Effect Of Short Power Outages On Home Generator (Kohler RES12)

The day that Irene came thru, I didn't lose grid power as such, but did have a series of outages that lasted 2-3 seconds apiece. Unfortunately, these were enough to kick on the generator, only to stop a few seconds later when the grid returned. And so it was on, off; on, off; on, off .....
So now the generator's broken. Battery won't even try to crank. All I get is a grinding sound. Battery charger still shows a green light, so I assume that a connection(s) has come loose or some sort of fuse blew.
Any ideas? Also, can this type of thing be fixed by an electrician? I do have a service contract with the co. that installed the Kohler, and they really know their business, but they are severely swamped with repair tickets, which is understandable. Finally, can the automatic transfer switch be adjusted to keep the generator from kicking on until grid power has shut down for 10 seconds or so?
Thanks,Jack
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A grinding sound would seem to indicate that most likely either the starter is bad or that it's not getting full power to be able to correctly spin out and engage. If that's what it is, it's fairly easy to diagnose and fix, depending on how accessible the starter, soenoid, etc are.

From the problem it sounds like an engine problem, not a generator problem, so an electrician would not be my choice unless he's one that does generators. If it's only a backup generator and since you have a service contract, I'd just wait if I were you.
As to transfer switch adjustability, I guess what you may or may not be able to adjust would seem to depend on exactly which one you have. The on/off cycling several times should not have caused the problem you are having. To burn out the starter it would have to crank the starter for a long time.
If it makes you feel any better, a neighbor had a $7K Generac that was about 6 years old fail after 5 hours of hurricane duty. His guy did come out and the generator itself is cooked, beyond repair. He's got a whole new one on order. I wonder if these things are really worth it. With the high cost you also get increased complexity and more things to fail. And if it does fail, it costs a bundle to fix. For $500 or so you can get a breaker panel kit and a receptacle installed and then use one of the manual start generators that can be had for $400. I'll bet your yearly service contract costs more than that. There are applications where you need it to start automatically, eg where there are critical loads and no one available to get there in time to start it up. But for the typical homeowner, I think the expense isn't worth it.
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To prevent the generator from trying to start in the event of a power outage, there is a switch behind the front panel that you'll need to flip to the off position.
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Try charging the battery. Just like with a car battery, that extended on- off-on-off cycle can drain the battery very quickly.
Have you used a multimeter to check the battery's voltage across the battery terminals?
--
Tegger

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On Sep 7, 6:08 pm, "Stormin Mormon"

It might be a bad battery, but it's not an issue of it not running enough to recharge it. These automatic systems have a charger to keep the battery at full charge using line AC power when the generator is not being used. Presumably by now, days later it's had plenty of time to recharge. He also indicated that the battery charging indicator showed green, which usually means the charger believes the battery is fully charged.
Whatever it is, I agree it sounds like something between the battery, starter solenoid, and starter.

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Yep, I'd star by cleaning the battery terminals and the cable end on the starter. A little rain a little corrosion, etc.
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This is why I'm happy with my 4kw portable generator. Auto start switch over gensets are just overkill for a single residential situation.
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That's what I think too. Especially given the cost. They make sense if you need it to be able to start up and run when nobody will be available in a reasonable amount of time to start it. But otherwise I think a $400 generator, plus an Interlockit panel kit and a conversion kit to make the generator run on natural gas makes a very compelling case. I could put that together for $1000.
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Thank you all for your replies.
Based on your answers which led to further research, I think this nails it:
If a starter solenoid receives insufficient power from the battery, it will fail to start the motor, and may produce a rapid clicking sound. The lack of power can be caused by a low battery, by corroded or loose connections in the battery cable, or by a damaged positive (red) cable from the battery. Any of these problems will result in some, but not enough, power being sent to the solenoid, which means that the solenoid will only begin to push the engagement gear, making the metallic click sound. Starter solenoid problems are best diagnosed by an experienced auto-electrician. ____
I previously referred to a "grinding" sound but it would be more accurately called a "rapid clicking sound." My bad.
So, other than waiting for the generator tech who is swamped with work, who would be the next best person to fix the issue: electrician? auto mechanic?
Thanks, Jack
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Any decent small engine mechanic should be able to troubleshoot your starter circuit but......
If you really want someone who knows the Kohler CH740s motors, locate an Exmark commercial mower dealer in your area. The Kohler twin cylinder motors are often used in them and the Exmark dealers tend to be top-notch. They would also have any replacement parts you'd need.
You can find a dealer near you at www.exmark.com
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Maybe yourself. Sounds like the starter solenoid want to kick in, but does not have the juice. Rad my post about cleaning the connections. That is step one. Then be sure the battery really is charged. If neither works, an auto mechanic or small engine guy would be a good bet. My guess it is the engine side, not the generator side, so any competent engine guy can get you going.
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If it is a 12v batter & starting system and you can get your car close enough.....jump it with the car.
Or
disconnect the various connection points (one at a time). Clean them & reconnect.
pull the battery out of a car & use it.
my answer may not be the greatest, since I missed a lot of this thread.
cheers Bob
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If you've got a friend who's an auto mechanic, that would work. Auto mechanics usually do not make house calls, especially for something that isn't an auto.
It is probably a simple matter of lifting the lid on the battery box, removing the cables from the battery, and cleaning the corrosion. There is likely to be a large pile of blueish crud on one or both of the battery posts.
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Well, I waited for the generator tech after all and he diagnosed a dead battery and put in a new one. No charge to me; part of the service contract.
I thought that the AC chargers drastically reduced the incidence of dead batteries.
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On 9/12/2011 2:02 PM, Jack wrote:

bad chargers can hasten the demise of batteries.
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Where I work we have 2 desel pumps that have 250 hp engines on them for emergency fire protection.. The charging system is very high dollar units. They still go bad and cook the 2 12 volt batteries on each pump. Acutally there are 2 sets of batteries for each pump. If one set goes bad, it switches over to the next set to try for a start. Even though the chargers are high dollar, they are made in China.
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Way Back Jack posted for all of us...

I think the transfer switch should be adjusted to approximately this spec. and is what caused your problem so their installation and testing should cover any costs, especially with their "service contract".
--
Tekkie

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