Whole House Generators

Well, shall we label this spring as Wet – and – at times, Stormy. In fact it was so stormy a few weeks ago that we lost power for three days at our home and business. At our Home we have a Whole House Propane Generator that automatically comes on line when the grid shuts down and runs the essentials in our Home i.e. some lights, some receptacles, refrigerator, hot water propane fired heating system, bathroom lights, TV system and microwave. We have a propane gas range which can be operated without electricity. The Appliances that use a lot of power like a Heat Pump, Electric Heat, Electric Clothes Dryer are not connected to the generator. At our business we have a gasoline generator that we “fire up” when needed to operate the lights and cash register so we can be “open for business” in an emergency. It was certainly convenient to have power during the emergency.
The US weather is seemingly becoming more severe. Damaging Hurricanes, Tornados, Drought, Snow Storms, Floods. Lately, when the weather is bad it is really bad. The experts say it is because of global warming. Then of course you have other experts say it isn’t. Apparently the global warming experts” are winning because there are many steps being taken to reduce our emissions!!
Without a Generator if you had a private well you are out of water. It rained hard – so – if you depended on a sump pump to keep your basement dry you were “out of luck”. You could lose a lot of food in your refrigerator or freezer. Burning candles for light soon becomes old and is dangerous. All of a sudden a generator seemed like a great idea. Depending how soon you made that decision and how soon you went shopping for one depends whether you found one in stock. They were flying of the shelf. If you bought a generator in the past and if you hadn’t run it periodically, possibly it didn’t start. In addition most of the generators for sale were in the 5KW range which would power your sump pump, your well pump, your boiler / furnace, a refrigerator and a few lights. On top of that you had to run extension cords from the generator to the electrical appliance or lighting fixture and keep gasoline handy so you could fill the small tank on the generator to keep it running 24/7.
Enter the Whole House Generator which is Propane or Nat Gas powered and comes on automatically. Not surprising we’ve had a few requests for quotations for Whole House Generators since the storm. They are set up to sense when the power goes off; then, wait a short period of time before coming on line. There is an interior switch box that automatically removes you from the electrical grid and hooks you up to priority circuits in your house. Nice!! You can choose a large one to power everything in your Home or a smaller one to power only circuits that you need. You program it to startup once a week and run for a few minutes. If the unit doesn’t start it will give you a red fault signal. Nice!! Most people install a 10KW unit which will handle most of the priority loads and uses about 1.25 gallons of propane per hour at ½ load and 1.93 gallons at full load. Installed cost is in the $7000 to $8000 range depending primarily on how involved it is to sort out your priority circuits and how big of a generator you want.
Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division. He graduated from Penn State with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is the chair of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board. You can contact him at cbierly@bierlygroup.com or call him at 814-349-3000.