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Author Topic: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522  (Read 5162 times)

Offline Prag

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Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« on: October 03, 2010, 03:36:10 PM »
I just listened to Jack’s Episode # 522 “Call in Friday 10-1-10 on my way to work last evening.

Mods…If this thread would be better in the Energy section, my apologies…but since it’s an aspect of my Emergency Preps, I thought I’d give it a try here.
Please move it to a more appropriate section if needed.




The Harbor Freight Chicago Electric 800 watt Generator  was mentioned.
It’s currently on sale and you can even sign up for discount coupons…which I just did.

The reviews are promising.

Bearing in mind it’s limited range use, like running my freezers for a few hours a day during a power outage, or maybe the occasional light, for the price, it seems a good bargain.

Have any of you ever had any good or bad experiences with Chicago Electric products?

Any thoughts on these?

Like I said, it’d be a limited use item, but looks like a decent backup item.

Any thoughts or input would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Prag


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Offline chezrad

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2010, 07:11:30 PM »
I bought one this weekend so my experience is limited. Here are my observations:

The Good:
Started easily the first time.
Relatively quiet.
Ran a 450 watt light with no issues.
Appears to sip fuel.
Electrically seems to be reasonable put together.

The Bad:
Left fuel in the tank, left the generator in the garage. The fuel cutoff switch or hose connection leaked fuel on the floor.
Difficult to start the second day. I had started it easily enough the first day on several occasions. Found the spark plug needed to be properly gaped and get a good cleaning to get a healthy spark. Once this was done it started right up.
There is a rattle in the housing somewhere. If it ever bothers me enough to fix I'll pull the tank off and see if I can find it.
When sitting on level ground it will stop before the tank is empty. Placing a 3/4 inch block under a foot to get the fuel out of the tank works well.

Opinion:
For the price it's great. I picked mine up on sale ($79) and used a 20% coupon that I found on the internet. It was $66 before tax.
It's not a Honda, but it's also less than a tenth of the price!

Future:
I will pick up a couple of better spark plugs to fit it.
Run the tank dry after every use. This makes storage and starting after storing easier.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Offline inthego

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 08:57:36 PM »
I have had this gen for over a year now.. got it with coupon for around 50 bucks...  runs OK tested it with my volt meter and puts out a constant volt.  I will buy one more for backup and thanks for the idea of a better spark plug (should have thought of that myself) It's light and with a heavy load (close to max) it will tend to move around so watch out for that if used on a deck or a place it could fall...

 :)

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Offline Dawgus

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 09:26:35 PM »
 I'd like to see a review of this generator with regular usage just because I am very leary of CE products. I've never dealt with their generators at all, but I have used their power tools in the past. I've used their power drills, cordless drills, cordless impact, and sawzall when people at work had it with them. I was always less than impressed by the performance and durability of any of them. The NEW sawzall fell apart on it's second day of use, the cordless drill had a horrible usage time after being fully charged, and the impact was just HUGE and clunky compared to my DeWalt.
 I know that generators are generally for just emergency use, but I would be very leary of relying on one if I were to deal with a long term power outage.  I also know that they are a LOT less expensive than a name brand, and I know a lot of people that buy CE and other Harbor Freight tools for that very reason....they're cheap and disposable. As for me, I'd rather spend the money now on a quality tool than end up spending the same amount replacing the cheaper model 2-3 times or more. I nitpick with my neighbor constantly about cheap tools like this. He says he gets their wrenches because he can replace them for just a few bucks. (of course not taking into count the gas and time spent for repeat trips.) My Craftsman and Matco wrenches are 15-20 years old and are perfect. My generator is a 1971 Honda and performs perfect every time I need it.
 I would search the 'net for as many reviews as possible before getting that generator........just my opinion.
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Offline Citizen Zero

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2010, 10:51:37 PM »
I have had a Chicago Electric generator for several years, the particular model that I have is much larger though (12KW Diesel).

Other than some minor annoyances, like it draining its battery due to the electronic monitoring for the non-existent automatic transfer switch, there have been no major glitches that I have not been able to overcome with a little bit of time and a small amount of $. Considering that the cost of the unit was under $5K for a prime rated gennie, it was a steal even with the few small headaches that worked through.

I do know that the smaller gennies and power tools are suspect. In the case of the large one that I bought, it was a Yanmar clone that is so exact that I can use Yanmar parts that are available at any marine supply store to replace a failed part.

For my purchase, I am happy with the unit. It provides more power than I need to power the entire house, and it has seen us through several multi-day outages with no problems whatsoever. The fuel economy is great too.. 1/4 - 1/3 gallon per hour at the load that we subject it to.

As with all things, do your research and YMMV
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Offline BlazerGuy

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2010, 03:19:42 AM »
Here's a 12 page thread about them:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=10&f=18&t=632490

The overall consensus is good especially for the price. Unfortunately the sale ended yesterday but they usually go on sale every few months. I was able to get mine for $69 out the door.

I've only run mine for a few hours so I can't really comment on it yet but so far so good.   

Offline chezrad

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2010, 05:15:01 AM »
Biggest problems that I ran across in reviews is poor spark plug performance (fixed with an Autolite 64 or equivalent) and dirt in the carb issues (fixed with some basic engine knowledge). For $69 out the door you can almost use it as a training tool for engine stuff.

Offline Prag

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2010, 12:13:15 PM »
Here's a 12 page thread about them:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=10&f=18&t=632490

The overall consensus is good especially for the price. Unfortunately the sale ended yesterday but they usually go on sale every few months. I was able to get mine for $69 out the door.

I've only run mine for a few hours so I can't really comment on it yet but so far so good.   


Thank you for the link and input.

I had read that H.F. runs their sales off & on and I'm glad to hear it.

Funds are too tight to let any loose without checking a trusted source...like here.  :)
Prag


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Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2010, 12:22:39 PM »
As dawg said. Chicago Electric products seem to be hit and miss. So it falls back on "you get what you pay for".
The early bird gets the worm.....But the second mouse gets the cheese.

Offline Prag

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2010, 12:30:24 PM »
chezrad;

Thanks for the review and I look forward to hearing how it goes in the future.



Dawgus... Good info! Good points as well.

I have a Coleman Vertex 5500 and have had it for about 10 years now. It's a workhorse, but noisy as the dickens.

I'm looking for affordable redundancy and this C.E. unit might just fill that need. At least it's a consideration.


Citizen Zero ;

Sounds like a nice setup. I'd love to have a diesel setup, no doubt...maybe in the future.
Good to hear how well yours had served you.



inthego ;

Thank you. Glad it's held up.



ncjeeper ;

No Doubt. and good point.
I'd love to have a couple of small Honda's or such, and it's a gamble on such an item...but it'd be interesting to wring one out, as long as the price is right, and it's not my primary genset.
Just trying to increase my redundancies and options...  ;)



Thanks for the tip on the spark plugs. I've read that same thing in a few online reviews I checked before posting this thread.


I appreciate all of the input and suggestions.

You guys are a great resource!
Prag


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Offline Jackncoke

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2010, 12:21:10 PM »
I'm very familiar with Harbor Freight. Understand that the stuff there can get the job done, but it is not meant to be reliable/accurate. I'll give some examples.

Hand tools are a great deal there. I see no reason to buy expensive hammers or screwdrivers.
Jacks and jack stands are a great buy too. I haven't had a problem with any of them, and have owned mine for close to 10 years.
Power tools are limited. Yes they are cheap, but there is a reason for that. They are not designed to be accurate or reliable. Their grinders burn up quickly. My buddy had a power miter saw from them with a laser line that didn't run parallel to the blade. If you used the laser to make the cuts, they would be off.

I think the point has ben made, but I just wanted to elaborate a tad. I think the stuff is fine for a weekend warrior, but there is no way I'd buy it for everyday use.
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Offline tburda

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 09:13:43 PM »
Yeah I too shop "the freight" as a friend affectionately calls it.  I have one of their larger generators, they used a plastic connector in the petcock, that the gasoline ate after a month and a half, it fell apart.  I was smart and bought the warranty.  I could replace the part in an emergency situtation, but this isnt one, nor did I buy the generator for that purpose.  (even though I was without power for 30 days and ran my house on it...for the 30 days.)

I wont buy any power tools from there, period.  I have in the past they're garbage.  I love their wrenches/screwdrivers etc...they're cheap.  I have double of almost everything, which comes in rather handy more often than not, I have yet to have any problems with their wrenches, impacts leave some to be desired.  And I have pulled a few atv motors and rebuilt them, and a few full size vehicle motors and rebuilt them using those tools.

Overall hand tools, good buy for the money, if you take care of your things like i do, I see no reason you wont get long use out of them.  The generator I bought, I'm more than happy with the price, since I walked out the door @ 247 dollars for a 5500 watt generator with 2 year extended service plan.  Starts on the first pull every time.

Offline JOEINMD

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 08:32:14 AM »
Looking for a spark plug for this generator? The "Bosch Platinum 2" model 4306 fits right in and works immediately.  No need to gap, ever.

Offline Big_Al

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Re: Question about Chicago Electric Generator from Podcast 522
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2013, 12:10:30 AM »
I own 1 of these gens and gave 1 to my father in law.

2.5 oz of 2 cycle oil to the 1 gal of gas
Treat your stored gas with stabilizer and keep the lid on tight
Run the gen for the recommended 20 our break in period per the manual
Keep a light load on the gen while breaking it in
After break in change the plug and clean the filter.  Test the new plug by running the fuel out.  Also test the actual load you plan on using after the break in period.  This gen ran my 20 yr old may tag no problem.  It also puts out a stable electricity, and we ran out direct TV Vizio led TV and blue ray for about an hour no problem. 
It's fairly quiet, runs a fridge motor, and is very portable.  negatives are mixing 2 cycle, the fact it can only reasonably power 1 load, and you never know when this low end gen will fail. 
Overall impressed with the unit, and will use this in conjunction with a 1000 watt inverter on my car to run our electrical needs.  Recently added an electrical outlet for my furnace, but will need at least a 2,500 watt gen to run it to be comfortable, would not recommend the 800 watt gen to run anything larger than a 60,000 btu furnace. 
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