I have a Briggs and Straton generator from Home Depot which is supposed
to contain a Generac unit. The guys at Home Depot told me that during
the bad hurricane season, cheap generators came in with Honda engines
and Generac units. I was told by a Honda dealer to look for this as
the Generac generating part is reliable. Consumer report had a "best
buy" on similar unit. I used it twice this year but not in cold months
although I did test start in January. Noisy but does the job. I bought
the generator in January and it came with 30W oil with warning to use
lower viscosity, multiweight if temp below 40 F. If this is your
situation, go immediately to multigrade. In my case, first oil change
was after 5 hours and 25 hours for subsequent ones. Honda guy also
told me to stay away from el cheapo brands like Coleman and Sears may
use Generac parts.
We are thinking about purchasing a 16KW Generac stand-by home
generator and want to be sure our investment will give us the
convenience we are looking for. It will start up automatically
periodically so we will be sure it's performing o. k., but someone told
us that they don't do well in the cold weather. We have frequent power
outages and they usually occur in bad weather of course.
Thanks for your time and prompt response to my inquiry.
Regardless of what unit you buy I will suggest you go for a good 5W30
synthetic. I have changed to Mobil 1 in all my air cooled engines such
as the snow blower. Ten year old B&S engine starts first pull every
time - for that reason I never bothered to order the electric start.
And of course keep the gasoline fresh. Don't depend on an additive such
The automatic standby units the OP is referring to are LP / Nat. gas so
fuel additives are not an issue. I'm not sure if a heater package is
available as a standard option on those units, but certainly any
qualified generator installer should be able to add a heater unit to it.
Since it's fully enclosed and sound insulated it shouldn't be that
difficult to keep the innards at a reasonable temperature above
freezing. Also second the recommendation on the Mobile 1 synthetic oil,
it's really good stuff.
The best way to make your generator start reliably in cold weather is to
keep it warm. A heater when power is available, starting it often during
power outages. If a storm is expected, don't wait for the power to go out to
warm up the generator. All along with good maintenance, of course.
A heater is a good "belt and suspenders" solution, but can be costly if you
run it all winter. I don't use a heater, but if there's bad (and cold)
weather or just the threat of it, I put a 75-watt trouble light in the
generator shed right next to the battery. Virtually all of that 75 watts
will have to get converted to heat before it leaves the shed. Keeping a
heater turned on all the time guarantees that you'll have lots of critters
setting up housekeeping in your generator enclosure, and when they need to
exercise their teeth, they'll find the hoses and wire insulation to be just
perfect for that purpose.
I have a manual-start generator that's sort of semi-permanently installed. I
have a manual transfer switch at the circuit breaker panel and a couple
large propane tanks. I didn't really like the idea of automatic start
because I want to be there while the generator is running. In the event of a
major disaster like a tornado or earthquake, I don't want the generator
starting up and putting out power while there's exposed wiring dangling out
from broken walls and ceilings. Also, during a thunderstorm, I prefer to
wait until the storm is over before running anything electrical. As a
practical matter though, one has to realize that electrical and building
codes, which can be obsessively fanatical about safety, permit
automatic-start generators, so the experts apparently consider them to be
I have some experience with generators from the home owner point of
view. We were out of power for 5 days in Westchester County, NY earlier
this year. Needles to say once the power came back on we had frozen
pipes. This was in January.
So I installed a Onan RS20000 20kw and a 200 amp ATS transfer switch
from Costco. The cost was $US 9,000 back in March 2006. I looked on the
Costco web site and the RS20000 is now $US 11,500 with a 200 amp ATS
switch. Don't panic yet. The newer unit I think is slightly better. It
has Aluminum housing instead of steel (which is what I have), and also
has a slightly larger GM engine instead of the Ford engine. The unit I
have is Propane. The cost of installation was about $US 11,000 for a
concrete pad, installation and rewiring of panels.
I noticed you are concered about cold start. I have not been through a
winter yet so I have not got that experience. What I can tell you is
that the Onan I have has a recirulation heater plummed into the coolant
circuit. This is always on (thermostat controlled) and keeps the engine
warm and is powered by mains power form your home. This allows for a 5
second crank and start to 1,800rpm. The generator goes "on-line" within
20 seconds of power failure. The battery is also constantly been topped
up by commercial mains power so you do not have a flat battery.
I did have some issues with the generator when it first showed up. It
was missing some hinges. I called Costco and they got hold of Cummins
Oregon where I think the generators are supplied from. I was expecing
some hassle between Costco, Cummins Oregon and CUmmmins New York as to
who would pay for the fix. As it turned out I had a guy come out from
Cummins Metro Power New York to come and fix it. One trip to see what
was wrong, and one trip to actuall fix it. Both free of charge and
within 7 days of my initial phone call. No hassles. I was impressed. I
also had Cummins Metropower come for an intial turn on. This was $US
700. The guy who came out took about four hours checking everything.
Safety and installation. I liked him polite and knew what he was doing.
He also tuned the parameters of the generator using his LapTop PC.
Aparently there are about 400 odd parameters that you can tweek on the
generator control panel dependent on needs. For example damping, speed
control, phase lead lag etc. He said that sometime oscsilations can
build up and some customers lights may "wobble". The parameter tuning
can fix all this. My set up was perfect with the default parameters.
I have about 2.8 hours on the clock now and so far no trouble. Starts
on a test every two weeks automatically. One tip is with all this keep
warm stuff (heaters etc) and your generator outside, mice, and rodents
like the housing. A heated house! So the Cummins guy recomened that I
put some wire mesh to screen out any gaps in the housing.
The generator is sufficient to power some central air, but not all of
Good luck and I hope this has been of some help.
Warmest regards, Mike.
11500 for the unit, 11,000 to have it installed and 700 for the
manufacturer to come and final tune it?
That's a lot of money for a unit but my thinking is that the manufacturer
should not have charged 700 to tune it after installation. If a unit can't
leave the factory in perfect shape and peaked then the price of tuning after
installation should be in the selling price.
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