Why live without power in the 21st century?
It might be time to consider installing a back-up Propane Standby Generator.
It seems that electrical outages for extended periods of time are happening more frequently in recent years and stories of having no power for days on end is becoming commonplace. Beyond the inconvenience of having no power in your home, there are considerations such as loss of heat which can lead to frozen water pipes with endless destruction due to water leakage or even the loss of thawed foods in your freezers & refrigerators. When the power goes off, vulnerable water pipes can freeze and burst. When the electric goes back on, the well-pump can then pump endless water into your home literally destroying the structure until someone realizes water is running everywhere. Today consumers are turning to back-up electric generators – but the question always is – should you go with a portable contractor grade gasoline powered portable generator or possibly a more expensive, but permenantly installed propane fueled stand-by unit that requires much less ‘involvement’ or thought on your end.
How about some pros and cons of both:
- Lower purchase cost, available at most home improvement centers, no electrician required
- Must be used outdoors in well ventilated area so fumes don’t enter the home
- Run on gasoline which is both costly and messy to refill, possibly dangerous when refilling
- Most portable generators must be refilled with gasoline every 6-8 hours so not a good choice if you’re not going to be around, if it’s an elderly person or someone unable to go outside to refuel & restart it at 3 am. (your neighbor won’t be happy if you’re on vacation and you ask them to take care of that!)
- Require extension cord to back-feed into your home, but often can backfeed out of your home if the main breaker isn’t shut-off, putting line workers at risk and wastes your electric produced
- Gasoline engines require maintenance – even more so now with ethanol in the gasoline which destroys small engine parts when left sitting
- Normally has to be moved outdoors and set up everytime you need to use. Not too convenient if you’re not a very handy person, especially during an ice storm at midnight!
- Usually not large enough KW capacity to run your entire home or business, you have to pick which circuit breakers to leave on to run what appliances.
- What if there are gasoline shortages as the tri-state region saw with Hurricane Sandy in 2012? No gasoline means your generator isn’t running. If you store large amounts of gasoline it can accumulate ethanol problems, get “stale” and create a hazard wherever stored.
Propane Permenantly Installed Stand-by Generators:
- More costly than a portable generator, needs to be installed by a licensed electrician and gas company for the gas connection.
- Permenantly installed, no moving outside or connecting when the power goes out since most come with an automatic “transfer switch” which gets your power on with no involvement from consumer. A transfer switch will also turn off the unit when the grid power is restored
- Most units automatically test themselves weekly for a short period of time to ensure working
- Propane fueled generators burn cleanly requiring less maintenance than gasoline portables
- No ethanol worries as with stored gasoline, no safety concerns with gasoline storage cans
- Large propane tank can run your generator for days or even weeks if needed, often the same tank that supplies other uses in the home / business like heating, cooking, water heating, pool heater, etc
- Can be sized large enough to run your entire home or business, not just certain circuits
- Great for elderly or people that don’t want to schlep the portable outside and connect a portable
Combined Energy Services supplies hundreds of home & business owners with propane gas for back-up electric generators. While many gas companies find back-up generator customers to be a thorn in their side, often discouraging them with outrageous pricing for connection and refills of gas, we believe the opposite since we appreciate every customer and know it’s our foot in the door to possibly heat that home, supply your cooking gas, maybe you’ll add a set of gas logs or connect that BBQ grill on the deck to the same tank that runs the generator. In addition, in Sullivan, Ulster and Northern Orange Counties in New York, we supply fuel oil for home heating and know customers like the convenience of dealing with one company for their fuels.
Propane Storage Tank: What size will I need?
This is one of the most common questions and not easily answered. When you call CES, we work with you on the proper tank sizing and some of the considerations include:
- How many KW / hr is your generator? A quick reference chart:
So you want to be realistic in your needs, associated costs involved and how long you think you might need to have gas supply between refills. When a wide-spread storm hits that effects a large area such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, power lines were down everywhere, roads were closed and hundreds of generator customers everywhere were running on their back-up supply of propane. You need to have enough gas on-hand to get you through the worst case scenario since there is no possible way any propane supplier will be able to come to your home daily to top off a small 120 gallon tank to keep you running. Another consideration is how far from the world do you live? If you’re in the boonies on the top of a mountain, your electric may be out longer than someone in a downtown area. You want to make sure you have gas to get through and if your gas company can’t supply you as fast as you’d wish during a crisis.
Size also matters when it comes to how long that tank will last you based on the KW draw in the chart above and also to keep up with the “pressure demand” of that generator, meaning the tank’s ability to turn the liquid propane into a vapor to make your generator run properly. The larger the generator, the more gas it will consume, the more vaporization that tank will have to provide, thus you have to have a larger tank. While it sounds confusing – the pros at CES help take care of customers of ALL sizes including large commercial generators in excess of 100 KW. We make it easy for you!
Commonly asked questions when installing a permenant propane stand-by generator:
- Where can I install a tank? A CES field sales rep will be happy to meet on-site for a no obligation consultation to determine what will work for you, practicality and remain within code compliance. The tank must be at least 10 feet from the generator and if over 120 gal, which we highly recommend it is, needs to be at least 10 feet from any important structure. Here’s a simple chart to get you started but it’s best to give us a call for a no obligation site visit with a knowledgable CES rep.
- Should we go with an aboveground or buried tank? We normally recommend going with an aboveground, loaned tank painted the color of your chosing since: less cost of install, you can visually see if a problem arises with the tank, easily replaceable if a problem occurs, easier to change suppliers if the need arises and no deterioration as can occur with a buried steel propane tank if not properly maintained which can be costly. But if not, we do offer complete installation from start to finish of buried tanks ranging from 120 gal to 1000 gal. We suggest checking with your homeowner’s insurance carrier before ever buying a propane tank, especially a buried tank since most have exclusions hidden in their policies in the event of a gas related problem.
- Do I need to call for gas deliveries? Yes or no. No if you go with a CES remote tank monitor that uses a wireless transmitter connected to your phone line or internet which notifies our computer system exactly how much gas is in your tank daily, which is VERY important if you’re away or it’s not a full time residence. A generator running for 3 days is no good if the gas runs out! This service is normally around $129 per year for a generator only tank, no charge if that same tank is used for home heating. You will have to watch the gauge and call for deliveries if no CES tank monitor since it is impossible for us to know when that generator runs and for how long. Each tank is equipped with a “contents gauge” so you can easily see how much gas is in your tank.
- Does CES sell stand-by generators: yes we do, but we’re not able to make any connections on the electrical side. We’re more than happy to work with your regular electrician on one they sell you as well since that electrician is who you might have to call for any service in the future. In addition, we work with several trusted electrical contractors that specialize in generator installs, we’d be happy to refer you in their directions or check them out here. We’re don’t have to sell you a generator, we’re happy with just being your propane gas supplier!
- Should I buy a generator from an internet seller or from a big box store? Nooooo way! Very often even if it’s a name brand generator, it could very well be a cheaper model they built specifically for that discounter which will cost you much more in the long run to repair if / when it breaks. These internet sellers and box stores won’t provide needed service when you need it some night. We always recommend getting your local, trusted electrician involved when you’re considering a generator purchase or one of our trusted recommended contractors. Annual maintenance and on-going service is very important – don’t ever consider buying one if you can’t get that when you need it.
To get more information – feel free to fill out the request form below or call: 800-874-1975. There is never a charge to meet you on-site, never an obligation. We’re not there for a quick sale or do anything that is going to cause you grief later on when you need it most. We discuss your needs, give you all the options and costs involved, let you know what realistically happens during a wide spread storm in terms of deliveries. We’re one of the largest, most capable suppliers of propane & service when disaster strikes in the region. Excuses do you no good when the power goes out, count on CES as thousands of loyal customers have since 1968.