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New generator for $500??

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Posted by Wes O on October 23, 2003, 11:14 pm

Thanks to all for the great tips on my generator question about which one is
best earlier this past week!

Well, the wife and I have been doing some pondering about what to do.  We
definitely want to get a generator.  I followed up on the tip to check out
Koehler and actually found a dealer in our area that has just gone into

They offer the 8.5Kw model stationary model fully installed to NG with an
automatic transfer box positioned on a cement slab and say they will
probably have to replace my circuit box to bring the whole setup up to specs
for safety.  They are coming out tomorrow or later this week to do an exact
estimate but state it will probably run around $500 when all is said and

Seems like a lot of money but does offer all the features we think we are
interested in.................WHAT A PRICE THOUGH!!!!!!!!

Any thoughts?  Is there a cheaper alternative?  Virginian Dominion Power is
offering the same deal for $000 with a Generac unit.

Wes O

Posted by Bob M. on October 24, 2003, 12:41 am
That seems to be a very good price. For comparison I offer my experience.

12,000 watt Onan natural gas genset, about $800. Delivery added another
$00. Didn't need a concrete slab - it's sitting on a bed of gravel on hard

100 amp GE/Zenith (sold by Onan) automatic transfer switch, $00.

Plumber to run gas line: $00.

I opted to replace my electric service starting after the meter, since the
transfer switch needs to go between the main disconnect (which was integral
to the old circuit breaker panel) and the distribution panel. I bought all
the supplies myself for between $00 and $000 and an electrician did all
the wiring changes in 5 hours for $60 (now THAT'S a bargain!). I now have
several free circuits and was able to provide several 240v circuits with
their own breakers. I ran the conduit between the transfer switch and the
generator, but all of that stuff was in the supply cost.

To activate the warranty, I had to have the unit started and inspected by a
Cummins/Onan representative, and they got $5/hr including travel time, plus
$.50/mile travel cost. Just to have them drive to my house is over $00,
and the entire checkup took about 1.5 hours. I could have done it myself if
they had given me the procedure and things to do.

I pulled a permit for the plumbing and electrical work and had everything
inspected. I received the generator in the beginning of October 2001 and
would have had the system running by the end of November but there were some
problems to deal with. Eventually near the end of January 2002 everything
got signed off. We've had two power outages so far and it has worked just
fine for each one.

My biggest delay was in finding a plumber who would do such a "small" job. I
called 9 plumbers, 3 responded back, two came to estimate the job, and only
one actually mailed me an estimate of around $000. In desperation I called
the gas company and they gave me the name of one of their private
contractors who came the next morning, gave me a quote right there, we shook
hands, he sent his apprentice out for parts, and was done that afternoon.

I have seen my exact generator installed for $000 on the web, and that was
two years ago.

So you need to check with your local building inspectors about permits, and
see if any special turn-on procedure is necessary, which could be at your

Good luck.
Bob M.

Posted by Wes O on October 24, 2003, 2:44 am

So you invested approximately $000 all together?  Looks like you went
through a lot of trouble and had more technical knowledge than me in this
kind of project!

Wes O


Posted by Bob M. on October 25, 2003, 12:59 am
 Yes, probably closer to $500 when it was all added up with miscellaneous
stuff, like a new larger piece of plywood upon which to screw the new
electrical panels, plus things like a local disconnect switch outside by the
generator. I certainly learned a lot, and when I got done, I knew more than
the Cummins/Onan tech did about this particular model of gen set. That was
one of the sore points of this whole deal.

And to reply to Mark, the engine is made by Onan and is a 24hp, 2 cylinder,
3600 RPM with forced filtered oil. They have their own control/logic board
that controls the starting sequence (opening the gas valve, cranking the
engine, looking for ignition pulses and timing how long it cranks), as well
as regulate the output voltage, although it only senses one phase. It also
will shut things down if it applies field current and doesn't see the output
rise, or the frequency goes too high or too low, or the oil pressure goes
away, etc. It even flashes an error code on an LED, similar to the "Check
Engine" light in a car. The engine speed is controlled by a separate
governor control board and linear throttle actuator that's very responsive
and will try to keep the engine speed at 3625 rpm, or whatever calculates
out to 60.4 Hz. I don't know why they didn't set it to exactly 60.0 Hz, but
that's what the factory told me it was set to, and to change it would
require a special interface adapter and program on a computer plugged into
the governor module. Not something I can afford to buy.

The genset is configured to start when a contact closure is presented to it
in the transfer switch. It will shut down when that closure goes away. The
transfer switch watches the incoming commercial power, and when that goes
away for five seconds, the control module closes those contacts and the
generator starts. Once it comes up to speed and the voltage is adequate, it
sits there for about 20 seconds, then transfers the house to the generator.
It will run this way until it sees commercial power return, then it waits
for stable commercial power for 5 minutes, transfers the load back to the
line power, waits another 5 minutes for the generator to cool off, then
shuts it down. It can also be configured to test run the system, with or
without transferring the load, every 1, 2, or 4 weeks.

Want to know more, please ask !

Bob M.





Posted by mark Ransley on October 24, 2003, 1:02 am
 is it an 1800    rpm unit

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