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Blacek 12-12-2011 08:18 PM

Portable generators...which one?
Hello, I am new to this site and wanted to get opinions on the best portable generator (6500 watts or better).
I would like something that will produce a clean signal, and thinking to go diesel (safer to store fuel, runs cleaner and longer.) so far i found a company called Aurora, making AGI650SDE, which operates at around 69db. Any thoughts about this or some other generator? What about standby units? Are they much more expensive? Not sure i want something so permament either. Thanks guys.

jburd964 12-13-2011 08:47 PM

Back in Fall 2005 I bought a Generac Guardian stand by generator. It had the automatic start and ran on natural gas. I live in SW Louisiana and used it after hurricane Rita and a couple other occasions. This is just a side note, when I was running it hard I had to put a quart of oil in every 24 hours, Generac said that it was normal???? It would run a self check once a week by starting and going through the motions of a actual power failure to check for problems. It did this regularly without any problems. Then in late summer of 2008 we had another storm come through and it ran a hour then shut down. At this point I figured I may of had 50 hours on machine. I did all the trouble shooting I could to no avail. After weeks of trying to get a service call they showed up, charged me $150 for a thirty minute service, to tell me that the windings had came apart. It would cost me $1k just for part so I never attempted to fix. The whole set up including installation was around $8000. (#&$(#*.. Saying all of that to tell you the reason the generator was reasonably priced is that they cut one major manufacturing cost. Not using copper wire, but use aluminum wire with a copper coating that expanse too much for reliable use. Hopefully this will save someone somewhere the price of my lesson. After researching and educating myself some what I now own a PTO driven Tiger Power generator. The kind that chicken farmers use for their chicken houses. I figured they would be a good source of need od stand by power. I could ramble on but that only helps me out you. If you have a specific question shout it to me I've been around the block a couple times and If I think of other I let u know.

Blacek 12-13-2011 10:11 PM

Thanks for responding. I have been thinking about a generac, if I go the standby route, since they seem to be most popular, or at least marketed well. The thing I keep coming back to is that a portable will require more manual effort to wheel out, plug in, transfer over and run, but I can just tuck it away when done; and if it reaches end of life, another new portable is still less than a major repair on a standby. As you have pointed out, the long term reliability of these (standby or portable) is questionable, so that makes me lean towards a portable, just to get by for a couple of days here and there, without shelling for the initial install, maintenance, etc.
When they are running well, there is nothing like a standby though...still not sure.

joecaption 12-14-2011 05:27 AM

The one I've owned for at least 5 years says Coleman on the outside of it. I bought it at Home Depot on sale.
It's 5000 watts with 6500 surge.
I've used in on job site for weeks at a time and it always starts.
I have a transfure switch at home so when it's not on a job I get it as a back up if needed.
I only use non ethenol gas and always shut off the fuel line and let it run it's self out of gas.

AllanJ 12-14-2011 05:30 AM

If you can get by on just small amounts of electricity for just the essentials then a smaller portable generator is a good idea. In addition, a smaller generator may use less fuel per hour for the small load it will be supplying most of the time.

All gasoline and fuel oil fired generators will need going outside to refuel them every now and then so the permanently installed generator does not have an advantage here. (Natural gas generators probably need to be permanently installed.)

One major issue regarding generators is the noise they make. It would help if you can see (and hear) one in operation before buying.

mikegp 12-14-2011 07:26 AM

How do these tie into your home's electrical system? Always wondered that.

jburd964 12-14-2011 07:28 AM

1 Attachment(s)
One thing overlooked on the portable type, is that you can buy a natural gas/ propane conversion kit and install your self. Most people have one or the other and it eliminates the need for refueling, clearer burning, doesn't gum up jets isn't as harsh on o-rings. You can hard wire into house from distance and install a manual double throw transfer switch, reducing the noise level. I ran mine over 150' underground buying my wire, aluminum, from my local electrical suppler at about half price of same in copper. With any small engine first indicator of a high quility is water cooled and diesal the indicator of one of these being $$$$$. Also needs to have oil fitler on engine. Attached link to kits may want to shop around they are pricier then what I remebered as is everything else

jburd964 12-14-2011 07:48 AM

1 Attachment(s)
1. Generator
2. 220 volt receptacle
3. Transfer switch
4. Either installed at main house meter or inside next to breaker box.

CoconutPete 12-14-2011 10:17 AM

Good thread. I was poking around at Harbor Freight the other day for absolutely no reason at all and found myself wondering if the generators they had there are any good.

Double A. 12-14-2011 11:14 AM

Generac is a good brand. Im in retail and we have a choice of troy-built or Generac and I recommend the Generac over the Troy-built any day..

itguy08 12-15-2011 07:49 PM


Originally Posted by CoconutPete (Post 793816)
Good thread. I was poking around at Harbor Freight the other day for absolutely no reason at all and found myself wondering if the generators they had there are any good.

We've got the Harbor Freight 5500w unit and it's good. It's saved our butts a few times with the storms in the Northeast this year. It has electric start and needs it as I'd hate to try to pull start it. I blame that on the EPA and the fact it has an "automatic" choke. Or it could just be trying to pull start a 13hp engine is hard. The Porter Cable we borrowed from our in-laws for the first storm this year was a bear to start too and it had a Briggs engine.

I run it once a month to keep things clean and we expect to have it a while.

Arnold Ziffel 01-01-2012 10:50 PM

My friend up the road has a 5-man power equipment shop, and sells Briggs & Stratton and Honeywell generators, among others. I wanted his most reliable, and he recommended a Subaru (officially Robin Subaru). I upgraded from a $400 dirty power unit that I've used for three years to the Subaru SGX7500E ($1700). It works fine, but it is only a month old, so it is too early to tell how reliable it will be for the long haul. He told me that the Subarus have been very reliable for him.

During an ice storm once, I went to his shop (which was being powered by his generator), and he had about a dozen or two generators to repair. These portable genertors are touchy, and need to be babied. If you buy one and let it sit for three years, there's a fair chance it won't work when you need it. I put two years of fuel stabilizer in the gas, and every six months, dump the gas I'm storing into my car and replace it with fresh gas. I test start the generator once a month, and change the oil as indicated. Can't hurt to get a basic clean and check done every couple years or after one of those hurricane 5-day blackouts - the cost isn't that much.

Hondas make the best portable generators. During one storm, a friend loaned me his Honda, which he had used only once since 2003, and it ran like a charm. These are expensive and rarely need maintenance, but the parts can get costly if something does break down.

For clean power, an inverter unit is great, but they cost a fortune. At the very least, buy a unit with an AVR (voltage regulator), and check the specs. Some of the more expensive models claim a distortion (THD) of 5% or less, which is the recommended level by the IEEE for sensitive electronics. My unit has a THD of 12% to 18%, but that has worked fine on computers. I feed my home business computers through APC SmartUPS, which provide some additional power conditioning. Subaru claims that their unit will provide 120 v +/- 5%, and a frequency of 57 to 63 hertz. My tests have indicated that it runs at a frequency of 61.8 hz loaded, and with a voltage of 114 to 116.

Most computers and a lot of other electronic equipment have DC power supplies with rectifiers that can handle a fair amount of voltage fluctuation and distortion. Check with the manufacturer of the key devices you plan to run on your generator to determine how tolerant they are of power that isn't perfectly clean. There are electronics poking into other things these days, such as fridges and even your furnace board, and flat screen TV's have touchy electronics. Analog TV's (which I have) are pretty tolerant, and if you do perchance blow one up, there are plety to be had for free these days.

The cheapo way to run electronics with a dirty power generator is with a simple inverter connected to a storage battery. I have three storage batteries I use with a camper, and during Hurricane Irene, powered my computers with two 300-watt inverters that cost $28 each. I charged the storage batteries with the generator, and then moved them to the inverters. (I should say this is cheap only if you already own storage or marine batteries).

anderson01 08-27-2016 05:06 AM

Re: Portable generators...which one?
now this generator is still running or not.

PPBART 08-27-2016 06:10 PM

Re: Portable generators...which one?
I've got a couple of 5500 Watt portables -- one I bought at Home Depot after Hurricane Katrina (I had only about 8 hrs power outage after K, but that was enough to get my attention), and a second one my employer provided a bit later. Both start easily every time. I run both for about 30 minutes every month or so. Actually, I just today purchased oil, air filter, sparkplug to do a basic tuneup on each unit.

When power goes out, I roll one of the units up on the back patio. Power cords provide power to refrigerator and freezer, and a portable AC that I stick in the window of one room so we can at least get a cool sleep. The longest we've been without power here is 11 days, but typical it's 48 hrs or less, and we've survived quite well.

I must admit, however, that as I get older I am thinking more of a permanent whole-house solution (e.g., Generac)!

rjniles 08-27-2016 06:16 PM

Re: Portable generators...which one?
I have a Duromax, electric start, dual fuel (gas & propane). I run on propane as it keeps the fuel system clean.

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