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As we're in the midst of a ice storm here in MI, I can't help but to wonder about the pros and cons of a PTO generator when the power goes out. If you use one, I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with one.


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I have done quite a bit of research on this and ultimately decided it is far more cost effective to go with a stand alone generator. In fact I could get a self starting gen set and run my whole house.

The benefit of a PTO generator is if you need a small amount of power for tools on a fence line, but you will burn far more fuel on the tractor than if you go standalone.

Eric Gildersleeve ~ KD7CAO
Krugerville, TX, USA
John Deere 1025r
 

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If you have a primary use for a PTO driven generator for some other purpose then you might as well put it to occasional use if you need emergency power for you house I guess. But I wouldn't buy one for that purpose. I have no desire to leave my tractor sitting outside running all night in the rain/snow/sleet unattended while I try to sleep and you can run up a lot of engine hours for something that can be handled by a $400 portable gas generator. Plus, if something happens to that generator and it locks up it can do a number on anything around it when it comes flying off it's mount.

I've got a Genrac 5500 watt portable unit I use. I can run pretty much everything in the house except the A/C on it. I can buy 2 or 3 of those for the cost of a PTO driven unit.
 

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I'll take a different tack:

I think PTO generators have their place but it's not continuous power generation for a whole house. I have a 2.4kW 120V Yamaha inverter generator that I converted to run off propane. It works tirelessly to run lights and such when the power is off and I wouldn't want to use a PTO generator for this. However, what the Yama won't do is run the 240V well pump! To me, this seems a great use for a PTO generator. I can hitch it up once or twice a day, take it over to the power inlet, and run it for 15-20 minutes to pump up water, do the dishes, flush the toilets, and generally wash up. Then it goes back into the shed to wait for tomorrow. The PTO generators look like less money and, much more importantly, don't have another engine that I have to do bi-monthly testing on.
 

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I'll take a different tack:

I think PTO generators have their place but it's not continuous power generation for a whole house. I have a 2.4kW 120V Yamaha inverter generator that I converted to run off propane. It works tirelessly to run lights and such when the power is off and I wouldn't want to use a PTO generator for this. However, what the Yama won't do is run the 240V well pump! To me, this seems a great use for a PTO generator.
Yes, but that's only because your generator is only 2.4KW. A slightly larger generator could also run on propane and would have 120/240V output and it too would tirelessly run lights, etc. AND your well pump. And... you wouldn't be running back and forth in ______ weather attaching and detaching the 240V PTO generator. An inexpensive single attachment could provide whole-house power without extension cords and would be easier to shield from the elements.

That would leave your tractor free for other emergency related duties during the outage.

The merits of a PTO generator have been discussed many times and with few exceptions they come up with too many disadvantages. Having the tractor sit beside the house running wide open (re: 540 RPM PTO needed for generator) in a monsoon/flooding rain or crippling ice/snow storm just doesn't seem like the best use of the equipment.
 
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I have a Pulan Pro 6,600 that I picked up for under $800. I hate to let that thing sit outside when I have to use it.
 

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I have a Pulan Pro 6,600 that I picked up for under $800. I hate to let that thing sit outside when I have to use it.
I made a small fold-up shield that covers the electrical connections on my Honda generator if the weather is nasty.

I see you can also get weather shields like this:

gen_shelter.jpg
 

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Yes, but that's only because your generator is only 2.4KW.
Its 2.4kW because it's correctly sized for my application. 99% of the time, I want less than 500W output from the genny. The only exception to that is starting the compressor for the refrigerator, which takes the full output of the generator plus the hard start kit. So the smaller inverter generator remains fuel efficient when I'm down at 500W yet can surge to get the fridge started. The whole time, it's using very little fuel. A larger generator would be heavier, louder, waste more fuel, cost more, and be more likely to walk off because I couldn't pick it up and hide it when I don't need it. There's nothing but downsides to trying to run full-time off a larger generator.

And... you wouldn't be running back and forth in ______ weather attaching and detaching the 240V PTO generator.
I've lived through multiple long weather-caused power outages. None of them maintained that bad weather past the first 12 hours. I don't consider working after the ice storm, after the blizzard, or after the tornado to be "bad weather" anymore. Who cares if there's snow on the ground.

An inexpensive single attachment could provide whole-house power without extension cords and would be easier to shield from the elements.
There's no reason you can't attach a small generator to a proper inlet port and transfer switch. It's how I've got mine set up and I've connected as small as a 500W suitcase genny to it this way.

That would leave your tractor free for other emergency related duties during the outage.
I can spare my tractor for 15 minutes a day to pump water no matter what's going on.

The merits of a PTO generator have been discussed many times and with few exceptions they come up with too many disadvantages.
No, it's been discussed multiple times and depending on the PTO genny as your sole source of electric power has too many disadvantages. Group-think is then preventing you from realizing there's some edge cases that make sense.

Having the tractor sit beside the house running wide open (re: 540 RPM PTO needed for generator) in a monsoon/flooding rain or crippling ice/snow storm just doesn't seem like the best use of the equipment.
I can run the tractor at PTO speed for 15 minutes a day without the world ending. It runs at PTO speed with a MUCH larger load on it for many times more than 15 minutes every time I mow.
 

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I made a small fold-up shield that covers the electrical connections on my Honda generator if the weather is nasty.

I see you can also get weather shields like this:

View attachment 106537
Never mind, turned out "gentent" is what I wanted. Looks like GenTent sells them for just about every generator out there. A little expensive, but a lot less sail area than the EZ-UP I've been using. Veeeery interesting!
 

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We are out in a ruralish area with above ground power lines and private well. I have a Yamaha EF6600DE 6,600 Watt generator which works well for my needs. It will run everything in the house including the 220V well.

I have the wheel kit for it but having a loader on the x585 sure makes it easier to move around. I toss a chain on it and connect that to the hook on my bucket. Now I can wheel it around anywhere I need it.
 
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Another thought is you may need the tractor for various cleanup duties, instead of being chained to the generator providing power. Add me to the stand alone or whole house generator camp.
You're right about that.:good2:

For Hurricane Katrina which brushed us and hurricane Gustav which ran over us, the tractor was busy sunup to sundown cleaning
up.
We had 3 tractors and a big sugarcane loader working in the neighborhood for a week.

My 6.5 KW stand alone made it livable at the house, lights, fans and washing machine.
Just everybody in my area have 5.5's to 10's stand alones for hurricane purposes.
 
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The more I read the arguments against pto generators, the more I think that will be the way I go.

First off, I wouldn't run it 24/7 in the event of a power outage. A few hours on and a few hours off to intermittently run the furnace and well would be fine. I don't need a steady 68.5* or TV to stay happy. My M used to run sun up to sun down making hay when we lived on the farm so I think even a few consecutive hours on a generator wouldn't be a problem. Yes, I would leave my tractor outside to do its thing even in the face of bad weather. It is made out of a ton and a half of steel... it isn't going to melt.

Secondly, the last thing I need around here is another little motor to maintain. Not counting my M, I already have 8 small engines to fuss with and I don't want a ninth. That 65 year old John Deere is more reliable than any other piece of equipment I own. A generator is only something that comes out once the poo is on the fan and now that my wife has decided that a human larvae is going to be in our 2-year plan, I want something that I know is going to fire on the first pull.

Third, even though it will suck down gasoline at between 1.5-2 gallons per hour, my M would have to sit there for a long time to make up the few thousand dollars which separate the price of a pto generator from the price of a standalone generator of similar output. And don't forget that you need to take the fuel which a standalone will also be burning into account. Even if a standalone only burns a gallon an hour, at current fuel prices it would take a very, very long time to make up even a few hundred dollars difference. (Btw, I'm looking at 8kw units.)

Fourth and final, "you need your tractor for cleanup duties". No I don't because if the weather is bad enough to cut the power, I'm waiting for it to pass before I go outside to work! Once this plan is coupled with my intermittent power plan, there aren't any overlaps in my tractor's schedule. I'll admit that it helps that I live on the edge of a corn field in the middle of Michigan, but even when we lived up north the plan was still basically the same. Only then we didn't need a generator because we had wood for heat and a hand pump for water in the basement. In a worst case situation, I can have both my driveway and my neighbor's plowed in 1-2 hours; run the generator to warm up the house, plow, back on the generator. If a tree comes down on the driveway I'm going to buck it and roll it off to the side to be split later. As long as I can get my truck to the road, cleanup can wait.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.
 

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In 1985, we had a storm come through VA that wiped out power,, we were gonna be without electricity for more than a week.

I never considered a generator before. Well,, we went looking, no generator was available.
We stopped by Sams Club to get bottled water, and lo and behold there sat a Lincoln engine driven welder with a 4K generator

Home it came,, WE HAD ELECTRICITY!! WOOT!! :yahoo:

A neighbor talked me into selling the Lincoln, then I purchased and sold a Miller welder/generator, another neighbor wanted that one.

I have since purchased another Miller welder with a 10K generator,
this one I found used almost new at a great price (52 hours on the meter).

I do all my welding with the Miller,, that is an excuse to run the machine.
The Miller produces better, more stable voltage power than the utility company.

 

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The more I read the arguments against pto generators, the more I think that will be the way I go.

First off, I wouldn't run it 24/7 in the event of a power outage. A few hours on and a few hours off to intermittently run the furnace and well would be fine. I don't need a steady 68.5* or TV to stay happy. My M used to run sun up to sun down making hay when we lived on the farm so I think even a few consecutive hours on a generator wouldn't be a problem. Yes, I would leave my tractor outside to do its thing even in the face of bad weather. It is made out of a ton and a half of steel... it isn't going to melt.

Secondly, the last thing I need around here is another little motor to maintain. Not counting my M, I already have 8 small engines to fuss with and I don't want a ninth. That 65 year old John Deere is more reliable than any other piece of equipment I own. A generator is only something that comes out once the poo is on the fan and now that my wife has decided that a human larvae is going to be in our 2-year plan, I want something that I know is going to fire on the first pull.

Third, even though it will suck down gasoline at between 1.5-2 gallons per hour, my M would have to sit there for a long time to make up the few thousand dollars which separate the price of a pto generator from the price of a standalone generator of similar output. And don't forget that you need to take the fuel which a standalone will also be burning into account. Even if a standalone only burns a gallon an hour, at current fuel prices it would take a very, very long time to make up even a few hundred dollars difference. (Btw, I'm looking at 8kw units.)

Fourth and final, "you need your tractor for cleanup duties". No I don't because if the weather is bad enough to cut the power, I'm waiting for it to pass before I go outside to work! Once this plan is coupled with my intermittent power plan, there aren't any overlaps in my tractor's schedule. I'll admit that it helps that I live on the edge of a corn field in the middle of Michigan, but even when we lived up north the plan was still basically the same. Only then we didn't need a generator because we had wood for heat and a hand pump for water in the basement. In a worst case situation, I can have both my driveway and my neighbor's plowed in 1-2 hours; run the generator to warm up the house, plow, back on the generator. If a tree comes down on the driveway I'm going to buck it and roll it off to the side to be split later. As long as I can get my truck to the road, cleanup can wait.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.
I agree with everything said here. Plus the fact that I usually have at least 500 gallons of diesel fuel on hand (between my 150 gal tractor tank and 1000 gal heating fuel tank).
 

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I agree with everything said here. Plus the fact that I usually have at least 500 gallons of diesel fuel on hand (between my 150 gal tractor tank and 1000 gal heating fuel tank).
That is the only major flaw in my plan; in the fall and winter I don't stock very much gas because I don't want it to go bad. This time of year I only keep a 5 gallon can which sometimes I won't touch for weeks on end. I have only used my tractor twice since I took the mower off in early October. For the rest of the year I typically keep a 15 gallon reserve in cans plus whatever is in the tractor. I miss having a 200 gallon bulk tank but it is hard to justify when there is a perfectly good gas station 2 miles up the road.

My only other potential flaw is that my M isn't exactly quiet. Some of the new little suitcase generators are astoundingly silent and even most large generators aren't too bad nowadays. I have an OEM muffler on it right now and it is only marginally quieter than the open manifold. Great when plowing the garden at 2pm, not so much for running a generator at 2am. But since running a generator isn't going to be an everyday thing, I have a feeling my neighbors will be understanding.
 

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That is the only major flaw in my plan; in the fall and winter I don't stock very much gas because I don't want it to go bad. This time of year I only keep a 5 gallon can which sometimes I won't touch for weeks on end.
That is a tough call. I like to keep a bit more on-hand during the winter months specifically for the generator. When we get a big power outage the local gas stations are usually without power as well.

I treat my gas with Sta-Bil and after 3 months or so if it doesn't get used I simply pump it into my vehicle and start over with some fresh stuff. That was my process when using Ethenol laced fuel.

A year ago I started using Ethanol-free fuel in all my small engines. By treating it with Sta-Bil I know I can keep it much longer than 3 months but if March rolls around and I still haven't used my bulk supply I will pump it into the car and get fresh fuel.

I do something similar with my diesel. Since I don't mow with my big tractor I don't use much fuel so if winter rolls around and I still have 5-10 gallons of diesel sitting around I simply pump it into my heating oil tank and get some fresh winterized fuel.

A side benefit is when I pump the left-over Ethanol-free gas into my car my mileage jumps 3-4 MPG. :)
 

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One other benefit that I left off on my standalone is that while I use it to power my house and pole barn, that is probably where it sees the least amount of use. It powers our camper when we are out camping at a place with no hookups a lot more often than it powers my house. While it is overkill for powering our camper, it means one generator rather than two. Sorry, not going to load up my tractor to bring it with camping. Also on my x585 I don't have rear PTO out. I don't have a tiller or any other attachment that needs it so it would be another expense in my case.

Another thing with generators (PTO or dedicated engine powered) you don't want to leave them sit. They can go bad unless they are exercised from time to time and the last moment you want to find out that it has an internal short in the windings after a generator has been sitting in a barn for the last 5 years and not run at all and you need power.

Bottom line is we can all make our case for what is the best option until our fingers are black and blue. No solution is best for everyone and that is why they still make standalone and PTO generators. If there was a one fit all solution, then the others would fade away like any other obsolete product. I did consider getting a PTO output for my tractor and a PTO driven generator but the more I evaluated how I use it I was able to determine it wasn't the best fit for me.
 

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That is a tough call. I like to keep a bit more on-hand during the winter months specifically for the generator. When we get a big power outage the local gas stations are usually without power as well.

I treat my gas with Sta-Bil and after 3 months or so if it doesn't get used I simply pump it into my vehicle and start over with some fresh stuff. That was my process when using Ethenol laced fuel.

A year ago I started using Ethanol-free fuel in all my small engines. By treating it with Sta-Bil I know I can keep it much longer than 3 months but if March rolls around and I still haven't used my bulk supply I will pump it into the car and get fresh fuel.

I do something similar with my diesel. Since I don't mow with my big tractor I don't use much fuel so if winter rolls around and I still have 5-10 gallons of diesel sitting around I simply pump it into my heating oil tank and get some fresh winterized fuel.

A side benefit is when I pump the left-over Ethanol-free gas into my car my mileage jumps 3-4 MPG. :)
This is pretty much what I do. I have a 35 gallon fuel dolly and I fill it before the winter and use it to have fuel on hand for the generator and to keep my tractor topped off for plowing. It is one thing I like about having an X series. While diesel would be nice, it is another fuel that I need to keep on hand and this keeps me turning over my supply. The only thing I own that burns diesel is my car. It is one thing keeping me from moving up to a 1 series. Though now that the x7XX can't have a loader anymore it means either keep my x585 forever or bite the bullet and switch to diesel.
 
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