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Author Topic: Why are Honda generators so expensive?  (Read 68820 times)
K1CJS
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« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2011, 12:04:14 AM »

You're paying for both a proven name and a quality machine.  Honda has long been known for the quality of its small engines and the long life expectancy of its small engine products.  The old saw "You get what you pay for" was never truer as far as Honda equipment is concerned..

Now, to the gasoline question and the effect of long term storage.  A lot of deterioration of fuel comes from temperature extremes and not using the right fuel for the season.  Winter gasoline will evaporate faster than a summer blend, and summer blend gasoline tends to 'gunk up' if the temperature drops to below freezing.  That is one of the reasons that most people will advocate 'rotating' gasoline, using gasoline that has been stored for a while and buying fresh gas.

A good gas stabilizer will prevent gumming or evaporation, but it is still a good idea to use older gasoline and get fresh gasoline at last every six months.  Running the generator every month is also a good idea, provided that you run it for a while.  Let the engine heat up and put a small load on it.  For example, plug in a hundred watt light and turn it on.  Make sure you use enough fuel so you can replenish it and mix fresh fuel in.

The other way of storing the genset is to drain the fuel completely and make sure the carb bowl is dry.  If you don't do that, the small amount of fuel left WILL gum up and cause problems if that gum gets into a carb jet.  That is why most people will not store small engines in that matter.
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W8JX
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« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2011, 07:17:23 AM »

You're paying for both a proven name and a quality machine.  Honda has long been known for the quality of its small engines and the long life expectancy of its small engine products.  The old saw "You get what you pay for" was never truer as far as Honda equipment is concerned..

They make a good motor still and really had a edge 5 to 10+ years ago but not today because there are a lot of good engines out that today like Yamaha, Subaru, Briggs Vanguard to name a few that are ever bit as good or better. None of them last if you do not service them properly.

Now, to the gasoline question and the effect of long term storage.  A lot of deterioration of fuel comes from temperature extremes and not using the right fuel for the season.  Winter gasoline will evaporate faster than a summer blend, and summer blend gasoline tends to 'gunk up' if the temperature drops to below freezing.  That is one of the reasons that most people will advocate 'rotating' gasoline, using gasoline that has been stored for a while and buying fresh gas.

I do agree that you should rotate with season (winter/summer) gas you store but gas is a lot cleaner today and not as prone to gum up and if you are concerned you can add some carb cleaner from time to time. Something else to consider, a empty tank is also prone to condensation. I do add a ounce or two of dry gas to tank from time to time to keep moisture in tank under control.

A good gas stabilizer will prevent gumming or evaporation, but it is still a good idea to use older gasoline and get fresh gasoline at last every six months.  Running the generator every month is also a good idea, provided that you run it for a while.  Let the engine heat up and put a small load on it.  For example, plug in a hundred watt light and turn it on.  Make sure you use enough fuel so you can replenish it and mix fresh fuel in.

I think a lot of this depends on where it is stored at. My garage never gets much below 50 (and never to freezing) in winter and a heat it frequently and usually keep it in upper 50's to lower 60's (warmer still when working in it) and I A/C it in summer and it rarely gets to 80 or more (my garage is well insulated and has foam core doors too and is easy to heat and cool) Point I am trying to make here is because temp is pretty stable fuel in a generator tank is fairly stable too. I am not convinced that you should run it just for sake of running it every month. When you run it you need to load it and heat it up good for a while to get condensation out of crankcase and short runs will not help it but rather add to it. Also with a bigger generator you might want to consider weight of oil being used in it to ease starting in cold weather. With my 3k one I drain oil when I put it up and store it covered up with a quart 30 weight for warm weather and a quart of 5w20 for winter use in cold weather. This way if I need to use it I know it has fresh oil of type needed for weather and can go several days if need be without a change.

The other way of storing the genset is to drain the fuel completely and make sure the carb bowl is dry.  If you don't do that, the small amount of fuel left WILL gum up and cause problems if that gum gets into a carb jet.  That is why most people will not store small engines in that matter.

I never drain them but I do shut off fuel and run carb dry if I know I am not going to use it again soon.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2011, 08:08:38 AM »

I've got a small cheap generator with a Honda engine, that came either from Northern Freight or from Harbor Tool; I don't recall which.  I've had it for 10 years or so.  Before hurricane season each year, I usually haul it out, check the oil, fill the tank, and run it for a bit.   I am always amazed and delighted when I do this, because the darned thing starts on the second or third pull, EVERY year, with no trouble.  :-)  That is a GREAT little engine.
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W8JX
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2011, 01:24:20 PM »

I have a 29 year old Briggs and Stratton motor of a push mower that I bought new. It had not been run for several years so I got it out of barn and put some fresh gas in it and had to prime it manually but then it started right up and ran and after 30 seconds or so it was running very smooth like it had just ran yesterday. It is rarely used today but it had a hard life in its early days. Ran it long enough to warm it up and put some fresh oil in it and put it back in barn. It is all factory original right down to spark plug.
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K1DA
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2011, 02:33:26 PM »

Anyone in the frozen north who rides a motorbike is aware of what this 10% alky gas can do to the little passages in a carb if let to sit and gum up. There is no doubt Honda makes great small engines, although their "commercial" GC  OHV is iron sleeved and should last longer than the OHC version they sell for "home" use.  Small engine nuts have taken to calling the Honda clones "Chondas"  they seem to stand up to go-kart racing service pretty well. 
There are better mufflers for the famous "L" head Briggs, though they are not inexpensive, the professional lawn care industry uses then to keep the complaints down when they show up on a Sunday mourning. I got a good one right from Briggs for my 8 hp, had to readjust the mixture after installing it.   
We have a 700CC Honda bike, and a Honda powered mower  --- both really good engines, but I have let my Briggs powered Winco sit for as much as five years without running it. 
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K7AAT
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« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2011, 09:02:32 AM »


   If you  ( the original poster ) decide to go with quality rather than price,  and to do the job properly for a house,    I suggest you go back up this thread and re-read what N5VTU said.   Get away from the little portable types such as B&S, Honda, etc,  and go with a robust product like Generac.   You should also look at generators made by kohler and Onan.  They do make small units.   RV service stores are a good place to view such generators.

Ed   K7AAT
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W8JX
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« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2011, 12:29:51 PM »


   If you  ( the original poster ) decide to go with quality rather than price,  and to do the job properly for a house,    I suggest you go back up this thread and re-read what N5VTU said.   Get away from the little portable types such as B&S, Honda, etc,  and go with a robust product like Generac.   You should also look at generators made by kohler and Onan.  They do make small units.   RV service stores are a good place to view such generators.

Ed   K7AAT


Kohler and Onan used to be a top name in generators and engine but not anymore. Generac's are reliable units but so are others that also cost a lot less then Honda too. Engine type/brand is a very important consideration for a generator that will maybe see a lot of use. You can take a "page" from engine brands that commercial mowers/contractors use on their big mowing rigs. It is not Honda or Kohler here, it is Briggs Vanguard (built in Japan by a division of Toyota for Briggs) and Kawasaki that leads pack.  
« Last Edit: November 13, 2011, 10:23:51 AM by W8JX » Logged

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KB1GMX
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« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2011, 09:23:31 AM »

I like the Honda inverter units for small things as they are small and very good on fuel.  They don't work for me as 3kw is not big enough.  Their claim to fame is they run thousands of hours without
engine issues or wear out.

However years back after a three day power outage we started looking and the other half found a Troybuilt 5.5K/8.5Ksurge unit for 700$.  It had a Brigs 10HP OHV engine with pull start.  I run it a few times a year for the electric chainsaw, hedge clippers and the like rather than drag extensions
all over and as a excuse to run it regular.  I change oil twice a year or every 25 hours.  This year
I needed it twice for hurricane and the early snow and it started first pull and ran the load I needed with excess.  By excess my basic needs are oil heat and hot water, refigeration/freezer, lights
FIOS for network and TV.  It has enough grunt to run the AC (two 5000but window units) easily, I can run the microwave and the electric oven or one burner of the stove without overload.  I believe the surge rating and large 10hp engine are why it can.

A change over box make using it easy, hook up the cable, flip the transfer switches, go
fuel and start the genset.  When it was wired there was careful consideration for load
balancing (both 110V stuff and 220V) so that one leg is not loaded heavier than the
other.

It holds frequency well enough (+-1hz), holds voltage under load, its not as quiet as Honda but
far better than a few cheaper ones.  The tank is 6 gallons with a positive shut off. Has wheels
and a decent handle to move it (its heavy though).  The pull start works first time even in the
cold though I do have to remember to turn on the fuel shut off.

Is it a Honda, no.  It's better than some of the cheaper ones. It's been trouble free and
the run time meter(I added one to track run time and oil changes) is up to about 600 hours.

General opinion, beats cursing the dark and freezing!  In the end that is what its there to
prevent.  Like everything even the cheapest, if you only need it once and it did the job
consider it paid for and if replacement or repair is required so be it.  But good maintenance
can make even the cheapest live long and be there when needed.

One note: the station here runs off grid save for the highest power amps. The station is on a
set of 150AH wet NiCds and 150W of solar panels to keep them up. This runs the VHF, HF
solid state radios, and ITX sized computer and shack lighting.  A small (200W) inverter is also available in case I need to solder or run something.


Allison
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K0ZN
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2011, 07:50:51 PM »


Honda power equipment is pretty much the standard of the industry. Their products ARE premium quality and designed for LONG TERM use; there are small details
in the design and manufacturing quality control you won't see but it is there. You won't find that in much of the dirt cheap stuff and you also will run into parts availability problems with off brand stuff. With Honda equipment you KNOW what you are getting and you know you can get it repaired if needed.

With off brand Chinese stuff you are buying a lottery ticket: some of it works OK and some of it will fail promptly.  If you really want it for an EMERGENCY situation,
why would you want to get anything other than a reliable, known product? 

Would you want to fly on an airplane built by Honda or one built by some unknown Chinese company??!!

     There  IS a difference between PRICE and COST !!

FYI: regardless of what or whose generator you buy, Owner maintenance/care and particularly of the fuel and fuel system is CRITICAL to reliability.

73,  K0ZN
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W8JX
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« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2011, 08:43:35 PM »

Honda power equipment is pretty much the standard of the industry. Their products ARE premium quality and designed for LONG TERM use; there are small details in the design and manufacturing quality control you won't see but it is there. You won't find that in much of the dirt cheap stuff and you also will run into parts availability problems with off brand stuff. With Honda equipment you KNOW what you are getting and you know you can get it repaired if needed.

Actually is is easier and cheaper to find parts for Briggs, Kawasaki and other engines. It is very foolish to suggest that only Honda know how to make a generator because they have a very very small part of total market and it is shrinking as they are pricing themselves out of business. BTW, they are far from "Industry Standard" in generators, they are only a niche.

With off brand Chinese stuff you are buying a lottery ticket: some of it works OK and some of it will fail promptly.  If you really want it for an EMERGENCY situation,
why would you want to get anything other than a reliable, known product? 

Do not sell Chinese short. They can make some pretty good stuff. Labor and material costs are cheap in China so they can cost less. I have a 5+ year old 200 buck 3K Chinese generator. It always starts in one pull even after setting for over a year. Several years ago I used it 5 days straight 14 hrs a day and never missed a beat. I have even overloaded it a few times to point it pulled it down and it still keeps ticking. When I used it last month for a two day outage it had not been run for over a year. I uncovered it, put fresh oil in it (I drain oil when done and start fresh for correct grade for time of year) add some fresh gas and turn fuel on and go. I would have paid 10 to 15x as much for a Honda of same power level and that is silly. If it died tomorrow I would buy another just like it and still be way ahead of game money wise over a Honda.

Would you want to fly on an airplane built by Honda or one built by some unknown Chinese company??!!

Tell you what, I have a private pilots license and I WOULD NOT fly a plane built buy Honda, nor Toyota or what have you because it is not their area. But a Chinese clone could have merit as China is getting very good at this. 

     There  IS a difference between PRICE and COST !!

And there is a difference between paying far more just for a name and not too.

FYI: regardless of what or whose generator you buy, Owner maintenance/care and particularly of the fuel and fuel system is CRITICAL to reliability.

You do not need to run tank dry but you should shut off fuel and run carb dry if you do not plan to run it again for a while. Do not skimp on oil changes either.
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N2EY
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« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2011, 05:27:30 AM »

Do not sell Chinese short. They can make some pretty good stuff.

Yes, they do. But the point is that with a Honda generator you know you're getting a reliable, durable, quality machine. With no-name stuff you take your chances.

There's a little ~800 watt 2 stroke generator sold by Harbor Freight which goes for under $90 on sale. Reports are that it's pretty good as long as you follow directions and don't overload it. Probably good for noncritical applications - but would you want to be absolutely dependent on it?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W8JX
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« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2011, 07:06:13 AM »

Do not sell Chinese short. They can make some pretty good stuff.

Yes, they do. But the point is that with a Honda generator you know you're getting a reliable, durable, quality machine. With no-name stuff you take your chances.

You DO NOT need to over pay for a Honda to get a reliable unit.10 years ago Honda had edge with small engines but no longer as there are some that are equal or better than Honda.  Just because it is not Honda it does not make it no name because some are quite good.

There's a little ~800 watt 2 stroke generator sold by Harbor Freight which goes for under $90 on sale. Reports are that it's pretty good as long as you follow directions and don't overload it. Probably good for noncritical applications - but would you want to be absolutely dependent on it?

Why is it black or white here meaning on one hand you have 90 buck Harbor Freight and on other a 800 buck Honda as to suggest these are the only choices here. You are ignoring many many fine units that exist between these extremes.
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K3GM
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« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2011, 07:50:55 AM »

Chris, I live about 30 miles west of you in central Massachusetts and like you, I went thru the same power outage from the Halloween snowstorm.  The 14" of plaster-like snow destroyed the many oaks and maples which overhung the utility lines and which still had much of their foilage on them.  I lost power only 2 hours into the snowstorm, and with about 4" of snow on the ground.  All night long the tree limbs split with the sound of a gunshot. Living in the woods, it was very unnerving with trees literally hanging over the house.  I lost a 2m K1FO yagi, a 40m dipole, a 160m inverted L all by falling limbs or toppling trees.  Fortunately, my 3L SteppIR had the elements retracted into the motor housings, and the severely bowed fiberglass radomes sprung back into position suffereing no damage after the snow and drooping limbs were pulled away.  We were without power for 8 full days; no electric out here means no water, no flushing, no heat, zip.  For many, it was like camping out in their homes for week in average temperatures of 40 degrees.  Nearby us, we had an elderly woman literally freeze to death in her rocking chair.

Back in late August when hurricane Irene was spinning up the coast, I went out and purchased a Honda EG6500 generator and wheel kit.  I purchased it in part because of the brand reputation, and in part because all of the big box generators were gone and I was getting desperate.  My son uses a Honda EG6500 five days a week for approximately 6 hours a day with his mobile workshop, and has never let him down.  Based on that testimonial, I purchased it for $2400; or a thousand dollars more than those found at the big boxes.

I ran mine for about five hours a day for those eight days we were out.  It ran my lights, oil burner, refrigerator, 220V well, lights, computers, routers, satellite receiver and flat screen.  I had all the comforts of a normal home, with the exception of the electric range and clothes dryer.  It started on the first pull and ran reasonably quiet.  I stress that it is not like the Eu Series of Honda generators.  The EG6500 uses muffled 12HP, commercial GX390 engine.  Speaking only for the Honda generators, they offer very close regulation, and will run close to their rated output for an extended period of time.  It will shut down in an over or under voltage event, and well as low oil condition.  As I mentioned, it prioduces 220V.  The big box generator may serve the same purpose for half the price, but I'm happy with mine and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  I got mine at the big Kubota dealer on Rt. 9 in Spencer.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 08:24:42 AM by K3GM » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2011, 08:55:11 AM »


Why is it black or white here meaning on one hand you have 90 buck Harbor Freight and on other a 800 buck Honda as to suggest these are the only choices here. You are ignoring many many fine units that exist between these extremes.

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

What I was trying to do was show the extremes - Honda at the one end and the no-name Harbor Freight at the other. Of course there's a lot in the middle. And a lot depends on what you need something for; a production worker who uses a power drill 8 hours a day, every day, has different needs from a homeowner who uses one 8 hours a year.

The case of the backup generator is a particularly challenging one because the actual use is likely to be very little in terms of hours, but when it is used it will tend to be continuous duty, and it really, really needs to work.

The real problem is that things like reliability and durability can usually only be determined by a large sample. Problem is, 99.99% of us only buy one or two.  So we have to go by reputation - a hazy thing at best.

IOW, a particular example of a no-name piece of equipment may last decades because it's at one end of the bell curve, and a particular example of a highly-regarded name may wear out fast because it's at the other end. Possible, but not the way to bet.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W8JX
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« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2011, 09:35:19 AM »


Why is it black or white here meaning on one hand you have 90 buck Harbor Freight and on other a 800 buck Honda as to suggest these are the only choices here. You are ignoring many many fine units that exist between these extremes.

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

What I was trying to do was show the extremes - Honda at the one end and the no-name Harbor Freight at the other. Of course there's a lot in the middle. And a lot depends on what you need something for; a production worker who uses a power drill 8 hours a day, every day, has different needs from a homeowner who uses one 8 hours a year.

The case of the backup generator is a particularly challenging one because the actual use is likely to be very little in terms of hours, but when it is used it will tend to be continuous duty, and it really, really needs to work.

The real problem is that things like reliability and durability can usually only be determined by a large sample. Problem is, 99.99% of us only buy one or two.  So we have to go by reputation - a hazy thing at best.

IOW, a particular example of a no-name piece of equipment may last decades because it's at one end of the bell curve, and a particular example of a highly-regarded name may wear out fast because it's at the other end. Possible, but not the way to bet.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Jim I enjoy these debates. Quality and selection of generators has improved a lot because of competition. It is very rare to find one today that does not have low oil shut done on them vs 10 years ago. Even a high dollar unit will have a short life with poor maintenance. From time to time you hear of someone complaining of oil usage or motor failure on some name brand engines but it is because if you dig deeper they did not properly service them and change oil often on extend run times. Many do not realize that with 24/7 running you need to change oil every 2 to 3 days max in portable units. I like having two generators as 5.5kw is over kill for small jobs and have less than a grand in both of them combined. Would not mind a cheap Harbor Freight type unit for little tasks. My Chinese 3kw was my life line when a major storm took power out for 5 days about 5 years ago as generator were very hard to find as problem was wide spread and was lucky to find thins one before it was sold out. It ran 2 full sized fridges, a full sized upright freezer, lights, a few TV's, computers and wife sewing equipment once too. It honked pretty hard a few time but made it through never missing a beat and would run over 12 hrs on 4 gal of gas. It boxed up again in garage and I know if I need it is will run. I all fairness my garage is fully insulated complete with foam core doors and never gets down close to freezing and is usually heated some in winter and cooled in summer and does not see big temp and humidity swings so items stored in it generally keep well. Already got a cover for new 5.5k unit.
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