How important is an electric Start on portable generator?

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  #1  
Old 10-10-11, 06:37 AM
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How important is an electric Start on portable generator?

I'm not sure if this is right area of the forum but most the generator talk seems to take place here.

I'm wondering how important is an electric start on a portable generator? I have no problem being able to pull the cord to start but it has been my experinece that as engines age your chanes of getting one to start is alot higher if it has an electric start in order to spin the motor faster. I'm wondering if the extra $$ for an electric start would be worth it for a generator that is only used a couple of time a year.

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  #2  
Old 10-10-11, 07:15 AM
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I think the key to any gas powered generator is either properly draining the fuel and running the carb dry or run it for 20-30 minutes once a month. If you get a electric start model it will make it heavier in addition to being more expensive and you have the added maintenance of keeping the battery charged and replacing it as needed.

Will you be the only one using the generator? Will someone unable to pull the cord (wife) need to start it if you are out of town?

My small 2k generators are pull start and the oldest is over 5 years old and still starts easily if I run it once a month to keep it "exercised". If I let it set a couple months then it can take 5 or 6 pulls to get it to start. All my larger generators are electric start.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 07:46 AM
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I should have no problem pulling the cord. My wife wouldn't be able the wheel the gen. out of the garage to hook up anyway. However, I'm looking at an 8kw portable which is on the larger side and I doubt I would "excercise" more than every 2 months so I'm thinking the electric start might be worth it on a gen. this size and just leave the battery on a trickle charger or on a timer to charge 10 min a day.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 08:10 AM
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Instead of spending money on an electric start maybe spend the money on a propane/natural gas carburetor. That way you don't have old gasoline that may be harder to start in the fuel tank to worry about.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 08:34 AM
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That would definetly eliminate the old gas problem. However, the cost of a natural gas/propane generator plus the plumbing cost would far exceed the extra couple of hundred I would spend on an electric start. I will just have to be alittle more diligent in emptying the tank and running carb dry when done.

How hard is it to manually start a unit with an electric start. Does it make that much harder to pull once the battery goes dead if for some reason I forgot to charge?
 
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Old 10-10-11, 08:46 AM
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There is no difference in pull starting with or without electric start. The starter should be disengaged from the motor when it's not starting so there should be no extra drag. Just extra weight from the starter, battery & cables.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 09:32 AM
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You could always jump start it just like a car. As long as you remembered to charge your portable jump start unit.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 09:38 AM
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However, the cost of a natural gas/propane generator plus the plumbing cost would far exceed the extra couple of hundred I would spend on an electric start
Cost wise probably less then $250. It would just a matter of the same generator but a DIY change of of the carburetor. No need to run a natural gas line if you don't want to. Just use a "BBQ" propane tank. Carburetor Conversion Pictures and Specifications
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-10-11 at 09:53 AM.
  #9  
Old 10-10-11, 10:47 AM
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My generator has electric start. Now that I'm in my sixties and have a few medical problems the last thing I want to do is kill myself yanking on a starting rope.

I also converted my generator to gaseous fuel and I couldn't be happier. Get some bigger wheels on that 8kW unit you are considering and your wife will be able to wheel it into position and with the electric start she won't have any problems.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Cost wise probably less then $250. It would just a matter of the same generator but a DIY change of of the carburetor. No need to run a natural gas line if you don't want to. Just use a "BBQ" propane tank. Carburetor Conversion Pictures and Specifications
Along this line, do they make generators that are designed to run off a 20# bottle?

Edit: Nevermind. Google is my friend. The answer is yes they do. Maybe a good option?
 
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Old 10-10-11, 11:22 AM
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I have electric start on a 8hp Techumsha motor on a compressor. I've never used the electric start feature and don't miss it on this size motor.
 
  #12  
Old 10-10-11, 11:25 AM
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I seem to remember someone saying that if you run your generator off propane or natural gas that it makes it less powerful therefore won't put out the same wattage. Is that correct?
 
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Old 10-10-11, 11:54 AM
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Some of the aftermarket conversion kits do reduce the horsepower, but the generators that are designed for LP/NG will operate at rated capacity. Natural gas and LP are more consistent fuel sources unlike gasoline that deteriorates if it gets old. LP can sit in the tank forever and it will as good as the day it was filled.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 08:23 PM
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If you use an add-on venturi (between the carburetor and air cleaner) you MIGHT experience a slight loss of engine horsepower with a concurrent loss of generator output. The only reason for using the add-on venturi is to retain the use of gasoline as an option. If you do a conversion to gaseous fuel ONLY you will NOT have any power loss.

Some carburetors can be drilled and have a gaseous fuel "spud" installed in such a way that gasoline remains an option and not experience any power loss. The company Ray linked to are the experts in this area and they cheerfully give advice over the telephone. As I recall they were willing to drill my carburetor (Yamaha EF3000iSE) and install the spud for about $125. I opted instead for the gaseous only conversion and did it myself.
 
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