Tips on using a generator
Tip 1: Never operate a generator in or too close to your house
Every year, people die from running their generators in their garage or too close to their house. You can’t run your generator in your garage, even with the door open. And you can’t run it under your eaves either. Yes, it’s a pain to move it away from the house and run longer extension cords. And yes, you’ll have to stand in the rain to refill the unit. But it’s better than burying your family.
Tip 2: Never “backfeed” power into your home
The Internet is filled with articles explaining how to “backfeed” power into your house with a “dual male-ended” extension cord. But that’s horrible advice and you shouldn’t follow it. Backfeeding is illegal—and for good reason. It can (and does) kill family members, neighbors and power company linemen every year. If you really want to get rid of all those extension cords, pony up the few hundred bucks for a transfer switch. Then pay an electrician to install it. That’s the only safe alternative to multiple extension cords.
Tip 3: Let the generator cool down before refilling
Generator fuel tanks are always on top of the engine so they can “gravity-feed” petrol to the carburetor or E.F.I. That setup can quickly turn into a disaster if you spill petrol when refueling a hot generator. Think about it—if you spill fresh petrol onto a hot engine and it ignites, you’ve got about 6 more litres of petrol sitting right above the fire. Talk about an inferno! It’s no wonder generators (and owners) go up in flames every year from that little mistake. Spilling is especially easy if you refill at night without a flashlight. We know you can go without power for a measly 15 minutes, so cool your heels while the sucker cools down.
Tip 4: Pour safely
Similar to Tip number 3, never put petrol into a generator that is running.
Tip 5: Run it on a level surface
Many small generators have “splash” lubrication systems with crankshaft “dippers” that scoop up oil and splash it onto moving parts. That system works well if the unit is on level ground. But if you park the generator on a slope (usually more than 10 degrees), the dippers can’t reach all the oil, and some engine parts run dry. That’s a recipe for catastrophic failure. So always place your generator on a level surface. If you don’t have a level spot, make one. That advice holds true even if you have a E.F.I system.
Tip 6: Keep enough motor oil and filters on hand to get you through an extended outage
Most new generators need their first oil change after just 20 hours. After that, you’ll have to dump the old stuff and refill every 50 or 60 hours. During extended outages, you can easily run your generator long enough to need an oil change. Stock up on the oil you need before the storm hits.
Tip 7: Limit cord length to prevent appliance damage
Generators can be noisy, so most users park them as far away from the house/caravan as possible. That’s OK as long as you use a heavy-duty, 15 amp, outdoor-rated extension cord. But even that type of cord has its limits. Never exceed a total length of 20 metres. from the generator to the appliance. The voltage drop on longer runs can cause premature appliance motor and compressor burnout.
Tip 8: Prevent theft
The only thing worse than the rumbling sound of a petrol engine outside your bedroom window is the sound of silence after someone steals your expensive generator. Combine security and electrical safety by digging a hole and sinking a grounding rod and an eye hook in cement for house use generators. Invest in a good solid padlock and chain for your caravan.
Tip 9: Running out of petrol can cost you
Some low-cost generators with economy voltage regulators will keep putting out power as the generator runs out of petrol. As the generator comes to a stop, the electrical load in your house/caravan can drain the residual magnetic “field” from the generator coils. Sure, it’ll start up once you refill it, but it won’t generate power. You’ll have to haul it into a repair shop and pay a pro to rezap the “field.” That can cost you. But good luck getting it serviced in the aftermath of a big storm. Instead, turn off the electrical load and shut down the generator before it runs out of fuel. Let it cool. Then refill it, restart it and connect the load.
Tip 10: Bad fuel can stop you in your tracks
Stale fuel is the No. 1 cause of starting problems on all petrol-powered small engines. Even with their E.F.I models, iTechworld recommends adding fuel stabilizer to the petrol to minimize fuel breakdown and varnish and gum buildup. But even that is no guarantee against future problems. So, iTechworld recommend emptying the fuel tank and running the carburetor/E.F.I dry (run the engine until it stalls). Read more about bad fuel HERE Read about generator servicing and maintenance HERE
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Petrol spoils extremely quickly in Australian conditions due to elements such as light exposure, ambient temperature and time. In the worst cases, petrol can spoil within 30 days. Using contaminated or spoilt fuel can seriously damage your inverter generator’s engine. The fuel gums up and clogs vital components. Even with EFI models such as the AU4i and Redback spoiled fuel can cause issues at critical parts needed in the operation of an inverter generator such as the fuel lines, fuel pump and fuel filter.
Your iTechworld generator can often sit idle in your garage or shed for months before a situation occurs where emergency power is needed. Quite often, it is when you need your generator the most that it will fail to start, and 90% of the time, this is caused by dirty fuel. To avoid such an event you should read the iTechworld inverter generator maintenance guide HERE.
Why does fuel go bad?
The first thing that usually happens to stored fuel is the lighter chemicals inside evaporate, leaving behind a heavier, less volatile product. Petrol is the perfect fuel for small engines because it vaporises easily to form a combustible mix with air. Unfortunately though, when it sits unused its more volatile components evaporate, leading to poor engine performance. There is no simple way to test how much punch your fuel has lost, but you may notice your iTechworld generator running harder or louder than usual.
The second cause of fuel spoilage is oxidation, some of the hydrocarbons in the petrol will react with the oxygen to produce new molecules and peroxides, none of which are ideal to have in your engine or fuel tank. When oxidation occurs, you can easily tell by the odour of the fuel, as it will have a strong sour smell, similar to varnish or paint thinner. It is also noticeable visually, if you pour some of the fuel into a glass container, you will see that the fuel has turned dark and you may also notice small solid gum particles floating inside. Never ever use oxidised fuel in your iTechworld generator as the gum can clog your fuel filter, create deposits all through the fuel system, block up the injectors and generally give poor all-round performance. Peroxides can attack rubber and metal, stripping away the liner on fuel lines and pumps and attacking rubber hoses. This process can sometimes take a few months although it will occur faster if UV light can get into the container.
Finally, there is the problem of contamination. Water, is the main culprit in this situation as it gets into stored fuel containers via condensation as temperatures fluctuate. If the gas is relatively fresh, there are fuel additives on the market that combine with the water in the tank or engine to make it combustible (Available at your local auto shop). Another issue that arises from water contamination is bacteria and algae growth, but this isn’t as common.
How to keep stored fuel fresh
Always store your fuel ONLY in clean containers with airtight caps. In Australia, we can store fuel in steel or plastic containers, although steel containers can rust eventually. Keep the container close to full, to minimise exposure to air, but do not completely fill, as the petrol will expand and contract with changes in temperature. This being the case, always try to store your fuel in a cool, dry area to reduce evaporation and oxidation. If you are planning on storing fuel for longer than 30 days, consider adding a fuel stabiliser additive to your jerry cans.
What to do with spoilt fuel?
There is no easy way to get rid of bad fuel, but that is no excuse to just dump it down the drain or on the spare block down the road. If you can’t use it, contact your local council to ask where you can dispose of it legally. Some people recommend using it for your lawnmower, but you risk running into the same problems there instead. You are better off budgeting approximately how much fuel is required for each task, so you don’t need to store any. Fuel is expensive, there is no point having money tied up in something that could spoil.
How to avoid spoilt fuel
- Only use fresh, clean petrol that is suitable for your generator (95 or 98 Octane).
- To slow deterioration, keep petrol in an Australian-certified fuel container. If storing for an extended period (more than 30 days), drain fuel tank and carburettor dry.
- If storing fuel in a container for longer than 30 days, use a fuel stabiliser additive.
- Follow all suggested generator maintenance schedules as specified in your AU4i/AU2i or Redback generator manual.
- Where possible, buy petrol from larger, busier service stations, as they are most likely to have fresh fuel.
- Contact your local council to dispose of old or dirty petrol, as they often have days when you can drop off old/dirty fuel, paints, thinners, used batteries etc to the local rubbish tip or recycling station.
If you have any questions or feedback, leave them in the comments below!
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Inverter Generator Operation
Running in period: The first maintenance we should do with any iTechworld inverter generator is to take the time to run it in. The same way you would with a car. To start the generator for the first time it is best to use the pull rope. There is a choke lever for the pull rope inside the Oil/ Service/ Air Filter access panel. Once it has started with the pull rope let the inverter generator run for 30 minutes. You can now use the key/remote start function for starting your inverter generator. Do not exceed 75% of the continuous rated output in Watts for the first 20 hours. After 20 hours, change the spark plug and oil. You can now fully load the inverter generator.
1. What grade of fuel should I use?
All iTechworld Inverter Generators run best with 95+ octane fuel. Turn the engine off and let it cool before refuelling. Never refuel while the engine is running.
2. Do I need to check the oil in a brand new inverter generator before starting it?
It is always a good idea to check the engine oil before starting your inverter generator. Some inverter generators may be shipped dry, some may have a small amount of oil that was used to perform a bench test on the unit. Running any engine on a dry oil tank will cause it to seize up and you will end up with a 30kg brick instead of an engine and it won’t be good for much besides a paperweight for the world’s largest desk. Checking and changing your oil should become a regular occurrence of your inverter generator maintenance.
3. Can I have my inverter generator installed in my house?
Yes. You can have inverter generators installed with inverter generator transfer switches if you plan on using it as a back-up power source in the case of a power outage. A licensed electrician should do the installation to make sure that the inverter generator is installed properly and up-to-code.
Back feeding electricity is extremely hazardous. Always trip your service disconnect at your outside meter box to prevent back feeding. If you do not have a service disconnect, you should contact an electrician to add one and the proper receptacle for hooking up a portable inverter generator. Do not plug your inverter generator into your home through a 240v outlet.
4. What type of extension cord should I use with my portable inverter generator?
For emergency power to appliances it is recommended to use a 15 amp. Outdoor extension cord.
5. Is it safe to operate my inverter generator indoors?
No. Engines using petrol produce a deadly gas called carbon monoxide. This gas is odourless and colourless, as well as deadly, so it is highly dangerous.
6. Can you supply inverter generators larger than 2000 watts?
Yes. We have larger inverter generators that run right up to 3600/4000 Watts. Check out our range HERE.
7. Can my inverter generator handle a load as soon as it is turned on?
No. You should have the inverter generator running before a load is applied. Similarly, you should not shut the inverter generator down while it is still pulling a load.
8. How long will my inverter generator run on a full tank of petrol?
This will vary greatly depending on your inverter generator, its capacity, the size of its fuel tank, and the size of the load you are placing on it.
Inverter Generator Troubleshooting
9. Why is my inverter generator having a hard time starting?
When your Inverter Generator has not been used for a long period of time, it may be hard to start. Begin your inverter generator troubleshooting by looking all around your inverter generator to see if it sustained any trauma or has any broken parts that need replacement. Problems with starting are usually because there is old petrol in the tank or fuel filter. The battery may also be flat. Other reasons for not starting are the spark plug needs changed or the fuel has gummed up in the carburetor. Some of our new models have E.F.I which make them much easier to start after long periods of being idle. Even with the E.F.I though fuel can still gum up in other parts of the inverter generator including the fuel filter, fuel bowl and fuel pump. We always recommend removing fuel before long periods of no use. If you have checked all these components and it still will not start, you will need to contact iTechworld.
10. What do I do about an engine that runs erratic?
Inverter Generator troubleshooting for an engine that runs erratically will often come back to the fuel filter. If replacing the fuel filter does not fix the problem, contact iTechworld.
11. What do I do if my inverter generator keeps shutting off?
Inverter generator troubleshooting for an engine that shuts off while running will usually start with checking the air filter. If this is not the culprit, it may be a clogged fuel filter, insufficient petrol, or your load may simply be too much for your inverter generator to handle. We see this issue mainly happening with low grade fuel such as 91 octane or with debris in the fuel.
12. Why is no power available if my motor is running?
First check the device you are trying to power. Plug it into a different source that you know to be running to check if the fault is there. This could also be caused by having poor fuel or a clog in the fuel lines. If your iTechworld inverter generator has a digital display on it, check what the voltage reading is to see if the inverter generator is creating power.
Inverter Generator Maintenance
13. How do I check my oil level?
Locate the dipstick and remove it. Identify the full mark on the dipstick and the oil line indicating the how full the oil tank is. If more oil is needed, fill to the indicated mark on the dipstick, but take care not to overfill. Change the oil per the service guide recommendation to avoid further inverter generator maintenance.
14. What kind of oil should I add to the engine?
All iTechworld 4-stroke inverter generators work best with fully synthetic high quality 10W-30 oil.
15. Should I turn on my inverter generator if I have not used it for a while?
Yes, this is one of the simplest preventive maintenance services you can do for your inverter generator. Running an inverter generator with a load occasionally is a good idea. Running it once a month will prevent petrol from producing a gum on the carburettor/E.F.I.
16. Do I need to remove the petrol before storing my inverter generator?
Yes, removing the petrol is always a good idea when storing your inverter generator for a prolonged period of time this will prevent the fuel from gumming up which can prevent the inverter generator from starting. It s also essential to remove the petrol if you plan on storing it inside. It is never advisable to store combustible materials inside your home.
17. Do I need to use a fuel stabilizer?
As mentioned above, it is not a good idea to store petrol in an inverter generator. If you are storing petrol in a jerry can for your inverter generator, however, a fuel stabilizer is a good idea. Remember; do not store petrol in a confined space such as a car or your house.
18. How do I change a fuel filter?
You will simply close the fuel tap, remove the clamps on either side of the filter and pull the old one off. Look through the filter to ensure you can see light shining through. If you cannot, it is time to replace it. To replace your fuel filter, just do the reverse process, but make sure to keep the inside of the filter clean. If your filter has an arrow on it, point it in the direction of the fuel flow.
19. How do I change old petrol?
Itechworld inverter generator units can simply be drained and primed with new fuel. However, iTechworld also recommend a more complete inverter generator service including replacement of old lines and filters along with a cleaning of the carburettor/E.F.I and fuel tank. A full service can be done by iTechworld for just $75.
20. How do I change the oil?
Regular inverter generator service involves changing the oil. A good tip is to run your inverter generator for a few minutes first to get the engine warm as this will help the oil and contaminants to drain easier. When you purchased your inverter generator from iTechworld you will would have received a screw on oil removing pipe that goes onto the sump. Alternatively if you have purchased an iTechworld service kit there is an oil removing syringe device included. Service kits available HERE.
21. How do I change the air filter?
Checking the air filter should be a regular part of your inverter generator maintenance checklist. When an air filter gets dirty and cannot draw the needed amount of clean air (or the engine must work too hard to do so), it is time to replace it. All iTechworld inverter generators have slide out air filters which are easy to change and clean.
22. How do I change the battery?
If your inverter generator troubleshooting process has lead you to the battery, you may be able to fix the problem with a simple cleaning. If you have corrosion on the connections of your battery, shut the engine off and use a solution of baking soda and water, along with a brush, to clean the contacts. It is not a bad idea to clean your contacts periodically as a part of your regular preventive maintenance. If they are clean and you inverter generator still will not start, you might need to replace the battery.
You can use a volt meter to troubleshoot your battery and see if it needs to be replaced. If you are in need of a new battery, be sure to contact iTechworld. To remove your battery:
- Using the provided screwdriver unscrew and remove the battery access panel.
- Find the white connector and unplug the connector by lifting up the locking tab.
- Push the black tab down and pull gently towards you to remove the strap securing the battery.
- Pass the strap through the cables and pull the battery out.
23. When should I change my spark plugs?
The first time you change your spark plug is after the run in period of 20 hours. After that it should be every 100 hours or once a year. You may also need to replace a sparkplug if it is worn and cracked.
With the provided screwdriver, remove the spark plug access panel.
Unplug the spark plug lead, may require some wriggling to remove as it can be tight.
- Using the provided spark plug removal tool, place onto the spark plug
- Using the provided screwdriver insert through a set of holes on the spark plug removal tool then push towards the handle of the generator to loosen the sparkplug. Once loosened by the tool, remove the screwdriver and loosen by hand.
- When reinstalling sparkplug, take care when screwing in the sparkplug with the provided tool by hand, to prevent cross threading, once the sparkplug is hand tight use the screwdriver to tighten by approximately 1/8th of a turn.
Clean the spark plug with a spark plug cleaner and a wire brush. If there are any persistent deposits or cracks in the porcelain, replace it.
24. How do I clean my carburettor/E.F.I?
Cleaning of a carburetor/E.F.I is a more complex procedure and should really be done by a mechanic or service agent. You will have to unhook the fuel line (and maybe even remove the fuel tank) to get it off, and a proper cleaning requires you to take apart the carburettor/E.F.I and use carburettor cleaner to clean the inside of it.
25. How do I add engine oil through the spark plug hole?
Take out the spark plug and pour about a teaspoon of oil down the hole. Replace the plug after pulling the recoil a few times to properly distribute the oil.
26. When do I need to put oil in the spark plug hole?
Again, this is a good idea if you will not be using your inverter generator for a prolonged period of time. Adding a little oil in the sparkplug hole will inhibit the formulation of rust, and save you from further inverter generator maintenance.
27. Where is the best place to store my inverter generator when I do not need it?
The ideal place to store your inverter generator is a place that is sheltered, dry, clean, and not near any sparks or flames. Remember to remove the fuel and oil the spark plug holes before storage.
28. Where can I get inverter generator maintenance parts?
Parts can be sourced from iTechworld. We have all inverter generator engine parts avaialble, contact us for further assistance. Warranty for your inverter generator is available exclusively through iTechworld.
29. Can you provide an inverter generator Maintenance Schedule?
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Inverter Generator Maintenance
The key to a long-lasting inverter generator is consistent maintenance that aligns with the recommendations in iTechworld’s operator manual. From general maintenance tips and guidelines to a helpful schedule for common procedures, the manual will serve as the best point of reference for commercial and personal users who wish to keep their inverter generator running efficiently for many years to come. Those new to iTechworld generators can follow a few specific tips in order to ensure long-term enjoyment of their inverter generator purchase.
Safey Disclaimer: Think before you act
Inverter generators aren’t just a safety risk while in operation. In fact, conducting maintenance exposes users to many of the same risks that would be faced while the equipment is
running. Before getting started with regularly scheduled maintenance, make sure that the
equipment has had time to cool down. Users should work only in a well ventilated
or outdoor environment, using a solid and level surface that guards against fuel spills or
equipment balance issues. Ensure that the engine is off and that spark plugs or other wires are disconnected, since this will prevent unwanted ignition that might cause very serious injury.
The key to a long lifespan is maintenance
Inverter generator maintenance keeps the equipment running at peak efficiency, which means that it uses fuel more sparingly and works for a longer period of time. Regular maintenance also ensures that the inverter generator runs more quietly than it would if key parts are neglected, which can be a significant boost especially if the inverter generator needs to run overnight or for multiple consecutive days. The best way to ensure a high level of efficiency and a low level of noise, is to simply follow the guidelines mentioned in the operator manual’s maintenance schedule. This schedule recommends certain types of maintenance based on the number of hours the generator has been in use, and is a great reference that will keep everything running smoothly until the generator is retired or replaced with another model. The maintenance schedule highlights the following key procedures
Engine Oil Change - iTechworld recommends checking the oil levels each time the inverter generator is used, with an oil change required after the first twenty hours of use and every six months after that. Oil is checked and changed by removing the oil/service/air filter access panel and unscrewing the oil filler cap, you can then check the oil dipstick to see the oil level. Typically iTechworld recommends SAE 10W30 oil. To change the oil screw the oil discharge pipe into the oil reservoir and tighten. Tilt you inverter generator forward and pour the oil into a suitable container. Using the oil container provided by iTechworld fill the inverter generator up with new oil.Air Filter - The air filter should also be checked prior to each inverter generator use. Equipment owners should clean the filter after 50 hours of use or every 3 months, whichever comes first. Cleaning can be performed with warm water and a mild detergent, like dish detergent or other typical soaps. Wash and then let dry thoroughly, dip the foam filter in clean engine oil and squeeze out all excess if there is too much oil left on the foam filter the inverter generator will "smoke". If the air filter shows signs of damage, it should be replaced with an new one instead.
Spark Plug - Spark plug adjustments should take place every 100 hours, or after six months of use. The spark plug requires full replacement once per year, or after 200 hours. As with the air filter, a spark plug that shows signs of significant damage should be removed and replaced with a brand new spark plug that fits the inverter generator, as this will ensure continued operation at the highest levels of efficiency. For full replacement, iTechworld recommends A7RTC or CR5HSB Spark plug with Gap 0.7 to 0.8 (0.028 to 0.032”), available from most auto electrical stores.
Spark Arrestor - The spark arrestor is designed to prevent the emission of flammable debris from your inverter generator. This is a critical part of the inverter generator, and by keeping it serviced and clean ensures both efficiency and safe operation. Because this part is located near the inverter generator’s muffler, that part should be allowed to cool down after any recent use before spark arrestor maintenance is performed. ITechworld recommends spark arrestor service and cleaning after every 20 hours of use, or every month, whichever comes first. Use a wire brush to free any carbon deposits from the surface of the spark arrestor, and inspect the part for damage. if required, replace the spark arrestor rather than cleaning off built-up carbon and dirt deposits.
Download the manual for the iTechworld 4.8KVA Inverter Generator HERE
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Mounting Flexible Solar Panels
As we sell more and more Flexible Solar Panels the obvious questions that comes from our customers is:
"How do we mount them?"
A lot of people simply cover the backside of them with sikaflex and whack them onto the roof. This is the quick and easy way to do it. Is this the best way though?
Lets have a look in detail at how solar works.
All solar panels operate best at around 25˚C. That is just the nature of the beast. for every one degree that a solar panel goes above or below that 25˚C mark it loses efficiency. This is called Temperature Coefficient. If you look at any solar manufacturer's data sheet you will see a term called "temperature coefficient Pmax". For example the temperature coefficient of an iTechworld Flexible solar panel is –0.48%. What this means is that for each degree over 25˚C the maximum power of the panel is reduced by 0.48%. Now 0.48% does not seem like a big number at all. We live in Australia though. Its exceptionally hot especially in summer as you all know. So if our new flexible Solar Panel got hot enough to be at 45˚C then it actually loses 10%. Incredible!
I had a customer come into the store and he advised that he used the iTechworld Amp Meter to test his solar panel amperage output. He wasn't impressed with what he seen, he then sprayed them with cold water with his garden hose and ABRACADABRA the amperage jumped up. Why? Because the water got the solar panels back closer to the 25˚C mark.
So when we go to mount flexible solar panels onto our roof we should take into consideration how hot a caravan or vehicle roof actually gets. If your roof gets up to 60˚C or 70˚C then you are losing close to 20% efficiency from your solar panel. That is a massive drop.
Talking to different people on a daily basis in the shop means I get to hear some amazing ideas and solutions for mounting these panels that will keep them cool. My favourite suggestion so far was to mount them on multi layered, vented poly carbonate sheets. You can buy this type of material from most large scale hardware stores (where they do sausage sizzles every Saturday and Sunday) cut it to shape, mount the flexible panel to it, then mount that to the roof. This will give you an air gap underneath the solar panel and keep it much cooler than mounting it directly to the vehicle roof. It also keeps the weight factor down as well. WIN WIN.
So my question is how have you mounted your flexible solar panels? Have you noticed any performance drop by having them mounted directly on the roof? Please leave some feed back in the comments section below.
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