First, after a lot of thought I decided to rate this generator 5 stars based solely on price versus performance which equates to value. To cut quickly to the chaste, you would be very hard pressed to find a generator with this level of performance in this price range. The generator has a fuel gauge, a respectable sized fuel tank at nearly 4 gallons, very good economy (rated for 12 hours at half-load-and evaluated in the technical section) and a somewhat reasonable level of noise for a generator in this price range, includes a built-in volt meter, cold starts with 2 pulls and warm starts with one pull, there is very little vibration from the motor and your receiving over 3,000 watts of electrical output. For those interested in technical details, Iâll discuss those issues below. TECHNICAL: This generator is a little different from the competition in that it does not include 2 120 volt 15 amp outlets. Instead the owner has to be a little creative to extract the full 3500 watts of capable power from this unit. First, the single 120 volt household type outlet (the outlet located on the right side of the generator) is rated for 20 amps. Used to its full capacity, that means you can only extract 2400 watts (120 volts X 20 AMPS = 2,400 watts) from this outlet. So how do you get access to the remaining 1100 watts (rated for continuous 3500 watts of output) of stated output??? The answer is you must get some adapters to access the remaining 2 outlets. There are 2 remaining outlets. The outlet on the far left is a special twist-lock 4-prong outlet that is expensive and might require some effort to find. The middle outlet is a 120 volt 30 amp outlet that also is unique but used regularly in the Recreational Vehicle (RV) world. This adapter can be found in the RV section at some major discount stores. The adapter should have the matching (to the generator) 30 Amp male plug at one end and the other end will have a standard 15 amp female plug looking like all standard outlets you have in your home. Once you have this adapter, you can either plug up to 30 amps worth of electrical load into this circuit or a little more easily, plug up to 15 amps into this outlet and the remaining 15 amps into the generatorâs regular household appearing outlet located on the far right of the unit. To make these outlets functional, the electrical output toggle switch on the generator needs to be pushed to the right side and the output meter will read 120 volts. The other option to extract the full 30 AMP potential from the generator is to purchase the harder to find NEMA L14-30R twist lock adapter with ideally a Y female receptacle of standard 15 amp capacity at the other end (in other words, 2 outlets coming out of the twist-lock adapter). The reason you need two outlets coming from the twist-lock adapter is because there are actually two circuits of 120 volts each coming from this particular outlet at the generator. I know this may sound a bit âtechieâ for some folks, but hey â Iâm not the engineer that designed this generator! To activate this twist-lock outlet (third outlet from the right), the electrical toggle switch will need to be pushed to the far left; doing so will instantly show the generator producing 240volts versus the 120volts that are displayed when the toggle switch is pushed to the far right. Regarding the 240volts: donât be alarmed that you might be sending far too much electricity to your appliances. A volt meter will confirm that in reality there IS NOT 240 volts at these outlets. If you purchase the Y-adapter for this plug, you can confirm that each outlet only has 120 volts. Perhaps this is the manufacturers way of identifying a single outlet that is split into two outputs of 120volts each. Keep in mind that while using this particular twist-lock plug that it is very important that the total 30 AMP load capability of this outlet be split between the two Y-outlets, because this plug is tied to two separate circuit breakers. Looked at differently, if you tried to connect over 15 AMPs of appliances to just one of the Y-adapters, the circuit breaker on the generator would trip. Also, when you toggle the electrical switch to the far left, both the far right electrical outlet and the middle electrical outlet become disengaged. That is why I said earlier, there are only a few options to full extract the full 3500 watts from the generator. Another issue of importance to some potential buyers that is not on any specifications that I could find, is a warning on the shipping box that reads: âATTENTION before you purchase: This generator is NOT recommended for motor driven compressors or circular saws. The starting draw of these tools exceeds the output rating of this generator. Air compressors and circular saws will require a generator output of 5000 watts or greater.â I know I was a little disappointed to read this after I got the generator home because a circular saw does not draw anywhere near 3500 watts, so I tested it to get the real story. My circular saw is 7 Â¼â and draws 11.8AMPS. The generator could be heard doing a very minor dip in power for a split-second and then ran the saw flawlessly. Perhaps the heavier duty circular saws drawing 15 AMPS may show a different result.. However, I had no problem running my circular saw.
TWO MORE ITEMS: TOTAL OUTPUT: The generator claims to produce 3500 watts of continuous output. Folks that live at sea-level should be able to see this much output from the generator. However, I live at 5,300 feet where the air is about 16% thinner. As a result, after exhaustive testing with some quality volt and amp meters, I discovered my total generator output was approximately 3150 watts. I was able to run two 1500 watt electric heaters simultaneously. The actual current draw from the two heaters was 25.5 AMPs while the generator was producing 123volts. Volts times AMPs equal watts so (25.5 X 123 = 3144 watts). When I plugged in a 50 watt light bulb in addition to the two electric heaters, the generator would die â indicating of course that its limit (in this case the output of the motor) had been surpassed. RUN TIME:: I tried running as reasonable a test as was practical. Therefore, I started by running the generator out of gas. I then added precisely 1 gallon of gasoline to the tank and ran the generator again loaded with a 1500 watt (rated) electric heater and timed the generator until it again ran out of fuel. The result:- the generator ran 3 hours and 19 minutes. Extrapolating the data with the 3.8 gallon gas tank yields 12.6 hrs of run time at approximately half-load. Some astute folks may argue that 1500 watts is not a half-load. At sea-level they would be correct. However, recall from my discussion above that I live at 5,300 feet and I measured a maximum output of 3,144 watts. I felt the heater represented both something a lot of folks would use a generator for and is approximately a half-load at my elevation. Anyhow, hope all this helps in your decision of whether to purchase this generator and if you do, the steps you need to take to get the maximum output from the generator.
Keep us warm
I bought this unit in October 2012 after a snowstorm left us with no power. I bought the generator, after being with no power for 3 days, so that I could run a couple of electric heaters . I brought it home and it was ready to run in minutes. Did a good job powering two Edenpure heaters and a lamp. I only used it for approximately 2 hours and the power came back on so I don't know how it will handle a load for an extended period of time.