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Posted: 6/14/2002 11:18:27 AM EDT
Have been considering buying a [url=http://www.generac-portables.com/products/generators/generator.cfm?ID=192]Generac 4000EXL[/url] generator. At about $730, seems to offer a lot of features for the money — electric start, pressurized lubrication system with spin-on oil filter, surge capability to over 6.5KW, 14 hours of run-time at half power, good-sized muffler, auto-idle, wheel kit and float charger included, 2-year warranty, etc.


I also looked at Honda and Yamaha, but couldn't find anything similar for less than double the price.

The somewhat smallish 4KW size isn't a problem for me, since it will be used only for powering a few essential appliances, lighting, battery charger, etc.

Anyone had any good or bad experiences with this brand? (Some models are also sold by Sears under the Craftsman brand)
Link Posted: 6/14/2002 11:40:52 AM EDT
I have a HD 6500 Watt Generac. Nice unit. I have used it very little, the most at a friend's camp to power air drills, etc. during a weekend construction project. Starts easy and runs smoothly. I think Generacs are one of the better units available.
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 8:38:17 PM EDT
(self-serving, completely inappropriate BTT)
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 8:43:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 9:14:06 PM EDT
Nearly all stand-by generators are OK.  However, some ARE better!  Main considerations are size and engine model.

Most people buy too small.

Be careful of wire size versus length!

Some of the smaller and cheaper units have VERY poor surge capabilities, poor voltage and/or frequency control.  Voltage control is a function of generator design for the most part.  Surge response is mostly rotating weight of the engine and generator but also influenced by generator and govenor quality.  Bigger horsepower per kw output ALWAYS works better.  FREQUENCY control is a sole function of the engine govenor, up to max load at least.  When running any AC induction motor (versus those universal types with brushes) frequency is MUCH MUCH more important than voltage!!!!!!  Refigerators, freezers and air conditioners are particularly vulnerable to frequency errors.  Small OVERFREQUENCY up to 62 cycles or so is generally tolerated OK.  ONE cycle UNDERFREQUENCY, 59 cps, can spell disaster pretty quickly for the motor.  A frequency indicator is imperative for these type loads.  A VERY good tach can do the same job.  3600 RPM = 60 cps.  3540 RPM = 59 cps.  As you can see, the RPM range is VERY narrow.  Need 60 cycles at max load, will have higher freq at light load.  Larger 4 pole generators that turn 1800 RPM are better but rather dear.

Waveform and "noise" considerations apply if running electronic or other very sensitive loads.  Strictly a generator design issue, mostly in the exciter.  Have seen some WINCO that are a mess in this area!!

Honda engines are excellent.  Newer OHV Briggs and several others are OK.  Electric start is a big plus.  Battery charger is kinda ho hum as they are cheap for external.  Long term trickle charge kills batteries.  Don't bother with garden tractor size batteries.  Move directly to largest/cheapest auto battery.  Save $$!

No load auto idle can be a real trouble maker!  Avoid its use if any MOTORS are connected.

PROPER connection to load(s) is extremely important.  Make sure you don't do anything dumb like two male plugs on a cord, failing to ground generator or failing to use DPDT swith to connect.  Backfeed into utility lines can kill a lineman, open you to criminal prosecution and HUGE civil action.  At the minimum, if caught, a punch in the nose from the lineman is likely and well deserved.

Engine fuel issues.  Diesel is best, although higher initial cost.  Gasoline OK.  Keep some Sta-Bil in the tank.  Change all gas at least yearly.  Propane is a PIA in many ways.  Avoid natural gas or propane fueled units.

Hope some of this helps.
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 9:30:32 PM EDT
I have been looking at emergency generators myself.  I have been seriously considering the Generac 8000 EXL and the transfer system for it.

If you are going to use the generator for more than just emergencies, then look at the diesel engine models.  The only problem with them is cost.  They are much more, but if you are going to use the generator very much, then the diesel engine will outlast the gas engine by 10x.  

I am really only looking for something to power my house after outages, so gas may do the trick.
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 9:58:05 PM EDT
Newer OHV Briggs and several others are OK.
View Quote

My understanding is that the Briggs OHV engines are made by Mitsubishi. The Generac "Nagano" OHVI engine is actually manufactured by Generac, and is also used in some of their more expensive pressure washers. (BTW, the portable power division of Generac was bought by Briggs, although they don't seem to be in any hurry to change over to B&S engines.)

Basically, I'm trying to find out why this particular model costs about half the price of a comparable Honda, Yamaha, Makita or Onan portable, yet still seems to have most of  the same features and construction quality. Either Generac is cutting corners somewhere, or everyone else is hideously overpriced.
Link Posted: 6/15/2002 10:35:15 PM EDT
OT: If you are going to use it for emergency power, remmber to put some fuel preservative in the gasoline. The oxygenated-gasoline formulations required by the US EPA, cuts into the long-term stability. I think Wal-Mart carries some that is good for 1 year. I think the best is PRI-G, the manufacturer claims their product will preserve gasoline for 5 years. I bought mine for Major Surplus & Survival([url] www.majorsurplusnsurvival.com[/url]), Gardena, Calif. You should check around locally.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 4:48:51 AM EDT
MickeyMouse, yous say propane is a PIA.  Can you elaborate?  I was actually considering propane over gasoline.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 5:17:14 AM EDT
Consumption rate on propane is high as it contains a lot less energy than gasoline.  Low temperatures can make starting VERY difficult.  In SHTF you can not replace your fuel, whereas gaoline can be scavenged for months.  Propane leaks are dangerous.  Engine life on propane can sometimes be a problem though not always.

Diesel is best, gasoline is next!
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 5:46:21 AM EDT
GREAT info here!

I have a Generac 4000 which I hadt to use after Gabrelle. Kept the freezer and TVs going with no problems. A buddy of mine had to restock his freezer at a cost of $350. That's $50 less than I paid for the used Generac.

I highly recommend running it with some load for 20 minutes at least every other month.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 6:33:30 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 6:46:25 AM EDT
Consumption rate on propane is high as it contains a lot less energy than gasoline.  Low temperatures can make starting VERY difficult.  In SHTF you can not replace your fuel, whereas gaoline can be scavenged for months.  Propane leaks are dangerous.  Engine life on propane can sometimes be a problem though not always.

Diesel is best, gasoline is next!
View Quote

OTOH, gasoline and especially diesel do not store effectively, i.e. lose their punch.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 9:34:41 AM EDT
Propane is still recommended quite a bit for stationary standby power applications, mostly because the fuel doesn't go bad even afters years of storage. Also, there's virtually no routine maintenance needed on most propane generators (except for the starting battery). With little need to "exercise" the generator every few months, you can pretty much keep it shrink-wrapped until you need it.

There may be a little less energy packed in a gallon of propane, but that's easily solved by choosing an adequately-sized tank. Same goes for fuel availability during an emergency — If you'd done your homework beforehand, you shouldn't [i]need[/i] to be out scrounging for gasoline! Also, propane is uniquely capable of operating other household appliances, such as heaters, stoves and refrigerators. With a little advance planning, it could make your entire home virtually impervious to utility outages.

My application will have the generator mounted in the bed of a gas-powered pickup, so propane and diesel fuels are out. At some point, I may plumb the generator into the truck's gas tank for longer run-time.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 10:13:27 AM EDT
My dad works on and sells all brands of generators.
Generacs are decent units, they do however have some proprietary engine components that you can only get from generac.

Propane conversions are available if down the road you want to have the ability to run it. Having a multi-fule generator is smart. Propane generators dirty the oil less as it is cleaner burning and carbons less butlike it was stated it is less effiecient.


1.) Keep it sheltered and out of the elements. We had a guy pick his up once and instead of carrying it or putting it on a dolly he ties a rope to the handle on the generator side and proceeds to DRAG it through the mud and water filling the generator vent holes with mud and water! What a Dumn @ss!

2.) Change the oil VERY frequently! 98% of generators are run at full throttle at all times unlike most other small engine equipment, this dirties the oil much quicker! Change it every 8hrs of run time! OIL IS CHEAPER THAN AN ENGINE! Doing this will also keep you more informed if it is low.

People are their own worst enemies with small powered equipment 95% of problems are owner induced.
My .02
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 10:44:02 AM EDT
I have a PP500T. The only thing I don't like is the noise.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 10:55:30 AM EDT
You can buy Xtra quiet muffs but they are pricey!
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 11:18:58 AM EDT
PROPER connection to load(s) is extremely important.  Make sure you don't do anything dumb like two male plugs on a cord, failing to ground generator or failing to use DPDT swith to connect.  Backfeed into utility lines can kill a lineman, open you to criminal prosecution and HUGE civil action.  At the minimum, if caught, a punch in the nose from the lineman is likely and well deserved.
View Quote

Do you advocate these things for supidproofing, or are there other safety concerns? I've used double-male 10ga cords to backfeed generator power into a 50a. 220v. welder circuit. If you know about the dangers of colliding line juice and generator juice, and no "unauthorized" personel will be effin' with the setup, I don't see a problem. Also, do you think the ground pin on your connecting cords tro house/earth ground is adequate, or do you have a separate ground path for your generator. If so, why?

When I was 16 and worked in a supermarket, we had a loss off ofsite power and the backup generator started, but no load switched on. After about an hour of tracing wires, we found the (very inconveninetly located) transfer switch. It was an electromagnetic (fully automatic) setup, and it seemed to have been set to operate manually only. We'd just had a generator inspection, and we figured the inspector had left it that way. It was a simple job to swap to generator power, but I must have had a half hour argument with my boss's boss's boss, the store manager, about how we WILL open the main breaker to offsite power and it WILL stay open until the generator is OFF. If I didn't wire the transfer and I can't proove it's set up not to allow the two to collide, then I won't take any chances. I also insisted we turn the generator off, turn off all of the load breakers, restart the generator, and add load one breaker every 5 seconds. You do NOT start a generator, no matter how big, with a whole store of load. So after much sweat and fear on the part of management that OSHA was going to crucify them for letting a 16yr old kill himself doing electrical work, we got power back and I got a big pat on the back for saving 100k + of frozen inventory.  Later, when we finally got a tech in to inspect the switch, he found a wiring problem that could have sent the generator into orbit in I'd left the main breaker closed. Safety is...
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 1:48:44 PM EDT
in my area of Michigan we have power outages several times a year due to severe weather.

My father has owned a generac 6500 watt model for a few years. He has absolutely no complaints with it.

That thing is quite sufficient for his needs.
It  easily powers his fridge, freezer,TV and water pump. All at the same time while he is  running the central air in the summer or heater in the winter.

[b]he highly recommends the electric start option as well[/b]

Link Posted: 6/16/2002 3:28:33 PM EDT
I just bought a Honda EU2000i this weekend. The thing I liked was that you can wire two of them together. They also use inverter technology for a even consistant sine wave. Good for computers. I got it for our 5th wheel. We can run all but the AC with this unit. It's small, light to haul around, and very quiet. With two together, we can run everything in the camper. For backup in the home, it would be under powered. Guess we'd have to retreat to the camper in a power outage.
Link Posted: 6/16/2002 5:17:30 PM EDT
[b]WX[/b], those inverter-based Hondas and Yamahas are just about the kewlest thing going in portable generators! Small size, light weight, capable of adjusting engine speed as the load varies, and "daisy chainable" — they have a lot of advantages. (Just [b]TRY[/b] to connect two conventional generators in parallel — I [b]DOUBLE DARE[/b] ya!) Inverter-generators are going to be the future trend for all brands and models, as soon as prices come down — and if fuel cell generators don't arrive first. (For the past year or so, Coleman has been fixing to introduce a 1KW model that runs on disposable hydrogen cylinders "any day now". It will be way too expensive for most applications, but within the next 10  years, who knows?)

[b]SorryOciffer[/b], if you're handy with a welder, I would imagine that a trip to Tractor Supply or a muffler shop would yield a large, inexpensive muffler that was more than up to the task. The trick is staying away from the specialized "factory replacements".

Link Posted: 6/16/2002 6:44:55 PM EDT
I guess I just HATE propane because it is overpriced, dangerous and a general pain.

Gas and diesel do NOT lose significant energy in storage.  They do "go bad" if ANY water is present and / or a stabilizer agent is not used.  A adequately sized tank for any fuel is a good idea.  Should you run out, gasoline of diesel are easily refilled.  In the event of MAJOR disaster, refill is likely - more than once.

Double male plug thing is based on several factors.  One, it is illegal.  Two it depends on the care and attention of one individual that knows the monster he has created.  Should another person mess with it, serious injury or death are far too likely.  Stupid proofing is important here.

Inverter type generator is very interesting - haven't seen one yet.  Eliminates the "noisy" output, poor frequency and voltage regulation as well.  Very interesting.

Synthetic crankcase oil is the cats meow for generators.  Stands up better to heat and is also more tolerant of long change intervals both under load and setting unused.  Engine exercise every month or two is for corrosion prevention, seal lubrication and to heat the oil in order to drive off water more than because of fuel type.

Machine DOES need protection form the elements.  A heater is also friendly to it in cool weather.  Really reduces engine wear, makes it easier to start.  BIG ISSUE is cooling.  If unit is mounted in enclosed area, even a garage, adequate cooling and combustioon air are a must!
Link Posted: 6/17/2002 10:05:51 AM EDT

I have the double plugged extension cord for connection to a 50 A 240 VAC emergency connection.  

Question: is there ANY chance of harmful electrical energy going upstream if the house breakers are tripped or switched "off"?

I plan to only use this is the event of a major and longer-term (+2-5 days) event, have the house breakers off, connect the generator, start it, warm it up, then and only then turn on the 2-3 breakers I need power to (refrig, freezer lights, etc.).

What do you think?


Link Posted: 6/17/2002 10:42:00 AM EDT
I have one of the Generac 4000XL models that I picked up in preparation for WhyTwoQue.  It has saved my butt at least twice when we have lost power.  It is easy to start and maintain.  It runs about ten to twelve hours on a tank.  I do not have a transfer system, but would like to wire that up one of these days.  I currently (pun intended) just run heavy-duty extension cords to my chest freezer, refrigerator and lights through partially open windows when I need it.  By the way, I paid about $100 more for my non-electric start model, w/o wheels, so it sounds like you are looking at a good deal.  Good luck!
Link Posted: 6/17/2002 11:26:23 AM EDT
I'm leaning toward the natural gas, installed, automatic units.


1)automatic kick-in  (don't have to worry about the wife having to work it)

2)wired to house - very safe for everyone

3)natural gas - gets piped to house, not storage tank or refills

4)could be run on propane IF the SHTF AND I really wanted to run a generator (neon [green]HELLO, COME ROB ME[/green] sign}
Link Posted: 6/17/2002 11:39:10 AM EDT

Safely Connect a Portable Generator To Your Home Without Rewiring.

Link Posted: 6/17/2002 12:38:18 PM EDT
Interesting link, [b]fight4yourrights[/b].

I would have some reservations about using natural gas as the generator fuel. At least in my part to the country, we have natural gas interruptions at least as often as power failures — and they often occur simultaneously.

Case in point: Our last major power failure was caused by a telephone repairman hitting a gas main. It immediately ignited, and within half an hour had burned through the underground power cable that serves our subdivision, knocking out power for about 12 hours. Fortunately, no one was injured.

About once a year, either a road or home construction crew ruptures a gas main within earshot of my house. Even if it doesn't  cause a fire that burns down any utility poles or underground wiring, the electricity is often shut off as a safety measure. In any kind of larger-scale accident or disaster, I can't image having reliable natural gas service after the power fails — and that's without even living in a earthquake/tornado/hurricane-prone area.

[b]MickeyMouse[/b], sounds like a padlock on the main breaker box (and nobody but yourself having a key) would pretty much eliminate the chances of backfeeding power into the utilities. Anyone smart enough to shoot firearms safely is probably capable of figuring out how to avoid electrocuting the lineman![;)]
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