Generator Thoughts

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I need a small generator for use at an isolated outside storage building. The power demand is 1,000 watts or less and the generator only needs to run for an hour or two at a time. The generator will only be used occasionally, but, like most things, needs to work when I need it.
FYI, I've looked at Honda generators, but their units are too pricey for my needs. I simply can't justify the cost, regardless of how nice the Honda generators are. At the other end of the spectrum, there are $99 generators on Ebay (2 strokes), but those scare the stuffing out of me, because I don't recognize the brand and because, after all, I need the darned thing to work when necessary.
Any thoughts for a reliable, low cost generator that'll fit the bill?
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Kyle Boatright wrote:

Presuming you GOT to this shed via a vehicle, consider a convertor that runs off the vehicle's electrical system.
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You have a lot of contradictions in your post. First, get your priorities straight.
You state: needs to work when I need it. I simply can't justify the cost, regardless of how nice the Honda generators are a reliable, low cost generator
Most of us know that reliable and low cost don't go together very well.
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You are not very clear.. How many hours will it run in 5 years. A cheapy might get you 250-350 hrs till it starts to burn oil . A midgrade 5000w OHV engine might get you 2-3000 hrs. A 1000w is a big load on a little Honda to get maxiumum life but you might get 2-4000+ hrs. I just saw a little chinese OHV 2000w unit that had stabile power for maybe 250$ All I know is it was blue. With the real cheap imports you take your chances, who knows. The little Honda inverter is realy a clean output power unit, not necessary for power tools.
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Kyle Boatright wrote:

Translation: Honda needed

Translation: New Hondas are pricier than less robust brands and I really don't care all that much about reliability.

Translation: I want a free lunch

Translation: I'm too impatient to do an eBay search for Honda and wait for something in my price range to come along and now I've changed my mind about reliablility.
There are dozens of sources for generators, so just gather info for a while, then decide. Check out Northern Tool, Harbor Freight, and of course, Froogle. Good luck.
Joe
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Kyle Boatright wrote:

The Generac units are generally perfectly reliable in light duty service as you indicate. I have a 5kw that has done more than light duty and never had a problem other than one carb clog when it go shutdown and stored without running it dry. It has to be near 20 years old now and I just used it a couple months ago to power a hammer drill while doing an electrical upgrade.
For such a light load however, I'd really consider scraping up the $1k for a Honda EU2000i or if your load really is under 1kw a Honda EU1000i ($700). Sure they cost more than cheapos, but they will be a lot more reliable and long lasting. Get that no name $200 unit and the fifth time you go to use it and spend an hour trying to get it running you'll be kicking yourself for not getting the Honda. The Honda will also be a lot quieter, lighter and use less gas.
Pete C.
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What are you going to use the generator for? Lights? Electronics? Pumps? And if it doesn't work, how much does it matter?
Its a little like saying you want to buy a car, but can't afford a Honda; what should you get? Well, that all depends on what you want to use it for, doesn't it?
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Yeah: You've posed a textbook oxymoron.
I paid $1k for a Honda EU2000i
http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/ModelDetail.asp?ModelName=eu2000i
two years ago. I have probably put 10-15 hours on it when "dry" camping.
One can stand DIRECTLY over it while it is running under FULL load and hold a reasonably "normal" conversation.
Every time I pull the starter cord, it starts. It runs perfectly.
I like the security of knowing I can power my new gas furnace during a protracted outage - all night if need be - without pissing-off my neighbors with noise.
I've heard the Yamaha line of quiet generators are as good and may even be slightly less expensive.
You get what you pay for.
--
:)
JR

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Mine is maybe 5 years old. It kept my furnace, refrigerator, and freezer going for 5 days during an outage; and you literally couldn't hear it from the street.
My one complaint is that it is hard to start, on old gas. I am just wondering what you do to get it to start on the first pull. Changing the gas is a pain, but certainly makes starting easier. I start it once a month just to keep everything moving.
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(Toller) says...

Why in the world do you keep old gas in it? When you finish using it, just let it run until it runs dry. With that old gas plugging up the carb, it's a wonder you can get it to start at all.
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I echo the other poster who suggested if you drive to the shed get a 12 volt to 120 converter, really a inverter.
For a couple hundred bucks or less you have it availble not only for shed detail but other activities, no generator wouldnt start hassles, compact and light weight, absolitely quiet as your vehicle.
Best thing in a power outage you can use it at your home, no stale gas issues. etc etc.
If you can drive to shed a inverter is a no brainer.....
I have one and use it for all sorts of wiierd stuff, dont tell your friends you have one or they will be asking for help too....
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" snipped-for-privacy@aol.com" wrote:

One warning on that though - a 1 kW inverter can *not* be operated from your cigarette lighter outlet, it will melt. Inverters running over about 250W sustained output need to be directly wired to the vehicle's battery.
If you don't want to permanently install the inverter you can install one of the heavy DC quick connects as sold for detachable winches. These are nice since you can go all out and have an inverter, a winch and a jumper cable that all plug into this DC outlet when needed.
As for the previous posters comments about gas, get a bottle of Stabil fuel stabilizer. With it a tank of gas in the generator should be in useable condition even after up to a year of storage. By adding it to every tank of gas it will also help prevent clogged carbs.
Pete C.
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No, you'll blow the fuse.

Inverters rated at 200-300W and up usually come with heavy alligator clips for direct battery connection - cigarette lighter fuses usually are only 15A. My inverter (300W + 400W surge) has two sets of detachable cables - one a alligator set, the other a lighter socket set.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Chris Lewis wrote:

That's the theory, however I have seen quite a few cigarette lighter plugs that made such poor contact that they heated and melted the plug at currents below the fuse rating.

I have the same inverter, it does a good job. 1 kW inverters draw to high a load for alligator clips to be reliable, on the order of 83A not counting inefficiencies. Currents in that range require hard connections and/or connectors rated for high currents. The DC connectors used for the winches typically are 175A continuous rated.
Pete C.
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says...

A year is pushing it, and small quantities don't stabilize as well as large quantities. Sta-bil is an antibacterial that keeps sludge bacteria from growing in water condensation mixed with the fuel. That bacteria is one of the primary sources of injector and carburetor gum, but it is not the only source.
Gasoline stored in an open container, like a gas tank, also loses its lighter fractions to evaporation. The lighter fractions are what evaporate and ignite easily when the engine is cold. This can result in hard starting, even when the gasoline is otherwise OK.
By far the best way to store fuel is to rotate it often. I make up a small engine mix in 5 gallon quantities. I add 2 oz. of non-alcohol carb cleaner, 2 oz. of Marvel Mystery Oil, and the recommended quantity of Sta-Bil to every 5 gallon can, then fill it with gasoline. When the mix is about 6 months old, I pour it into a vehicle and go buy new gas.
Two cycle mix is made from the 4-cycle mix, with the addition of 2.5 oz. Red Line synthetic 2-cycle oil per gallon.
Every small engine fuel tank gets run dry at the end of its season, and the 4-cycle engines get their oil changed with Castrol Syntec 5w-50. My humble Briggs and Stratton engines run reliably for decades when treated well. Even my el-cheapo $69 2-cycle leaf blower with the plastic intake manifold starts immediately when it is needed. I have a lot of small engines. Pressure washer, riding mower, push mower, 5000 watt generator, 1200 watt generator, weed whacker, rototiller, chainsaw, leaf blower and brush chipper. They are all 100% reliable.
One comment on generators. Since my large generator sometimes goes years in between use, I not only run the tank dry, I drain the last few dribbles out of the carburetor bowl, change the oil, pull the spark plug and fog the cylinder with light oil, replace the spark plug and bag the exhaust with a plastic baggie and rubber band to keep the bugs out. Then I put it back in its cardboard shipping box, which keeps the dust off. I bought it new in 1988, and it has run through three extended power outages. That's an average of once every 5 years, so extra care in putting it away really pays off. It has a Briggs and Stratton engine.
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wrote:

Yes.
I never CHANGE it, per se. I run the tank dry at the end of the camping season.

That is certainly encouraging. There is no doubt that I paid extra simply for the name "Honda" and also for the apparently considerable R&D that made the unit so quiet. I would buy the same model again.

Admittedly, it does NOT start on the FIRST pull when starting it for the FIRST time after being stored for a couple of months or so. However, in this case, it takes no more than two or three pulls. Subsequent restarts require an almost-slight SINGLE pull.

Like I said, I've never CHANGED the gas other than to RUN the thing dry. I'm glad you replied, though. I'll make an even greater effort to ensure I don't gum it up with old gas.

I'll probably now start doing that over the winter. Thanks.
--
:)
JR

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@comcast.net (Kyle Boatright) says...

I have a little 2-cycle 1200 watt cheapie that I bought at Coastal Farm Supply for $149. I assume it's the same as the eBay $99 specials. I use it on hunting trips, mostly to charge up the travel trailer battery. It has a 12 volt output that is pretty worthless, because a dead battery will trip the breaker, but the 120v outlet will run the trailer's battery charger. It will run for about 4.5 hours on a gallon of gas.
The voltage is pretty unstable. It uses an ignition interrupter to prevent over-voltage on light loads, so lights attached to it will flicker until you get about 500 watts load. Then it does pretty good up to 1000 watts load, when the voltage starts to sag. It's down 10% at 1200 watts.
On the up side, it has been very reliable. I don't leave gas in it, ever, even though there is a gas line shutoff. It is pretty quiet. If I set it on the other side of my pickup, you can barely hear it inside the travel trailer. The trailer furnace 12v blower makes a lot more noise, and that furnace blower is the primary reason I need a generator in the first place.
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for occasional use, take a look at Harbor Freight: from $ 239 to $ 7,000
http://da.harborfreight.com/cpisearch/web/search.do?keyword=generator&Submit=Go
--
Walter
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I think the Coleman Powermate runs 1,000 watts. I did a froogle search, and this was the closest I found
http://power-tools.hardwarestore.com/66-389-generators/generator-632696.aspx
which is $609, and is 1800 watts.
What equipment do you want to run? Motors, lights, heaters, what?
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

Two problems with that:
1) I've heard very bad things about the Coleman branded generators from a professional generator service guy.
2) You can get a Honda EU1000i for $699 from Northern.
Pete C.
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