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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey y'all. I am in SE TX and am looking to get a generator. Dual fuel ideally. I want to be able to run an electric dryer. (Cue all the eye rolling now) I don't use my AC so I don't have that to worry about, just fans. Anyway. Plate on dryer says 5600 watts running. Some internet sources say 6750 starting watts, others say more like 1500. I have been looking into a Killowat type of meter to tell me if adjusting the settings on the dryer to lower the heat to xtra low can reduce the load on a generator. Or any ideas on how to get an idea of ballpark wattage usage.
I've been down a few rabbit holes so far concerning THD, generator paralleling, dryer modifications... I wanted a Dewalt, then the big Westinghouse. I do ALOT of laundry sometimes and everyone tells me to get a clothesline. But it rained for 3 weeks straight during Harvey and I'd have been up to my ears in moldy laundry if I'd have lost power.
I've asked this question on 2 Facebook pages, one for Generators the other for retirees and all I get is forget the dryer, but I think I can make it work. TYIA
 

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Get a gas dryer and run it on propane for the heat. That would be my recommendation.

To answer your question on the meters:

I have several of the type of meter in the link above. I use them for both 120v and 240v loads.

Note that the digital read out is not instantaneous. If you are trying to meter a motor or compressor you will not catch the locked rotor amps - the digital readout isn't fast enough, nor peak reading (just an accumulation of KWH).
 

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From what I know about them, The heating element is either on or off, it cycles based on where it's set. e.g. If it's a 5,000 watt dryer the generator must be sized for that plus your other outage loads. So, if the setting is lower, the drum will spin which is negligible wattage with the heating element turning on and off which is the big wattage. You can get the actual wattage of YOUR dryer by looking at the nameplate or manual. Starting wattage vs running is not really a consideration for a dryer, that's for large motors, well pumps, AC units.

Be aware that you will need a generator with a 120/240V outlet as dryers run on 240V. Also, you'll need a generator disconnect and generator inlet box installed by an electrician. Based on the 5,000W example above, you'll probably have another 2-3,000 watts consumed by lights, frig, freezer, in your house. So, a 7-10,000 watt generator would be needed. That size unit will be very thirsty in terms of fuel consumption. If you go with dual fuel, when using propane the wattage is reduced by 10% from gasoline. So, depending on your frequency and duration of outages fuel storage must be considered.

An alternative could be purchasing a small 120V dryer for use in outages, 1800W and could be powered by a heavy duty extension cord from the generator eliminating the disconnect, inlet box, and electrician. Additional house loads could be powered by other extension cords. Not as convenient and are trip hazards but the cheapest way to go, again, frequency and duration of outages must be considered. Generator size would drop to 5,000 watts, initial cost and fuel consumption would drop accordingly.
 

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i agree an LP dryer is a better plan.
electric dryer is an energy hog.
soooo....
if you have to use the BIG electric dryer...
you need a large gen set...
so maybe a whole house gen set that drinks fuel for when you have to run the larger stuff...

and a small gen set just to run the small stuff when you do not need all of the BIG power stuff to run.

or buy enough clothes that you can go 2 weeks with out doing laundry....
and go to town where they have power to use the large bank of washers and dryers at 50-80 bucks a trip...
plus fuel to get there and back home...
chances are you do need a re supply run after 2 weeks....
 

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My electric dryer draws right around 5500 watts measured with a meter. A drying cycle ranges from about 30 minutes to about and hour. You want a generator sized to support that load continuous for an hour. A 5500watt rated generator should handle the task. but you’ll need to essentially dedicate the generator to only the dryer During that time. If this is your priority a bump to a slighter bigger generator would be prudent.
 

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I'm in the same boat. I have a 5000/6250 Coleman generator. The electric dryer is 5600w. The Coleman is not big enough to run it. Drying clothes is not necessarily a priority unless the outage lasts longer than a week or two. Luckily, that's rare in my area. I hadn't thought about a 120v clothes dryer, though. Maybe something like what a travel trailer uses? Do they have those?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Electrician is supposed to contact me end of this week to quote a transfer switch or interlock system. No ng in my area, so propane, but not until next year as standby systems have to have a purchased tank because I don't use enough propane. $4000 for a 500 gallon tank. So gas is it for this year at least. I can adjust other usage while running dryer to lessen overall usage.
Thanks for your answer. Sincerely appreciated.
From what I know about them, The heating element is either on or off, it cycles based on where it's set. e.g. If it's a 5,000 watt dryer the generator must be sized for that plus your other outage loads. So, if the setting is lower, the drum will spin which is negligible wattage with the heating element turning on and off which is the big wattage. You can get the actual wattage of YOUR dryer by looking at the nameplate or manual. Starting wattage vs running is not really a consideration for a dryer, that's for large motors, well pumps, AC units.

Be aware that you will need a generator with a 120/240V outlet as dryers run on 240V. Also, you'll need a generator disconnect and generator inlet box installed by an electrician. Based on the 5,000W example above, you'll probably have another 2-3,000 watts consumed by lights, frig, freezer, in your house. So, a 7-10,000 watt generator would be needed. That size unit will be very thirsty in terms of fuel consumption. If you go with dual fuel, when using propane the wattage is reduced by 10% from gasoline. So, depending on your frequency and duration of outages fuel storage must be considered.

An alternative could be purchasing a small 120V dryer for use in outages, 1800W and could be powered by a heavy duty extension cord from the generator eliminating the disconnect, inlet box, and electrician. Additional house loads could be powered by other extension cords. Not as convenient and are trip hazards but the cheapest way to go, again, frequency and duration of outages must be considered. Generator size would drop to 5,000 watts, initial cost and fuel consumption would drop accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm in the same boat. I have a 5000/6250 Coleman generator. The electric dryer is 5600w. The Coleman is not big enough to run it. Drying clothes is not necessarily a priority unless the outage lasts longer than a week or two. Luckily, that's rare in my area. I hadn't thought about a 120v clothes dryer, though. Maybe something like what a travel trailer uses? Do they have those?
Yes they do! I've even seen vids where enterprising people have modified their own dryers to convert to 120v, but as mine is fairly new and stacked, I'd probably kill myself trying to do that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
i agree an LP dryer is a better plan.
electric dryer is an energy hog.
soooo....
if you have to use the BIG electric dryer...
you need a large gen set...
so maybe a whole house gen set that drinks fuel for when you have to run the larger stuff...

and a small gen set just to run the small stuff when you do not need all of the BIG power stuff to run.

or buy enough clothes that you can go 2 weeks with out doing laundry....
and go to town where they have power to use the large bank of washers and dryers at 50-80 bucks a trip...
plus fuel to get there and back home...
chances are you do need a re supply run after 2 weeks....
Thank you. These are the kinds of answers I was hoping for. Propane is a good idea. Next year as right now the house is all electric and I am a believer in diversification of resources. Quoted 4000 for a new 500 gal propane tank as leased isn't an option since I don't use enough. Looked into used... Anyway. 2 gens I thought of and hooking them together but seems paralleling can be fatal if done improperly.
 

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Hey y'all. I am in SE TX and am looking to get a generator. Dual fuel ideally. I want to be able to run an electric dryer. (Cue all the eye rolling now) I don't use my AC so I don't have that to worry about, just fans.
Just out of curiosity - are you off-grid by chance?

The discussion thus far seems a bit weird to me for a generator environment. Don't read in to that too far, just a simple observation.

I do want to reinforce the point about fuel consumption. This parallels, very much so, the idea of being "off grid", but really ties in with any "long term" usage of power sources (by "long term" I am referring to days, not a few hours after a storm outage).

When it comes to fuel - what determines your run time are 2 things:
  • Volume of fuel available
  • Fuel consumption

Fuel consumption in and of itself is based on 2 things:
  • Size of engine
  • Wattage drawn

All engine driven generators will have some "minimum fuel burn" simply to have them running and able to have electrical power drawn from them. That fuel usage is doing nothing for you other than having the availability of the generator running from which to instantly get electricity (as opposed to the generator being off, needing to start it, then you get power).

At some point as you draw power from the generator the fuel consumption will rise. That is because the electrical draw on the unit will load the alternator. That increased load on the alternator will require more and more power to spin. So once the engine needs to increase the power the carb opens and lets more air/fuel in so that it can produce the needed power.

What your fuel consumption curve will look like on every fuel burning generator is you will start at that idle, no load, fuel consumption then it will slope up to the burn rate at peak power. Generally this is the max running wattage (as opposed to the max starting wattage) since the units are spec'd at outputting the "running wattage" for a long period of time (hence "running" wattage).

Your ACTUAL fuel consumption will fall anywhere on this curve at any point in time. Your OVERALL fuel consumption is roughly comparable to your consumed KWH of power.

With that all out of the way lets get in to the nitty grittys.

Simply stated - what you are trying to do is not practical.

To elaborate:

You are trying to run a gasoline generator large enough to power an electric dryer (a huge load for 99% of people that run backup generators - and yes most of us are rolling our eyes over that one ;), but if it is important to you and your family then that is most certainly your choice). Yes, the electric dryer is not going to be running all the time, only intermittently. However, let me give you a few numbers to wrap your mind around:

My 15kw generator burns, loosely, around the 1.5 gallon per hour rate. This adds up to 36 gallons of gasoline per day. It will power the 2 AC units here and everything else in the house. But it is a thirsty unit.

At 5,600 watts (a figure used earlier in this thread on the power draw of a dryer) - lets say you got a single generator for that one electrical load. What you SHOULD do is size up the generator and give yourself about 25% head room on the running wattage for your load. This will let the unit run at a lower load %, instead of running it at max load (and the wear and tear, heat, etc). That will put you at a 7500 watt class generator.

Here is an 8kw unit for example (8kw starting/6600w running - so it is smaller than the 7500w running figure above, but will work for numbers). It is quality, by the way - Honda engine, not sure exactly what alternator on this one but their 15kw units use a Mecc Alte = top notch and most often NorthStar is considered a top-notch generator.

The fuel consumption is 10hrs @ 1/2 load. 1/2 of 6600w is 3300w. The fuel tank is 6.5 gallons. If we compute that out at 1/2 load it burns .65 gal/hr.

Obviously, at 5600 watts from your dryer you are going to draw more fuel for that period of time the heating elements are on (I imagine they pulse depending on what level heat you have the dryer set to).

For worst case example - lets say you run the dryer on max heat for a 1.5 hour load run, and you do 4 of those in a row. That gives you 6 hours run time and we'll use that max wattage just to give a worst case here. 5600w will draw more fuel than the 1/2 load 3300w on the example generator. So lets call it .85gal/hr (noticeably more, but not knowing the full load fuel consumption it is still a guess - I am trying to be reasonable with the guess).

6*.85 = 5.1 gallons of gas

Now - figure if you are running on gen power for a 2 week period after a hurricane (you said you are in SE texas so I would imagine that is a prime condition that you want to be prepared for). How many runs of the clothes dryer are you going to need to do in that period of time?

The big question - how much fuel is your house power going to consume? You need to run things like your refrigerator, lights, and fans pretty much all the time so you are going to have to have some power source running. Remember what I said about a minimum fuel consumption of an engine driven generator? Here is where it is important.

If you decide to step up the generator to a 15kw like what we have (we have more, thats the big one) and wish to run that for everything - you are burning fuel just to swing that huge engine and alternator, whether you need all that power or not. So, yes, you will have that electrical power available at any time, but you are paying DEARLY for it in fuel consumption!!

Consider a 2 week power outage - if you had my 15kw unit burning 1.5 gallons of gasoline per hour, 36 gallons per day that would be (14*36) = 504 gallons of gasoline.

Where are you going to get 504 gallons of gasoline during the aftermath of a hurricane?
Or,
Where are you going to store 504 gallons of gasoline preparing for a storm outage ahead of the storm?

You are not going to go to a gas station after a big storm like that and get gasoline - they aren't going to be able to pump it. Been there, been through that, no thanks.

You can trim down the gasoline consumption by using a small and much more efficient inverter generator. If you aren't running AC like you state and just want to run the essentials - lights, fans, refrigerator - a Honda EU2200i would get you plenty of power. That is the small one I use all the time myself.

Then you would need a large generator for the dryer - if that is an electrical load that you desperately need to run.

I ask again, though, how are you going to supply fuel???

That same 5 gallons of gas that you burn in 4 dryer loads can power your house for about a day and a half (if I have my figures right - my EU2200i burns about .14gal/hr = 5 gallons would go ~36 hours).

Lets talk propane now.

That same 15kw unit I have will burn around ~4lbs propane per hour. Or, 1x 100lb tank per day.

For the same 14 day/2 week stretch - that computes out to 1,344 pounds per 2 weeks. 1gal of propane is about 4.8lbs. So 1,344lbs is equivalent to 280 gallons.

Something else you need to be aware of with propane is that you shouldn't draw your propane supply down below 30%. The reason for this is you need pressure to create your fuel flow. If the volume of propane in the tank drops too low you don't have enough volume in the tank to generate pressure. So your fuel flow stops because the pressure can't push through your regulators even though your tank isn't "empty". Remember, you are consuming propane as a GAS. It is stored as a LIQUID. It does not flow like liquid gasoline. It has to go from a liquid to a gas then operate at a higher pressure. Hence the 30% rule on the tank volume.

With the same 280 gallon figure above - tacking on an extra 30% for the left overs in the tank that would bring the appropriate tank volume up to 400 gallons (70% of 400 is 280).

Hopefully this post has enough in it to get you to really think about what you are after. As your power consumption goes up your fuel usage goes up tremendously. That is one of the things that most of us have to manage in our own ways. Those of us that have Natural Gas piped in don't have the same problem. Because the gas is piped in we don't have the tank volume issue - we have an unlimited supply. That is where whole-house built-in units are nice - they can power up and run indefinitely to run everything in the house with no concern of how much fuel is burned (yes, cost is a concern - but physical availability of the fuel is not - as is fuel in gas tanks or propane tanks that you have to run out, fill up, and bring back).

However -

What happens when natural gas lines get turned off??

Anyone that runs on 100% natural gas for back up power is hosed.

So anyone would be very wise to have gasoline and propane as options for generator power. And - having a small inverter generator, even though they won't run a whole house (AC etc), will be a blessing to have in that case. An inverter generator can run for a long time on a little gas to keep the necessities going - refrigerator, lights, fans.

Lots to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is the kind of reply I love. Thank you. Well thought out and precise.
I imagine most people here in SE TX use propane to run back up generators. I'm a bit late to the party so I'm planning on setting up my propane hopefully next year. It's 4000 for a 500 gal tank. They won't lease me one as I won't be using enough.
The dryer will be used about 2x per week. It's just me and my dogs. I just don't want to get a small gen and find out that I can't dry laundry outside due to rain and the gen I got is too small. I was going to look into paralleling them: get a med sized gen for fridge and such and a smaller one for tv cell phones microwave etc. Then when it was time to dry some laundry, hook them together to get enough watts to power the dryer. But from what I have found paralleling the gens is hazardous to do if ur not experienced and can fry everything involved. So no.

My ideal gen is around 8 running 10 starting, dual fuel or convertible, I looked at North Star gens w Honda engines. One comment from a customer threw me on that. An older lady was having trouble because Honda would only work on the motor and the gen set maker only the generator part. She felt that a gen all from one manufacturer was better and I agree. But the Honda gens are a bit too expensive at 5000. I'm sure they're worth it but who is the second best gen manufacturer? I have a Toyota truck I've had for 27 years. I love good quality and am willing to pay for it, but Honda might be just a bit too far out of my ballpark right now.
As far as fuel supply, I'd be flying by the seat of my pants. Thing is, I've not had a gen that I could use for most of my adult life. Having one will be a luxury. If I run out of gas before I can plumbed for propane, oh well. I'm used to roughing it. Or I will really cut down on usage if it becomes obvious that getting fuel is going to be impossible.
 

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Jtaraba, a clothes dryer? In SE Texas? And no A/C, but running fans? In THIS heat and humidity? Man, you are tougher than I am. Listen, I dried clothes for a total of twenty-seven days in Rita and Ike, all hung on a ski rope I found floating in the Neches river (found it with my prop). Tied it between two trees: sixty five feet of daily display of all our underwear and her bras. Even in this SE Texas humidity they dry fast. Forget that dryer! Cowboy up and tell her she's gonna' have to rough it for a few days like her grandma had to every day. Tell her AT LEAST she ain't down at the river beating y'all's clothes on a rock. And if you feel like gambling with your life, when you tell her where you are going to hang her new clothes lines, tell her that you are going to require her to LIKE IT!

P.S. Been doing SE Texas hurricanes since the 60's, back to Carla. Never seen it rain after a hurricane. See it get unbearably hot after every one of them. Get at least ONE window A/C unit.
 
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Was that a weird question??😂😂😂
I thought running an electric dryer which gobbles power was strange, there are other ways to dry clothes.
I'm in Florida and we get the same issues with hurricanes, keeping the fridge, fans and lights running without consuming too much fuel are my priorities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I thought running an electric dryer which gobbles power was strange, there are other ways to dry clothes.

Fair enough. What about those with whole house generators? They are obviously for more than lights and the fridge. Is that weird too? Just wondering.
 

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well for a temp solution to the lp
use a few 100 lb tanks....

will the LP guys rent the large tank to you???
it is worth the ask on that!

or try to find a used tank....
 

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="Jtaraba, post: 84264, member: 39399"]

[/QUOTE]


You can build whatever kind of set up you want to power whatever you want that's your choice.
An LP dryer would be your best bet, very efficient in the long run.
 

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Interesting and far ranging thread. One of the fun things about these forums are the things you learn. $4,000 for a 500 gallon propane tank. When we built the house 20 years ago, the local propane outfit said I didn't need a tank and just needed cylinders. We had a bit of a spirted discussion and I have a 500 gallon tank at no cost, however as I don't use the amount of propane they require, $40/ year fee which I'm glad to pay to have the fuel "cushion." Just got the "Summer fill up" today, $1.69 per gallon. No idea what the current charges are for tanks.

Given the increased cost of a larger generator, higher fuel consumption, and storage of fuel, I'd look into a 120V dryer as they're only 1800W. Not as big, probably take longer but would satisfy your requirement. I recall there was one in the Apartment I rented while going to school, don't remember a lot about it since that was 1970, but they do work. You could then get by with a 3500W generator and extension cords. That size generator would be a manual start. I just bought a back up generator, a Firman, 3550/4650W 14 hour run time at half load for $420 delivered. It's an open frame, high THD but does what I need. I'm not suggesting Firman, just what I ended up buying after looking around. That arrangement would get you through the upcoming (already here?) Hurricane season.

So, a year from now you'll have your 500 gallon propane tank, replace your electric dryer with gas and perhaps some other appliances as well. Now you could get more serious about a long term generator. You'll have to have a gas line and electrical connection installed where the generator will be operating. The 8-10,000W generators are portable, so you'll be hauling it to that point, connecting and starting. Give some thought to where that will be, and weather protection, generators don't like to be rained on. e.g. I put mine on the front porch (roof only), close the windows on that side of the house and all is well.

Whole house generators are about convenience as well as being larger to supply more electrical loads. They're in a weather proof enclosure, connected and ready 24/7, power goes out, they start and pick up the designated loads and you don't do anything. Obviously, you pay for the convenience, wild guess $15-20,000+ to have one installed. Most folks evaluate frequency and duration of outages in determining portable, whole house, and size of unit. When we first moved here, 48-72 hour outages were routine during the early spring due to ice storms. Now, a 12 hour outage is rare.

Guess I'm suggesting that buying a smaller generator and a smaller dryer and extension cords could be done in a week or so. Buying your permanent generator a year in advance of propane install, etc. could be problematic.
 
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