Recently we were lucky enough to be sent a generator to have a look at. I’ve always wanted to have a look around one but have had little – ok, no, experience of owning or using one. So this review is written as a novice but for those of you perhaps thinking of buying one for the first time, I hope it proves helpful.
The generator is straight forward enough to use, and I’m sure no more complicated than any other. However, the most crucial thing to remember before you attempt to start it is OIL! It is supplied empty, for obvious reasons and the grade required is 10W30. Not a grade you’ll necessarily find on the shelf with the motor oils. We ended up buying online but am told that using motorcycle oil of the same grade is acceptable.
The other thing you’ll need to add is petrol – unleaded – and the tank will hold a little over two litres. This should last around 4 hours at maximum load.
If you are starting the generator for the first time, or if the fuel has run out, you will need to prime it, a few presses of the translucent bulb on the side will suffice and you will see when fuel is in the line.
If starting from cold a simple lever activates the choke. Open the valve on top of the filler cap, activate the stop switch on the front and turn the knob below the starting handle to on, pull the cord firmly and away you go.
Our first test was a power tool – my aging hammer drill rated at 500w. The drill powered up straight away and there was a slight increase in rev’s from the generator. Driving the drill, loaded with a half-inch bit into some stubborn masonry had no noticeable effect on the generator – but I did destroy the drill bit!
Now, this blog is mainly about caravanning so, it’s important to look at the generator from a caravanners point of view, and it’s possible uses.
On site recently we were able to test the generator to something around it’s rated capacity. Using a 13a-16a adaptor I hooked the generator up to our caravan’s electrical system via the hook up cable. First I switched on the on board battery charger, then added the fridge, and finally 500w of heat, giving the generator something around it’s maximum load to deal with. Again, the rev’s rose but this is normal. The economy mode reduces speed – and therefore fuel consumption and noise when the generator is operating at partial load. The output is ‘smooth enough’ to power more sensitive devices like laptops or TV’s without risk of damage.
So, is it any good? Well, as I said at the start I had no prior experience of using a ‘genny’ but found it easy to understand and operate. It seemed light and easy enough to carry with the inbuilt handle even with a full tank of fuel.
There is an 12v outlet and a lead with crocodile clips are provided, whoever if you going to charge leisure batteries with it – i.e, what you would find on a caravan, I would recommend using the on board charger plugged into the mains 230v socket via the caravan’s hook up cable. It’s specifically designed to deal with the charging requirements of a leisure battery.
So, uses. I can imagine a place for this on rallies, where it can be shared amongst caravanners. The 700w output would be sufficient to charge the batteries of two or three caravans at once when there is no electricity on site. Quiet it maybe but’s it’s not silent so where it’s used and for how long needs to be considered. Individually caravanners may prefer solar panels as a silent, more environmentally friendly option, but by their very nature they have their limitations. For the caravanner that must have everything this is an affordable option and portable enough to consider carrying around all the time.
Alternatives? Well, Honda generators are well regarded – and looking at the figures are quieter and lighter. However, they are also considerably more expensive – the 1000watt version comes in at around eight hundred quid. This model from Impax is currently on sale at £189.99 inc. V.A.T from Screwfix. Quite a difference!
The review model will certainly get some use. Where our caravan is stored there is no power, so the genny will certainly come in handy when we need to ‘power up’ the caravan for any reason or for using power tools.
So, overall, a great product at a very reasonable price. This was the 700w model, but higher output versions are available. Check them out on Screwfix here.
Want to the see the full specifications. Check out the instruction manual here.