15 Year Old Generac 20kW 1.5L Standby - Fix or Replace?

Generac, Guardian, Honeywell, Siemens, Centurion, Watchdog, Bryant, Olympian & Carrier Liquid Cooled Home Standby & Commercial generator troubleshooting and repair questions
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johhen
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I've got a ~15 year old Generac standby generator (model 0047240, serial 3915156) installed at our family home. It's probably been non-working for at least 5 years now, due to lack of maintenance. I was young when this generator was first installed, and now am assuming more of the home ownership tasks, but my mother believes it may never have been serviced beyond perhaps the first year.

We have two 200A panels, and my understanding is that the ATS only powers one of the two (leaving off the large appliances).

Two electricians we've called have said, without looking at it, that it is not worth investigating a repair as the motor is likely seized, and to instead replace (one is an authorized Generac service provider). The engineer in me hates this answer - that's a 20kW generator! A big piece of machinery, to just throw it away!? I realize now, perhaps a small engine mechanic is more appropriate for the task than calling electricians, who, since the wildfires and PSPSs starting, have been continually booked installing new systems, which I can imagine is a lot more straightforward!

I guess it is possible if it had never received its oil changes, that the motor has seized. I've gone out to it, and it has a fault light on, and is making a slight electrical hum, though I'm not at that property for the next month, and outside of a picture of the serial # plate, don't have any more evidence!

I'm curious as to thoughts on whether the above statement rings true to others, as well as some thoughts on my percieved alternatives.

1) Without knowing exactly, has anything significant changed in "home side" of the wiring for a standby generator in the past 15 year that would require more than just a "drop and replace"? With the existing LP line, and electrical wiring going out to the pad and existing generator, I had figured a new install would be a few hours (3-4?) + cost of the generator. We live in a cold climate (mid-7000', in the California Sierras) - would this impact what replacements would be suitable?


2) Is it possible (or easy) to replace with a portable generator? We've got UPS's on our modem/wifi/phone, and so I was thinking perhaps just getting the electrician to remove the old generator, and enable the pad to be a location for a portable, manual LP generator. I'd presume this would mean replacing (or supplementing?) the ATS to a manual switch, though I do not know for sure.

We live in an area susceptible to Public Safety Power Shutoffs, and occasional power outages due to winter storms, but really the model was overkill when initially installed. We have no AC, heating and hot water are LP burning (though the heating needs to run ~200W of circulating pumps when on), nearly all lights have been converted to LEDs, and we have no medical device needs. I'd imagine an 8kW unit would do fine.



Edit:
I am not trained in either small engines, nor high voltage systems, though I am familiar with a voltmeter, and general electrical safety and debugging. Happy to get a little dirty and dig in, if one thinks there might be hope. Just a little lost as to where to start!
grsthegreat
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im kind of with the other techs that think throwing $$$ at a 15 year old unit might be a waste of time and money. depends on what is wrong with it. maybe all it needs is a thorough look over, new fluids, plugs and battery...whos to say over an internet connection. Have any techs tried to even start it up? lots have changed in the 15 years since this liquid cooled was installed. one option is switching to an air cooled unit...alot cheaper. it doesnt look like you have a huge load, as you stated that major appliances and heat is propane also. and no AC. How many Square feet is house.

you can use the same transfer switch, but you need to add a charging circuit for a current generator. this usually entails adding a fuse block and running additional wires to generator. most installs are in pipe so this isnt usually any issue. How many hours on average do you lose power?

also, maybe a smaller generator may work. you need to run a load calc.

a portable generator is doable, but the auto transfer switch will not operate. ive seen people do away with the load sense circuit and simply use the handle to manually flip between standby and utility coils. it disconects utility during use so is 100% legal to do.
johhen
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Thankfully, the PSPS months don’t overlap with the winter months! Power outages is probably <50 hours a winter, outside of PSPS, and usually less than 8 hours.

But with PSPS we never know, and that’s more my concern. Being able to run the fridge for a few hours a day is the primary concern there - it’s usually warm enough still we don’t use heat. For personal electronics during PSPS, we could set up solar that’d meet our needs, but we aren’t going to run a fridge with that.


I agree with you, thinking of spending more than $500-1000 to fix this seems kinda crazy to me. And the liquid cooled, plus the age, adds a bit more effort and cost to do the “basics to try to get it moving”.

Figured:
change of fluids (oil, coolant)
New oil filter
New air filter
New plugs
New battery

The above id guesstimate puts me above $200 already for DIY (probably closer to 300 with a few tools). Though half of that is the battery. Could probably steal one from one of the cars for a few hours to troubleshoot.

And if the cylinders are seized, is using PB Breaker a reasonable thing to attempt here? Sadly, outside of this forum the only YouTube engine repairs I find are of portable generators.

And you are correct - the wiring to the generator is through a pipe. I’ll have to check the ATS more closely, but i don’t believe it has an externally accessible handle, and when I unscrewed the cover, I didn’t recall seeing one there either. I’m sure it’d be an easy job for an electrician to install a portable generator hookup there instead. And easy LP access already!

What’s the quality (THD) of the power coming out of these older generacs? That might motivate me a bit further towards another solution. If it isn’t suitable for modern electronics (which seem to generally be a bit more resilient than early 2000s electronics), then that might push me more to a new unit or portable.
johhen
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And to answer your earlier question: I do not believe any of the electricians had done anything beyond see a fault light, and hear it hasn’t been serviced in a long while.
Birken Vogt
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Put a battery on it and see what it does.
Biker Mike
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Pull the plugs. put or spray some oil in the cylinders. see if you can turn by hand to check if its froze up. If not change the oil and filter(oil/filter are cheap) install battery and turn motor over. if it turns over ok install new plugs and try again. It doesn't matter how old the propane is it doesn't go bad. I have a 13 year old generator and it still works fine. How many hours are on this?
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