ECN Forum

Generator Brands

Posted By: Tiger

Generator Brands - 04/16/07 03:49 AM

I'm looking at 15/16kW residential generators. Anyone prefer a particular manufacturer? I'm looking at the Generac because it runs weekly in a quiet idle mode.

Posted By: frenchelectrican

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 04:17 AM

normally i used the Kholer or Onan both are very good to me.

just make sure you get sound enclosure with it [ it will cost little more than standard units will charge ]

the other thing is check the warranty as well

but Dave just a head up if you get natural gas genny make sure you give the coumster a head up may have to change the gas metering to handle extra load on it .

Merci , Marc
Posted By: resqcapt19

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 11:11 AM

What good does it do to run the weekly exercise in idle mode? I was always taught, and many operations manuals require, that the generator be run at 50% to 100% load for at least one hour a month.
Posted By: LarryC

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 11:21 AM

The load requirement is very important for diesel engines to prevent "wet stacking" in the exhaust piping. Unburnt fuel can collect in the exhaust system, and when the engine runs for an extended time under load, a chimmney fire can result.

I do not know if a similiar effect happens with propane or Natural Gas fueled units. If the generator is hooked up to city gas, it may require more than just an upsized regulator, it may also require a larger line to the house.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 03:04 PM

It's no accident that Generac has just kicked off a very aggressive marketing campaign.

I have installed a few gennys, and not a one of them was a Generac. Indeed, all were specified by someone else; my opinion was not asked for.

I am given to understand, from those with more direct experience, that this brand has a poor track record. I am told that the company has a very one-sided 'dealer' contract with EC's, and require they you stock lots of unique spare parts.

You are quite correct is suggesting that the genny itself is perhaps the least critical part of the install. The muffler is critical; most sets run with a roar that will wake the dead. The exerciser, load bank, and transfer switch are critical components.
Posted By: ghost307

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 05:41 PM

I'm starting to get a fair amount of pressure to spec the Generac gensets...and I'd appreciate input as to why to avoid them.

I haven't heard anything specific, mostly generic comments from the field about service, pricing, quality of field support and delivery.

Anything that I can use to produce a better design for everyone concerned will be most appreciated.
Posted By: LarryC

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 06:16 PM

In a previous life, I used to repair standby and portable generators. The number 1 and 2 brands were Onan and Kohler. I believe Onan was bought by Caterpillar.

Generacs were disliked for two reasons. First, they were 2 pole machines which meant they rotated at 3600 rpm instead of 1800 rpm. Higher speeds equals more engine noise and more vibration and potentially shorter mechanical life.

Second, they used epoxied sealed plug in "blobs" for control units i.e. voltage regulators and such. Each model apparantly used unique blobs with no interchangebility. That goes back to the previous comment about needing to stock too many spare parts.

Personal opinion, if I were to install a standby unit for my house, I would look at Winco. Back in the early 90's they made a nice 20 KW unit that used the Ford industrial 4 cylinder engine, which used the same parts as the Pinto car. Obviously not top of the line like Cat or Onan, but good enough for most residential and small industrial applications.
Posted By: Dnkldorf

Re: Generator Brands - 04/16/07 10:50 PM

I like the Siemens. They use a Generac motor, with their own controls and bells and whistles, but come in 3600 rpm, water cooled.

Kinda a mid range between the Onans, and the Generac/guardians.

Posted By: frenchelectrican

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 12:14 AM

Originally Posted by LarryC
In a previous life, I used to repair standby and portable generators. The number 1 and 2 brands were Onan and Kohler. I believe Onan was bought by Caterpillar.

Generacs were disliked for two reasons. First, they were 2 pole machines which meant they rotated at 3600 rpm instead of 1800 rpm. Higher speeds equals more engine noise and more vibration and potentially shorter mechanical life.

Second, they used epoxied sealed plug in "blobs" for control units i.e. voltage regulators and such. Each model apparantly used unique blobs with no interchangebility. That goes back to the previous comment about needing to stock too many spare parts.

I will like to correct one mistake here real quick the Onan is broughted by Cummins engine company not the Caterpiller Company.

let you know the correction there

as what other reflect what they saying about Generarc Generators i do agree with them.

I have few issuse with them as well the part network is very poor and majorty of items is not really standard parts at all that why i shy away from that company

most of my generator sale is kinda like pretty well equal Onan [ Cummins company ], Caterpillar ,Kohler , but few other as well if the comuster request it

My typical choice for resdental area is a slow speed [ 1800 rpm units ] useally 12-18 Kw range [ that will be serve most home load easly unless supersized home that diffrent ]

for fuel choice it depending on the area majorty of small units genrally spec'ed for Natural gas or LPG but diesel units as well but some local area may not allow diesel unit at all for other reason so just check all angle for this

my home i have 20 KW diesel unit with subbase fuel tank that will useally last me about 2 days of full running time but half load it will get 3 1/2 days whistle

then again i will mention that the Generarc generators is " cheap " to me

Merci, Marc
Posted By: bigrockk

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 12:44 AM

Years ago when I worked for the railroad and they still ran cabooses; all of ours were equipped with Onan generators. Well I have to say these genney's were tough. Very few breakdowns. The biggest problem we had with them (and that was fairly infrequent) was the "charging diode" for the battery charging circuit. These units were subjected to the worst of conditions and just seemed to keep on running for years.
Although these units are probably not the same as "resi" units there quality was impressive.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 12:58 AM

Onan is the gold standard for big boats
Posted By: frenchelectrican

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 12:59 AM

If you guys want the link for the generators please do ask me i will post it here i have more than 15 genny manufacter listing with me so if you want just speak up grin

thanks again

Merci , Marc
Posted By: LarryC

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 01:02 AM

Another thing to remember is that a engine running on propane will only produce about 80% of the maximum rated output verses gasoline. I don't know what the derating values are for LP or NG. Also watch out for, especially in earthquake prone areas, the gas utility may shut off the gas system in the event of a big natural disaster.
Posted By: frenchelectrican

Re: Generator Brands - 04/17/07 01:07 AM

Larry i will be glad to fill you in with correct percentage most "dry fuel " generators rated the power on LPG but when it run on Natural gaz it will run 80 % of LPG but gasoline like car gas most of them dont use gasoline at all

yeah i was well aware with earthquake area so mostly likely use diesel fueled units

Merci , Marc
Posted By: Tiger

Re: Generator Brands - 04/18/07 10:40 PM

I appreciate your replies. As much as I'd like an Onan, I've already contracted and I'd need a crane to move the Onan.

Posted By: JoeTestingEngr

Re: Generator Brands - 04/19/07 02:50 AM

This is somewhat off topic but moght be of interest to those with Cat 2800 series engines. Our 2812 driving a 900KW Marathon generator had an interesting failure. It wouldn't turn off and destroyed one starter. A tachometer coupling to the encoder that drives the Electronic Speed Switch, failed after the unit started. One output of the ESS is a "crank terminate", which didn't, causing failure of one starter. Another output controls a TDR which enables the fuel and air shutdowns. We had to shutdown using a fuel lever near the governor assembly.

I wasn't willing to have this failure mode again so I added to the control ladder. We drive a generator run relay with a PT powered by the generator output. I added a N.C. contact in series with the crank terminate and a N.O. contact in parallel with the shutdown enable TDO contact. If anyone out there has one and needs more details, feel free to contact me.
Posted By: Jim M

Re: Generator Brands - 04/19/07 02:16 PM

I was just at an Inspectors meeting and the speaker was from Generac. He said that they own about 80% of the genset install market.They have trailers touring the country as an eductional show. Tour dates are supposed to be listed on their website.

I don't like that they only used Siemens breakers in the tranfer panels.
Posted By: ghost307

Re: Generator Brands - 04/19/07 07:39 PM

I didn't like that they tap danced around a question that I asked them about fault currents...or that the training/touring information on their website is either outdated or missing.
I've also run into more than 1 Contractor that swore on a stack of Bibles that they'd never buy another Generac unless they had no other options.
Besides, we all know that the #1 way to get a HUGE part of the market is price. Most folks worry about the purchase cost and could give a hoot about quality or performance.
Posted By: walrus

Re: Generator Brands - 04/20/07 07:36 PM

I have a chance to buy a briggs and Stratton Generator, model 1894 ch 7000w new for 850 dollars. Its a portable job with wheels. If I look online I see it 1200$. I hestitate because I'm sure its not the best
Posted By: LarryC

Re: Generator Brands - 04/20/07 08:54 PM

It depends on what you are going to use it for. For use for job power at a remote site it is probably fine. To back up your house for a week during a storm power outage, fine. To permantly install to provide reliable power for your parents respirator, I wouldn't do it.

Briggs and Stratton makes good and cheap engines. the good engines are the Industrial / Commercial series. They can be rebuilt.

You need to determine the reliability you want / need and then figure out what amount of failure you can tolerate.
Posted By: JJM

Re: Generator Brands - 04/20/07 09:54 PM

I don't like the smaller Generac units for a number of reasons.

First, the quality of the "pre-packaged" ATS switchgear doesn't exactly inspire condfidence, and doesn't allow for much flexibility, like excercise times, automatic excercise with transfer, and so forth. (If you're not excercising with transfer, you're wasting your time.) I would much rather have a genset with a two-wire start that can be used with a more "substantial" ATS of my choice. Plus switched neutrals if required by local code are almost impossible with lower end Generac's.

Second, up until recently, you needed very high (11-14" WC) natural gas pressure to run these units, though now they can run on (5-7" WC). Onan is much more flexible, usually allowing 7" to 15" WC, though many can run with less without any problem.

And finally, I've found these units can be very finicky to get going, and there's often insufficient space to make connections. I don't like the idea of attaching a NEMA 3R box outside of these things simply to reduce the conductor size so the genset can accept them. Annoying. And it seems too many of these units come DOA, and need parts replacement. Never seen and Onan or Kohler come DOA.

Now when you get into the bigger Generac's, like 100KW and up... those can be pretty impressive, both with the genset and ATS switchgear. Those tubrocharged CAT engines are a sight to behold. I really don't like the consumer grade stuff.

I personally like Onan - have one myself - but I am very impressed with the new Briggs & Stratton units and their load management controls. B&S will soon be shipping their new EM20 genset, a 20KW air cooled unit with 28KW surge capacity that can manage TWO 5-ton central A/C units with the Empower controller. And I guess I like B&S because I could work on those motors as a kid, and they're pretty darn reliable. But of course, the motor is only half the equation in a genset.

Posted By: walrus

Re: Generator Brands - 04/20/07 10:41 PM

I'd want it to back up my house for whatever period it needed. I wouldn't run it 24/7, I can get by without at times. I'd like it to run my deep well pump, freezer and maybe furnace( I can easily heat my house with wood though). Wesco Distribution has 10 of them and its tempting. I already own a 3000 watt Onan, its been very reliable but its not quite big enough.
Posted By: Active 1

Re: Generator Brands - 04/22/07 03:48 AM

Generac provides poorly for the end customer and does not take care of the EC dealers.

If a homeowner calls Generac with any question or concern they are given the EC phone number in place of a help customer service.

A dealer must fax written orders on anything as small as an oil filter. At least some items are not returnable.

A dealer is sold a required service parts kit. I believe the perferd dealer needs to buy more parts, have an 800 phone number, and provide 24 hour service.

A dealer needs to provide warrenty service reguardless where the customer purchased it or who installed it.

For warrenty the dealer may need an authoration, purchase parts from Generac, do the labor, send in the paper work maybe old parts, let them check the old parts and paper work, then they will give you a credit. Next you need to call the credit department to get a check sent to you. It can take 8 weeks to get paid a fixed book amount for a repair.

To repair them you need your metric tools, extensions, swivels, and many auto mechanics tools.

You can be on hold for an hour to get someone from the parts department. I never got any catologs where I could just look up my own part #, price, or even see if I had the correct part in stock.

They have been inconcistant on the gas pressure requirments.

The tec support provided the wrong information more than once. Things like the cut sheet on where to put your pipes in the cement pad.

The models change faster than they can update the information for them. I Ordered one liquid cooled that was the newest model. By the time I got it way latter than promised it was allready discontinued.

The sales rep never lasts for more then a few months. They will call you every week to let you know on the latest deal like buy 10 units now and get 3% off.

I been told a few times by a potential customer they claim things on the Generac web site like air cooled units are priced from (not much more then I pay) and can be installed in a few hours.

The home centers sell the same units for a little more than what I pay for it from Generac but do not proved warrenty work.

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