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Thread: Generac Portable Generator

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    DIY Senior Member rockycmt's Avatar
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    Default Generac Portable Generator

    I am looking to buy a portable generator for my house. Just to run a few things if we have an outage. Fridge/tv/few lamps. Looking to buy a 5000w generac. I see that they are a popular whole house type model. Do they make good engines? Is it up there with briggs and honda... Do they make avail parts like filters, plugs, etc?

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    check out this site before you buy

    http://www.generac.com/Portables/Portable_Safety_Tips/

  3. #3

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    In order to properly size the generator to your needs, you need to determine your requirements. While it's understandable to run the refrigerator and the family room, wouldn't it also be nice to run the heat, DHW and if you have a well, the well pump.

    If your DHW is an electric source, a 5Kw generator will not be large enough as the DHW heater will consume 5Kw by itself.

    Also, you will need a generator transfer station. This is the safest way to protect yourself and those working on the wires near your house. When done right, a generator is a blessing during a crisis. When done wrong, it can be deadly.

    One last thing, good luck finding a generator and transfer box right now. 10/4 cable has been hard to find since the last hurricane.

  4. #4
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockycmt View Post
    Do they make good engines? Is it up there with briggs and honda...
    Briggs and Honda are night and day. As in crap and chocolate mousse.

    In my experience, Generac has come a long way. They used to have a terrible reputation, but the past few years they have really come around in quality and service.

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    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    I fix many portables as well as much larger units.

    Generac's are pretty spotty on quality and design......Some are fine and some are pretty poor. Larger units are very poorly engineered in many areas.

    I repaired a bunch of Generac portables in the last storm we had and most had the same problem. Failed voltage regulator and one had an idle control board failure. The replacemnt regulators were labeled as Briggs parts as was the idle board...

    When we try to find parts for some models.....the engines are Briggs.....and some of the other parts are Briggs....the rest is cobbled together by Generac.....


    I have a shop full of portables again as we got slammed in my area with a snow storm and power is still out in many areas. Trees and branches did all the damage.

    I was lucky...my next door neighbor was not.....His service was taken down off the house by a heavy branch as it came down. He had an old clunker of a generator and it crapped out after a few hours. I offered him my Honda.....It is at least 10 years old and I've used it a zillion times, It ran for 3 days straight for him and kept his heat going........

    We sell a kit of Briggs units and they are pretty good. We sold every 5kw portable unit we had on Monday....We sell a lot of larger permanent standby automatic units for homes as well. My neighbor bought a 5kw Briggs.....the last one we had.

    When you buy a generator there are a lot of issues that come with it and you can't just leave it laying in a corner for months or years and expect it to work in an emergency....or power failure....It needs to be looked after and maintained and used properly and safely......
    Last edited by Rich B; 11-03-2011 at 06:23 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Rich, I guess I got lucky with my Generac 4700XL that I bought prior to the Y2K fiasko. I bought in in the Fall of 1999, tested it, but of course never needed it. I installed a transfer panel also to prepare for the big event of 2000 and the Power Grid going down. After finding it was not needed, I drained the tank, pickled the engine, and left in in my shed for several years. Then one summer a few years ago, we had a big blackout on the East Coast. Dragged the Generac out, fueled it up, and it started up very easily. Running the house lights, fridge, TV's, fans and all was great for the about 10 hour blackout. I checked it again recently, and it also started up easily. I never got to need it for long periods, so I have no idea how it would hold up, but I'm happy with mine as it is.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Bob...you did what most people don't....you drained the fuel and protected the engine. Gummed up carburetors and stale fuel is pretty common.

    Among the Generacs I repaired during the last storm was a 5500XL and 3 6500's. All 4 had blown voltage regulators and 1 had the bad control board that controls idle as well as output.

    I test these units by externally applying DC voltage to the brushes.....If I can get normal AC output I know the rotor and stator are good and than get the other parts for it. Voltage regulators go bad ALL the time on generators of all sizes....I change them a lot.

    We have a fleet of trailer mounted units. From 20KW up to 400KW......I built some of them....in the early years of the company I work for......20 years....

    We tie them in all the time ....

  8. #8
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich B View Post
    Bob...you did what most people don't....you drained the fuel and protected the engine. Gummed up carburetors and stale fuel is pretty common.
    I recently discovered SEAFOAM, and people tell me it is great stuff ...

    http://www.seafoamsales.com/products.html
    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people." --Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho View Post
    I recently discovered SEAFOAM, and people tell me it is great stuff ...

    http://www.seafoamsales.com/products.html
    In reality , How long does gasoline last in storage ?

    It looks like a Natural Gas Generator is the way to go, for a whole house unit.

    Depends on where you live.


    Hook an old school generator to that old school bicycle and have your spouse petal, While you watch TV.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    In reality , How long does gasoline last in storage ?

    It looks like a Natural Gas Generator is the way to go, for a whole house unit.

    Depends on where you live.


    Hook an old school generator to that old school bicycle and have your spouse petal, While you watch TV.
    As far as Gasoline longevity, for the past 5 or so years I have been using a product called STA-BIL, or something like that that keeps the gasoline from going stale and forming gum for one year at normal dose or 2 years at double dose. In my experience, it really does work. I have forgotten in the past sometimes to drain the fuel in my Karschak Pressure washer (left in my shed, all water drained/flushed out of pump and hose) and the next season, I had to remove the carburetor bowl, clean it and the jet out before I could use it again. since I started using the product, that does not happen. But on the Generator, when I have no idea when I will use it next, hopefully never, I drain the fuel from the tank and run the carb empty, pull the plug, put a little oil in and turn the engine over a few revs, yadda yadda.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    5,000 watts is NOT a "whole house generator". IT will run a refrigerator, freezer, a sump pump, and a gas furnace, along with some light bulbs, but that is about all.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  12. #12
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Speedy Petey;318791]Briggs and Honda are night and day. As in crap and chocolate mousse.

    Thats the American spirit! Close another factory in wisconsin employing 6,000 people so those little Chinese can make the so called Japanese "honda's'. For a bowl of rice a day. And double the price. And triple it after every US storm.

    The Honda is rat poison to our country and the Briggs is your saviour.

    In my experience, Generac has come a long way. They used to have a terrible reputation, but the past few years they have really come around in quality and service.
    And paying wages a human can live on. Which money STAYS in the USA.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 11-04-2011 at 10:55 AM.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    I unloaded 20- 5KW Briggs portables today....

    And 5 larger home standby units....also Briggs.....

    We have more home standby units on the way.....They come with ATS.....Automatic Transfer Switches....

    My best friend, a Dentist wishes he had one as he has had no power since last saturday and is usuing a little 3500 watt Made in China unit he got from us......one that actually has worked!

    We bought a full cargo box direct from China a number of years ago. Various small generators. From 1500 up to 6500 and some diesels. One of the worst business decisions ever made where I work. We just wanted to be able to sell someone something comparable to the cheap stuff out there when people brought in their broken small units.....

    The failure rate on the ones we bought the most.....3500's is nearly 100%......We have spent endless time and energy dealing with this junk.

    I hate Made in China but we can hardly escape it.

    I fix welders, name brand machines....Miller and Lincoln......I find more and more components inside Miller machines labeled Made in China......Miller was a typical all american family business started in the 1920's......Now they are owned by a parent company and must have started buying components offshore. They generally used American parts and made a good deal of their own parts themselves......and wound their own coils and built their own PC boards.....Now stuff says Made in China.....I really hate to see that but it is a sign of the times......

  14. #14
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Made in China and Made in Japan are very far apart in quality.

    Japan makes better Electronics stuff then we do.

    China will never come close, When it comes to Electronics.

    Cheap Stamped out guns and firecrackers are what China does best.

    Of coarse they make all of that fine China.

    I have some Fine China in my China Cabinet.


    Honda and all the rest are not what they once were.


    Made in America is getting closer, Because their workers are moving here...


    They are good people.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

  15. #15

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    I drain my tank and carb after each use. It was 5 years since my generator was last started (last Saturday) and it started on the first pull. I thought for sure that it would take a few pulls. I was caught off guard.

    Gasoline with 10% to 15% ethanol doesn't last for long. It begins to separate after 90 days. If a vehicle (motor) will sit for 3 to 6 months I would use a stabilizer (Sta-Bil, Seafoam or my favorite Star-Tron). For something like a generator that could sit for years before being pressed into service, I would drain all of the fuel.

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