View Full Version : Portable Generator opinions

Craig D Peltier
07-25-2014, 5:06 PM
My problem Is I own a lowes bought generac I bought in 2012, has maybe 12 hours on it, paid 650. I have had the carb clog up three times already and now a fourth. Cost me another 300. If you dont start it every month it does this, even with stabil in it. It crystallizes the carb. I mean 6-7 weeks and its very risky to leave it that long. Also Generac not very good customer service.

I hear of other generators sitting for a year and start right up. So any models still available you know of in the $1k or less range that are dependable and dont have to start every month. 5000 watt or more.

I just seen a Powermate 6500 with electric start for about 750. It has a screw that allows you to drain the carb after you shut off fuel valve and run it out of fuel. Not sure of this will stop it from crystallizing or not.


Mike Chance in Iowa
07-25-2014, 5:27 PM
We had a 5500 generac from 2001 to 2010. It clogged up after the first time it was used. The easy way to solve this was when using it, when you are ready to shut it down, turn the fuel valve off and let it run out of fuel - instead of using the Off switch. This way, very little fuel is sitting in there. This worked flawlessly for all the years we had it and it would start up easily each time. The longest we let it sit unused was about 1 year. We sold it in 2010 when we moved since we didn't need it any more.

ray hampton
07-25-2014, 5:44 PM
why do the gasoline do this on some engines and not on other engines

Eric DeSilva
07-25-2014, 5:54 PM
We've got a stationary 17.5 kW Generac and its never given us a lick of trouble (knock on wood). Then again, it is set to cycle on every week for a bit and it is natural gas...

Dennis McDonaugh
07-25-2014, 7:21 PM
One word, Honda.

Wade Lippman
07-25-2014, 7:52 PM
One word, Honda.

With gasoline you have to either start it monthly or follow the directions for long term storage.

Tom M King
07-25-2014, 8:30 PM
I only burn non-ethanol gas in small equipment, after replacing three carbs with ethanol left in them. We have just too many things to start them all every month. The generator doesn't get used very often, so I pull the fuel line off the carb, drain the gas into a gas can, and run it until it cuts off so the needle valve doesn't stay shut. I do keep a spare carb for it, and after a friend borrowed it and it sat for a couple of years, I did need the spare carb the next time I needed it. I don't run 2-strokes out of gas because the last few turns are without lubrication, but do run out 4 strokes. With the non-ethanol gas, the 2-stroke stuff starts just fine if left for several months, but no ethanol ever goes in small motors here again.

My generator does have a Briggs and Stratton engine, but it's 20 years old. Any new equipment I buy has a Honda motor, and worn out B&S motors get changed to Hondas.

Mac McQuinn
07-25-2014, 9:43 PM
Even Hondas can have issues, I had problems with my (8) year Honda 5K Generator a while back and the cure was to drain the Carburetor after use and a anti-ethanol fuel additive. I don't let my fuel get older than 6 months before mixing a fresh batch. I've not had any issues since. Unfortunately non-ethanol fuel is not available in my area.

One word, Honda.

Robert Delhommer Sr
07-25-2014, 9:54 PM
Run the carb dry. I have a 5Kw ginny that is,12 years old and if I go put fuel in it it will start 1st or 2nd pull. :)

Wade Lippman
07-25-2014, 11:14 PM
Run the carb dry. I have a 5Kw ginny that is,12 years old and if I go put fuel in it it will start 1st or 2nd pull. :)

I think they were built better 12 years ago. Seriously.
I bought a new snowblower. The second year it wouldn't start. The serviceman came out, and without even looking at it, replaced the carburetor. He said i could pretty much expect that to be a yearly ritual. I was mad when my wife got the extended warranty, but I guess she knew more than me.
My old sb started up without any fuss every year for 12 years.

Mike Cutler
07-26-2014, 6:45 AM
I use SeaFoam in the gas for the generator and other small engines. It seems to work better than Stabil.
I also always have a carb rebuild kit, $7.00, stored with the generator and it is ridiculously easy to overhaul a carb on a generator. Most any small engine for that matter.

Carbs are made with a lot of crappy materials these days. Used to be you just had some brass, SS steel, a couple buns O-rings and seals and a white metal body. Now they have plastic, bakelite, aluminum parts, and really cheap rubber seals and o-rings. There's no telling how gas will react with all those things together after some time.
You could replace your OEM carb with a tri-fuel carb, that way you could run gasoline, LP or NG. It would be a better carb from a build perspective.

Matt Meiser
07-26-2014, 7:54 AM
Seafoam isn't really a stabilizer (I know they say it is but it was formulated WAY before Ethanol) though the oil component probably does help prevent corrosion. I've been using Seafoam plus a stabilizer--Stabil in the past and now StarTron in every can of gas that goes into anything but a car and I've had really good luck, including a Briggs and Stratton powered Generac generator we had until installing a standby. But to the point above, that unit was new almost 13 years ago. Knock on wood I've never rebuilt or replaced a carb. After a couple tanks the Seafoam even straightened out a little bit of an idle issue on a string trimmer I'd bought used.

The generator I stored FULL of gas. Every spring and fall when we were doing our spring garage cleaning and packing stuff away for winter I'd pull it, and start it, run it about 20 minutes, with some kind of load plugged into each phase. We had enough power outages that I used at least a full tank of gas a year, but usually in the spring I'd siphon out as much as I could of was in there, put it in a car, and put in fresh. It always started within 2 pulls of remembering to turn on the kill switch (sometime it took a few to remember that :rolleyes:.)

Dan Duperron
07-26-2014, 8:26 AM
I have a 2400W Makita portable I keep around for emergencies, it gets used once or twice per year during longer power outages. The generator was purchased new by my dad in 2011 and cost just shy of $1000 then. It has a Subaru engine (I think they were still Wisconsin Robin then), and the only problem I have had is after my dad died it sat for a few years with fuel in it before I got it and I had to replace the carb. It lives in a wood crate I made for it and doesn't get regularly run.

Japanese engines have always been good to me. Honda, Subaru, both good and reliable. YMMV, there may be other good ones out there.

Like anything else you get what you pay for. That Makita was an expensive generator, $1k in 1991.

If I ever get a whole-house unit it will be propane and plumbed into my existing 500gal buried tank.

Here is my shutdown procedure I have been using since I replaced the carb in 2001:

* Always use Sta-bil in fuel, at the 'storage' rate. Like Matt I use it in everything but the car, all the time.
* Drain fuel tank. I put the generator on a pair of saw horses to make it easy to get a gas can and funnel underneath.
* Run the engine until it quits from lack of fuel.
* If you want to be extra careful drain the carb bowl with the drain screw. I don't usually do this.
* Remove the spark plug, put a squirt of motor oil in on top of the piston.
* Replace the spark plug (leave the wire disconnected), gently pull the starter rope so the engine turns a revolution or two to coat the cylinder with oil.
* Replace the spark plug wire.

Since I have been doing this I only have to pull out the generator when I need it. To startup, just add fuel, turn on the fuel shutoff, and pull the starter. It starts with one pull. There is a little smoke for a few seconds as the oil burns off, but that's it.

Kev Williams
07-26-2014, 11:02 AM
The main problem is the alcohol in the gas. The secondary problem is the type of fuel lines used in the equipment, and possibly the plastics used in those filters in the gas tanks. Most fuel lines these days are tolerant of alcohol, but many that are used probably aren't, especially small-engine equipment. The alcohol reacts with certain rubbers and plastics, they break down, and the results end up in the carb. Sometimes it's the crystalline type deposits. What I've gotten most often is a jelly-ish goo that resembles the gelatin in Spam, sometimes forming small salmon-egg like balls. Regardless of what it is, it clogs the jet and the engine won't run. I've had this issue with 2 old mowers, a new Weedeater mower, an outboard motor and our houseboat with older fuel lines. The old mowers got replaced, but new fuel lines in the boat halted it's problem.

Running the carb dry may or may not help. Just my opinion, but I don't think it will, the crud doesn't mix with gas or burn, and once the gas is gone, the crud will remain.

Stabil won't help, it just slows down the phase separation process of gas, won't affect the alcohol. Seafoam MAY help, it's basically a solvent and may break down the guck so it'll pass thru the jet...

--found a pic-- Ethanol mixed with old fuel line rubber... nasty.


Tom M King
07-26-2014, 11:23 AM
I agree with the comment on rebuilding carbs...sort of. The carbs on decent sized 4 strokes have replaceable needle valve seats, and those I do rebuild.

I had the same I/C 11hp B&S motor on the generator, pressure washer, and Billy Goat wheeled blower. When the motor on the blower finally wore out, I replaced it with a 13hp Honda, and kept the carb for the spare. If anyone has one of those, the combination for taking the carb apart is to unscrew the jet seat and take the whole jet assembly out. It goes in at an angle, and you can't get the bowl off without taking that jet out.

For the smaller equipment, like Stihl string trimmers, and small chainsaws, the aftermarket carbs sold on ebay are so cheap that it makes it hardly worth the trouble-8 bucks for a carb kit, or 24 with free shipping for a complete carb.

I've found the best "tool" for use in help with rebuilding the little carbs is a white dish pan.

When there was a short while here that we couldn't buy non-ethanol gas, I removed ethanol from high test gas by putting water in 3 gallons of high test, stirring and let settle. The ethanol bonded to the water, and settled to the bottom after sitting for a week or two. Pure gas was siphoned off the top. I used an ethanol test kit to see if there was any ethanol left in the "pure"gas. It worked fine. I used a clear jug that homebrew winemakers use, so I could see the separation of the layers. Fortunately, I only had to do that for about a year until someone else here started selling gas without ethanonl. You should be able to find it at marinas selling to boats. That's where I get it here on the lake.

Craig D Peltier
07-26-2014, 12:12 PM
Thanks for all the info. It seems to me the older ones were built better. It also seems everyone has the problems with carbs almost.Unless those few steps taken. You would think with all the problems with carbs across the board the manufacturers could offer and upgrade or if they were nice put better carbs in. Its not like these units are $99.

ray hampton
07-26-2014, 3:12 PM
I use the same gasoline in the lawn tractor that I use in my SUV , I broke a blade on the mower desk [this summer ] and when got it back , I remove the gasoline tank CAP to add more gasoline , I noticed that part of the gasket on the cap fell into the tank , the gasket could been bad for months , could the whiskey that are mix with the gasoline cause this gasket to dissolved

Tom M King
07-26-2014, 4:21 PM
ethanol dissolves rubber. That's one trouble with small engines made before they started making them using synthetic "rubber" parts for the ethanol gas. Most of my Stihl equipment was made before the change. Even with newer stuff made to run on ethanol, I still avoid it with the small motors.

Charlie Velasquez
07-26-2014, 8:23 PM
Consider a dual fuel generator. A 100 gallon tank of propane doesn't go bad (significantly), runs clean with no carb troubles, may be easier to get when tshtf, and runs your genny for a long time.

Phil Thien
07-26-2014, 8:44 PM
I agree w/ the advice to use the fuel cutoff to let the carb run dry.

Also, manufacturers have had to really lean-out engines in order to meet EPA requirements. A very fine drill bit set will allow you to enlarge the main and pilot jets just a tiny bit, it can make all the difference in the world.

Matt Meiser
07-26-2014, 8:51 PM
A 100 gallon tank of propane ... may be easier to get when tshtf

Not last winter ;)