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The Generator That Could – 2 Years Later

Chi-Com GeneratorAbout 2 years ago I wrote [1] about this little 1000 watt Chi-Com generator sold by various merchants including Northern Tool for from about $100 to $150.

I tested this generator and found it to be a superb bargain. It outputs its rated power and does so without making much noise. Several people questioned the longevity of the unit. Of course I didn’t have any answers, as the generator was then fairly new to the market.

A friend, Mike Hendrix, who lives full-time in a motorhome and journals his travels here. [2] He spends a good deal of each year “dry camping” (camping without utility hookup). Back when I wrote the first article, Mike bought one of these little generators.

Like most coaches, his motorhome is equipped with a large generator that can run all the appliances and the air conditioner on the rig. Running that generator for such things as lighting and recharging the coach’s battery is terribly inefficient so Mike bought one of these little generators to do that job. In a recent note he told me that he runs it from 6 to 8 hours a day (on a single gallon of fuel) every day that he dry camps.

I asked him how many hours he had on the little machine. He figured it up and the total came to right at 2000 hours! Still running strong and still no major problems.

Several other people have questioned the availability of spare parts for the little unit. Mike addressed that issue too. As stated in the manual, the generator is imported by Eastern Tools and Equipment [3]. Telephone 888 908 6200. Mike has always talked to the parts department lady Amy at 877 668 9151.

3375 bad capacitor [4]He’s had a few small things go wrong. The gas tank developed a vibration crack and started leaking (replaced free out of warranty). The rubber feet wore out (!). His latest problem was that the voltage regulating capacitor failed. The capacitor is illustrated at left.

Like all the other parts, this 14uF capacitor was in stock at Eastern Tool and was inexpensive at about $14.

It took a little while for the capacitor to arrive via UPS so in the meantime Mike visited a local HVAC supplier and got a 15uF motor run capacitor to sub in its place. The motor run capacitor is physically larger than the ETQ one so Mike just let it hang outside the housing. It is also electrically 1 uF larger so that caused his output voltage to rise to about 125 volts under load. No big deal but it does illustrate how the capacitor sets the regulated voltage in this type of generator.

3377 comparisonHe sent along this photo. I love it when a plan comes together.

In addition to the obvious capacitor hanging out, notice the excellent condition the generator is in. To be sure, part of that is the new gas tank but even the plastic looks clean and like-new.

My Generator

My little generator is not so pretty, though it has about half the hours of Mike’s. It sits outside on the non-screened front porch of my cabin, subject to all the weather and debris the wind can bring. Though it looks kinda shabby, it still starts after a couple of pulls and supplies full output. I use it to supply my “vital bus” (lights, computer, refrigeration, etc) for my cabin when I don’t want to start my big standby generator. Power’s getting more reliable up here in Green Cove as the utility does Right-of-Way work but we still have the power go off for days at a time.

So. The two big questions have been answered:

  1. Will it last: YES
  2. Are parts available: YES

When these generators go on sale around Christmas time, I pick up several and keep them on hand for summer sales at this little fishing resort that I live in. Campers show up and find that they suddenly can’t live without power :-) I’ve sold a bunch of ’em and have never had a complaint. Further testimony to their ruggedness.