1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!

General or Briggs

Discussion in 'Generators/Gensets' started by Shimmy1, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. Shimmy1

    Shimmy1 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2014
    Messages:
    2,616
    Location:
    North Dakota
    Local municipality/fire department is going to have a backup generator installed this summer. I've been handling the bidding process, and up until yesterday was pretty confident we were going to get a Generac. Local electrician I have been bugging to give a bid finally called me yesterday to look the job over, 2 days before bid is due. Of course, he's going to be the black sheep and insist that if it's not a Briggs&Stratton, he's not interested. He had a couple of valid reasons for shunning the Generac, but I'm not really interested in sharing his concerns here. What I'd ask is does anyone have any real world experience with either brand, and any legitimate pros/cons of each? Price is not a factor at this point, just looking at things from a reliability/longevity standpoint. Thanks.
     
  2. bam1968

    bam1968 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2014
    Messages:
    275
    Occupation:
    Excavating Contractor
    Location:
    IA
    I have real world experience or expertise on the subject but just this morning I noticed a Generac generator sitting in front of our local (small town) fire dept. It must have showed up within the past couple of days. Is this just a coincidence or is the govt requiring fire departments to have backup generators?
     
  3. MarshallPowerGen

    MarshallPowerGen Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2017
    Messages:
    26
    Occupation:
    Field Service Tech
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    Approximately how many kW are you looking at? Diesel or NG/LP? Who's going to be doing the warranty work?

    Generac is still riding on a name more than anything, they cut corners and cost at every point possible. Even the couple of Master Techs of theirs I've met will roll their eyes and joke about how it's "job security".

    Briggs and Kohler are putting out far superior products overall, will take care of customer warranty issues, and have far better control systems.
     
  4. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2014
    Messages:
    696
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I have a Generac portable 4Kw generator that's 22 years old. I may be spoiled by Deere parts ordering and availability, I was NOT impressed by Generac when I needed a new ignition module through Generac distribution and their pricing. I had the original part number. It was obsolete and Generac's Factory support could NOT confirm the new part application. I had to take a guess and the risk that it would work.

    I expect gensets to be supported for many years since much of their use is only standby.
     
  5. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,632
    Location:
    Canada
    Generac was affiliated with Briggs & Stratton at one point. On another forum I used to frequent, there wasn't much good to say about Generac. I think parts support was one issue. Recently on this forum a member was having trouble getting parts for cat generator but don't remember if it was Generac.

    Did a search and found this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generac_Power_Systems
     
  6. Shimmy1

    Shimmy1 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2014
    Messages:
    2,616
    Location:
    North Dakota
    20 kW, LP fuel. Hopefully, since it will maybe only be needed about once per year, we won't need to worry about warranty.
     
  7. MarshallPowerGen

    MarshallPowerGen Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2017
    Messages:
    26
    Occupation:
    Field Service Tech
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    With air cooled especially, I'd say your guy is correct on wanting to go with Briggs.

    I brought up warranty because most of anything that's going to break will do it early on. They don't get any real run time on the assembly line, electricians usually don't have a setup to test run before the install, then they don't get any real run time unless they go through the actual start up process and are run in under load (which is required for warranty).

    Had units with almost no hours spit out crank seals, magnetos fail, brushes snap off and chew through the slip rings on the rotor, engines that didn't shut down for low oil and just burned up, mobile link just failing for no reason, control wiring bad from the factory, Evolution controllers failing in every way imaginable, etc. Those were all current model Generacs (sold and installed by other companies, we just did service and repair on them).

    Failure rate with the air cooled v-twin Briggs engines is right there with Honda; they pretty much just run forever if the oil is changed and valves adjusted.
     
  8. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    571
    Occupation:
    Mechanical designer
    Location:
    mid Michigan
    Our village has a diesel Generac to power our water system. It's a constant battle to keep it operating correctly.

    For the second or third time it won't "exercise" on it's own and it will not start automatically when the power goes out.

    OTOH, I put a 22kw automatic in at my mom's house, it's been perfect.

    Ed
     
  9. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,360
    Location:
    Grass Valley, Ca
    Air cooled is not appropriate for a fire house and I will tell the customer that if they ask me for it.
     
  10. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,084
    Location:
    IL. USA
    I had to Google OTOH !
    What mfr. was it that you installed ?
    I ask this because I am considering installing a standby unit at my house. I currently have a portable generator with a suicide cord, ready to use if needed. Never have used it yet for energizing my home.

    Why is that Birken Vogt ? Just curious.
     
  11. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    571
    Occupation:
    Mechanical designer
    Location:
    mid Michigan
    Generac.....with a whole house transfer switch.

    Myself and a friend (journeyman sparky) did the install. Generator, transfer switch and new 200 amp main panel.

    The inspector signed off and asked if we wanted a job.

    Ed
     
  12. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,360
    Location:
    Grass Valley, Ca
    Air cooled units are a relatively new concept. Running a lawn mower engine at 3600 RPM. Before they came on the scene everything was a radiator cooled tractor or truck engine at 1800 RPM. In the generator industry now it is a race to see who can out-cheap the other guy. So they came up with this air cooled thing.

    1.5 quarts of oil. Better stop and check it a couple times a day. Just think about those push rods and rocker arms going all day and night like that. They are toys.

    Not only is the hardware light duty, but all the controls and accessories on an air cooled unit are also "built to a price point." They are made for Joe Homeowner to have a generator who could not otherwise afford one. If it breaks down no big deal. Just some inconvenience to one family.

    A fire house is a different story. Breakdown there could have effects on the whole town. You want a machine that is not operating every single component at its maximum possible capability. Something in reserve.
     
    Tinkerer and MarshallPowerGen like this.
  13. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,360
    Location:
    Grass Valley, Ca
    To the OP. Specify a liquid cooled 1800 RPM genset that does not have a rubber timing belt. Those are reasonable specs to ask for. See where that gets you.
     
  14. MarshallPowerGen

    MarshallPowerGen Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2017
    Messages:
    26
    Occupation:
    Field Service Tech
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    I'll 110% go with Birken Vogt's recommendation; if you can step up to a 25kW+ liquid cooled 4 pole machine you'll be into something functional for emergency services. Not just a cheap homeowner product with no critical loads where the owner can run to a hotel if it fails during a late night outage.