Author Topic: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!  (Read 11622 times)

Offline scottwold

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Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« on: June 12, 2014, 04:57:17 PM »
Have to admit that I have been lax with testing my 6000W portable generator since I had the whole house unit installed..  Went out today to start it up (it's been about 6 months).  Opened up the fuel valve, went to choke it, and noticed gasoline dripping onto the floor!  Looks like it's a leak in one of the gaskets in the carb assembly.  Just ordered parts and should be able to get it fixed within a week.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2014, 05:15:21 PM »
+1, test & re-test'em people.  Good thing you found this in time SW.
I see it happen all the time around here after hurricanes, familys out back scratching their heads over those generators they bought, test-ran, and packed away two years ago.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2014, 08:18:25 PM »
Thanks for the reminder. I got a new Honda 2000W inverter generator last year and I was good about testing it every quarter, but have been lax this year.  I'll put it on my to-do list for tomorrow!


I should probably just make this a monthly task so it is easier to remember.  The more I use a tool the more I find out what parts are most likely to give a problem, have the right tools handy with it, know which spare parts to have on hand, and how to get it started under various weather/temp conditions.

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2014, 08:30:57 PM »
You should not only run it every month or so you should change the oil every year even if unused.
When you do run it put a load on it also. I will usually plug in a space heater and a heat gun. A good 2500 watts.
And remember to change the oil every 2-3 days of solid use. Most only hold a quart and at 3600 rpm's it like driving you car at highway speed for days straight. Think about how many hours it would take to put 3000 or so miles on your car.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 09:59:15 PM »
Opened up the fuel valve, went to choke it, and noticed gasoline dripping onto the floor!
This crappy ethanol gas is terrible. You may need to remove the carb bowl and clean it and the float too.

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 06:58:57 AM »
I gave my generator to family and have a good portable generator with wheels that has a 18 gallon tank and runs 3 hours per gallon of fuel and gets test run several times a week.

OK, it's a 1600 watt /3200 peak inverter ,but I don't run more than 500 watts from it. The big unit was what I had BUT it runs cool and has a BIG surge capacity. 500 watts...face it EMERGENCY POWER does not mean air conditioning and a hot tub....but chest freezer,refrigerator,a fan and some lights. Emergency power is about using LESS,not all of your toys at once.

You start the auto and idle for an hour every 3 hours and all food is kept safe and people in relative comfort. Often there are volunteers to sit in the auto for radio/AC/Heater use and the chore is then a BONUS.

The typical auto (4 cyl) will idle about 3 to 4 hours per gallon of fuel and I discovered this to be LESS FUEL than my 3K contractor ,3600 rpm generator-garage queen which always required my attention.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 09:37:42 AM »
Good one, Carl!  I did the same thing after listening to Steven Harris talk about generators.  That is really a brilliant way to get started.  That will cover a LOT of uses since so many devices can be used under the normal 10AMP 12 V DC load. Combine the inverter with rechargeable D, AA, AAA batteries and you can run a lot of equipment off that inverter.  Another thing about the car+inverter combo is it is relatively quiet.  While your neighbors may see your car running at least it won't be heard for several blocks.

First I got a 1600W inverter for the car, then a couple of deep cycle AGM batteries as back up to the car to make it even more portable.  Then I got the Honda inverter/generator.

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2014, 10:50:12 AM »
Good one, Carl!  I did the same thing after listening to Steven Harris talk about generators.  That is really a brilliant way to get started.  That will cover a LOT of uses since so many devices can be used under the normal 10AMP 12 V DC load. Combine the inverter with rechargeable D, AA, AAA batteries and you can run a lot of equipment off that inverter.  Another thing about the car+inverter combo is it is relatively quiet.  While your neighbors may see your car running at least it won't be heard for several blocks.

First I got a 1600W inverter for the car, then a couple of deep cycle AGM batteries as back up to the car to make it even more portable.  Then I got the Honda inverter/generator.

The biggest problem with emergency gear is that there just are not enough good emergencies to go around ....
odds are ,the generator will see the least use as I also have 3 x 150 amp/hour communications batteries in house and charge them at the same time I run the fridge/freezer off the car and inverter . Schumacher charger works fine off the modified sine inverter.

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2014, 06:19:34 AM »
The biggest problem with emergency gear is that there just are not enough good emergencies to go around ....
odds are ,the generator will see the least use as I also have 3 x 150 amp/hour communications batteries in house and charge them at the same time I run the fridge/freezer off the car and inverter . Schumacher charger works fine off the modified sine inverter.

and the plastic parts fail
I have a 10 Kw. dayton,set up for LP.
the selector switch for checking the phases failed [stack of 10 switches piggy backed]
wile doing the fall maintenance.

any way we are looking at a battery bank build  for back up power
instead of the gen set.

SnoHam13

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2014, 11:48:12 AM »
and the plastic parts fail
I have a 10 Kw. dayton,set up for LP.
the selector switch for checking the phases failed [stack of 10 switches piggy backed]
wile doing the fall maintenance.

any way we are looking at a battery bank build  for back up power
instead of the gen set.

SnoHam13


Batteries are pretty inefficient at storing power,Mine run my HAM gear and Echo Link plus are SOLAR CHARGED and I have optional wall charger to run from the auto/inverter when needed. The inverter habiit of mine came from the need to NOT carry a big heavy battery while doing portable HAM setups , so most of my radios have built in ,or are built on 120/13.8 power supplies now aND WITH INVERTER IN THE CAR ...I can easily run 200 feet of light weight extension cord to a suitable operating position and run full 100 watts HF for 2 hours transmit time (average 4 to 5 hours typical use) without the need to even run the car. And as I mentioned ...the car idles for 3 hours per gallon of fuel so it is not too costly compared to even a cheap generator.

  The only caution is to allow for under hood cooling,I use and old 20 inch box fan as autos were made to stay cool IN MOTION and belts,hoses,and electronics will suffer without a bit of air in motion and an open hood is NOT ENOUGH for extended protection from heat stroke for you auto.

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2014, 04:19:33 PM »
just looking to run the pellet boiler for heat in the winter
it needs 300 watts [including the circulating pump]to operate [manual ignite]
600 watts if I use the auto ignite then drops down to 300 watts
all the other stuff is not needed [can be set outside in winter for cooling]

thinking about using the battery bank in the 5th wheel and install a line to the boiler[40']
trailer is all ready set up with a charger to maintain[120 volt] and just add solar or wind charging units for grid down


SnoHam13

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2014, 11:55:12 AM »
just looking to run the pellet boiler for heat in the winter
it needs 300 watts [including the circulating pump]to operate [manual ignite]
600 watts if I use the auto ignite then drops down to 300 watts
all the other stuff is not needed [can be set outside in winter for cooling]

thinking about using the battery bank in the 5th wheel and install a line to the boiler[40']
trailer is all ready set up with a charger to maintain[120 volt] and just add solar or wind charging units for grid down


SnoHam13

Your batteries will only last longer when being properly used than left idle for long duration...it keeps the happy to flex electrons once in a while.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2014, 12:20:15 PM »
This crappy ethanol gas is terrible. You may need to remove the carb bowl and clean it and the float too.

Hey guys....  at my local station, the "premium" gas does not have ethanol.  Although the pump has a generic "May contain up to 10% ethanol" label, most often premium is non ethanol.  How can you tell for sure?

Glad you asked:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbDAw4a6Ck0


~TG

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2014, 03:37:55 PM »
TexasGirl, for this reason, I bought an Ethanol Test Kit from EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association.  I think it was maybe $30 a few years ago.

Several stations in my area of AL advertise "ethanol-free" gasoline for boats. 

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2014, 03:50:11 PM »
TexasGirl, for this reason, I bought an Ethanol Test Kit from EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association.  I think it was maybe $30 a few years ago.

Several stations in my area of AL advertise "ethanol-free" gasoline for boats.

With the way Ethanol attracts water...boats would sink if you fill up with ethanol... ::)

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2014, 05:51:17 PM »
Based on what you describe and the length of time it has been sitting, I am more inclined to say that the fuel that was in the carb dried out and formed a varnish. The varnish can prevent the inlet needle from seating and/or cause the float to stick with the needle open. Either one will result in fuel continuing to trickle through the fuel inlet and run out of the carb flanges after the bowl is overfilled. I suggest replacing the needle and seat, as well as the bowl gasket. These parts are very inexpensive and it's a good idea to have extras around. Also, don't let your equipment sit for extended periods without draining the fuel and running the carb dry. I'm about to go work on an old engine driven welder with the opposite problem....the needle is evidently held closed by varnish.

As far as generators go, they need to be run fairly frequently with a load or the slip rings will oxidize. Once a month is a pretty good schedule. On some designs, oxidized slip rings will lead to excess electrical resistance and it can burn up voltage regulators(a $200+ part in the case of my Onan). On others, the generator head just won't make power.

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2014, 07:40:52 PM »
Based on what you describe and the length of time it has been sitting, I am more inclined to say that the fuel that was in the carb dried out and formed a varnish. The varnish can prevent the inlet needle from seating and/or cause the float to stick with the needle open. Either one will result in fuel continuing to trickle through the fuel inlet and run out of the carb flanges after the bowl is overfilled. I suggest replacing the needle and seat, as well as the bowl gasket. These parts are very inexpensive and it's a good idea to have extras around. Also, don't let your equipment sit for extended periods without draining the fuel and running the carb dry. I'm about to go work on an old engine driven welder with the opposite problem....the needle is evidently held closed by varnish.

As far as generators go, they need to be run fairly frequently with a load or the slip rings will oxidize. Once a month is a pretty good schedule. On some designs, oxidized slip rings will lead to excess electrical resistance and it can burn up voltage regulators(a $200+ part in the case of my Onan). On others, the generator head just won't make power.

YOU JUST GOT KARMA,great advice

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2015, 06:07:25 PM »
I run my Honda 2000i for about 3 hours a day, every day.
I change the oil approximately once a month. You can tell exactly when it needs an oil change.

That 3 hours a day provides all of my at-home electricity needs.
When I need to use power tools, I just run them directly off the generator because they don't work off the battery bank.

Offline Roknrandy

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2015, 06:16:59 AM »
I run mine every month for 30-45 minutes (till it runs dry). I use a 1800 watt hair dryer to put a load on it. Oil is changed ever 40 hours

Offline cidyl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2015, 09:59:47 AM »
I run my Honda 2000i for about 3 hours a day, every day.
I change the oil approximately once a month. You can tell exactly when it needs an oil change.

Have about 4,000 hours on my 8 yr old 9kW Honda LP whole house generator, change the oil every month as well with regular in the warmer months and full synthetic in the winter.  The used oil gets reused as bar oil for the chainsaws, LP generators run so clean the oil is a caramel color even after about 60 hours of use.

Owned 5 generators in my life, 3 Hondas and 2 Generacs.  Both generacs died on me (one threw a rod and broke the crankcase, the other the generator fried).  Neither were worth the cost of repair.  All 3 Hondas still running, the oldest is over 20 years old now. 

Offline SloSheepdog

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2015, 03:02:45 PM »
Hi everyone!

I logged in just to talk about this topic. Glad to see there's a recent thread running about it already.

I was thinking about the generator I bought that sits in the shed. I have definitely not ran it often enough. The thing is, it's so darn loud that I don't want to. I'm in a small-medium sized town (not suburbs), but I'm still in town. It's loud! Plus I'm not sure when it would come in handy. I have a 1000W inverter and three vehicles. My neighbors also have vehicles, any of which are capable of charging phones or running my inverter. And being alot less obnoxious while at it. I guess what I'm getting at is that even if we needed power, I wouldn't even likely pull out my generator. So why have it?

I bought it (used but good shape from a friend) when I was still pretty new to preparedness. It just seemed like something that I should have if I was taking this seriously. Now I think I'm going to put it up for sale and buy a second inverter with whatever $$ it brings in.

What do you all think? Sorry for the ramble of thoughts, and thanks for reading.

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2015, 03:14:01 PM »
The auto plus inverter will run many things up to fridges and freezers...say 500 watts continuous. The generator will run higher wattages but fuel needed is about the same. Examine your needs ,as I did a couple years ago,and you may also learn to make do with less power and have several 20 gallon tanks and mobile generators around. It is not the best option,but I like the low noise ,well mainatined auto and inverter for my needs.

Offline SloSheepdog

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2015, 05:24:20 PM »
Carl,

Thanks. I don't have any high-wattage needs. Like most everyone here, I would like to keep the chest freezer going if possible and chargers for phones, radios, and my AA/AAA charger for flashlights. That's really it. So I'm selling the noisy generator! I'll use the space for chicken feed and the cash for a second inverter.

Offline Carl

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2015, 06:02:16 PM »
Carl,

Thanks. I don't have any high-wattage needs. Like most everyone here, I would like to keep the chest freezer going if possible and chargers for phones, radios, and my AA/AAA charger for flashlights. That's really it. So I'm selling the noisy generator! I'll use the space for chicken feed and the cash for a second inverter.

I have found it best to by way bigger than you need ,say a 1500 to 1600 with double that as a start capability as they start heavy loads easily and run much cooler as my fridge runs at 140 to 150 watts ,but needs over 1000 watts to start it up. I use mine for test runs every month or so but I know the 'generator' will start and I can drive it to a gas station when I need to.

A 6 to 8 gauge jumper cable will do OK though it is best to bolt on to the battery for long duration runs.As for the chargers and phones ,use caution with some that are transformerless as they don't fare well with the modified sine wave...but most can use 12 volt cables or adapters to do their charging more efficiently anyway. I use a smaller jump battery for that task inside to spare exposing cell phones and chargers to weather plus usually charge that with a charger plugged in to the auto/inverter when running the fridge etc . I charge the house battery ,even if not low to maximise return of my auto run time.

Generators are noisy and require more upkeep than I am willing to give and large banks of batteries don't make much sense unless you are a solar power dependent as you can always crank your auto every 4 to 6 hours for the heavy jobs and battery charging to get you through most blackouts  , tell the wife no hot tub of hair dryer till they fix the juice and you can get by on a lot less power than you think.

  With as few real black outs as I get ,it does not make sense to have a generator, I gave mine to my parents to run their well pump and fridges as they are all electric and need more comforts (though I do have a 600 watt Microwave that uses 1100 watts and that 4 minute hot meal is worth cranking the car.) Things that aren't compatible with modified sine wave will heat up quick , so monitor unknown items for heat if you are unsure.

Here is another thread:  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=52823.0

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2015, 06:35:34 PM »
Hi everyone!

I logged in just to talk about this topic. Glad to see there's a recent thread running about it already.

I was thinking about the generator I bought that sits in the shed. I have definitely not ran it often enough. The thing is, it's so darn loud that I don't want to. I'm in a small-medium sized town (not suburbs), but I'm still in town. It's loud! Plus I'm not sure when it would come in handy. I have a 1000W inverter and three vehicles. My neighbors also have vehicles, any of which are capable of charging phones or running my inverter. And being alot less obnoxious while at it. I guess what I'm getting at is that even if we needed power, I wouldn't even likely pull out my generator. So why have it?

I bought it (used but good shape from a friend) when I was still pretty new to preparedness. It just seemed like something that I should have if I was taking this seriously. Now I think I'm going to put it up for sale and buy a second inverter with whatever $$ it brings in.

What do you all think? Sorry for the ramble of thoughts, and thanks for reading.

Not sure how I missed coming back to this thread, but....

Most small engines are extremely noisy due to very poorly designed "mufflers". Honda, in general, does better in this regard but many of their muffler designs are very restrictive. Quiet is good, restrictive is not. The other problem is that most generators have a two pole head and thus require an engine governed to roughly 3600 rpm in order to produce 120v at 60 hertz. There's nothing that can be done to change that on an existing direct drive generator, but you can reduce the exhaust noise substantially with the addition of a larger muffler from something like a car/truck/tractor.

My 6.5Kw Onan runs at 1800rpm and has a muffler(original) that is many times the size of the mufflers on my 5Kw consumer grade generators(3600rpm). It's not quiet enough enough to have a normal conversation while standing next to it, but it doesn't require screaming to be heard either.  My wife and I used it a couple of weekends ago to power saws and such to cut lumber for a chicken tractor.

Offline bcksknr

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2015, 08:19:04 PM »
     My generator has been professionally wired in. My main concern is running my well pump. You will find that it takes many times the rated running wattage of a pump motor, to start it up. Once started, it will draw much less. I found out the hard way when I burned out a 3000 watt surge generator, trying to pump the well. The new setup is rated for 7000 watts surge, which will start the well pump no problem. If I can periodically run the well pump, I can fill water barrels and I consider a water source a critical necessity.
     Since the generator is wired through a transfer switch and breaker box, the well, furnace and appliances can be separately selected, to avoid an overload on the genny. If you plan on running a well pump, find out the horsepower rating of your pump motor and how many watts it takes to spin it up. If your generator won't supply at least that much juice in a surge, you will burn it up.

Offline TiredOldGrunt

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Re: Reminder: Test your generator.. You might be surprised!
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2015, 04:47:37 PM »
I run mine 15min twice a month and Ive *NEVER* had it fail me, for 5 years!  *AND*, its a no-name genset.

Nuff said...

TOG