#94 - My Backup Generators & GenTent
I just realized yesterday that I posted a message on Facebook about the generators that I have purchased, but I never did a blog posting about them, and why I chose them. I decided to go ahead and get it now while we have been talking about generators before we move onto a different topic.
As a backup to the solar power and battery bank that I am installing for my radio equipment I decided to add on a few generators as well. I needed both portable generators for use out in the field as well as semi-stationary generators for here at the house. I have been looking at various generators for about a year, trying to decide exactly what I wanted to get. Each brand and model had various options and features that I liked, but it was normally the pricetag that I did not like.
After going back and forth I decided to get both portable and semi-stationary generator models from the same brand, which is Sportsman by Buffalo Tools in Missouri. For the portable generator I decided on the GEN2200DF which is a 2200-watt dual-fuel gasoline or propane powered inverter generator capable of producing 1800 continuous watts and 2200 surge watts of power. It is able to operate for 7-hours on a tank of gasoline or 18-hours on a tank of propane at 50% loads.
There is about a 10% drop in output voltage when running on propane, however with the run time difference being so drastic, I plan on using the portable generators on propane and using gasoline as a backup fuel.
I purchased two of these generators along with the connecting cable so they can be used independantly, or linked together to create 4400-watts of power if I ever need it. My plans are not to use them linked together, but instead reserve one as a backup generator while the other is in use.
The Sportsman GEN2200DF is the same size and produces basically the same sound level as the Honda EU2200i but at about one-third the price of the Honda. Both companies offer the same warranty and replacement parts are easily available for both brands after the warranties expire. With the important issues basically being identical and the Sportsman being made right here in the US at a fraction of the cost, the decision wasn't really that difficult.
Also while I was deciding on which generator to go with Consumer Reports announced that 200,000 of these Honda inverter generators were being recalled due to a fuel leak and fire hazzard. That was enough to convince me that I should avoid it.
For the semi-stationary generator for the house I chose the GEN4000DF which is a 4000-watt dual-fuel gasoline or propane powered generator which produces 3500 continuous watts and 4000 surge watts of power.
The 4000 watt generator has a much larger fuel tank which allows for longer runtimes on gasoline which is more convienent for use here at the house. It is able to operate for 10-hours on a tank of gasoline or 12-hours on a tank of propane at 50% loads.
With the 10% reduction of output power when using propane, and only a 2-hour difference in run times per tank of fuel between propane and gasoline, I plan to run the 4000 watt generator on gasoline and use propane as a backup fuel.
I also purchased two of the 4000-watt generators so that I have a backup for that one as well. I will be installing one of the 4000-watt generators in my cargo trailer so that it can be moved into the field easily if I need it, or it can be used here at the house as the trailer sits right outside my radio room downstairs in the driveway. If something happens to my main generator all I have to do is unplug it, drop the extension cables down to the trailer and switch over to that generator very quickly.
One of the things that most people do not think about when they first decide to get a generator as a backup power source is that it must be used outdoors and cannot be used in the rain safely. Unfortunately, most power outages occur durring a storm, hurricane, tornado, etc. The exact times when the users manual will tell you that you can not use the generator.
Basically there are a couple options available which will allow you to have your generator running outdoors in the rain when you really need it. The most common is to build a generator shed, which are very expensive and are not easily movable. Another option which is easily movable is to erect a tent over the generator, however this is not really feasable in strong storms because the tent will blow away and leave the generator out in the rain.
For the generator here at the house, since it is sitting outside on my second-floor lanai where it will be used, I decided to have install a GenTent Stormbracer Extreme running generator cover over it.
The GenTent is basically a small durable lightweight tent that is designed to attach directly to the generator which allows me to use the generator outdoors in the wind and rain without worrying about damge to the generator or electrocuting myself. With the GenTent being attached to the generator itself the generator still remains portable. I can move the generator anywhere easily and the GenTent moves right with it, no muss, no fuss.
The unique design of the GenTent keeps water away from the electrical connections on the generator face plate while allowing unrestricted airflow to keep the generator cool and does not restrict exhaust flow from the generator. The GenTent is the only running generator cover endorsed by the generator manufacturers.
The GenTent comes with a matching panel that is attached with heavyweight velcro across the bottom hem of the generator cover which is made to cover up the generator faceplate and electrical connections.
There is also an optional clear vinyl version available which provides the water protection for the generator buy also allows you to view the panel and fuel gauge.
If the optional clear vinyl panel is used, the original panel can also be attached under the clear panel to allow even more protection from water, which is how I have mine set up.
The front side of the GenTent has a large panel held closed by the same heavyweight velcro that can be opened for refueling allowing complete access to the entire top side of the generator for safe refueling.
The GenTent Stormbracer Extreme is NFPA 701 FR rated, and is made from UV treated, vinyl coated polyester in the USA and is available in either light tan or grey with black trim. I opted for the tan version to blend better with my house colors.
I also installed the optional black GenSkirt which transforms the GenTent cover into a year-round outdoor storage shelter for the generator. The GenSkirt is made from a UV treated heavyweight vinyl and attaches all the way around the bottom of the GenTent with heavyweight velcro making it easy to install and remove.
The GenTent products are exceptionally high-quality and are manufactured with an attention to detail that is hard to find in today's market. They are designed and constructed to easily last for many years outdoors and are guaranteed to handle forecasted winds up to 70mph, snow loads of up to 18", and rain rates of up to 12" per day.
For my portable inverter generators I also have a GenTent with a strap that goes tightly around the base of the generator which the fiberglass support framework rods of the generator cover connects to allowing the smaller generators to also be used outdoors in the rain safely with the GenTent.
I highly-recommend the GenTent for anyone who owns a generator. They will last you for many years, and provide protection for the investment you have made in your generator, and give you peace of mind.
I will be doing a followup later with some generator safety and maintenance tips to make sure that your generator will last you for many years.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73