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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / picking a generator.
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dixie53
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 12:26
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I would like to get a portable generator, I dont have a use in mind so dont know a size. Needs to be portable and will be for general/ emergency use. Is there any brands that stand out or more importantly to stay away from? any features I need or do not need. I know its a very general question but like I said I dont have a use for it, its just "in case"

frankpaige
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 12:48
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Uses? When I started the cabin build, I went with the Harbor Freight one. I know I will hear all kinds of opinions. It served me well on the build.
After the build, it was too heavy to move, I am 72.
I only needed a generator for the microwave and coffee pot. I bought the Honda 2200.
If you never have to move it and really only have it for " in case". Go inexpensive. You might find a used one on marketplace that is a great buy.
Have fun

Ptomaine
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 13:29
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Without knowing what you plan on running, it is hard to give a good answer. 1000w will power your lights, TV, and recharge you phone & cordless power tools. 2000w will power a small refrigerator, coffee pot or a simple power saw; it is really too small to run a heavy duty saw or miter saw. I wouldn't want to run an air compressor on anything less than 3500w.

The small generator I use almost daily for lights/recharging is a 1000w Honda. When I need to run my power tools, I have a 4000w WEN that I purchased for $200. It is reasonably quiet, it starts easily, and it has been trouble free for three summers of occasional construction use.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 15:52 - Edited by: paulz
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'Portable' can mean hand carry or on wheels. I have some that I carry with one hand, some that take both hands and some grunt, some on wheels. The more they put out the less portable. If you're planning emergency use for several things (lights, pump, communications), you're likely looking at one on wheels.

As far as brands I have everything from Generac to Honda to Chinese knock offs. The Hondas seem to be the best.

willywilly2020
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 16:55
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This summer I had my hands on a handful of generators. Older Honda 2200W (it's held up over the years, but you really can't run two saws at a time and it shorted out all the time). New Ryobi 2200W - just awful, struggled to start regularly, I returned it. New Craftsman 2300W, loved this generator, it ran with a saw, planer, and a shop vac well, plus it had the 240v option.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 16:56
Reply 


You really need to define what the biggest load/device you want/need to power up will be.

PA_Bound
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 19:23
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Not to sound flippant, but to provide a well thought out answer requires more detail than what you have provided. For general use around the cabin, you really can't do better than a 2000w Honda or Yamaha. 2000w will get you about 15A, equal to a typical outlets and lighting circuit in your home. But your wallet may choke when it sees the price, especially as compared to others. One drawback to these is that, for higher inrush amperage devices like big saws, compressors, etc., repetitive use of these devices on a smaller generator I don't think is good for either as the generator often has to rev up to meet the load. This dogs the device and stresses the generator. If this is truly "just in case" I would look at something in the 3200W range of a lesser brand. Twice the power for less than half the cost.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 6 Jan 2021 19:32
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I would say, not knowing your loads, in an emergency, things like a fridge is handy to keep running, charging phones, laptops and lights plus other comforts.

I'm a Honda guy, I say get the Honda EU2200i, if you need a bit more, Honda EU3000i, there is cheaper units out there, but none better, not even close. Well, Yamaha is right there next to Honda.

Caution on knock offs or those Westinghouse units etc, no parts, I dont care what they tell you.

I was given a nice Yamaha powered 2000 watt inverter generator sold by Costco, nice unit, had all the phone numbers for service, email etc. I could never get a hold of a single person on phone or online.

I needed carb parts. Thankfully, the Yamaha engine was the saving grace. I search far and wide to locate the model of the Yamaha engine and went to a Yamaha website and bought the parts I needed to fix it. It was called A-I Power 2000, and for under $50, fixed it, but it was given to me. So its Honda, followed by Yamaha or none at all.

I have 3 Hondas, a EU6500is, and a pair of EU2000i
AI2000.jpg
AI2000.jpg


Brettny
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 08:41
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Quoting: gcrank1
You really need to define what the biggest load/device you want/need to power up will be.

Yes like GC says more info is needed. We can only tell you what works for us at this point.

I have a throw away $200 sportsman 1kw inverter. Quiet and 0.55gal will last 8hr+. I have 38hrs on mine now. I could buy 3-4 of these for the price of a single honda.

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 09:38
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As others may have suggested, i would err on the high side of what you think you'll need.

The Honda's are by the far the tried and true units, however they are $$$.

That little Sportsman for under $200 if you honestly don't think you'll need much in terms of power..just be sure to look around you and see what things fall under 1000 surge watts so you have a good understanding of what could and could not be run by it.

I shot high when i recently bought the Predator 3500...i paid around $750 at Harbor Freight. I went big because i could potentially need to power my 5th wheel if my grid power went out. But i also know that i'll be building and don't want to run cords all the way back to the pedestal.

As others have said, identify your need or potential needs and set a dollar amount. From there people can get you dialed in on good options!

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 09:45
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I bought a 1kw primarily for charging our battery bank. It pairs with a 30a charger on the end of a 100ft cord real nice. It's like having endless sun. It will run a standard 5cuft chest freezer too. This all goes back to one person's needs though.

We also have a 3700w 3200rpm screamer that we only use to pump water and run power tools. If it gets 3hrs use a year that's alot. I hate it, its loud and heavy even with wheels...but inpaid $50 for it.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 13:18
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I have a Large Champion 7200/9000 which I use to charge my Battery Bank, run a MIG or my 3HP Compressor. 5 Years old, helped power things for building my home, have always used Synthetic Oil and has been a Champion.

I had a King 3000W Inverter Generator. It lasted 3 years of Hard Use and even to the point of abuse a few times. The Inverter died as a result of a piece of equipment shorting out & backfeeding. This thing has a Min of 3000 hours on it.

Bought an Energizer Inverter Generator... lasted 2 weeks, spent 3 weeks in shop to get all electronics replaced under warranty, never worked right... piece of CRAP...

** Energizer and many other "LABELS" belong to Midland Power Inc. which is ONLY AN IMPORTER of contracted junk. NO MANUFACTURING like their main site suggests...
http://www.midlandpowerinc.com/

So I CAN Recommend Champion Generators as I have yet to have one let me down, the above big one is not my first. Honda & Yamaha are Known Good but a tad pricier.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 13:37 - Edited by: gcrank1
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Mid-summer last we bought the little Champion 2000 inv/gen (its really a 1600 cont/2K surge) and it was a game changer. It runs the 700w microwave (I like flame cooking but my wife like nuking and sometimes I dont want to be cooking too), a toaster (I do like toast, well buttered, thank you), my std hand-held corded power tools, the ac bat charger (on and charging the bat-bank whenever the gen runs).
Within its wattage limits it is a dandy and 1/2(?) the price of the little Honda. Frugal on gas, weighs about what a med loaded suitcase does and very quiet too.
If I need more I have a pull start 2K and an elec start 5K unit, thinking now about getting rid of the 2K; ie, iffn I need more than Lil' Champ I may as well go with the elec start 5K. Of course I have several 'levels' of bat-pacs and banks, solar panels and lighting.....redundancy seems to be an affliction for me.

dixie53
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 13:55
Reply 


Thanks for all the reply's, I know the question is vague but I really dont know what my uses will be, with the way the world is now i just think it would be a good thing to have in case. I think im not looking for advice of what to get but what to stay away from, such as brands or to small to run much..

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 14:08
Reply 


Every few months homedepot has sales on generators. I suggest you pick a few from many dif manufacturers and watch the price over the next few months.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 15:46
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
I have a throw away $200 sportsman 1kw inverter. Quiet and 0.55gal will last 8hr+. I have 38hrs on mine now. I could buy 3-4 of these for the price of a single honda.


True, but when will it fail? At the cabin in middle of camping, building? I would rather have one good one that a bunch with no parts or support network at all.

I'm running my original Honda EU2000i I bought way back in about 08, many hours on I t.

But I do understand those who don't want to spend that much too. I bought my new one for $950, I bought another with 150 hours for $600. So craigslist after big power outages, storms when people buy them, use them, and sell cheap when they are done.

My big EU6500is retailed for $3995, got it out the door, shipped to me for $3125. Just keep looking and be vigilante.
Really, the worst time to buy a generator is when you need it the most (storms etc). Most will be gone, prices super high or selection very slim.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 16:59
Reply 


Everything fails. When and how much money you spent on it make it a sour problem.

No one sells honda generators for cheap here. I haven't seen a eu2k for less than $700 and even that one looked like it was bouncing around the back of a truck for a few hundred thousand miles.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 18:08 - Edited by: NorthRick
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Quoting: dixie53
Thanks for all the reply's, I know the question is vague but I really dont know what my uses will be, with the way the world is now i just think it would be a good thing to have in case. I think im not looking for advice of what to get but what to stay away from, such as brands or to small to run much..



Get a Honda eu2000i. Done.

Irrigation Guy
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 18:43
Reply 


I have a Generac 2200i I think it cost about $550 +/-. I bought it 2 years ago when I started my build. It would run all my tools but the table saw would trip it under a big load. I also use it for work now and have had it bouncing around the bed of the truck and in the dirt and mud and it has held up to the abuse well. Not as quiet as the Honda but $400 less.

redneckpaul
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 19:01 - Edited by: redneckpaul
Reply 


I`ll throw in my .02, a cheap generator is better than no generator. My 3500 watt champion chinese has 4300 hours on it. It will still start with one pull. Had to replace the brushes at around 4000 hours and that was a $25 fix. It is now my spare. Bought another Champion 3800 last summer because I didn`t want to go into the winter with a gen that has 4000 hours on it. Yes you can get parts for them.
If all you can afford is a $500 get one.
I would recommend at least 3000 watts better to have more than not enough. You will figure out how many watts you need after a few months

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 19:10
Reply 


Quoting: redneckpaul
I would recommend at least 3000 watts better to have more than not enough.


^^ This... a 2000w generator will put out between 14 and 16 amps depending on the generator (yes Honda does 16amps). A 1000w microwave draws 14amps, better not have anything else running at the same time.

Fanman
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 22:02
Reply 


2000W @ 110V is 18A.

We used an older 600W Honda for some years at the cabin. It would do lights, barely run the refrigerator, forget the microwave or toaster oven. This past summer I bought a 2000W dual fuel Sportsman, I've only run it on propane so I don't have to worry about gas going bad or the carburetor gumming up. Only used it once for a day when the power went out, but it runs the fridge easily along with the lights, so far so good. Heading up to the cabin tomorrow night, no idea if the power is on or now, if not the generator is there.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2021 23:01
Reply 


Fwiw, Lil' Champ can be running on 'Eco' and I can have the LED lights on inside, the bat-charger on and start up the mw; I hear the gen load, then pick ip rpm's and it all runs without a hiccup, the lights dont even dim.
The toaster is just resistance heat, no spike, so even less impact on the gen. I certainly dont try running toaster and mw at the same time. That is no big deal.
I suspect it would run a coffee maker similarly but I like making stovetop vintage perk or pour-through.
I have tested it out on my old window 5000btu air cond., from sitting I have to get the fan spooled up and gently coax the compressor on or it trips the built in breaker. Once running it runs fine. Imo that is pretty good performance for it's size/rating. Compared to the bigger is better idea Ive found the bigger is not cost effective for light use much like using too much inverter in a solar elec system.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2021 00:04
Reply 


2000w@ 120v is 16.66A (16.7A) 120vac is the standard set by NEC in 1984.

Honda 2000 is rated for 13.3 continuous amps (sorry I thought it was 16 continuous but it is not.)

The HF Predator 2000 is also rated for 13.3 continuous amps.

These are both rated for a peak of 16.7A

Pretty sure every other 2000w generator will follow suit.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 08:49 - Edited by: paulz
Reply 


Mostly related..

I'm not certain if some, most or all generators produce a pure sine wave. And some of us are using generators to charge batteries. And some chargers don't work properly on modified sine waves. I have seen this myself using chargers with my modified sine wave inverter.

If there is a way to tell what sine wave a generator is putting out, I'd like to know.

SCSJeff
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 09:20 - Edited by: SCSJeff
Reply 


paulz,

To my knowledge all "Inverter" style generators put a pure Sine Wave and all others put out a modified sine wave (user manuals will advertise pure sine wave, if it has it).

However, I've also read that the standard generators still put out a "cleaner" sine wave than a mod sine wave inverter. My understanding is that a mod sine wave inverter is actually putting out a "square" wave. I assume that's why I don't hear of more electronics/motor problems with a generator as opposed to mod sine wave inverters???

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 10:13
Reply 


Paul what was your battery charger doing wrong when useing it on a non inverter generator?

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 10:34
Reply 


Looks like they make a dingus to turn a computer screen into an oscilloscope using the USB port, for about $30. Or, some say you can plug an electric motor into grid 120 and then MSW stuff and hear the difference. I'm going to try that..

I have run several battery chargers off 3 (of my 6!) generators and my one MSW inverter with mixed results. What I noticed recently is my Milwaukee 18v charger, which does both Li and non Li (NiCad?) , on the inverter charges the non Li battery quickly, but the Li battery never gets all 4 lights or the green charge button. I brought it home to grid power and it did charge completely.

I have tried several 6-10a car battery chargers on non-inverter generators to charge car batteries, some worked, some wouldn't turn on, and I think one fried. But it's been too long to remember the exact circumstances. I will certainly be more aware next time I try.

The generator I use most for small loads is an old Honda 900w (not a suitcase). I have the manual at the cabin, not sure if it's inverter. It does have an 'economy' switch that lowers the RPMS.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 14:49
Reply 


The inverter generators take the question out of play, they work for everything within the load capacity; ie, if they have 15amp outlets dont load with 20amp+ load.
Ime typical inexpensive box window fans will run slow and growl on msw inverters. That makes for a cheap, easy test for output type and compatibility.
Typical older gen's that are not psw are also fluctuating voltage related to rpms. Put a meter on and see it. Some devices are voltage sensitive.

Fanman
Member
# Posted: 10 Jan 2021 18:36
Reply 


Quoting: SCSJeff
To my knowledge all "Inverter" style generators put a pure Sine Wave and all others put out a modified sine wave (user manuals will advertise pure sine wave, if it has it).

However, I've also read that the standard generators still put out a "cleaner" sine wave than a mod sine wave inverter. My understanding is that a mod sine wave inverter is actually putting out a "square" wave.


I think it's the other way around, somebody pleas correct me if I'm wrong... a standard (non inverter) generator will put out a true sine wave, since that's what a rotating coil in a magnetic field puts out. Inverter generators, depending on how they're designed, can put out a square wave (easiest to create from a hardware standpoint), a modified sine wave (a trapezoid shaped wave a a chopped wave), or a true sine wave.

But... in a traditional generator the AC frequency may vary from the specified 60hz as the generator speed changes according to load before the governor can catch up. An inverter generator will hold steady at 60hz, but the voltage may dip before the generator can speed up to compensate.

No power at the cabin this weekend, found a tree down across the lines. The new Sportsman generator did just fine running lights, stereo, toaster oven, and battery chargers.

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