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Generator reccomindations.


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I'm looking for a 5500 generator to run odd stuff and power part of the house during storms etc.  

I don't need the best one ever made or a pile of garbage.  

 

What brand should I be looking at?  What gives you the most bang for your buck? 

 

Thanks 

 

Chris 

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The main problem with generators is they don’t get run very often and when you have to have it there is something wrong like dead batteries, gummed up carb, etc. I would recommend getting a welder with aux power. Welding with it is good exercise for the engine. It’s much more expensive but it will work when the lights are out.

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My father purchased a Briggs and Stratton about 7 years back, is has proved a worthy unit. Came with a float charger to keep the battery topped.

 Use ethanol-free fuel, and run the carb dry after each use.

 It gets used about 2-3 times a year, never a problem.

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I use a 5500 onan, 14 years and runs anytime we need it, minimum amount of upkeep and battery and fuel check every so often.

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I’ve got a 3500,5500, and a 7200. None have electric start. The newest one is at least 5-6 years old, a Rigid from Home Depot (not expensive) with a Yamaha (badged anyway) engine, and it’s been great. Oldest is a Makita with a robin-Subaru engine and it’s never been touched either (15 years?). I run them once a month, use non ethanol fuel, with sea foam. I know guys say  to run them dry, but I never do. The way they spit/sputter/shake as they starve for fuel just bothers me. 

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Go with a name brand that you can find service for and get parts for, generac makes a great portable, as do many others. Sounds like you are looking for reliability rather than features, pay close attention to running capacity vs starting capacity, different manufacturers use these in what i feel to be a misleading way, a 5500 generac is a 5500 continuous with a higher starting capacity, a 5500 Honda will be indicative of surge or starting watts and have a lower continuous capacity, both good units, but do your homework. As cost of name brand units goes up, so do features, auto idle can be handy but i am not a big fan of overuse, if you use auto idle it tends to be hard on the generator as well as tools attached. Getting into an inverter unit will get you some really nice features like the ability to run at various engine RPM while still producing super clean power. Nice feature but it will cost you. By the time you get to a full pressure oil system with spin on filter you will be up around north of 2000 bucks. 
my best advice for a bread and butter generator is as i said above, name brand with available dealer and parts/service. Keep the oil changed religiously, shut off the fuel, run the carb dry, but don't let it run dry under load, use non ethanol fuel and use stabilizer. Do your homework on features and capacities. Additionally be realistic about your needs, well pump can be tough to start depending on what it is, do you need hot water? Are you willing to babysit the unit and alternate loads or do you want something the neighbors could set up for you if you were away and it would be big enough to do whatever came along. Just you and careful use a 5000 might be just fine, if you want real convenience you might be into an 8 or 10 by the time you start doing the math. 

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We have a 6000 watt poulan was the least expensive when we bought it probably 15 years ago, has never let us down.  And it has been running the auger for two bins for two years since we had an underground line go bad.

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I think my economy brand rigid/Yamaha was, and still go for, about $700.  Has hour meter and amp meter.  Says it has auto idle, but it has never worked, which has never bothered me as I keep that feature shut off on my makita anyway. 

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10 hours ago, supermechanic said:

Use ethanol-free fuel, and run the carb dry after each use.

 It gets used about 2-3 times a year, never a problem.

This the key to reliability on any brand

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Here's the next question. 

 

I see there are alot of ones that are dual fuel and run on gas as well as propane. 

 

I can see the appeal but I don't wanna get one that is a jack of all master of none if that makes sense. 

Chris. 

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7 minutes ago, farmallman77 said:

Here's the next question. 

 

I see there are alot of ones that are dual fuel and run on gas as well as propane. 

 

I can see the appeal but I don't wanna get one that is a jack of all master of none if that makes sense. 

Chris. 

If you have a big stationary tank that supplies your appliances, It can be adapted to run the genset as well.

 Advantage here is always fresh fuel.  Propane does not degrade  in storage.

 Usually, people make sure the 500 gallon tank is always at least 1/4 full, so you do not need to worry about emergency fuel.

 Downside is minimal.

If the generator is the only thing you have that needs propane, not as handy.

 Running around in an ice storm looking for bar-b-que tanks is a joke.

 Engine runs the same on either fuel, just uses about 1/5 more propane as compared to gasoline .

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1 hour ago, farmallman77 said:

Here's the next question. 

 

I see there are alot of ones that are dual fuel and run on gas as well as propane. 

 

I can see the appeal but I don't wanna get one that is a jack of all master of none if that makes sense. 

Chris. 

I see no issues with a dual fuel, particularly if you use LP for other household stuff and have a bog tank. You can set up with a quick connect hose and have plenty o-fuel never gums up a carb and the engine stays squeaky clean. Same engine, different fuel regulation. My wife’s grandmother had one that was LP/NG/Gasoline, was a nice unit, i think it was a Northstar

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2 minutes ago, vtfireman85 said:

I see no issues with a dual fuel, particularly if you use LP for other household stuff and have a bog tank. You can set up with a quick connect hose and have plenty o-fuel never gums up a carb and the engine stays squeaky clean. Same engine, different fuel regulation. My wife’s grandmother had one that was LP/NG/Gasoline, was a nice unit, i think it was a Northstar

What about EFI vs carb?  I’ve been looking into this also. Primarily for winter storm issues but possibly using to run a camper AC once in a while. Need enough to keep fridge and freezer running and a little heat. 

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2 minutes ago, Sledgehammer said:

What about EFI vs carb?  I’ve been looking into this also. Primarily for winter storm issues but possibly using to run a camper AC once in a while. Need enough to keep fridge and freezer running and a little heat. 

Cant speak from personal experience, in general EFI is more efficient, more reliable and more simple… harder to troubleshoot perhaps, more expensive to manufacture/buy, but I would give one a try. 

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2 minutes ago, vtfireman85 said:

Cant speak from personal experience, in general EFI is more efficient, more reliable and more simple… harder to troubleshoot perhaps, more expensive to manufacture/buy, but I would give one a try. 

To be clear I was looking at a Generac unit XT8500EFI. Way more than a camper needs but should be enough for keeping a fridge and freezer from going bad.  I appreciate the info

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Just now, lorenzo said:

Honda.  Had one for over 20 years. Keep premium gas in it, run it once a year . Never had an issue . 

I have 3, they multiply, and are good units. 

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10 minutes ago, Sledgehammer said:

To be clear I was looking at a Generac unit XT8500EFI. Way more than a camper needs but should be enough for keeping a fridge and freezer from going bad.  I appreciate the info

Thats just the EFI version of the GP base model. Some more electronic goodies. They are a solid unit, but splash oiled, by the time you step up to a pressure oiled system you get into the (440?) engine by my way of thinking it is worth the extra money. Either way, parts are available, servicing dealers may be a little harder to come by. 

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1 hour ago, vtfireman85 said:

Thats just the EFI version of the GP base model. Some more electronic goodies. They are a solid unit, but splash oiled, by the time you step up to a pressure oiled system you get into the (440?) engine by my way of thinking it is worth the extra money. Either way, parts are available, servicing dealers may be a little harder to come by. 

Looks like pressure oiled adds about $1500 to the price. Do you think for a backup and for occasional use that cost is justified? At $2899 the model XC8000E is more than double the cost according to MSRP

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16 minutes ago, Sledgehammer said:

Looks like pressure oiled adds about $1500 to the price. Do you think for a backup and for occasional use that cost is justified? At $2899 the model XC8000E is more than double the cost according to MSRP

Thats a tough question to answer, splash oiled units have been the gold standard for portables forever, really depends on your usage, its a bigger, more robust engine, capable of keeping oil clean and oil system pressurized for extended run times, if you are using it for a few hours at a time and are willing to do an oil change frequently, perhaps even during a multi day extended outage you will probably have very satisfactory service from your splash oiled unit. If you want one to run for days reliably and for many many years then I think full pressure is worth while. Myself I don’t have one with full pressure, what i am willing to deal with and manage is a different story than most of my customers. 
it is one of those things like insurance, costs a lot and most people never see the benefits, but for some it really is worth it. 

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With my generator it hardly ever burns an entire tank of gas in a year. I have never run anything other than E10 or E15 in it. I have never had any fuel problems with it. Maybe I’m just lucky. There’s E15 in my Stihl chainsaw right now as well as my gas air compressor. I still use an old 8N tractor quite a bit on a 12” auger to load semi trucks out of the bins. That tractor is on full load on a 36’ long 12” diameter auger. It only ever gets E15 in it too. Runs great. I also burn E15 in an SUV that they claim is too old to run it and have had good results. I don’t think ethanol is better than anything else I just raise corn and view it as helping my cause. I can probably use the income just as well as some oil company. 

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I bet my splash oiled makita has 800-1000hr on it,judging by how much it’s used compared to the Subaru that has a meter., I know a guy  with these little post hole drilling rigs that have 8.5-10hp Honda’s on them. He says they go 3k hr easy. He’s had a few over 5000.  That just seems amazing to me. 

(I didn’t know we had jumped to $2000-3000 units here.)

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