Guardian 15KW generator

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by toddrod, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. toddrod

    toddrod New Member

    Messages:
    82
    State:
    Vacherie,LA
    I am planning on buying a Generac Guardian 15KW air cooled automatic home generator. Anyone has any pros / cons for this unit.
     
  2. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I used to install and work on them.
    The system itself is a nice system but that 15KW generator drinks fuel.

    Its 15 KW only if you are powering it with propane. Natural gas will give around 13-13.5 KW.

    One of the requirements is a 500 gallon propane tank. You can expect 50-60 hours run time on a whole 500 gallons (tanks are only filled 80%).
    Lets just say giving the benefit of the doubt to fuel consumption that it will cost you a 1000 bucks to generate for 2-1/2 days.

    If I were going to go Gaurdian I would go with the smallest one they offered.
    The reason is that the 15 KW isnt going to power a whole house anyway.
    In the event of a sustained power loss event I just want to make sure I have some lights, the ability to pump water from the well, and can simultaneously run my freezers and refrigerators. It doesnt take anywhere near 15KW to accomplish that.
     

  3. toddrod

    toddrod New Member

    Messages:
    82
    State:
    Vacherie,LA
    The one I am looking at is rated at 15KW on Natural gas, which is what I would be running it on. It is rated at approx 245 cu ft per hour which at todays prices work out to only $1.96/hr to run at full load. It will run my entire house, including the central air. I have thought about dropping down to a 10kw and then just get some small window units to keep the rooms cool. I am not dead set on anything yet, so any comments are welcome.
     
  4. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    You have to keep in mind that the 15KW generator isnt 15KW running on natural gas.
    Natural gas doesnt put out the horsepower that propane does.
    There is no engine difference at all between the two. The only difference is the orifice.
    That was the first question when installing. What fuel will you use. Then I could change the orifice to whichever.
    Something else to think about is if you had a catastrophic event like a hurricane or flood is the natural gas still going to be available.

    In my opinion a better option is buying a welder.
    A Miller Bobcat 225 has a 10KW generator onboard. The 250 has a 10.5 KW.
    The 225 can be had for around 3500.00.

    Going this route you can still buy a small generator panel for under a 100 bucks that will do the same exact thing the Guardian will do except self start.
    With the welder you also have the ability to actually use your purchase in other ways and carry it with you if you move or loan it to mom and dad if they need it.

    If you go the welder route. I would build or have built a trailer no bigger then the welder itself with a fold away tongue. That way it will neatly store away in the garage until you need it.

    Guardian makes a good generator but there are downsides to them.
    Guardian has its own engines. You have to get parts and engines from Guardian or a Guardian dealer. They got you there.
    It sits out in the weather. The welder will outlast it.

    Me personally, if I'm going to spend thousands on a purchase I want to use it more then once or twice a year or never.

    Running anything electronic off generator power is taking a chance. No matter what Guardian or anyone else says.
    It only takes one surge to cause alot of damage to air conditioners and other electronics.
    If you arent a licensed electrician I wouldnt try installing it.
    If you hire someone to install it, dont hire them if they aren't Guardian certified. They can save you money in the long run.
    If I werent licensed I would buy from a dealer not a box store dealer.
    The dealers out on the street are going to have package prices with maintenance agreements for 1-10 years and they have certified technicians.
    You'll also be dealing directly with your seller and installer instead of a 3rd party situation.

    I could have had any of those lower Guardian models below cost. nope, I dont have one. At first when we got tied up into them I wanted one bad but I didnt impulse buy. I realized that hurricane Fran in '96 was an event that hasnt repeated itself in 11 years and that little inconvenience of a week without power still wasnt worth the cost of the generator or the maintenance on it.
    I went portable and I can run a fan for a few days without dying.
    Actually the Miller will run everything I want to run including a 4 ton Air conditioner. I dont run the AC though. I'd rather stretch the fuel that may be hard to get after a catastrophic event.
     
  5. Hootowlc3

    Hootowlc3 New Member

    Messages:
    409
    State:
    Florida
    I was thinking of buying a generator just large enough to run a couple lights , a fan, freezer and fridge. We were out of power for 4 days. It wasn't so bad even without a generator. I have all the camping equipment to do the job. We just lost a lot of meat in the freezer. The worst was, we were without water for 3 days.
    We have started stocking up for this season of hurricanes. Learned a lot when the last 3 hit.
     
  6. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I forgot to mention. Those Bobcats are nice. Quiet running, fuel efficient and the best part. They are AC/DC. You can Mig, TiG, and even plug a plasma cutter into it. Its a real versatile machine if you ever had thoughts of doing some welding or do weld occasionally.
    They have some good engines too. Seems like they run forever.

    I think there is a diesel option on the Bobcat too. I'd have to look that up to be sure.
     
  7. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    My key board had stuff spilled on it.It aint typeing good:angry:
    I have done the camping thing in winter and summer when stuff happens from weather.
    Easyier in winter for me.LOL.:cool2:
    Mark, Good Advice on welder first choice and portable to get r done..
    I'd go for welder if Icould afford it.
    Even if Icould not weld. Its easy to learn and handy and get r done on weathers tuff.
     
  8. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Hoot, a 3500watt would give you 29 amps at 120 volts.
    Plenty to give you lights, well, and run the refrigerator and freezer.
    your only constant load would be lights and the only time you would push the envelope is if the freezer, the refrigerator, and the well all started at the same time. Once they get past start the amps drop dramatically.

    The only other concern would be the appliances themselves. If they are 20years old or so they probally arent as efficient and may start harder.

    If yall run generators plugged in through a dryer outlet or tied onto a breaker, remember to atleast cut the main off. I always pull my meter out because mains do fail and when you lose power in these situations you never know if a surge ran the line first and welded the contacts or disabled the main breaker.
    A little generator can kill a lineman on a pole 5 miles away if you backfeed the lines.
    Thats one of the biggest dangers with these hurricanes. People not properly shunting the incoming line voltage potential.

    If ya dont have a meter, buy one. Put it in the hurricane kit.
    When you check for voltage check each hot to ground , each hot to neutral, and hot to hot.
    Checking with a 2 lead meter is imperative before you go digging around in your electrical system. You could have just dropped one phase or dropped a neutral. Both are dangerous conditions as far as THINKING you lost power.

    I just dont trust a main. I've tried to cut power off machinery and houses using mains many times and couldnt because of a faulty breaker.

    OHMS law for sizing generators.

    4500 watts divided by 240 volts = 18 amps at 240 volts.
    4500 watts divided by 120 volts = 37 amps at 120 volts.

    A 60 watt light bulb takes .5 amps. 60 watts divided by 120 volts = .5 amps
     
  9. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Dano, When you start pricing good portable generators like a Honda engine mated to a Honda generator The welder aint far off the same mark price wise.
    Yea, all Honda generators aint the same.:eek:oooh:
    you might get a Honda motor and God knows what for a generator.
     
  10. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    Thats right. might as well get the miller. More bang for the buck.
     
  11. bootshowl

    bootshowl New Member

    Messages:
    2,288
    State:
    Indiana, J
    Great info and good advice Mark. Wondered about the backfeeding the generator thru the dryer recepticle. Wouldn't you just be energizing one phase/bank of the service panel ??? A bouble breaker feeds off the same bank doesn't it ? And I'm with ya on the main disconnect. Pull the meter.
    :smile2:
     
  12. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    If the generator puts out 240 volts you can back feed through the dryer outlet and power the house panel with 240 volts and selectively cut on circuit breakers that the generator can handle.

    The first key here is to have your breaker panel properly labeled. It becomes your control console.
    Your generator may run your stove only along with nothing else.
    You would make sure every breaker is cut off except the dryer breaker you are back feeding through.
    Then you would cut on the stove breaker. After the cooking is done you cut that breaker off and cut on others.

    If you are going to use a generator I highly advise a little preliminary work with an ampmeter.
    While you have power turn on appliances and get an amp reading reading. Then there wont be any guess work and fried generators.

    For a stove I would get a reading with a small eye running. Thats all the stove you'll be concerned about.

    I should have mentioned for those that dont know.
    Generators are labeled in watts and KW's.
    A KW is 1000 watts. A 4500 watt generator is also known as a 4.5 KW generator.
     
  13. bootshowl

    bootshowl New Member

    Messages:
    2,288
    State:
    Indiana, J
    Mark, here's where I'm confused. Isn't single phase 240, just 2 feeds of 120 and a neutral? As the service coming in? So if you could back feed thru the dryer outlet, then the distribution panel legs must be offset for feed, left and right as you go down the panel either on the right or left hand. Other words, breaker 1 is one leg of feed, breaker 3 is the other leg of feed.....and breaker 2 is one leg of feed and breaker 4 is the other leg of feed an so forth down to however many breakers ya have? So wherever yer double breaker is, either on the left or right bank you're putting 120 back to each leg. Is that right?
    :embarassed:
     
  14. beeheck

    beeheck New Member

    Messages:
    631
    State:
    Iowa / Missouri
    wow, some good information here, we have a home on a lake and have lost power a couple times so when we retire down there we were going to get a Guardian but I'm re-thinking that, that's for sure. I hope someone picks up on this and puts it into the Library for future reference. Thanks to Mark J for his input he mentions some stuff I would never have thought of and I most likely would off gone with a non-dealer setup. Now I think I'll go with a Miller as I do a little welding on the side, think I'll print out the stuff I need and file it for later use, thanks!
     
  15. bootshowl

    bootshowl New Member

    Messages:
    2,288
    State:
    Indiana, J
    Put yer ?'s up an get erh done? I hate it when I see em with the jumper cables to the service panel and a pig tail off the generator....& I've seen it. Spooky. We are'nt as scared of electric as we should be sometimes. Good grounding is always important with generators also. Can't learn if ya don't ask.
     
  16. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC

    You are correct. You can plug a two pole breaker in anywhere in the panel and you'll have one leg stabbed on each phase.
    Single phase does consist of two hots and a neutral.
    Grounding is a good point. Wherever you plan to place your portable to generate its a good idea to drive a ground rod to ground the generator.
    In alot of cases of lost power like hurricanes and ice stroms, the electrical service may have suffered damage to the point that your home no longer has a grounded electrical system.

    What I prefer to see if you are going to back feed a panel is to install an outlet that matches your generator outlet. Put it on its own breaker in the panel. Make a cord of the correct ampacity with a male plug on each end.
    Backfeeding a panel isnt the right or proper way to introduce genrator power into your home but I realize a huge majority of people arent going to the expense of doing it the right way by installing a transfer switch.
    You'll spend more installing a transfer switch then you probally spent on your generator.

    The next best option that is UL approved and to code is installing a generator panel. You can get small ones. Basicly what it does is transfer only those those circuits you want to supply power to out of the house panel and to it. Then you feed from the genrator panel back to those same breakers in the house panel they came. You create a loop.
    The generator plugs directly into the panel or you can remotely locate that plug. The creative use of a main breaker in the generator panel breaks the ties with the house panel. Some of these panels even have an ampmeter on them digital or solid state so you can monitor your load.
    This is alot cheaper then the traditional service transfer switch.
    Some of these panels are under a 100 bucks and with some knowledge of the electrical field be installed by the home owner. Its pretty straight forward.

    Here is an example of one of those panels
    http://www.geindustrial.com/cwc/Dispatcher?REQUEST=PRODUCTS&famid=19&catid=147&id=lc-pmggp

    I'm not against a Guardian generator. I think they are great for the elderly and disabled. They are expensive particularly when you factor in how much you'll actually use it and the continued maintenance. It has to be looked after on a regular basis. So much as a bad battery and its not starting up when you need it. Even though its in a nice cover its still in the weather and subjected to heat and cooling cycles with moisture present. Its not a buy it forget it thing.

    I would say the biggest mistake most people make is trying to buy the biggest generator they can get their hands on or afford.
    Being without electricity is an inconveinance its not for a life time.
    You can get by with lights, refigerator, water, freezer, and some outlets to run small appliances like a coffe pot. If you have gas heat it doesnt take much generator to run your heat unit.
    The bigger the generator the more fuel it takes.
    Fuel can be a rare or hard item to come by in the aftermath of a hurricane or ice storm.
     
  17. bluejay

    bluejay Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,494
    State:
    Napoleon, Mo.
    Thanks for the info Mark. Very good post. Should be in the library!!
     
  18. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I was just looking at some Guardian literature. Its the consumer literature for the 16 KW genset and reports 2.51 gallons an hour of Propane usage.
    You can figure a 100 bucks a day to run it on that figure. Alot more under full load.
    That figure is not a full load figure. That 2.51 gallons is very conservative for that generator. Thats a 30 horse engine operating in the 3500 RPM range.