Generator for tools?

I think I need a 1kw generator to run power tools too far away from the ac mains. It will be used to run drills, saws including a small chain
saw (7 amp), etc. There seem to be 3 types of small generators, the 2-cycle at less than $150, the 4-cycle at over $300, and the inverter type at even more money. My usage will be infrequent, short run times, but I want a reliable unit that will still start and produce power 10 years later. Would a cheap 2-cycle work reliably long term if the total hours is low?
Cordless drills get expensive as the batteries give out in a few years, and I often need a heavy 1/2" or better slow speed drill. I also need a electric chain saw to trim branches on top of a ladder, I have gas ones but they are a nuisance to start on top and carrying a running chain saw up a ladder has safety issues.
Another possibility is an inverter operating off a 12 volt battery. My problems there would be the motor starting surge tripping the inverter, and my current tractor only has a 6 volt battery so I could not continuously recharge.
Any help appreciated.
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nick hull wrote:

A good sized inverter running off your vehicle (not a standalone battery) is a good option for infrequent use if the vehicle is within extension cord range. Otherwise for basic tool use, the cheap 2 cycle generators will do the job fine (see Neon John posts on alt.energy.homepower for detailed reviews on those). The inverter generators like the Honda and Yamaha units are fantastic for RV use, but overkill for basic tools.
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I went through this decision process about 10 years ago after an ice storm dropped a tree on my roof and kept the power off for a week. I was able to fix the roof with a hand saw and cordless tools recharged by a small 2-stroke generator.
Had the damage been any worse I would have needed a generator that could run a Skil saw, so after a few weeks when people started trading in the ones they bought hastily after the storm I picked up an unused 1600W Coleman, cheap.
Of course having it means not needing it, but a friend who lived out in the woods without power borrowed it for a while to run a refrigerator and water pump, not at the same time. It was enough, barely, except that the gas ran out about 3AM. He then bought a larger one which will run all night but is on wheels because it's too heavy to lift. Mine is light enough to put in a wheelbarrow and take to the job, or carry up onto the deck or the roof.
So the point is to size a generator for emergency repairs or to keep your critical appliances running.
I use a Sandvik bow saw for trimming on a ladder because I don't like making the undercut one-handed with an electric chain saw.
Jim Wilkins
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Might, but I wouldn't chance it. In the US, the enviro-nuts have made two-stroke engines a distant memory, and the UK shouldn't be that far behind. If you are going to go the portable generator route, consider it an emergency generator for household use first (storms and such), and the fieldwork is test and exercise.
You have to spend a few bucks to get a reliable unit - stay away from the "Fung Shui Peoples Machine Tool and Noodle Works" ;-) units because when it breaks in a few years you will /never/ find repair parts. They have no repair network in place, and nobody is going to have a stock of parts - you'd have to make them, or toss it and buy another...
Nice thing about buying from a well established name like Honda, Yamaha, Subaru Robin, Briggs & Stratton and Cummins/Onan is you know where to find them. They have service networks and spare parts.
The Inverter Style generators are more money, but they have an important advantage - the power output is under 5% THD, and can operate electronics and computers without damaging them. That, and the engine throttle is varied by load, and if the load is light the engine drops back to almost idle.
Better conventional generators are also clean enough for electronics, they will state it in their specifications - if they don't, don't use them for that without checking. Not worth blowing up the computer.
Whatever one you pick, remember to run gas stabilizer in the fuel, so it doesn't go bad in storage and gunk up the carburetor.

Well, if you want to do this on the cheap, there is a way - Get a large inverter (2000 watts to allow for surge loads), a deep-cycle battery, a small 4-stroke gas engine, a sheave that fits the output shaft, and a large (120A) car alternator. Couple together, stir well. And if any one part fails you only have to repair that.
Or get a PTO connected 120/240V AC generator for the tractor - they have step-up gears because most tractor PTO's spin at IIRC 540 RPM. Couple it to the PTO and trim the engine throttle to get 60 Hz output, and you are done - Unless your tractor has a feedback control they aren't tightly frequency controlled to run electric clocks or turntables (anything using the power line for a time reference) but plenty close enough for electric motors.
--<< Bruce >>--
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I already have a bigger 5kw generator for household use, it's too big and heavy to use in the field. I need something small and light so I can lift it easily and carry it around.
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nick hull wrote:

Then the $100+/- ~1KW cheapos found at Northern Tool and others will serve you well. Service and spare parts will not be an issue, since anything beyond basic carb cleaning would be more cost in time and parts than the whole unit costs. As I noted, Neon John in the alt.energy.homepower group has done an extensive review on these units and reported very good results (for the price). He has even reported they can be paralleled, though it requires the old time sync'ing procedure.
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Couple years ago, I got an ETQ, 1200 watt generator from Ebay. Cost $140, including freight to my door step. Weight about 55 pounds. The couple times I've used it, been worth every penny. I run mine dry, and it can be challenging to restart. Someday, I'll drill a hole in the plastic cover, over the air filter. So I can spray a couple drops of ether on the air filter.
A friend of mine has one, can't think of the brand. Keeps it gased up, and he's very pleased with it.
--
Christopher A. Young
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On May 3, 6:53am, "Stormin Mormon"

If there's room you could add an outboard motor primer bulb in the gas line to refill the carb. They are cheap and easy to find but bulky. I added one to my tractor because the vacuum fuel pump no longer works when empty. Does anyone know of a source for the small pushbutton-type primers? Jim Wilkins
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I did exactly that with my Honda lawnmower, which is a great running engine but a cold-blooded starter. But it doesn't require ether in this case, just a small squirt of gasoline from an old Ronson lighter-fluid bottle, right down the carburettor throat. Starts on the first pull every time, which is good for someone like me, with rotator-cuff tendonitis.
-- Ed Huntress
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WD-40 makes the best starting fluid I have ever used ;)
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As a matter of fact, I used that once on a neighbor kid's engine, a horizontal-shaft B&S, because I didn't have anything else handy. I was surprised that it worked, but it certainly did.
-- Ed Huntress
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On Sat, 3 May 2008 13:42:54 -0400, "Ed Huntress"

Tried that on a B&D electric weed whacker to clean the commutator, made a good flame thrower and melted the fins off the spool holder. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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On Sat, 3 May 2008 07:40:32 -0400, "Ed Huntress"

Usta do that with my '50 Austin A40 at 20 below F. - pour a half cup of gas down the throat, full choke and crank it with the Armstrong starter, an away we go! Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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I have a Honda lawnmower, and it became hard to start. Turns out the choke cable needed to be adjusted. It was the first thing to try listed in the service manual for hard starting. If a spritz of gas is what starts your mower, I'd be looking at the choke.
Joe Gwinn
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Hey, thanks, Joe. I'll have to pull out the manual and check it out.
-- Ed Huntress
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Since you have a tractor, why buy another engine to maintain? The generator part hardly ever wears out, just the engine.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?ItemnumberE416 You'd need some pulleys or something to get the speed up. This one is rated for 7200 watts but you certainly don't have to load it that heavily.
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This unit needs 3600 rpm. There would be a lot of loss stepping up from 540. if you're building your own PTO unit, they all use 1800 rpm gennies and chain from PTO shaft.
Karl
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Too big, too clumsy. It would interfere with the carry-all that I have on the tractor to carry all the other tools. If it were small enough to drive off the fan belt it might work.
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Another take on the issue: around here we need to be able to run the furnace blower in the winter plus a few lights. In the summer it is the refrig, freezer, sump pump, and a few lights. The 1.5 kw units won't start the blower motor (6 amp run current, about 5 times that for the 2 or 3 seconds on startup). the sump pump is a bit less but still won't reliably start on the 1.5 kw units.
Inverters work ok if you can supply enough input power. It takes a good battery and excellent wiring to handle 200 amps to run a 2000 watt inverter.
I wound up with a 3 kw Coleman, 120 volt only, Tecumseh power. Used (REALLY good price!), noisy. I need to test it with the 13 amp Skillsaw. I also need to test it out on the 120 flux core Mig. That unit runs fine on a 4 kw/120/240 unit so I expect it to run fine from the 25 amp socket on the 3 kw unit.
nick hull wrote:

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wrote:

The old green Onan 4000watt generator found in most older motorhomes, can often be bought quite cheaply out of motorhomes that are being demolished or abandoned. Ive several of them now, and the most Ive paid is $200
Heavy, not particularly portable, they do however make excellent emergency generators for the home, and they last freaking forever with a bit of tlc
Gunner
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