Posted by: Dan Sprague | January 26, 2013

House Portable Generators

House Portable Generators

With houses so electric dependent on everything, when there is a power outage everything just stops. A portable generator can easily keep you and your house from going back to the dark ages (for a short time).

After living on our boat for a number of years, working and living with limited power is not that big of a deal to us. It is a little inconvenient, but no big deal. Our neighbor goes in to meltdown mode when the power goes out. It is rather funny to see them “know the end of the world has come”.

We have a portable generator we can roll out of storage and fire it up and have all the important things operational.

If you get a portable generator, the size you get will limit what you can run off it. You first need to make a list of things that are a must to run. The refrigerator and freezer, lights in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom are the most important.   Anything else is just nice to have. An entertainment center is low on the list. A radio and TV are nice but a radio is all you really need. (Wife’s comment: Just a radio is Dark Ages.) 😎  A LED light bulb in lighting fixtures makes a big difference in the how much power requirement is needed.

We are on a well for water so that is on our have to list. If you have a pump out septic system that is required in many places now, that would also need to be on the must list. Most everything else is on a just nice to have list.

What we did was mark all the must circuits in the circuit breaker panel with a red dot for “must have” circuits.

We had our electrician install a plug that we plug the generator in to, and this back feeds the generator into the house wiring. You have to disconnect your house from the public electric grid to do this.

You first flip the main circuit to the house to the off position; this takes you off the power grid. You need to put a sign at or on your electric meter that says you are running a generator and you are off the grid. This lets a repairman know you are off the grid and that there is some power in your circuit so he is not hurt.

Next you turn off all unneeded circuits in the house. Now you can plug the generator in to the house. This set up lets anything on the circuits that are left on be used as you normally would. You just need to remember to only use things you really need. When the power comes back on, you turn off and unplug the generator from the house and re-open the main circuit re-connecting to the grid.

If you want to plug your generator in to the house, have your electrician make up a plug in set up for you. It just makes it easy to put the sign out and plug the generator in and have power where you need it.

The other way use the generator is run a power cord from the generator to what you want to run. Everything that you want to use is unplugged from the house and plugged in to the cord from the generator. This is the easiest way but is inconvenient if it is for more than a few hours.

The fuel that is put in your generator should have a fuel stabilizer it. The generator should be started and checked every month. If it sits 6 months it may and probably will not start when you want or need it to. If it will not start when the power goes off it is useless. I have been there and done that one. 8-(

A 3000 watt output generator will power most things. We needed a 6000 watt generator for it to start and run our water pump. You need to add up the watt requirements on your must have list to find out what size generator you may want to buy. You do not want to exceed the capacity of the generator you have. Either the generator or the product or both could be damaged.

My wife gives me the look when I start up the generator and I say “More Power Scotty” when it comes to life. I say it now just to get “the Look”.  😎


Just a quick note on what wattage requirements are for electrical equipment. There is Running Wattage and that is what it pulls when the object is in use and running. There is also Starting Wattage.  A motor run machine takes much more wattage to get the motor running than it uses once it is running.

When running things off a generator always start the largest electric motor first, and then add the other things. The Generator needs to be large enough to handle the total wattage to be used.

A cautionary note on the placement of your generator….locate it where there is good ventilation of the exhaust gasses.  That way you will not be asphyxiated by the exhaust fumes!    All to often you read a sad story of someone who has died from the generator exhaust when it was placed on a porch or too close to a window or door.  Don’t let this happen to you!

So start you generator for your house and say “More Power Scotty!” 😎


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