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Honda 2kW inverter-type portable generator
Old 01-28-2016, 12:11 AM   #1
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Honda 2kW inverter-type portable generator

As three generations of us were sitting in the dark after a holiday storm, one of our kids mentioned that there were small portable generators that were really quiet. He had seen them in use at outside events, often running under a table. He came up with some model #'s, and I looked into it after power was restored. As it turned out, time was tight, the Honda Holidays sale was almost over.
For me, the choice was the Honda EU2000i. It comes in two versions, both with the same 2000 watt maximum capability (1/2 hour maximum), 1600 watt continuous.
The base EU2000i has two 125v 20 Amp-style outlets, and a DC outlet for charging batteries.
The EU2000i Companion has one 125v 20 Amp outlet, and a 30 Amp 3 prong twist-lock 125v outlet, no DC output. Both 2000i types can be paralleled mix/match for more total power, if desired.

I envisioned a simple setup - Two extension cords plugged into it, and the cords run through a window on the back of the house. Found a Honda answer post online that suggested that if one was not going to use two 2000i's in parallel, to go with the base 2000i, rather than the Companion. So that is what I bought. After running it for test, powering refrigerator, box fan, etc., I began to re-think the cords through the window idea. I was concerned about exhaust/carbon monoxide infiltration into the house through the window gap, even if I tried to stuff something around the cords. No matter which way the wind blows, it always seems to put some air flow towards those windows.

So decided to make a pass-through power setup. A 30 Amp inlet box mounted on the outside wall, conduit runs directly through the wall to a 4 x 20 Amp outlet block in a new box set into the wall. So all extension cord running is inside the house, nothing through a window. For the outside connection to the generator, I made a 30' 10 gauge 3 wire cord with a twist lock to fit the inlet box, and a 20 Amp straight plug to match the generator's receptacle. Now I could see the advantage to spend $100 more to buy the Companion version instead, with its twist-lock receptacle. Oh well, I'm learning. The cord setup I have works, but I lay out the heavy cord carefully by the gen to avoid pull/misalignment on the 20 Amp straight blade (non-locking) generator receptacle.

I also upgraded my original idea on running the smaller gas furnace. I bought a single-circuit furnace transfer box, and wired that in at the furnace. So I can power the blower motor and controls via an extension cord from the wall pass-through outlet over to the furnace transfer boxes' front panel.

All works well. It IS quiet. Running it on Eco-Throttle, the engine speed is matched to the load. So for example, running overnight, it will be sitting at/near engine idle speed if the refrigerator or furnace is not running at the moment. A few light bulb loads barely move the throttle. Once running, the refrigerator's compressor uses less power than the incandescent bulbs inside it that turn on when you open a door!

The "KILL A WATT" (heard about it first here on E-R.org many years ago) is a big help on determining loads.

From what I have read, the Honda EU2000 series is a favorite of the RV crowd. Does anyone have one? Any tips on its care and feeding? If the generator runs out of gas with load attached, does it quit/disconnect power gracefully, or does it do an up and down or low voltage brownout scenario? I couldn't find any info on how it dies as it runs out of gas.

Any other generator tips or experiences appreciated!
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:36 AM   #2
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You're right about the Honda EU2000's being favorites of the RV crowd. The hottest inverter generator on the retail market is the Champion brand--especially the model 3100's because they'll run 1 RV a/c unit and lights with 1 generator instead of having to go 2 EU2000's which are expensive. The Champion 3100's are in the $850-$900--far less than 2 EU2000's.

1600 watts is really not enough power to run a household's refrig, freezer, electric stove, electric hot water heater, lighting and HVAC. But of course you may not be using all these appliances. Heaven help you if someone kicks in a microwave--a power sucker. Many household generators are more in the 5500-7000 watt non-inverter units often run on natural gas so they don't cut off.

I don't exactly know how you've got the generator hooked up. But there are too many power company linemen injured and even killed every year because of poorly installed household generators. People will often just cut off the female plugs on extension cords and replace them with another male connection and plug them into an outlet--feeding juice back thru the electrical system--a big no no. If I was putting in a generator, I'd be buying a transfer switch/box designed for that purpose.
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:47 AM   #3
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That Honda model is very popular and frequently stolen, so lock it up, even when in use. The down side of that model is that it has no gas shut off, so it is hard to run the carburetor dry for storage. There are several work-arounds, if you Google it. Alternatively always use a fuel stabilizer when storing it.

Before I put in a transfer switch, I rewired my furnace so it had a short cord that plugged into a standard outlet. If the power went out, all I had to do was unplug it from the wall and plug it into the generator.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:01 AM   #4
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I had a larger model at my last house, the Honda EU6500iSA. Kept it in the attached garage, with the exhaust vented to outdoors. Even running full tilt, we could only hear it inside the house if we strained to listen for it. Amazingly quiet machine.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:10 AM   #5
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I'm torn on whether to get a generator or not. We've only had a few outages over the last 4 years and none were for 24 hours... though a couple were for 18 hours.

If I do something, I'll have a transfer switch setup and plug in a generator set on the far side of the garage though I like the idea of having it in the garage and exhausted to the outside.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:13 AM   #6
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I'm torn on whether to get a generator or not. We've only had a few outages over the last 4 years and none were for 24 hours... though a couple were for 18 hours.

If I do something, I'll have a transfer switch setup and plug in a generator set on the far side of the garage though I like the idea of having it in the garage and exhausted to the outside.
One neat alternative to a transfer switch is an interlock kit. Generator InterLock Kit - How does th Interlock Kit work?
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:32 AM   #7
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Interesting, but how do you know when the power is back on other than through neighbors or shutting down the interlock and seeing if you are getting juice from the utility?
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:36 AM   #8
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That is a WONDERFUL choice! We always wanted one, but never bit the bullet on buying one when we had the boat. Borrowed one a few times, and man, was it quiet!
We have a wheezy, grumpy Champion, I think, that was cheaper and noisy but gets the job done. I would LOVE to have one of those little Hondas. Absolutely great.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:40 AM   #9
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My camp mostly runs on solar+1.5 KW inverter, with an old 3KW Onan RV generator for more power if needed. That is backed up by a marine 6KW diesel gen set.

The contactors feeding the power panel and starting and inverter enabling switches are interlocked such that any one system being ON disables the starting power and power outputs of the other systems. Thus it is not possible for two or three systems to connect to the power panel simultaneously.

WHy is that imprtant? If two power systems are interconnected, they must be first sychronized. Failing to synchronize prior to interconnect results in forced synchronization resulting huge power surges and often things breaking with lots of attendant sparks and unpleasant crunching noises. Note the foregoing does not apply to small inverter type generators like the Honda series.

At the house we used to have lots of power outages. Then I installed a manual transfer switch which is fed by a 12KW gas generator. The transfer switch feeds part of the house covering furnace, sump pump, electric stove, water heater and blower of the woodstove and most of the lights. Return of Utility is indicated by several lights not fed by the transfer switch.

The transfer switch was the best investment, there has been no utility power failure exceeding more than a few minutes since install of generator feed.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:57 AM   #10
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We have the same one, great little genny. It's not overpowered or overjuiced but it always starts right up. OP I don't recall it shutting down orderly, just runs out of fuel and dies.
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Interesting, but how do you know when the power is back on other than through neighbors or shutting down the interlock and seeing if you are getting juice from the utility?
There is no easy way, even with a whole house manual transfer switch. You could ask a neighbor to call you when the power comes on or check periodically.

I guess if you were clever you could design a non contact circuit to ring a buzzer when the power came back on. I'll let the EEs take it from here.........
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:56 PM   #12
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There is no easy way, even with a whole house manual transfer switch. You could ask a neighbor to call you when the power comes on or check periodically.

I guess if you were clever you could design a non contact circuit to ring a buzzer when the power came back on. I'll let the EEs take it from here.........

I have thought of putting a neon light on my central a/c condenser/compressor. The power to the unit does not go through the service panel -- it has its own fuses installed on the exterior of the house.

I have also noted that the power company's electronics mounted near the service entrance have lights that seem to be effected by a loss of power. I am referring to the box that controls the a/c load shedding controlled by the power company during periods of heavy load -- for which I receive a discounted tariff.

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Old 01-28-2016, 07:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by travelover View Post
There is no easy way, even with a whole house manual transfer switch. You could ask a neighbor to call you when the power comes on or check periodically.

I guess if you were clever you could design a non contact circuit to ring a buzzer when the power came back on. I'll let the EEs take it from here.........
Hmm... Yes, the key is "non-contact", as you should not tap into the power line upstream of the main breaker. The AC voltage on the power line can be sensed via capacitive coupling through the wire insulation, but no part of the wires is even exposed for one to wrap a metal foil around its insulation.

How about an indirect method like the following? I observe that I can see my neighbors' WiFi signals on my laptop, even when they are a few hundred feet away. So, one can design an app on a smartphone or a PC to scan for such signals and to sound an alert when their presence is detected. Of course, this assumes that your neighbor does not have the power backup generator facility the same as you do.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:22 PM   #14
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I have thought of putting a neon light on my central a/c condenser/compressor. The power to the unit does not go through the service panel -- it has its own fuses installed on the exterior of the house.

I have also noted that the power company's electronics mounted near the service entrance have lights that seem to be effected by a loss of power. I am referring to the box that controls the a/c load shedding controlled by the power company during periods of heavy load -- for which I receive a discounted tariff.

-gauss

You sure it does not go through your service panel Where I used to live I had the outside unit replaced and they installed an outside box for the AC unit... said it was a safety issue so they did not have to go and find the panel to cut power.... so, I had a switch in the panel and a box with a pull out whatchamacallit at the outside unit...
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:58 PM   #15
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Interesting, but how do you know when the power is back on other than through neighbors or shutting down the interlock and seeing if you are getting juice from the utility?
One possiblity is to have the electrician wire a light socket just after the meter (or basically before any interlock or transfer switch). Then when a blackout happens see the light go out and it comes back on when the power is restored. (might use a low wattage led bulb here, possibly having the socket switched so you only turn it on during a blackout). (Or just a voltmeter across the line side of the transfer switch)
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:17 PM   #16
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Interesting, but how do you know when the power is back on other than through neighbors or shutting down the interlock and seeing if you are getting juice from the utility?
When I was doing some research, I by accident came across a little gizmo that does just that. I think it was non-electrical-contact, but used the field from the feeders into the service panel (upstream from the main breaker). It may have been on Amazon, as I think it was in the $20 - $30 price range. I'm thinking Amazon because there was a price. I think it was battery powered, as it made an alarm sound/light when power returns.

EDIT - Found it! Tried looking up some of the things I was looking at before, and it was in the "suggestions".
http://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Contr...MKFQKXESMHG2HT

Looks like a ground to attach, and a non-contact probe to place near. The Reliance Controls website probably has a pdf of the instructions, as they had a pdf of the PB30 power inlet box I selected.
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:57 PM   #17
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I thought I'd share some of the rationale for my decision to buy just a small generator, and not go into a big setup:

- I have hopes/dreams of moving within 5 years.

- I'd like it to be relatively stealth. I have a reasonably secure area for it to run, but low noise helps a lot, too.

- When you have no power, even a kilowatt or two can be an absolute miracle. I can: run the refrigerator, run a gas furnace, run box fans, have a few lights, run a lower power small microwave (cooking! woohoo!), run FIOS box and UPS, and on and on. Not every one of them all at the same time, of course. But via plug-in, it is physical programming by priority.

What I CAN'T do with it - run A/C units (but at least I have box fans and can move air!), run electric cooktop or wall oven, bathroom vent fans (just because of the fans wired-in connections... come to think of it, when I replaced their motors, two of them plugged in to the chassis, I could unplug one and tie-wrap an ext. cord to the chassis, and plug fan motor into ext. cord if need be).

A couple of Mays ago, we had no power for 2 1/2 days. It was awful here. With the setup I have now, I would have been living high!

Forgot to mention we have a gas water heater. I WILL NOT buy any type of gas water heater that requires a power connection!
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Old 01-29-2016, 01:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by meierlde View Post
One possiblity is to have the electrician wire a light socket just after the meter (or basically before any interlock or transfer switch). Then when a blackout happens see the light go out and it comes back on when the power is restored. (might use a low wattage led bulb here, possibly having the socket switched so you only turn it on during a blackout). (Or just a voltmeter across the line side of the transfer switch)
The problem does not exist if one uses a transfer switch. And if the transfer switch is automatic, it would restore the connection to the utility power when that comes back.

The mechanical interlock described by travelover forces you to shut off the main breaker. That is the intention, so that you will not feed your generator into the grid. Tapping into the power line prior to the main breaker is against code, and mechanically impossible with the kind of panel that I have. See below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly View Post
When I was doing some research, I by accident came across a little gizmo that does just that. I think it was non-electrical-contact, but used the field from the feeders into the service panel (upstream from the main breaker). It may have been on Amazon, as I think it was in the $20 - $30 price range. I'm thinking Amazon because there was a price. I think it was battery powered, as it made an alarm sound/light when power returns.

EDIT - Found it! Tried looking up some of the things I was looking at before, and it was in the "suggestions".
Robot Check

Looks like a ground to attach, and a non-contact probe to place near. The Reliance Controls website probably has a pdf of the instructions, as they had a pdf of the PB30 power inlet box I selected.
The "sniffing probe" is a piece of insulated wire that must be wrapped a few turns around the hot wire that comes in from the street. This is the same capacitive sensing method as I suggested earlier.

See photo in the installation manual here: http://www.reliancecontrols.com/Docu...et%20Final.pdf.

With the kind of panel like I have, this is not easily done. The power lines come into the meter first, and one must remove the meter which hides the connection. Removing the meter requires breaking a seal, and this makes the power company very upset. This arrangement is so that one cannot tap into the line upstream of the meter and steal power. Then, the bus bars coming down from the meter to the main breaker also have no exposed parts to wrap that sensing wire around. And if a part of the naked bus bars is exposed, I can see some guys trying to thread the sensing wire around the live bus bars with a long-nose plier!

To use this sensor, one should open the panel to study the feasibility of installation. And then, the sensor must be placed at the panel/meter which is usually outside the home, and its siren may not be audible inside the home.
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by gauss View Post
I have thought of putting a neon light on my central a/c condenser/compressor. The power to the unit does not go through the service panel -- it has its own fuses installed on the exterior of the house.

I have also noted that the power company's electronics mounted near the service entrance have lights that seem to be effected by a loss of power. I am referring to the box that controls the a/c load shedding controlled by the power company during periods of heavy load -- for which I receive a discounted tariff.

-gauss
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
You sure it does not go through your service panel Where I used to live I had the outside unit replaced and they installed an outside box for the AC unit... said it was a safety issue so they did not have to go and find the panel to cut power.... so, I had a switch in the panel and a box with a pull out whatchamacallit at the outside unit...
+1

Perhaps older homes were built differently, but the following is the arrangement at the 3 homes that I have owned. After the meter, the power has to go through the main 200A breaker first. Then, a 50A breaker is used to feed the wires going to the AC/heat pump. Finally, at the compressor, there is a 50A fuse pull-out panel. As Texas Proud mentioned, I believe the latter is done for ease of servicing the AC.

The panel construction is such that there is absolutely no connection possible to the bus bars between the main breaker and the meter (and certainly not before the meter either ).
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Old 01-29-2016, 04:44 AM   #20
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During a power outage a few years ago, I tried to find a Honda portable generator after hearing that they were the best. They were all sold out in our area. I got an off brand, connected the well pump, water heater, and refrigerator. Worked ok, but lots of work on my part when the power goes out. Adding fuel. Running wires.

I then bought a generac and automated transfer switch. Had to get a bigger gas meter for the increased gas flow. Plumber hooked up the gas. I rewired my panel, hooked up the transfer switch and all is well. I should have gone with the automatic system the first power outage, but I needed a fast solution.


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