I have four gensets

Seems I always have four gensets, even when I give one away….another just eventually comes my way (or I go buy one). Some guys are chick magnets. I seem to be a winch and genset magnet (made of metal, of course, they attract every magnet). I now have (after giving away my old diesel genset that was NOT inverter enhanced and used too much fuel) three Hondas and a Whacker Neuson that is indestructible (just give me a bit more time for that). The workhorse of the bunch is one of the two Honda 2800i’s. There’s a reason for that.

The Outback inverter system (the heart and brains of the OTG alternative energy system) is a bit touchy and will often reject ‘picking up’ the power made by a genset that surges or does not produce perfect 60 hz juice. Make 61 hz, maybe it takes up, maybe not. Make 63 hz and they will never hook up.

But, more to the point, the inverter has a built in battery charger and that charger can take no more than 20 amps of charge at 120v. That’s 2400 watts of power. That gets reduced to 50 or so DC volts for charging batteries. The Honda 2800 peaks at 2800 watts and runs all day long at 2500 watts. They are perfectly in sync. They seem to have been made for each other.

Of course, as the charger charges and the batteries accept, the batteries get fuller and fuller and the demand from the charger is then less and less. A non inverter genset just keeps making max power regardless of what is being used. So, a 2500 or larger output genset then uses more fuel and it is just a waste. A 2800 inverter style genset drops the rpms and fuel consumption as the battery gets closer to full. They call that Eco-throttle. So, in that way, an inverter style is way, way more fuel efficient when charging batteries.

Inverter style gensets also make pure sine wave power meaning that computers and computer-ish black boxes do not fry when hit with a cruder sine wave (square or modified) . A lot of OTG folks have lost a new appliance within the first week by giving it bad power. If you want an electrical appliance OTG with an old style genset, the older, simpler style washers (no computer) keep on a-chugging. The fancy ones die.

And I have always trusted Honda to be a good genset. Especially the inverter style which is relatively new in the genset world.

The other day (when I had just three gensets) the 2800 started to act up a bit. Burning a bit of oil but running well. Then I cleaned it up some with additives and carb cleaner and changed the oil a few times. It seemed to be a bit better but I dunno….I just had a hunch. Started mumbling to Sal. But, it started first pull, made perfect power. Still……..Sal got to thinking….

“I have to go into town in a few days. I think we should get another genset.”

“What!? We have three! The 2800 is running fine….”

“Didn’t you say you had a feeling?”


“That’s it. It’s cold. We need the genset in the winter. I want a back-up.”


“You order it. I’ll pick it up. No buts!”

And so Sal went into town on that Tuesday. She picked up the new genset ($1800) and did her chores and came back. While she was away, I fired up the old 2800 and went about my business. About 45 minutes into my work, it quit. No amount of trouble shooting or tinkering made it go. A few hours later, Sal arrived back and a new 2800 was installed and running like a charm. Timing, they say, is everything.

Mind you, we still had the old Whacker and we still had the BIG Honda 5000 but they are not inverter style and things get more difficult using them.

“Dave, we bought a toaster at Costco the same day our toaster failed, too. That is not news!”

I suppose not. But I think this example kinda shows a higher level of the need for being in sync with one’s machines when living OTG. Sal certainly was. She was adamant. “Today, we get a new Honda!”

And, anyway, I am not finished…….

So, the other day, I took the dead 2800 into the shop and really got into it. The thing is about all the new fancy, small gensets is that ‘getting into it’ means basically disassembling it. They are so strategically designed that everything has been shaped and configured to fit into a neat shape and then covered in a pretty plastic cover, one has to eviscerate it to access anything. To change the recoil rope on the pull-starter for a Honda 2000 is a popular joke: “Well, first you have to take the entire assembly and electrics apart. And then you are just getting close!”

Yes, I have had a Honda Eu2000, too.

The 2800 is better to work on but not by much. I had half of it spread all over the workshop before I had access to the spark plug. It sparked but would not start. I stuck my finger in the plug hole and there was very little compression. Took the compression tester out and it barely registered anything. Maybe 25 pounds! A Honda engine had failed!! That’s amazing. They are usually perfect – other parts fail but the engines are great.

So, I started to disassemble the body of the engine and get this: the cylinder body is mounted on what might be called the block at a 45 degree angle! There is no head! That is totally weird. And there does not seem to be an actual, discernible block, cylinder, head configuration. It is just odd-looking.

And it is cold.

And I have the back-up running nicely.

And, well, the old one can wait. Timing really is everything.

19 thoughts on “I have four gensets

  1. Thank YOUUUUUUUUUU! I KNEW someone would appreciate that! C’mon! That kind of timing while living OTG!!!??? Some kinda magic…..Sal’s intuition, of course, mostly, but still…..
    I will likely take a run at repairing it myself. Once I figure out how to access the *&!#!&* piston, I will remove what is most likely a broken ring, just do a light hone and use a new set of the same sized rings. Ain’t gonna overbore or fuss too much. My plan is all fine and dandy ‘cept I cannot figure out how to access the damn piston – yet! Sheeesh.


    • Timing like that is 1 in a 10,000.

      But great info on the Honda genny.
      I’ve been looking at getting one for the shop that I will eventually take with me when I retire.
      Excellent OTG electrical observations and info that one only gets by……. “living it”.

      I won’t be able to visit in Jan.
      Have had a death in the immediate family and a terminal diagnosis for another family member so I’m flying back East Dec 31st for a week to say “goodbye” to one and send the other one off to the great unknown.
      We’re not a religious family so it’ll be more of Wake .


      • Sorry to hear that. Life, eh? Death, too. What a messy plan…..
        And I am also sorry that you won’t be visiting in Jan. But that’s OK. I am comforted in knowing that you’ll attend my great goodbye in ten or so years. Yeah, genset logic, eh? Here’s an OTG tip: redundancy in everything. Better to have two 3000 watt gensets than one 6000. The logic is clear once it is said out loud.


  2. Hummm, maybe I should by another based on Sally’s instinct. My honda 6500 that I bought second hand 11 years ago and have ran it equivalent of 1.5 hours per day since has reversed its start/run sequence. Choke now stays on stalls if I open it, used to stall if I left it closed. Burning a bit more fuel but same rpm/hertz settings. I will try cleaning in the ultra sonic bath, but this revelation has me thinking.


    • Here’s another. It is rare that you ever need 6500 watts. Maybe welding heavy. Most ‘systems can’t TAKE up more than 20 amps at 120. Even 30, say, is 3600. My next one will be a Champion 3500/4500 open frame. The ‘open frames’ are cheaper, lighter, same dbas and way, way easier to work on. Why Champion? Cheaper and Honda’s engine failed me…they lost their place on the longevity pedestal.


      • Yup, champion is getting a good name in motors. My log splitter has one. My battery needs two 100 amp chargers for the first 2-3 hours(180 amps + @15 volt) so 220 volt, one on each leg= 34 amp load on genny. Then there is the welders (I have 3 @220 and 1 @120). I have looked at the Chinese “quite diesel packs” but am leary.


        • Years ago I found advertised a new Yanmar 7500 watt diesel that had an inverter. That is very cool. But, all in all, I am now much more of a juice-manager. We make the 2800 work. It charges batts and, if we need a real boost, the batts handle it. The only time I rely on the genset directly is welding and my welder is small. The funicular takes a lot of juice (but only for a few minutes at a time) and it will ‘pop’ a genset if one is running. So I let the batts do the heavy lifting (literally) and then put the juice back in ’em after the lift. Fuel is a big deal out here and, of course, becoming a bigger deal for everyone. So, I am looking at ways to cut the consumption down.


  3. Good job! You should always follow your gut feeling AND the good advice from Sal. That advice is worth much more then a lottery ticket! I bought a Honda 6000 genset last year, nd it works perfect! It also has this inverter regulation, so it adjust the speed based on the actual load. Kinda trying to be a bit off grid when living on grid with the piece of land I bought a year ago


        • For the first ten years we carried gas totes but it is illegal (we did it anyway) on the ferries but it stunk up the car. Then we found ourselves going into town less and less. So, then I bought an old tank of 200 gallons get it barge-filled maybe three times over two years. We went through 40 gallons in November but that is the worst and normally we average about 15 a month. More boat use in summer, more genset in winter. Barge gas is about 25c a liter more.


          • Yes, I use stabilizer but we kind of pound through it so that is only necessary on the Whacker. And we do not have much in the way of condensation for the gensets but water in the boats engine filter seems inevitable.


  4. “Seems I always have four gensets, even when I give one away….another just eventually comes my way…”.

    Some are born with gensets; others achieve gensets; others have gensets thrust upon them.

    As for me and my house, I now am forced to admit to genset impoverishment. Alas, only one (unless you include a Coleman 750 watt light plant I bought used and brought here when building a cabin in 1994). It served well to run a circular saw. It maybe now has the horsepower to charge my phone.

    The “main” genset and the “backup” genset are one and the same. A Kubota 7.5 kw diesel. I don’t think it knows anything about inverters. It seems to think that’s what the Outback inverter/charger is for. I have that set to accept 4,900 watts and that seems to work fine.  


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