New Generator

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
I didn't just wake up this morning and decide that I should buy a new generator, but shortly after, the thought crossed my mind as the power went out. Actually, I had thought I needed to finish swapping that new carburetor onto my old genny, which I bought about a month ago. Unfortunately it wasn't a direct match and doesn't look to fit. So I started disassembling the old one.

I might have located the issue. However, my wife and both needed to work today, so off I went generator shopping.
2020-10-08 10.50.37.jpg

I didn't feel like I needed a whole house generator, the old one has sat unused for 10 years. I did want something larger than the camp sized one I had. I ended up settling on a Generac GP3300, about twice as big, but light enough I can still lift it.


It's been running the fridge, freezer, and wifi all afternoon now, isn't too noisy, but not the quietest I've ever heard either.

I did pickup some carb cleaner. Will get that old one sprayed down and hopefully working again, the carburetors on them are pretty simple with very few (if any) adjustments. I'll probably donate it to a good cause.
 

Charles Lent

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Central North Carolina
The key to keeping any engines, even small engines, in running condition when they sit unused for long periods is to add a fuel shut-off valve, and always run the carburetor dry of gas with this valve closed, before putting them in storage. Be careful not to leave any alcohol/gas mix in the tank for any length of time too, because the alcohol will absorb water from the moisture in the air, and then the moisture will make your carburetor float bowl look like the one in your photo, after it sits unused for extended periods. Very old gas loses it's pep after about 3 months, so it's best to remove all of the gas from the tank too, before putting it in storage. Since doing these before putting my lawn equipment away for the Winter months, I've been able to just put in gas and start them easily every Spring.

Another problem that comes about in a similar way on vehicles older than about 25 years, is that the older brake master cylinders don't have the rubber diaphram in the reservoir cap, and the DOT 3 brake fluid commonly used is alcohol based. If air can get through the vent in the reservoir and reach the brake fluid, the moisture in the air will readily unite with the alcohol in the brake fluid and begin rusting the brake system from the inside out. The rubber diaphram in the newer master cylinder reservoirs lets the reservoir volume change without letting the brake fluid and the moisture in the air unite with each other, so no brake system internal rust. They have newer brake fluids that are not alcohol based, but to use them, every bit of the DOT 3 fluid has to be removed somehow, before even the first drop of this newer brake fluid can be used. This newer fluid may not like the rubber parts used on older brake systems, so switching may even cause other problems. In my 1987 Cushman Truckster that I use for helping with yard maintenance and joy riding, I have just resigned myself to pumping out the brake system every few years and then adding all new DOT 3 brake fluid. So far, this is working, but it is a real pain to do.

No, don't try to pair up two generators, unless they are designed to do this....bad juju. Run two circuits and separate things instead.

Charley
 

Jim DeLaney

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Austintown, Ohio
What Charley said. Great advice!

One thing I'll add: If you can find ethanol-free gasoline in your area, use it. A local to me station has it 91 octane, ethanol free. Current cost is $2.93/gal - about 60¢ more than regular - but since your small engines won't be using a lot of it it's not all that much of a bigger expense. I also am a firm believer in using Stabil® in all my small engine fuel.
 

Bob Gibson

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10,983
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Amherst, New Hampshire
Nice choice !!
I have a Troybilt that Ive had for around 10-12 years. 3500 watts. It's been flawless all this time starts right up first time. I've changed the oil religiously every 2 years or so and have replaced the spark plug once. It ran for 7 days straight when we were hit with the ice storm and has probably run for 2-4 days at a time twice a year. Problem is that although it runs a few lights, 2 refrigerators and 2 sump pumps and a TV. Its not enough to run the well pump, furnace, and more lights. I've been looking at the HF 9500 watt generator for awhile now and thinking about wiring it into the house. The generator was on sale recently for $600.00. We lost power for 48 hes a few weeks ago and now winter is around the corner. Not sure if I want to spring for it or not. Could use the money elsewhere but Mama likes to be warm and flush toilets.:pullhair:
 

Don Baer

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paralleling generators is done all the time. I used to do it in the Navy as an electric plant operator on the submarine. That said you just can't take two generators and parallel em without making sure they are in phase with each other. the inverters used on the houses with solar panel are designed to do that but they have the curcuitry to accomplice that. it reminds me of the time I had a trainee on the electric plant control panel who was trying to get me to sign off on his taking on shore power.he screwed up and closede the breaker between the submarine and the tender 180 out of phase. Let just say it was exciting and no I did not sign him off.
 

Jim DeLaney

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Austintown, Ohio
We've got a 10Kw Generac as a whole house backup. It runs everything except the air conditioning and the hot tub. Used to have frequent multi-day outages, but things have improved, so outages aren't as common any more.
 

Brent Dowell

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Reno NV
Our power goes off basically anytime a squirrel farts on the line. A few years ago we had our electrical panel replaced and had a transfer switch installed that powers most things we need except the stove and a few other things. It keeps the well pump running and the fridges and freezers and lectronics running. It's just a gas portable, but does a great job.

Getting the transfer switch installed was seriously one of the best things we have done to this house.
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
Seems like over these past few months the outages have become more frequent. Hopefully they found the issue, but could simply be that more folks are at home and taxing the system a bit more. Prior to this we've had a hand full of outages over the past 10 years here and most were resolved within an hour or two since all the lines around here to the substations are buried. We've had two 8 hour outages this past week, and with us working from home, we can't afford to be down that long.

@Jim DeLaney I am interested in the Generac 10kw you've got. Down at the farm it can take several days to get things running again after an ice storm. Our plan is to move down there eventually and would be interested to know what, if any, issues you've had with it. We've been looking at adding some more solar down there, but I think having a standby genny is much higher on my list.
 

Jim DeLaney

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Austintown, Ohio
...@Jim DeLaney I am interested in the Generac 10kw you've got. Down at the farm it can take several days to get things running again after an ice storm. Our plan is to move down there eventually and would be interested to know what, if any, issues you've had with it. We've been looking at adding some more solar down there, but I think having a standby genny is much higher on my list.
Darren,
We've had the Generac for about 9~10 years. Has a 2 cylinder Kohler engine. Powered by natural gas (can use propane, too), it's hardwired into the transfer panel. Other than routine maintenance, it's been bulletproof. It self tests once a week with a ten minute run, and the diagnostic panel has maintenance reminders on it, including a light on the outside so I don't even have to lift the cover to check status. It gets an annual oil & filter change, new spark plugs every other year, and that's about it. It uses the same battery as my lawn tractor, and it's on its third battery in nine years (just installed the latest one a couple months ago.).

I understand the newer models will now notify you of status over the internet, or a phone app. Ours is too old for that feature, but I don't consider it a problem.

It's one of the best home improvements we've done over the years.
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
I ordered the Generac Switch Kit (manual switch) to wire into our panel to run to a plug outside for the generator to energize circuits we want to power on during a cut-over.



It was a little more expensive than some of the other manual switches I looked at, but had a bit higher capacity. However, It comes pre-wired to install right onto the main panel to tie in existing circuits, and comes with the electrical cord and plug for the generator. The bonus is that it can be wired to one of the automatic cut-over generators in the future should we go that route.

On that note, I hadn't researched the whole house generators in a while, they've really come down in price for the equipment itself. The 10KW Generac can be bought for about $2000 - $2500 (depending on options), of course one still needs to pour the pad and run electrical and fuel (propane/natural gas). This is far much cheaper than I thought it was going to be when thinking about one for down at the farm. We already have propane for the heat, so just need to tap onto that for fuel.
 

fred hargis

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Wapakoneta, OH
Just 2 comments about the newer Generacs. That software connection cots money after the first year; I don't remember how much it is but when the installer quoted it to me I had a knee jerk reaction that I wouldn't pay that much for it. Mine runs on LP (it's a larger model) and they can suck a tank dry fairly quickly. I put it on a separate tank (500 gal.) so it wouldn't run the range and the house/shop furnace out of gas. For small intermittent outages that wouldn't be a problem, but the estimate is that my 500 gallon tank would only last a week in an extended outage....and that's assuming a 50% load. Just something to keep in mind.
 
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Being new to the generator group, I have little to add other than when you start and run your generator's engine, don't forget to plug in some items and energize the generator head also.
 

Ted Calver

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Yorktown, Virginia
Being new to the generator group, I have little to add other than when you start and run your generator's engine, don't forget to plug in some items and energize the generator head also.
Thanks, Jon. Had not heard that one before. Then again, I have not had to use mine since I bought it ten? years ago. Knock on wood.
 
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