Thread Number: 72174  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Generac Standby Generator
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Post# 954476   8/25/2017 at 16:12 (422 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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Anyone have a whole house standby generator or knowledge of them? I have a Generac 16 KW that was installed in 2007. It has worked flawlessly until 2 weeks ago when the electricity went out. The generator started automatically as it should however there still was no electricity. I called the dealer that installed it. He thought it was the voltage regulator but after waiting 10 days for the part and installing it, there still was no electricity being produced. Now he thinks it is the alternator that needs to be replaced at a cost of $2500 for parts and labour! This sounds absurd. I've asked him for a breakdown of part and labour costs but so far I have not received an answer. I called another dealer and am waiting for a quote from them.


Post# 954484 , Reply# 1   8/25/2017 at 16:40 (422 days old) by petek (Ontari ari ari O )        

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Boy you are having a run of bad luck :( 

Post# 954493 , Reply# 2   8/25/2017 at 18:15 (422 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
fixed those(and similar)before

I have fixed a few of those- one unit I fixed under warranty had a wire break loose from the slip rings-one I have in the shop now keeps the starter engaged after engine start,grinding the pinion against the flywheel.If you want to repair the generator yourself,post the model#and I will check if it is the same model I have in the shop :)

Post# 954497 , Reply# 3   8/25/2017 at 18:24 (422 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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There are some of my neighbors have Generacs. I hear them once a week cycling but have never heard they had any problems with any of them. After the big ice storm in January 1998, when we lost power for 2 weeks, those started being installed. I have a Craftsman that I bought when the ice storm started, and it runs everything in the house I need. Problem is, that it eats 5 gallons of gas in 5 hours.

Post# 954508 , Reply# 4   8/25/2017 at 19:51 (422 days old) by realvanman (Southern California)        
GenerJunk has a very bad reputation

But FIRST get rid of any "technician" who is really just a "parts swapper", and is taking the "shotgun" approach with YOUR money. Indeed you should not pay for any parts that were installed to replace parts that were still good.

One who knows what they're doing will diagnose the problem and any faulty parts BEFORE buying any new parts.

I HIGHLY recommend the good folks on this site:

I specifically linked to the Onan forum because all of the excellent generator technicians hang out there. Many have GenerJunk experience and will be able to walk you through the troubleshooting process.


Post# 954511 , Reply# 5   8/25/2017 at 20:17 (422 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The Generac is model # 0052431. I have little mechanical/electrical skills so I don't plan on repairing the unit myself but I would like to be educated on what has to be done. From the research I have done, the alternator seems to be in the $300-500 range. I don't understand how labour could be $2000, even at a high rate of $100/hour that would mean 20 hours to replace the part? Something just isn't right.

Post# 954514 , Reply# 6   8/25/2017 at 20:43 (422 days old) by realvanman (Southern California)        
I understand your frustrations

There are a few tests that should have been carried out on the generator, before the regulator was ordered.

These tests can quickly rule out a problem with the generator, and narrow the possibilities down to the regulator or wiring.

As a further test, the regulator can be bench tested if the technician knows how, just to make double sure that it is indeed truly the problem.

Since he evidently did not do any troubleshooting, he still does not know what is actually wrong. He may very well have ended up with a bad regulator out of the box, or there may well be something wrong with the generator.

As mentioned above, the problem could be as simple as wiring or brushes. All of these things should be ruled out at the very beginning of the troubleshooting process.

I'd still recommend a chat with the guys on the Stak, even if only to help you make sure that you have a competent technician.


Post# 954515 , Reply# 7   8/25/2017 at 20:47 (422 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Whether or not the generator was broken and then got fixed, and supposing that it *is* now fixed, has the technician made sure that the transfer switch (which cuts off the utility and patches in the generator) is working properly? Because one can spend a whole week diagnosing and "fixing" a generator but if the transfer switch is broken, it will still not work.

Not that I'm judgmental or anything... :-P

Good luck!

Post# 954532 , Reply# 8   8/25/2017 at 23:56 (421 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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Before the service guy came out to look at the generator, I had an electrician out. He checked and tested the transfer switch and said that everything was OK. He was the one that diagnosed that there was no electricity coming into the transfer switch. He also checked the generator and thought that the voltage regulator was OK. He didn't have the schematics for the generator so couldn't diagnose what the real issue was.

Post# 954571 , Reply# 9   8/26/2017 at 08:58 (421 days old) by beekeyknee (Columbia, MO)        

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Apparently the Onan Generator would be the type of generator that would be up the average members alley. Vintage and made in USA. Something new (or old) to look into.

Post# 954609 , Reply# 10   8/26/2017 at 12:23 (421 days old) by realvanman (Southern California)        
That or a good old Kohler generator

I have several in my collection. :)

Post# 955169 , Reply# 11   8/29/2017 at 09:37 (418 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The generator guy has been no help whatsoever....even so far as to not return my phone call which I made to him about 2 minutes after receiving an email from him yesterday morning. I called another dealer to get an estimate of the cost to replace the alternator and I have not heard from him either. Generac is offering a 10 year warranty on new generators if purchased by Sep. 01 so I have decided to get a new one. The electrician I had out last week will do the swap out of the old one. He knows someone that is looking for a small engine so I may be able to sell the engine out of the generator. It is going to cost me more than I had anticipated but hopefully I will have piece of mind for 10 years.

Post# 955339 , Reply# 12   8/30/2017 at 17:28 (417 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Generac - why make the same mistake twice!

There's a reason telephone co.s, fire & police stations, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. usually stick with either Cummins, Kohler or Caterpiller gen sets.

Cincinnati Bell Telephone uses Cummins equipment exclusively, both permanent and trailer mounted.

Post# 956768 , Reply# 13   9/9/2017 at 13:28 (407 days old) by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

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Some of my neighbors have those Generac whole house units that run from propane that is stored via underground tanks. Most had them installed after all the hurricanes we had in 2004. As far as I know they are all working fine, although one house that has one has been vacant as the owner had to move into assisted living.

Post# 956805 , Reply# 14   9/9/2017 at 16:44 (407 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
Engine RPM's

Another thing to look for is one whose engine operates at 1800 RPM instead of 3600 RPM. Many of the less expensive units intended for residential use have the 3600 RPM engines, while most commercial grade have the 1800. The 1800 RPM engines usually last longer with less maintenance.

Post# 956854 , Reply# 15   9/10/2017 at 00:10 (406 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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Electricians call them Genecrap. I'm not kidding. And they can't even use a simple ATS 2 wire start circuit but that might have changed. As Cirle W said there is a reason why Cummins, Cat act are used in real emergency applications.

If you want a real generator go for a 1,800 rpm liquid cooled unit. For low cost or outages that don't occur often go for 3,600rpm Kohler.

Post# 956855 , Reply# 16   9/10/2017 at 00:20 (406 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I considered installing a generator for our house but being right beside the hospital and police departments our electricity is never off for very long at a time.

Post# 956860 , Reply# 17   9/10/2017 at 01:29 (406 days old) by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

Car hit a pole right down the street and killed power to my neighborhood. House next door has solar with backup batteries that will run critical stuff for a few hours. Of course seeing how it only affected 837 homes they took their time fixing it. Power was out for 12 hours but luckily our old fridge still has good door seals and insulation. The ice hadn't even started to melt when power came back. Would have been nice to have some kind of generator even if all it could do is the fridge and some lights. I have big and small computer UPS's on the pc's and av stuff but they only run half to a few hours max depending on what's on them. Fortunately that doesn't happen very often and usually they fix it quickly. Last ice storm power went out 5 hours but it was high teens low twenties so it got pretty cold in here.

Post# 956862 , Reply# 18   9/10/2017 at 01:56 (406 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I was wakened by a partial power failure-called GUC and it was fixed in less than an hour!

Post# 956918 , Reply# 19   9/10/2017 at 11:02 (406 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The Generac I have now, has been installed for 10 years and until this last episode...ran fine without any issues. We get power outages frequently. We had one for almost 24 hours starting on the afternoon of Dec. 24. The electricity did not come back on until noon on the 25th. My house was the only one on the street with electricity. The longest the electricity has been out is for 3 days about 10 years ago which prompted me to get the generator. I live in the country and as such I required electricity to run the water pump, sewage pump, etc. There are no dealers in this area for residential units for the other manufacturers mentioned.

Post# 956958 , Reply# 20   9/10/2017 at 16:35 (406 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Where I live our power is never out for long. We've had a lot of random outages caused by the fuse at the street blowing presumably because of an intermittent short in the underground wiring feeding a string of transformers in the neighborhood, it only seems to happen during fair weather when power use is low so that's just a wild guess. Our typical outage lasts 1-3 hours. PoCo usually responds within the hour. Longest we've been out is 24 hours when a tree limb fell on a line, took them awhile to get to it as there were far bigger issues in the area after a tornado had swept through.

With that said, a generator has never really been a priority here, though we do have a portable one. In some neighborhoods just a short ways south of me I see generators at almost every other house, so they must have a lot of issues with outages.

I did notice someone a few blocks from me on the same circuit from the sub station as us just had a Generac NG generator installed. They live on a swampy lot and have a basement so they probably wanted the piece of mind that their sump pumps will always have power.

Post# 957068 , Reply# 21   9/11/2017 at 03:11 (405 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Despite the 40 yr old plus underground wiring in my neighborhood-the power has been very reliable.No need for me to get a genset.Sat morning had a partial power outage-one leg went out.Power co fixed it in less than an hour.Someday they are going to have to replace their old wiring.The water company replaced their old pipes last year.

Post# 957132 , Reply# 22   9/11/2017 at 15:36 (405 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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Just got a call from the electrician. The generator is in and will be installed on Wed.....yay!

Post# 995181 , Reply# 23   5/25/2018 at 16:07 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
Always have somewhere to put what will spoil!

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Had one last month; pics & relating stories below: 



Right when the clothes washer was filling and I dumped the soap in it, the power went right out--from thinking I just blew a fuse, to the whole house becoming pitch black & me clamoring to get up & out of that dark basement, to seeing the whole neighborhood in darkness...


SO, then, thanks to bringing everything that was highly perishable (dairy products, meat, milk & fish) over to my dad's (& he is in a much more power outage-prone area than we are) I saved everything; a little in his refrigerator, a LOT in his freezer!


(Eating what was nearly-empty & couldn't fit in there)


Then, at last, I had awoken at SEVEN-A.M. to everything finally back on, so I tirelessly, had to run back to dada's to retrieve everything I had brought over hours before, & brought back home... (Funny what a difference an address can make: On my way back from there, after dropping everything off, I saw one half of a block that didn't have its electricity, right next to to the lucky half that DID!) & too bad that Laura's school still lost its power, so there was no school for her today...




-- Dave


  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 995224 , Reply# 24   5/25/2018 at 22:53 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        
I dont have a Generac

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But I wouldnt be without my little Honda EB3000c generator. Its great to have when I need it. All I need to run is the Monitor Top, a few lights, and computer and charge phones.

Post# 995241 , Reply# 25   5/26/2018 at 08:00 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
How do you test them?

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My in-laws had a Generac installed a year ago. Propane powered.
How do you test it (while you still have power) to ensure it is working?

Post# 995313 , Reply# 26   5/27/2018 at 05:22 by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

The ones that I have seen have a timer with an automatic testing startup. Usually once a week it will run for 20-30 minutes then it shuts down. The one that does our building at the beach starts on Monday morning at 8:30am till about 9:00 am.


Post# 995316 , Reply# 27   5/27/2018 at 06:21 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

In my experiences with gensets at radio stations-you will need to exercise it under load.either a test load (big resistive dummy load) or the actual load the generator is supposed to power.We do this at the transmitter plant here.At the VOA Wash DC studio plant their genset exercised into the dummy load in the building parking lot.950Kw.That generator had a remote radiator that was cooled by a large electric fan-this cooled the load too-both built in one cabinet.Caterpillar.At other radio stations the genearots were exercised by timers that started them and ran them under the station load-usually transmitter sites on Sunday mornings-the times when fewer people were listening.One station didn't pay attention to the genset fuel level-it ran out while they were on the air-then went off!!!The commercial power failed.They had to make a call to a fuel truck to fill their tank.

Post# 995321 , Reply# 28   5/27/2018 at 08:32 by chetlaham (United States)        

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Electricians don't think highly of them (aka Genecrap), however they have improved a bit the last couple of years. Kohler, Onan, ect are what sparkies use on their own home.

Tolvic is right, test under load. Starting is a start, but testing under load makes sure the alternator side of things are working and it allows for the engine to warm up. Warming up is essential for diesels, forgiving on gas units- but still a good idea.

Post# 995337 , Reply# 29   5/27/2018 at 12:42 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        
No thanks

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I just replaced the carb on a 4000 watt Generac last night. What an absolute turd they are. The new ones are even worse made in China. I'll spend the money and stay with Honda. Hell even Predator is a better generator than Generac.

Post# 995379 , Reply# 30   5/27/2018 at 19:05 by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The Generac tests itself weekly on the day and time selected. It starts, runs for 5 minutes and then shuts down. If I want to test that it will supply electricity when the electricity goes out I just have to turn off the main switch on the electrical box that brings electricity into the house. After 30 seconds the generator will start and everything that the generator has been wired to run, should work.


Post# 995408 , Reply# 31   5/28/2018 at 00:09 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

At both work and home the power is VERY reliable.For work the generator is used more for load management than emergency use.For at home a home genset is just not worth it to me.

Post# 995567 , Reply# 32   5/29/2018 at 17:15 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

The 60 KW diesel Kohler my aunt had at her previous home would start automatically every couple weeks, and would exercise under a partial load.

My neighbor down the street has a Winco 8 KW, and it exercises every week, but not under any load. I've told her it needs to be exercised under load every couple months, especially to make sure the transfer switch is working correctly. She's had trouble with that switch a couple times - it would stick in the middle position, so genset would run but no power, and none when utility power would return, either.

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