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  1. #1
    Join Date
    06-19-2010
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    St. James, MO
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    No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    I service my generator each fall, including testing the battery. The weekly self-test has gone off without a hitch, though I wasn't home for the last one or two.

    Saturday we had massive storms that caused a power outage. Imagine our surprise when the generator didn't kick in. A simple multimeter test showed 12.7 volts, but 2 different auto parts stores tested it and found it dead.

    3 auto parts stores, 2 farm and feed stores, and the borg that sells whole house generators, could not locate a replacement. The wholesale electrical supply houses aren't open until Tuesday, and the battery shop 2 hours away can't get one in stock until Friday.

    An internet search turned up replacement batteries from $100 to $300, most with shipping extra. Made some contacts but didn't expect to get a reply over​ the holiday weekend. Imagine my surprise to have a reply early this morning. $120 with shipping included, and delivery in 3 days.

    Guess I need to set up a replacement schedule, instead of just trusting the annual test. It just stinks that nobody local seems to carry these batteries, even the generator dealer!
    PP


    "If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't goin'."
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  2. #2
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    06-19-2010
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Quote Originally Posted by PastorPaul View Post
    It just stinks that nobody local seems to carry these batteries, even the generator dealer!
    Probably a classic case of supply and demand since very few homes are plumbed with a backup generator. I've talked to my wife about installing one now that we've up in years and sad to say the financial committee denied the request.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    08-01-2010
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
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    318

    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Can't you use any 12v battery?
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    06-15-2010
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    Huntington Beach, California
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    PP,
    In technical terms, your volt meter is probably 20,000 ohms per volt. If you're on a 25 volt scale, the meter puts a 500,000 ohm load across the battery to determine the voltage. The condition of the battery will show as good. The amount of current being drawn isn't even worth calculating.

    When you are cranking to start the engine of the generator, the battery is expected to supply anywhere from 100 to 600 amperes. When a battery deteriorates and under a high current load the voltage drops and the current can't get out of the battery to operate the starter.

    It's just the way that lead / acid batteries work.

    Typically in automotive use, anything more than three years of use is a gift. And unfortunately the gift can bring an unpleasant surprises as you have discovered.
    Last edited by rrich; 05-29-2017 at 10:12 pm.
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    06-15-2010
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    Huntington Beach, California
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    PP,
    As part of your monthly testing / maintenance, use your ears. You will be able to hear the difference between a good battery and a bad battery operating the starter.

    It is like the engine that could.
    "I think I can, I think I can. Yep I did."
    vs.
    "No thinking about it. I just did."
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    06-19-2010
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    St. James, MO
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    684

    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Quote Originally Posted by ThisIsMatt View Post
    Can't you use any 12v battery?
    No, it has to be a specific valve regulated sealed battery; specific AH rating and limited space for the battery to fit in.
    PP


    "If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't goin'."
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  7. #7
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    06-19-2010
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    St. James, MO
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Quote Originally Posted by rrich View Post
    PP,
    As part of your monthly testing / maintenance, use your ears. You will be able to hear the difference between a good battery and a bad battery operating the starter.

    It is like the engine that could.
    "I think I can, I think I can. Yep I did."
    vs.
    "No thinking about it. I just did."
    Good idea, but I am usually in the house or just arriving home when the self-test starts. The generator is already up and running by the time I notice it. The smart thing would be for me to replace the battery at regular intervals. This is the original battery, so I think it is 6+ years old.
    PP


    "If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't goin'."
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    06-19-2010
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    St. James, MO
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Electrician still hasn't returned my call and the local electrical supply houses have no idea where to locate my battery. Just ordered it online and it should be here Friday.
    PP


    "If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't goin'."
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    08-01-2010
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
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    318

    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Quote Originally Posted by PastorPaul View Post
    No, it has to be a specific valve regulated sealed battery; specific AH rating and limited space for the battery to fit in.
    Sounds like salesman speak to me, other than the space requirement. Any sealed battery at or above the cranking amps required, that fits where you want it, should be fine.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    06-15-2010
    Location
    Lindale, TX
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    Re: No Emergency Generator in an Emergency

    Quote Originally Posted by ThisIsMatt View Post
    Sounds like salesman speak to me, other than the space requirement. Any sealed battery at or above the cranking amps required, that fits where you want it, should be fine.
    Yup, and you could also jump it from a jump box. I know I can with my generator, but mine also has a pull start on it.
    Mark


    "Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." G.K. Chesterton
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