Maintenance of Kohler 12Res Propane Generator


We have a maintenance contract provided by the seller. Every 6 months, the tech changes oil, oil filter, spark plugs, and air filter; checks the sealed battery, battery charger, output voltage, output frequency, and connections.
The service has been unreliable inasmuch as it always requires me to call them to remind them that the service is overdue. This has happened right from the beginning in 2005. They're always late.
But I've been afraid to fuss because, who else would perform these services? I'm too old and wouldn't have a clue about the electrical checks anyway. Do you think that an electrician would perform these tasks, or is the changing of oil, plugs, filters beneath them? Yellow pages advertises electricians who work with generators, but I think that this refers to inside work on the generator's circuit breaker box when needed.
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If this generator is primarily for backup when an outage occurs, all this maintenance is unnecessary. I run my generator once a month for 15 minutes. I only replaced the oil once (after 50 hours). I have never replaced the spark plugs or done any of the other things you mentioned. On the other hand, if this is a continuous source of power, then these things should be done by someone who is familiar with the unit.
---MIKE---

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On 7/29/2010 12:30 PM, ---MIKE--- wrote:

Big, pricey generator:
http://www.coloradostandby.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/1137?source=froogle
Probably cycles itself every month.
I have a gasoline generator that I also crank up now and then but concern is making sure I get fresh gas through carburetor.
Doubt if op's unit needs all the service it's getting.
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Old and not too bright wrote:

Well, if as long as they come even if called and do what is needed is that really completely unacceptable? Granted, ought to be automagic but if it gets the job done is the easy way out.
If you really want to look for a change, try giving one of those outfits a call and ask; certainly nobody here can guess what any one there would be willing to do.
I'd wonder unless this genset is running a lot that the mechanical maintenance isn't far more frequent than needed other than the operational checks; there would seem to be almost no actual hours on most standby generators in six months. If it's other than standby of course, that's something else.
--


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dpb wrote:

I would agree that the maintenance seems a bit excessive time wise, once a year should be quite sufficient for a gaseous fueled standby unit accumulating few hours beyond weekly or monthly exercise cycles. If the area has frequent power outages causing the unit to accumulate operating hours at a fair rate, six months might be reasonable.
As for the service performed, a couple quarts of oil, a filter and a spark plug are perhaps $20, so it makes sense to just change them proactively vs. try to keep track of engine hours and schedule a return visit when you think the unit may have accumulated enough operating hours to be at the next service interval.
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Pete C. wrote: ...

But what's he paying in labor for the privilege of what probably isn't needed would be a reasonable question to ask?
Again, if this is medical backup as gather it might possibly be, cost may not be much of an issue but we don't have any way to know that...I'm just raising the question for OP to consider since he raised the issue.
--
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On Thu, 29 Jul 2010 16:36:13 -0500, dpb wrote:

I'd say that 20-25 bucks a year is a reasonable expense to insure the thing will perform when needed regardless if it backs up medical gear or not. I do the same on my Deere LT155 15 horse Kohler even though it runs little more than 50 hours a year. Well with the exception of the spark plug.
Gives me the peace of mind that when I turn the key it's going to run like new as it does and did the day it went into service in 2000. That's not unreasonable is it?
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Jeff The Drunk wrote:

Not necessarily, no...but, that's not counting what purchased labor might be and I'll repeat again we don't have enough info to know what the deal is w/ OP's situation. If one is doing service oneself (which OP said he can't), then it's a much less expensive proposition if cost is a consideration (which we don't even know it is for certain).
An oil change and filter at greatly less than the recommended interval is likely doing very little, if anything, to actually aid in the reliability or longevity in reality, however, unless there is some really unusual circumstance or conditions present. A plug after 50 hours is essentially new and the likelihood of an infant mortality failure goes up in the replacement one that isn't _necessarily_ lowering the overall failure rate at the next outage. It's a conundrum of reliability that there's always a possibility of an induced fault as well as the benefit...overall, preventative maintenance is a good idea, granted, but at some point "enough is enough".
OP asked a question, I gave him a couple of thoughts to consider if really looking at a change in his status quo. Unless the service he has now is really exorbitant, as noted in original response he's probably about as well of as to just keep it if the service appears adequate even if does require a reminder call...
But, if he cares, I think the level of service is over that needed for reasonable maintenance schedule but it's his call as to what he wants/is comfortable with.
--
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On Thu, 29 Jul 2010 17:19:58 -0500, dpb wrote:

Good answer (not that you needed my confirmation.) My response focused on the 'comfort' of knowing that even if the service was unneeded, comfort of mind was and was satisfied by being overly preemptive in service. The monetary expense in this case is of little concern knowing a failure of service isn't questioned because a lack of care. This is however based on the unanswered question being if the OP is able to self serve the unit for 20-25 bucks a year or paying for outsourced service at a considerable increase in price.
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Jeff The Drunk wrote: ...

That question wasn't unanswered -- the OP said he can't. Clearly, no annual service fee is going to be $25/year, even if all they do is come and see if the unit is still there.
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Old and not too bright wrote:

How much do you use this generator and what is it used for?
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On 7/29/2010 10:33 AM, Old and not too bright wrote:

I used to service a lot of generators before I developed some of my own maintenance problems. A generator like yours would usually get checked or serviced once a year unless it was for someone quite elderly or someone who had medical equipment then it was twice a year. I setup a monitoring system for generators that had a local alarm that would go off if the trouble light lit or alarm contacts in the gen-set control panel closed. I also installed the circuit board from a home alarm system panel inside the transfer switches to call an alarm monitoring company whenever the generator ran/exercised or had a trouble signal. I had a paper trail on performance and would get a call from the monitoring company whenever a generator failed to exercise at the expected time/date. There is much more sophisticated real time monitoring that can be done via The Internet these days but the old school POTS line dialup monitoring is very reliable. A great number of HVAC companies of various skill levels have gotten into the home generator market and are selling service contracts to mind them. I don't know what area of the country you're in but there should be more than one generator service outfit in your area.
TDD
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