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Discussion Starter #1
First please note:

This is in California where diesel generators are not possible, and some gas one's aren't either. Most gas one's are, most propane generators are, but I was noticing most of the small propane generators show "one day" basically on a 20lb canister? That's not much. Though I guess its still cheaper than gasoline.

I am helping a new prepper get prepared. Power supply is his big issue right now and he has about $500 maybe $600 to spend. I've been telling him to watch Craigslist for a used generator and he hasn't found one that looks good enough, and I can't disagree with them. I have a diesel/propane generator at my BOL but its in the $2k range to buy new and is aimed at running a bio diesel set up so its pretty powerful. I don't have anything under $500 and have no experience with any in that range - obviously he's hoping for the most power possible. Costco has one, Lowes/Home Depot have them too - generally 3000/4000 watts and gas run. Most of these have "cheap Chinese" written all over them - which makes me wonder how well they will go.

This gent is joining our prepper group at church. His wife and childn are both diabetic and he needs power to keep the fridge on. I wonder if he should just wait until he has more money?
 

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About 7 years ago I bought a Chinese 4000 watt generator off ebay, then bought a propane conversion kit from these guys. Generator Conversion Kits to Propane and Natural Gas.

The conversion is REEEAAALLLLY easy to do. Their phone support answering questions and making recommendations was great, and the little generator ran perfectly for years (until I sold the camper I had installed it in). The people we bought the conversion kit from warned that propane powered engines usually don't behave well in the cold, but we took the camper out in 20 degree weather in MI winters and it still fired up first try each time.

Propane runs VERY clean, and actually lubricates the cylinder walls of the engine so well they recommend to break the motors in on regular gas before doing the conversions so the rings seat properly. I was impatient, and installed the conversion kit on mine with only a few minutes run time prior, but it didn't seem to hurt it any.

I'd say about an hour and a half per pound of propane was fairly close for it's consumption rate. But I'm guessing.

Harbor freight has a 3200 watt continuous (4000 peak) generator for $300 on sale right now. Same one I had, but mine had an electric start on it.
 

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Problem with cheap ones they are cheap. Try and get a simple part like a carb bowl gasket . It seems they switch parts mid product run.
Look at Generac you may pay a bit more but you will save in the long run
They offer some affordable home size units
 
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Does he need 220v or is his only concern the fridge? Most of the small ones only do 120v. A small Honda can be found on sale for ~$900.00, sometimes less. Lowes has the Champion units for ~$300.00.

I've been looking for something in the 5-6K range with 220v, mostly to run the well pump. It could also be used with the RV.
 

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5500 Watt Portable Generator - 6500 Watts Max, 420cc

If you get on Youtube and search for harbor freight coupons there are guys who share their insiders club coupon codes so you can get stuff REALLY REALLY CHEAP. ;)

There MIGHT be one out there right now for 25% off ANYTHING until 9/1/13. ;)
 

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The key word here is "CHEAP"...I never buy non brand name items,ammo,weapons,food,electronics(solar systems)...My life may depend on them to function right..Everytime...
Words to live by.. I used to dive on oil rigs for a living and you always buy quality products when your life depends on them!! Granted, a generator might not fit that bill but you still want quality.. Have you looked into solar generators? I am thinkin seriously about gettin one in the near future...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sometimes I agree about products / name brands and sometimes not. I am asking about generators cause I'm unsure about those under $500.

TP for example, they all do the same so price is king to me :)
 

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23 people have given it 4.2 out of 5 stars as an average total rating. 5500 Watt Portable Generator - 6500 Watts Max, 420cc

I've had a "Wheelhouse 5500" from Home Depot, a Chinese 4000 watt that I converted to propane, and now a little Chinese 1000 watt 2 stroke generator. Never had a single problem with any of them, but also always took care of them changing the oil, using good gas and such.

I'd only guess if your looking for something to leave sit outside all year long or abuse, a more expensive brand unit may take the neglect better. But keep in mind that the Chinese generators all use copies of Honda motors.

Whatever your comfortable spending your money on I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Two things I notice on that one, it says 2.22 gallons an hour so a 5 gallon / 20lb bottle would only last a few hours?

Worse: This item cannot be shipped to the following state(s): AK,CA,GU,HI,PR,VI
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm thinking it might be easier to get him to go with a gas generator and purchase a conversion kit due to CA's issues? Besides he would be better off with a dual fuel option anyway.
 

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Another advantage to the Honda inverter generators is they are much quieter than most of the less expensive ones, if that's a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes it does, and I've actually suggested going solar for him already. These types of systems
are convenient to those with the money, but without the money its far easier to build on your
own just buying the panels direct, an inverter and some batteries.

He has a good point in not doing the solar right now and the absolutely need for power,
and we all know solar can be tricky to get when its cloudy (or in our case foggy); even though
some power is always produced (even in cloudy weather) it has to be enough for him.

I'd be curious to see what they are charging; their marketing is intriguing in that they
state the "system" in the KW capacity which means with 5.5 hours (I assume) of direct sun
light. It could be a little gimmicky but that battery / inverter inclusion is nice.

Although this system is far from cheap, it has other advantages.

PK-1 | Mobile Solar Power
 

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I've got a Champion 3000 watt (4KW surge) generator I bought for $299 a few years ago. The motor is based on a Honda design that the Chinese company borrowed and subsequently improved. It hold 4 gallons of gas and generally runs 11-12 hours on a tank. It's never needed more than 2 pulls to start and usually it's just one. For a cheap generator it's been exceptional so far.
 
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