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Just Bought an 800 Watt Harbor Freight Generator

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    http://www.harborfreight.com/engine...s-900-max-watts-portable-generator-66619.html

    [​IMG]

    I had a coupon for a hundred bucks.

    It got good reviews on the HF website, and it looks like a winner to me so far as well. I replaced the spark plug with an NGK, and maybe it ran a little smoother. Compared to the 2 other generators I have, it is very quiet.

    Other than the 'new toy' factor, I figure I'll be more inclined to grab this rather than dragging the larger ones out in a short outage like we had the other night and it could run small electric tools remotely. Plus this one really sips the (2 stroke) fuel. Based on a steady state reading I took yesterday of about 270 watts, it should run the oil boiler as well. I'll be checking what else it could potentially run (I know the well pump is out!). If it could run the fridge, that could be a bonus. I had the insert fan on and watched TV at the same time for a while last night. I have a kill-a-watt meter and that was less than 300 watts.

    Anyway, so far, so good.

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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Amazing that they use 2strokes for this. Does it smoke at all?
  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Not that I've noticed. Maybe a little on startup. Although, it was dark. Never have to worry about running low on oil though. :)
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I picked up this little genset at the Aldi grocery store the other day for two hundred bucks. Sears sells it for three fifty. More portable and sips gas compared to my five thousand watt one. It will handle the necessities and I will just fire the other one as needed.

    http://www.aldifoods.com/us/html/offers/58_12183_ENU_HTML.htm

    I was looking at the one you bought for awhile. It should be really handy for you.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    That's a great value. I thought Aldi only sold food.
    It was a kick to carry it by one hand through the house and out to the porch (snow on walk).
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah one handed carry would be nice. At a hundred pounds I can't do that with mine. But I happened to have one of those convertible cheapo hand trucks in the garage and just bolted a board on it and tied the genset down with zip ties. Drags around real easy that way. On the way to town to pick up some material to build a little shed for it I stopped for bread and milk at another store. They were just un-crating some Christmas stuff and, viola, there was the perfect sized shed for the gennie pre-built. I am starting to like grocery stores. :lol:
  7. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    As long as Home Depot doesn't start selling food.
  8. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I had one of these for about 5 years. Noisy, stinky, and perfect for 90% of the time when I needed to run a corded tool ( like a sawzall or right angle drill) and didn't have power. Sooo much lighter than my 4000k genset.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I wish I'd have had it this summer when I dragged the 5k generator out to the end of the long driveway on a hand truck multiple times to power a sawzall.
  10. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    2nd that. There are some lightweight 4 stroke engines available now for weed wackers and such. I'm surprised they used a 2 stroke for this application and that its still even legal.
  11. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    awesome, good for you. I have a 2000 watt inverter generator, so i cant justify that, but it looks great!

    Chanch out your fridge withthe kill-a-watt. I did with mine and running it was something like 130 or 180 watts, i forget! Of course if you read on the internet about startup loads of the for the fridge they claim to be 2000 watts, but I dont know how accutate that is. I have also read that startup is about 2.5 - 3 times the running load.

    Point being, it might be possible to run the fridge... I dont know....

    congrats on the buy! new toys are fun. Keep us posted with out it runs.
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I played with my new toy today.
    In trying to see whether it would run the oil boiler, I thought it would be worthwhile (in retrospect now, doubtful) to make the boiler a plug in device, and to add a service switch, which I did. So I ran an extension cord from the porch where the genny was down to the basement and plugged in the boiler. The cord had to go through a double hung window that I sealed with foam backer rod. The circulator motors made funny noises as well as the burner motor, but it heated the house. going several on-off cycles without tripping. The frequency was roughly 60 hz and power was 218 watts, steady state. As I said before, it runs the insert fan, TV, some compact flourescent lamps. Thing is, cables had to be run to these things.

    To summarize, it's nice that it can run for a long time on little fuel, but those cords are a hassle and those funny motor noises made me nervous.

    I'm thinking maybe run the 5kW generator through the transfer switch, using more fuel but avoiding the cord hassle. Maybe I'll put some wheels on it.
    Or, fashion a plug to plug the little genny into the 30 amp inlet box. I wonder if it'd be possible to power both legs with 120 so that all the 120 circuits work. All in all, just too much work.
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I know exactly what you're saying here. Seems that for long term power outages you don't want a big 5000 watt genset running. A smaller 2000 watt unit would be plenty for most things, however, most of these are only 120 volt gensets and not proper to backfeed the house panel. I found a 3500 watt Champion with 220 output and it works great but there weren't many small watt 220 gensets to choose from. 15+ hours runtime at mroe than 50% on the 5 gallon tank tested on December 18th, dang thing sips fuel.

    I understand that the 220 appliances wouldn't work, actually they wouldn't even know they had power, but can both phases of the panel be fed 120 from teh same phase? I can easily make the plug but am worried about safety and damage.

    The startup surge on a fridge is pretty big and the occasional defrost cycle is also an energy hog. If the genset can't provide enough juice for the startup surge then what happens is that the fridge sort of sits there and hums. It oddly doesn't seem to pop breakers.

    Despite perfect voltage and frequency, my motors always hum a bit when running under genset power. Must be the "dirty" power.
  14. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    they hum, and buzz and thats no good.

    If the load overloads the generator, it should just shut it down. If it buzzes, i would be afraid, no reason to break my refrigerator.

    Thats why I have a inverter generator, its a perfect sine wave.


    A inverter generator (at lleast the honda and honeywell) make a power curve like this:
    [​IMG]

    but a regular generator (this one was from costco)
    [​IMG]

    The bottom one is good enough for a lot of things, but I would be careful with using it and electronics.
  15. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    I had the smaller version of that Kingcraft, 2250 I believe, & was the nicest generator I ever owned. I was told they are Honda copies & some you can just put Honda parts in, Randy
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah the engine on mine is an exact copy of my two Honda GX200 engines. Which was a good thing because I had a problem the "tech" on the phone couldn't figure out. I hung up and put him out of his grief and figured it out. It was leaking oil. I stood almost on my head and found the PCV hose that wasn't connected to the valve cover. Viola. No more pressure buildup in the crankcase and no more oil leak.

    The guy told me that the store wouldn't take it back since it had had gas and oil in it. The next time I was in the store I asked the cashier and she said "Honey if you want to bring the thing back I will give you your money back. Let'em deal will Aldi." And grinned from ear to ear. :lol:
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Nice waveforms but can you even get an inverter 220 volt genset? I've seen scopes of the champion gensets that look almost as good as the Hondas. Figure, there's a rotor spinning in there with magnets so it must be pretty smooth. The noise must be from the brushes scraping along.
  18. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    It is kind of baffling why a generator would produce the choppy second picture. I can understand a modified sine wave inverter doing this, the generator rotor should cut the flux in a pretty controlled manner though./ I believe the big Honda inverter genset is 220v, Randy
  19. Later

    Later New Member

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    Poor windings and skimping on the design and materials used in the stator/rotor. The big Honda inverter certainly is pricey.
  20. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Thanks, I have a lot to learn on electrics. The big Honda is half the price of a gasser!, Randy
  21. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I did a lot of research before buying mine.... in my price bracket there was no 220v inverter genset... maybe not at all, not sure. I wanted to be able to power my tv, computer, tivo, fridg, etc (the fridge has all sorts of electronics). I assume the dirty power is just do to undersized equipment, jumping brushes, govoner adjustment of the engine and taking and unloading loads. I figure it is inherent to small generators, and that is why they sell inverter generators. now to mention they are more efficient and quieter.

    I heard a lot of stories and buzzing power and problems associated with regular generators (and a few from this type of inverter generator too). For me I did not want to be worried about what I plug into my generator. With this I am not worried.

    Figure out what you need the generator to do, find the generator you think is right, read your reviews. You cant go bad that way. You can find osciliscope readings for most any generator on the internet, you just have to look.

    Rick
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You were right Maverick, I was able to find scope outputs for my champion genset as well as a more typical other brand genset. Seems the Champions are spec'd at less than 4% total harmonic distortion which is quite good. Not as good as the inverters but for 250$ and a honda clone engine I can't complain.

    Attached Files:

  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Whoa, the smallest Yamaha 220 volt inverter genset is a 6300 watt model at, get this, $6159. Before we get all excited about that clean Honda sine wave perhpas we should see what the grid power looks like. They don't use inverters.
  24. Wooddust

    Wooddust Member

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    Regardless what you do anything from HF is garbage.
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Well, I don't think my 800 watt generator from Harbor Freight is garbage.

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