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Re: Portable Generators

To: John Miller <>
Subject: Re: Portable Generators
From: Andy Poling <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 13:19:21 -0400 (EDT)
On Fri, 19 Jun 1998, John Miller wrote:
>  - Most have low oil shutoffs - is this important? My lawnmower doesn't burn
>    enough oil in one season to need oil added.  Why should a generator?

I consider it a warm fuzzy, especially considering that a new engine ain't
cheap, and you probably want to be able to consider an emergency generator
reliable (as in not broken/blown up).

It seems like all the good ones have it anyway.

>  - Is electric start a worth while feature on larger units?

I think so.  I have a 4 KW Generac with a nice 7.8 HP industrial engine (OHV,
electronic ignition, etc), but it's about all I can manage to yank the
starter cord hard anad fast enough to get it lit off.  I really wish I'd
gotten electric start (especially on the one I got for my parents), but that
was only available on the larger (read: more expensive) units and the tiny

>  - Is it safe to run electronic equipment on gas generators?

Modern generators are pretty good at providing stable clean power.  My
generator is to run my computers in my home office/computer center.  I have
run the computers on the generator directly in a pinch, but I prefer to
insert a UPS in between the generator and the equipment.  The UPS can also
keep things up while you get the generator fired up.  Auto-idle may not work
with the UPS (the UPS may fool the generator into thinking there's no load)
but you can add a small incandescent light plugged directly into the
generator to kick the generator into action (or disable auto-idle).

>  - What else do I need to be concerned with?

I'd consider a cut-over switch that lets you switch your main panel power
feed from the utility to your generator.  It helps you avoid the voltage
drop from stringing extension cords all over the place.

Also, some generators are fuel flexible.  I've seen some, for instance, that
could run on gasoline, LP gas or natural gas (I think that's right).  The
power available varies with the, but the flexibility is nice, especially if
you're in an area with utility-supplied gas (for long runs).

-Andy (whose shop-building project is about 6 months away)

72 Pantera - Rocky         91 Miata - Steve (bionic)            96 A4Q - Rudolf
80 928 - Phantom               97 Miata - Nadia                84 RZ350 - Sting

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