Living Off-Grid: Generators


| 5/3/2012 4:42:00 PM


Tags: off-grid living, generators, backup power, batteries, Washington, Ed Essex,

Generators

Generators just have to be one of the best inventions ever — power when and where you need it.

I’m not any kind of generator expert; I’m just a user and a big fan of what these machines have allowed us to do over the years. In the past, I’ve owned several types and sizes of generators in my commercial construction company. We were able to work way up in the mountains or anywhere else that power wasn’t available. We’ve built everything from buildings to bridges with nothing more than a generator to power our tools.

Two Types of Generators

Right now, living off the grid, I own two generators. One is an inexpensive, 3,500-watt portable generator. The other is a more expensive, 12-kw home standby generator.

I use the small one for all kinds of things. If I have to install a new entry gate, I just load my tools, materials, and the generator up in a vehicle, drive it to the work spot and get to work. When we camped on our property, I used it to pump water into a holding tank. I've also used it to charge my trailer batteries. Sometimes I may have to load it up along with the air compressor and drive to a remote spot on the property and air up a flat tire. There is almost no limit to the usefulness of a small portable generator.

The only thing I would recommend in a small one is that you go for one that has a 220-volt option. I still use mine to pump water on occasion. I also use it sometimes to charge my solar batteries and that is done on 220-volt because of the way my system is wired. You may never use the 220-volt option, but it sure is nice to have when you do need it.

Most of us who live off-grid and use an alternative power source such as solar, wind or hydro, also have a battery-backup power storage system. That is where my power comes from at night or anytime the sun isn’t shining and the solar panels aren’t producing power.


barry
7/26/2016 1:42:34 PM

ALL BRIGGS STAND BYS ARE NOT WARRANTED AS WELL BUT THEY ARE THE BEST WHEN IT COMES TO LASTING. CHANGE OIL AND FILTER OFTEN. I WORK ON ALL THESE LOW COST UNITS AND THEY ARE ALL OK. BY FAR ANY WATER COOLED UNIT IS BETTER. EVEN A HONDA.


susan
5/27/2014 3:29:33 PM

We have a Generac 10kw standby for our 48V off-grid home. It is CRAP! I have already been through 3 engine replacements. What does Generac say about this....you are not supposed to run it for more than 1000 hrs. Who needs it? I'm looking to a different solution...not sure what it will be yet, but it has to be better than this. Meanwhile I have a small 5kw portable generator that runs just fine...it is just not automatic.


first l
3/15/2013 9:19:17 PM

Totally agree. In Europe the CE mark (voluntary conformity to standards) is all that is required and doesn't involve expensive destructive lab tests, inspections, or adding "extra" protection where it does no good. And yet Europe hasn't burned to the ground. Ironic how we see Europe as socialist where the state controls every aspect of private life, but there is often much more freedom than in the US where big companies are locked in, competition and innovation is locked out, and zoning regulations keep most people from having any choice to produce rather than to consume.


meredith vezina
3/3/2013 5:28:29 PM

Been living off grid for approximately 7 years. We have a Kohler 12KW that we use approx. 150 hours per year. We use solar and wind energy when possible. I am religious about changing oil, air and plugs on the Kohler, but we are starting to experience some major problems and it is almost impossible to get a good mechanic to come out to the backcountry. And it is always a $600-$700 service call. After having this 12KW for a number of years, I think the size is over-kill and I am thinking about going to a Generac 8KW. I think that this size should charge the batteries without shunting as much energy. We have a 48 volt system. The Generac seems to use less propane per hour and should cost less to operate. But more important is that it weighs only 220 Lbs and could be loaded onto my truck and and brought to the big city for servicing. I have a portable back-up to use while servicing. Any thoughts or words of wisdom? Thanks


pcggenerators
10/12/2012 6:29:18 PM

KOHLER also has a new off grid generator that includes a warranty. We've written about it here: http://www.palmergenerator.com/new-off-grid-generator/


jennine wardle
5/11/2012 4:37:15 PM

We have two 2kw generators that can be patched together to produce 4kw. Not only does this allow us to have more power when needed, but it also means we always have a spare for our normal power needs. Of course, out in the boonies, you should always have a backup for your backup, and we also have a 3kw generator. All of these have onboard inverters and are true sinewave so they won't damage electronics (or negate a whole bunch of warranties). We're looking into a slightly larger multi-fuel model, just in case the winters temps or availability limits our access/use of the primary fuel. And, of course, our homestead welder also has it's own 220v generator, which is often the one we use for the hydrant pumps and such when needed.


rick
5/6/2012 2:53:49 AM

UL is a sham. They SUPPRESS more good tech than they pass to you.


robert johnson
5/4/2012 9:33:54 PM

If you go to http://www.generac.com/Residential/EcoGen_Series/Product/6kW/ you will find a generator where it says its for off grid use. It is UL listed too.




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