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A few years ago, two of the many kind readers of this blog sent a substantial donation specifically for buying a generator. The money they sent was enough to purchase an inexpensive generator — or make a good start on saving for the compact Honda or Yamaha they knew was on my wish list. They gave me that option. My choice.

I decided to stash the donation and keep on saving for the Dream Generator. While it made me nervous not to have backup power, I figured that — not being particularly a Ms Fixit — I needed the reliability, portability, and ease of use of one of those famously sturdy Japanese models.

But there matters sat. What with one thing and another (read: home improvement projects and recent and upcoming medical expenses), I never managed to get very far building up that generator fund.

This week I was expecting a Christmas present from a longtime friend and blog supporter. But never, ever, not in a trillion years did I expect what the UPS man toted up my driveway this morning:


I’ve said many times that I’m blessed with the most wonderful blog readers and supporters. I’ve received lovely gifts and every manner of support — verbal, moral, financial, medical, and emotional — over the years. This is not the first gift that’s left me speechless. The two times I’ve had fundraisers, you guys have blasted the top off the thermometer graphic, and sometimes the individual contributions have stunned me. Sometimes they’ve been large beyond belief and sometimes smaller but from people I know could scarcely afford what they gave. You’ve surprised me with many other great and thoughtful gifts, from beautiful wool yarn to books to flannel sheets and warm winter clothing to prep supplies and gorgeous knives to homegrown herbs to cookies and dried apricots to art to a shining gold coin — more than I can name. I don’t always blog about the gifts I receive, but I can’t count the times you’ve surprised and dazzled me or simply gone out of your way to do good, welcome, always apropos things to keep me going.

But this … I’d given up hope of ever having this. When I saw that box in the UPS guy’s hands, I literally gasped. In fact, I had to open the box before I could believe there was actually a Honda generator inside (and exactly the model on my wish list, too). Maybe somebody had sent something else in their old generator box. But, nope. There it was.

A few minutes later furrydoc called and I was barely coherent. I apologized for babbling and explained why. (It also turns out she and her husband have the same generator, so there’s local help available if I get lost in the manual — though the manual so far seems very clear.)

I hope the kind donors of the original generator fund won’t mind if I spend their saved funds on accessories for the Honda. It can use a cover. And fuel of course. Spare parts and a tune-up kit. Maybe a wheeled cart, though at 46 pounds and with a sturdy handle this little machine isn’t hard to tote around.

Now … I’m going to resume reading the manual and return to being speechless.


  1. Desertrat
    Desertrat December 29, 2016 8:16 pm

    Best to use gasoline that doesn’t have alcohol. Fewer problems for motors that only see occasional use. After any use, shut off the fuel flow and run the motor until it’s dry. Sta-Bil or Sea Foam are useful fuel stabilizers.

  2. Mike
    Mike December 29, 2016 8:40 pm

    I have the same generator. They are the best. Quiet, run forever on a couple quarts of fuel, one hand start and clean dependable power. I always run it on the “eco” setting. It goes camping, hunting, and does standby for the freezer and refrigerator when the storms roll in. I have a big Onan with battery start and isolation panel on the service panel but the Honda is what I use most of the time. I’ve had mine for nearly ten years and no maintenance other than regular oil changes. Congratulations.

  3. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray December 30, 2016 1:09 am


    If I may suggest…..Amsoil sells “break-in oil” specifically designed to allow reciprocating engines to break in smoothly, and once broken in, switching to their regular automotive synthetic with anti-wear additives is the ticket. Amsoil is expensive but worth it. IIRC, Honda recommends oil changes every 25 hours of operation, I’ve gone to 40 occasionally with Amsoil and not been worried.

    Commander Zero at Notes From the Bunker ( posts on his EU2000 experiences. I heartily recommend using the hour meter he’s added to his. Not expensive ($24 at Amazon) and easy-peasy to hook up.

    Having extra air filters on hand is useful; so is learning how to drain the carb float bowl for storage (remove the side cover, there’s a screw on the bottom of the bowl and a handy factory-installed drain tube). Again, check the RV forums and/or search YouTube.

    Desert Rat is absolutely correct – non-ethanol gas is the way to go. Gas treatment – Stabil or PRI-G is very useful for gasoline stored long term, as are true NATO gas cans (expensive, but very much worth it, get extra spouts because nothing else will fit NATO cans. FYI, NATO can spout extensions are useful – a $2 galvanized 1/2″ press-on nipple and 16 inches of 5/8″ ID clear tubing, both from Lowe’s plumbing dept. – the spout by itself isn’t long enough to reach a lot of auto filler necks).

    I run my generators (a pair of EU2000s) every other month for 20 minutes under load using a small portable electric heater (1,000 watts) as the load. Many people have tested their generators frequently, only to discover when SHTF that the engine runs fine but it doesn’t produce electricity (several of the Honda EU3000s are electric start, meaning a battery, and some battery chargers will damage the inverter in the 3000; the 2000 is manual start only so no battery/charger issues, but still test it under load).

    Extension cords and multi-outlet strips or boxes. large gauge extension cords (smaller gauge number=larger wire, eg., 12 gauge (20 amp/2300 watt rating) is larger than 14 gauge (15 amp/1625 watt rating). FYI, watts=amps X volts, amps= watts / volts (Ohm’s law). I’ve gone with the Tripp Lite metal outklet strips for indoor use, made my own for outdoor (a pair of 4X4 electrical boxes screwed to a piece of 3/4 plywood, two duplex receptacles per box, one box with GFCI , one without, and with a 20 ft 10 gauge SO cord with a NEMA 5-15 plug) for outdoor use. It’s not possible to have too many large gauge extension cords.

    Longer run times can be had by adding a 4-6 gallon outboard motor tank, connected to the gas tank cap with a brass hose barb fitting; place the tank at the same height as the generator, and as fuel is consumed from the generator’s tank the vacuum will draw fuel in from the auxiliary tank (Old RVer’s trick; I can send (or post) pictures on modifying the gas cap with the hose barb – I’d recommend getting a spare gas cap to modify, they’re about $14, a brass hose barb fitting is about $2.50

    If you still have the funds set aside, pick up a spare EU2000i; “two is one, one is none” etc. and EU2000s can be coupled together to double the wattage output. Honda has a kit for about $250, or buy the double-ended connector cable from Amazon for about $45 and make your own for another $40 in electrical parts. RVers regularly couple a pair to get the wattage to run air conditioners, info is readily available on the RV forums.

  4. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 30, 2016 4:41 am

    Congratulations, Claire! Is there any way you can get aviation gas? Any small airports near you that might sell some to a non airplane owner? I’ve heard that’s far better for small engines than the corngas.

  5. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 5:59 am

    Thank you all for the advice. I’ve also gotten some tips from the giver and it tends to agree (a rare and welcome thing where advice is concerned).

    There’s a local source for non-ethanol gas and an airport within an hour’s drive that sells avgas (though whether a “civilian” could just stroll in and purchase it I don’t yet know). I’ve got heavy-duty outdoor power cords, Sta-bil, and a couple of gas cans. But alas, they’re the government-mandated kind where half the precious fuel splatters all over the ground, your clothes, and the neighborhood before a little finally dribbles into the gas tank; I need to get kits to make them work properly.

    I would love to have NATO gas cans and some of the other things Arthur Murray mentions. So I’ll be glad if the original contributors to the generator fund give me the okay to splurge it on accessories.

    I wasn’t aware of Amsoil or “break-in oil” but it’s also available locally.

    And testing under load! I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of that as a regular practice, but definitely one of the first things I plan to do, once the generator is oiled and fueled up, is see how well it can run the fridge, freezer, and other important items. Might even see if it’ll handle the chop saw and other shop tools.

  6. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 30, 2016 6:17 am

    Speaking of the stupid government approved gas cans… I think there are ways to get around at least some of the stupidity. The gentleman who mows my weeds in the spring doesn’t let it stop him. Setting the gas can on a bench above the mower, he takes off the convoluted spout thing, inserts a clear plastic tube and squeezes the hand bulb attached in the middle of the tube. The simple siphon flow fills the lawnmower tank in a jiffy without spilling a drop.

  7. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 6:39 am

    Amen, ML. I have one of those bulb-operated siphons (which I believe was another gift from a blog reader!) and there are aftermarket kits you can get to properly vent the cans so they work like the cans of old. I’ve never gotten around to buying those. I’ve also been following Joel’s ongoing gas can saga and learning from that.

    Because I can walk nearly everywhere I regularly need to go I haven’t lately put much emphasis on emergency gasoline storage. Now that I have this primo generator, I need to revisit fuel storage.

  8. Joel
    Joel December 30, 2016 6:50 am


    Don’t store it with gas in the tank or carb.

    And overall I really don’t recommend those gas cans I’ve been blogging about.

  9. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA December 30, 2016 6:55 am

    Good for you getting this. And these are some pretty knowledgeable folks on this blog. I got a very cheap hybrid gas/propane generator online several years ago, live in dread I will need to use it. I tried it once and never did run it to empty so gas in there has probably turned into goo, rendering it useless. Hiring an electrician when I got it to rework my electric panel so I could use it cost me multiples of the crummy generator, shocking ( not a pun). It is also cleverly placed in back of stuff in the garage, making it impossible to reach and need to be moved through probably a zillion cubic feet of somehow shoveled snow outside the garage to be plugged into the jack of the upgraded panel. We have never had a power loss from blizzard or hurricane since I installed it years ago, which is what I told my electrician the Fates would cause to happen. So, maybe it was worth the expense.

  10. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 6:56 am

    Definitely sweet, Joel!

    The manual agrees with you on storage questions — although it contains a chart explaining what needs to be done or not done for various lengths of storage time.

    And I do recall you critiquing the metal cans you got. But I’ve just been researching “real” NATO cans and holeeee cats! $80 apiece! (Where are those old Army surplus stores when you need ’em?)

  11. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 8:04 am

    Steve — I laugh, but at the same time your experience is very much what I feared for myself. One of many reasons I wanted the Honda was its portability, so I could pull it out every so often and test it. (I have no garage or other permanent spot for it to both live and operate.)

    I do think the idea of a generator wired into the house and ready to switch over quickly in a power outage is a great idea, but yep, prone to some of those not-so-little problems you mention. The goo factor and all.

    During my time in the desert, we relied heavily on a generator since for much of the time the horribly designed solar electric system functioned poorly. The generator was (thank heaven) key operated. We had to trek out into the snow to get it going, but it went reliably. Then for a while (don’t recall why) we had a pull-start generator and OMG; I couldn’t have gotten that thing going if life literally depended on it. The Honda is pull start, but everyone I’ve ever spoken with about it says it’s a very easy pull.

    And yep, people around here (and even moreso at the Cabal) are highly knowledgeable and glad to share their experience. Another blessing.

  12. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray December 30, 2016 8:25 am

    Claire, RE: Amsoil “break-in oil” – Amsoil used to recommend operating new engines (car, generator, whatever) with petroleum oil for break-in (IIRC, they recommended 8K miles for cars) before switching to Amsoil synthetic because Amsoil reduces friction so much break-in takes forever. Now they’ll be glad to sell you their break-in oil. Good stuff – I’ve used it – but much spendy. Given the cost of any Amsoil product (figure $8-9/quart retail) you can accomplish the same thing using a good petroleum oil (anything rated “SE” for cars, or diesel-rated) for the first 10-25 hours before switching to Amsoil automotive oil. The Amsoil is so “slippery” it’s not uncommon for older cars to suddenly start weeping a little oil if they’re switched to Amsoil late in life. Whatever you use, I’d do the first oil change at about 5 hours of use, and if you start with petroleum oil then switch to Amsoil, do the next change early (~15-20 hours) to get all the petroleum oil flushed out completely. Won’t hurt anything if a little is left in when you switch to Amsoil, but the higher percentage of Amsoil in the engine the better lubrication it’s getting.

    Don’t know if you want to spend this much, but you can get “dealer” status with an Amsoil distributor which knocks a couple bucks per quart off the price, but you have to order it in full 12-quart cases. Fortunately, the EU2000 uses only about 1/2 quart.

    RE: what you operate with the generator – it’ll handle 2K watts surge, 1600 constant. I’ve run my fridge, freezer and a 5K BTU window AC simultaneously, and I’ve had no problem running one heavy draw tool like a saw. Startup draw on electric motors – called “locked rotor current” – is usually 5-7 times running current draw; it’s that heavy startup draw that’s tough on both motors (fridge, freezer, saws, etc.) and on generators. Example: my fridge draws almost 1100 watts startup for 1.1 seconds, at 5 seconds it’s down to 250, at 30 seconds it’s settled in at 141. As long as you don’t try to start too much at one time you’ll be fine. That may mean staggering run times for some stuff. Very heavy draw stuff – my 8″ worm drive Skil circular saw is one example – work best if the “Eco throttle” feature on the generator is turned off so the generator is already running at high speed when the startup load hits.

    It helps to know what actual current draw is for appliances. My public library offers Kill-A-Watt measurement tools on free 2 week loans, just like a book, maybe yours does, too (IIRC about $19 at Amazon). The startup draw is visible for only a second.

    If you’re buying accessories, Honda makes a 12 volt charging cable for the EU2000 and EU3000 ($13 Amazon). It won’t take the place of a jumpstart, but it will charge the battery. And, farther down the “want list,” a plug-in, clamp-on floodlight is much handy (Amazon Gold Boxes the Solia 60 watt LED floodlights now and then ($41 reg, $33 GB deal) and beam clamps (Lowe’s electrical dept, they’re labeled “1/4″ clamps”) will bolt to the bracket on the floodlight and clamp to 1/2″ EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing, comes in 10 ft lengths for about $2.50). Put a cord on the floodlight, bolt the beam clamp to the bracket, and it’ll clamp to the EMT. Drive a 1/2″ – 5/8″ metal stake in the ground and slide the EMT over it. Presto – portable Dark Repellant.

  13. BillT
    BillT December 30, 2016 8:34 am

    An other thought on the gas, in addition to using stabil everytime. I cycle one of my four, five gallon gas cans through my truck every month so it never gets much more than four months old. Fortunately I can get both regular 87 octane and hi test non-alchohol gas so I never save Ethanol gas to use.

  14. Tahn
    Tahn December 30, 2016 9:25 am

    Now that you have emergency power and lights, don’t forget to rig up some “black out curtains” so you are not advertising to the world what you have, when the area goes dark and you are “shiny” bright.

  15. jed
    jed December 30, 2016 10:19 am

    Wow, that’s just too cool.

    In re. aviation gas, it’s likely not necessary to pay the price. Yes, the small airports will sell to “civilians”, as that’s what private pilots are, but your generator is probably designed to run 85 or 87 octane unleaded. Avgas might be leaded; I’m assuming these days there’s unleaded avgas, as well as leaded, but I’m not a pilot. But yeah, avoid the ethanol stuff if you can. I recall reading somewhere that the PRI-G is better than Sta-Bil, but perhaps there’s not enough difference to matter, particularly if other fuel maintanance procedures are followed.

    You can power part of your house without doing a transfer switch kit on your breaker panel, if you’re meticulous about it. Probably, some people will disagree with me here. #1 thing is to open the main breaker before connecting your generator. Use a heavy extension cord with a plug on each end, one end to the generator, and the other to a wall outlet. You’ll now be energizing one side of your electrical system. You’ll be limited by the 15 amp breaker on the branch circuit where you plug in the generator, but that’s OK, since that’s about 1700 watts, depending on your line voltage. It’s possible, though I doubt it in your case, that your refrigerator is on its own branch circuit. Downside is that, with the main breaker open, you won’t notice when the power comes back on, though there are possibilities for rigging something that’d do that job. I imagine the main objection to doing this is current flow in the outlet where you have the generator plugged in. I admit, I’m not certain whether that’s a significant heat/fire issue – I think not. But forgetting to open the main breaker, or unplug the generator, before closing the main, will be a problem.

    I’d be tempted to do a multi-fuel conversion, using the generator fund. That’d be in keeping with the spirit of that donation, and would have real utility.

  16. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA December 30, 2016 10:42 am

    “You can power part of your house without doing a transfer switch kit on your breaker panel, if you’re meticulous about it. Probably, some people will disagree with me here. #1 thing is to open the main breaker…”

    My electrician has a bumper sticker that says “electricity is not an amateur sport”. That’s me…take apart my flashlight, great, hook up a generator to panel…nada.

  17. jed
    jed December 30, 2016 10:57 am

    “Hold my beer and watch this!” 😀

  18. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 11:10 am

    Yes, the giver of the generator told me about this technique (with the breaker box and the two-plug cord). He says it can be a perfectly fine and sometimes highly useful thing to do as long as you know what you’re up to. He’s done it himself and really saved some neighbors’ bacon with the technique.

    He also called that type of power cord a “suicide cord.”

  19. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA December 30, 2016 1:32 pm


  20. jc2k
    jc2k December 30, 2016 4:23 pm

    I’ve never heard of airports restricting sales of ethanol free gas. Another good spot you can always get it is at marinas. is a good resource for finding local retailers.

  21. Claire
    Claire December 30, 2016 5:09 pm

    Thanks, jc2k — While I’m hazy on the details, the fuel at airports, avgas, isn’t just ethanol-free gasoline. (I’ll let the pilots here fill in the details.) looks like a good resource. In my case, I’m fortunate that there’s a known source for ethanol-free gas only a few miles from my house. I’ll be headed there with a gas can (albeit not an $80 NATO gas can!) tomorrow.

  22. Dan
    Dan December 31, 2016 1:42 pm

    Unless they’ve changed, there is no fuel shutoff to run the carb dry…BUT, a big +1 on the drain the bowl !!!
    And when you don’t, and that time will come, a little mouth-to-fill spout resuscitation is in order. Just use anything to insulate your lips from the plastic. A paper towel or napkin works fine. Just a couple of gentle puffs will do. You may need to run half way choked for a few minutes until it runs smoothly. I’ve gone over 5 minutes that way.
    That normal 1 or 2 pulls on the cord can go to 10 or 20 with no success when the carb gums up.
    Ask any Honda service tech who’s willing to talk what the #1 problem with these units is.

    ( I also have a 3000..It has a fuel shut off..go figure)

  23. Claire
    Claire December 31, 2016 2:33 pm

    Dan — Yuch. But thanks for the pointer.

  24. Ruth
    Ruth January 1, 2017 9:12 am

    I hate those damn spouts on the gas cans. I bought some big funnels and just take the spouts off completely and pour. Tthey’re a pain in the ass!

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