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Best Portable Generator 7500W Review

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2009-02-02          160057


Looking to buy a 7500w + portable gas generator for my house as back up for power outages. I prefer Honda or other japanese makers, but going straight Honda seems to be too pricey. Admittedly this will get used very rarely.

It seems that idle control is a nice feature available on the more expensive units that lowers noise and increases run time.

I wanted to stay away from Briggs & Stratton, but I did read that one of their larger units has a Mitsubishi Vanguard engine.

There also seems to be alot of private label stuff which I think is mostly Chinese gear, are those units a headache?

Any advice? Experience with one unit over another.



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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-02-02          160058


Look into a used genset from a boat or RV. Most of them are powered by a Kholer engine and are bullet-proof.

Because of the intended use almost all of them are already set up for remote fuel, battery and start / run controls. This is really handy since if you have either natural gas or propane they have conversion kits available and it eliminates the whole issue of gas going bad. If you then keep the battery inside (warm & charged) you don't even have to go outside for to start it.

They usually go for a fraction of the new price, right now there's lots of them being removed from older RV's because the prices are so low that people are removing them and selling them separately.

Just my $0.02 worth.

BTW, if somebody says "penny for your thoughts" and you give them your "two cents", what happens to the other penny? LOL

Best of luck. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160059


The Kohler engine in our generator has been bulletproof for ten years and 6-700 hours FWIW. It's not their bottom of the line engine but you don't hear much bad about Kohlers.

I don't know if Coleman is still in business or if they are still making generators but if so - stay far, far away.

Honestly, I'd go with a company that makes generators and has a dealer network. Onan, Kohler, Gillette are brands that come to mind. But those companies may not make small gensets. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2009-02-02          160060


Two thoughts (no pennies involved):

1. 7500 watts seems like a VERY large genset for a motor home. I have a 32 footer with a 4000 watt generator.

2. Why not just buy the whole used motorhome intact? It is really nice to have a spare bedroom (think visiting relatives), kitchen (a place to cook on hot summer days), general living quarters AND a generator with external outlets and a 55 gallon gas tank already plumbed in.

Think of what you would do in a true emergency. I live in wildfire country and really like having a separate, mobile living space. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160063


DennisCTB,

I haven't heard from you in quite some time. I was hoping all was well on your end. Nice to see you here again.

My wife and I were talking about what we would do if the electricity ever went out when the temps were in the -30 degree range. I told her, "First we'd freeze our butts off, and then we'd be fixing water pipes for a month." None of that sounded like too much fun to her. It's so danged hard to please a woman!

I went through all of this before. Maybe my thoughts will help you a bit here.

Rather than worry about another engine, oil, bad gasoline, dead batteries, and all that fun stuff........I settled for a PTO driven generator.

My PTO generator was purchased at a farm auction about 4 years ago. It puts out 12.5kW. I paid $540.00 for it. I think the transfer switch cost me about that much.

Northern Tool sells one just about like mine for somewhere around $900.00

Joel ....

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2009-02-02          160064


How much can you justify spending, that ultimately may dictate how "good" it's going to be. In my experience the "pick up a cheap used unit on the second hand market" doesn't exist as you have to be part of that market on a daily basis to find what you are looking for. It took me 8 years of sporadically going to auctions etc to get a decent used PHD and that's only because I was not really in the market for one and just happened to be there when one went for less than $200. Other than that most of my stuff is bought at fair market value (used and new) and never really seems cheap to me. I would expect to pay around $1000 for what you are spec'ing. Also since they are used so seldom why do you need the most durable engine on the market, seems to me like it would never get more than a couple hundred hours on it, it will rust ect long before the engine wears out. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160065


The way around bad gas is to get one that will run on LP and buy a 100 gallon tank (or in our case a 1000 gallon tank).

An electronic battery maintainer is a good idea.

A PTO unit sounds like a good idea, but when you need to keep the house running while simultaneously plowing snow it doesn't work out so well.
....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160066


AnnBrush,

That's one neat thing about the internet. You don't have to travel to auctions anymore. You can bid from the comfort of your own home.

If you haven't been to proxibid.com yet, please pay a visit. There's a search window on the home page. You can search for anything under the sun.....and proxibid will likely have it available.

See the link below.

Joel ....


Link:   Proxibid Online Auctions. Bid Live via internet.

 
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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160067


Kwschumm,

The nice thing about the PTO generator is that I can leave it attached to the tractor while I pull out a stuck vehicle, or even while clearing out the driveway. All I have to do is unplug the power cord going to the outlet on the house.

The furnace normally runs once every 1/2 hour or so, but being without the furnace for even a couple of hours, there's no real emergency.

It's nice having the PTO generator when I want to weld something out in the back pasture. I strap the welder in the loader bucket and take it anywhere I need it.

You're right though....there is no perfect system. Every backup energy plan has its drawbacks.

Joel ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-02-02          160068


I'll go along with the PTO units. I have a 45KW three phase that will power the whole house if we need or run a welder, etc. At full load it needs 90 HP. but I've never loaded it that heavy yet. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160069


How do those PTO units maintain a steady 60Hz under changing loads? ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-02-02          160070



The governor of the tractor engine will keep the needle "In the Green" Frank. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160072


But if it varies more than a few percent it can cause trouble with electronics. The governor is a rather crude device. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160073


Kwschumm,

In order to make 60hz, the tractor must run at full engine rpm. The PTO generator has to run at 540 PTO rpm at all times.

So long as your generator is sized properly for your tractor (mine is actually too big for my current tractor), there's no fear of overloading the tractor engine.

In my case, I need to make sure that I don't overload the tractor by drawing too much current. So far, I've never come close to putting a max load on the generator.

I would never run the tractor at full rpm for days on end. Instead, the plan is to run the tractor for about one hour during meal prep, and then run the furnace for another hour after that.

Crank up the thermostat, run the tractor for an hour, and then shut down the tractor for several hours. It won't keep the house at a steady 68 degrees, but it will keep the pipes from freezing.

Joel ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160076


I wouldn't be as concerned with overloading the tractor as I would be with poor quality power that damages expensive electronics. Noise, spikes, sags, surges, etc. Some generators specifically say "safe for electronics" while others don't mention it. At least that's the way it was 10 years ago when we bought ours. ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2009-02-02          160077


I have one of those Coleman 5.5kv units that I purchased years ago for around $500. It's not the best engine, has an 11 HP Tecumseh I/C that usually starts first or second pull.

I have run it steady, 24 hours a day, during ice storms. Usually change the oil every day or so. The tank will run for 8 hours, so when I was working the storms, the genset would rest when it ran out of fuel until I got home.

If I stay where I am, I will install something more durable that is designed to run on propane. That motor home idea is not a bad one either DR!


....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160078


Kwschumm,

I have the same concerns.

It's probably not a good idea to power up my computer or the television with the backup generator.

In my case, the backup power is simply to save the house from freezing water pipes. We can cook on the stove, as well as run the fridge, freezer, furnace and microwave. Nothing beyond that is important to me during a "life or death" situation.

Joel ....

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2009-02-02          160081


I have no fear about using the pto gen. All PC's are on their own APC's.

The hertz never wavers with the PTO. I'd have more concern about the brown outs and spikes from the power or phone lines. A icey limb hits the power line and there is much more disruption of power than the PTO fading a little, if it does.

I exercise mine once a year. Whole house everything on making sure water pump starts, air compressor everything.

Tractor will grunt a little when load hits but needle stays very steady. 275 gallons of fuel in big tank.

Who cares if driveway gets plowed as long as I am warm and can watch TV or read or surf during a big power outage. Of course I could put the "M" on it if I REALLY had to do both at same time. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-02          160082


Cutter, I agree about DR's mobile home idea, it's not a bad idea at all, especially with the high gas prices depressing land yacht prices. The deal on Coleman's is that some of them have nylon bearings in the generator that just don't last. Not sure what models those might be but clearly it's not yours.

Joel, for five of the last seven years we have had at least a one week outage during the coldest part of winter, and usually over Christmas. It's really nice to have Sat TV and internet during those times, along with the ability to cook and heat and light the house. Our little 14.5kw genset does *most* of that except run the heat pump. With two fireplaces we can keep the house above 60 degrees. One of these years I'll install radiant floor heat on the main floor to add extra heat from the propane fired hot water. But it's not as cold here as there, I don't remember it ever falling below zero here. I came >< this close to buying a 45kw propane genset this year after the ice debacle in December.
....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-02          160083


Kwschumm,

We all face different situations. For me, having electrical power available during a blizzard is a simple matter of survival.

If your situation allows you a little more time to sit down and relax, I suggest a pure sine wave power inverter. They aren't cheap, but the power they supply is absolutely stable.

You could run the inverter off the truck or tractor battery. Just buy a power inverter rated for about twice the wattage you actually need. The smaller ones tend to heat up and/or burn out during long periods of use.

Joel ....

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2009-02-03          160086


I have a 13.5kW PTO generator for the house. On top of the generator consider the following purchases:
Stand or trailer for the generator: $ 200
Transfer switch for power: $ 110
Cable from generator to house (sufficiently sized): $150
Appropriate receptacles at each end of cable: $90
3R enclosure for electricity inlet: $40
Independent frequency and voltage meter (more later): $100
Misc supplies: $20
Labor to set it all up (5 hours @ 25/hour): $125
WOW you are up over $800. ....

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2009-02-03          160087


I bought the following from Northern Tool: NorthStar PTO Generator 13,000 Watt, 24 HP Required

The idiot gauge on this unit is hopeless. I have a standalone quality frequency / voltage meter that plugs into two receptacles (L1 and L2) inside the house. I set the tractor throttle using that to get as close to 60 Hz as possible. I can then see the quality of the power while I am using it in the house (as opposed to outside in the cold and snow where the tractor is). The idiot gauge would have me running near 68 Hz and I would be just in the "green". Don't rely on them they are guesstimates and are not properly calibrated anyway. They have to make em cheap as no one forks out for "expensive" generators so the add on components are pathetic. Speed of PTO is directly related to frequency of power generated. This fact was kindly supplied by an article Murf mentioned on a generator quality power thread some years back.

Oh forgot to include driveline from Tractor to generator ($90) ....


Link:   

Click Here


 
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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-02-03          160088


If you are buying a sizeable PTO unit get a three phase, they don't cost that much more. Mine has two 15 amp 120V outles, a 240 20 amp, and a 100 amp three phase outlet. ....

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SamSpade
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 41 Vermont
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2009-02-03          160089


I do like Murph's suggestion about RV generators. Does anybody have suggestions about where to find those for sale? Do those units supply 220?

Years ago, I went the small generator route and it works for me. More than ten years ago I bought a kowasaki based 15 amp generator. It has just enough umph to run our steam boiler. As other people have pointed out, it doesn't have to run all the time, just long enough to recover from heat loss and get the interior temp a little above normal. And with big cast iron radiators and the large capacity boiler necessary for steam, our heat has a lot of momentum once it gets going. When the generator isn't running the boiler, it looks after the refrigeration.

For interior lighting, I have a slew of small LED lanterns that last for ever on batteries and now a couple with hand cranks. If I really needed it, I have a good inverter for any electronics. We already use a cookstove in the kitchen for heat and cooking all winter, so we don't need 220 for the stove.

I do wish I had a larger generator with 220, but I have never been close to worrying about the integrity of the house (freezing) during a power outage and I haven't broken the bank for my backup. It would be great to be able to have enough power to power the whole house as if I were plugged into the grid, but I haven't been able to find equipment at a price I am willing to shell out for.

It is a mimalist approach and may not be an approach for everyone, but it works for us here. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-03          160090


SamSpade,

Good portable generators are easy to find. They are commonly used on construction sites, and are often sold at auction upon completion of a major project.

You can also check with the local rental businesses. They often put their used equipment up for sale every so often.

My neighbor's backup system is a self-contained welder. I think he has a Lincoln welder/generator. I know Miller makes one as well. There are probably several other makes to pick from.

Since he uses his welder on the farm all the time, (it's permanently mounted in the back of his pickup) it's always ready for use when needed. His is diesel powered, which isn't a good choice when temps get down to -30. He's considering a trade for a gasoline powered welder/generator.

I see these welder/generators for sale at nearly every farm auction I attend. The downside to them is that they're big, heavy, and difficult to move around. The benefit, however, is that the engines in those things are extremely durable.

Go to proxibid.com and type "Miller Bobcat" in the search box. There are about a dozen of these currently available to the highest bidder.

Joel ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-03          160091


Quote:
Originally Posted by candoarms | view 160090
SamSpade,Good portable generators are easy to find.


Keep in mind that bad portable generators are also easy to find :) Hey, I'm just sayin' ....

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SamSpade
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 41 Vermont
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2009-02-03          160092


The Welder / Generator is a good suggestion.

A big part holding me back is I wouldn't use the generator for backup very often, and I could live without it. But a welder on the other hand.. And the point that since it would get more use so it is more likely to be in working order when the time arrived is a good one.

Thanks for the suggestion. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2009-02-03          160093


Since I started this thread, I will add that I am only interested in new portable gas powered equipment. I'd like to spend under $2000, and the closer to $1000 the better.

Anyone use Pramac generators, they come with Honda engines which I like. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2009-02-03          160095


What is the scoop. Coleman's brand of generators is called "Powermate". Pramac's residential brand is called "Powermate" as well. Are these the same?

Dennis, FYI. On Coleman's website they sell a professional grade "Plus" that has Honda engines.

I bought a Coleman 5500 Watt for my renters some years back since the power goes out often in the country for a half day or so at a time. Haven't had any problems with it.

My input is Unless you use it lots, buy a cheapie like the Coleman. Keep fresh gas at hand and run it for a few minutes every couple of months under load. Put the money you saved in a safe place and keep it for your retirement or take a nice vacation. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2009-02-03          160096


Quote:
Originally Posted by yooperpete | view 160095
My input is Unless you use it lots, buy a cheapie like the Coleman.Keep fresh gas at hand and run it for a few minutes every couple of months under load.Put the money you saved in a safe place and keep it for your retirement or take a nice vacation.


On that note I saw a Homelite 5500 at Home Depot that had a 'Yamaha' engine in it for $599.00. Great price a little less watts than I wanted, no auto low idle control, but great price and Yamaha is a good engine, the straight Yamaha gens are some of th most expensive.
....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2009-02-03          160097


DennisCTB,

Out of curiosity, I went to Northern Tool and did a little scouting for you.

They sell Generac brand generators there. Generac is a trusted name in backup power sources. They don't specify engine brand, but they do say the engine is rated for 3000 hours of use.

Free shipping on this model.

See the link below.

Joel ....


Link:   Generac Portable Generator

 
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crunch
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 264 Niagara County, NY
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2009-03-05          160841


I purchased a northerntool generator, 10K surge, 8KW continuous, 13hp honda engine a few years ago. It runs great. It is electric start and has a pull start backup. I have not been able to start it with pull start. So I make sure my battery is always in good condition. ....

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