Experience with Inverter Generators????

I know a lot of people picked up inverter generators after Sandy.  I am guessing that a fair number of people got to try them out in the last 6 months.  How are they holding up/performing?

ETA: We are thinking about getting one to run our forced air heating system in case of an extended power outage.


We are thinking about getting a Honda EU7000isCT1 7000 watt unit to run our central heating unit in the event of a power outage.


Bought one after Sandy.  Never used it.  I’M certain I couldn’t start it if I needed to now.  


jeffl said:

Bought one after Sandy.  Never used it.  I’M certain I couldn’t start it if I needed to now.  

Dead battery?


Not a generator but...

I devised a relatively cheap ($200 total) back-up system to run the steam boiler if ever needed as the boiler requires very little power to kick-on (in fact such boilers have a transformer to reduce the power coming from the breaker box).

First I bought a "deep cycle" marine battery (basically a car battery on steroids) and a trickle charger that is presently constantly plugged in to an outlet and clipped to the battery posts to keep the battery topped-off at all times. Near to the battery I keep handy a relatively small inverter which in the event we lose power I can remove the trickle charger (which would then be useless in a power outage anyway) and clip the inverter to the battery posts instead. 

I've cut the "female end" off a power cord and stripped four or five inches off of the wires which I can easily hard wire in minutes to the boiler through the on/off switch box on the boiler (I determined that during this procedure I would turn off the breaker that feeds the power to the boiler just in case the house power came back on while I was doing this). The other end of the power cord plugs into the inverter. Thus DC power from the battery now runs through the inverter to become AC to the boiler and kicks it on.

That may sound like a lot but it's really not and it works as I have tested it. I figure that in winter, the only thing we really can't do without is heat and the system I described could run the boiler for days if need be as it would only tap the battery with a small request with each boiler cycle. Also, I don't have to think about feeding gas to a generator (or the noise or where to keep it or having it stolen).

Remember that in the event of a massive power outage you won't be able to buy gasoline as gas stations need power to run the pumps.

I'm almost (but not quite) hoping for the chance to need it so that I can feel snug and smug about it.

PS: I got the battery at Home Depot and the charger and inverter through Amazon.


steel said:

Not a generator but...

I devised a relatively cheap ($200 total) back-up system to run the steam boiler if ever needed as the boiler requires very little power to kick-on (in fact such boilers have a transformer to reduce the power coming from the breaker box).

First I bought a "deep cycle" marine battery (basically a car battery on steroids) and a trickle charger that is presently constantly plugged in to an outlet and clipped to the battery posts to keep the battery topped-off at all times. Near to the battery I keep handy a relatively small inverter which in the event we lose power I can remove the trickle charger (which would then be useless in a power outage anyway) and clip the inverter to the battery posts instead. 

I've cut the "female end" off a power cord and stripped four or five inches off of the wires which I can easily hard wire in minutes to the boiler through the on/off switch box on the boiler (I determined that during this procedure I would turn off the breaker that feeds the power to the boiler just in case the house power came back on while I was doing this). The other end of the power cord plugs into the inverter. Thus DC power from the battery now runs through the inverter to become AC to the boiler and kicks it on.

That may sound like a lot but it's really not and it works as I have tested it. I figure that in winter, the only thing we really can't do without is heat and the system I described could run the boiler for days if need be as it would only tap the battery with a small request with each boiler cycle. Also, I don't have to think about feeding gas to a generator (or the noise or where to keep it or having it stolen).

Remember that in the event of a massive power outage you won't be able to buy gasoline as gas stations need power to run the pumps.

I'm almost (but not quite) hoping for the chance to need it so that I can feel snug and smug about it.

PS: I got the battery at Home Depot and the charger and inverter through Amazon.

It sounds awesome but we have a forced air heating system, not a boiler. I will add that fact to my original post.


GoSlugs said:

We are thinking about getting a Honda EU7000isCT1 7000 watt unit to run our central heating unit in the event of a power outage.

that’s capable of running your refrigerator also. And a few lights. I have a 5000 watts inverter, used it once. It’s more energy efficient than a regular generator, plus it is quieter. 
Just a tip on keeping your gasoline stored, I add seafoam to the tank (1 ounce to the gallon of gas)  also the red gas bottles. You can get seafoam at any auto parts store, and I think Home Depot also sells it.

I would definitely get the inverter. 


Yeah, the quieter is what I am looking for.  I hate the roar of the old style gas generators.

What does seafoam do generator wise?  Does it preserve the gas or is it just to lubricate?


GoSlugs said:

It sounds awesome but we have a forced air heating system, not a boiler. I will add that fact to my original post.

Understood, I apologize for not responding to your specific situation. I couldn't help chiming in with my inverter story. 


GoSlugs said:

Yeah, the quieter is what I am looking for.  I hate the roar of the old style gas generators.

What does seafoam do generator wise?  Does it preserve the gas or is it just to lubricate?

seafoam keeps the gas stable for long periods of time. Won’t harm the engine. 


steel said:

Understood, I apologize for not responding to your specific situation. I couldn't help chiming in with my inverter story. 

I had a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter in my car that I used during sandy. I used an extension cord to the boiler just like you did just to fire up the furnace. I had heat while so many people were without. I remember people were stealing generators from yards. 
inverter generators are the way to go now, unless you’re gonna do the whole conversion generac generators that run on natural gas. That’s a much bigger project.


Jaytee said:

I had a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter in my car that I used during sandy. I used an extension cord to the boiler just like you did just to fire up the furnace. I had heat while so many people were without. I remember people were stealing generators from yards. 
inverter generators are the way to go now, unless you’re gonna do the whole conversion generac generators that run on natural gas. That’s a much bigger project.

Is this some sort of generator or does it simply let you run your boiler off your cigarette lighter?  I am having a hard time visualizing how this works.


GoSlugs said:

Is this some sort of generator or does it simply let you run your boiler off your cigarette lighter?  I am having a hard time visualizing how this works.

A system like this turns the 12V output from the car outlet to standard 110V current. It requires that you keep your car running, otherwise you'll drain your car battery. 

I'm not sure it could provide enough wattage to power an entire forced air system. You'd be better off with the generator for your situation.

Do you know how many amps your system draws when it's running at peak?


GoSlugs said:

Is this some sort of generator or does it simply let you run your boiler off your cigarette lighter?  I am having a hard time visualizing how this works.

if you have steam heat it will give you the power needed to fire up the boiler. Then the gas heats up the water to steam. When the thermostat drops below your set indoor temperature, you will need to repeat this procedure in order to fire up your boiler.

I’m not sure it will power the pump continuously on a forced hot water system. You will have to keep your car running for the duration of the time it takes to circulate enough heat and get your temperature back up inside the house. I have steam. So I won’t be able to tell you if it will work well. I would give it a try, I’m always trying out stuff anyway. 

https://www.amazon.com/BESTEK-300W-Power-Inverter-Adapter/dp/B004MDXS0U/ref=asc_df_B004MDXS0U/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198151843411&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18190494999163537787&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003465&hvtargid=pla-391702780059&psc=1#immersive-view_1638115194233


Just to add, a forced hot air system needs over 1000 watts. The car inverter won’t get that much. 
a boiler takes about 5 watts to ignite, and the car inverters vary from about 100 to 300 watts. Maybe there are bigger outputs on others but I don’t know.


Jaytee said:

Just to add, a forced hot air system needs over 1000 watts. The car inverter won’t get that much. 
a boiler takes about 5 watts to ignite, and the car inverters vary from about 100 to 300 watts. Maybe there are bigger outputs on others but I don’t know.

I have an 1100 watt inverter. To run properly at 1100 watts it needs to be clipped directly to the terminals of the car battery.

I used it to power a setup similar to steel's. We moved to a house with an oil-fired boiler and it doesn't seem sufficient to keep that running. Now we have a propane-powered generator and we had a generator cutoff installed, so it's easier to power a few things in the house off the generator.


Jaytee said:

I had a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter in my car that I used during sandy. I used an extension cord to the boiler just like you did just to fire up the furnace. I had heat while so many people were without. I remember people were stealing generators from yards. 
inverter generators are the way to go now, unless you’re gonna do the whole conversion generac generators that run on natural gas. That’s a much bigger project.

I did the exact same thing.


Jaytee said:

if you have steam heat it will give you the power needed to fire up the boiler. Then the gas heats up the water to steam. When the thermostat drops below your set indoor temperature, you will need to repeat this procedure in order to fire up your boiler.

I’m not sure it will power the pump continuously on a forced hot water system. You will have to keep your car running for the duration of the time it takes to circulate enough heat and get your temperature back up inside the house. I have steam. So I won’t be able to tell you if it will work well. I would give it a try, I’m always trying out stuff anyway. 

https://www.amazon.com/BESTEK-300W-Power-Inverter-Adapter/dp/B004MDXS0U/ref=asc_df_B004MDXS0U/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198151843411&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18190494999163537787&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003465&hvtargid=pla-391702780059&psc=1#immersive-view_1638115194233

Thanks for the info.  I am definitely looking for something more robust, to run the forced air, the sump and perhaps some lights.  Still, it is interesting to see the solutions people find.




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