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Thread: Shed to house a generator

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Blairstown, NJ
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    Shed to house a generator

    I just bought a Generac 17.5Kw generator. Up in New Jersey here, and the recent hurricane//power outage 2 months ago had the Missus looking mighty cross.
    Anyway power goes out at least once a year here, mostly mid-summer when the trees are very heavy. Often stays out a few days.

    I would like to store the Generac outside, and it will be near the service panel. My neighbor is the electrician, installs a lot of home generators, he says the location is good.
    The base is Pressure Treated 2'X4' cross-tied with lap-joints flat (sleeper), screwed and TiteBond, very stable. On top of that is a plastic pad, designed for as base for compressors, 4'X3'X3" thick,
    To protect the unit from rain (the snow load will not get at it), I was thinking of building a small dog-house size building 4' long X 32" wide X 46" high, framed with cedar 2X2s, and clad with Cedar clap siding, and roof (2 gables for vents), maybe same thing, cedar claps.
    The cedar offers the advantage of being very stable, plus light, and good workability. White cedar is very even-grained. Glued up M&T joints on this frame would be very strong. Seems this small building would be well under 80 pounds. I would like to be able to lift the shed up to move it, no winches, chain hoists, etc. If I had to, I could build it in a couple of sections, break apart, or just 4 walls being one piece, plus roof section separate, snaps together (with gate hooks, whatever)
    Any reason why this is a bad idea?
    Any other suggestions?

    tia
    tom
    Last edited by Tom Fischer; 11-23-2011 at 12:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Tom, I have the 17KW generac sitting in a position that sounds very similar to yours. I do not have a cover on mine. As I was reading your post I was thinking what you eventually said, that you wanted to be able to lift it off. You certainly will need to do that for servicing the unit, which I have done once a year. Is it necessary? No. Is it a bad idea? No.
    Tony

    "Soldier On"

  3. #3
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    Jan 2007
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    New Hampshire
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    Although I'm not going all out with the whole house generator, I will be purchasing a large portable in the near future. In the summer it can live down the hill in the shed. In the winter it will need to be closer by. I too was thinking of some type of doghouse for it. Here is most of the design forming in my head: A 4x4 PT cube with a roof on it. The sides will need to be removeable and hinged. They need be removed to move the generator and shed come spring (to reduce the weight), and also to be opened when the generator needs to be run. So I thinking of barrel latches to hold it closed, but I need to find a seperable hinge.

    My only comment would be to give consideration to extra support on the legs for when you do try to move it.

    How are you keeping the snow load off of it?

  4. #4
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    Oct 2011
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    Blairstown, NJ
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    Hi Tony and Anthony, I didn't get a whole house generator either. The one I bought has 2 wheels (no permits required). First thing I did, got rid of the stationary foot in the front. Replaced it with a 5" caster. Now it has three wheels.
    The PT box would work too, but seems that would be much heavier than white cedar.
    I was thinking simple 2"X2" cedar frame: sill and plate, MT joints for all the 2X2 wall studs - four on the length, three on the width. Nails or screws might crack the stock. White Cedar is pretty strong, but brittle.
    The snow won't get in there, for the most part. Putting it under the deck. Space between the deck boards is 1/8".
    And after talking to the kind folks at my lumber supply, at least one portable generator in town was stolen, during the recent outage, daytime, nobody home. Some people, wow. Times are tough, but that is a terrible thing to do.
    So this portable, once it gets under the deck, will be chained to one of the 6"X6" PT posts.

    (deck needs to be power-washed )

    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6046/6...63240ae9_b.jpg
    Last edited by Tom Fischer; 11-23-2011 at 2:47 PM.

  5. #5
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    That's a mighty nice deck. If you can put it under the deck and run it in place. I would put it as near the house as possible, remove one of the lattice panels and cut out a section to turn it into a door. Then attach a piece of metal roofing to the bottom of the decks floor joists to cover over the generator so nothing drips on it. I don't see any reason to build additional sides or a separate roof. That was my original plan and may do that instead for summer storage. But unfortunately the side of the deck I can get the generator under is 26+ feet away from the panel and would require 6ga wire to minimize the voltage drop at 30A. With the lattice work sides, the underside stays dry from both snow and rain.

    Thanks for the reminder of some people. I'll probably install some type of concrete post and rebar loop to attach the generator to during winter "storage".

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the kind words Anthony.
    The deck is wooden (IPE) and needs even air flow over and under, keep the deck boards from cupping.
    The corrugated roofing would sure keep the generator dry, just not completely sure that the deck boards wouldn't become unstable.
    Maybe you're right, it would work.

  7. #7
    I have had 7.5kW Generac in my side yard in the northern boondocks of NJ for five years now and the all-weather enclosure it comes in is more than good enough. I would not enclose it in a shed, it needs to suck in air from the end for cooling and intake and out the other side for exhaust. They system is designed to be all-weather and free-flowing, so it's probably best to leave it that way. If you have it hooked up to automatically switch over like mine, you don't want to be running out the thing in the middle of the night to pull the cover off it when the power goes out. the machine also 'exercises' once per week to keep itself lubircated.

  8. #8
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    New Hill, NC
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    One thing that I have not seen suggested..... set it up so that your wife (or kids) can operate it if you're not available. Much better if you factor in airflow needs and install a door on the structure, with step by step start-up and shut-down instructions in a waterproof pouch on the inside of the door.

  9. #9
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    Between No Where & No Place ,WA
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    Gents: I now live in the Pacific North Wet, AKA Washington State, but grew up in NY in 1950-60’s.

    What I am wondering how hard is it to start these generators in the winter using a cord pull start. Or if a battery start, how do you keep the battery from freezing up or loosing power from the cold?

    I remember “back in the day” as cold weather being a killer for batteries and trying to start up small engines. Has technology improved that much??….

  10. #10
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    17.5kW portable or 7.5kW portable?

  11. #11
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    To be more specific, I would drop some pieces of 2x4 down and one across (U shaped) to support the roofing from the bottom. In addition to supporting it from the bottom, this would allow you to get some pitch to it for drainage and for, your concern, move the roofing away from the joists. As it won't be bearing a snow load, you may get away with the fiberglass version if it's cheaper.

  12. #12
    I would build a shed with removable sides. Roof remains in place. Be sure and get an electric start generator. Buy a HF float charger ($4.99 on sale) to keep battery topped off.

  13. #13
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    Blairstown, NJ
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    Anthony -
    17.5K
    http://www.generac.com/Portables/GP/Products/GP_17500E/
    Yes, that's a good idea for supporting the roofing.

    Ray - the unit is electric start, has a built in trickle charger.
    The electrician is going to wire it in, so we will have a line installed for the trickle charger.
    I have never used a block heater, but maybe a magnetic one will work. (aluminum block?)
    The company says you can use 10W-30 oil in the winter.

    Scott, thanks for the idea, but I am the maintenance crew. No backups.
    Last edited by Tom Fischer; 11-24-2011 at 3:38 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    westchester cty, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Newman View Post
    Gents: I now live in the Pacific North Wet, AKA Washington State, but grew up in NY in 1950-60’s.

    What I am wondering how hard is it to start these generators in the winter using a cord pull start. Or if a battery start, how do you keep the battery from freezing up or loosing power from the cold?

    I remember “back in the day” as cold weather being a killer for batteries and trying to start up small engines. Has technology improved that much??….
    most of the portable generators, and all of the standby generators, have trickle chargers that keep the battery charged so that when power is interrupted, the battery is ready to start the generator. my 4 KW portable is a pull start and always starts on pulls 2-5. but i maintain mine religiously and start it ( and run it) every 6 months.

  15. #15
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    You realize that you won't be able to pull all the running power the unit is capable of, right? 17,500 W /240 V = 72 A; the unit has a 50A outlet. That's one of the service centers complaints about portable generators being used to power houses. They just aren't built for it. I've been checking prices and location for a year or so, while I wait for there to be money in the bank account.

    If you plugged into all the outlets on the power panel you could draw a total of 72A, but through the twist lock, you'll be limited to 50A or 12kW.

    Personally I'm aiming for a 7.5kW/10kW unit with a 30A twist lock. (240V x 30A = 7.2kW)

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