Choosing a good generator

swmspamswmspam Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭
Everyone probably has an emergency generator hidden away behind their off-grid systems. So I was looking for something a bit larger than my little Yamaha 2000W inverter-generator.

My place has natural gas service. So choose Diesel or Natural Gas or Gasoline? There are pros and cons of each. I've dismissed Diesel. Sure, a 1800RPM Diesel is a great choice, but it's also many times the cost of others. There's some (but not much) benefit of a 3600RPM Diesel. The fuel lasts longer, but I don't have easy ways to burn old fuel to rotate the fuel stock.

Natural Gas is a good choice, but the choices are limited. A Generac Core Power runs $2000 and is stationary ... not very flexible ...

So, Gasoline is it. The fuel is readily available, and very easy to rotate the fuel stock. For 7kW:

Honda - about $2000
Generac - about $1000, plus has an oil filter!
Subaru - about $2000
Winco - about $2000, plus can be modified to natural gas

I use a magnetic dipstick with my little Yamaha. It collects a surprising amount of metal shavings from the engine. The Generac is the only unit with an oil filter. Anyone have experience with a Generac?
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Comments

  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 871 ✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    First a question. Why would you need more than you can get from a 2kw inv genset? That's what I'd go for if my 10kw diesel died completely on me.

    Natural gas...you can't store it, if supply is interrupted you're somthing out of luck. As you said, Gasoline it is.

    What about a larger inv genset, Honda goes up to 5kw for your shop loads and charging.

    Ralph
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,769 admin
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Chrisolsen has some good information/experience regarding the Honda "delux" series of engines...
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Inverter generators are best suited to camping and such at light loads. They are quite inefficient when required to run at rated load for off-grid battery charging systems and I have seen several EU3000 Honda's with failed inverters from running at or near rated load in hot weather.

    We also did a recent generator upgrade. We had a Generac EcoGen and replaced it with a Honda EM4000SX. In our climate the amount of energy input required to start a diesel or LP engine at temps under -10F is too great, and the generator only auto-starts at other times during the year for peak load management. So with the primary considerations being cold weather starting, and the ability of the generator to accept rated load with a 15 second warmup for peak load management, we went with gasoline-fueled.

    Our inverters have the ability to load share with the generator for peak loads so we don't need a large kW generator. It was difficult to keep the EcoGen at full load where it runs the most efficient, even for load start amps, so we went with a smaller unit. The new generator required a new generator shed and I have photos of my gen shed project here:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110979388690716770927/HondaGenerator
    --
    Chris
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Bill, the new Honda EM-series deluxe generators now have an electronically controlled iGX engine. It has computerized ignition and the engine's ECU is directly above the carb where it also controls throttle and choke. The key switch completes two different circuits in the "ON" position - one for the ignition module and the other for the engine ECU.

    As far as wiring it up, the Trace GSM has two relays. The Run relay Common and NO terminals are used to turn on 12V power from the genset battery to the ignition, and I also had to install an additional relay on the genset that uses that 12V signal to enable the ECU. The third wire is the crank signal.

    It was very easy to wire up. Not quite as simple as our old EcoGen with the two-wire start. But frankly the Honda is twice the generator the Generac ever thought of being. That little EM4000SX with the iAVR system where it maintains voltage and freq at 25% overload for 10 seconds easily rivals the EcoGen's surge power for starting air compressor, well pump, etc..
    --
    Chris
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    The "EM-series S" are the standard units that do not have electric start. The ones with the "SX" suffix are the deluxe version with the iGX engine. The ones that have an "iS" suffix are inverter units. The inverter units and standard "S" suffix generators use the old GX-series commercial engine.

    On the website they don't really cover the "S" standard units' features - the just "SX" deluxe ones. However, when I went to the dealer to get it, I had to specify that I wanted the SX because the price on the rope-start "S" models is a lot cheaper. I think they call the "S" units the "economy" generator in the dealer book.

    Although there is a fair amount of market speak here, this is a YouTube video that explains a lot of the features of the new deluxe series generators
    http://youtu.be/qSG7wbAOMRw

    I should also mention that there is a remote control plug on the SX generators. However, that ended up not being useful for an off-grid auto-start system. The Honda remote control box has a start button, a stop button and a pilot light to show that the generator is operating. It requires that the key switch be left in the "ON" position for it to work, which places a few mA draw on the genset battery because the ECU and digital ignition module are powered up all the time.

    I removed the key switch, studied the wiring diagram in the manual, ohm'd the switch out to make sure I had it figured out - then spliced into the wires coming out the switch to tie it into the GSM. By splicing into the wires at the switch, it exactly duplicates what the key switch does, so there is no draw on the genset battery in standby.

    In the inverter Generator Starting Details Menu, I have pre-crank set at zero seconds, max crank time 3 seconds, post crank 20 seconds (before it attempts another starting sequence). Basically the starter just bumps the engine and it's running. The inverter senses voltage and disengages the starter. In very cold weather I may have to adjust the crank seconds - I won't know that until it gets below zero here this winter. But at -20F I suspect it will take several intake strokes with the choke closed to get the mixture rich enough to fire, so it may require more cranking time.

    The auto-choke on it does not just start it and slam the choke full open. It must use temperature, time, or some other factor to determine how fast to open the choke. I took the air cleaner element out and watched it during a Load Start cycle with the engine cold. As soon as it starts it opens the choke partly, but not all the way. For Load Start I have warmup set to 15 seconds and when the inverters load the generator it doesn't miss a beat, and it takes about 30-45 seconds for the choke to open all the way.
    --
    Chris

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • swmspamswmspam Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    For bulk-charging my 48V battery set. Run a 6kW generator for a couple hours, it doesn't need to run again for awhile. Also, while the generator is running, run the big appliances (washer machine), instead of running those off the battery. I just need bulk electricity. Doesn't have to be "clean". The little 2kW Yamaha doesn't have the guts to charge huge batteries.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,828 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    what is your charging regie, ie % DoD or %SoC... charger capacity etc.
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    In contrast to what some people think, I have a Honda EU1000i with over 6,000 hours on it that has only had oil changes in its life. My Honda EU2000i is approaching that record, but its pull cord is frayed. The idea that these inverter-generators are uneconomical or unreliable is not born out by those of us who actually have and use them. Nor is it true that the only thing that matters is kW per litre (or other measure), but rather over-all fuel consumption. In charging batteries full load is not something that is expected for the whole run time; as the batteries charge the power demand lessens. Under the lower load (less than 50%) these inverter-generators use far less fuel for the actual power produced than do fixed-rpm generators. To say otherwise has been repeatedly proven to be wrong by more than one user.

    There are many threads here on generators. One of them is about the horror of the knock-off inverter-gens, included bad experience with Generac's version (they don't make it, just sold under their name).

    The most important thing is to size your generator correctly. You not only don't want it to be too small, but not too big either. Then buy a good brand in that size range. Then maintain it. You can't beat regular oil changes for keeping a motor running.
  • swmspamswmspam Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    My batteries can easily consume several kW without breaking a sweat. The generator will be used for bulk charging to 80% SOC. My batteries have approximately 90% average charge acceptance efficiency between 0% to 80% SOC. The charge efficiency degrades rapidly at higher SOC. So, when using a generator, the batteries will target 80% SOC. This is within the "bulk charge" region of the battery, which can easily accept constant-power charging of several kW without needing a power rolloff. This generator is intended to charge though an OutBack GS8048, using the generator AC input.

    The generator will run 4-5 hours of constant-power operation at approximately 75% of rating. This is generally near the highest operating efficiency of the generator engine. Operating continuously too close to the rated power invites overheating or destruction of the alternator. Running a 6.5kW generator constant-power at 75% rated power yields 5kW. Assume half (2.5kW) of the average output will be consumed by loads (lighting, cooking, etc.). This is a rather liberal assumption. The other half goes to battery charging. Assuming the bulk-charge efficiency of the battery and the charger efficiency are both about 90%, this results in:

    2.5kW * 90% battery efficiency * 90% charger efficiency = 2.025kWh per hour of battery charge

    It would take 5 hours to charge the battery 10kWh, which is a reasonable charge rate for bulk charge. It would take less time if fewer loads were being used and more of the generator's power went towards the batteries.

    Therefore, the usage profile of the generator is 4-5 hours of 5kW constant-power output at 75-80% of rating, probably once per day during occasional emergency or off-grid situations. 5kW / 75% derating = 6.6kW rated power.

    The generator needs to be of sufficient quality to work when needed, which doesn't happen often. I know the Honda, Yamaha, and Subaru-Robin generators ($2000) are excellent. For occasional emergency purposes, are the Generac portable generators ($1000) reliable enough to count on? I could use that saved $1000 to retrofit to LED lighting and other efficiency improvements that have much more profound energy consumption benefits.

    Note: Regarding maintenance, regular oil changes are mandatory. I looked at an oil sample from my Yamaha EF2000iS with a material analysis microscope. The sample contained a slew of metal particles and shards. Obviously, the engine sheds bits and pieces during break-in and running. These bits end up in the oil, which is circulated through the machine, carrying the particles with it. Use a magnetic dipstick and change oil frequently! Otherwise, these particles will grind up your engine. The Generac incorporates an oil filter, which should help this.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,811 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    First to the question of the OP;

    If you have Nat Gas, it is relatively inexpensive, and deemed to be a "very Reliable" fuel source. Although in an Earthquake, it has a high likelyhood of interruption.

    Perhaps a Tri-Fuel genset, which can use Gasooine, Nat Gas, or LP (?).

    Regarding Honda EU gensets, I'm with Coot Marc. Have used Eu1000, 2000, 3000s, and EU6500Isa here. The 3000s and 6500 almost exclusively fro charging/EQing largish banks, and must say that there has never been a problem at all whatsoever with them regarding failures or reliability of the genset.

    On the Trace/Xantrex SW/SW+ inverters have both Grid and Generator power inputs, so the Inverter gensets look good enough to be qualified as Grid power, allowing an additional (perhaps larger) genset to be used on the AC2 Generator input.

    The only negative of using Inverter gensets on the Grid input connection, is the way that the Xantrex, and quite possibly Trace SW/+ inverters regulate voltage appears to be that they dump current into the AC1 Grid power source, which can upset the Inverter genset's voltage regulation, often causing the SW/+ to drop the AC1 input, and start all over again. So, in some cases, use a large DC Charger driving an MPPT CC for the EU3000 when doing a full charge through Absorb. (not just Bulking).
    Have not tried using AC1 the inverter genset to see if it behaves the same ... (yea, too much detail)

    Anyway, Nat Gas may be an inexpensive and yet reliable fuel source. Many, many commercial/residential Stand-By gensets have used NG over the decades, due to the above two reasons. Furtermore, there are some of the NG gensets showing up on the surplus market with few hours on them -- removed from service due to ever-more stringent Emissions Regs. Altho, these tend to be a bit largish.

    YMMV, Opinions, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH X2@48V, 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    swmspam, sounds like you've given the different options a lot of thought. I went through the same process when my diesel packed up and came to very similar conclusions:
    - 1800rpm diesel would be ideal, but it's too expensive given the low annual runtime.
    - 3600rpm single cylinder diesel isn't reliable enough and shouldn't be run for more than a few hours at a time.
    - 3600rpm gasoline was the only option left, not too expensive to buy (but more expensive to run than diesel) and reliable with a Honda engine.

    Also considered the inverter gens but then I only want to use the generator for bulk. Not for absorb and not for float, so paying extra for the inverter bit seemed unnecessary when the generator would always be running at near full load.

    Eventually settled for a locally built unit, Honda GX270 with sincro alternator and an AVR. At 80% rated output it holds steady at 48Hz (EU = 50Hz) and 227V (rated is 230V). Don't have any experience with natural gas (oooo errrr), but given the gasoline prices here, I'd have jumped at the chance if it were available. As Vic said, you can get dual or tri-fuel kits which might give you the best of both worlds.
  • swmspamswmspam Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    Anyone have experience with a Generac?
    For occasional emergency purposes, are the Generac portable generators ($1000) reliable enough to count on?
    It is established that Honda, Yamaha, and Subaru-Robin generators are excellent but expensive. I don't need an inverter generator because my application is already feeding an inverter (OutBack GS8048 ). I don't need fancy engines such as the Honda iGX because all I need is constant-power bulk electricity (the iGX is good for variable power operation because the digital engine control adapts quickly to changing loads). But I do need a generator that is reliable when I need it. Does the Generac fit the bill?
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    You keep asking about the Generac portables. I have a fair amount of experience with them and I rate them OK, but not excellent. The GP portables use an imported (Chinese) OHV engine that has a thermoplastic camshaft and governor, and almost every one I've seen starts to have surging problems once it gets 200-300 hours on it. Under load it's fine - but no-load they tend to "hunt". This may cause a problem with a synchronous inverter like the GS8048 in being able to sync with it. Synchronous inverters require reasonably stable voltage and frequency so the inverter can adjust itself to match the generator. A generator that is surging just will not work with them. If it was a non-synchronous inverter then I'd say no problem.

    The Generac XP portables use Generac's own OHVI engine, which is a much better engine with an electronic governor. But they are also in the same price range as a Honda.

    So I guess, based on my experience with the Generac GP-series portables, and because of the type of inverter you have, I would discourage buying one.

    Another issue with the Generac GP-series portables is that they will run up to 25% Total Harmonic Distortion running inductive loads. If you are running any sensitive electronic equipment with your inverter, and it has "dirty" generator input, this will cause a problem because the inverter is only going to play monkey-see-monkey-do when it has gen input on AC2. Basically those cheap generators are designed for running power tools, lights and whatnot for construction sites, etc.. They are not designed for home backup power, and they have a very poor Power Factor. You'll find that with their straight AVR voltage regulation that they won't maintain voltage for very long at loads much above 50% of their "rated" output.

    When it comes to generators, unfortunately, you get what you pay for.
    --
    Chris
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    The OHV engine has a thermoplastic camshaft and governor, and almost every one I've seen starts to have surging problems once it gets 200-300 hours on it.
    WOW! Just when I thought "junk" engines couldn't get any worse, they outdo themselves all over again!!
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    As Chris says,,, you get what you pay for. My limited experince with Generac has not been good. My experience with Honda has been vast, and all good. from EU Series to Ex series, to Honda engines in general. My neighbor has a Yamaha inverter that he has not been happy with. It hunts with low power draw, and he has replaced everything, including the inverter section, the carb, and is now waiting on a Cd ignition modual.

    Tony
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Actually, in all my research and trying different generators, Honda builds the only gasoline portable that puts out clean enough power for home backup, or off-grid standby. But Honda is a company that's famous for their engineering prowess and they do not cut corners when they build a generator. That's probably why they are #1 in portable power, despite the fact that they are not the cheapest. When you buy a Honda you pay a little extra for that quality and reputation.

    The cheap box store generators are not designed to be long lasting, or even be good. They are designed to compete at a price point, and they are basically 500 hour generators - and then they're junk - throwaways.

    Yanmar builds some pretty nice diesel portables (YDG-series) that are long lasting and put out nice clean power. But they are not exceedingly quiet. But then I've never seen an air-cooled diesel that is real quiet because it doesn't have enough iron in it (or a liquid cooling system) to dampen combustion noise. However, Yanmar is pretty much the Gold Standard in marine diesel generators (liquid cooled). The marine versions pull their cooling water from the lake and expel it overboard. Those can be converted to a stationary standby unit by adding a radiator and mounting it all on a frame and provide a bullet-proof genset. But again, Yanmar diesels are not cheap and you won't pick one up in a box store for $1,000 - you'll pay $3,000 for a used one with 10,000 hours on it.

    About three weeks ago I was at the salvage yard and happened to see a Honda ES6500 (liquid cooled twin cylinder) laying on its side in a pile of scrap. I walked over and looked at it and I could not see a single thing wrong with it. The hour meter said it only 68 hours on it. Those old liquid-cooled Hondas are one of the most bullet proof generators ever built by anybody. The engine is overhead cam and I've seen many of those run 10,000+ hours on construction sites back in the day without even shimming the valves (they have shimmed valves like a motorcycle engine).

    What happens is that people buy them , use it a few times, and then it ends up getting parked in a corner someplace with a bunch of junk piled on top of it and they forget they even got it. 20 years later they discover it there and it won't run anymore because the carb is all plugged up and it's got old gas in it. I'll almost guarantee you that's what happened to that ES I found there - somebody threw it out because it was 20 years old and wouldn't run. I went back there a few days later and asked them what they wanted for it. They hemmed and hawed and finally told me "a hundred bucks". So I came home with it. It took me about a day to take the carb apart, run to the Honda dealer and get a new float bowl gasket for it, change the anti-freeze and oil in it. It didn't have a battery in it anymore so I took the battery out of my wife's scooter and put it in it. It cranked about 5 seconds and fired right up. It works perfectly. I'm going to use it to run my welder.

    Moral to the story - you're better off with a used Honda than a new Generac.
    --
    Chris
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    I'll give you $200 for it!

    Tony
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Well, if it won't run my welder (but I think it will) I might work out a trade deal with you on that Lister SL-3 that you got there. I've been trying to think of an excuse as to why I need that ;)

    That ES Honda is one big, heavy, bulky generator. I don't know what it weighs, but it's way more than two men and one woman can lift into the back of a pickup truck.

    What I'd really like to get for my welder is one of these, though:
    http://edmonton.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-sell-tools-other-Honda-EX-5D-Diesel-Generator-W0QQAdIdZ425319856

    When we went to Sweden for Christmas last year I happened across a EX12D in Denmark and wanted to buy it (230V 50 Hz). You can turn up the governor to 60 Hz and adjust the AVR to 240 volt on those. But it cost more to get it shipped to the US than the fellow wanted for the generator because it weighs about 1,000 lbs. The old Honda diesels are really hard to find in North America - but pretty common in Europe.
    --
    Chris
  • ThomThom Solar Expert Posts: 169 ✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    icarus wrote: »
    As Chris says,,, you get what you pay for. My limited experince with Generac has not been good. My experience with Honda has been vast, and all good. from EU Series to Ex series, to Honda engines in general. My neighbor has a Yamaha inverter that he has not been happy with. It hunts with low power draw, and he has replaced everything, including the inverter section, the carb, and is now waiting on a Cd ignition modual.

    Tony

    using a Makita g2800L for a few years . Works great . Easy on gas.

    Thom
    Off grid since 1984. 430w of panel, 300w suresine , 4 gc batteries 12v system, Rogue mpt3024 charge controller , air breeze windmill, Mikita 2400w generator
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,811 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    RE Generac, have never owned one, but, in general the are trying to meet price-points. Some neighbors have had then, and some have gotten several years from them in off grid applications. The portables are LOUD, and battery charging can be hard on gensets that have had almost every corner cut to meet price.

    The Home Standby Generacs in enclosures are mostly air-cooled and again not meant for continuous heavy loads for hours. Furthermore most of the Standby gensets have Warranties VOIDED for off-grid use.

    The Generac Eco-Gen is the warranty exception. Some here and elsewhere are using the Eco-Gen 6500. There have been issues with the required upgrade kit for 240 VAC, bad Regulator Boards, siezed engines and so on.

    In the under 20 Kw segment, I would never spec a Generac genset. Life is just too short (mine and theirs).

    Agree with Chris and others. You cannot beat a Honda brand genset, completely made by Honda (not just a Honda engine). A friend has a 10.5 Kw Honda with about 4000 hours on it in off-grid battery charging use. The only problem was a ignition module replacement at about 3500 hrs. Very robust.

    You often get what you pay for. You can pay for something and not "get" it. But seldom do you get quality that you do NOT pay for, or similar. YMMV, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH X2@48V, 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Great discussion. I have 2 Honda eu2000i's - one with a tri-fuel kit and am very happy with them.

    I'm wondering what people's opinions are on Briggs and Stratton engines in portable generators??

    I also have a 7000 watt Troy-Bilt -generator with a B and S engine. This was purchased last year primarily to back up the pump for the small water system we have here for our small community in the mountains. We have a large water tank fed by a well but after a power outage of a week or so (not unheard of here) the tank runs out.

    I'm hoping with sporadic use this inexpensive generator will do the job for years to come. As the one responsible for keeping the water flowing in case of extended power outages, I'll be a bit chagrined if it can't deliver the goods..

    Any opinions or advice on Briggs and Stratton engines in generators??
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Well, if it won't run my welder (but I think it will) I might work out a trade deal with you on that Lister SL-3 that you got there. I've been trying to think of an excuse as to why I need that ;)

    That ES Honda is one big, heavy, bulky generator. I don't know what it weighs, but it's way more than two men and one woman can lift into the back of a pickup truck.

    What I'd really like to get for my welder is one of these, though:
    http://edmonton.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-sell-tools-other-Honda-EX-5D-Diesel-Generator-W0QQAdIdZ425319856

    When we went to Sweden for Christmas last year I happened across a EX12D in Denmark and wanted to buy it (230V 50 Hz). You can turn up the governor to 60 Hz and adjust the AVR to 240 volt on those. But it cost more to get it shipped to the US than the fellow wanted for the generator because it weighs about 1,000 lbs. The old Honda diesels are really hard to find in North America - but pretty common in Europe.
    --
    Chris

    It is a 5 kw lister SL2,,

    We can talk!

    Tony
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,811 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    mtdoc,

    There are several series of B&S Engines. Some of them are probably almost as good as a Honda. The only real experience that I have with Briggs is a two cyl 16 horse Vangard engine on a genset at another location. It has few hours on it, and has been just fine -- it has full pressure oiling and an oil filter.

    They have an IC engine, probably still make a Flat Head. I should not try to say. But, for intermittant/infrequent use it may be just fine. Do you know what series engine on the genset?

    EDIT: YMMV, Follow the Label, AVOID Excessive Use. Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH X2@48V, 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Sorry, but I beg to differ. I have never seen a Brigg and Scrapiron that comes close to a Honda in a single or light twin engine! I have owned and worked on thousands of B&S over the years, and thee is just no comparison, especially the later the edition. '50 vintage B&S's were sort of state of the art, but they had crappy carbs, bad ignition systems etc. You could do work with them, and they were cheap. Modern B&S with integral tank/ carb systems, lousy governors are terrible! (the Electonic ignition is better than those of old!)

    The only problem I have every had with a Honda is they seem to be very finicky about plugs. Tey will start, and then begin to run badly, and you qthink it a carb problem, when 99 out of a 100 times a new plug cures the problem, even if the plug looks perfect.

    Tony
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    It's the 250000 series I believe.

    I have no illusions that this engine is anywhere near the quality of my Hondas. When I hear about some Generacs having plastic camshafts I get nervous since this is a $900 generator. I knew when I purchased it that it was not designed for extended use - just hoping that it will be reliable for perhaps 50 hours a year of run-time. Given it's expected use I needed a generator big enough to handle the large start-up current of our well-pump but could not justify spending a lot of money if it is rarely needed.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    mtdoc wrote: »
    It's the 250000 series I believe.

    I have no illusions that this engine is anywhere near the quality of my Hondas. When I hear about some Generacs having plastic camshafts I get nervous since this is a $900 generator. I knew when I purchased it that it was not designed for extended use - just hoping that it will be reliable for perhaps 50 hours a year of run-time. Given it's expected use I needed a generator big enough to handle the large start-up current of our well-pump but could not justify spending a lot of money if it is rarely needed.

    For what it is worth, I have seen quite a lot of posts on lawn equipment stating that a comparable size Kawasaki engine was better performing and more reliable than the alternate B&S engine.
    But there is also a very wide quality range within the B&S product lineup, so I am sure the answer will also vary with which engine type you look at and what sort of use you plan for it.
    To sum up (I hope accurately) the comments I have seen, the low end B&S engines have shown a relatively poor life expectancy out beyond the 100-200 hour range.

    A generator, like a single blade lawnmower, puts a lot of extra stress on the crankshaft bearing of the engine too. So appropriate design there counts for a lot.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Lefty WrightLefty Wright Solar Expert Posts: 111 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    I've got a 4KW gen powered by an 8 HP Briggs flathead.

    I don't know how old it is or how many hours it had when I got it. A friend had his house built by a contractor who would buy a new generator every time he built a house and leave it with the home owner. My friend never used it and after a few years gave it to me.

    After the usual carb cleaning and new plug it was a one pull starter. I've been using it for the last 10 years for running power tools and air compressor.

    One winter I lost it in the snow. A 10 foot snow. I didn't find it until April and couldn't dig it out until the end of May. I dried it out, changed the fuel, and it started on the first pull.

    Say what you will about Briggs engines. Mine run forever.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Say what you will about Briggs engines. Mine run forever.
    Thanks for the data point, Lefty! Have you tried any *new* Briggs engines? Times can change.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator
    mtdoc wrote: »
    When I hear about some Generacs having plastic camshafts I get nervous since this is a $900 generator.

    If you have a Generac portable generator look at the valve cover to see if it's a Generac OHVI or an imported OHV engine. The OHV engine says on it that it's made by YangWho (or something like that) Machinery in China. If that's what it is, treat it gentle**, use a good quality synthetic oil in it to save the lobes on that plastic cam, and don't run it too hot - and you might get 500 hours out of it.

    **treat it gentle = never exceed 50% rated load, continuous
    --
    Chris
  • TobyToby Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    How would you rate this Kohler powered generator? 5.5kw at 2200 rpm.

    http://www.generatorsales.com/order/04589.asp?page=K04589
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    I've had good experiences with Kohler generators over the years. That unit has a Kohler engine but it's not a Kohler generator, so I can't vouch for the quality of the gen head. And it appears that it may have a piece of chain link fence over a belt drive with a 3600 rpm two-pole generator being driven by an oversized engine running at 2,200 rpm.
    --
    Chris
  • TobyToby Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    There is a note that you can upgrade to a four pole generator. Not sure what that would do to the rpm. Isn't a four pole used on 1800 rpm diesels?
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Choosing a good generator

    Four pole is used on anything that runs at 1,800 rpm - it doesn't have to be just diesel. I would guess that they just change the pulleys to put a 4 pole on it.
    --
    Chris
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