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Tuesday, January 14, 2020
 

Debunking 10 Solar Energy Myths: The demand for renewable forms of energy is on the rise in order to lessen the effects of global warming our environment faces due to increased pollution. 

We are surrounded by a plethora of renewable energies, especially solar energy, which has the potential to be used year round. Although this is true, there is still scepticism surrounding the benefits gained from solar energy. It is time to remove that scepticism of solar energy and improve the future outlook for it.

Myth 1: Solar panels do not work in cold snowy weather or when it is cloudy.


Fact: Solar panels work in sunny, cold, and even cloudy environments. The technologies of solar panels allow them to work effectively and efficiently and are even more effective in cooler temperatures than warmer ones. In addition, cloudy weather does not inhibit the efficiency of solar panels; they can be a viable source of electricity as they can still produce enough power. Even cold, sunny winter days generate a comparable level of electricity to what you would get from hot summer days. Examples of countries where such systems are efficient are Germany (world leader of solar panels), the UK, China and Italy.

Myth 2: Solar energy can still power my home when the power goes out.


Fact: Of course if you are living on the grid when the power goes out, the grid system also goes out as it is dangerous to run electricity to wires that electricity workers are trying to fix. As a result, your inverter knows that the grid has been shut off and shuts off the electricity generation that is driven from solar panels. 

Myth 3: Solar energy is too costly and is not economically viable.


Fact: Actually, if we look at figures from 2009 to 2015, investments in solar panels have generally been on the rise as they are becoming more affordable. Their average costs have fallen by about 30% percent. Globally, it is actually cheaper to produce electricity from solar energy than it is from coal. In addition, having solar panels allows you to give electricity back to the grid, allowing you to benefit from the feed-in tariff scheme.

If you are interested in investing in solar panels for your home, we recommend you act quickly in order to still benefit the Feed in Tariff in the UK. This government scheme is ending on 31 March 2019, but if you submit your application in time you could still benefit from payments over the next 20 years.

Myth 4: Installing solar is quite complicated and requires a lot of maintenance.


Fact: Actually, solar panel installation is relatively straightforward as long as you are using a reliable manufacturer. Ideally, if your system is connected to your utility grid, which is common among electricity systems, then it makes solar panels easier to maintain. The solar panels would just need to be cleaned with water to remove any accumulated dust or debris or snow that has been trapped on them. 
Top 10 Solar Energy Myths

Solar panels are constructed in a way that allows them to withstand harsh weather, including hail, sleet, etc. If you have a battery based system, it will need more cleaning than one without, but systems without batteries are more common and are cheaper than those that have battery systems.

Myth 5: Solar panels will cause damage to your roof.


Fact: Solar panels actually benefit the portion of the roof they cover by protecting and preserving it. In the unlikely event that the roof the panels are sitting on is damaged and needs to be repaired, the panel can be easily removed since they aren’t directly attached to the roof; they are just mounted on top of it. Usually, if there are any gaps between the rooftop and the panels, a sealant is used to fill in the gaps. In addition, the mounts are protected using a metal “flashing” or coverings for an extra barrier for protection. Always remember to make sure your roof is damage-free before mounting a new rooftop.

Myth 6: Excess energy can be stored in battery systems.


Fact: If you are living on the grid, your system is connected to the electricity grid, thus you would benefit from a net metering system. Additionally, if you are connected to the grid, you are still able to keep your current local utility company, so if you produce more electricity on some days, you end up having more electricity credited to your own account. Therefore, if you need more electricity at night when the system isn’t running, you end up using the extra electricity produced to power your home directly from the grid. This is done automatically so you won’t notice any changes when the switch occurs whilst still have a low electricity bill.

Myth 7: Reselling your home will be harder with solar panels.


Fact: Actually, solar panels would enhance the property value of your home. Many studies have found that homes with solar panels actually sell faster than homes without solar panels. Although the cost of solar panels ranges from £5,000 - 8,000, you end up saving on a long term basis as they enhance your home’s value by as much as £14,000 on average, but this is completely dependent on how much it will be worth. Additionally, as solar panels allow for increased savings from the feed-in tariff scheme, such homes are appealing to buyers as they would reap the continued benefits from the feed-in tariff scheme. 


Myth 8: Solar panel prices are based on the size of your home.


Fact: Solar panels are designed to fit the specific needs of each homeowner. When determining the cost of installing solar panels, special attention is paid to the orientation and slope of your home’s roof. In addition, the surrounding area of the roof is considered when building to make sure it is positioned in an area that has easy access to sunlight and is not obstructed by surrounding trees or buildings.

Myth 9: If we can use clean coal, why invest in solar energy?


Fact: Solar power is a cleaner form of energy than “clean coal” because coal isn’t really clean. Coal is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. Coal mining is responsible for a number of health problems due to the blasting of mountaintops and leaving a pond of black slurry in its path. The more coal we burn, the more damage we do to the environment as it increases the levels of mercury and smog and additionally increases carbon pollution, leading to more damaging effects in the environment.

Myth 10: Solar panels are bad for the environment after their lifetime is used up.


Fact: Actually, solar panels are built to reach a maximum lifetime use of 25 years, after which they can be recycled. This all depends on the manufacturer you use to install your solar panels, but knowing whether they will be recycled is a bit tricky as most solar panels are still working optimally. Additionally, some manufacturers will even recycle them for you free of charge.
 

Generators can be a real lifesaver. But used improperly, a generator can be a killer, too. Carbon monoxide and electrocution hazards are real dangers if you don’t know what you’re doing with a generator. 

Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind with a generator.

Never run a generator inside your home or an enclosed area. It’s safest to operate a generator in an open outdoor space with plenty of ventilation.

Tip 1: Never operate a generator in or too close to your house

Generator manufacturers warn you over and over about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Yet every year, people die from running their generators in their garage or too close to their house. The manufacturers aren’t kidding. You can’t run your generator in your garage, even with the door open. And you can’t run it under your eaves either. Yes, it’s a pain to move it away from the house and run longer extension cords. And yes, you’ll have to stand in the rain to refill the unit. But it’s better than burying your family.

Tip 2: Never “backfeed” power into your home

The Internet is filled with articles explaining how to “backfeed” power into your house with a “dual male-ended” extension cord. But that’s horrible advice and you shouldn’t follow it. Backfeeding is illegal—and for good reason. It can (and does) kill family members, neighbours and power company linemen every year. If you really want to get rid of all those extension cords, pony up the few hundred bucks for a transfer switch. Then pay an electrician to install it. That’s the only safe alternative to multiple extension cords. Period.

Tip 3: Let the generator cool down before refilling

Generator fuel tanks are always on top of the engine so they can “gravity-feed” gas to the carburettor. But that setup can quickly turn into a disaster if you spill gas when refuelling a hot generator. Think about it—if you spill fresh gas onto a hot engine and it ignites, you’ve got about 8 more gallons of gas sitting right above the fire. Talk about an inferno! It’s no wonder generators (and owners) go up in flames every year from that little mistake. Spilling is especially easy if you refill at night without a flashlight. 
Check These - 10 Tips For Using A Generator

We know you can go without power for a measly 15 minutes, so cool your heels while the sucker cools down.

Tip 4: Store and pour safely

Most local residential fire codes limit how much gasoline you can store in your home or attached garage (usually 10 gallons or less). So you may be tempted to buy one large gas can to cut down on refill runs. Don’t. Because at 6 lbs. per gallon, there’s no way you can safely hold and pour 60 lbs. of gas without spilling. Plus, most generator tanks don’t hold that much, so you increase your chances of overfilling. Instead, buy two high-quality 5-gallon cans. While you’re at it, consider spending more for a high-quality steel gas can with a trigger control valve (Justrite No. 7250130 is one example).

Tip 5: Run it on a level surface

Many small generators have “splash” lubrication systems with crankshaft “dippers” that scoop up oil and splash it onto moving parts. That system works well if the unit is on level ground. But if you park the generator on a slope (usually more than 10 degrees), the dippers can’t reach all the oil, and some engine parts run dry. That’s a recipe for catastrophic failure. So heed the manufacturer’s warnings and place your generator on a level surface. If you don’t have a level spot, make one. That advice holds true even if you have a pressurized lubrication system.

Tip 6: Keep enough motor oil and filters on hand to get you through an extended outage

Most new generators need their first oil change after just 25 hours. After that, you’ll have to dump the old stuff and refill every 50 or 60 hours. During extended outages, you can easily run your generator long enough to need an oil change. Don’t count on finding the right oil filter for your particular generator after a major storm. Instead, buy extra filters and oil before the storm hits.

Tip 7: Limit cord length to prevent appliance damage

Generators are loud, so most users park them as far away from the house as possible. That’s OK as long as you use a heavy-duty, 12-gauge, outdoor-rated extension cord. But even a 12-gauge cord has its limits. Never exceed a total length of 100 ft. from the generator to the appliance. The voltage drop on longer runs can cause premature appliance motor and compressor burnout.

Tip 8: Prevent theft

The only thing worse than the rumbling sound of a gasoline engine outside your bedroom window is the sound of silence after someone steals your expensive generator. Combine security and electrical safety by digging a hole and sinking a grounding rod and an eye hook in cement. Encase the whole thing in 4-in. ABS or PVC drainpipe, with a screw-on cleanout fitting. Then chain and lock your generator to the anchor. If you don’t want to sink a permanent concrete pier, at least screw in ground anchors to secure the chain. Ground anchors are available in the hardware department at home centres.

Tip 9: Running out of gas can cost you

Some low-cost generators with economy voltage regulators will keep putting out power as the generator runs out of gas. As the generator comes to a stop, the electrical load in your house can drain the residual magnetic “field” from the generator coils. Sure, it’ll start up once you refill it, but it won’t generate power. You’ll have to haul it into a repair shop and pay a pro to rezap the “field.” That will cost you about $40. But good luck getting it serviced in the aftermath of a big storm. Instead, turn off the electrical load and shut down the generator before it runs out of fuel. Let it cool. Then refill it, restart it and connect the load.

Tip 10: Bad fuel can stop you in your tracks

Stale fuel is the No. 1 cause of starting problems on all gas-powered small engines. Every generator manufacturer recommends adding fuel stabilizer to the gas to minimize fuel breakdown and varnish and gum buildup. But they stressed that it’s still no guarantee against future problems. So, many of the manufacturers and most repair shops recommend emptying the fuel tank and running the carburettor dry (run the engine until it stalls) once you’re past the storm season. If your unit has a carburettor drain petcock, wait for the engine to cool and drain it manually. Dump the gas in your vehicle or take it to a recycling centre. 

Always use fresh stabilized gas in your generator.

Continue reading the original article at Family Handyman.
 

Harare residents have for many years have been faced with electricity shortages. This, coupled with the introduction of pre-paid meters to many urban households, makes it common sense for everyone to want to save as much power as they can, both for the ‘national good’ and to save the few bond-coins they have.


Saving power and money means looking at how we can help conserve energy for our own good, however insignificant such actions might appear. To that end, here are a few tips on how to save electricity in your home.

Stoves: A conventional oven uses the same power as 18 microwave ovens. So if you can, rather use your microwave to cook. It is much quicker and cheaper. Do not defrost food in the microwave oven. Rather, take it out of the refrigerator to defrost. When you use your stove, match your pot to the size of the stove plate and keep a lid on the pot to conserve heat. If you have a stove with heavy, solid plates that retain heat, switch off the plate a few minutes before removing the pot. Also remember that every time the oven door is opened, the temperature drops and the heat must be replaced.

Electric Kettle: Boiling one cup of cold water in the kettle for one cup of tea will save time and money. Boiling water in a kettle is much easier and more economical than using the stove.

Refrigerators and freezers: When you open your fridge door for more than a moment, it loses cold air. Cooling it down again will take a lot of electricity. So be quick and don’t let all that cold air out. Do not place hot food in the refrigerator or the deep freeze; allow it to cool outside first. Do not overload your refrigerator or freezer. Ensure that the door seals are in good condition. Do not put the refrigerator near the oven.
How To Save Electricity In Your Zimbabwe Home
Television: If you leave your television on in standby mode, the standby light alone uses up to 50% of the power the TV would use if it was actually on. So switch the television off when nobody is watching. You will be amazed at how much electricity you will save.

Lights: Try and replace as many of your light bulbs as possible with energy-saving bulbs. They last eight times longer and use 80% less electricity. Do not leave lights on unnecessarily.

Heaters: Rather use a temperature-controlled oil heater or a gas heater for space heating. Sit as near to the heater as possible in order to avoid the need to have both elements on. Switch off the heater when leaving the room for any length of time. Curtains help to retain the heat in a room. Draw the curtains early in the evening.

Computers: Always use the power button to switch your computer off. If you leave it on standby or in ‘sleep mode’ it uses up to 50% of the power it would use if it was actually on. Any other office equipment such as printers should also be switched off when not in use. By leaving it on you are wasting electricity and putting the machine under unnecessary strain.

Bathroom: Shower instead of running a bath. When you shower, you use less water. This means that your geyser will need less electricity to heat the water. You can save quite a lot of money this way.

Geyser: Keep it off. Switch on your geyser when you get home after work, and switch it off when you go to bed. Then you can shower or bath in the morning when the water is still hot. You’ll save a small fortune this way. Do not allow hot water taps to drip – you’re literally pouring money down the drain.

And that’s it! This list is not meant to be authoritative or exhaustive – there are many more ways we can save ourselves money (and power units). Please feel free to WhatsApp or email us your own tried and tested power-saving tips.

Joe Ruzvidzo is the founder of Zimbabwe’s customer experience blog Consumerizim.
Email or WhatsApp 0772 881 704 to share your experience today.
 

Due to ZESA and ZETDC’s monopoly, incompetence and continued intransigence, Zimbabweans are faced with both random blackouts and tariff increments.


We have to accept, both as members of the business community and as private individuals, the reality of the perennial electricity shortages and try and just deal with them. Some are running their businesses at night, others have stopped running their geysers entirely.

Saving power (hence money) means looking at how we can help conserve energy for our own good, however insignificant such actions might appear.

Here are some tips on how to save electricity in your home:

Kitchen tips
How To Save Electricity In Your Home  - Zimbabwe Tips

Stove:
  • A conventional oven uses the same power as 18 microwave ovens. So, rather use you microwave oven to cook. It is much quicker and cheaper.
  • Do not defrost food in the microwave oven. Rather leave it in the refrigerator to defrost.
  • When you use your stove, match your pot to the size of the stove plate. Also, keep the lid on the pot to conserve heat and energy.
  • Do not cook food for longer or with the controls set higher than absolutely necessary.
  • If you have a stove with heavy solid plates that retain heat, switch off the plate a few minutes before removing the pot.
  • Keep oven doors completely closed until the food is cooked. Every time the door is opened the oven temperature drops, and the heat must be replaced.

Kettle:
Boiling one cup of cold water in the kettle for one cup of tea will save time and money.
Boiling water in a kettle is much easier and more economical than using the stove.

Refrigerators and freezers:

  • When you open your fridge door for more than a moment, it loses cold air. Cooling it down again will take a lot of electricity. So be quick and don’t let all that cold air out.
  • Do not place hot food in the refrigerator or the deep freeze.
  • Allow it to cool outside first.
  • Do not overload your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Ensure that the door seals are in good condition.
  • Do not put the refrigerator near the oven.
  • Lounge tips


Television:
Switch the television off when nobody is watching. If you leave your television on standby mode, the standby light alone uses up to 50% of the power the TV would use if it was actually on. You will be amazed at how much electricity you will save.

Radio:
If you are not listening to the radio, switch it off – this is an instant saving.
Light bulbs:
Try to replace as many of your light bulbs as possible with CFL energy-saving bulbs. They last much longer and use far less electricity. CFLs last eight times longer and use 80% less electricity. Don’t wait for ZESA’s “free” ones.

Do not leave lights burning unnecessarily.

Heaters:

  • Rather use a temperature-controlled oil heater or a gas heater for space heating.
  • Sit as near the heater as possible in order to avoid the need to have both elements switched on together.
  • Switch off the heater when leaving the room for any length of time.
  • Curtains help to retain the heat in a room. Draw the curtains early in the evening.


Study tips

Computer:
Always switch your computer off at the power button. If you leave it on standby or “sleep mode” it uses up to 50% of the power it would use if it was actually on.

Other equipment:

Any other office equipment, such as printers, should also be switched off when it is not in use. By leaving it on, you are wasting electricity and putting the machine under unnecessary strain.
Bathroom tips

Shower instead of running a bath. When you shower, you use less water. This means that your geyser will need less electricity to heat the water. You can save quite a lot of money.

Geyser:

  • To save electricity, get a plumber to turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees. Better still, switch off your geyser when you get home after work and switch it back on when you go to bed. Shower or bath in the mornings. You’ll save a small fortune.
  • Do not allow hot water taps to drip. Repeat, do NOT allow hot water taps to drip.

Swimming pools

Filter pump:
The filter pump is likely to be amongst the largest consumers of electricity, accounting for up to 20% of the home’s electricity consumption. Operate the filter pump only for the minimum periods necessary. During winter algae growth is limited and the use of the filter cleaning system can be reduced to once every
few days.
 

The best way to start saving on your electricity costs is to get smart about how you use electricity. Make these 21 no-cost changes in your home and you could save $500 or more a year, depending on a number of factors including the size of your home.


Now's the time to also join Team Power Smart and start a Reduction Challenge. If you can deliver on most of the 21 changes below, you could reduce your electricity use by 10% over the year and earn a $50 reward.

1. Turn off unnecessary lights: Two 100-watt incandescent bulbs switched off an extra two hours per day could save you $15 over a year. Better yet, switch to LED.

Save $15

2. Use natural light:
A single south-facing window can illuminate 20 to 100 times its area. Turning off one 60-watt bulb for four hours a day is a $9 saving over a year.

Save $9
Get You Home Electrical Installations Done By Sharzo Electro Centre

3. Use task lighting: 
Turn off ceiling lights and use table lamps, track lighting and under-counter lights in work and hobby areas as well as in kitchens.

Save $6

4. Take shorter showers Hot water is expensive. If two people in your home cut their shower time by a minute each, you could save $30 over a year.

Save $30

5. Turn water off when shaving, washing hands, brushing teeth: Reduce your hot water usage by 5% to save about $19.

Save $19

6. Fix that leaky faucet: Fixing a hot water leak in your faucet can save up to $9 per year in energy costs. Learn how to fix that leak.

Save $9

7. Unplug unused electronics: Standby power can account for 10% of an average household's annual electricity use. Unplug unused electronics and save $50 a year.

Save $50

8. Ditch the desktop computer: If you're still using that old desktop, recycle it and switch to your laptop. If you use your laptop two hours per day, you'll save $4 over a year.

Save $4

9. Not home? Turn off the air conditioner: 
Turn off that old window unit air conditioner for five hours a day while you're away. Do that for 60 days over summer and you'll save $16.

Save $16

10. Recycle or donate that old TV: Recycle or donate your old T.V. Even if you're just using it an hour a day, that 42-inch LCD is costing you six bucks a year.

Save $6

11. Manage your thermostat: If you have electric heat, lower your thermostat by two degrees to save 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it five degrees could save 10%.

Save $120

12. Be strategic with window coverings: 
Promote airflow through your home and block the afternoon sun. You could save you up to $10 (2 fans) or $45 (1 window unit AC) during the summer.

Save $45

13. Reduce heat in the kitchen: Avoid using the oven in summer – try salads, smoothies or barbecue. You'll reduce the heat in your home and save on your home cooling costs.

Save $5

14. Run full loads: Cut one load of wash per week, even if you're already using cold water only, and you could save $18 a year on your laundry costs.

Save $18

15. Wash laundry in cold: By switching from hot to cold water for an average of three loads per week, you could save up to $22 per year on your energy bill.

Save $22

16. Hang dry your laundry: If you do eight loads of laundry a week and use your clothesline for 50% of those clothes, you could save $65 a year.

Save $65

17. Toss a towel in the dryer: A dry towel added to your dryer load can significantly reduce drying times. If you're doing seven loads a week this could save you $27 a year.

Save $27

18. Be efficient with refrigeration: Keep your fridge and freezer at their ideal temperature. For your fridge this is between 2°C and 3°C and your freezer should be at -18°C.

Save $25

19. Unplug your second fridge: Unplug that second fridge and save up to $55 a year. Freeze plastic jugs of water and use them in a cooler when you need them.

Save $55

20. Skip the heat-dry setting for the dishwasher: That heat-dry setting is expensive. De-select it and, based on one load of dishes a day, save up to $27 for the year.

Save $27

21. Use the microwave, crock pot or toaster oven: A microwave takes 15 minutes to do the same job as 1 hour in an oven. Use a microwave instead of your oven 4 times a week and save $13/year.

Save $13

 

One thing that most serious preppers have in common is that we all own at least one portable backup generator. 

While many preppers actually own generators, if I was a betting woman, I would say that not many people have very much real-life experience in using them.

This was very true for me before our family moved off the grid to live in the mountains of southern Oregon. Those years taught us so much and I’m happy to be able to share some of our lessons with you.

I’m writing this article from the unique perspective of being a person whose only form of electricity for over eight years was provided by generators. On a typical day, we ran our generator for about 10 hours which means that over the years we put over 31,000 hours on them!

I would wager that most preppers haven’t even run their generators for 100 hours. Why is this important, you might ask?

The reason it’s important is that my husband and I have a ton of experience using portable backup generators and with that experience comes a lot of knowledge that I can share with those who might just be getting into prepping as well as those who are already experienced preppers.

Our experience has taught us that there are really only a few things that will typically go wrong with a generator if you take the time to perform routine generator maintenance. Having said that, when you use power equipment a lot, you will experience breakdowns and you will have to make repairs. In this article, I’ll be drawing upon the experience that we have acquired with the intention of helping people who aren’t as familiar with emergency backup generators tackle the most common types of repairs that they might encounter.

In the interest of full disclosure, my husband coached me as I was writing this article since he is the one who actually does the repairs on ours. One other thing that I highly suggest is to arm yourself with the proper service manual for your particular engine before you attempt any of the following repairs.

Before we get started, let me give you my most valuable tip. Take lots of pictures with your digital camera or phone before you disassemble any parts. Having access to these photos has saved our bacon MANY TIMES when it came time to reassemble the parts!

Warning: Some of the procedures outlined in this article involve working with gasoline, carburettor cleaner, and/or starting fluid. All of these items are HIGHLY FLAMMABLE. Never perform any of these procedures around an open flame or any other possible ignition source!

10 Portable Generator Repair Tips That Many People Can Handle


If you’re having a difficult time starting your generator or if it’s just not running right, there are a few things you should probably check. Keep in mind that in order for the engine to run, it needs three things. These things are fuel, spark, and oxygen. There is a fourth and that is “compression” but in most cases, the three things that I’ve referred to will be the culprit to a poor running engine.

1. Check for Fuel Delivery Problems: The engine on your generator is going to have a carburettor and its sole purpose is to mix the gasoline from your gas tank with air at the proper ratio for combustion to occur in your engine. If your generator is difficult to start or if it runs really rough you may have a fuel delivery problem. You really need to make sure that your carburettor is actually getting fuel before you proceed. Note that on some high-end generators, they may be equipped with a fuel pump. Refer to your service manual for the proper way to test your fuel pump if you have one.
One way that some mechanics test to see if the problem is related to inadequate fuel delivery is to remove the air filter and spray a tiny amount of starting fluid directly into the carburettor. Then they try to start the engine. If it starts but quickly stalls, the problem is likely related to fuel delivery. Note that a little goes a long way when it comes to using starting fluid for this type of a test. The last thing you want to do is spray too much into the carburettor and end up starting a fire. If you choose to use this test, you’re doing so at your own risk. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Also, I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use this test on diesel engines.

2. Check the Gas Vent Hole: There’s usually a tiny hole or valve somewhere on the gas cap that is designed to allow fuel to flow from the tank and into the carburettor. If this vent hole gets plugged up, no fuel will be able to flow into the carburettor and your engine won’t start. If it’s only partially clogged, the engine may start and either run poorly or stall after a few minutes. The solution to this problem is simply clearing the vent hole with a small piece of wire or a short blast of compressed air.

3. Check the Fuel Lines: If your fuel lines are plugged up with debris, cracked, or leaking, don’t bother trying to repair them; simply replace them. You can buy the correct size of fuel line at any auto parts store. They sell it by the foot and it’s quite inexpensive.
10 Handy Portable Generator Repair Tips to Improve Performance
4. Inspect the Fuel Filter: Some, but not all, generators have an in-line clear plastic fuel filter. These filters are designed to keep dirt and debris that might be in the gasoline from entering into your carburettor. If yours is clogged, the carburettor will be starved from getting fuel which could prevent the engine from starting. If it does happen to start, it may run rough and/or stall shortly thereafter. The easiest way to check to see if the filter is clogged is to remove the fuel line at the point where it is attached to the carburettor. Make sure that you hold the fuel line over a container to catch any gas that leaks. Pay special attention as you watch to see if any gas is actually passing through the filter. If gas doesn’t drain out of the fuel line and into your container, my recommendation would be to replace the fuel filter.

This is a very easy job and the fuel filters are only a few dollars each. There will be a tiny hose clamp on each end of the filter. All you have to do is remove the clamps, pull the fuel lines off of the old filter, put the fuel lines on the new filter, and reattach the hose clamps. Make sure that you don’t put the filter in backwards either. They are designed for fuel to flow in one direction only and that is from the gas tank to the carburettor.

5. Cleaning the Carburetor: If your carburettor is actually getting fuel but the engine is running rough, this is usually caused by people leaving old untreated gasoline in their tanks and not starting the engine for quite some time. The first thing that you might try doing is draining all of the old gas and replacing it with fresh gas. You’ll also have to drain the old gas from the float bowl on the bottom of the carburettor. If this doesn’t work, you’re going to need to clean the carburettor. In some very rare cases, you can spray carburettor cleaner into the orifices and jets without removing it from the engine but in most cases you’ll need to remove the carburettor to clean it properly. Sometimes an engine that has a dirty carburettor will start and run if you leave it in the “full choke” position but as soon as you move the choke lever to the off position, the engine will sputter or shut off.

The basic thing to remember about this is that if a carburettor is the cause of an engine not running properly, it’s usually not an adjustment problem but rather a matter of the carburettor being dirty. When gasoline that hasn’t been treated with a fuel stabilizer sits in a carburettor for a long period of time, it’s going to do two things. It will accumulate water and the gas will go stale and turn into a thick varnish-like substance that will clog the tiny orifices in the carburettor. Our experience has been that when a carburettor is the cause of a rough running generator engine, it’s almost always because it is dirty and the orifices in it are clogged. Performing a thorough cleaning has usually solved this problem for us.

4-3-15 Update: I just received a comment on this article from someone who was a generator repair tech for 15 years and he stated that most of the generator problems that he dealt with were the result of people leaving old, untreated gas in the carburettor for an extended period of time. After you read this article, be sure to scroll down and read his comment.

One very important thing that I should point out about cleaning carburettors is to resist the urge to clean the tiny orifices by inserting wires or anything that is metal into them. Carburettors are very delicate instruments and if you scratch or deform the shape of the orifice it will never run properly again.

Since carburettors are such sensitive devices. Be extremely careful when it comes to turning any of the adjustment screws. If you do turn them and you don’t get them returned to the exact same spot, your generator is not going to run right, if at all.

You can find lots of helpful videos on YouTube that will teach you how to clean a carburettor. My husband has done this procedure many times and he’s learned some hard lessons along the way. The main one being that carburettor parts are very small and easy to lose so always work on a surface that will catch any small parts should you happen to drop them. I can’t tell you how many times he has dropped the tiny parts from a carburettor and lost them in our gravel driveway.

6. Make Sure You Have a Spark: If your generator is difficult to start or if it’s running rough, the first thing you should probably check is to make sure the spark plug looks good. The appearance of the spark plug can give you a good indication about how your generator is actually running. If the electrode is caked with an oily thick sludge, your generator has probably been running very “rich” meaning that it’s been getting too much fuel and not enough oxygen. On the other end of the spectrum, a carburettor that’s not delivering enough gasoline but it’s providing too much air will result in a spark plug that is light tan or even white. This is referred to as running too “lean”.

I usually don’t recommend that anyone make adjustments on their carburettor to remedy this type of a problem as this is usually a task reserved for more experienced mechanics but there are some things that you can do if you inspect your spark plug and discover that it doesn’t look right.

The first bit of advice I have for you is to replace your spark plug with a new plug instead of trying to clean the old one. Spark plugs are very inexpensive and there may be hairline cracks in the insulator that you can’t see with the naked eye that is causing them to malfunction. The basic take away here is that if your spark plug looks bad, just throw it away and replace it. One important thing to remember is that when you replace your spark plug, you’ll need to make sure that you use a spark plug gapping tool to adjust the gap between the ground electrode and the centre electrode to the manufacturer’s recommended settings.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if your plug isn’t actually producing a spark, your engine won’t start no matter how hard you pull on the cord. If you don’t know how to check to see if your engine has spark, there are plenty of YouTube videos that you can watch to learn how.

7. Make Sure Your Engine is Getting Oxygen: As I mentioned above, the sole purpose of the carburettor is to mix the gasoline with air and deliver it into the engine in the form of a fine flammable mist. Any air that enters into the carburettor has to pass through an air filter first. The purpose of the air filter is to prevent dust and debris from getting into the carburettor or the combustion chamber of the engine. When the air filter is clean, it will function properly and do exactly what it is intended to do. If the air filter is old or you’ve been running your generator in a very dusty environment, the filter will clog and restrict the amount of air that is able to pass through it and enter into the carburettor. This will result in your carburettor spraying too much gasoline into the combustion chamber and not enough air. Some symptoms of this are a rough running engine or an engine that will run for a while and then stall because it gets flooded with too much gasoline.

Some people try to extend the life of their air filters by removing them and tapping them against a hard surface to knock any dust and debris out of them. Whatever you do, resist the urge to use compressed air to blow the dirt out of an air filter. This will usually result in the tiny openings of the air filter becoming enlarged which will prevent it from doing its job of actually blocking dirt and dust from passing through it.

Our experience has been that if our air filter looks fairly clean, tapping it firmly against a workbench or other solid surface will remove some of the dust. In other cases, the best option is to simply replace it with a new filter.

I should also point out that there are a couple of different types of air filters that you might have on your generator. Our large 5,500 watt Generac uses a paper air filter but our smaller Honda EU2000i uses a foam air filter that is serviceable by the owner. You can actually clean this type of an air filter when it gets dirty and it will work as good as new once you reinstall it. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely about how to properly clean your particular generator’s air filter.

8. Replace a Broken Pull Cord: In all the years that we’ve been using generators, we’ve broken the pull cords about four times. It’s not incredibly difficult to replace the cord if you happen to break it. The tricky part is to make sure that you wind the spring up all the way before you wrap the new cord around the starter mechanism. If you don’t, the spring won’t be able to pull the cord back inside the housing and you won’t be able to start your generator at all.

9. Test the Electric Starting System: Your generator may be equipped with an electric starter. If you turn the key or press the button and nothing happens, there are a few things that you can check. The first is to make sure that your battery isn’t dead. You can use a simple multimeter that you can buy for around $20 at most auto part stores to find out what the voltage of your battery is. A brand new 12-volt battery should read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12.6 to 12.7 volts when it’s fully charged. If you test the battery with a multimeter and it reads lower than 12 volts, connect it to a charger to see if you can recharge it. If you’ve made the mistake of neglecting your battery and leaving it in a state of discharge for many months, you probably won’t be able to charge the battery and your only option will be to replace it.

If your multimeter shows that the battery is charged but the starter still doesn’t turn over, the first thing I would do is check for any fuses that might be blown. If you have a fuse that has blown, simply replacing it will usually fix your problem. Make sure you replace it with the exact same type of fuse that has the same amp rating. If the fuse in your generator was rated at 20 amps, don’t try sticking a 30 amp fuse in it because that’s the only one that you might have on hand. There is a reason that it was equipped with a fuse of a particular size and that reason is so that the fuse will blow before any sensitive electronic components will be damaged. If you put an oversized fuse in it, instead of the fuse blowing, you’ll fry the electrical components which will be a more costly repair.
If you don’t find a blown fuse, the next thing I would check is to make sure there’s no corrosion on the battery terminals and that the connections are actually tight on the battery. Believe it or not, it’s possible for corrosion to accumulate between the cables and the battery even though they may “appear” to be clean and corrosion free. Whenever we’ve had a problem with a fully charged battery not starting the engine, we remove the battery terminals and clean them with a wire brush so that the surfaces are nice and shiny. In many cases after cleaning and reattaching them, the engine started right up.

If you’ve tried all these things and the starter still won’t work, there’s an old mechanics trick that you might try. Gently tap on the starter housing with the plastic handle of a screwdriver several times. If corrosion has built up inside the starter that is preventing it from turning, this will sometimes break it free and get it working again.
There is one more component to an electric starting system that could go bad and that is a part called a “solenoid”. Refer to your service manual about how to test this device. Unfortunately, it’s not one of those things that you can repair so if it’s bad, you’ll simply have to replace it.

10. Replace the Breakers: If your engine starts and runs properly but it doesn’t put out any electricity, you can sometimes fix this problem by replacing the breakers. We’ve never had this problem with our Honda generators but we’ve had it happen twice with our Generac. It’s an easy fix. The main thing to know about doing this is to only replace the breakers with the manufacturer’s approved replacement part. Also, take pictures and mark the wires with masking tape so you’ll be sure to put them back in exactly the same place on the new part as they were when they were removed from the old part.
Bonus Tip!

Many engines are equipped with a low oil shut off feature. This feature is designed to disable the engine when the oil level is too low to adequately lubricate the moving parts. If your engine won’t start or it starts and then stalls, check the oil level to make sure it is at the recommended level.

Share Your Thoughts! I’d love to hear from you if you found this article helpful in any way. Please take a brief minute and leave me a comment in the box below!

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