wire them in through their dryer circuits or some such crap. Forget to turn off the main and the linemen can get zapped from your generator. Even though my generator won't come close to 50 amps, I wired it so I could always upgrade. I forget the exact ratings of the one I bought, but it hits 30 amps and that was what I used for my guide as to what is on and off. I have well water, so it can power that as well as the sterilizer and and such. Plus, at the same time, it can run my fridge, freezer chest, gas furnace, my fios and big screen TV(don't want to miss a game and want to be able to use the internet) and a couple of outlets we use for charging phones and such. I can live by candle light, without using the washer or dryer, or the dishwasher for a few days/week. I can always play with what is powered or not if something else comes up. I also have a mini generator that can run a space heater if I needed. I switched to electric outdoor tools, and I basically use the little one for the chainsaws or crap out in the yard that may need to be addressed.

  • 12 months ago

    My opinion: Check what wattage you need for fridge, freezer, and other essential pieces of equipment...not the entire house (it will be cheaper). run those items by extension cord or you'll need an interlock switch for your house (more$$$). You only need to run a fridge/freezer for a few hours every day. Modern ones are well insulated. Power will come back on eventually.

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