Generators - Is Bigger Always Better?

Generators - Is Bigger Better?

For me a generator is a must-have item. We frequently lose power here on the island and sometimes the power grid is down for a week or more. It’s funny how we’re all so used to always having electricity and I catch myself turning on lights out of habit even though I know the power is out.

When it comes to having a generator the size of the unit should be considered. A 5000KW or larger generator can power most or all of the average sized home. Here’s the thing though; The bigger the generator the more fuel it will burn. In an extended power outage you can go through a LOT more fuel than you might realize. For instance; I have a 5500KW gasoline generator and it holds about 5 gallons of gas. If I ran it constantly it would consume about 18 gallons for a full day, maybe more. The same goes for other similar sized generators that use diesel, propane, etc.

I’ve learned to minimize my electrical needs.

1) I save money by not constantly having things turned on like the TV, internet router, lights, and other items that are plugged in and consuming power like a cell phone charger. I can get by with very little electrical usage now.

2) I’m not wasting fossil fuels even when the grid is up and running.

3) I’ve converted over to LED lights which are much more energy efficient and they last a long time and are much cheaper to buy these days.

4) I can get by with using a much smaller generator since I really don’t need all that much power.

A great alternative to the large “whole house” generator is to have a much smaller generator like the Honda 1000KW models or similar sized brands. I like the Honda brand and they’re expensive at about $800.  Here’s the Pros and Cons;

Pros:

** The Honda EU1000I is fuel efficient and will consume about 2 gallons of gasoline in a 24 hour period. A standard 5,000 watt generator will consume around 18 gallons of gasoline during a 24 hour period.

** They’re lightweight by comparison to the whole house generators and can easily be lifted into the trunk of a car and used wherever needed. The Honda EU1000i weighs about 28 lbs versus 125 lbs or more on a typical 5000KW generator. The larger generators will take two people to lift.

** The Honda 1000KW generator is very quiet as compared to the whole house generators.

Cons:

** The output on the Honda EU1000i is  only 1000KW at 120 volts. It will not power any 240V circuits. To get 240V you’d need to hook two units together and the expense isn’t worth it. That means it won’t power up things like an electric oven, electric clothes dryer, an electric water heater, etc. It also won’t generate enough power to run appliances that consume more than 1000 watts like a larger toaster, hair dryer, and it’s just barely enough power to run a large microwave oven. It’s designed to power smaller items and run a long time.

The larger Honda EU2200i has an 2200 watt max output and costs around $1000.  The trade-off is a little more fuel burn at about 3 gallons of gasoline in a 24 hour period.

** The smaller generators will not last as long as the larger units when used frequently.

** The cost for a Honda EU1000i is about $800 versus a 5000KW whole house generator at a cost of $500. You’ll get a lot more output on a whole house generator for a lot less money.

The point of this topic is all about the fuel burn. In an extended widespread power outage you’ll need to make the fuel you have go a long way. What if you can’t go get more gas because there’s no power at the gas stations or they’re out of gas too?

The ideal solution for me is to have two generators; a larger whole house generator that will power up any 240 volt equipment that I would need to use on a very limited basis, and a smaller generator that has limited power output but burns a LOT less gasoline.

If you’ve got the luxury of having natural gas at your home (which I don’t), I would have a generator that runs on that fuel but I’d still have a smaller generator just for the portability.

Your comments are welcome.

Be Prepared - Be Grateful!
...Rob

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Comments

Robert Cochran - March 4, 2019

Another Honda model to consider is the EU22001. The fuel burn is a bit greater at up to 8.1 hrs on 0.95 gal of gas versus the EU1000 at up to 7.1 hrs on 0.6 gal of gas, but the power output is 120% more. The really big advantage of the EU2200i is that you can buy a conversion kit to run gasoline, natural gas, or propane. See the Hutch Mountain Honda EU2200i Propane, Natural Gas & Gasoline Generator TriFuel Kit here; https://www.amazon.com/Hutch-Mountain-EU2200i-Gasoline-Generator/dp/B07BHBLFN4

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