High Tide Aquatics

PG&E and Planned Power Outages

Matthew Meyer

Supporting Member
Just spoke to a PGE employee servicing my meter. He told me to prepare for summer outages around 24hrs at a time as they plan to shunt power to wealthier area's like Los Altos, ect.
I plan to invest in a generator that can handle potential power outages for our few hot and cold days out of the year as a backup. I have never been able to understand watts, amps, volts. Can someone point me to a cheap generator that can handle the bare minimum for my 65g tank? Currently hurting a bit for money So if possible to keep at or <$400 would be idea. Thanks.
 
As someone who has used a small generator and been around small generators for many years (different hobby) I wouldn’t spend my money on a cheap one.

That being said, if your budget is limited I would go with something from Harbor Freight. As far as sizing goes, it depends on whether you want the bare minimum (heater and return) or also want to run lights and flow pumps? How big is your heater? 65g is pretty small so the Predator 1400 will almost certainly work for you.

Note that cheaper generators are a lot noisier, heavier, less reliable, and have shorter maintenance intervals than something like a Honda or Yamaha. You need to change the oil occasionally, replace old gas, and so on. The good generators are far more likely to tolerate abuse and extended maintenance intervals than something cheap. I’ve run over my 1000W Yamaha with my race van on more than one occasion. :)

Yes, you can make the argument that you don’t need something nice since it would be used so rarely…the flip side to that coin is that small engines like to be run frequently and can be difficult to start when having sat for long periods…and troubleshooting a cheap generator that doesn’t want to start when the power is out is not great.

My 2 cents!
 
^ I agree. If you want a really good one. Get a Honda. But you’re gonna pay.
It’s like a truck. You don’t need it. But when you do. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.
 
I did a bunch of research on this. My plan is to get a duel fuel generator and plan on running strictly on propane only. Don’t have to worry about old gas fouling the carburetor, and keeping gasoline around. I always have spare propane for bbq.

As for cheap vs expensive gen, I have my eye on the Honda 2200w w/ conversion kit. Not cheap but quietest and very reliable. If this is some i need once a while, I want to make sure it will absolutely work when I need it.
 
I did a bunch of research on this. My plan is to get a duel fuel generator and plan on running strictly on propane only. Don’t have to worry about old gas fouling the carburetor, and keeping gasoline around. I always have spare propane for bbq.

As for cheap vs expensive gen, I have my eye on the Honda 2200w w/ conversion kit. Not cheap but quietest and very reliable. If this is some i need once a while, I want to make sure it will absolutely work when I need it.
That’s a great way to go! My (nearly) whole house generator is a dual fuel and I keep a couple big propane tanks on hand. It’s less efficient than gas but so much easier to store and can be stored for a much longer period of time.
 
That’s a great way to go! My (nearly) whole house generator is a dual fuel and I keep a couple big propane tanks on hand. It’s less efficient than gas but so much easier to store and can be stored for a much longer period of time.
My ultimate goal is to get @Srt4eric run my gas line to the back of my house. Unlimited fuel. Just need to bribe Eric to come over
 
My ultimate goal is to get @Srt4eric run my gas line to the back of my house. Unlimited fuel. Just need to bribe Eric to come over
You'll need a tri-fuel generator to run natural gas. Unless youre talking about one of those giant whole house propane tanks. I highly considered getting one but ultimately went with a dual fuel because I'll always have propane on hand for the grill. If I really need more fuel, I have a couple gas stations really close by.
 
Recommend inverter type generator if you are planning to run electronics like an Apex or other controllers, including integrated controllers.

Propane easier than gasoline in my opinion.
 
J
You'll need a tri-fuel generator to run natural gas. Unless youre talking about one of those giant whole house propane tanks. I highly considered getting one but ultimately went with a dual fuel because I'll always have propane on hand for the grill. If I really need more fuel, I have a couple gas stations really close by.
I am specifically eying the small Honda gen conversion from https://genconnexdirect.net/

Yes, it’s a tri-fuel.

Not cheap, $500 upcharge from the ordinary Honda.
 
I got a 3400W dual fuel Champion generator 4-5 years ago and it has been fantastic and definitely on the quieter side. Can run the thing at night without any of my neighbors complaining about not being able to sleep. This particular model isn’t available anymore, but they have similar ones available with some model with built in CO alarms.

 
Definitely get dual fuel. Gasoline only, when used infrequently, can be a nightmare even with Stabil. You want something that just works when you need it, and that will be LP (propane). Tri-fuel is pointless unless you're gonna hard pipe some gas line from your house... most people won't do that due to cost or personal comfort/skill level.

Most reasonably sized aquariums are gonna draw under 2000 watts unless you're running some crazy heavy duty hardware or multiple tanks so even a smallish inverter style generator is usually pretty ok. It's always nice to have some extra juice for your fridge, internet, whatever your family needs/wants so the 3400w size that Randy mentioned is a good sweet spot for most. When you get into the 4500w plus range, noise gets to be an issue, especially with neighbors at night.

JVU alluded to this regarding expensive/sensitive electronics, but generator power is often not as clean or identical in waveform to what we get through PGE. Nice gear generally doesn't like this. You can solve this with a sine wave style output inverter, but I'd recommend a good power conditioning battery UPS for your expensive electronics at all times regardless. Even for when the power is on and coming from PGE. This will not only provide a little uninterrupted time during an outage to keep things running while you switch to generator power, but will also ensure day to day that voltage is regulated, and surges, spikes and weirdness don't reach your expensive gear.

It's hard on your equipment to have hard shut-offs, unexpected on/off cycles and surges. It's annoying for things to have to cycle through wifi connection losses, and to get dozens of alerts just because your gear went offline for a moment. A good UPS will keep your stuff happy and also let you ride out small power blips effortlessly without things rebooting, complaining, etc.
 
Agree with all comments about inverter, noise and propane.

I have done a ton of research last year before I bought one and this seemed to be the best option: iGen4500DFc

Unfortunately slightly more expensive.

IMG_1439.jpeg
 
I did a lot of research on a generator over the course of the 10+ months. After a lot of back and forth I went with a Predator 5000 for the following key reasons:

1) Inverter generator. This is a must if you want to run sensitive electronic equipment

2) Dual fuel. I intend to run the generator off propane. Propane is much easiest to store long term. I have two of the bbq sized tanks sitting around for emergencies.

3) Portable mid-sized generator. I was initially planning to get a larger generation could run my whole house on but decided to get a mid-sized one that can run hot water heater, gas furnace (needs electricity to run), 2 refrigerators, router + WiFi equipment, and a 140 gallon aquarium (lights shut off). The reason I went with mid-size is it is easier to move around and store. It is also a little cheaper than the larger sized models.

4) Harbor Freight has a solid return / exchange policy if something goes wrong. The Predator line is also relatively widely used and well reviewed. There are definitely cheaper options on Amazon. Those probably work similarly.

I also bought a few simple upgrades which help the generator run more reliably: magnetic dip stick to help with metal shavings, and small hand powered oil extractor pump to make oil changes more efficient (ie, you must keep on top of oil changes if you want the generator to last). If you purchase a generator be sure to break it in properly. This mostly involves 1) lubicating the air filter with some oil and 2) running the generator for a while with consistent oil changes. There are many videos on how to break in a a generator on YouTube.
 
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Just spoke to a PGE employee servicing my meter. He told me to prepare for summer outages around 24hrs at a time as they plan to shunt power to wealthier area's like Los Altos, ect.
I plan to invest in a generator that can handle potential power outages for our few hot and cold days out of the year as a backup. I have never been able to understand watts, amps, volts. Can someone point me to a cheap generator that can handle the bare minimum for my 65g tank? Currently hurting a bit for money So if possible to keep at or <$400 would be idea. Thanks.

Mmmm that sounds suspect to me. I wouldn't put too much stock in some rando linemen's grumblings. For s---s & giggles, I took this question to a few linemen I know.... none have head anything about that.

Saying that, I run my generator every few months and rotate my fuel (treated of course)
 
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