Inverter generators for camping are convenient but can be a little confusing to operate if you’re a first-timer. Actually, even seasoned users encounter a bit of trouble occasionally too, as these units are quite technical.
However, you’ll be glad to know that most portable generator issues are actually solvable especially if you have basic knowledge of how to work with them. Below are some of the usual concerns surrounding these handy power sources and what to do with them:
New generator not starting
Recently bought your generator? Fill it up with petrol first then wait for at least 10 minutes before you start it. This will allow the petrol to flow in your carburettor. If it still fails to start, here are some steps you can try:
Ensure your tank is full.
Remove the fuel hose while the main fuel is switched on.
Drain the fuel from the hose.
Put the hose back into the carburettor and pull the cord 10-20 times. Wait for another 10 minutes before you try to start it.
Used generator not starting
If your old inverter generator is suddenly having problems starting up, you might want to check these:
- Oil level: If your oil is running low, this will lead to low compression and eventually make the engine hard to start.
- Fuel cap: If the gas cap is not venting correctly, it will make your fuel tank vapour lock, causing the engine to stop running. Test the gas cap by loosening it and starting the engine. If the engine continues to run, the fuel cap is not venting correctly. The fuel cap will need to be replaced to fix this problem.
- Fuel system: Drain the gas from the tank and inspect the fuel line for any cracks or damage. If the line looks cracked or worn, replace it. After replacing the line, add fresh fuel and try to start the engine.
- Carburettor: The carburettor regulates how air and fuel move through the engine. If it is dirty, this can cause poor engine performance or starting problems.
- Ignition coil: Any small engine has an ignition coil. It provides spark for the spark plug in generators so you need to make sure it's not defective.
Generator shuts down when the choke is off
Try holding on to the black switch beside the choke while turning it off. If the generator stays on while pressing that switch, there might be a problem with a spring that holds onto what is called the governor switch.
Generator revs up and down
It's normal for a generator to be louder in the beginning until it has been run-in. Keep it running—you can even plug in some appliances. Usually, run-in stages take around 3-4 tanks of fuel over a period of 25-30 hours. Make sure you also follow it with servicing afterwards.
No visible spark with the generator
There could be an issue with different parts of the spark system. Follow these 8 steps below to determine the problem:
- Disconnect the spark plug lead and clean the area around the spark plug to avoid getting debris in the combustion chamber when you remove the plug.
- Remove the spark plug using a spark plug socket.
- Note: If the plug is wet with fuel, report the issue to your provider.
- Clean light deposits from the plug with a wire brush and if possible spray-on plug cleaner.
- Inspect the spark plug for very stubborn deposits or for cracked porcelain or electrodes that have been burnt away. If any of these conditions exist, replace the spark plug.
- Check the spark plug gap and adjust as necessary. The nodes should not be touching, but should not be too far apart as well.
- Replace all parts and try starting the generator.
Constant starting then stopping
If this happens a lot, consider checking the ff:
- Oil and fuel are in their correct grade
- Servicing has been completed according to the user manual
- All filters are clean
- Fuel cap valve is not blocked—try loosening the cap while the unit is running to allow more air in
- Have the carburettor inspected by a technician
You'd be surprised to know that this generator issue is mostly caused by connections. Try removing the front panel and checking if all the connections at the back are plugged in tightly.
Blue/white smoke emission
Some smoke coming out from your generator is normal. Excessive blue/white smoke, on the other hand, can be caused by either overfilling of oil, incorrect oil grade, or operating the engine at greater than a 15-degree angle.
Faulty electric start
First, your electric generator is unlikely to start by remote or key when it's still warm. Let it cool down first before you try again. Another thing you can check is your battery's connection. You can do this by opening the two screws that hold the cover below the front control panel.
How Does An Inverter Generator Work?
Unlike a traditional generator where the power produced by the alternator is fed straight to the control panel, an inverter generator works differently. Basically, the AC power produced by the alternator is sent to a rectifier, which converts it to DC power. This DC power is then inverted back to AC power via the computer inside the unit before it is delivered to the control panel.
Inverter generators offer a much lower Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) than standard units, which means they are better for powering sensitive devices such as smartphones and televisions. This type of generator produces "clean" power and is mostly Pure Sine Wave with a THD limit of 1%, as compared to a conventional generator with 25% of THD.
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