PDA

View Full Version : Portable Generator for < $1000.



joeha
08-07-2008, 07:57 PM
Greeting,

Just got my power back after 3 days without. Somebody please recommend a good portable generator. I'm looking for the best engine and the most watts that $1000 will buy me. In the past when the power went out, it only lasted a hour or two. Now the power company is dragging it out longer. I can live without a inverter, but I sure would like to be able to run my gas furnace. I lost power last January from a Thunderstorm in the middle of a Chicago winter. Maybe there is something to this "Global Warming" because it seems that all we ever get now are violent T-Storms. Thanks in advance for your help.

Joe

P.S. It seems that Honda is the choice of engine for many manufact's..

Peter Malcolm Jardine
08-07-2008, 08:01 PM
The reason generators differ so much in price is how rugged the generator portion is.... If you can find a used honda of 2500 watts or more, that's a good choice. The cheap chinese ones, coleman, etc... are pretty light in the generator area, and will not last if you are using them at over half capacity. They burn up usually. On the other hand, if you are using them lightly, for small periods, no biggie.... Personally, I would look for the Honda used... and get as big as you can afford. End of problem.

joeha
08-07-2008, 08:10 PM
Are the newer Honda models worth looking at? I like to buy new. Again thanks in advance for your help.

Joe

Ps What about diesel?

pila
08-07-2008, 09:19 PM
It's pretty hard to beat a Honda powered generator. Getting it started when you really need it is a factor.
When you get one, don't forget to add some Stabil to the fuel tank for storage periods. I made the mistake of not doing that a few years ago, and had to remove & clean the carb, which adds to the power failure problem!:) The other idea which helps is to run the thing after the power comes back on, with the fuel valve off, until it quits, and the carb is empty.

PatCox
08-07-2008, 09:28 PM
The word now among boaters is that you can't store ethanol mixed gasoline for any length of time, and if you leave it in a generator or an outboard thats not used a lot, it wreaks havoc, so cruising people, who only use a portable occasionally, go to the trouble of going to an airfield where the aviation gas has no ethanol in it, and no problems with that.

Kaa
08-07-2008, 09:46 PM
The word now among boaters is that you can't store ethanol mixed gasoline for any length of time, and if you leave it in a generator or an outboard thats not used a lot, it wreaks havoc, so cruising people, who only use a portable occasionally, go to the trouble of going to an airfield where the aviation gas has no ethanol in it, and no problems with that.

Useful information:

http://www.evinrude-parts.com/boat_ethanol_danger_precaution.html

Kaa

pila
08-07-2008, 10:03 PM
Avgas doesn't have ethanol, but it has lead. (100 octane low-lead) is the only common avgas available. It works great in small engines, but the lead can leave deposits in the carb bowl if the fuel dries out in storage. So the Stabil additive and draining the carb are still a safe way to insure the thing will run when you need it.
Small engines start better on avgas too. It's more $ than auto gas of course, like $5.89 a gallon here, and much more in some places.

JimM
08-07-2008, 10:14 PM
Please, do not connect a genorator to anything in your home including your gas heater without installing a transfer switch that disconnects your home from the power grid or disconecting the appliance from your household wiring. Lineman have been killed when they thought a lines was dead but someone had a generator powering devices in their house without disconecting the device or house from the grid. Check with an electrition or your local utility to find out how to use your generator safely.

Wayne Jeffers
08-07-2008, 10:46 PM
I recently bought a Champion Model C46540, 4000 peak watts, 3500 continuous for when the power goes off at home. $300 at Tractor Supply Company. $400 and up most other places. I spent another $50 or so for the wheel kit from Cabelas.

29 amps at 120 volts, 14.5 at 240. Enough to run the furnace blower, refrigerator, and a few other essentials. It is not as quiet as a Honda or Yamaha, but much less noisy than the typical construction site generator.

They’re very popular with folks who camp in an RV in remote places. Google the model number and you should find a lot of info on them. I won't promise that it will last as long as a Honda or Yamaha, but they have a good reputation for a small fraction of the cost.

Of course, if you really want to do it right, there's always the Onan diesel or there's a company that sells Yamaha generators converted to run on LP. (Never worry about stale fuel!)

Wayne

jack grebe
08-08-2008, 06:42 AM
Of course, if you really want to do it right, there's always the Onan diesel or there's a company that sells Yamaha generators converted to run on LP. (Never worry about stale fuel!)

Wayne
I feel that LP is the way to go also. Onan makes propane gensets
and have a great rep for long lasting durability. Generac is another.
I personally would look @ generators built for the RV industry as
their A/C is much cleaner and would not be as likely to hurt any
sensitive electronics that may be used. Also, RV gensets are a lot
more quiet than your run of the mill big box generator

Larks
08-08-2008, 06:53 AM
I don't know what prices are like in the States but I bought one of these:
http://www.tradetools.com.au/ProdView.aspx?popup=1&Category=SXG30D1&Product=DH5500CL
for building and have flogged it unmercifully. I think it is just a supplier branded Chinese import but it was cheap and has proven to be extremely durable, easy to start (I only bought a pull start) and powerful enoughto run all the power tools we could use. I now have it in the shed for when the power cuts out at home so that I still have a fridge, water pump, sewage system and enough lighting to keep the place comfortable.

The bottom line being that if it's just for power back up don't splash out on a brand, this sort of genny is as good as you'll need.

Tylerdurden
08-08-2008, 07:23 AM
I don't think you can do a decent job for under a grand. The cheapies are okay for a short while but they run at over 3k RPM and don't last.
They will not start when you most need them unless you drain the bowl on the carb and run it until dry every use.

Look for a slow speed deisel if you really need decent reliable power.
The other option is a good inverter (Outback) and a battery bank as you main emergency source with a genny to charge the bank for short periods.

If you are serious about standby power and reliability for the shortest buck an LP powered rig is a must if you go the cheap route. LP lasts forever and burns clean so there is a better chance it will work when needed. With a #125 gallon tank it will carry you through most emergency's without the danger of refueling.

Bill R
08-08-2008, 07:51 AM
I have a Porter-Cable 3250W portable I take to job sites with a Honda GX engine. Takes tremendous abuse and keeps coming back for more. My only complaint is the small gas tank, but for short outages it is fine, and has a really small footprint.

Generator #2 is a 5250W commercial Porter-Cable with a Briggs and Stratton engine. Loud as hell, but rugged and gives 12+ hour runtime at full load.

Generator #3 is a 4000W Briggs and Stratton badged unit from one of the Borg stores. Very quiet, very clean power, 10-12 hours per tank of fuel at full load. Can't testify as to its long term reliability since we haven't had it that long. My counterparts in the company around new england have a few of these that see fairly frequent use, and nothing but good reports so far.

My promotions vehicles also each have a 1000W Robin suitcase style generator in them. Dunno about them, as I don't use them much. Very quiet though. Never had one come back to me for repair in the 4 years we have had them.

All of the above were under $1K

All of the gas generators I am responsible for get their fuel changed quarterly, and the fuel is mixed with stabilizer, so I can't testify as to the long term effects of the fuel storage issues. They also all get exercised at least once a month for a while under load.

TD is correct above though- a permanent LP installation is the way to go if you can squeeze the money. Best homeowner bang for the buck. I am even installing these at some of my smaller transmitter sites. Auto exercise, auto transfer. You don't need to think about it. I don't have one at my house yet, although it is on the short list...

I deal with generators at work ranging from 1000W gas suitcase types to permanently installed 100,000W diesel units.

Tom Wilkinson
08-08-2008, 08:02 AM
I don't think you can do a decent job for under a grand. The cheapies are okay for a short while but they run at over 3k RPM and don't last.
They will not start when you most need them unless you drain the bowl on the carb and run it until dry every use.

Look for a slow speed deisel if you really need decent reliable power.
The other option is a good inverter (Outback) and a battery bank as you main emergency source with a genny to charge the bank for short periods.

If you are serious about standby power and reliability for the shortest buck an LP powered rig is a must if you go the cheap route. LP lasts forever and burns clean so there is a better chance it will work when needed. With a #125 gallon tank it will carry you through most emergency's without the danger of refueling.


How cheaply can an LP powered rig be had. I don' t have squat for emergency power requirements, in fact I may just go for a couple marine battery's and an inverter, (enough to keep the heat working) but a small lp genset would be nice.

Tylerdurden
08-08-2008, 08:26 AM
How cheaply can an LP powered rig be had. I don' t have squat for emergency power requirements, in fact I may just go for a couple marine battery's and an inverter, (enough to keep the heat working) but a small lp genset would be nice.

Check the norther website. That and most small engine gennys can be converted as Briggs an Techumseh sell conversion kits. You will find most radio remote sites use LP because it can sit so long.

Figure your total load and double it, taking into account motor starting currents. I run a 3k inverter with 6 golf car batteries with a 10k watt genny on LP for charging. It runs the fridge for short periods, the furnace and radios. I stage all my usage to keep the loads down and not tax the system. All lighting used is LED and if using the HF rig for comms I run the lowest power needed.
I am in process of dumping most of it as I am going to sail this winter. The genny is gone but I still have one 3k inverter to get rid off. I am thinking of holding on to it as if things get worse it will be like gold for barter or as a back up to the one on the boat.
I have a 10k gas genny with a 30 gallon transport tank left. It has about fifty total hours and needs cleaning and a tune up but if you need one cheap I can let it go for same. It has a techumsuh which LP conversion is available. I just never got around to it as I wanted to be multi fuel .

joeha
08-08-2008, 06:43 PM
Thanks for all the info. This is just the kind of direction I was looking for. Again thanks.

Joe

Bill R
08-09-2008, 05:44 AM
Word of caution tho- Don't oversize your genset by too much They work best under a fairly heavy load. TD's advice was good- figure your constant load, not peak load.

I have an office/studio location that is essentially a small house- 2 bath, heat, kitchen, etc. Put in a 15Kw LP unit a couple years ago. More than enough- even handles the AC.

Tylerdurden
08-09-2008, 06:09 AM
Thanks Bill, I think I confused because I was writing on running my inverter. I try an use the genny for charging, running the welder and such.

Lew Barrett
08-09-2008, 10:56 AM
I f you still feel like all you need is a little one, here's another vote for Honda 2K. I've had mine for years. It live ignored for long periods of times until needed, and then starts on the first or second pull. I treat it like a lawn mower, and have had the same seemingly endless service from it.

Can't do better. Two K is not a lot of power, but it delivers every watt of that, and goes a really long way when you need 11 amps and there's no other juice in sight.

Bill R
08-09-2008, 04:18 PM
Also, a note on the small Honda engines. They come in 2 designations, GX and GC. Make sure the engine is a GX designation. These are the commercial/industrial versions- metal fittings, fuel shutoff valves, etc. vs plastic. The GC engines are aimed at the non-commercial homeowner market. I have Honda engines wiof both flavors, and the GX engines are run hard in harsh conditions. The GC engines are not, and I have had a lot of trouble with the GC's. Never, ever have had a problem with a GX engine.

Shang
08-09-2008, 09:07 PM
Uhhh... at the risk of getting Scotted for offering stuff on the forum, I've got a generator for sale:
It's a DeVilbliss 5350-Watt portable electric generator. New out of the box--mint condition, never used. Assembled and ready. $ 550 These original sold for over a thousand dollars. 7 gallon gas tank provides 10.4 hours at 1/2 load, 7 hours at full load. 120V AC Duplex outlet and 120/240 AC twistlock outlet, 20 AMP Circuit Breaker Protection.

If you'd like to talk about it say so and I'll post my phone number here.

joeha
08-10-2008, 05:25 PM
Thanks everybody for your replies. I went out an bought a Honda EP2500CX1, a base model in the economy line. It has the GX engine referenced above. No whistles or bells just 2 120v/20 amp outlets. I'll report back if I have problems.

Joe

PS. It was $855.99 out the door.