Two Letters Re: Generator Experiences During a Recent Nor'easter

Saturday, Nov 28, 2009

The letter about Generators today inspired me to write this email. I have owned generators for around 20 years for emergency backup and portable power uses. I use my generator primarily for powering sound equipment in the field. As a result I looked for a quiet generator. The very quiet generators all run at 1,800 RPM, but it is expensive to make a generator that runs slow and quiet, and the affordable portable generators all seem to run at 3,600 RPM.

When I purchased my current generator 10 years ago, Coleman had just started using the Briggs and Stratton "Vanguard" OHV engines in their generators. These I found to be significantly quieter than the
typical generator engine, though not as quiet as a 1,800 RPM engine.

With regards draining the fuel, I have found the key is shutting off the valve in the fuel line under the tank and letting the engine run until it starves for lack of fuel. It is not necessary to drain the
fuel tank or take other steps in my experience as long as the valve is closed and the engine run dry of fuel. My current generator has had fuel in the tank for its entire ten year life and starts on the first
pull every time. Of course Sta-Bil. or Amsoil's gas stabilizer is always added to the fuel.

The most important issue for long generator life is clean oil. Oil gets dirty from dirt in the air. The engine on my generator has a dual air filter with both a pleated paper filter and an oil soaked foam filter. The combination seems to do a good job in keeping the engine oil clean.

It is also important to use an oil that does not break down under use, and that keep water in suspension so it does not rust engine parts. I use Amsoil's Synthetic Marine Oil in my generator, but when my current stock of oil is used up I will probably switch to the new Amsoil Synthetic Small Engine Oil. (I recommend Amsoil Synthetic Oils for all your cars as well.)

I have a plastic storage bin that holds spare air filters, spare spark plugs, and oil for my generator along with the needed spark plug wrench and a fuel siphon. I keep one or two 6 gallon gas cans out in
my shed (not in our garage or house for safety). Since all our vehicles have full tanks of fuel, I can always use the siphon to refill the gas cans.

Running the generator under load every few months is an excellent idea. Always start and stop a generator with no load connected. If your loads are connected during start up in particular the voltage
surges as the generator engine gets up to speed and settles to a constant running speed can destroy electronic equipment, and is not good for any equipment. Get the generator running at a steady speed,
and then plug in your power cords. Likewise disconnect the power cords before stopping the generator

Blessings on you and your family! - RAR


Mr. Rawles,
I live in Florida and have had quite a few encounters with week long power outages due to hurricanes. Four years ago I converted my portable generator to run on natural gas for only a little more than $200.00. I don't have to worry about ethanol contamination in the carburetor anymore. The conversion is also able to run on propane, or back to gasoline with only the re-gapping of the spark plug. It has a pull start and only takes one or two pulls to start after sitting in storage for months. Here is the web site where I ordered the kit. - Jim H

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