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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. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    for the HF generator, I have read that it really needs the breakin period before it starts performing well. I forget what it is 20hours maybe?, but people report noticeable improvement after that. Afterwards, if it is giving you trouble, might want to change the plug, there are "better" ones reported for it.

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    The manual is pretty vague, but it says 25 hours. No other directions....load/no load.

    The manual does say <600W during break in. I have a resistance heater at 440W that I will prob use.
  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    -I don't know about that electric pole saw.
    I believe I paid 90 bucks for it..10% of the new one. :)
    I've had no issues with the unit.
    I'd say it puts out at least what it claims though, and a little more, maybe 1000 w.
    Weird, it never seems to trip with high load, just slows down.
    You don't want to let it run out of gas with load connected; it does a lot of speeding up and slowing down.
    I was able to run the fridge on it, and it seemed fine.
    The motors, however, on the insert and boiler circulators didn't sound so great.
    The gas shut off is nice - I'm not sure why the Honda's gas shut off valve is integrated with the kill switch.
    It is also very cute.
  4. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I think the integrated gas/kill switch integration is the new standard, maybe the requirement. My generac is that way...

    blowers on teh inert should take nearly no wattage, mine are about 70 watts... It might be so low, that the generator still is bouncing around near idle. Might improve once broken in. Also try giving it more load and see if it smooths out.
  5. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    Will it run a miter saw? My saw says 12 amps on the label. That's 1320 watts but only if I stall it out.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I don't think so. There's startup current.
  7. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    How long did you break it in? I was gonna run 5 gallons of gas at half load.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have maybe a gallon run through it, testing with the heat gun, checking out how it ran the stove and boiler, and running the refrigerator for a good bit, just as a test. 5 gallons will go a long long way.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Mine will be here in a week or so. It will get broken in just like any two stroke I have ever owned. Running its little butt off on the electric pole saw and leaf blower. Break in or break up. Let's get it over with before the warranty runs out. Chainsaws go into the big wood as soon as they are warmed up.
  10. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    i keep seeing these little gens at HF. Would be perfect to run my insert blowers. I am in a holding pattern for a big gen as i try to find one to power my massive well pump.
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    OK, I got mine last weekend and gave it a quick try....

    Based on research on other fora, I have concluded that these gennies are fine, and work well for folks that know how to run/maintain two-strokes. I assume that the (surprisingly few) horror stories are a low percentage of lemons and idiots that didn't add oil. I have also concluded that some vendors are reselling the exact same units as 1000W/1200Wsurge, probably just replacing the breaker. I expect this guy to manage loads of that size, after break-in, perhaps with reduced life.

    FYI, what I am looking for is a storable snowmageddon/hurricane/zombie apocalypse generator. I am unlikely to break it out for a few hours of darkness--we have city water, lanterns, a wood stove, a propane camping stove, and a couple thousand books to read. Over the next decade I plan to use it exactly zero times, but if I get a multi-day outage (hasn't happened here since 8 years ago), it will be nice to have. I want to break it in, mothball it for long term storage, and then all I have to do is rotate my stored gas annually. I will prob fire it up after a year to check my mothballing strategy. The $80 price was right for something I expect to use never.

    Based upon internet research, I replaced the plug with a Champion plug with a slightly smaller gap than the factory plug, used 93 octane ethanol free gas + stabil + 50:1 oil. Put a quart of mix in it, started on second pull, ran a ~500W heater load for 1 hour, shut it down. Warm restart again on the second pull. Output fluctuated a little to my killawatt, running 125V and 62 HZ, more like 121/60 after restart. Engine is a good deal quieter than a gas lawnmower, could talk next to it in principle, but not exactly quiet either. Unlikely to keep the neighbors awake, or me unless I put it under my bedroom window. Engine chatters on no load, but not under load. Runs about 2 mins w/o load after the gas is shut off (draining the carb I guess), surges 3-4 times melodramatically before swooning.

    I will break it in some (manual says 25 hours (!)) and post if anything noteworthy occurs.
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The concern that I have is that electric motors don't seem totally happy.
  13. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Could you be more specific? I figure motors are gonna be unhappy on square wave or even a good MSW, potentially overheating or stalling or both. The upthread scope outputs on this or similar gennies suggest some higher harmonics. I would expect those to be less of a problem than the square wave case. Naively, I could imagine the higher harmonics giving me an audible pitch on the motor windings, but I wouldn't expect them to really overload or damage the motor. With the dead simple design and nice flywheel, I would imagine that this little guy could manage a pretty good startup current, but I worry that startup on an electronic inverter gen could be another story (but probably solved by good engineering).

    Did the motors just sound different or did they stall out or overheat?
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yes, they sounded different. I noticed that the insert blower went slower as well as pulsed, but that is on a manual speed control. I also noticed pulsing noises from the boiler circulating pumps and, to a lesser degree, the oil burner. I noticed nothing strange with the fridge or TV/electronics or compact flourescent lighting.

    I still have a soft spot for that genny and may still try to use it.
  15. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I have 2 inverter generators at 2000 watts, but that little 800 watt generator is still something I lust over. even though i have no use for it. It is something that you could cover in cosmoline and bury in your backyard :) haha
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Received mine a couple of days ago. Since it came in the same delivery as my new dual burner hot plate I hooked'em up and used the break in of the genny to cook the stink off of the hotplate. Smooth running little dude. One burner on the hot plate is 575 watts and the other is 775. It is happy with either one but both knock it to its knees as expected.

    I have sufficient firepower with the two other gennys for power outages but wanted this one so I can transition to electric pole trimmers, weed wackers and leaf blowers and only have to maintain one two stroke instead of the army of them I have now.Toss it and an extension cord in the garden tractor trailer and work anywhere on the property. Also for the cement mixer.

    After I ran it for a while I sent a note to my BIL who has a body shop and spends a lot of time at the deer lease telling him he really needed to get one. Turns out he has had three of them for a long time.
  17. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    This generator is on their site right now for $130
  18. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    BB you hook this up to any electronics yet?
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Nope. Don't plan to. I run that stuff on the 3250 or 5000 watt machines through rack mount surge supressors when the power goes south.
  20. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    Didn't think so. I keep going back and forth about what kind of generator to get. One big enough to run my well, which right now are expensive and hard to come by, or something small to run the insert and maybe the fridge. The OP's talk of his insert blowers revving concerns me. I did however run my insert of a modified inverter from my car, so this little genny has to be better than that.
  21. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    keep an eye on the piles of advertisements that show up at your house. Usually once a week we will get one from harbor freight. Sometimes they have a coupon for the generator at $89. Or you can buy it on ebay for a few bucks. I have a few sitting around here in case I take a notion to get one. Mail me some firewood and I will send you the coupon :)
  22. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    Ill send you some oak I just cut down, should be ready by winter 2050.

    Actually I searched for coupon online, and found a code. Put it in and voila, $90 bucks!
  23. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    Cool, just searched and this one seems to work... 39963038

    for those looking
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The flier they sent me for the store was for 99.99 and is good to the end of December.
  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    talk about jinx--less than a day after saying I planned to never need it, I had a 6 hour outage with the sump running in my finished basement. Genny worked as required, and no probs turning over the 1/3 hp Zoeller every now and then.

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