Kohler home generator nightmares

chankschanks Registered Users Posts: 5 ✭✭
Hello folks...would this be the correct message board for discussing kohler home standby generator problems?


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,642 admin
    Good Evening Chanks,

    You can ask your questions here.

    Take care,
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • chankschanks Registered Users Posts: 5 ✭✭
    i bought a 2020 kohler 14kw RCAL home standby generator in sept of 2020. When i first got it, i had trouble for the first 6 months with not starting for self tests, failing during power outages, hunting, running for a couple minutes then just die, just wasnt right..error codes were low crank voltage, locked rotor shutdown, and ATS comError. These errors came up what seemed to be random. Every time the generator messed up, it was always one of these codes, even if the generator acted different than before, if that makes any sense. Installer came out two different times...once adjusted gas pressure(natural gas), then said it was the controller. He said he was gonna order one and he would be back. Well, the installer went out of business about a week later so there i sat. 4700 dollar paper weight. Now most the time, i was able to get it started manually, but a couple times, it just wouldn't run at all. I was discouraged and decided to forget about it for a while before i called kohler. On the self test at the end of march, "the demon" generator cranked up and ran a perfect test...all on its own. I said, "wow" Between march 2021 and dec. 2021, all self tests went flawless. There were 6 power outages, generator performed as it should. Nothing was ever done to the generator..it just started running right. Ok, january 2022...here we go again. Same problems as stated above. This time i called kohler. They are sending a tech to check it out...will update. Any ideas?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,642 admin
    I would check all electrical connections that the installer would have to touch/make. See that they are tight and free of corrosion. For higher current connections, make sure there is no browning/blackening of connections/wiring.

    For connections you can access in the genset... Make sure connectors are fully seated--And where you are at now, I would "tug" on each wire into a connector and make sure the are properly crimped and seated.

    As an aside... I had a multi million dollar voice mail system pulled from the field and returned to our company because of a simple wire connector where the contacted was not fully seated into the connector--I could see the contact was not fully seated in body of he Molex connector (and it happened to be an emergency shutdown sensor wire).

    When you have "random" failures--Looking for loose/diry/etc. connections is where I start.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • chankschanks Registered Users Posts: 5 ✭✭
    Thanks Bill.... the way that thing acts, your ideas makes sense. I'll sure mention that to the tech
  • chankschanks Registered Users Posts: 5 ✭✭
    Generator repaired...replaced control board, and battery. Everything working as it should....i think---
    I got a question... on these kohlers, is it normal for them to rev up and down (hunting i think its called) during the first 10 minutes of the weekly self test? When its set on "test unloaded", it hunts the first 10 minutes on low rpm's, then revs up and smooths out....but when its set on "test loaded", it doesn't do the hunting thing, just runs smooth thru out the test. We ran 3 or 4 self tests set both ways, and a couple simulated power outages. Good thing was, it started automatically for all tests. It had not been starting at all the last couple months. Hopefully we got it fixed. I was just concerned about the hunting during testing. Any body got any thoughts? thx..
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,582 ✭✭✭✭✭
    unloaded, the generator may be at the edge of the governor limits - which is sad, because unloaded is when the inverter is sensing the stable frequency.
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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,642 admin
    You might want to test and install a ~100-150 Watt rough service bulb in the genset/garage to load the genset a bit... A 150 Watts is not going to be noticeable on your genset during real outages, and may help stabilize the genset RPM during warmup.


    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,460 ✭✭✭✭
    Also make sure you have sufficient gas flow rate.  You did not say if running on propane or natural gas.  Either can have problems but natural gas is usually more problematic.  Generators take more gas flow rate than normal home usage of range or hot water heaters so feed may be undersized to run a generator.  Cold temps with propane can reduce vapor pressure creating a flow rate reduction.  Natural gas has some normal variance in its methane concentration.

    Any hunting of rpm governor feedback loop will usually cause a hybrid inverter to disconnect from generator since inverter has very slow frequency tracking feedback loop. Home backup generators should have electronic speed control with stepper motor throttle.  They are usually pretty solid unless there is fuel flow limitation.
  • chankschanks Registered Users Posts: 5 ✭✭
    Thanks for the input folks. However, i'm dum as a sack of birdseed when it comes to this generator. Don't fully understand some of the stuff you guys wrote. About the fuel im using, its natural gas. The first installer i had adjusted it 3 or 4 times till he figured it was right. When the tech was here a couple weeks ago, he didnt say nothing about gas flow...now i wish he would have checked it. I'm guessin its something i aint qualified to do. But the thing has started automatically and ran a couple tests now, and i did another power outage simulation and it performed as it should, so, I guess the question i got now is...Should i be worried about anything?
    What about testing "loaded"? The first installer said test "loaded" so it wont hunt during testing (and it don't when testing loaded) and second tech said no, test "unloaded" cause it puts un-necessary wear and tear on the machine when testing loaded. The manual says test loaded, or unloaded, .... flip a coin?
      We got the monsoon season comin up with guaranteed power outages down here so we'll see what happens...
     Thanks again for your guys input
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