DIY project offers convenience of whole-home generator, at fraction of cost    

After the Big Freeze, and before hurricane season begins, a lot of people are reviewing their plans to get power in an emergency.

While portable generators are very popular, a Sugar Land man is getting a lot of attention for his cost-effective DIY solution. It offers the benefits of a permanent whole-home generator but avoids the big price tag that comes with it.

At the height of the freeze, when the power was out in his neighborhood, Calvin Gorriaran was happily checking his generator, humming outside.

"We had power for 48 hours straight from the generator," he says.

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He has posted the DIY generator project, that started last spring, on YouTube. At the time, Gorriaran wasn't thinking about winter.

The pandemic had given him some extra time, and he knew he didn't want a hurricane to knock him out, nor did he want to hassle with running extension cords everywhere. He says the challenge was clear, "How do I supply my A/C, heater, water heater, and appliances in the house, without a $15,000 dollar investment?"

His solution was to convert a 12,000-watt generator, purchased at a big-box home improvement store, to run on natural gas with a readily-available kit he found online.

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He housed it in a garden storage shed, modified to withstand the heat and exhaust of the machine inside. To get the electricity to the house, the generator is tied to the circuit-box with a switch to select between the 'grid' and his 'on-site' power.

Gorriaran says it was all pretty easy for anyone comfortable with some tinkering.

Be warned, this kind of project isn't completely DIY. A plumber is needed to make the gas connection, and an electrician to tie into the house, appropriately.

But, for the investment of about $2,500, Gorriaran thinks it was money well spent to buy some powerful peace-of-mind.

"It paid for itself very easily. Very easily, yep!" he says.