The use of generators has skyrocketed in the past 10 years with many new and "affordable types being offered at all the major hardware and superstores. Some are junk not designed to last more than 150 hours although you'd be hard pressed to find that prominently on the label.
While there are a multitude of generators, Onan (Cummins), Honda, Kohler, Baldor and Yamaha offer some superior models. You may also choose to acquire a multi fuel model that runs on LP, Gasoline and Propane. This allows you greater flexibility in an emergency as gasoline may be harder to acquire. Storing of large quantities gasoline in many neighborhoods may be impractical. Diesel is much safer and LP or Natural Gas more prevalent.
Older models (still in production) like this contractor/emergency services gasoline powered unit from Onan, can be easily converted to run on three fuels for about $300.
Regular maintenance items or specific connections that need to be readily identified in an emergency should be labeled conspicuously. Don't worry about your friends or relatives poking fun at you for having OCD because they will be the first to avail themselves of your smart pre-planning.
There is a high probability that you will be working in the dark or inclement weather conditions such as cold, rain, ice or under considerable stress and you do not want to make a mistake that could cause a fire, explosion - or an electrocution.
Some people will always try to find the owners manual when an emergency hits because even if you attach it to the unit, somehow they always end up missing.
Some newer models come with easy to spot labels already so look for them when selecting a unit.
Some helpful tips:
- Use high visibility labels that are oil/water/UV resistant.
- Label the oil type, oil filter, amount and viscosity needed for your engine.
- Identify the replacement plug / air filter type needed and have spares on hand.
- Store your spare parts in a well labeled ammunition box or container with your generator.
- Label Positive (+) and Negative (-) posts on any batteries and cables for your genset.
- Use a metal Sharpie marker to identify the bolt/nut size for any battery lug connections.
- Strap down or velcro your battery if it does not have a retaining strap to prevent mishap.
- Put your name on the generator and any accessory cables or outlets that go with it.
- Make sure your full power home cable connection is clearly marked as such.
- Engine Model / Generator Model #'s should be included in labeling.
- Simplified Instructions should be printed up, laminated and attached to the unit.
- Run your generator regularly - this will increase your familiarity. Do it monthly.
- If you store gasoline use a fuel stabilizer PRI-G for gasoline and PRI-D for Diesel is recommended and should outperform other brands we have tried.
- Rotate your stored gasoline into other gasoline powered equipment so you will have fresh stabilized fuel.
- If your gasoline generator does not have a fuel filter in the fuel line - install one. Keep spares in your parts kit - they are cheap insurance.
- Always use GFCI protected extension cords when supplying power to any device.
- Never hook up damaged or undersized extension cords to any generator.
- Train other family members or friends who will be joining you in an emergency.