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10KW diesel generator with Automatic Transfer Switch?

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by William P.N. Smith, May 27, 2004.

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  1. I'm looking for reccomendations for a diesel generator in the 10KW
    range with a 200A automatic transfer switch. Are any brands better
    than others? Are there things I should look out for?

    I'm planning on running this off heating oil from a basement tank, but
    the generator will be on a pad outside the basement, are there fuel
    line/pump heaters that'll keep the fuel that's outside from gelling?

    Quiet is good, weekly tests are a must, and a failure indication for
    feeding into an alarm panel is a definate plus!

    I'm looking for one for the Ipswich/Hamilton, MA area, so any good
    dealers who do installs and have 24-hour repair services available in
    that region would be appreciated.

  2. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    I did a lot of looking around last fall and ended up feeling that
    Northern Lights looked like the best option. Since they are largely
    marine (but do make land-based units) you are on the correct side of the
    state (they have a warehouse in Andover). I have not broken the piggy
    bank yet, but that is still the direction I'm leaning when I do (for an
    off-grid prime-power unit). The 10KW is an 1800 RPM.

    Fischer Panda's were also mentioned; they are somewhat quieter, but are
    also 3600 RPM units, and something like twice the price.

    Addiational soundproofing can be built into the enclosure.
  3. SQLit

    SQLit Guest

    The comment on the rpms is right on. I would acquire a 1800 rpm over 3600
    I would want a 4 pole over a 3 pole that way you switch the neutral as well.
    This is not a requirement but it is easier to make sensitive electronics
    behave. A 3 pole is standard, but I have seen a lot of installers get them
    installed incorrectly the first time.
    I would look for a good installer. Like an airconditioner the equipment is
    only 50% of the issue.
    If your going to be using the fuel tank then you will want what is called a
    day tank. Usually big enough to run the unit for 3-4 hours. (God only knows
    why it is called a day tank). Then use a small transfer pump to move the
    fuel to the day tank. In my experience there are two pipes to run between
    the tanks. Just like your car, one to feed the other for a return. This
    helps the transfer pump run at its best with out worries.

    You might try Kohler Power Systems web page for some info. I have installed
    several of their units over the years. NOT CHEAP...

    For quiet consider what is called a critical silencer, a bigger muffler.
    Brings down the sound levels a lot.
    As for alarms and indication I am pretty sure you will get all that you need
    or want.
    CH makes a IQ transfer that is pretty cool. Available communication gives
    you allot of info that can be collected by a computer. I have installed
    ~30-40 of these over the years. I am sure other manufactures make similar
    equipment. This is what I am familiar with.

    Good luck hope all goes well.
  4. I'll second the Northern Lights recommendation. I have 2 of the 20Kw
    units that both were rebuilt at 40,000 hours and now have an additional
    6000 hours each. They are good runners and strong on mass. Fair for
    fuel consumption per KWh. I expect to get another 30,000 out of them
    before we do a total rebuild again, if I live that long........

    Bruce in alaska
  5. daestrom

    daestrom Guest

    Just to let you know, old submarine diesel setups used bulk storage and 'day
    tanks' too. The bulk storage was ballasted with sea-water. As the fuel oil
    was removed, sea-water allowed in underneath it to keep the weight/list/trim
    of the ship about right (of course, sea-water is heavier than fuel oil, so
    it wasn't a perfect match).

    So when transferring fuel from the bulk storage to the 'day tank', it had to
    go through a filter/purifier to remove any rust, paint flakes or other
    debris that got in it. The fuel in the day tank was clean and water free
    for running the engine. But this tank was much smaller so its weight
    changing up/down didn't make much difference to trim. The size of the
    smaller tank really did last about one day (24 hours) of running hence the
    name. Bulk storage tanks would last an entire cruise and then some
    (cruising range of a 'Gato' class fleet boat 11,000 nautical miles).

  6. Well, the bulk storage is a 6000 gallon tank, which gets tranferred to
    the (inside) pair of 275-gallon tanks fo the furnaces, which are a
    couple of feet from where the generator will probably be placed.
    Can't I plumb the heating oil tank directly to the generator and avoid
    the wintertime gelling and other problems from having Yet Another Fuel

    [Are there electrical fuel/oil/block warmers to ensure the engine
    starts when the power fails in the coldest parts of the winter?]
  7. daestrom

    daestrom Guest

    The old 'day tank' concept was because the 'bulk storage' wasn't clean
    enough fuel (and free of water) for burning in the engine directly. But if
    your 'bulk storage' is like most home tanks, it *is* clean enough right from
    there. Don't see why you couldn't run directly from it. Although a large
    underground tank (or whatever) might need an extra filter assembly to catch
    any rust/dirt that might get picked up from the bottom of the tank.

    We have some diesel gen sets at work that run directly from a 30-day supply
    storage tank without an intervening day tank. Mind you, this tank is above
    ground and we pump it out every two years for cleaning/inspection.

  8. Eric Tonks

    Eric Tonks Guest

    Caution: I did a check with the oil companies to see if it was practical to
    use #2 heating oil in a diesel generator instead of #2 diesel fuel. The most
    detailed answer that I got showed that you need to check your local
    supplier. The reason is that heating oil can be any old crap that will burn
    in a furnace, the specifications are rather loose. Diesel oil has to meet a
    narrow range of specifications so that it will work without damaging the
    engine. One of these specifications is the cetane rating, similar to octane
    rating in gasoline. The oil company said that in some areas they ship diesel
    oil as furnace fuel. In other areas it is a totally different product,
    especially where there is a large market for furnace oil, they will
    formulate a separate batch (of whatever they have available) for furnaces.
    They said engines using this stuff will suffer from early wear and clogging

  9. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

  10. Guest

    [Lots of snipping...]

    Been some discussion of stored fuel oil, filtering, day tanks, brought up:

    Old memory from diesel work boats on Chesapeake Bay: we were having trouble
    from the fuel congealing, got stuck trying to go through the filter, engine
    would lose power. I think the problem was caused by some organism in the
    fuel. We hired an outfit to pump the tanks out and do some sort of
    processing on the fuel (don't know what, I was doing something else). I
    wonder if this happens on shore?

    Tom Willmon
    Mountainair, (mid) New Mexico, USA

    Net-Tamer V 1.12.0 - Registered
  11. Guest

    Steve, I don't get what you are saying.

    The original octane rating system was based on standard fuels that were a
    mix of normal heptane and iso-octane, zero being straight heptane and one
    hundred being straight octane. The detonation of a fuel would be compared
    with that of heptane/octane mixes in a standard test engine, and the octane
    proportion of the matching standard fuel would be the sample fuel's rating.

    A similar system was used for diesel fuels, based on cetane as a standard.
    My handbook gives cetane's modern name as hexadecane, CH3 (CH2)14 CH3.

    n-heptane is CH3 (CH2)5 CH3. Only n-octane is listed, CH3 (CH2)6 CH3. The
    iso- version would be same formula, but with the molecule bent or branched.
    But you can see what the pattern is: the number of CH2 blocks in the middle
    of the molecule.

    Tom Willmon
    Mountainair, (mid) New Mexico, USA

    Net-Tamer V 1.12.0 - Registered
  12. The chemistry of it is less important than the purpose of the ratings. rating
    Octane is the resistance to detonation (pinging, knocking, etc), and
    for gasoline higher octane allows you to advance your ignition timing
    or increase your compression and get better performance. rating
    Cetane number is a measure of how readily the fuel burns. A fuel with
    a high cetane number starts to burn shortly after it is injected into
    the cylinder; it has a short ignition delay period. Conversely, a fuel
    with a low cetane number resists auto-ignition and has a longer
    ignition delay period.

    So while they both say something about potential engine power, one is
    a resistance to ignition while another is susceptability to ignition.
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