Portable Generators

Discussion in 'Camp Wordforge' started by Ancalagon, May 26, 2014.

  1. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    @Ramen, how is your Honeywell doing?

    After not being able to find that deal, I ended up buying a refurbished one off eBay. Turned out to be a lemon. After 6 months of small engine repair and warranty company run around and hassle I wrote it off as a lesson learned.

    Looking at buying new, but don't want to pony up 1k for a Honda or Yamaha. This Hyundai looks better than decent and is on sale for not too much. Anyone have experience with them?

    http://www.amazon.com/Hyundai-HY200...erator/dp/B004919NEK/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
  2. Ramen

    Ramen Racist Dipshit

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    During a couple of outages from storms, I was able to fire it up and run the HDTV, fridge, and a couple of lamps for a few hours while the power was being restored. After awhile, I noticed that the inside of the gas tank started rusting. Cleaned it out before selling it at what I paid for it (when I got it on sale for half price).

    I've since moved to Lauderdale and into a condo, so I haven't needed another. If I was looking for a portable generator, I'd just opt for a Champion 1500. If looking for whole house, I'd get the Champion 4000 and add a wheel kit.

    I didn't find lugging 80 pounds on a single handle so damn portable. :ramen:
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  3. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Unlike down south, I'll never need to pull an AC with it, so I really don't see the need for anything bigger. Portability is a big factor as we do (or did before Isaac and would like to get back into it) a lot of car camping.

    And because Amazon and Facebook are apparently in cahoots, this showed up:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GBW7IBK/ref=dra_a_rv_ff_fx_it_P2000_1000
  4. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    LOL talk about temptation! Amazon is stalking me. :lol:
    temptation.jpg
  5. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Never pulled the trigger on that Hyundai and looking at the reviews that have been coming in that appears to be a good decision. A full 1/4 are One Star.

    However, I haven't given up wanting one. And then last week I was checking out the Lightening Deals and this guy came up for $528:
    https://www.amazon.com/Atima-AY2000i-Portable-Inverter-Generator/dp/B013B8FFM0/

    Until then I never knew that you could get a Yamaha engine in other generators. Went on see that Smarter Tools makes another one with a Yamaha engine:
    https://www.amazon.com/Smarter-Tools-STAP-2000iQ-Starting-Portable/dp/B00K2YDPU6/

    Ended up doing a deep dive on this and typed it up for Facebook. Figured some here might get something out of it here so a copy/paste.

    Considering:
    a) I have no money to spend on this right now
    b) If I did have money it would go towards getting my camper van fixed up so I could actually go camping and use this generator
    c) It's freaking winter so even if I had money to buy this and a fixed up camper van to go camping in, IT'S FREAKING WINTER WHY THE FUCK WOULD I GO CAMPING?!?!
    I am spending way too much time going down the portable generators rabbit hole.

    THAT SAID. I am learning a lot so once I do have cash, a fixed up camper van and am ready to go camping I'll be ready to pull the trigger on a generator.

    So.... At the high end of the 2000 watt quiet invertor range you have the Honda EU2000i and the Yamaha EF2000i for ~$1k. The Honda is slightly quieter but not quite as reliable. Going down the Yamaha branch you have other brand generators that use Yamaha engines. These are the Atima AY2000i in the original post and the Smarter Tools AP2000i I posted a link to earlier today. Both are in the ~$700 range, although supposedly the Smarter Tools one pops up at Costco for ~$600 and last week the Atima was an Amazon Lightening Deal for $528. Now from what I am reading all the 'Powered by Yamaha' engines are actually licensed Yamaha MZ80s (same design as in the EF2000i) made in China. Now, there is also what's called an 'Yamaha Clone' from China, which when looking at it is all the same specs (displacement, noise, output, fuel consumption, etc) and according to the internet (that wording was intentional) is the exact same design as the MZ80 and is even from the same factory as the licensed MZ80s. This is what the Wen 56200i is powered by. According to what I'm reading this is a great little generator for the price and since it is a MZ80 can be run parallel with any other MZ80 based genny. As much as 'Chinese knockoff initially worries me, it has more reviews and a higher rating than the actual Yamaha! (I'm assuming this is people building value into rating). The Wen is selling for $425 + free shipping right now!

    Now, going even deeper down this rabbit hole, it turns out that Wen sells the 56200i to Harbor Freight which they rebadge (same case just a different color) as the Predator 2000 Peak/1600 Running Watts, 2.8 HP (79.7cc) Portable Inverter Generator CARB (nice thing about Harbor Freight, no bullshit names, it is what it is). Currrently it's listed as $499, but looking around the internet it goes on sale a couple times a year and if you are quick you can grab one for $399.

    In conclusion, I just can't afford the Yamaha right now, the licensed MZ80s appear no better than the unlicensed, and looking at the Wen reviews and the customer satisfaction, when there is a problem (they seem to really stand by their 2 year warranty) when I do get some cash I'll probably go Wen instead of Predator b/c... well... Harbor Freight.
    https://www.amazon.com/WEN-56200i-Starting-Generator-Compliant/dp/B00SMNLF4M/
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
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  6. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    I'm circling the rabbit hole, so thanks a lot for your analysis.

    We just bought a 50's ranch with no fireplace in Marietta with towering pine trees on every street. The utility lines are all above ground. Last month during the ice storm we faced having to be without electricity and it brought home how vulnerable we are. Not that we can't stay in a hotel or just bundle up, but we have a bunch of cockatiels that might suffer. Casual surveys with neighbors indicate the power goes out significantly. I got a portable indoor rated propane heater but the idea of exhausting that into he house makes me uneasy, and the birds would be the first affected. Took it back after the ice melted (no outage this time).

    2000 peak and 1600 constant would start and run the gas furnace and fridge. Also should power plenty of LED/CFC lighting.

    I rewired the furnace to interface with a two way switch on a pigtail that isolates it from the house wiring and the pigtail can be connected to the generator when needed. There's still time for one more storm in GA, but this unit is currently backordered. Hmmmm.
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  7. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    What are your thoughts on Harbor Freight? From what I've read the Predators are the same as the Wen (and as you can see they have the same body, just red instead of yellow). There are a couple of in store 20% coupons available on the web that might work. I just ran through the 5 or 6 different online 20% coupons out there but none applied to the Predator. It says that "The item is excluded from certain coupon offers. Please check the coupon for details." so you'd want to call in to the store first with the in-store coupon codes to see if they apply.

    https://www.coupons.com/coupon-codes/harborfreight.com/

    If they do that knocks the price down to $400. Not a bad deal, but, back to what I said in the beginning, what are your thoughts on Harbor Freight? Now they have a 3 year warranty, but Harbor Freight warranties aren't like normal warranties. It's basically a 3 year 1 time exchange for a credit. If you don't buy an extra warranty on the replacement (I would) then you are SOL if the second one also craps out on you. On the plus side, say it does great, you can still just walk it in after 2 years and 364 days and turn it back in for a store credit.

    So if you trust Harbor Freight enough that you could use $400 in credit and you really want a genny now, see if the in store coupons work, if so, buy for $400, place the order on the Wen, when the Wen comes take the Predator back, get your store credit. Behave like a kid in a candy store, then walk out with $200 in store credit b/c Harbor Freight is cheap as hell (I actually find them a great value on MOST products, you just have to know what you're getting).

    Or, keep the Predator, buy a Wen parallel kit, and run half your house. Then at 2 years and 364 days take the Predator back for store credit (or just keep if you like).

    https://www.amazon.com/WEN-56421-Parallel-Connection-Generators/dp/B0144O1808/
  8. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Damn you Amazon.

    LEAVE.
    ME.
    ALONE!

    generators.jpg
  9. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    While there's a harbor freight just down the road, I have yet to experience returns or warranty adjustments with them. I trust Amazon a lot more. I think I'll stick to inexpensive tools at hf.

    The WEN seems to have to run in non-Eco mode in order to start anything that draws more than 1,000 watts at startup. Furnaces require about 1,600 at startup (maybe a couple hundred when running). This will use more fuel (and make more noise) and won't make it through the night.

    This Honda is $1K, it's 2800 watts max, 2500 continuous and is smart enough to run for up to 12 hours on a 2 gallon tank of gas. Not having to get up and go out in the middle of the night to fill the tank is worth a lot. The extra power is a bonus. Besides: honda. Available through Home Depot or 3rd party via Amazon
  10. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    That price isn't bad at all, although it is a decent bit louder, 61 to 69 dB according the specs.

    What I don't get though is what does 'industrial' mean and why is it less than half the price of only slightly larger 'portable' one:
    https://www.amazon.com/Honda-EU3000iS-Starting-Portable-Inverter/dp/B0002XC0V2/
  11. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    A lot lower noise and 300 watts more. I'm not seeing $1000 worth of advantage for emergency use. Might be worth it if you were running it at a campground.

    Industrial might mean longer service life (this would be good, I think). OSHA requires generators to have GFCI outlets which this has. Also marketing and competition may affect pricing; some will be put off by the industrial monicker. I think the industrial Honda would be quieter running at low throttle most of the time (eco-throttle) than the WEN which would have to run at half throttle and up. Basing the WEN advice on one of the amazon reviews.
  12. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Today's rabbit hunt turned up this for the house: Outdoor electrical inlet. Stick this on the outside of the house. Run romex through the wall to a gang of outlets on the inside for distribution.

    When the ice hits, connect the generator via heavy extension to the inlet, extension from the outlet on the inside to the furnace pigtail.

    Haven't decided how to do other things in the house. Worst case would be long extension cords, but a more elegant solution would be to wire in at least one house circuit to switch to the generator. Code requires a circuit panel interface that requires shutting off the power main before allowing the generator to connect to avoid energizing the utility company's lines. Don't turn me in.
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  13. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    My father could turn off street power at the circuit panel. He then had a 30A male ended extension cord that he plugged into the dryer outlet and ran the house off that.

    DANGER! Make sure you are positive you have street power turned off before plugging in this way. During a hurricane (well after actually) a kid I went to school with's dad killed a linesman by pushing power out.
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  14. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    What the hell is going on with this market right now?

    The Atima was $799, had a Lightening Deal for $528, went back to $799, then $699, now it is at $749. That's all in the space of a week or so!

    And then this morning the WEN which just yesterday was $424 and on 1-2 month backorder is now $414 and is In Stock.

    WTF?
  15. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    "sold by woot"
  16. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Three guesses as to who owns Woot...
  17. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Whelp.

    Anne was doing bills and not only are we doing better than we thought (been a rough couple of years financially [daycare a bitch, 27 fucking k last year according to the tax receipt sent home earlier this week!] but over the last couple of months it looks like we've really turned it around) but there was a mystery direct deposit yesterday of a nice little chunk of change from VACP TREAS 310. A bing search tells me that is a Veterans Administration Claims Payment, US Treasury account 310. I filed October 28. Had a doctors appointment in Dec and one in Jan. I wasn't expecting shit for at least a year. At the least I thought they would you know, TELL ME before they started just pumping money into my account.

    Not that I'm upset. :D

    So now I have the WEN on it's way and will update this thread with first hand info when available.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
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  18. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    oooo generator envy. Post your review when you can. The low price makes dealing with running out of gas OK. And there's the possibility of rigging a bigger tank...
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  19. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Didn't realize they'd been absorbed...
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  20. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    curse you. ordered one. my impulse is rationalized by the fact the generator is only good if it's on site when you need it. Cost. Adequate to run furnace and fridge (maybe not at the same time). Arrives tuesday. Next weekend will be playtime.

    Plus I've never seen amazon reviews with less than 10% "one star" for a technical item (this is 3%). I figure 10% is normal. The buyers are overwhelmingly satisfied.
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  21. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Hahaha, you're welcome. :D

    I also bought the magnetic dipstick and side pour funnel. Nice thing about being a Yamaha Clone is that stuff made for the Yamaha works.

    From what I've read it's best to initially fill with conventional oil, run an hour, drain, refill with conventional, run an hour, drain then refill with synthetic.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
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  22. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Santa in a brown shirt and shorts (it's GA) came.

    OOB experience is good. Weight is very manageable. Case seems well constructed. Fuel opening has a removeable filter. Even has an accessory pack including the funnel and wrench people were kvetching about. I'm impressed with the quality.

    Saturday will be the christening and shakedown cruise.

    IMG_0048.JPG IMG_0049.JPG IMG_0050.JPG IMG_0051.JPG IMG_0052.JPG IMG_0053.JPG
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  23. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Removed the side (sorry no pics). 3 philips screws (screwdriver provided) and one 10mm bolt at the bottom middle (10mm open end wrench provided but this is not appropriate; needs a socket).

    User serviceable items, oil, air filter, and plug are accessible. Draining the oil requires tipping the motor to let it drain out the fill hole. Manual calls for 30w unless it will be started at lower temps. It ships empty of course.

    Gas tank is 1 gallon. Manual recommends draining unused fuel and running the motor to burn what's left in the carb before storing. Only way to drain is up-ending the thing.

    Manual insists on not using eco mode (throttles down when no load) for anything more than 1000 watts. Have to experiment and see if it can start the furnace and fridge separately on this setting. If it can't then I think it'll be going back as the only option to use this would be on full throttle and a gallon wouldn't last more than a couple hours. We'll see.

    Solid electronics block in the front with the inverter. Heat sink. Some caps sticking out. Seems fairly moisture proof.

    Manual is insistent on grounding. I guess I'll pound a pole in the ground outside where I plan to set it up.
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  24. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    This is fucking bullshit.

    You ordered yours AFTER me. It comes from China. I literally live 1.7m from the closest deep water port to China.

    How the fuck did you get it a full two days before me?!?!?

    As to the burning out the gas, am I misremembering, or can you put the choke at just above off and it'll cut off the fuel tank and you can drain the lines?

    I know one of the gennies I read up on this was the process. Unfortunately I can't be sure it was the Wen.
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  25. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    It will do that, I read in amazon reviews, but it's not a feature described in the manual. It also leaves fuel in the tank and line so I think it's better to empty the tank and burn the remainder for long term storage. There also appears to be a carb bowl drain and tube that runs to the bottom of the case to dump fuel, I'll look at that more on the weekend. This isn't documented either.

    According to the furnace specs, max current is 6.8 amps (816 watts @120V) so it may do just fine.

    Mine shipped from Indiana. Woot!
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  26. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    Mine started off in Indiana but somehow got stuck in Illinois for a couple days. I got a delay notice.

    Arriaved today. I couldn't help myself. As soon as the kids were asleep I went and unboxed it, read through the starting instructions, filled it with cheap ass 30w and cranked it.

    God damn that is an easy pull. My 4 yo could do it. First pull too. Ran it an hour, then cut it off. Went to drain the oil, but when I lifted it up to see if there was a plug, Don (homeless dude living in my van in my driveway, long story) noticed the bottom was cracked. Damned if it isn't. I'll take a picture tomorrow and send it in to Amazon. Since I've put gas in it I can't ship it back. Fingers crossed they just send me a new one. Anyway, drained the oil, cranked it back (again, so easy) and now got it back running. When the second hour is over I'll drain again and then refill with the most expensive ass synthetic they had at O'Reilly's. I've had a generator crap on me once. No way in hell am I gonna brick a $400 investment to save $4 on oil.

    So yeah, it's running now. Pretty damn quiet. I can hear it inside but nothing too bad. My renters downstairs are making more noise taking a shower. And it's got a decent load, currently running a heater and lights in my van.

    Oh, and yep, can confirm the magnetic dipstick for the Yamaha fits great on the Wen.
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  27. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    So did the 1 hour w/conventional, drain, refill w/conventional, 1 hour, drain, refill with quality synthetic. Every time first pull, smooth as fuck. Ran it another hour after filling with the good synthetic. At light load fucker sips gas. I don't think the gauge moved more than a millimeter or two in the whole 3 hours.
  28. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Cool. I haven't started mine, will be working on wiring first.

    Yeah there's no need to cheap out on the oil. I'd change it after every use if you are going to store it for long periods. I'd also use 10w30 or 5w30 (whatever the manual recommends) even if you plan on starting it when the ambient temp is warmish. I figure when I really need it, it will be freezing with ice on everything and the thing may have sat outdoors for hours without running.

    I'll get a few 2-3 gal gasoline containers and just cycle them through the car every couple months so there is always fresh gas on hand. 5gal containers are too heavy to maneuver (you know, if you're not there and the wife has to fill it, of course).
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  29. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    It liiiiives!

    Inlet on the back of the house, romex to a 2 gang outlet on the inside. Hardwired to one house circuit that runs lights and outlets in half the house (small 50's house). Isolated hot but not neutral via a new breaker box.

    Tested in "eco mode." It immediately throttles down. Connected an electric heater that has 3 settings, 700, 800, 1500. At each setting the motor speed increased until 1500 watts the motor was running full throttle. Not sure why it states not to load more than 1000 watts in eco mode, it responded well. At no load, 700, and 800 watts voltage stayed at 123V. At 1500 it dropped to 117V. Better than advertised.

    Noise is about equal to the neighbor's heat pump (outdoor compressor running while I was testing). Think 2 cycle Lawnboy mower if you're old enough to remember how those sounded. It would be very obtrusive in a campground, but inside the house you can barely hear it.

    I tried energizing the furnace via the generator but this tripped the GFCI breaker on the other circuit. Not isolating neutral (white) and only hot (black) seems to cause weirdness when two A/C power sources are connected to neutral/ground. GFCI works by detecting micro differences in current between hot and neutral (any difference would be caused by a short, possibly through you). I don't have the chops to diagnose it, but I think shutting off power at the main breaker (as it would be in an actual outage) will eliminate any difference. And the fuckin' manual states "isolate both conductors before connecting to the house." It also says hire a licensed electrician, but I love danger. (Any actual electricians in the house?)

    It was late and dark so I stopped playing with it. Tomorrow I'll shut off power to the house at the mains and test again.

    Oh yeah, turning the throttle to almost off (there's even a split on the stripe between settings to suggest this) does stop fuel from the tank. It burned off what was in the carburetor in about 5 minutes and then died.
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  30. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Well that was entirely successful.

    Replayed yesterday but turned off power at main switch. Switched off the house circuit from the main board that I had hardwired to run off the generator. Plugged in the generator, started and warmed up. Switched on the house circuit that I had hardwired with its own breaker box from the generator. Plugged in the furnace. Tried various combinations of lights. No issues. Furnace powered up as normal using eco mode. I didn't try to overload it; running the refrigerator and the furnace at the same time should work. Might overload (generator shuts down) if both were to start simultaneously.

    Inverted the generator to pour out the gas into a gas can. Burned off what was left in the carb/tank/lines.

    Drained the oil (it had run maybe an hour total) it was a little darker. Refilled with fresh. Takes about a 3rd of a quart.

    Stored in the basement. I feel like a prepper now. Maybe I'll start stocking up on canned goods and MREs. Still, without any fireplace or other source of heat, it's good to be able to run the gas fired furnace.

    Details:

    Generator on station in covered screened patio. Green ground wire to an 8' post I sank in the ground outside. Exhaust through screened area. The plastic screen about 8 inches behind the exhaust was not damaged. Some of the evil trees poised to take out power lines behind.
    IMG_0057.JPG IMG_0058.JPG

    Outside power "inlet" from amazon. Not sure if it's to code but oh well. One of the previous owners had thoughtfully drilled the brick and cinderblock wall; I just had to clean out ancient caulk and snake romex through.

    IMG_0056.JPG IMG_0060.JPG

    Inside outlets. I gave them a GFCI outlet and ran wire up to a 15Amp circuit breaker and from there to one of the house circuits. When the generator is in use, switch off the house circuit at the main circuit board (don't want to light the whole house, or at least half of it). Switch on the 15Amp breaker. This also makes shedding load easy if I want to power something that might overload the generator. This is not to code, but hey, it's Georgia. Stuff rarely is. Code requires an interface in the main breaker box that prevents connecting the generator without switching off the mains. I might type up some instructions and attach to my breaker box...

    IMG_0055.JPG

    Not sure what's going on next to it. Someone had run 220V, gas, and water outside. Originally I was thinking of using that circuit but it would have involved digging to find the outside end. Maybe there's a bomb shelter buried somewhere in the backyard...

    Furnace solution. Didn't feel like hardwiring it (it's just 10' from the inside generator outlet):
    IMG_0054.JPG


    Generator with access panel removed. Seems thoughtfully laid out:
    IMG_0061.JPG
    Air filter on the left. Oil on the right. Sparkplug on top with an access hole through the top of the case to facilitate removal. Dumping the oil was easy, the case design prevented any from dripping inside.

    Electronics are preserved in some sort of epoxy. Heat sink on the other side. Looks robust.
    IMG_0063.JPG

    I have no idea what the screw and tube are coming from the carburetor bowl. I didn't fiddle with it. A drain?
    IMG_0064.JPG

    Total cost: $600
    $400 plus tax for the generator
    $200 misc (includes $50 for a 50ft 12 gauge extension cord)
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017 at 9:32 AM
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