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Can anyone tell me what is this outlet coming out of my breaker box?

Can anyone tell me what is this outlet coming out of my breaker box?

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  #1  
Old 10-05-11, 06:44 AM
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Can anyone tell me what is this outlet coming out of my breaker box?

I was trying to determine what type of box I have to see if I could use a interlock kit to connect a portable generator instead of a transfer switch. I noticed one of the breakers was labled "generator" and it is connected to the same breaker as the washer/dryer switch. In essence there are 2 switches but you have to pull them both at the same time(see picture). However, I also noticed an outlet coming out of the box. I assume this would be where I could plug my generator into to power all the outlets in my house.(I realize that I could only turn on a few switches at time based on generator size) I would just need to make sure that main breaker is turned off so that I don't backfeed the lines correct?

However, I'm not sure if this is legal but it looks like this outlet was professionally installed although it was probably done in the 80's so it may no longer meet code.

Is there anyway to use this outlet for my generator and then just select the switches I want. Isn't the only thing an interlock switch does is just ensure the main breaker and the generator breaker aren't on at the same time? Can I not do that manually?

Also does anyone have any idea what model box I have? Part of the descritpion is missing.

See post #3 for picture.

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Last edited by ray2047; 10-05-11 at 07:23 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-05-11, 07:06 AM
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Hi,
You cant use a interlock. You panal will not work.

Generator InterLock Kit - Bryant Kits

You cant backfeed with that plug thats there. As far as I know its not code.

You need to install a new set up like this.

31406CRK Pro/Tran | Product Details | Reliance Controls Corporation

Mike NJ
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 10-05-11 at 08:59 AM.
  #3  
Old 10-05-11, 07:15 AM
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Welcome to the forums. You must use an inlet. You do not have an inlet. You can not connect a generator with what you have.

 
  #4  
Old 10-05-11, 07:41 AM
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In order to utilize the receptacle circled in red as a backfeed to the panel you would need to use a SUICIDE CORD. This is both illegal and potentially DEADLY.
 
  #5  
Old 10-05-11, 08:03 AM
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Sorry about the link wasn't trying to spam but I couldn't figure out how to post picture. Thanks for correcting.

I have considered the transfer switch but even then I can only run a set number of switches as opposed to the whole house. Alabama Power does not approve the genrlink so that is not an option. Isn't the only the think thing interlock does is ensure that the main breaker is off before the generator switch is on? If I get a custom made interlock then couldn't I use the receptacle provided? Is there anyway to backfeed the lines with main breaker off? I don't see how. I just don't understand why an electrician would have wired this setup if it is not intended to be used? If it is illegal then why can you even buy the "suicide cords"? I'm not trying to start arguments I'm just trying to understand my options.

Thanks
 
  #6  
Old 10-05-11, 08:23 AM
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A custom made interlock would not be UL approved or pass any inspection. An electrician did not wire that outlet...it's not even close to a professional job and even pretty bad for a novice homeowner.

I don't think you can buy suicide cords...you can buy the parts and make them, but you can't buy one pre-made.

As to running the whole house...in most cases a standard portable gennie won't be able to do that anyway. It's for essentials like a few lights, furnace/ac, fridge, freezer, well pump if needed, etc. The only way to run a house is with a very big portable that can cost quite a bit or a permanently installed standby gennie.
 
  #7  
Old 10-05-11, 08:29 AM
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I have never seen a suicide cord on the market, not do I think UL would approve something so potentially deadly. Based on the materials used I do not think that receptacle was wired by an electrician.

If you were to have a custom interlock made for you it would need to go through an expensive listing process before it was used. I would check to see if the manufacturer of your panel has an interlock bracket.
 
  #8  
Old 10-05-11, 08:49 AM
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You could replace the receptacle you circled with an inlet but you could still not use all of the breakers and you would still need a UL approved interlock.

 
  #9  
Old 10-05-11, 09:07 AM
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Taking Suggestions ?

Thanks for your help.

Could anyone perhaps provide me with alternative suggestions as to how to power the outlets in my house and the central AC. I have 2 units. A new 2.5 ton and on older 2 ton(see pictures below). What I would like is to be able to selectively turn on the circuits as I need them; not turn on everything at once. Therfore, I could run the air for a few hours then switch off and run the fridge and the lights for a few hours and just alternate. I was hoping to get an 8000kw or 7500kw portable and wire into my house. However, since I can't use interlock and genrlink is not allowed in Alabama. I don't really see how I can get power to all the circuits in my house.

The biggest transfer switch only has 10 circuits which by the time I hooked the 2 air units the furnace and the fridge that doesn't leave alot left. Plus I'm going to end up spending twice as much on a electrician/transfer box/cables as a would the generator itself. I can't afford a natural gas inline generator. And if you can't run the AC then you can't stay in the house in the summer. So I'm trying to determine what are my options that won't break the bank.

 
  #10  
Old 10-05-11, 09:34 AM
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In order to power the AC in your house along with other items you are looking at a permanently installed genset with an automatic transfer switch. The generator would by pushing 20 Kw and cost thousands of dollars.
 
  #11  
Old 10-05-11, 11:13 AM
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I know I have seen people run central AC units on portable generators before. Keep in mind that I would not be trying to power the house simultaneously. The smaller AC has a 17.9 amp rating that would be the biggest drain. No other applainces would running when the AC is on. I have been told that a 8000kw generator would be able to power the unit if no other appliances are on. A 20kw permanently installed genset would be overkill for my needs and out of my price range. I'm not suggesting this is the ideal solution, merely an economical workaround.

So are you saying that there is no way to power the AC with a portable?
 
  #12  
Old 10-05-11, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rtpatter View Post
The smaller AC has a 17.9 amp rating that would be the biggest drain. No other applainces would running when the AC is on. I have been told that a 8000kw generator would be able to power the unit if no other appliances are on.
That would be really iffy. At my own house I have an AC unit with a 12A rating and my 6kW generator will not start it. I wouldn't recommend anything lower than 10kW for your air conditioner and probably more realistic in the 12kW+ range. The generator engine and alternator of smaller units simply do not have enough rotational inertia (mass) to start a compressor motor.

So are you saying that there is no way to power the AC with a portable?
You would just need a big portable or a smaller A/C. A/C units are difficult motors to start, even on line power. The lights dim when you have 200A (48kW) coming into the service.

On the AC label, you can see the LRA = 65A. That is locked rotor amps, or the amount of current the motor pulls when it is at a dead stop. 65A * 240V = 15.6kW. The generator needs to be able to handle that surge or the motor will not start and the generator will stall until breakers trip.
 
  #13  
Old 10-05-11, 01:01 PM
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Would it make any difference that I have hard start kits installed on the AC units. I get no lights dimming when they kick on now. Can an electrician easily tell by testing the unit to see how much it actually draws before I purchase my generator? Most of the transfer switches I have seen say rated for 7500w, so I'm not sure how much extra the cost would be to get one that would handle an 8 or 10k?
 
  #14  
Old 10-05-11, 01:18 PM
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The hard start kits will certainly help. Unfortunately there is no easy test to see exactly which size generator will work, although using a fast response clamp on amp meter will get you a good idea of what the AC unit actually draws at startup. Then you need to account for the fact that the voltage will drop more significantly on the generator so current will be higher than what was measured on line power. It is mostly an educated guess, with enough margin to account for unplanned variables.

For example, portable generator ratings are determined in a lab setting with a perfectly tuned engine, fresh gas, etc; and then the marketing department rounds up from there to print a rating on the box. Just running out in the field in a rainstorm can reduce engine performance 20% under the nameplate rating. If you go with a good brand name unit or with a propane or natural gas unit you can trust the ratings a lot more.
 
  #15  
Old 10-05-11, 02:45 PM
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rtpatter how long does your power go out for?

IMO you should just nix the a/c thing. Afterall its emergency power.

If cost is a factor just get the 10 circuit transfer switch and put essentials on it. Well, refridge, key lighting, ceiling fans, TV and a few outlets. Thats more then enough to get you by IMO.

It should probably only be considered for health reasons.

I do not have central air but my portable Generator will power my two window units with nothing else on. That might be a thought. I believe they are 4.5 amps each. About 1200 watts. I have it one on each leg of the 120v so its balanced.

But I only done it to try it. I just run the ceiling fans in each room. Heck the power aint never off for more then 5 hours. If its too hot we will go in the pool.

I over thought the whole gen thing when I was researching it for my home. I wanted to power everything...LOL. After I priced everything I opted for the cheapest route.

Gen and switch for under $1000. Same switch as the link I posted below. Comes as a complete kit with inlet, gen cord and all. May just have to change the end on the cord to match the gen.

31406CRK Pro/Tran | Product Details | Reliance Controls Corporation

Then you get a gen like this. I have an older version. I like the Colmans.

6500 Watt Portable Vx Generator ELECTRIC START

But gens are alot of money. I only got the biggest my highest load demands with a very small buffer. You have to manage your power if you want to keep the cost down on what you need to run.

Example. TV on and some lights, I will run the refidge for an hour. Then I will turn that refridge circuit off and let the family know its shower time. I will flip the well circuit and everyone will shower. When done flip off and put refridge back on. I can run everything but the rifridge and the well at the same time. Lights are all flouresent low wattage.

Just my two cents. Just a thought from someone who has been down this road.

Mike NJ







Li

Mike NJ
 
  #16  
Old 10-05-11, 02:50 PM
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Just an opinion here but I view a generator as a source of power for 'essential' items like the sump pump, well, water heater, fridge, lights,.... I would not put AC on that list.
 
  #17  
Old 10-05-11, 04:46 PM
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I appreciate the input from those who have been down this road. I realize that AC is not neccesarily essential . However, in Alabama in the summer if you can't run the AC a little you can't really stay in the house. If you can't stay in the house then I don't really care if the fridge/lights stays on or not. We typically lose power for 24-48 hrs once or twice a year depending on storms.

After looking more closely at my breaker box I believe the Interlock Kit K-3210 should work with my box(picture below). I think I just need to have someone move the generator switch from the bottom left to the top right of the breaker box and change out the recipticle that the generator would plug into. That way I could use the interlock and be UL complaint. If I had an 8k genie then I should be able to power one AC unit at a time.

Otherwise if I can't power the A/C then I may as well just buy a smaller generator and run extension chords to the fridge and plug in a few lights. The only advantage of a transfer switch without AC is powering the gas furnance during ice storms.

Thoughts?
 
  #18  
Old 10-05-11, 05:41 PM
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I'd suggest the generator you planed on, 8000 BTU window AC, and extension cords. You can camp out in the one room you cool. A simple 8000 BTU AC costs less then $200, about what a quality transfer panel would cost and could even be used as back up when the central AC goes out on a weekend.
 
  #19  
Old 10-06-11, 09:44 AM
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I agree with Ray on this one. A good window unit will cost quite a bit less than the generator needed to run a central A/C unit. You can at least cool down a bedroom or two in an emergency and won't be out thousands of dollars for a generator capable of running a central A/C. I really don't think an 8kW unit is big enough to run either of your central A/C units.
 
  #20  
Old 10-06-11, 03:20 PM
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You're still going to spend a good bit on extension cords for the a/c units, refrig, countertop appliances (mw, coffeemaker etc).
 
  #21  
Old 10-06-11, 04:20 PM
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The cost of extension cords will give him a whole new meaning for what is and what isn't essential.

There is perhaps a slightly less costly way but I'm not sure it is code. That would be to wire two or three receptacles in the house strategically placed wired ONLY to an inlet. Absolutely isolated from the house system with distinctive colors such as red and printed labels, Generator only; do not connect to house panel. As stated though may not be code compliant so not recommending it. Also probably too tempting to idiots with suicide cords.
 
  #22  
Old 10-06-11, 07:00 PM
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Also probably too tempting to idiots with suicide cords.
But now they can only energize half the panel.

Perhaps another option would be to mount a small breaker box to a two-wheel dolley and install recetacles below it. Then you can put the panel wherever and have one cord going out of it. You can plug all of your stuff into the receptacles under the panel.
 
  #23  
Old 10-07-11, 04:24 AM
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IMHO, I too would nix the central air and invest in an actual transfer switch. It'll be safer in the long run. Plus if you ever sell the house, it's a good bonus for the new buyers.

For those miserable days when the power is off for extended periods, a portable AC unit should fit the bill and still run fine from a portable generator.

Or how about a whole house fan?

I've personally known somebody that used a "suicide cord" to backfeed their house and fried their generator, furnace, tv, computers, etc.
 
  #24  
Old 10-07-11, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by scoob8000 View Post
I've personally known somebody that used a "suicide cord" to backfeed their house and fried their generator, furnace, tv, computers, etc.
They should be glad they aren't dead and thankful that no one was killed when the genset energized the utility grid.
 
  #25  
Old 10-07-11, 05:57 AM
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Wouldn't you still be backfeeding the panel with an interlock kit? I thought all the interlock kit did was prevent the main breaker and generator breaker from being on at the same time. So with the interlock kit I could be compliant, but how is that going to prevent me from "frying" the other appliances in my house. I would still be backfeeding into the main panel.
 
  #26  
Old 10-07-11, 06:14 AM
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You are correct that the interlock prevents any possibility of being able to supply generator power at the same time as utility power.

Power from the generator into the panel would be the same as utility power as far as most appliances would be concerned. Some electronics will not like the variations in the sine wave from the genset.
 
  #27  
Old 10-07-11, 07:57 AM
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Again I'm not trying to start arguments but I'm not understanding how the interlock can be considered a safe alternative if all it does it prevent both breakers from being on at the same time. You would still need a "suicide cord" to operate and it seems as if the hazard to yourself and your appliaces would be the same with or without an interlock. The only thing the interlock would protect would be the lineman, correct?

So it seems I just need to buy big enough genie to power one of the AC units, hook up the interlock, then connect genie the breaker board. Am I missing something?
 
  #28  
Old 10-07-11, 08:25 AM
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You would still need a "suicide cord" to operate and it seems as if the hazard to yourself and your appliaces would be the same with or without an interlock. The only thing the interlock would protect would be the lineman, correct?
No you would not use a suicide cord with male plugs both ends. You would use a back fed breaker hard wired to an inlet and a regular extension cord plugged into the inlet. Since you are using a regular extension cord if it was unplugged from the house with the generator running the female end would not be the hazard a male plug is with its exposed prongs. Plus the back fed breaker would limit the amount of power that the panel could draw.

Tech definition: A back fed breaker is a regular breaker on the bus that rather then supplying power is fed with power from an outside source. For safety it is secured to the panel with a hold down so it can not be accidentally removed while energized.
 
  #29  
Old 10-07-11, 08:28 AM
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Here are some inlet pictures.

inlet receptacle - Google Search
 
  #30  
Old 10-07-11, 08:31 AM
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I think you are misunderstanding what a suicide cord is maybe. Suicide cords have plugs on both ends, not like an extension cord or a generator cord where you have a plug and a receptacle. With a suicide cord plugged into a running gennie..there is voltage on the exposed prongs.

When using an interlock you use an inlet to connect to the panel (as shown in a prior post)...not an outlet like you currently have.

Main power ok, interlock keeps the gennie breaker in panel in off position, so no voltage on prongs of inlet.

Main power off, main breaker is opened by interlock and gennie breaker is closed to connect inlet to panel. Still safe since no power to panel.

Plug in gennie...all still safe since no exposed prongs and main breaker is open to prevent backfeeding to PoCo.
 
  #31  
Old 10-07-11, 09:29 AM
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Got it. I think I understand the distinction of a suicide cord Its not the fact that it plugs into the breaker panel rather the fact that its male on both ends.

Interlock says that they have a kit that will fit my box its not on thier website yet but its model H10(see picture). What would be the cost and feasibility of having someone move the breakers in my current box to line up properly with this model interlock. If you look at my box(pictured in the first thread below) I would need to have someone move the top two right breakers for the oven and switch them out with the generator switch that is currently on the bottom right. I would also need them to replace the current receptacle for the gen. and put a proper one in that would match with my gen. Then make sure I buy a strong enough gen. that will power the central AC. Any thoughts on the cost feasablity of this?

Thanks
 
  #32  
Old 10-07-11, 09:36 AM
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Certainly it is your choice but could you explain the need to run the central AC when there are more economical alternatives?
 
  #33  
Old 10-07-11, 10:49 AM
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At a minumum here is a portable you will need to start that a/c unit from my calculations. 60A * 240V = 14.4 kW


15,000 Watt Generac GP Series Portable Generators @ Electric Generators Direct.com - 15,000 Watt Generac GP Portable Generators, 15000W Generac GP Generator, 15,000 Watt Generac GP Series Portable Generators, 15,000 Watt Generac GP Portable Generator


Also you other question regarding the wattage size of the inlet and amps I dont know. This unit has a 50 amp plug. I assume that is the one you use.

I believe you will need to change those breakers to 50 amp.

But I dont know if you can plug in or not. It would seem you need a transfer panal or something since they dont seem to make a inlet more then 12,500 watts.

Hey just throwing stuff out there.

If your going to spend this money for a/c for possibly 24-48 hours during power failure you might as well go all out and get a hardwired gen with all systems included. It will probably be cheaper and safer in the long run.

Generac Guardian 5524 Standby Generator - Series™ 5524 - 17 kW Home Standby Generator (Aluminum Enclosure)

You stated below that money was an issue so I am not understanding your logic, but its your home. And you seem determained that you want these a/c's running.

So possibly regardless of how silly it seems perhaps the pros can chime in and let you exactly know what you need to make it work. Such as gen size, inlets, switches, breakers, etc.

I rather you be safe and not install in a way to cause harm to people or property. Saftey first.

Mike NJ
 
  #34  
Old 10-07-11, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rtpatter View Post
What would be the cost and feasibility of having someone move the breakers in my current box to line up properly with this model interlock...
Assuming no surprises under the box cover:

Appx 2-3 hours labor, about $100 for the 50A inlet and box, $20 in breakers, the interlock kit itself, $50-75 misc wire and supplies, permit & inspection fees, 10 foot generator cord w/ ends about $150. Depending on how the guy bills you might have a trip charge or markup on parts also.
 
  #35  
Old 10-07-11, 11:50 AM
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I agree that if I have to run 15kw portable then I might as well get a whole house system since the cost difference would be neglible. However, I'm not sure I need one that size just run one AC unit at a time if nothing else is on. The biggest draw is the 17.9 amp 2 ton unit. To start I figure double that so 36 amps which it should actually be less since it has a hard start on it. So i'm thinking an 8500kw might just squeak by.

Can I not just have an electrician come out and test the unit to get a pretty good indication of what it draws and base my decision on that.

As far as my reasoning, I really am trying to do what economically make sense. My house is not laid out so as that a window unit would fit or really do much good. I figure that if I'm going to spend $600 or $700 to get a generator just to run the fridge and few lights why not spend some extra and get one that at least has the possibilty of running the A/C and the gas furnance it I need it during winter. I know I have seen an individual running his central air thru an 8k portable. I'm not sure what the specifics of his setup was but he was doing it. I realize that my setup is different but I this is really the cheapest way I can figure to run the A/C and the other outlets in the house as needed. I guess I just need someone to actually test the unit to see what it normally draws and factor in a little extra to see what the furnace fan would draw and go from there.

Otherwise, I don't really see the point in powering the breaker box. I should just go buy a smaller generator hook up a cord to the fridge and one light and be done with it.
 
  #36  
Old 10-07-11, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Assuming no surprises under the box cover:

Appx 2-3 hours labor, about $100 for the 50A inlet and box, $20 in breakers, the interlock kit itself, $50-75 misc wire and supplies, permit & inspection fees, 10 foot generator cord w/ ends about $150. Depending on how the guy bills you might have a trip charge or markup on parts also.

I like this pricing much more than that of a transfer switch install where they quoted me $700 to $1000
 
  #37  
Old 10-07-11, 12:03 PM
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My estimate could very well end up in that range depending on local labor rate and permit & inspection fee.
 
  #38  
Old 10-07-11, 12:43 PM
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Just a reminder...I'm sure you already know, but...

Portable (hah...maybe we should say semi-portable for that size) gennies require maintenance. They need to be started and run (or do an end of season shutdown) and taken care of much more than a lawn mower or car.

Oil is important as is good fresh gas .
 
  #39  
Old 10-07-11, 12:47 PM
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That is my fear is that I go to the trouble of hooking up to the breaker box and then the thing won't start when I need it and it will be too big to easily transport somewhere to be repaired
 
  #40  
Old 10-07-11, 12:54 PM
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It's not bad as long as you bolt some big wheels on the generator chassis if it doesn't have them already and it's no different than moving around a wheelbarrow. The engine should run pretty good as long as you don't let the gas varnish up in the carb. A gas preservative like Stabil helps a lot. It's also a good idea to roll the generator out monthly or at least a couple times a year and run it for 15 minutes. I keep a 5 gal gas can for the generator and every month or two I dump it in my truck and refill it to keep it fresh.
 
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