Utili-Terre has published several Buying Guides on welding machines, compressors or other tools. Claude Dupuis, one of our faithful readers, asks us to help him in his choice of generator.
“I’m aiming for a domestic utility model. In shopping, I realized that for the same power, some generators are selling less than a third of the price that another. Why? Is there a real difference in quality? What are the important points to watch? Mr. Dupuis’ questions are echoed by many agricultural producers. Many have a small sugar shack or an external building that requires the use of a generator. And the arrival of Chinese models has literally transformed this market, confronting consumers with a heartbreaking dilemma: price or quality?
What to remember products made in China?
Generators made in China? I know them very well! These are very realistic copies of some Japanese models. Except that the quality is really not the same, the alloys are different, not to mention the quality control, which leaves something to be desired. For example, we observed shortcomings in the production of parts, including crankshafts whose diameter was not always consistent, causing premature wear. We have also diagnosed machines where the coating the coil of the thread was sometimes poorly applied or of poor quality.
Four or five years ago, faced with the popularity of cheap generators, I decided to follow suit and sell them. I found a good amount of a model 6500 watt generator, with a diesel engine, soundproof, with battery starter. I could sell it for less than $ 2,000. Without joke, it was the deal of the century!
Some things to check before buying
1- Power. In the opinion of many you must choose a generator whose power is at least 20% greater than its needs. “A machine that always works at maximum exceeds its thermal capacity and wears out prematurely. Just to cook a lunch, when all devices are solicited, it’s 6000 watts! People need to clearly define their energy needs and do not forget to add a margin. “Sylvain Ferron adds that we must not lose sight of the fact that some devices, such as electric motors (for example, a small compressor for nailer) require twice or even triple energy when they start. It is important to choose a generator that will support these demand peaks.
2- Capacity per catch. It’s not because a generator produces 3000 watts (25 amps) that it can automatically power an 18 amp tool. For example, if the generator’s electrical outlets have a maximum output of 15 amps each, an 18 amp tool will not work. In short, to access all the power of its generator, attention must be paid to the maximum amperage that can provide each socket. Also note that several models have sockets for the current 240 volts. Others have a 12-volt device, to recharge batteries.
3- Autonomy. For people who need electricity over a long period of time, autonomy is an essential criterion. And the specifications in the brochures are not always accurate. Ask the vendor how many hours the generator can run at full throttle with a full tank. Getting up in the middle of the night to put gas is not a particularly pleasant situation! The option of an idle system increases the range.
4- His. A generator that runs constantly close to people must be quiet. Several companies boast about selling models that are virtually inaudible, with decibels supporting them. But the reality differs, says Mr. Ferron.
“Since there are no standards for measuring the number of decibels, comparisons do not hold. Before buying, I advise to ask to start the machine to check. Even for an equal number of decibels, some engines may emit a sound that is more aggressive. A fork that creaks in the bottom of a plate does not produce a lot of decibels, but curses that it is tiring! ”
5- Weight. The question of weight does not arise for a stationary generator. But if it has to be transported, this criterion becomes important. A generator equipped with wheels could be a very useful solution.
6- Accuracy of the voltage. For devices more sensitive to the constancy of the voltage (for example a computer, electronic tools, etc.), we prefer a generator including the technology of inverter (Inverter). This provides stable energy where voltage fluctuations are minimized.
7- Miscellaneous information. Let’s look at the area around the fuel cap. In the event of a spill, the fuel must flow away from the muffler, which reduces the possibility of explosion if you refuel while the engine is still hot. Obviously, it is recommended to wait until the engine is cold before refueling. It is also useful to have a fuel gauge, an hour meter to know when to change the oil, and a metal frame that protects the generator. For work in forest or hazardous areas, an approved spark arrester is desirable. Finally, some models offer a remote starter, which avoids going outside.