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Santa Rosa Fire Storm- Motivated Generator and switch gear Project

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Linghunt

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#1
Anyhow, I'm ok and all of that, just in middle of a War Zone, This was and still is an interesting experence to have to deal with.

Lost my Power around 5 AM Monday Morning and got It back Yesterday evening.

Long time to be without nothing but an AM radio, camp stove, candles and flashlights. Cell phones with charges off truck.

But I kept my house, so I was really lucky but a generator and select systems powered would have been really nice. It was tough even to follow the news well.

I'm going to do a base line design plan and the thought process as it comes together, and then on to design, economics, plan.
 

Blackjackjacques

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#2
Once you figure out your critical loads, you may be surprised how small a generator you can get away with. For the longest time, I used a 7KW gas generator to back feed a welding receptacle. I had to manually cycle loads here and there, but it kept all our comms and reefers online, and the fuel endurance was reasonable. Eventually, we got a whole house diesel. Let us know what you work out and good luck.
 

Bob Korves

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#4
Just make sure you turn off the main breaker before you feed the generator power into your wiring. People working on the power outage will be thankful and might live longer, and it is impossible to feed the entire grid with a small generator. I know it sounds like a natural thing to do, but people often forget this important safety rule...
 

Linghunt

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#5
Bob, Yep, contactors and feedback, etc. Size the load, and optimize for cost .

I'm going to treat it like a small engineering job. I figured the project planning of job, then track of project would help others.

I've done so many project over the years, figured this would be a good idea for others to see at least how I do jobs.

2,900 firefighters on the fire now, Just heard on KSRO 1350 AM.
 

Linghunt

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#7
Yep, Lots of complete packaged systems on the market. Spendy thou. My plan is for a guideline for DIY type on budget.

One can change the load numbers and specifics to breaker feeds and customize it, but have general plan of attack.

I got almost 30 years of experience designing industrial controls and automation systems. Large budgets and the such. This one will be low budget and not too fancy for automation. ( e.g. Not going to next level where you get feedback to your network, but I'll add the hooks in the design so you can go there if you want. )

I'l post as I go, so you can see the steps I take doing planning, good planning makes the rest really easy, typically this is done fast and makes the rest go slower and more costly. Initial ground work planning not fun, and boring, and skipped. Low quality at the end.
 

Bob Korves

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#8
Bob, Yep, contactors and feedback, etc. Size the load, and optimize for cost .

I'm going to treat it like a small engineering job. I figured the project planning of job, then track of project would help others.

I've done so many project over the years, figured this would be a good idea for others to see at least how I do jobs.

2,900 firefighters on the fire now, Just heard on KSRO 1350 AM.
I guess we will have a look at some of the devastation tomorrow. We have a little machinist group in the Sacramento (and much further afield) area that gets together officially about once a month, and also individually, to help each other out on projects, lend or borrow or give a tool, tell lies, etc. Almost all are H-M members as well. One of our group had a large fire near his place this week, less than a mile away. Anyway, tomorrow a group of about nine of us will be going to Sturgeon's Mill, in the Sebastapol area, for their last open house/demonstration day of this year. At least one H-M member volunteers at the mill. Historic steam powered saw mill...
 

Linghunt

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#9
I guess we will have a look at some of the devastation tomorrow. We have a little machinist group in the Sacramento (and much further afield) area that gets together officially about once a month, and also individually, to help each other out on projects, lend or borrow or give a tool, tell lies, etc. Almost all are H-M members as well. One of our group had a large fire near his place this week, less than a mile away. Anyway, tomorrow a group of about nine of us will be going to Sturgeon's Mill, in the Sebastapol area, for their last open house/demonstration day of this year. At least one H-M member volunteers at the mill. Historic steam powered saw mill...
Been out there to the Mill, you will love it. Expect to spend a few hours there to look at everything. There is a similar deal in Penngrove that is open once a year or something like that, Steam engines and the such. It's a good one too.

http://penngrovepower.org/

I have lots of web pics of the fire, I will try a gallery or something to put them together. I got a 44 minute drone video from news group that really covers damage north-east of me. I find link later.

Got Gas now, so Hot shower soon.
 

DHarris

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#10
Hey Linghut, I'm down in Rohnert Park, all is well with the family & grown kids so far (1 in RP, 1 in SR by 12 & Farmers - that's still a ?)
We have too many friends / acquaintances that have lost everything - - so very sad.

Wife and I were talking about this just last night - very timely - will be watching your thread for sure!
 

Linghunt

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#11
Many friends lost homes, Many saved on the edge as well. I got a stack of partially burnt portions of paper that was coming down on me early Monday morning. The Orange glow from Coffey Park was at about 40 degree angle looking north-east.

I was ready to bounce, and had a friend about 300 yards closer and better visual spot than me, his text message was great data.

Pretty crazy event, Here is a long drone video from local news, shows the Santa Rosa area that got it.


Anyhow we can get together later and talk shop. I'm an OCLI guy before they got destroyed. Be funny if you worked there.
 

DHarris

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#12
Nope, did not work there - worked 24 years for Varian in Walnut Creek - Made Gas & liquid Chromatography & Mass spectroscopy instrumentation.

After all of the dust clears we will definitely get together!
 

Linghunt

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#13
I think you guys were customer, perhaps you bought light filters or the such.

After the smoke clears, lets get together.
 

BGHansen

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#15
We just ordered an 11 KW Generac by-pass generator. We live in the sticks and heat with propane. It comes with an auto-bypass panel that'll switch I think 4 220's and 6 110's. We plan on only powering 1 220 circuit (well pump), so that'll give us 12 total 110 circuits. Will cost about $4000 installed. It drinks about 45 gallons of propane a day if running at full load. We have a 500 gallon tank so we'll make sure the tank doesn't get below 50% before calling for a fill. If you're on natural gas, you'd have no supply worries.

Fantastic that you avoided total destruction. We lost power 3 winters ago to an ice storm on a Saturday night and didn't get power back until that Wednesday. We have 2 wood-burning fireplaces and 1 propane, so with the fortunately mild 35 deg. days never saw the house go below 58 deg. It was "quaint" cooking sandwiches over the fire. But running down the road to fill 5-gallon pails of water to flush toilets got old quickly!

Best of luck!

Bruce
 

Linghunt

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#16
Great information, Ty.

Was working on Fire Kitty placement instead, 2 big swings and a miss so far. At least they think spearfishing types are cool now.

http://www.linghunt.com/Projects/FireCat/FireCat.html

IT was becoming a communication mess so I made a quick html page, Didn't know you could tell Male vs female from look, I get the size deal with big tom cat. anyway...

Amazing how much low info there is on folks and gas lines and utility company coming around to relite hot water heaters etc. Some want them to lite pilots on electronic ignition gas stoves.

The Neighborhood forum is interesting at times.
 

hman

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#17
Be sure to check the fuel consumption (gallons per hour) of your generator, and plan the fuel supply accordingly.

I had a gas generator and crossover panel at my Oregon house for a bunch of years. Learned an expensive lesson - gasoline goes sour pretty quickly! I eventually had to drain the large storage tank into Homer buckets and wait for the hazardous waste day at the local trash hauler. Just about every one of the buckets had a pint to a couple ounces of what looked like tar in the bottom after being filled. Nasty stuff! I've moved now. Scrapped the storage tank, but left the generator behind.

The local (rural) power company was offering subsidies on propane powered backup generators. One of my neighbors bought one, including a 100 gallon propane tank. Propane does not go bad! So if I ever get another backup, it will definitely be propane powered!
 

Tozguy

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#18
My brother-in-law has had a propane Generac both at the cottage and at home for years and swears by them. He says the switchover is seamless (or close). It powers in a few times a year. It needs some light yearly maintenance
In my case, our hydro service here in Quebec is very reliable. Ever since an ice storm in 1998, I have a gas generator at the ready but have only used it once since. I am so tired of rotating three gas cans so to always have some relatively fresh gas on hand when/if needed. Stabile is always used in the gas but after 2 years in storage the gas goes into our cars to get used up. All that trouble to have only three days worth of generator fuel on hand.
 

gr8legs

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#19
Backup power has always been one of my 'things' and over a couple of years scouring craigslist and various other sources I ended up with an Onan 12KW 1800 rpm unit for about a grand. Old iron, my favorite kind. Came set up for propane, we have natural gas so the changeover was pretty simple.

Nothing automatic about it though, manually start it, manually switch the standby load panel and manually switch back.

While rewiring the house in the way back I put in a separate panel for critical loads and after getting the genny added the transfer switch. Pretty simple thing, two 2 pole breakers back to back with a mechanical interlock so both can't be 'on' at the same time.

So far we haven't needed it, longest outage so far about two hours and hardly worth the investment yet. But when it comes, we'll be ready. Of course, if 'it' is an earthquake I will wish I had gone the propane route. But then again, what use is powering a home that has been shaken apart?

Stu

"Do we practice the stewardship of preparedness or do we worship at the altar of divine rescue?"
 

Linghunt

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#20
Seen the gasoline getting old before, don't recall that being an issue back in the 70-80's . All the "stuff" they put in it now.

I was thinking propane or diesel for fuel source. Not looking to diesel aging. Any experience with that would be interesting.

All experiences good and bad are worthwhile reading.
 

woodchucker

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#21
We just ordered an 11 KW Generac by-pass generator. We live in the sticks and heat with propane. It comes with an auto-bypass panel that'll switch I think 4 220's and 6 110's. We plan on only powering 1 220 circuit (well pump), so that'll give us 12 total 110 circuits. Will cost about $4000 installed. It drinks about 45 gallons of propane a day if running at full load. We have a 500 gallon tank so we'll make sure the tank doesn't get below 50% before calling for a fill. If you're on natural gas, you'd have no supply worries.

Fantastic that you avoided total destruction. We lost power 3 winters ago to an ice storm on a Saturday night and didn't get power back until that Wednesday. We have 2 wood-burning fireplaces and 1 propane, so with the fortunately mild 35 deg. days never saw the house go below 58 deg. It was "quaint" cooking sandwiches over the fire. But running down the road to fill 5-gallon pails of water to flush toilets got old quickly!

Best of luck!

Bruce
We were without power for 14 days after Sandy, it got cold. I had a portable generac that helped , but I really wanted a shower and blew the rings trying to heat the electrical water heater. I still haven't replaced the rings... need to get that done. Generators are great, after that long episode I am so glad I overrode the wife who thought I was nuts for getting it. We are in farm country so we have well, septic, oil heat. after Sandy people were freezing from the cold. Must have been awful being wet and cold.
 
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