Choosing a good generator

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  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 128 ✭✭✭
    My belief is the best generator is no generator other than the solar system. Let ol' Sol do the warming and when it gets cold, move to a warmer location. Only fuel used is the gas to get you to a warmer location. I haven't one single clue why people want to live where it's cold. Masochists, I suppose.
    Ralph Day said:
    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
    What about a solar system? Gensets are for Tyrannosaurus Rex and its relatives.
  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 128 ✭✭✭
    SilverB said:
    Tip to anyone in a really cold climate (avoid larger Honda EU series Gensets)
    I currently own two Gens, a 3 year old Yamaha EF7200DE (has always been reliable, always starts even at -45, only con is its loud and my washing machine doesnt like i)
    My other is a 4month old Honda EU7000is, great on gas, smooth and quiet, easy to service, but USELESS when below -20*C, 10 times in 2 months Ive had to go out at 8am and drag the Yamaha out of storage because the Honda either wouldnt start (hear the starter relay click but thats it), or would pop starter fuses because of too much resistance to turn over engine. The Honda is also out of the wind in a lean to I built for it with a battery tender on it. The Yamaha sits in an open tarp garage in the dirt.

    If anyone wants a 4 month old Honda still with Warranty and a lifting ring, plus a pre wired auto start plug for Magnum AGS, let me know (only 138hrs) Oil changed back on when manual says using Honda oil. Im buying another Yamaha.
    How about replacing the starter which probably had worn brushes.
  • ligwydligwyd Registered Users Posts: 113 ✭✭
    I already live in one of the warmest climates in Canada. The Okanagan. Rarely freezes in the winter. Little cloudy in the winters thus a generator. Seasons are fun to with little ones growing up:)

    I like the idea posted here of burying the diesel fuel tank. Probably a plastic, insulated, burial rated tank. Have a little electric pump for the truck/ tractor. Also, would install water separator in the fuel line just in case. Still not 100% on the diesel generator but looking that way so far.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It shouldn't be an issue in the Okanagan, but for anyone reading this and considering a buried plastic tank in a colder climate...

    Keep the tank reasonably full through winter.  If empty or nearly so, the weight of a plastic tank can be insufficient to keep frost from forcing the tank up out of the ground.  This has happened with buried plastic septic tanks in seasonal cabins after folks thought it wise to have the tank pumped in the fall.

    As for living in the cold, it has its advantages.  If nothing else, it feels really good when it stops :smiley:

    Having cleared the cabin panels of snow over the weekend, I'm heading south tomorrow.  In years past it might have been west instead.  Great skiing in BC, Big White in particular.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • ligwydligwyd Registered Users Posts: 113 ✭✭
    With a large generator to bulk charge batteries, how detrimental is not to float charge them to bring them completely up? I guess the solution then would be inverter type generator. Lithium batteries might seem like an attractive option  down the road. With what research I've done so far, seems like an easier battery technology use. Pros and cons of anything I guess.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It's actually better for the batteries not to charge them to really full every day if you don't have to.  Charging to 85% or so daily is better if consumption is such that doing so doesn't result in too-deep regular discharging.

    The last 5-10% or so is hard on them - heating, gassing, and shedding.  It has to be done regularly (weekly or so) anyway to stir acid, prevent hardening sulfate, etc, but not everyday.

    I have my classics set to deliberately skip absorb for 'X' days (currently 5) even in good solar conditions for this reason. 

    That said, an inverter generator is a handy thing to have anyway.   


    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,142 ✭✭✭✭
    Liqwyd, the charge from a gen can be a bit different than a CC/ PV one. There  is seldom a drop in voltage with the gen while the CC / PV may , and usually does on cloudy days, vary the amps going in while maintaining the max possible Voltage constant in Absorb, The variance is  I feel easier on the battery as it seems to keep the the temp down while the gen & charger  just hammers it in till all is full....
    YMMV
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • ligwydligwyd Registered Users Posts: 113 ✭✭
    edited January 16 #519
    Maybe not practical but if it was deep enough it would never hit freezing temp. Not very fun when you have to get your diesel tank out though, unless you have an excavator sitting around :)

    I thought that any amount of time an FLA battery sits at less than 100%, it begins to deteriorate the battery and that this was simply acceptable degradation of the battery as per design, but here I am hearing/learning different, which is good. Can't say enough for experience people have had living off grid. Appreciate it.

    So as long as the batteries get a good charge, absorb, float at least once a weekish they should be better off than keeping them 100% all the time? Of course, as has been mentioned, as long as the no sun time usage of batteries is not discharging them to far. In my mind 20 to 30 % DOD. Battery specs say 20% DOD to get max life out of batteries. That is what I'll aim for where practical.


  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 16 #520
    Frost free zone is ~7' / 2m here.

    Unless the battery is warm/hot, sulfation will be very slow at ~90% SOC, so it's a trade-off. 

    Much like us, something will eventually kill the batteries.  Ideally, we wear most of our parts out at about the same rate.  In the case of our batteries, they could gradually sulfate, or they could die from grid corrosion (probably the two most likely causes of death).  Avoiding one cause of death too much just tips the probability to the other, IMHO. 
     
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • Graham ParkinsonGraham Parkinson Registered Users Posts: 48 ✭✭

    Choosing "a" good generator might not be optimum.  Choosing the right generators (plural) might be best for those of us in the darker parts of the world with winters.  Big genset for bulk charging (on L2) , little one for finish charging (on L1).

    We just found a great open box deal ($195) on a little Ryobi 700 Watt Propane Inverter.  I always thought Ryobi gear was toy-like but this little charmer is quiet, seems well engineered, wweights 25 lbs, has a useful manual, is easy to start and runs 60 hrs on a barbeque tank.  Runs our entire house of LED lights, phone chargers, laptops and LG Inverter fridge just fine (much steadier wave form than my non-invertor Kubota 4500 and Honda 650).  The Ryobi has no where near the power tool motor starting capacity of the nominally smaller Honda 650 though (The old Honda 650's are really underrated, the 650 even starts our cement mixer with just a little grunt!).

    Next step is try my 1000 watt autotransformer to see if the Ryobi will saturate it and make 120/240 VAC so it can be used for finish charging via an inverter charger (dialed down to matching charge rate limit).

    Offgrid in cloudy PNW

    MacGyver'ed museum collection of panels, castoff batteries and generators - ready for state of art system install ....

  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 27 #522

    > So as long as the batteries get a good charge, absorb, float at least once a weekish they should be better off than keeping them 100% all the time?

    Basically, although based on various references and some opinion, if they have load (ie not storage) it would be more ideal (but less practical) to charge to 100% if they drop to 85% SOC or go 3-4 days, whichever comes first.

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • Graham ParkinsonGraham Parkinson Registered Users Posts: 48 ✭✭

    Back to the highly-hyphenated original topic of "choosing-a-good-generator":

    Seems to me that if Lithium batteries are used, the required generator can be a good deal smaller.

    For FLA batteries, consideration of required minimum charge rates to stir electrolyte, to recover quickly from low S.O.C. to avoid sulphation often means that quite a large generator can be required.

    For LiFePO4 batteries, the strategy becomes more about making up ones PV energy deficit in whatever time frame suits ones usage needs.  This means that a small, quiet efficient invertor generator that runs more often can be a useful consideration for those of us in the cloudy Pacific Northwest.

    Offgrid in cloudy PNW

    MacGyver'ed museum collection of panels, castoff batteries and generators - ready for state of art system install ....

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My understanding is the stirring of electrolyte in FLA happens mainly in the latter part of absorb, when there is some heating and bubbling/gassing. Current at this stage is pretty minimal, and I generally don't use a generator at all above ~90% SOC. In my climate, I can generally get to 100% with solar often enough to minimize stratification.

    It seems to me the ability of lithium to take higher charging current vs FLA means a bigger generator may make more sense for lithium. That allows shorter run times at optimal loading.

    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭✭

    Shorter run times mean that the generator will last longer. It may also cost more. Efficiency is typically slightly better with bigger (when both are run at optimal load).

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • Graham ParkinsonGraham Parkinson Registered Users Posts: 48 ✭✭

    Perhaps bottom line is that with Lithium one has more options re generator size and is not neccessrily shackled to largest and noisiest!

    Offgrid in cloudy PNW

    MacGyver'ed museum collection of panels, castoff batteries and generators - ready for state of art system install ....

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭

    I also live in S Florida a bit. My cold Colorado location is easy living for 9 months/year. S. Florida is easy living for 3 months/year. Plus ethics and intelligence are higher in northern climates.It is what it is.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭

    Thinking you can solve the starting problems by using something like 0W/10 synthetic. I'm serious.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭✭

    I'd try Mobil 1 0W-40.

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,680 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would move😜

    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • t00lst00ls Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭

    just recently learned a lot about generators and generator manufacturers

    I was looking for an inverter generator that was an electric start about 6000 watts running with 120/240 volt plug....no one makes it

    you can find a 3000 watt electric start, but it only has 120 volt plug...or you can find a 6000 watt but doesnt have electric start

    the reason I want electric start is so I can hook it up to my AGS module on my XW system

    the reason I need an inverter generator is because of the crappy wave signal most generators put out is killing my inverter and electronics...the XW uses some of the generator power to power the home while the rest is used to charge the batteries ( you can hear the crappy wave form you motor ran appliances, like a box fan )....already replaced the power board once, brand new they cost over a $1000

    honda wants over $4000 for a 7000 watt inverter generator that is electric start...way too much IMO


    lets go into why regular generators arent good for inverter systems. All generators consider fuel consumption at half load....this is because they are most efficient at half load and usually produce the right voltage and frequency at half load

    going over half load usually reduces the voltage and frequency...even the ones with an AVR...below half load you have over voltage and higher frequency

    in all cases the wave form is crappy....not a true sine wave, it appears more jagged on an oscilloscope, but it also not a complete modified square wave

    the bigger generators over 4000 watts , most of the time use a capacitor for voltage regulation....which makes an even crappier wave sign that the AVR regulated ones...(NOTE: an AVR is not a capacitor, it has a capacitor in it....a lot of people are calling these capacitors interchangeably)

    honda does now offer an IAVR which uses an electric speed governor to regulate the engine speed to control the frequency and the AVR is a lot better at regulating voltage...still doesnt put out a nice smooth sine wave


    most of the home standby generators are too big ( too many watts) for off grid living unless you have a really big home ( which also means you have lots and lots of money and the post has nothing to do with you because you can afford a $4000 7000 watt honda generator with an inverter) even these types dont put out the best wave form but are better than most portable generators


    recently while looking on the web...I found this, and while it doesnt have electric start....for the price I couldnt pass it up

    Subtotal:

    $862.49

    Promotional Savings:

    -$103.49

    Taxes:

    $45.54

    Total:

    $804.54

    https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Champion-6250-Watt-DH-Series-Open-Frame-Inverter-Generator-with-Quiet-Technology/25613251/product.html

    so now I am going to try and engineer an electric starter to this, because I cant see if there is a spot to even bolt up a starter...and all the pictures I looked at dont show the spot where one would be bolted up usually

    this also has an unusual motor at 301cc....not a honda clone at all, this is a champion genuine...they even put a oil drain hose on it...( a problem with most portable generators is that chaning the oil is a half day process by yourself...even then it goes all over the place)


    while I was on the phone with champion asking if there was a spot to bolt up a starter, the guy did tell me to keep a lookout in the future for the same model with electric start.....we talked for over 30 minutes ...mostly me explaing that most of us off grid guys have been looking for this size generator, all with inverter 120/240 electric start, for some time and that if champion builds it, they will sell


    when I get this thing and engineer an electric start, I will post some pictres in a new thread ...just in case someone else wants to do the same thing


    TTFN

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 3 #533
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 3 #534

    Looks like the eZV7500 is inverter and electric start at about 1/2 the price of Honda (still expensive). EFI (plus the right oil) should make it much easier to start when cold.

    Almost all small generators are most efficient above 1/2 load:

    https://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=394221

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • t00lst00ls Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭


    I will tell you this...I will never buy from amazon againb ...until they clean house of the scammers


    they stole $340 from me and refused to refund that money.....theres more to the story, but I wont go into on this thread

  • t00lst00ls Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭

    the EFI is where I would have problems with the AGS.....would take me a minute to figure out how to turn power on to it without leaving the key on

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭

    Maybe try online sites for Costco and Sams Club? Have you looked at our hosts selection? You might ask them.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,443 ✭✭✭✭
    Someone was noting that the Champion was half the costs of the Honda. Considering that nobody makes a better engine than Honda - Honda is still likely the way to go for extreme durability. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
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