Thermoelectric Generators

wb4jfi at wb4jfi at
Tue Dec 11 16:37:25 CST 2012

You may not need as big of a generator as you think.

I have two separate 200A breaker panels with separate feeds from the meter. 
There are two larger A/C units, plus a third ductless mini-split for the 
shack, and lots of other electrical stuff. (My next door neighbor had 
recently installed a 20kW Generac)  When I first looked at a whole-house 
generator, every company said that I needed at least a 38kW generator, some 
even confirmed that with Generac.  The cost was north of $35,000, and the 
generators were all water-cooled small automobile engines.  No way was I 
going to afford that, and I wasn't going to mess with car engine generators 
either.   OF course these electrical contractors were not the brightest 
bulbs in general, one even told me that the joule was named after a famous 
Chinese person.

Then, I found an electrical company that was subcontracting on some other 
work here.  I told him of my story, he looked at the panels, and told me 
that Generac has an ATS that uses smart technology (the Nexus line), which 
can shed loads based on current loading.  That way I only needed a 20kW, 
nat-gas, air-cooled Generac unit.  So far, it has worked wonderfully.  The 
cost was one-fourth of what others were saying.  I had planned to implement 
"manual load shedding" (me tripping breakers as necessary) to reduce the 
load requirements, but the Nexus will do that even if I am not home at the 

In an unprecedented resolution, the generator came in on-time and 
under-budget.  I realize that I WILL pay for that sometime in the future.

So, check out the newer, smarter technologies out there.  You may not need 
as big a generator.
Terry, WB4JFI

-----Original Message----- 
From: Chip Fetrow
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 5:04 AM
To: tacos at
Subject: RE: Thermoelectric Generators

Well, most people don't prepare at all.  Not at all.  I basically feel
they deserve to freeze or starve.

They don't even have a dozen AA cells in the freezer or 'fridge.

You have got to wonder.

I have only a 2 kVA Honda Inverter generator.  It runs mostly
everything I need except the HVAC.  Still, I have had neighbors come
buy to ask to plug in cell phone chargers.  I not only allow it but I
give them an outlet strip.  I allow as many to plug is as appear.  I
have dozens of outlet strips as a result of decommisioning a radio
network, so iI could likely accomidate a hundred chargers.  It would
be a real mess on the front porch.  I don't recall more than six
plugging into the generator.

I plan to get a 40 kVA generator for the entire house.  Of course, my
wife and I need to become employeed, a problem for both of us right
now.  However once we have jobs and don't have to worry about the
bills, I will install a 40 kVA generator and put two or three 10
Ampere outlets on it for those living closest to us.  Hey, they need
to live with the noise, even though I plan to buy a low noise gen-set.

They can plug in there 'fridge or some other low load.  If they want
to plug in something larger, the breaker will trip.

HEY, IT IS FEE.  Get over it.


On Dec 10, 2012, at 1:00 PM, tacos-request at wrote:

> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 10:56:26 -0500
> From: Richard O'Neill <richardoneill at>
> To: Tacos AMRAD <tacos at>
> Subject: Thermoelectric Generators
> "They were actually using these in NYC shelters to charge things like
> cellphones after Sandy. They apparently work pretty well."
> Mark,
>  So, these devices do have some practicality after all, at least in  an 
> urban environment - following a major calamity. Can you direct me  to any 
> links that describe their use following Sandy's passage?  Personally, in 
> that sort of situation I'd place far higher priority  on obtaining 
> shelter, potable water and food than recharging a cell  phone. My, how 
> times have changed. I suppose these devices are now  considered essential 
> for urban folks used to a daily reliance on them.
>  I can see where such a puny power source such as this could be a  life 
> saver for those otherwise unprepared for an infrastructure  collapse. Few 
> really are. However, the fact that these devices  require three to five 
> hours of burn time to recharge a cell phone  seems pitifully inadequate 
> for all but the most dire circumstances -  which did exist for so many for 
> far longer than they ever expected.  The Boy Scout motto about always 
> being prepared is still good advice.
> Richard
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