3500 Watt Generator failed during ice storm TO pull start.

Problem; How to charge 6000 watts of batteries during a storm outage. A generator is one solution to this. 3500 watts seems a good number to help charge it, run the furnace, and run appliances at the same time.

It seems ironic. This generator we purchased in 2018 that should have run during an Ice storm in February 2021. It failed to start and run when it was needed most. I used starter fluid on the air filter for pull starting it. All the wiring was in place to plug it into the home and power my home, including charging my furnace UPS battery solution.

All-power 3500 watt portable generator APG3001

The solution to fix most generators you can’t pull start is simple as well.

I didn’t know this ahead of time. And I found no YouTube videos about this.

  • Spraying starting fluid into the air filter = Failed, this usually works for most gas powered items I own.
  • Spraying starting fluid directly into the carburetor air intake (remove the air filter) = Worked

I didn’t believe the generator would run again without repairing the carburetor, or the spark coil or any number of other issues that YouTube videos covered. In fact the exhaust has rust already and this helped re-enforce my thoughts of ‘broken get rid of it’.

What I didn’t know before the storm; 4G and 5G LTE would not work. In fact no cellular worked. No Cable Internet. No power.

What did we have?

  • One old Small generator 1600 watt starting, 1000 running watts. Coleman Sport.
  • Water was running during the entire storm.
  • Natural Gas worked through the storm.
  • A small gas stove for camping used for cooking, and heating water for coffee/tea.

What didn’t work or did we not have during the storm?

  • No LTE 4G 5G. Or Cellular in the city where I live.
  • No gasoline available within 60 miles for the first 2 days of the ice storm.
  • No food, no meat for several days locally or within 60+ miles.
    • There may have been some, but we just lived off our fridge.
    • Don’t drive during ‘icy’ conditions
  • No hot water on our taps.
  • No electric stove
  • No electric oven

What got damaged, what did we loose during the storm?

  • All of the fridge food. = forced spring cleaning.
  • Tree’s and foliage.
  • Heat Pump fan, this was an unexpected 1300$ repair.
    • My Complaint; It’s just a fan motor.
    • Balancing argument; it’s designed for outdoor use, and to move a LOT of air for heating/cooling 5 tons of refrigerant. Sized for 3000 square foot home. Only for 2000 square foot and does a little bit for the basement currently.

What did the generator help save?

  • We were able to recharge our cell phones. 20 watts.
  • I was able to eventually recharge the furnace UPS after rewiring, after 2 days of 0% DoD, at 100 watts per hour.
  • I was able to run the furnace from the generator after rewiring the AC power to the furnace. @ 800 watts running, 200 watts charging batteries slowly.
  • We ran the freezer from the generator. 170 watts

What will happen with the all-power 3500 watt generator in the picture above?

  • It will no longer be primary use for the furnace.
  • I still have a todo to build a quiet box for it. It is simply too loud for the city.
  • I can use it to power my water heater. There is no sensitive electronics there.
    • I need an auto bypass 30 amp x 240 volt to do that.
    • I need a large 30 amp plug external accessible on the house to plug it in.

In the end I was glad we had a Coleman sport generator that worked, I didn’t have to drive to my dads to fix anything, and old dependable Coleman got us through the storm. Thank you Coleman! It’s not near end of life, it just runs rough, needs some TLC like a carburetor rebuild kit. It did get some new gas line since the one on it split. That may tell you how old it is. 1990’s I think.

Coleman Sport 1600 Watt Powermate – look in used in your area to find one. I saw used locally here in 2021 April 150-200$ But I can’t recommend it for sensitive electronics.

Our new A i-Power 2300 watt starting/ 1800 watt running Inverter Generator, runs quiet and very nice. Runs for 6-8 hours 25% load, 4 hours near max load. This was my wife’s ask. I had been looking for a better generator that I didn’t need to try to find a ‘power conditioner’ for.

i-Power 1800 watts running, 2300 watts starting gasoline powered. Cast iron cylinder for long life and durability. Powered by Yamaha Engine sold at Costco
We purchased this Costco brand in February 2021

Closest equivalents to this A i-Power generator;

Grounding your Generator? Is it necessary?

In short yes. We experienced a few ‘zaps’ while in the home and plugging in and unplugging equipment without grounding it.

Do you install generators?

Auto Transfer switches can be installed, and an emergency loads panel for powering through the outlets of your home. In most cases like me, you will use extension cords. Auto transfer switches using your existing house wiring has a big advantage, no extension cords running through the house to trip on. It’s dark inside, flashlights are used to get through out the home. Tripping can become a hazard. Running extension cords carelessly through a door or window can result in fires. And yes I have tripped inside on an extension cord.

What is important to power during a power outage?

  • Fridge with-in the first 4 hours
  • Freezer with-in the first 24 hours.
    • For Most people. no one item is really that important besides keeping food safe.
  • Internet phone, email and computer equipment – Router/Cable modem etc.
  • Charging batteries for emergency use (flashlights, cell phones, computers)
  • Medical equipment.
    • critical to life medical equipment varies per person.
  • Heating the home
    • This is a big deal for my family.
  • Boiling water – usually there are methods other than power to achieve this. Think Camping gear.
    • Having a small kettle that boils water from a Generator can be a big deal, for sane reasons as well.
  • Being able to work remotely.
  • Water pumps for those people who live in the country.

Does having and using the battery solution really work for me?

  • Charging the battery bank by day. = yes
  • Extra security afforded by silence at night. = yes

Disclaimer: All the links are affiliate links to items I have purchased with my own money. I have found these items to be reliable enough to work and can recommend them. In some cases you should consider extended warranties to cover for problems and broken equipment, most electronics come off assembly lines. Installation by a professional to keep you and your family safe is the only way to do this. If you are a DIY person and decide to install this yourself, you do so at your own risk to loss of life and limb to yourself, your family, potentially other families and will hold me and my family harmless. If you decide to purchase this equipment you agree to not hold me or my family financially responsible for any problems that arise.

eSpecialized's Blog

Bill Thompson

I am a mobile smartphone and embedded Linux engineer. I love to tinker with electronics and fly drones in spare time when not geeking out in a developers world!