Survival Generator FAQ

Discussion in 'Survival Articles' started by survivalmonkey, Oct 15, 2005.


  1. survivalmonkey

    survivalmonkey Monkey+++

    We have become so dependent on electrical power that many of us have or will be soon purchasing generators for standby power during emergencies. Selecting a generator is not complex, requiring the answer to two questions: What do I want to power with the generator, and what fuel do I want to use?

    • It is VERY easy to overload a generator. Motor loads in particular, such as water pumps, refrigerators, and air conditioning, consume large amounts of power and will either damage an undersized generator or be damaged themselves if the generator is of insufficient capacity. Fortunately this is easy to avoid. Generators are rated in watts or kilowatts (kW) and it is a fairly simple matter to determine the wattage of appliances to be powered by the generator. Appliances have a serial number plate attached to the rear or bottom with the voltage and amperagenecessary to run them. Multiply voltage times amperage to get the wattage necessary, then add 20% for the surge current necessary to get the motors up to speed. A few examples are: Refrigerators, from 100 to 12oo watts, oil or gas furnace 750 to 1000 watts, water pumps from 500 to 2000 watts, and TV/radio 300 watts. As you can see, this adds up quick and anything less than 5kW can run only one appliance at a time. As far as the generator itself goes, bigger is better.

    • The second consideration is fuel. Most portable generators use gasoline engines. This is fine for a unit, which must be portable, however, for a permanent installation; gasoline is not the best choice. Gasoline deteriorates rapidly in storage and is highly volatile, and the vapors are explosive. Diesel or natural gas/LP generator would better serve a permanent or semi-permanent installation. If you heat your home with oil or LP gas, then you have a ready fuel source for your generator. Home heating oil IS diesel fuel, and diesel engines are ideal for powering generators. Diesels have no throttle plate like a gas engine, and therefore are just about as efficient at 35% load as they are at full load, and will burn less fuel at part load. Diesels are heavier and more costly than gas engines, and it may take some looking to find a portable diesel generator. If you heat with LP gas, a conversion kit is available to convert a gasoline generator to run on LP. This is a less costly installation than a diesel rig, even though a gas engine is less efficient than a comparable diesel. Natural gas is a judgment call: Natural gas is inexhaustible supply UNLESS the gas service is out, which, depending on the nature of the emergency, may indeed occur. I will add that most of the commercial buildings that I serviced used natural gas generators, although the purpose of the generator was only to evacuate the building in the event of an emergency. YMMV. In any case, the opposite is true with engines: the smallest engine that will do the job is most efficient, and it is a balancing act between sufficient electrical power and engine efficiency.

    • The third alternative if you own a tractor is to use a PTO generator, driven by the tractor PTO. If you already own a tractor this is a valid choice, as you are buying the generator itself, not an engine/generator set. This is what I did; I live on a few acres and already had a diesel tractor. Photo below.

    survival-generator. It is essential that your generator maintain the 60 cycles that grid current uses. Electric motors are highly sensitive to current cycles and will fail catastrophically (as in burn out) if the current is cycling slowly. Cycles are a product of generator speed and should be monitored by oscilloscope or other meter.

    Installations vary from extension cords for a portable set to automatic startup and transfer switching. Most of us will be well served by a manual transfer switch. If you don't know what this is, then contact an electrician to install one. If you feed your electrical panel directly from the generator, you will back feed current thru the meter and energize the power company lines, possibly shocking and/or killing the utility workers! This is a VERY dangerous condition, so install or have installed, a transfer switch.

    Last, but perhaps most important, is that generator power may not be the entire answer to a utility outage. Alternate heat sources such as kerosene heaters will greatly reduce your dependence on electrical power, as will kerosene lamps and battery lanterns. The most efficient use of the generator is to load it to about 80% capacity, so if you can run the generator for an hour or so every 4 or 6 hours, you will greatly reduce fuel consumption and wear. Consider reducing generator load as much as practical prior to determining your need for a generator. Ops

    _________________________________________________

    Ops, I will add a little here, FWIW.


    Fuel choice: Operating cost on natural or LP gas is horrendous. Consumption of those gaseous fuels is quite large. In a cold climate, getting adequate LP gas evaporation is nearly impossible unless the engine is liquid fed. 100LB tanks just don't cut it. Gasoline stability is primarily affected by moisture. A little dry gas and yearly, or better, twice yearly drain & refill prevents most problems.

    Exercise: ALL generators need run periodically! Many units have an exercise timer that starts unit and lets it run for 30 min every 7 to 30 days. On non-automatic units, YOU are the exerciser!! Put it on your calendar!

    An annual oil change is mandatory. Use top quality full synthetic oil. It is the bee’s knees for air-cooled engines!

    Water-cooled engines are quieter, use far less fuel, last longer and cost MORE. 4 pole generators run half as fast (1800 RPM vs. 3600) resulting in less noise and wear.

    Unless your generator is very large - 20 or 30 KW - it is senseless to install a transfer switch that takes your 200-amp panel off city power and connects it to a 30-amp generator! 200 amp xfer switches are expensive, too! Better to install a 2-pole breaker in your existing panel slightly larger than your generator's capacity. Feed from that breaker to a transfer switch then to a sub panel. Move all your critical loads from your original panel such as well pump, furnace, alarm system, a TV or radio, minimal lighting etc. DO NOT put more load in the sub panel than the generator can operate!! This scheme prevents overloads and requires little on the part of wife or kids when the power fails. Start generator, throw transfer switch, enjoy. Clearly this is a more complex method but it is legal in all jurisdictions, very safe and all around great. Most commercial installations use this "emergency panel" scheme - for a reason.

    Domestic hot water: If your water heater is electric, consider that it requires 5 kw - then forget about connecting it, the cook stove or clothes dryer to the generator unless your pockets are deep!

    FREQUENCY: I can't stress this enough!! Motors are PICKY about frequency!! The power company maintains frequency to .01 cycle (Hertz for you kids). This MOST critical factor can be checked and monitored several ways. A "frequency meter" is really a COUNTER that compares your generator's frequency to a stable reference in the instrument. A counter will work as will certain VOM (volt ohm meters) such as a Fluke or Field Piece. Between $100 & $200 for a top quality VOM. Radio Shack also offers counters. A surplus reed type freq. meter is great if you can locate one. Foolproof to use, extremely reliable and inherently accurate. Military used lots of them. If you are really tight on $$, here is an expedient way to test frequency; Obtain two motor operated clocks with a sweep second hand. Test the clocks by setting to exact same time and running them on city power for a few days. If they are identical, fine. If not, toss the SLOW one and try again. Now to test generator. Connect one to generator and load it up. Connect second clock to city power. Exactly synchronize the second hands. Any difference after a period of time is the generator's frequency error! An error of 1/2 cycle is acceptable which is an error of 1 in 120 or 1 second in 2 min. or 10 seconds in 20 min of the units exercise time - all for $5.00 worth of flea market alarm clocks! To correct, adjust the engine governor. Engine faster, generator clock runs faster. Once properly set it will require little further attention. Easy isn't it?

    Voltage: Far less critical than many folks believe. A good VOM can test it (and many other things). Great SHTF tool if you go to the trouble to learn to use it. Generator voltage is controlled in many different ways. If it is not right, and you are SURE your meter is right, dig into the unit's service manual.

    Generator selection:

    Here is a link to a PDF page in the WW Grainger Catalog:

    Grainger Industrial Supply - MRO Products, Equipment & Tools Start on page 305.

    Look through the next 10 pages or so for great info on generators, transfer switches and accessories.

    Once you get into Grainger's catalog, there is a wealth of available information!!!! Fuel consumption rates, surge power ratings, weight, sound ratings etc. Far more information than I could post here. They have branches throughout the country and will sell to anyone. I do not work for them but find the information invaluable and they can provide what they have in the catalog. Read, study, learn!

    Surplus generators:

    Uncle Sam uses a lot of generators - and sometimes a few become available through surplus sales. The are generally of EXCELLENT quality and can be a real bargain IF you know what ones are suitable to use - and how.

    400 HZ or cycles: These were built for use with aircraft. Limited use for anything else. You can run heating elements with them or incandescent lights. Will NOT work with motors, refrigerators, freezers florescent lights, radios, clocks etc. Avoid.

    3 phase: Three-phase power differs from single-phase power. These generators CAN be used to power your home - you just need to know how.

    If you have some mechanical ability, surplus generators can be an unbelievable value!

    120/240 4-wire units work as - is. Use the center-tapped phase (two lines and neutral), ignore the 3rd phase leg. Output will be less than unit is rated. As a guide, divide the rating by 1.73. (15kw unit could supply 8.7 kw.) Some will do better, some worse. With a little ingenuity, it is possible to make use of the 3rd phase, automatically, for a 240-volt load like a water heater, well pump or domestic space heating and take advantage of that wasted capacity. Beware of that 3rd leg though - it is 208 to neutral and can ONLY be used for 240-volt load. ONLY.
    120/208 units (and Uncle used a LOT of these!!) These are nearly always 4 wire units. One is neutral, three are hot lines like above. Any ONE phase is 120 volts to neutral, 208 between any of the three. Almost all of your 240-volt stuff will hum along on 208 just fine.

    Rarely you will find a unit with no neutral available as it was used only for three phase loads. If the thing is 120/208, the N connection is in the junction box as it is the star of the three windings. For 120/240 units, it is more problematic. The N MAY be present in the junction box but not necessarily. A dry transformer rated 240 each side with a centertap on one side will solve the problem. The centertap becomes your neutral (Non-tapped side toward generator.) Such a transformer can be purchased surplus at a decent price. New would be pricey! There are other ways, too but the part is harder to find.

    480 volt: Some are reconnectable internally to deliver 240. Many are not. A transformer, as above, can make these usable.

    BE SURE THE UNIT IS GROUNDED!!!!!!!!!! ALWAYS !!!!!

    28-volt DC units. Lot of these around too. For those of you into solar, it is possible to combine solar cells into a 28volt array. Two car batteries are the same as a military 28 (24) volt battery. Half the current vs. 12volt. Not to be overlooked in some applications.

    Surplus engines: Many surplus units use engines exactly like ones available on the civilian market. Quite often they use a 28-volt electrical system but are otherwise the same. Dealing with that 28-volt system is not too hard but can get a little expensive. Don't let it put you off from buying a fine unit though.

    SOME surplus generators used engines that were contract built for the military. Parts can be a challenge.

    Shielded ignition: Most gasoline-powered units will have shielded ignition. Plugs for some of these are a problem. If you can find them surplus, OK but they are expensive and hard to find otherwise. If they are standard plugs in a little shield box, don't worry about it.

    Surplus can be of very high quality and CHEAP - if you have some mechanical ability the value can be outstanding.

    Domestic hot water:

    If you have a gas or oil fired hot water tank, skip this post. If yours is ELECTRIC, read on! An electric water heater draws about 4500 to 5000 watts (4.5 to 5.0 kw). It will run on any frequency such as 50, 60, 400 cycles (or even DC) and whatever voltage you can get - up to it's rated 240. A 50-gallon tank requires 12 hours to fully heat if you supply it with 240 volts and it begins with 50-degree water. NOT a good use of a generator!! There are exceptions - if you have a LARGE generator, if you happen to have a 3 phase one and use the ofdd phase jut for the water heater etc.

    There IS a SHTF way to solve the problem, however. An engine recovers some 25% of the fuels heat for mechanical work (driving the generator). The balance, 75%, is rejected to the coolant and exhaust. It is normally wasted. A water cooled engine can be fitted with a heat exchanger and small circulator pump to heat domestic hot water. Energy withdrawn via this method is free and does not add to fuel consumption. Beware of freezing. A couple turns of 3/8" or 1/2" copper (stainless even better!) wrapped around the exhaust pipe along with circulating pump (1/20 hp, ~$80.) can provide LOTS of hot water. Be certain to apply proper controls (who wants boiling hot water in the shower??) and a RELEIF valve so the thing can't blow up!! Any who want to try this, contact me via e-mail for more details. For long term SHTF or those who would just die without a hot shower, it can be a great idea!

    The hard core among us might even consider a horizontal plate clamped to the exhaust to cook on. They do get HOT and the heat is free

    Boilers:

    Those of you lucky enough to have hot water (even steam) heat have another alternative for domestic hot water - an indirect heater. The boiler is easy to run off a small generator, as the motors required are small. The indirect heater is very effective and a good idea even when SHTF is not considered. Tankless heaters work too but I hate the things.

    If you run HW heat, the heat exchanger can also be used to heat the boiler water, so that no heat is wasted. This is a mini version of the "co=generation" plants seen in industrial applications - the waste heat from the Genset is used to heat the building, domestic hot water, etc. If you have a water-cooled stationary diesel plant with hot water heat, no energy is wasted and you will bet the maximum value from your fuel.

    MM, Is your set up like this? Mine is not, I use a PTO set. Ops

    WRONG!! My gas water heater MUST have electric or she don't run. It's got an A/C fan for forced ventilation & electronic ignition with a cut-off if it's not working. I'm thinking about a battery backup w/inverter, since I don't believe the draw could be all that much

    _________________________________________________

    Yep, I screwed the pooch above!! Of course, oil fired requires power as does SOME gas units and I did not address that.

    The amp draw of an oil fired, induced draft or electronic ignition heater will be spelled out on the data plate. AMPS x VOLTS = watts (Well, VA really, but close enough in this case.) An oil burner motor is moderate starting torque but the induced draft/electronic ignition gas heater is low torque, therefore moderate starting demand.

    Little known tidbit: Most generators have a 12v DC output that is in addition to the rated AC watts. That 12v DC can be used to charge batteries used to run lights, inverters etc. Can add to the total energy available from solar or other sources.

    My hot water gas heater worked for a week without power after Isabel. I think link belongs in the Genny FAQ for multi fuel applications.



    The Generator FAQ was originally a thread on ar15.com circa 2002-2003. In answer to multiple requests, here is a generator FAQ thread. Those with knowledge, please add to this. Special thanks to Ops/MickeyMouse for staring this and others for contributing @melbo
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2014
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    It's pretty thin in the practical areas, and OK as it stands so far as it goes. To do much more with it, some narrowing of criteria is needed. I don't see the point, other than to add a note that there is a lot of info in SM addressing some other specifics.

    I'm not so sure that the item about a 12 volt supply on most machines is accurate, I've yet to see one. Also, it's a bad idea to attempt battery charging without a controller of some kind or the risk of battery damage is HUGE.

    There are some good parts, MAY be worth extracting them and taking out some of the general statements that aren't very valuable, and starting another thread instead.
     
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  3. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I suggest that a NEW Thread be started to replace the above, for a "Generator FAQ" I would be willing to write up something, and then let folks add to it, as they see fit...
     
    Falcon15, ghrit, hank2222 and 2 others like this.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    You're it!
     
    melbo likes this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok
     
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  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    How about a new thread called Generator FAQ V2, displayed in this Articles forum with a note and link in the original post (which has been with us for almost 10 years) advising folks to viewed the 2014 revised faq?
     
    hank2222 and ghrit like this.
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Monkey

    Generators.....

    You WILL run out of fuel in a SHTF situation. For Emergency Back-up they are good to go, but fhey require maintenance. Perform a full load run monthly for at least 30 minutes with a 10 minute cool down cycle at a minimum of 15% load during the cool down. Have a supply of lubricating oil and filters, at least 55 gallons for sets above a 10KW rating. Spark plugs, spare ignition coil, rotor and wiring set for gas sets. If a diesel, a spare injection pump and injectors might not be a bad idea either, along with fuel filters (and that is plural for a reason). Air filters, spare switch gear might also be considered. having a stand-by power system is serious stuff. Noting is more dissatisfying than pushing the start button and draining the start batteries trying to fire a poorly maintained unit. Oh, the starting battery set should also be properly maintained.

    Come SHTF, Wind, Solar and Hydro are the viable options with 12VDC and a big battery array and a big inverter or four.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
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  8. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    OK, when the new thread is ready to run, we'll weed out any irrelevancies that creep in to this one and lock it.
     
    melbo likes this.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    12vt is not your only option, nor nessisarily the best. Solar will use less copper wire if supplying 24vt or 48vt (iirc) and I believe higher voltages are more efficient on all three.
     
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  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Ghrit, anytime you feel the need to weed out my posts, go ahead, it will not bother me. As for the 12vt outputs....I have two generators. One has it for sure, and I will have to check the other one. (Paperwork says it will charge 12vt car batteries, but will damage the stator to jump a car.)
     
    hank2222 likes this.
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    No need yet, kell. There might be some good incoming ideas for BT to incorporate. We'll see how it goes.
     
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  12. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Weeding and pruning is good but I like the commentary which was one of the benefits of moving these into the forum. These Articles were SM's origin but they never had the ability to be discussed. I feel like we've finally unlocked them after all these years.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
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  13. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    @ghrit , somewhere on this site was a video for a rhodesian wheel water pump. It strikes me, that that type of water wheel could pump water AND turn a generator at the same time. Using a swift but low stream, it was able to lift the water and feed a village by aqua duct or pipe, and was still moving pretty fast. Have you seen the video? I don't find it in a search.
     
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok... this is the first cut of a Generator FAQ.... it is just the very beginning of a Post, that hopefully will lead a reader, down the Decision Tree, and to a final Project Specification, that when completed will provide Electrical Power for the reader, in most of the contemplated Senerios.
    As you can see, I am just getting Started, with the subject at hand, and have a long way to go.... I will update the FAQ as I build the Post, with each added section.... Don't be shy, about critiquing this, as I am NOT the worlds best writer, and know my limitations.... ....

    Generator FAQ

    Ok, Let us have a chat about Electrical Generators, The Fuel they use, and Just how much Generator is really needed, to keep you operational, in various senerios, that may come up in your lives. My perspective comes from living Off-Grid, for the last 20+ Years, far out in the Alaskan Bush, and Generating ALL my own Power. I also moderate a WebSite, and Forums, over on Antique Engines Antique Tractors Steam Engines and Old Iron that deal with many Brands of Generators, from 500 Watt Toys, to Megawatt Units run by the "Big Boys", both new, and used, and Quality Units, to just plain JUNK. So this is where I am coming from, and what expertise I bring to the table, here.

    When thinking about Electrical Generation, there are a few choices, and decisions, that need to be considered, before you go plunk down your Cash Money. They are:

    1. Just how much Electrical Power to you really need, and can you LEARN to ration it, so that you get what you need, without "Spending the Farm" on Fuel and Equipment, that you are not going to use effectively, for your operations.

    2. What Fuels will your Generator run on, and will you have effective Storage, of those Fuels, in the long term, and in the Emergency Senerios, that we will chat about.

    3. What are the different types of Generators, that are commonly available, and what are the effective Hours of Operation, that each type can be expected to run, before either Failure or Rebuild.

    4. How is the Generator that you finally decide on, going to connect to your Living and Working Areas, and does this give you what you need to be, Somewhat, Mostly, or completely Operational as if you had Grid Based Power.

    So, Let us chat about "How Much" and "How Big" your Generator needs to be, to supply your local Power Needs for your local Operations. There are a couple "Schools of Thought" here: Are you planning to run your Whole Outfit as if you were Grid-Connected? Just Emergency Power, like just enough to get by? or somewhere in between, where you can run Most Everything, but simply Not Everything, ALL at the same time.

    1. In the first senerio, you will need a fairly high capacity Genset, if your planning on running as if you are still Grid-connected. for the average ALL Electric Home, with Shop and an Outbuilding or two, we are talking like a 20+ Kw Genset, which will gobble up Significant Fuel, at a very expensive Rate.

    2. If you are just looking for Emergency Backup Power, for a few Lights, and a Tv, Radio, Laptop, Freezer, Refer, and an Oil or Gas Fired Furnace, then 3 - 5 Kw can easily keep all that going, with a little judicious Manual Load Management. Think "Green Acres" with the Plugins up on the Pole, all numbered from 1-3, and if you exceed a total of 5, you Genset gives up it's "Magic Smoke" and you are now in the Dark…..

    3. If your like me, and you want your "Comforts of Life" but still need to be judicious in the Costs, and the Operational Capabilities, left to you, when the Grid Goes Down, then I suspect you will be looking at somewhere between 5 - 10 Kw of Generator, and I am talking about REAL Power Specifications, NOT the Specs, that you see advertised, at the "Big Box Stores", or the Junk Chinese GenSets that they sell. We will discuss the differences, down the road a piece.

    Now for the Math, and how do you calculate "Just how much, is enough"…. You start by making a decision which of the three Categories, above you want to live in. Then you go around your place, and start adding up just how much Electrical Power, each Device draws, when turned on.

    How much does a Light Bulb Draw, as opposed to a CFL Lamp, or an LED Lamp? The more efficient the device, the more you can run from a smaller Generator, at the same time. How often does you Refer and Freezer cycle, and does you Genset have enough Headroom (Power) to start them, when they need to run, if you have other things running already? Do you need to run the Furnace, at the same time as the Freezer, or Refer, or both, or, can they be setup to run on a Mutually Exclusive basis, that saves a significant amount of Power in the Generator Capacity required for your Operational Needs.

    Now that you have an idea, about "How Much, is Enough" you really need to go back and think about this whole deal, all over again. Did you consider ALL your Electrical Needs? Did you account for Long Term availability, or just For a few Hours, or Days… What about an Ice Storm that takes three weeks to repair your Grid? Where is your ReSupply of Fuel going to come from? In your planning, for Senerio #3, did you make provisions for a transition into Senerio #2, because your running out of Fuel, and there isn't a ReSupply available, anytime soon. These are ALL REAL Discussions, that NEED to be considered, and decided, clear back in the Planning Stages, long before any Money is spent.

    Let us now chat about Fuels, that you might consider for running your Generator on, during a loss of Grid Power. Basically there are only about 6 types of Fuel, that can operate an Internal Combustion Engine, which 99% of you readers will be using to Generate you Electricity, under these senerios. They are:

    1. Gasoline….. by Far the most commonly available…..
    2. Propane……one of the Better fuels for Long Term Storage…..
    3. Natural Gas..one of the cheapest of the fuels, per BTU……
    4. Diesel……… overall one of the Better fuels…….
    5. Alcohol……. yes it does work, but likely not a good use of whisky, unless that is all you have, and you have a LOT of it...
    6. WoodGas…. one of the End of Life as we know it Fuels….

    Gasoline is for sure the most commonly available fuel for IC Powered Gensets, available in todays world. It is by far the Highest in BTUs, per Volume, (More Bang for the Buck) of ANY of the other Fuels. However it has some serious Drawbacks. Modern Gasoline commonly available in the FlatLands, is by .Gov Regulation, now up to 20% Alcohol. This causes all kinds of issues with modern IC Engines and Carburetors. First is, It causes the Fuel to leach Water, right out of the Air, and also causes the fuel to deteriorate, to the point of not working in as little as 3 months. Second, It lowers the Octane Rating of the Fuel, which then must be raised, by additives, that are not very NICE to Human Health. So, for Long Term Storage, it isn't a very good fit, even with Stabilizers added. Best then, to rotate you Long Term Storage, with you Gasoline fueled vehicle, so that your Storage is never over 6 months Old, and that is a pure PITA, and a lot of work, to do. You may be able to purchaser Aviation Gasoline, from your local General Aviation Fuel Distributer, and that will have NO Alcohol in it, by FAA Regulations, but will cost you at minimum 2X the Price, and only increase your Storage Life, out to maybe 2 years, IN SEALED Containers.

    Propane is a very good fuel for Long Term Storage, and is only has 10% less BTUs per Volume, than Gasoline. It takes a Carb Conversion Kit to convert a Gasoline Fueled IC Engine to operate on Propane. Propane has a few drawbacks as well. It is heavier than Air, so if you get a leak, it will run across the ground and pool up in the lowest spot available, and just sit there, like Bomb waiting for ANY Spark, to go off. It does NOT disperse easily, and you see it and usually can't smell it after a few hours. In a Grid-down Senerio, ReSupply, especially in a SHTF, or Disaster Senerio, it is going to be much harder to find ReSupply Stocks than Gasoline, so if you choose Propane for you Fuel, you better have ALL you need, On Hand, until things get back to normal, or your going to be limited, fuel wise.

    Natural Gas(NG) is another very good fuel for Electrical Generation by IC Engines. If is just another 10% less BTUs per Volume, from Propane, and will operate for the same Modified Carb Kit as Propane. It is NOT heavier than Air, and therefore does NOT have the Explosive Issues of Propane, as it disperse easily, with just a slight breeze. It also can NOT be seen, and does NOT smell in it's Natural State. This is why the NG Companies are REQUIRED by Federal Statute, to odorize NG, so that leaks can be detected with a NOSE, easily. The real drawback to NG is Storage. It can be Stored in Pressurized Tanks like Propane, but at considerably Higher Pressures, and not near the BTU Density as Propane. If you have an NG Well on your Place, or a NG Pipeline running up your road, then by all means connect up, and use NG as a fuel source, for as long as the pressure will allow in a Disaster, or Emergency Senerio. Just understand that once the pressure is gone, so it your Fuel Source, and it likely will be days or even weeks, if ever, before it will "Rise Again".

    At this point, it should be noted that there is such a thing as a TriFueled IC Engine, that will operate on Gasoline, Propane, OR Natural Gas. My Brother (The Engineer) has such a 25 Kw Genset in his Underground Generator Room. He has a 1000USG Underground Propane Tank in his Backyard, and a 3 PSI Natural Gas Line to his House in a suburb in Utah. He also has two SEALED 55 USG Drums of 80/85 Aviation Gasoline in his Fuel Storage. This allows him to operate his home, First on Natural Gas for Heat, Hot Water, & Cooking. Then in a Grid-down Senerio, keep operating on NG until, it fails, with the Genset supplying the Electricity, with the Heat and Hot Water being supplied to the home via Heat Exchangers on the Engine and Exhaust Stack. When the NG fails, he can switch the whole house over to propane for Cooking, Electricity, and again Heat and Hot Water, from the Recovered BTUs from the IC Engine Cooling and Exhaust Systems. This is called the CoGeneration Senerio.
    TriFuel Kits are available for most smaller GenSets, and many up to the 50Kw Range, or larger.

    Diesel, My Fuel of choice. (YMMV....)It is excellent for Long Term Storage. I have burned #2 Diesel that was put up in 55USG Drum during WWII, in my Gensets, and it make just as good of Power Now as it did the day it was put up. The thing about Diesel is you MUST make sure it is absolutely Clean, and No WATER in it, before you run it thru your Gensets Fuel System. the easiest way to Kill a Diesel Engine, is to run Dirty Fuel into it, and ANY amount of Water in the Fuel will destroy the Injectors in a very short time. diesel has almost the same BTUs per Volume as Gasoline, and if you live in Cold Climates, like I do, then you burn #1 Diesel, or Jet50A instead of #2 Diesel. Basically the same stuff, that ALL Turbine Engines burn. Likely your Fuel Distributer will be selling you "Winter Mix" Diesel after September, anyway, but it is handy to know, for sure what you are getting. #2 Diesel will turn to Jelly below about 15F, and that doesn't go thru the filters very well at all. Diesel is the MOST Common of ALL the fuels, World Wide, and is available most everywhere, especially out in Farming, and Logging & Fishing Country. A Diesel Engine can be made to run on most ANYTHING, that will flow thru the filters. It just doesn't care all that much.

    Alcohol is a fuel that will run an IC Engine, IF, and only IF, the Carburetor is setup for it specifically, and it is a Mutually Exclusive Setup, that will NOT then run on Gasoline. Better to trade you alcohol, for Real Fuel, if you need fuel.

    WoodGas is the fuel, for when there is NO Other Fuel, available in both the Near, and Far, Futures. a lot has been published about WoodGas, but it really isn't what we are here to discuss, so if you are into WoodGas, "Go for it", but I have NO Experience with it as a Fuel, so I just mention it in passing.

    Now on to the different types of Gensets, that are commonly available to the Monkey Tree Inhabitants. GenSets come in ALL shapes, sizes, configurations, Cooling Systems, Fuels, Voltages, Phases, and more. There are your "Prime Power GenSets", your "Standby Power GenSets", your "Commercial Power Gensets", your "RV Power GenSets", your "Consumer Power GenSets, AND your "Chinese Knockoff GenSets". Each category has it's Attributes, and Drawbacks, which we can chat about in this section. Most are alright, except the Junk coming from China. Do NOT waste your money on those, unless you know exactly what you are buying, and can live with their inherent Issues. Be Warned….

    Prime Power Gensets… These are the Crown Jewels of Generators. They are the MOST Expensive of all the types. They are rated, and designed, to operate 24/7/365 with only regular Routine Maintenance. They run until they need an Oil Change, or run out of Fuel, Period. They will be deRated from the Standby Power version of the same Genset, by usually 20%. These are infinitely reBuildable, and the OEMs supply Parts, dang near forever. Most Monkeys will never own a Prime Power Genset.

    Standby Power Genset… These are usually the Same Gensets, as the Prime Power Gensets, except they are Rated to operated 24/7/for the duration of a Grid-Power Failure. These are the Gensets that run Municipal things, like Water/Sewer/Police/Fire, Telecommunications, Hospitals, Buildings, Stores, and businesses that need constant steady Power, no matter what is happening outside. These don't cost quite as much as Prime Power Units, but they are mostly to expensive for 99% of the Monkey Tree Population. These are infinitely reBuildable, and the OEMs supply Parts, dang near forever.

    Commercial Power Gensets…. These are the backbone of the Genset World. They makeup 75% of the Backup Power GenSets installed around the world. They are in every business that can't afford to have the Grid down for more than an hour, at any one time. They keep, Industrial Freezers cold, and Industrial Furnaces, Hot. These are the Brand Name OEMs like CAT, Cummins, Kohler, Lister, Perkins, Etc. They come in ALL sizes from 10 Kw to 10 Megawatt. They are designed to run, whenever they are needed, for as long as they are needed, until the Grid comes back to life, or they run out of Fuel. These are Not Rated for Indefinite Use, but will run a good long time, and are Rebuildable, when they get tired, to run again.

    RV Power GenSets….. These are the Onan, Kohler, Honda, Yamaha, Etc GenSets, that you find in RVs and Motorhomes, (LandYachts) Fishing Boats, and Yachts, around the world. They make GREAT home Backup GenSets, and usually come in sizes that fit the above Profile, for what we are talking about here. These usually are a 4 Pole GenEnd, that turn at 1800 Rpm, which is a very Good Thing, instead of a 2 Pole GenEnd that needs to turn at 3600 Rpm. 3600 Rpm "Screamers" are NOT a Good Thing in the World of Backup GenSets. These can be Air Cooled, or Liquid Cooled, and can come with Single, Twin, or 4 Cylinder Engines. Power can range from 3Kw on up thru 20Kw with many variations in between. They can be fueled by Gasoline, Propane, Natural Gas, or Bi or Tri Fueled, and Diesel. These are the ones I think most Monkeys should be looking for, in a BackUp Power Genset. These are available, in the Used Market, for Pennies on the Dollar, of their original Costs, and usually you can find Parts for a reBuild, if you look around a bit. With a little TLC these will outlast your GrandChildren.

    Chinese Knockoff Gensets…. You find these at the BigBox Stores, and they go for DIRT Cheap prices, when compared with any of the other Groups of GenSets. Don't get suckered into buying one of these, and expect it to last longer than a few hundred Operational Hours. They are JUNK, just waiting to let the Magic Smoke out, and blow a Rod right out the side of the block, in a HeartBeat. If you see a Surge Watt Rating in the Advertisement, you KNOW that it is a piece of JUNK. If you actually ran it at that rating, it will let the Magic Smoke out, very soon, and melt down into a Pile of Slag, Post Haste. Another Clue is if they advertise, Honda, or Yamaha "Like" or "Clone" Engine… Run, do NOT Walk, away from such Junk. Mark my words, Save your money.

    Let us now chat about the finer points of Electrical Generators, in general, and some specific things that make some better than others….

    Cooling Systems are a major difference in the many Generators available to Monkeys, for Backup Power. There are two basic types, Air Cooled, and Liquid Cooled.

    Air Cooled are easy to operate as they only require that you keep the Head and Block Cooling Fins Clean, and keep the Air Flow across the fins going. The drawback is you can not use the Cooling BTUs that you paid for, when you bought the Fuel, easily, for other purposes.The "Rule of Thumb" for this is: 1/3rd of the Fuel BTUs goes into the GenEnd, to make the electrical Power. 1/3rd of the BTUs in the Fuel, go up the Exhaust Stack, and 1/3rd of the BTUs in the Fuel, leaves thru the Cooling System. So, if you are just using the Generated Electrical Power, you are wasting 2/3rd s of the BTUs that you Paid for, when you bought the Fuel in the first place. Now, that just doesn't sound like a very Prep'er way to operate, does It? It is possible to recover some of those BTU's by building a Water Jacket around the Exhaust System, and remove some of that Heat (BTUs) to use for other purposes. It should be possible to recover roughly 1/2 of those BTUs, going up the Exhaust Stack, without building to much Back Pressure on the Exhaust Gases, and engine.

    Liquid Cooled are more complicated to operate, but they have many advantages over Air Cooled Gensets, if you want the Most Efficient Use of your Fuel BTUs, and expended Money. The drawbacks are, that you have to maintain the Cooling System, like Belts, Hoses, AntiFreeze, and periodic Radiator Cleaning. The advantages are, that with the proper design of a Heat Recovery System, you can recover a good share of the lost BTUs, that can be used for Good things. Lets look at the Math. With an appropriate Tube Heat Exchanger, in Series with your Genset Radiator, you can recover 60 - 75% of the Cooling System BTUs. Now add an Exhaust Heat Recovery Water Jacket, and recover 50% of those BTUs, things begin to add up in your favor. 75% of 1/3rd in the Cooling System, equals 25% of the total BTUs expended. 50% of the 1/3rd in the Exhaust System equals 16% of the total BTU's expended. 33% of the BTUs is Electrical Power. 33% + 25% + 16% equals 74% of the BTUs you paid for when you bought the fuel can now be used for useful purposes. Ok, Now what are some of those "Useful Purposes" that I am talking about, you ask. How about heating your Living Spaces, by the addition of a Radiator, with a Electrical Fan attached, inside your Insulated Living Space, or maybe you use those BTUs, to heat your GreenHouse, and keep it functioning through out the winter. Maybe you heat some of your Out Buildings, or Shop Space, rather than burning up Firewood. I mean, why waste good BTUs, trying to heat the Great Out of Doors, when you can use those for a good purpose.

    Another difference that separates GenSets, into different Classes is RPM. A 2 Pole Genend needs to be turned at 3600 Rpm to make 60 Hz. A 4 Pole GenEnd needs to turn at 1800 Rpm to make 60 Hz. A 6 Pole GenEnd needs to be turned at 120o Rpm to make 60 Hz, and an 8Pole Genend needs to turn at 900 Rpm, to make 60 Hz. The faster the Rpm, the more wear and tear on the IC Engine, for the same amount of work. Also at 3600 Rpm, an Engine will output more HorsePower, than the same IC Engine at 1800, or even 1200 Rpm. Higher Rpm, means More Noise, as well as more Fuel Used, and more BTUs dumped into non-Useful purposes. Most Prime Power GenSets will be turning at a Maximum of 1800 Rpm, and much more likely at 1200 Rpm, or even 900 Rpm. Many times, the "Big Boys" (Cat, Cummins, EMD, etc) will Use the same Engine for both Prime Power and Standby Power, Gensets, but lower the Rpm of the Prime Power Units, which causes the 20% DeRate in the Specs. Lower Rpm, means Less HorsePower, and smaller Kw Output, However a significant increase in Longevity, and Mean Time between ReBuilds, and Routine Maintenance. I am in favor of GenSets that turn at 1800 Rpm Maximum. 3600 rpm "Screamer's" are more likely to Fail, when you need them most, simply because they need\, that Rpm to get the HorsePower, required to meet the Output KW Spec, from an Engine just can't run at that speed for a long period of time, without Failure. Also it is much cheaper to make a 2 Pole GenEnd, and use Less Copper, than a 4 Pole, or greater Genend, for the same Output Specification. The Magic Smoke tends to leak out, unexpectedly, when such compromises are made in the Design, of GenSets. You really are Paying for, the Iron, and Copper, that go into these pieces of Equipment, and Plastic, is Dirt Cheap, in comparison.

    The first example I want to chat about is the Onan J Series GenSets, of which there were "Hundreds of Thousands" made, over 3+ Decades. They come in both Air and Liquid Cooled versions, They also come in Diesel, Gasoline, Propane, Natural Gas, and Bi and Tri Fueled versions. They built Radiator Cooled, Heat Exchanger Cooled, and Raw Water Cooled versions. They came Single Cylinder, (3Kw) Twin Cylinder, (6Kw) and 4 Cylinder (12Kw) versions. They were designed to use MANY of the same Parts that were common to the whole Series. the heads of the 2 and 4 Cylinder Versions were the same, for each of the Ignition types, diesel, or spark. The Lube Oil Pump System was common to All Versions as was the Governors System. All but the Single Cyl, version, used the same Starter Motor System, and the basic engine electrical system was similar to all Versions of each Ignition type. The designers of this Series Gensets didn't spend a lot of time reInventing the wheel, for each version. They spent their time build a extremely rugged Engine, and matching it up with a couple of very rugged GenEnds, which is why these Units are still around today, and can be had for "Pennies on the Dollar", of their original costs. The .MIL choose the Onan 2 and 4 Cyl. Diesel Engines to base their MEP002A and MEP003A Generators on, using the Larger 3.5" Bore, Size Blocks, rather than the 3.25" Bore Blocks of the earlier versions. They also choose the Air Cooled version, because even the dumbest Private couldn't Screw up operating, and Air Cooled Diesel Genset. You put Fuel in the tank, and you hit the Start Button, and it ran until the Fuel ran out, Period…. It just worked. I have 3 of the Single Cyl. (3Kw) Diesel GenSets. One is Air Cooled, and two are Liquid Cooled using Heat Exchangers. This is what got me into CoGeneration, using one of these to provide Electrical Power, as well as Heating my Beach Cabin, using recovered BTUs from the Cooling System. The first GenSets that I had for Winter Power, here, were a Pair of 4 Cyl. Diesel 12.5Kw Onan Air Cooled GenSets. All J Series Onan's turn at 1800 Rpm. They were BOTH replaced after 40K Operational Hours, and Rebuilt, and then stored in our warehouse. they are both still there, ready to go, for Emergency Power, if needed, along with all the Parts, Filters, and Supplies, needed to keep them Operational, should they be needed. We do nOT get rid of ANYTHING useful, around here. You can find Onan Jx GenSets (where x is "A" for Single, B/E for Twin, and C/F for 4 Cyl. and A/B/C for 3.25" Bore, and D/E/F for 3.5" Bore… ) Spark Ignition Units, all day Long, on eBay, and Craig's List. If it has an M, R, in front of the J, it is a Liquid Cooled Marine, or Radiator Cooled Unit. If it has a D in front of the J, it is Diesel Fueled. The biggest J Series Genset was the RDJF 17.5 Kw. I have a RJC 15Kw Genset on a Trailer that runs off an Outboard 6 USG Gasoline Fuel Tank, on a Trailer. It is the one I rent out to folks who need Power to build their Cabins, locally.

    The second example I want to chat about is the Onan CK-CCK-NH Series GenSets. Again, Onan made literally hundreds of thousands of these over a period of 3+ Decades. These are ALL, Twin Cylinder Opposed, Air Cooled, Gasoline, Propane, Or Natural Gas Fueled Units, and came in 3.5 Kw on up to 10 Kw versions. ALL Using the same basic Engine. They were designed for Portable, and RV, Power, and can be readily found on eBay, and CraigsList, for anywhere from $200+US clear down to "Take it off my hands and it is yours". The CK was the first of the Series, and has a Cast Iron Block. It was the biggest of many Versions, and came in 2, 3, 3.5 and 5 Kw versions. The follow on Product was the CCK which also had a Cast Iron Block, and came in 3.5, 4, and 5Kw versions, all using the same basic engine. Onan also made a Marine Version called the MCCK that was Heat Exchanger Cooled and came in 3.5, 4, 5.5 and 6.5 Kw, versions. These Marine Units are excellent for CoGeneration applications. All CK and CCK Models had an Oil filter as an Option, but NOT standard, so LubeOil changes were every 50-75 Operational Hours unless that Option was fitted, in which case the LubeOIl change was 150 Hours. The NH Model is very similar to the CCK, but has an Aluminum Block, and came standard with an LubeOil Filter, and is also Air Cooled. NH Gensets came in 5, 5.5, and 6.5 Kw versions. The NH was designed specifically for the RV Market, and again can be very often found, Used, on eBay, and CraigsList, for under $400US. These are ALL Very rugged Units that are built to Last, with just a BIT of TLC. All can be fueled by Gasoline, Propane, Natural Gas, or Bi or Tri Fueled with appropriate conversion Carburetors, or Kits. They ALL use 4 Pole 1800 Rpm GenEnds, and can come in 120Vac ONLY, 120/240 Vac which are Single Phase, or 120/208Vac Three Phase GenEnds. There are follow on Products, from Onan that are undated, but basically, similar to the CK-CCK-NH Series Units, also available used for cheap.

    The idea here is Onan build a variety of QUALITY Generators over a very long time, and many of these units are still out there, making Electrical Power, and being sold Used, for "Pennies on the Dollar" of their Original Costs. Compare the Price you find on these Units, with the Prices of the New Chinese JUNK GenSets, in the Big Box Stores, and you will begin to understand why there is such a LARGE Market, for these 20-40 Year Old Generators. They were designed and built to Last, and Last.

    Operational Hours on the J Series will run in the 10K-20K Hours between major Rebuilds. For the CK-CCK-NH Series more like 8K-15K Operational Hours. Figure that you might need to run a Backup Power Genset at you place for, on the outside, a Month, out of a Year. That is still a Lifetime for most of us. In an SHTF Senerio, it is still many years, of dependable Electrical Power. There are MANY other OEMs of Quality Generators that I haven't mentioned, so far. Lister & Petter Diesel Generators come to mind. they are very rugged and Quality Rigs, if you can score one, that doesn't need a ReBuild anytime soon. Parts are expensive for these, but still available. They also come in 1800, 1200 and 900 Rpm versions. Then there are the Antique Generators, from "Years Gone By" that are still around, and Kicking. Fairbanks/Morse, and Witte, are usually the best known of this type. These are Slow Turners, where 1200 Rpm is a very fast Engine, and most Witte's are 900 Rpm or under. These were built my folks who Made America strong and the quality went in before they ever left the Factory. I Own a F/M 45B, 1200 Rpm, Water Cooled, Unit that uses a Belt & Pulley to up-speed the 2 Pole, 3Kw, Genend to 3600 Rpm. The Engine runs out of HorsePower at about 2.5 Kw, however it uses less and a Cup of Diesel at full Load, in an hour, and will run ALL Day Long, dang near forever. It is living at a Close Neighbors Place and is Powering his whole Outfit, and just PUT-PUTs along hour after hour, making electricity for them.

    It is time to now chat about Item 4 on the List above. You have your desired Genset, and now want to make the connections to your Living and working Spaces. If you have Grid Power already, then you will need a Transfer Switch of some type, to switch between the Grid Power and your Backup Electrical Source. The things that you need to understand and design for are:

    1. Are you switch ALL your Grid Loads to backup Power of only specific Loads to your Backup Power. If ALL your Loads then you have a fair sized Genset, likely in the 15+Kw Range, and if you have 200Amp Service to your place then a 200Amp Transfer Switch is needed to do that Job, and they are NOT cheap.

    2. If you are switching just Specific Loads then You will need to wire those Loads to a SubPanel, and then put a Transfer Switch, of some kind, in between your Main Panel, and the SubPanel, that can handle the Total Loads, wired to the SubPanel. Usually these Transfer Switches are designed for 60-100 Amps, and are less expensive.

    3. If Hard wiring isn't your idea, then you are stuck with Extension Cords, strung around your place from the Generator to each thing that needs Power, during a Grid-down senerio.

    These are the only SAFE Options, available to you. If you should be, To Smart for your Own Good, and be thinking of some Other Options, like a Suicide Cord to Back-Feed your Dryer Plug, or some other CRAZY Idea…. Be WARNED, that if you mess it up, and BackFeed the Grid, even by Accident, YOU ARE Totally Liable, Civilly, and Criminally, for ANY Results, AND if you should burn down your House, while doing so, Your HomeOwners Insurance Policy will be NULL AND VOID, PERIOD. .….

    Some Routine Maintenance Tips for your Genset:
    Replace Fluids
    *
    Generators must be checked regularly to make sure that they have all of the liquids and parts that are needed for the generator to function properly. For example, the generator's oil should be checked and replaced regularly so the generator does not become damaged when internal metal parts rub against each other. The generator coolants should be checked and replaced on a regular basis as per the manufacturer's recommendations.
    Check for Moisture
    *
    The gasoline in gas-powered generators should always be drained out of the generator before the generator goes back in storage. The generator should be run so that any leftover gasoline is burned. Generators should be started for two hours every month to eliminate moisture that builds up in the fuel tank. Moisture in other parts can cause significant damage to the generator, causing metal parts to rust and corroding internal wires.
    Exhaust and Leakage
    *
    The air induction and exhaust system should be checked to ensure that it is consistently releasing exhaust. The exhaust system should always be checked prior to starting the generator so that there is no costly damage done to the generator motor. When the generator is running, the generator should be inspected for any signs of leakage. The generator battery should be tested to make sure that it is able to hold a charge.
    Cleaning
    *
    The generator should always be cleaned of dust and debris. Dirty generators can get dust in the exhaust and in other areas which can damage the generator or cause the generator to overheat. The generator should be cleaned with compressed air. Safety goggles should be worn during this procedure. The air filter, fuel filter and oil filter should all be inspected, cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.
    Spark Plugs
    *
    Spark plugs should be replaced at regular intervals. When an old spark plug is removed and a new spark plug is installed, the plug should not be tightened too securely, or else the spark plug will not function properly.

    and a few tips on Routine Excersizing your Genset.
    * Run, until at Operational Temps, at least quarterly, including winter. If easily done, put an electrical load on it to get the governor stabilized and exercised. (Circulates the oil, drives off any moisture, and lets it know I care. Rewards me with starting on the first pull. Every time.)
    * Change the oil annually or at OEMs specified OperationalHour spec, which ever comes first. Check the air filter at each oil change, and do what needs done if dirty.
    *Use Stabile or something similar as a fuel treatment, in ALL Gasoline fueled Engines. (Pump grade 87 octane R+M/2 has ethanol in it, which does nothing for first pull starting, or engine internals. Even so, until warmed up a bit, it farts and snorts getting the water out of the bottom of the tank.

    So, now that you have the Genset, in place, and wired, but you want to add Solar, Wind, or Hydro, as another Energy Source for your place, then you will need an Alternative Energy System, to go between your Grid Connection, and your Genset Connection. Most of the Better Inverter/Charger Systems will have a Transfer Switch built-in that will do that job, for you, instead of the Manual Transfer Switch, I talked about, above. This is beyond the scope of this FAQ, but I may be talked into writing another on that subject in the future. Hope, you found this Informative, and useful...
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
    3cyl, Falcon15, Gator 45/70 and 4 others like this.
  15. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Good stuff BT!!! Nice start to a great resource!!!
     
  16. hank2222

    hank2222 Monkey++

    Ok here is my questions
    1-since i have only these items in 110 volt
    here are the items
    1..tankless hot water heater
    2..mircowave oven
    3..inductions single burner cooktop
    4..combo rv style washer& dryer
    5..air rifle air comperesser system to fill up the air rifle cylinders when they are empty


    the air compresser and rv washer & dryer runs only when gen set is running to help so not to overload the battery bank
    The gen set is run on sat mornings to charge the battery bank when it needed

    most of my power needs comes from solar setup i have there at the cabin are only 2.5.kw a day when evrrything is running there .
    i have cut down alot of the so called extras i might want to have there
    the air rifle unit is one of my personal items i could not live without so i got a 110.volt model that will work with solar and generator unit.
    most of the cabin electric system are 12. Volt so most it was a basic no brainer choices i used innthe cabinn
     
  17. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    One thing in my opinion that that I would like to have is a list of yearly basic generator maintenance. Sorry but I never thought to change the oil yearly. Prior to a storm we go out and make sure that it will start. Our generator sits and has sat for years. We let it run yearly for a bit. I found that we had a flat tire. We pumped it up with the bike pump but it went flat again, so that means we need to fix or replace. Is it best to put a can of fix-a flat in or get a new tire. I don't know much about fix-a-flat but to me that is temporary.

    We took the leap and put a second panel in. We had a professional do the work. Though we have never had to use the set up, I feel it was worth the investment.
     
  18. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Moto, I would pull the tire and take it down to a local shop and have them repair or replace.... save the fix-a-flat for a true emergency. You have time now to get it fixed correctly instead of slapping a band-aid on it. You should run your gen set monthly to churn up the oil and lub the unit.... if you only do it once a year... the oil can sludge up at some point and then your unit will be in trouble. Perform routine maintenance to be sure it is always ready to go when you need it. Every time there is a power outage here, we always get calls from folks wondering why their unit would not start... and now it is an emergency (99% of the time it is due to lack of maintenance).
    Here are a few checklist items:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
    Motomom34 likes this.
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    How I do it to my 5600 watt portable gennie -
    -Run until thoroly warm at least quarterly, including winter. If easily done, put an electrical load on it to get the governor stabilized and exercised. (Circulates the oil, drives off any moisture, and lets it know I care. Rewards me with starting on the first pull. Every time.)
    -Change the oil annually or at around 50 hours, which ever comes first. (50 hours max, if you have an hour meter on yours, mine does not and doesn't see 50 hours a year.) Check the air filter at each oil change and do what needs done if dirty.
    -Use Stabile or something similar as a fuel treatment. (Pump grade 87 octane R+M/2 has ethanol in it which does nothing for first pull starting or engine internals. Even so, until warmed up a bit, it farts and snorts getting the water out of the bottom of the tank. Since I use the same stuff for the lawn mower and snow blower, I don't think a dedicated gas can for straight no eth fuel is of much use to me. No eth gas (marine grade) is available in these parts, but has to be searched out and costs out of reason.)

    And you might have a squint at the owner's manual, it might have some other pearls applicable to your machine. You likely can find it on line if yours is misplaced.

    That routine has worked for the last 6 years since I got it, and has served me well on three significant outages, including the 18 hours the other day when the front came thru.

    Moto, yes, YD is right, get that tire repaired or replaced. No point in having to pump it up when things go pear shaped and you are under pressure to get the machine into service; storms might be forecast. BUT; the idiot that takes out a power pole and leaves you power free can't be seen coming. Also, in your case of not changing the oil very often, I'd be inclined to warm up the machine, change the oil, then put the machine in use for a couple hours, then change it again. There will be crud hiding out someplace inside that needs flushing out.
     
    Motomom34, oldawg and Yard Dart like this.
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    What, really, do the wheels do? It can't be noise reduction, they are only two points of four, and the other two are hard points. It can't be for vibration, or all four points would be the same, so they have to be just for mobility, do why bother with pneumatic tires at all? Mine keep going flat as well, which means hard to move, and not level, so instead of screwing around with them any more, I just installed solid plastic wheels of the correct size, and will never need to mess with them again.
     
    Motomom34 likes this.
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