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Old 10-01-2008, 03:28 PM   #1
Amy Crawford
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Generator for our freezers

I realize this isn't completely nutrition related, but it does have to do with our food.

We have two full size freezers and one fridge/freezer in our garage. By Thanksgiving, we'll have most of a whole hog, a whole lamb, a half beef, ~20 chickens, and hopefully some venison in there. Obviously, we need a generator to protect our investment and our food.

I'm struggling with how to figure out the appropriate size generator we need. I understand watts=amps+volts. But some of the estimating charts on the web vary widely. Also, we have a pretty old (early 80s) freezer - runs fine, as far as I know, but don't know if it might need more. I can't find any information on that one. Also, I understand the difference between start up and run watts, but how do I put that in this equation? I can't assure that all 3 appliances won't be starting up at the same time. From one website I found, a conservative requirement estimate would be a 12K watt generator ... that seems like a lot! And those aren't quite as readily available as 4K watt generators.

Mods, please move as necessary. Everyone else, please lead me through this maze so we can protect our MEAT!

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Old 10-01-2008, 03:39 PM   #2
Bob Guere
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Re: Generator for our freezers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy Crawford View Post
I realize this isn't completely nutrition related, but it does have to do with our food.

We have two full size freezers and one fridge/freezer in our garage. By Thanksgiving, we'll have most of a whole hog, a whole lamb, a half beef, ~20 chickens, and hopefully some venison in there. Obviously, we need a generator to protect our investment and our food.

I'm struggling with how to figure out the appropriate size generator we need. I understand watts=amps+volts. But some of the estimating charts on the web vary widely. Also, we have a pretty old (early 80s) freezer - runs fine, as far as I know, but don't know if it might need more. I can't find any information on that one. Also, I understand the difference between start up and run watts, but how do I put that in this equation? I can't assure that all 3 appliances won't be starting up at the same time. From one website I found, a conservative requirement estimate would be a 12K watt generator ... that seems like a lot! And those aren't quite as readily available as 4K watt generators.

Mods, please move as necessary. Everyone else, please lead me through this maze so we can protect our MEAT!


First, watts=amps X volts.... not PLUS.

The simple way to do this is either measure it with an amp meter and do the math, or go by the manufacturer specs. If you measure it (AC) you need to separate the two AC wires and just measure one, so that might be more difficult than necessary. I believe they make wattage units that plug into the socket then you plug the appliance into that that measure the usage.

I ran 2 fridge/freezers for about 5 hours recently on a 3500 kwatt generator without issue.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
Amy Crawford
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Re: Generator for our freezers

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First, watts=amps X volts.... not PLUS.
Type-O ... my bad.

So, 3500 for two fridge/freezers. That seems low, according to the websites I perused. But again, I don't know what I'm talking about.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:36 PM   #4
Bob Guere
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Re: Generator for our freezers

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Originally Posted by Amy Crawford View Post
Type-O ... my bad.

So, 3500 for two fridge/freezers. That seems low, according to the websites I perused. But again, I don't know what I'm talking about.
Actually, if you take a BIG load of 20 amps times 110 volts you can see that's only 220 watts... the only time you'll pull even remotely near that (and you won't) is when the compressor kicks on. Keep in mind your freezers are (at most) probably on a 20 amp breaker. Check the circuit that they are on. If they aren't ever popping a breaker, use that breaker rating as your "high" point. This should show that a 3500 watt generator will be fine for you. If you want a little overkill, go for a 5k watt.

I got mine for less than $300 on sale, but mine is not a Honda or anything. Quality of generator is up to you, warranty is very important also.

Call an RV/Camping store near you, they can help also.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:50 AM   #5
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Generator for our freezers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy Crawford View Post
I realize this isn't completely nutrition related, but it does have to do with our food.

We have two full size freezers and one fridge/freezer in our garage. By Thanksgiving, we'll have most of a whole hog, a whole lamb, a half beef, ~20 chickens, and hopefully some venison in there. Obviously, we need a generator to protect our investment and our food.

I'm struggling with how to figure out the appropriate size generator we need. I understand watts=amps+volts. But some of the estimating charts on the web vary widely. Also, we have a pretty old (early 80s) freezer - runs fine, as far as I know, but don't know if it might need more. I can't find any information on that one. Also, I understand the difference between start up and run watts, but how do I put that in this equation? I can't assure that all 3 appliances won't be starting up at the same time. From one website I found, a conservative requirement estimate would be a 12K watt generator ... that seems like a lot! And those aren't quite as readily available as 4K watt generators.

Mods, please move as necessary. Everyone else, please lead me through this maze so we can protect our MEAT!

Put it this way, you'll be hard pressed to find a 120V appliance that uses more than 1500 watts. I'm sure they're out there, but at that point, they're drawing over 12.5 amps and need some serious thick wiring. Most outlets aren't rated for over 20 amps, (if they are, if I remember correctly they usually have a special plug, one of the plugs is vertical and the other is horizontal). There are also 30 amp plugs out there I *think*, but ain't no 120V appliance using that itself.

And like Bob said, I just about guarantee you don't have any larger than a 30 amp breaker on that line that's running your fridge. Typically a breaker for your kitchen is something like a 30 amp breaker, and it usually runs your fridge, toaster, lights, microwave (if you're inclined to use that silly thing), etc.

I'd say a 5000 watt generator is overkill. Often you won't be drawing any more than 2 or 3 amps while the thing is running (making for 220 or 330 or so watts), and only need that 1500 watt jolt to start the compressor. So as long as you're not firing up 5 fridges at once, you're probably good. Plus you can then hook up some of your house lights to the generator if you have a 5000 watt generator.
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Old 10-02-2008, 08:01 PM   #6
Bob Guere
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Re: Generator for our freezers

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Originally Posted by Bob Guere View Post
Actually, if you take a BIG load of 20 amps times 110 volts you can see that's only 220 watts... the only time you'll pull even remotely near that (and you won't) is when the compressor kicks on. Keep in mind your freezers are (at most) probably on a 20 amp breaker. Check the circuit that they are on. If they aren't ever popping a breaker, use that breaker rating as your "high" point. This should show that a 3500 watt generator will be fine for you. If you want a little overkill, go for a 5k watt.

I got mine for less than $300 on sale, but mine is not a Honda or anything. Quality of generator is up to you, warranty is very important also.

Call an RV/Camping store near you, they can help also.



Actually, sorry for my math error.... geesh, some electronics guru I am.
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Old 10-03-2008, 10:55 AM   #7
Henry Miller
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Re: Generator for our freezers

Lots of small mistakes in this thread. Modern electric codes require 2, 20 amp circuits in a kitchen. The Microwave, and fridge MUST be on a different circuit from the above 2. (I think dishwashers and garbage dispolsals must be separate as well, but I don't have the code handy - in any case this is a good idea)

When running a generator you can get by on a smaller generator if you plug one appliance in, let it run until it shuts off, then unplug it and plug the next in (and so on) then shut the generator off - repeat in 2 hours or so (if the appliance doesn't run for as long the second time you can increase the time between runs). A lot of this depends on where the fridge it - if you have it in a hot room it will need to run more often, if it is in a cold room you can go over a day between runs.

Also you should consider replacing older appliances, advances in refrigeration technology have made new appliances use less energy.

Of course if you have a generator you should also think about your lights, furnance, well, sump pump - while you can conserve a lot of power, make sure you get enough. OTOH, don't go too big - once you have the generator you may wish to use it for other purposes.

Calling a camping store is a good idea. Many take in high quality generators from someone who buys a motorhome that comes with one, and decide they don't want the generator. While these generators are more than $1000 used, they will run for years without problems while your cheap one is only good for a few outages.
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Old 10-03-2008, 07:43 PM   #8
Bob Guere
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Re: Generator for our freezers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Miller View Post
Lots of small mistakes in this thread. Modern electric codes require 2, 20 amp circuits in a kitchen. The Microwave, and fridge MUST be on a different circuit from the above 2. (I think dishwashers and garbage dispolsals must be separate as well, but I don't have the code handy - in any case this is a good idea)

When running a generator you can get by on a smaller generator if you plug one appliance in, let it run until it shuts off, then unplug it and plug the next in (and so on) then shut the generator off - repeat in 2 hours or so (if the appliance doesn't run for as long the second time you can increase the time between runs). A lot of this depends on where the fridge it - if you have it in a hot room it will need to run more often, if it is in a cold room you can go over a day between runs.

Also you should consider replacing older appliances, advances in refrigeration technology have made new appliances use less energy.

Of course if you have a generator you should also think about your lights, furnance, well, sump pump - while you can conserve a lot of power, make sure you get enough. OTOH, don't go too big - once you have the generator you may wish to use it for other purposes.

Calling a camping store is a good idea. Many take in high quality generators from someone who buys a motorhome that comes with one, and decide they don't want the generator. While these generators are more than $1000 used, they will run for years without problems while your cheap one is only good for a few outages.
The OP is worried only about a sizable meat investment. Where are the "small mistakes"? She's not hooking up a generator to the grid, just to run her freezers to protect her meat. Nobody suggest she turn off the main and hook up a cheater cord or anything. Certainly that is a good option as well.
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