Archive for March, 2013

Emergency Generators

March 13, 2013

During the Feb 13 BCC meeting,  Commissioner Barbetta stressed that an “apples to apples” cost comparison of a vacuum system to a low pressure system would include a generator and emergency receptacle for the grinder pumps.  The March 1st post talked about emergency receptacles, so now let’s look at generators.

Portable or Standby?

Emergency power generators are classified as portable or standby. The permanently mounted standby models are typically sized to power most, if not all of a homes electrical needs in the event of a power outage.  The installed cost of these units is $7,000 and up (see the article on the Chelmsford, MA. resident 2/7/2013).  You’ll find several websites if you want a more in-depth look at whole-house systems. For a “functionally equivalent” system comparison, I’ll talk about portable models that will power the ABS 09/2W Piranha grinder pump.

Size matters

Briggs & Stratton 7000W$954.00

Briggs & Stratton 7000W

The main consideration in selecting a generator is it’s capability to handle the starting current of the largest motor load. In our case this will be the grinder pump, which is the only load connected thru the emergency receptacle transfer switch.  The current rating for the Piranha 09 is 13.5 amps, but this is “running amps”.  The starting current will be several times greater. If the generator does not have sufficient power to start the motor, a low voltage condition can occur and cause damage to the motor (read the Agreement: you’ll be responsible for any damage).  So, it’s critical to have a generator large enough not just to run the pump, but to start the pump motor. We have been told that we’re using a 2 hp pump, but notice that current specifications show the Piranha 09  closer to 3 hp. The 7000W generator shown may be insufficient to operate the ABS 09 pump, so the homeowner will spend well in excess of $1000 for a properly sized emergency generator.

Think about this

The homeowner’s cost for an emergency receptacle is about $1000. The minimum cost of a generator is $1000.  For our 200 homes that’s $400,000 we’ll collectively spend for equipment that we hope we’ll never have to use!  A standby generator for a vacuum station sized for our neighborhood is about $65,000.  So, that’s $400,000 for 200 individual installations versus $65,000 for a central unit that will be regularly tested and maintained by the County. Does that make any sense?… think about it!

information links


Choosing the Right Generator

Amazon Generator Buying Guide


Neighborhood Yard Signs

March 11, 2013

In January of this year, the N3 Committee purchased 100 “NO GRINDERS” yard signs and distributed them to neighborhood residents. This was a visual statement of the neighborhood opposition to the system of grinder pumps that has been proposed to replace our septic tanks. The signs were very popular, and to fulfill the additional requests the Committee ordered another 100 signs.  By Feb 13, the day of the County Commission Meeting, 165 yard signs were on display in the N3 neighborhood.

Yard Signs.2

What happened to the signs?

Evidently someone did not like the message, because on Monday Feb 25 essentially all of the signs disappeared!  Sometime between midnight Monday and 5 AM Tuesday the signs were removed and have not been found.  Who took them and why they were taken remains a mystery.

Our Commissioners are interested

The N3 committee  received numerous emails, and a couple of residents wrote to the County Commissioners.  The letters simply stated that although the signs were gone, the neighborhood resolve remained as strong as ever. Well, two of our Commissioners responded, and Commission Chair Carolyn Mason forwarded a resident’s letter to the County Administrator asking him to see if County Code Enforcement had picked up any of the signs (the emails can be read at Commissioner Email  3/7/2013, 2:06 and 5:02).

What’s next?

At the Feb 13 BCC meeting the engineering staff was given 3-4 months to bring back to the Commissioners another look at the costs of our sewers. The N3 Committee recently discussed a new yard sign campaign as we get closer to the next meeting; we’ll keep you advised.  In the meantime, be thinking of a slogan for the new signs and send in your suggestions (ed. entry: “Let’s save the County $400K… put Vacuum in N3”).

Emergency Power Receptacles

March 1, 2013

The issue of grinder pump emergency power receptacles came up several times during the Feb 13 Board Meeting.  Commissioner Barbetta stressed that an “apples to apples” cost comparison of a vacuum system to a low pressure system would include a generator and emergency receptacle for the grinder pumps.  A emergency receptacle can be ordered as an option with the county-owned control panel, or provided by the homeowner along with the required 30 amp dedicated circuit.  During the meeting (video 01:01:20) Commissioner Barbetta asks Greg Rouse if the county’s pumps have the emergency receptacles.  Mr. Rouse replies that the decision was made in 2005 that if this level of back-up was desired, the homeowner would provide the generator and the receptacle.

A larger storage tank

The first grinder pumps installed were equipped with a 50 gallon storage tank.  As an emergency back-up, the decision was made to increase the tank size to 158 gallon, which will provide 1.3 days of effluent storage, rather than provide an emergency electrical receptacle.  During the Feb 13 meeting Commissioner Patterson asked that the 375 gall0n tank (4.9 days storage) be the county standard. So, whether or not the county or the homeowner provides a power receptacle and/or a generator, it looks like future grinder pumps will be installed with the 375 gallon tank.

The homeowner option

The new standard grinder pump will provide approximately 4.9 days of emergency storage.  If the homeowner opts for more emergency back-up than 4.9 days, here’s whats involved:

A transfer switch.  This unit has the 30 amp receptacle and a manual throw-over switch which disconnects the pump circuit from the house power panel.  It is extremely important that this device be wired correctly to prevent back feed not only to the home, but to the utility grid (note the advisory on the CSR302 Instructions).

CSR302 $599.75

CSR302 $599.75

A cord set. 
This is the 30 amp cord that will connect the generator to the grinder pump emergency receptacle.

30 amp cord $124

30 amp cord $124

A generator.  
The unit shown is a Briggs & Stratton 7000W.  I’ll try to find the ABS Piranha generator requirements, but plan to spend at least $1000.00.

Briggs & Stratton 7000W$954.00

Briggs & Stratton 7000W

An electrician. 
 I was given an estimate of $300 to install this equipment.  This is in addition to the  $600 to install the 30 amp circuit from my panel.

(equipment prices are from and installation cost estimates are from Hardesty Electric Service)