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Old 04-26-2010, 10:46 AM   #1
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Back up power generator review coming soon...

Hey all. I just wanted to open a conversation regarding need for temporary power during power outages. I know there have been conversations before about this issue, thus the basis of this post is to review a product to minimize death during these times.

I recieved notice from our power company that they will be shutting down power this Wednesday to make repairs to the distribution system. These outages can last for any duration from 9 am to 4 pm. I just didn't feel comfortable taking measures like wrapping the tank in a towel and depending on battery operated bubblers. The tank is still new and I was afraid that the unestablished tank may see significant problems without a sound method of overcoming this situation. Plus, we had 4 power outages last year one lasting for over 3 days.

Thus, I bought a gas powered generator. When I first started looking at these things, I was astounded at the cost. Obviously, the Honda models are the highly recommended ones, but they also come with a price tag of over 1000 bucks.

I found a 1800Watt gas powered generator at Menards for 379 on sale. This should be enough power to run all of the equipment on my system. I reviewed the power draw of each component and believe I have enough power available from this generator. I will be powering the following items.

300 Watt Heater X2
100 Watt Gen-X 30 Pump
20 Watt Korelia 3 power heads
400 Watt MH & T5 light fixture
40 Watt pump on skimmer

Even with the start up peak wattage, I think it will be enough. If not, I will just unplug one of the two heaters.

The generator is made by Eastern Tools, and is pretty new to the market. I was able to find one review by a tailgating website, and a few reviews online. The few reviews online didn't fare well for the product, but I take with it the fact that a few bad reviews is probably from people who had problems. People who don't have problems usually don't take the time to make long drawn out posts on the internet.

So, if any of you are looking for a power source, Ill keep you posted how this particular cheapy model works out. I will fire it up tonight to give it a test run.

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Old 04-26-2010, 11:23 AM   #2
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Thanks. Let us know how it works. If your fixture has seperate plugs for the T5's and MH, you would be fine not running the MH's for a day. Plus, then you could plug in the computer.
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting, I am interested to hear what you think about it. I would really like to get a generator. I didn't realize there was something available in that price range.
In a power outage, you don't need to be too concerned about the lights. The circulation from the return pump/powerheads and keeping the temperature in acceptable ranges is much more important.
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:23 PM   #4
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Yeah, I am not too worried about the lights, but I was able to get a unit that has enough power to feed everything running on the tank, thus I will just unplug the whole power strip from the wall and plug it into the generator.
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Old 04-26-2010, 03:17 PM   #5
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What a timely post. The other day, my utilitiy company had a 11hr outage and it cost my my Kole Tang that I love so much. The outages usually go only 2-3 hours and I thought this one would be the same...NOT
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:53 PM   #6
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Congrats on your thread. Cant wait to see it down the road.
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Old 04-27-2010, 02:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thincat View Post
What a timely post. The other day, my utilitiy company had a 11hr outage and it cost my my Kole Tang that I love so much. The outages usually go only 2-3 hours and I thought this one would be the same...NOT
This reminds me that I really need to buy battery back-ups for my Vortechs. Especially with my bioload I may lose more than one Tang if I had to go 11-hrs with no flow.
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:44 PM   #8
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Alright, just an update. Last night, I read the manual (Im a nerd like that and read every manual for everything I buy), and let me tell you it was a chore.

It is obviously drafted by a technical writer with a very limited knowledge of the english language. Additionally, there were pictures located in places that they were obviously not supposed to be in the manual. In one location, it is showing you how to adjust the choke for a cold start, and there is a picture of the fuel valve, then, in the next step it tells you to open the fuel valve, and there is no picture.

I just sat there shaking my head a little wondering if anything is ever proof read in foreign countries. That along with sounding like I have an Indian accent in my head while reading it due to missing or out of place verbs and sentence structure, I couldn't help but chuckle.

Anyway, other than that, its pretty straight forward. Put in oil, fill with gas, flip the fuel valve open, close the choke, and pull the string.

Started right up, nearly effortlessly. It ran pretty rough for a few minutes, then I opened the choke and it purred like a kitten.

I noticed on the front panel it has an "Engine On/Off" toggle switch. The display model at the store had a "Eco/Run" option at that toggle switch. I was a bit perplexed as I wanted it to throttle down when no load was put on it. I flipped the switch to "Off" and what do you know, it went to Eco mode throttling the engine down. I guess they forgot to update the switch designation with the upgraded unit.

So, it throttled back and I plugged in some party lights I had on my deck. The engine throttled up a tiny bit before settling down a split second later and the lights came on with no drama. No flicker, no dimming/brightening, just on. The inverter nature of this unit has a very good sine wave from my understanding, and based on my quick test seemed to do well.

As far as noise. She is quiet. When you have a full load on it, it is going to chug a bit, it is a generator afterall, but in eco mode with minimum load, it was about as loud as a gas powered weed wacker.

I walked in the house and about 20 feet from the closed window, I couldn't even hear it running anymore. This is important being that I live in a condo building.

Tomorrow is the scheduled outage, and I will be putting quite a bit more load on it. Ill keep you posted, but for now, the 379 price tag seems like a great deal terrible instructions and all.
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #9
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Alright, the outage is over, so I just wanted to update this thread incase anybody was following along who may be interested in purchasing one of these generators.

The power shut off about 9:30 a.m. and just came back on 2:30. 5 hours total, I am glad I bought the backup.

At 9:30 I went out and fired it up. On pull, sweet. Plugged in the extension cord, power strip and the following items:

Main Pump GenX30
Two Korelia 3s
Both 300 Watt Heaters
Protein Skimmer

At about 10:30, the generator turns off on its own. Run outside, pull the string one time, and varoom running she goes. Unplug one of the heaters, just to see what happens. Another hour goes by, and I hear the generator throttling alot when the single heater kicks on. Shortly there after, the heater kicks on, the generator nearly dies, all equipment turns off, then a split second later the generator revs and everything powers up again.

This is supposed to be seamless, so when a load is placed on the generator it should throttle up seamlessly to accomodate the extra draw without affecting other equipment.

So, I called the manufacturer. No sitting on hold, no numbers to type in, somebody just answers. I explain the issue and get transfered to a technician. While explaining the situation, it dies again. The technician explains the possible cause and asks me to make some adjustments. Total time on phone 4 minutes.

So, I go outside and check on what the technician told me. He had a feeling that I overfilled the oil. The technician stated that this unit has an auto-off feature if the oil runs low, but too much oil freaks the system out too. So I drain about a cup of oil out of the unit to the level that the technician told me it should be at (just below the bottom threads for the oil cap). Pull the string, one time again, and varoom, it starts up. Plug the extension cord back in and it throttles up slightly for the load and then settles back down.

The rest of the outage, it purred like a kitten. As the heater clicked on and off, it reved slightly without any noticeable stress to other components plugged in, and then settled back down. I am working from home, and my laptop battery was running low, so I plugged that in too.

3 hours go by without incident. Went out to check the gas level and it barely sipped any. I could still see the top of the fuel level from the removed cap.

At 2:30, power came back on, simply disconnected everything, shut off the generator, and carried it back to the storage closet.

Based on my use of this equipment, I give it really high ratings. It is quiet (enough), puts out good power, simple to operate, and all in all works wonderfully with hightech equipment.

It appears that the oil level is a bit finicky, but once you get passed that, and figure it out, it works great. I love the fact that it starts easily with a single pull that I think a 6 year old could manage.

I give the inverter generator IN1800i from Eastern Tools 4 stars out of 5. I don't think it is quiet as the Honda, and I think it takes a little more finesse, but overall worked great. For a price tag that is 1/3rd that of the well known brand, it should be a no-brainer.

We will see in the long run how it manages, but thus far, I am very satisifed with my purchase.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to let me know.

Jake
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:48 PM   #10
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Thanks for that review Jake. I live in an area with very frequent outages in the winter so that little genny may come in handy!
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