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I am in Ireland and I want to get a generator for backup. I want at least 2500 w continuous power, as that ensures that I can use any one of my appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher); with 2800 W I have a bit spare for the router and the fridge. I also want an inverter generator because I would power computer equipment.

But I want to minimize spending because this is a backup for cases that are rather rare, and also maybe a portable solution for camping. I don't think a full-scale professional installation, with a switch for the main house network, is worth it; besides, with a switch, we could accidentally turn on two appliances (or the shower) and overload the generator. And finally, I am worried about theft from the shed. So I am looking at a portable generator which would normally be stored in the house, and in case of emergency brought outside, with a 25 m extension cord (which we have, just need to remember to unwind it fully for serious power use) supplying any particular appliance we want to use. The electricity from the generator will NOT cross over into the main house wires at any point.

So, there are two principal generator options with these requirements:

The price difference is huge but what is the utility difference? The only one I know if is the noise, which is very significantly stronger for an open frame. And we live in a housing estate so noise is certainly not welcome. But maybe I can mitigate this by building a small enclosure out of concrete blocks? Also would the closed-frame be quiet enough to run at night, which is where noise makes most difference?

And is there any other utility difference except noise? As I understand none of these can run in the rain and none of these are safe indoors, right?

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    Frame challenge on the wattage: check the inrush currents and max currents on motor-driven appliances. Inrush, or startup, current on motors can be 3 to 4 times the normal running current. You might be able to "run" the motor if it was running already, but you may not be able to "start" it, which means the genny may be too small. Nov 28, 2022 at 15:35
  • quality and noise. you won't want the open frame in a campground.
    – Tiger Guy
    Nov 28, 2022 at 16:07
  • @Triplefault to take the inrush currents into account, I go from the rated connection wattage not from the consumption figures. My dryer has a 900 W rated connection, the washing machine and dishwasher list 2500 W. I suspect, actually, that the water heaters in the latter appliances take up more than the inrush current anyway. I might not do well with running the fridge at the same time because of its inrush but that is minor, compared to the fact that generators of larger power are not invertors. Nov 28, 2022 at 18:10

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is there any other utility difference except noise?

Yeah, one is rated at 96dB at 7m and the other is rated at 56dB.

Sound is attenuated by distance, but 96dB at 7m is extremely loud and obnoxious. If you use this at night, everyone in the neighborhood will show up. In a disaster situation (blackout) you don't want to be the guy to piss off everyone around. So it is not usable for the purpose you describe in the question, since its main utility would be attracting problems.

If you use a 96dB generator at a camping site you will be kicked out.

none of these are safe indoors, right?

If you use one of these indoors, you will die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I want at least 2500 w continuous power, as that ensures that I can use any one of my appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher)

In a disaster situation (blackout) I would object that none of these appliances are essential. You own a sponge, so you don't need a dishwasher like your life depends on it. Likewise you probably own enough clothes to last for a week or two without using the washer. I will not comment on the dryer.

If the blackout lasts for a few days, you won't need to wash and dry clothes. If it lasts more than one or two weeks, your most pressing problems will be water, food and ammunition, not electricity.

Besides, gas pumps run on electricity, so in a blackout, there is no gas to run a generator. This has interesting implications, because gas does not store well, it tends to evaporate and it is quite dangerous. So if you intend to keep a generator "just in case" this means you'll need to keep a store of gas, and you need to keep it fresh, which means periodically use it in your car and refill. This is quite annoying to do, and it also applies to the gas in the generator tank. Basically, keeping a gas generator ready to run requires significant effort. It's not a magic bullet. Diesel and propane do not suffer from this problem, though.

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  • And now I looked it up - 96db is really loud. My "portable" generator (Firman, around 7,500W depending on fuel type) is rated at 72db, and it is quite loud. Nov 28, 2022 at 20:42
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    Yeah its basically an illegal tuned moped without muffler. BRRRATTTTT, wake up the whole city.
    – bobflux
    Nov 28, 2022 at 20:53
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    Read the detailed specs. The “quieter” model is rated 56dBa at 25% load. It’s over 90dBA at 100% load. The other unit probably doesn’t produce 96dBa at all load levels.
    – nobody
    Nov 28, 2022 at 21:53
  • I looked for it but didn't find the rating at full load, I guess they were trying to hide it lol
    – bobflux
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:17
  • Thanks! It turned out this one was noisy even for an open frame, and I did decide that 2500 W is not essential. I ordered another open frame, rated 1800 W and 65 dB at 7 m. However, here in Ireland, I previously did have a blackout of 2 weeks following a 2014 hurricane and had no problems with food (we apparently bought the last portable gas stove in town back then, and we still have it) nor any need for ammunition. It was a one-off house by a road and they prioritized more populous areas when fixing power outages. Dec 9, 2022 at 2:15

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