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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. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I happen to really really like my wood cart from HF. Sorry wooddust, that is an ignorant statement. They sell lots of garbage but lots of great items as well. Perhaps a wiser statement is, " you get what you pay for"?

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  2. Wooddust

    Wooddust Member

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    Excuse me for being too curt. Most stuff sold by HF is garbage? A lot of HF stuff is garbage? A rare thing HF sells is lasting quality?
  3. Later

    Later New Member

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    If I need a tool day in and day out Harbor Freight is out. But for a specialized tool, like a chassis punch that I need for one hole, their tools fill the bill.

    I've been looking at that 800 W generator for a while and think it would be ideal as a source of power for my furnace in a once in 10 year emergency.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I've found web sites devoted to identifying good and bad HF products.
  5. Mcbride

    Mcbride New Member

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    I would guess it depends on the power company in question.
    Here in BC where I live, we have just BC Hydro, and its about on par with the cleanliness of my Champion, and smaller honda.
    The honda is a good unit, but far too small to power much, or even just for the motorhome.
    It can barely start the AC, and heaven forbid you want to run lights, water pump, fridge on ac power, microwave, TV, etc.
    My Champion will run several other items, and then I flick on the AC switch, and it starts up instantly.
    I researched a fair amount, and borrowed a friends Champion genset for a 3 day camping trip to try it.
    Great unit, and reasonably priced to.
    The computers, fridge, AC and everything else work perfectly with the Champion, be it in my home or camping in the motorhome.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I thought the fuel economy would be attractive. Initially I was just thinking of something to run the insert fan during a short outage like we had the other night. I have a 7500 w genny to power the deep well pump, but, especially during big outage, the gas stations don't have their genny's working for a day or so. A unit that sips fuel could be useful. I also thought it would be easier to set up for a short duration outage, but with running all those wires, I'm not so sure. It's nice for portable power-quite easy to carry with one hand-put it in the trunk, etc. Plus, it's cute.
  7. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    If you want to really dive into the details of how good power is between high quality generators, this is a interesting read: http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html

    Nothing will beat outlet power, in a 1st world nation. Of course, you can provide the best you can, but what can your electronics tolerate? I know my cheap inverter puts out a square wave, and the blower on my insert hates it. I also kow that me inverter generater puts out a sine wave, and everything behaves properly with it attached.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the awesome link.
    I got to the part where it says something like not all inverter generators are equal.
  9. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    Wow thats a good link! I've tried to explain the differences between generators many times but that link has everything in it (albiet a bit much for most folks, but a great source for info).
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I tried the HF 800 watt generator on the refrigerator yesterday and it work. I ran it for at least half an hour with no problem. It started up once, and my kill-a-watt showed 380 watts momentarily (but who knows if that was the peak) and a steady state at about 160 watts. It didn't sound funny or anything. So, except for the well pump which, as far as I can tell, needs the 7.5 kW generator, everything else can be run (not simulataneously) by this little genny. Even after running for about an hour yesterday, loaded (using a heat gun at about 600 watts, and the reefer), it barely used any gas/oil mix. It was very quiet compared to a larger conventional generator.

    Although the extension cords and switching loads are a hassle, the fuel economy (esp. early in an outage restoration period when gas could be scarce) and quiet, have potential.

    In thinking about it, I don't see why adapting a plug for the power inlet to power both sides of the panel bus with the same 120 volt leg would be a problem. Even if a 240 v breaker were accidentally energized, there would be no fault, just the same 120 v leg, although I don't know the effect of say, a dryer being turned on would be. Maybe just not run?
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I imagine that since the difference between the two legs would be zero, that the 220 appliances would think the power is shut off. Most 220 appliances, like ovens, pull 120 off of one of the phases for the controls so the clock might work but the burners won't. The water heater won't even know the genset is running. 120-120=0
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I might give it a whirl. Would have to cycle the reefer (sep. circuit) by breaker to keep things generally cool. Maybe also dump garage load (trickle charger, garage door opener) and other unnecessary loads. Can keep all outlets and light breakers energized, just have to be VERY careful about loading. A downside is that I can't monitor the loading inside the house like with the kill-a-watt and extension cords. I don't know if my older model TED (The Energy Detective, http://www.theenergydetective.com ) will work on only one leg, but it might, but that would require moving the current transformer clamps. Maybe just plug in the kill a watt to the generator and go out there periodically. Although, just plugging the kill a watt into an outlet in the house would provide voltage and frequency, which could help.

    Just thinking out loud... :)
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I just got a Kill-A-Watt and the darned thing doesn't tell you max watts or max amps. I stared at it while I had the new fridge plugged in. When the fridge kicked on I saw the thing spike, but it all happened so fast I couldn't see the highest number.

    Most appliances will have an amperage listed and that is the absolute max the thing will draw, usually on startup. My fridge, for example, has a number that looks like it would be that spike I saw plus the lights on when the fridge and freezer door are open. The label tells me about 840 watts (converted from amps), but when it's running and the doors are shut it takes about 120 watts. Most of the time the fridge doesn't do anything, but that doesn't mean anything when you are trying to run one off of a generator.
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    True. My label showed 5 amps. I think my genny does 7 amps. The electrical pdf on the mfr's website says something about the defrost cycle needing 450 watts, so that might be a factor too.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget about the defrost heater. These frost free fridges and freezers have a big honking heating element that comes on every now and then. That has got to eat up some watts.
  16. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I have an older version of your generator. It's worked just fine for me, but I only run a few lights at a time on it. Sometimes they dim and flicker so I don't think the power generation is stable. It's worked fine in a few pinches and I've used it to run my sawzall well away from any power source.

    When I use it at the cabin I back feed into the box.

    It's not a top of the line generator, but it does the job.

    Matt
  17. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I made an adapter cord so I could feed the 240 inlet with the 120 volts coming out of the generator. I got a suitable locking 240 30 amp receptacle and jumpered the two hot legs so that 120 volts feeds both sides of the panel. It seems to work. I've had the 36" lcd tv on, as well as the insert fan, refrigerator and a light. I figure to leave it on a while and see how it goes.
    EDIT: The refrig. might be a problem. Will see.
  18. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    i wouldnt trust my lcd tv on a generator that causes lights to dim and flicker.... not worth the risk to watch tv for a few hours.... just my opinion
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You got that right. My fridge runs 265 watts at 3.5 amps. When it kicks into defrost it is 450 watts at 4 amps.
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Interesting article even though it is a few miles over my head. From what I can see in it I either don't use a generator in power outages or I use one and keep the fridge, my wife's TV and the computers and telcom equipment up and running and call Allstate after the power comes back on. "Hi Allstate. A problem associated with the power outage blew up the flat screen. Send money.".
  21. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I just ran my 5 kW generator for a while. Turn on the 1700 watt heat gun, it doesn't get fazed. It's gotten fazed by the well pump in the past though. I might try again, with everything turned off.
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That's it? I expected that big element to use more. How do you know when it kicks into defrost.
  23. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The Blueline Power Monitor KWHs jumped up and so did I. And I went over and looked at the Kill-O-Watt the fridge was plugged into. I was gauging various stuff in the house that day to compile a list for generator loading. If the fridge cuts off and its power consumption goes up it is nature's way of telling you that the defrost cycle kicked in.

    It isn't a huge increase, at least with mine, but enough to kick the small genny's butt if enough stuff is already running.
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Who'd a thought if I would've read my Smithsonion magazine earlier I could've gotten a coupon for that genny for 90 bucks. There's also a 20% coupon, not for gen. use.
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Here is a picture of a cord I made up that allows me to plug the 125v output to the 240v inlet receptacle.

    Attached Files:

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