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Mikey
August 8th, 2007, 02:25 PM
I and three friends of mine have the same basic model Guardians that we installed in July of 2004 during a bad Hurricane season in Florida. All four generators have displayed the same behavior with regards to battery charging. Three batteries have blown apart, and when the fourth guy checked his, it was very low on water. We believe they are being overcharged to the point of boiling off the electrolyte, creating pressurized hydrogen, and then blowing up (three of them literally blew themselves into many pieces). Too much of a coincidence to be a defective battery or the occasional defective charging circuit. Do these generators produce a constant trickle charge without a high voltage cutoff? If so, I'll disconnect the charging lead provided by Guardian and install a Battery Tender smart charger like I have for my motorcycle. I just thought I'd pass this observation along, as a pattern of blown apart batteries seems dangerous to all - especially service techs who may be the first ones to make a spark near the defunct battery.

Kelly Myers
August 8th, 2007, 04:02 PM
Well, we've installed thousands of these, and sold hundreds upon hundreds of batteries with generators that we've shipped out around the country.

If you all installed them all at the same time, I'm guessing you purchased the same batteries also.

Sounds like you have a battery defect, not a multiple generator defect. Not saying that it can't happen, but very unlikely that I've never seen a battery charger explode a battery, and you've had 4.

What brand battery? We used to use Interstate, but we switched to Deka because their half the price, but the same make.

DAVECAD2.0
August 9th, 2007, 07:01 AM
Kelly:
I know of two people who installed Grardian 15kw models in 2004/2005. They had the same thing happen. When I checked mine (after three years) I had to add just over 1/2 gallon of water! I was probably about three starts away from experiencing the same thing. These things trickel charge constantly. Mikeys' right. On a constant charge the electrolyte will boil off very quickly. The lower it goes the bigger the space for hydrogen/oxygen to collect. Under load (starting) the battery overheats, plates warp, touch, spark, CABOOM!
The charging systems on this vintage are extremly dangerous. Check the water level in the battery monthly!! These are not defective batteries. Defective batteries crack, dead short between cells, or the posts come loose. The don't explode! What I decribed above is the only thing that will cause a battery to explode.
PS. We all had different brands of batteries. Purchased at different places.

msqd628
August 16th, 2007, 12:53 PM
I too, after 1.5 years in service, found my battery significantly low on water. I added over a quart to my Interstate MT 26 to bring it up to the tabs.

What is the solution and does Generac or Kelly have any comments or suggestions?

Barring the explosion isn?t constantly (over) charging a battery detrimental to its health and overall service life?

Is it as simple as pulling the 5A fuse to disable the charging circuit and installing a battery minder as one of the writers suggested?

Pat242
August 25th, 2007, 04:22 PM
One more battery explodes!! Installed a 7,000 watt Guardian Plus in Oct. of 2005, last week, the battery exploded when the generator went into exercise mode. I really don't see how it is all atributable to defective batteries.

Kelly Myers
August 26th, 2007, 01:27 PM
I'm going to send a link to this thread to the generac engineers. I'm very curious to what they say about this. I'm not kidding you, we have NEVER had a battery "explode", and we deal with a very large quanity of generators.

If you guys can post up the model number of your battery, that would be great.

Pat242
August 29th, 2007, 06:12 PM
Thanks, I am curious as to what they think the problem is, and more importantly what the solution is. I don't know the model # of the battery. It was an Auto Craft Silver purchased at Advance Auto Store.

Thanks again
PS I just noticed that I stated in my previous post that the generator was installed in 2002. I have edited post to correct date of Oct 2005.

Bill Liedtke
October 17th, 2007, 05:23 PM
Kelly,

You talk to GENERAC Daily. I took the time to write in to them twice-a lot of time, regarding the exploding batteries and the batteries drying-up prematurely. They said they would answer both times and they have not. You said you would ask them for a response.

We know your experience does not include any instances that you are aware of. Fine, we believe you. However, unless their own techs and several of your forum members are thought to be liars, some have and I think it would be better for Generac to take the high road and respond, rather than just avoid answering and hope it goes away.

Can you get an answer from Generac for us or tell us they won't address it and they want us to just "go away"?

Bill

Kelly Myers
October 17th, 2007, 06:01 PM
I was simply told that if the batteries are checked on a 6 month inverval (it says that in the manual) that there should never be an issue.

I've purposely been having my techs check battery levels on all of our maint (3-5 per day) and we have yet to find one low enough where it would worry anybody.

Bill Liedtke
October 17th, 2007, 09:02 PM
Would they tell us if any of their models have a higher-than-optimum unloaded voltage? I have seen a lot of cheap chargers put out upwards of 16-18 volts w/o a load. Of course, when you hook them to a 12 volt battery the voltage reading drops to whatever the battery potential is and there is minimal current, but it is that high unloaded voltage that cooks batteries. Ideally, an excellent charger will roll off both the voltage AND the current as the battery comes up to optimum. It is my suspicion that just *possibly* some of their models may not have an optimal circuit. It is almost impossible to measure the voltage difference w/o the right load on the circuit and then the voltage will come down to the batteriy's potential. My battery checked 14.1 volts right before it exercised which is too high IMO.

Kelly Myers
October 17th, 2007, 10:30 PM
A car battery at 14.1 volts is the best thing to hope for from a trickle charger :D

All of my battery maintainers put out anywhere from 13.7V-14.2V. I just used a RMS Fluke on them.

I think the only problem with batteries is the lack of maintenance. I may be wrong, but that is my thinking.

Bill Liedtke
October 18th, 2007, 09:30 PM
Kelly,

You could be right. Some of the batteries were of the maintenance free variety like the one written up about in QST magazine. Not much you can do to them.

In cases like mine, I have a maintenance-free battery so about all I do to it is keep the terminals clean. The little felt washers and a light coat of grease and everything looks fine. I hope I get 4-5 years from it and I will be happy. Some others have not been so lucky I'm afraid for whatever reason.

It would still be great if Generac would respond -even if it is to say that they have reviewed the chronology of designs they have used over the years and find nothing that causes them any concern from a pure engineering standpoint and that today's models have the same basic circuit logic as the early models. That would at least be taking a stand behind their product. No response to someone who takes the time and interest to try to alert them seems rather insensitive toward the customer. Maybe it's me, but no response whatsoever either means we have a problem, but we do not want to talk about it with you OR we have no problem, but we choose to just blow you off and hope you'll go away. I prefer the latter, but would prefer a response even more! I'm done with it and I just hope no one else gets hurt.

Thanks for doing what you can Kelly.

Bill

p.s. lost power twice today- you just gotta love it!

Bobby V
November 14th, 2007, 05:58 PM
I too had my batery explode this last summer(2007). I got about a 2 years us use out of mine. I bought the battery from Advance auto parts here in Florida and during a weekly inspection of the generator I saw white chalk like substance around the base of the pad opened the lid and front to see my battery in several pieces, bought a new battery from Nissan service center and now I check the battery about once a month. Should we disconnect the trickle charger or what?

Bill Liedtke
November 16th, 2007, 02:12 PM
Generac refuses to directly answer this complaint Bobbie. I have written them twice since we have at least a dozen now that we know of. Clearly they have an issue they do not want to address. If I were an attorney, I would earn a fat commission off a class action suit. 12 batteries out of just this small forum tells me they have a problem that is way bigger than anyone could imagine. If anyone ever gets the entire "population" of generac owners notified and the question about batteries raised, they will be in deep yogurt. At one point I did not want to see something like this happen, but since they have refused to answer my question which I entered on their web site where these types of questions are appropriate, I will stir the pot gladly. Kelly is in denial- sorry Kelly, but this is your forum and you have too many instances to just keep telling us that YOU have never seen it happen.

The answer Bobbie to be safe is to keep an eye on fluid levels in your battery. If you have a maintenance-free battery, you can't do this. So, NEVER open your front panel w/o goggles over your eyes. If you don't mind spending the money, disconnect the internal charging system and externally hook up a Battery Tender (this is a brand name) to your battery and leave it on there. The Battery Tender is the only brand I trust and they are about $55
bucks. The internal Generac charger "cooks" the juice right out of your battery. If you are working on your unit and start it up with the panel open, you run an increased risk of explosion as the heat generated inside the battery during a start cycle is high enough to ignite trapped gases. Read the other posts here about the subject.

GMTech
November 19th, 2007, 07:00 AM
How do we go about disconnecting the built in charger?

Bill Liedtke
November 19th, 2007, 07:54 AM
First of all, I want to modify my comment above slightly. I said Kelly is in denial and that should be clarified-If Kelly has personal knowledge of let's say 10,000 units and he has never heard of a single one with a cooked/exploded battery, what is he to say? He has never personally had it happen around his lifetime (27 years young he is, but seen alot). But I do believe he is in denial or at least taking the "high road" as if truth be known, he likely has many of those units that wouldn't contact him if they did have a problem or the owner figured "I must be the only one-I should have bought a better battery".

This forum is his baby and there are too many here to be just a coincidence. I would like to see Ziller escalate the issue until we get a response from Generac about this. How many complaints have they had and after a review of any/all models do they believe there is a potential for a catastrophy? I personally know of a Generac elite dealer who has had two explode-one in his tech's face. Is this something that warrants no responce? Is denial too harsh a word? You pick one, I am not happy that Generac has ignored my two requests for information entered on their own website.

On to how to remove. I believe it may be as easy as removing a fuse, but as each unit is different, they must be done on a case by case basis, but on my 4390 it is a simple one-wire pull. Unfortuately, I gave my 4000 series manual away to someone on this forum who needed it more than I! I do have a service book on some of the 5000 series model and if you post your model, Kelly or I will be able to tell you which wire to lift. Your operator manual will also have a schematic in the back. If worse comes to worse, if you scan the schenatic and send it to me I can give you the correct method for your model. LikeI said, Kelly may say it is as simple as pulling the 5 amp fuse, but I don't have the benefit Kelly does of knowing all their models and their logic may repeat over and over in all models or may differ greatly. Kelly has the manuals and the wider knowledge of all models. I would have to look at your unit's schematic to trace back to where the charger circuit comes in. For units with two square modules like a 4390, the left module is the charger module and the right module is the Voltage regulator module. It's simple, but for me I need to see your schematic. IFYOU SEND ME YOURS VIA EMAIL I WILL ANSWER ALL REQUESTS TO: BillLiedtke@netscape.net Hope that helps.
You will then need a substitute to perform this fuction and be aware that performing a modification to a warranteed unit will void your warranty-so you are screwed if you do and *potentially* screwed if you don't even though the battery charging side really has nothing to do with damage to the unit. Worst case would be an improper mod would cause you battery to run low.

Bill

GMTech
November 20th, 2007, 07:20 AM
I have a model 5240 7KW that I installed last year .I checked the battery last night and it seems to be fine.No smell of acid boiling or any warm/hot wires to the battery.
TIA

Bill Liedtke
November 20th, 2007, 07:26 AM
Excellent. Keep an eye on the water level if your can be maintained. Obviously not all units exhibit the condition, but enough due to warrant caution.

Bill

Kelly Myers
November 20th, 2007, 02:34 PM
Hi, me checking in.

No bad batteries yet. We do service/maint on aprox 12 generators a day.

Bill Liedtke
November 21st, 2007, 08:48 AM
Bill,

I hope you don't mind me e-mailing you regarding a question on Generac Generator's battery issue.
I registered with the Ziller forum, however I couldn't post yet, and I didn't get a call back from Generac yet.

Anyhow, add me to the "Blown up battery" list, as today I witnessed a blown up battery as never before , on my Generac (15kW, model 4390) generator, originally installed in August 2005. Acid from the battery did quite a number on the unit interior
as well as the concrete base, not to mention battery parts in shreds inside the generator.

After cleaning the mess, I had a spare 12V battery which I hooked up and tried to restart the unit. However, every time
the unit would trip on "exerciser not set". Now, I'm hoping yourself or someone in the forum may have seen my situation
before and have some insight to why the unit may not start after the blown-up battery. All the fuses are O.K., and the starter
relay does pick-up after 10 seconds of standard start-up/exerciser set procedure, but the starter and cranking never take place.
I can smell the LP coming through, but no crank. Before fully going through all of the tests in the "Diagnostic Manual", I'm hoping you
may have any "obvious" suggestions that I may be overlooking.

Thanks in advance,
Best Regards
Marc Culig
Wilmington, North Carolina

P.S. Small world, I notice you are in Valparaiso, IN., as I grew up in Gary, graduated from Merrillville ('75), and Purdue (Lafayette - '80), and lived in
Valpo as recently as 1999. Even odder, like you, I started my MBA at Indiana University 20 years ago...but never finished due to a 3 month overseas
assignment (with GE) that lasted 18 years, and I worked as manager at U.S. Steel for 10 years.


Dear Marc, you will be told your battery is of inferior quality and you did not check it often enough. Oh, it's a maintenance-free battery and there is nothing you can do??? Well, there you go! Just be glad your face was not in front of it and thanks for writing. Goodbye!

You will hear nothing from Generac or anyone else- sorry.

Will your unit start in manual and run at all? I gave you the exerciser reset procedure, but not sure whether you can even start in manual. If it will start and run at all in manual, there is a great chance that you dodged a bullit. As for your personal problems, I suggest you just go away and do not bother us with you exploding batteries. It happens all the time- no big deal. Get ba life.

Kelly Myers
November 21st, 2007, 09:39 AM
condensed battery issues to one thread * Some items may look out of place.

If you're having comments about batterys exploding, please use this thread. Thanks

Bill Liedtke
November 21st, 2007, 10:38 AM
I spoke with a Generac customer service rep this morning. It is their opinion that in order to assist, they will need all the same information that they would need for any warranty type claim. Even if you believe your unit is out of warranty-and it very well may be- this information is very important to them getting a handle on what is happening:

Model # and Serial #
When bought and where?
Who installed?
What type battery? Is/was it maintenace free type (unable to open)
When did it occur? Explode or just fail?

This is needed to bring this forward. Please post here your responses as well as contact information where you can be reached either by phone or email.

Thx Bill Liedtke

mike_y
November 21st, 2007, 01:55 PM
In my unqualified and uninformed opinion, this sounds like a charging voltage regulator problem. I had much the same thing happen with a car battery. It didn't explode, but the electrolyte was almost gone from a couple of cells and, when I added distilled water, there was a lot of gassing. This was a 48-month battery in its 43rd month of service, but the car was still in warranty and the service manager found that the voltage regulator in the generator was bad, replaced the generator under warranty, and also convinced the distributor that they should replace my battery for free because the voltage regulator had destroyed the battery. Needless to say, I have been using that service manager's shop ever since.

Bill Liedtke
November 21st, 2007, 02:27 PM
Yes, in these cases the current may be regulated down to a trickle, but if the unloaded voltage differential compared to the battery is too high, this "cooking" can occur. Ideally, as a battery is charged to its full potential, the current should most certainly "roll off" to nearly nil, but the voltage at the source should also roll off to say 14.1 volts DC (just for arguments sake).

In some poorly designed charging systems which I am NOT saying is the case here, the unloaded output of the charger may be say 18VDC at 1amp (all hypothetical now just for simplicity). This difference allows for a more rapid charge. However, as the voltage of the battery reaches its nominal say 13.8 VDC, the charger should also be close to 13.8 VDC (slightly higher) with maybe .1 or .2 amps max. If the potential voltage stays at 18, you got problems. Of course, when you hook the charger up to the battery, the voltage of the circuit will fall to the battery's potential so you really don't know what the charger is trying to put out.

In a nutshell, I agree. This is one viable scenario.

Bill Liedtke
December 1st, 2007, 08:14 AM
Generac has asked for some specific information to be able to help with this issue. To date, I have nothing to take forward:confused: I guarantee that if it were to happen to me I would pursue it fully, but it has not as of this date. My own battery is mtce.-free, so not much I can do besides change changing methods.

Unless folks have specifics, I'm going to drop it on behalf of those who have offered info. I still would like to see Generac explain in lay terms, but with some specifics the thoery of how their charging systems should work. I.e. what is their aim to voltage to come out of their charger at what their circuit perceives as a fuilly charged battery and the minimal trickle current. That could put the issue to be all the way. Alas, they don't seem willing to even acknowledge our presence:mad:

RobertMIA
December 3rd, 2007, 09:28 PM
I installed my 04456 in September 2004. I now have to install my 4th battery due to the "exploding battery syndrome". I'm astonished to read that there are so many others in Florida who have had the same problem. My guess is that the warm, humid, Florida environment exacerbates the trickle charger's "cooking" of the battery. When battery #3 was installed, I had the unit checked by an "Elite" Generac dealer, and I was told that the charging system checked out OK. I specifically asked if Generac had issued a service bulletin regarding this issue. I was told no. On December 3rd, 2007 I discovered battery #3 exploded. I called Generac HQ and was told that there are no known issues with exploding batteries. The very sweet Customer Service Rep at Generac refered me to Kelly Myers and this blog. Certainly there must be a way individualy or collectively that Generac can be coerced to deal with this damaging and dangerous situation.

Bill Liedtke
December 3rd, 2007, 09:59 PM
Kelly,

Are you beginning to get convinced yet? You said you were going to discuss with Generac engineers. What was their response? If Generac has any interest in this issue whatsoever, they can certainly make contact with any of the posters here as well as their own elite dealers who have had the same experiences. Kelly, you have said that Generac monitors this forum. What is it going to take? Everytime I am ready to drop the issue, another victim emerges. If Generac does not come forward in any fashion that shows one ounce of interest in doing the right thing, I am going to see if an attorney can get their attention. Any attorney in the world would be all over this for free as class action suits are extremely lucrative for the law firms. Generac, by their failure to acknowledge us, has brought this attention right to their own doorstep. This is last call. I am serious as a heart attack about this.

Gman1
December 4th, 2007, 02:43 PM
As a gen tech with a bunch (over 200 I would guess) of the newer style air cooled machines, I have never seen a battery explode in one. However in the previous models (4109? the smooth top, front opening model) I have seen several. It was my opinion that the explosions were caused by mounting the battery inside the engine compartment. If the unit were to crank after or during a "charging cycle" the gas would have permeated the whole inside of the cabinet and could be exploded by the starter, the solenoid, or any other spark/ignition source. Any time a battery is charged, it emits explosive gases, if this gas is contained, the possibility of exploding is increased. The batteries in the newer units are not in the engine compartment like the older ones were, but they are right under all the controls. The old 8Kw's had the battery mounted in a vented compartment completely separate from the engine and controls. I have only seen one or two of them with exploded batteries, and have worked on hundreds of them. The battery exploding seemed to have started with the new battery charger, but also when they moved the battery out of an enclosed, vented box and into the cabinet. Just a thought.

Bill Liedtke
December 4th, 2007, 03:24 PM
Dear Gman1,

Thank you for your perspective. I have a 4390-3 and the battery is, as you say, in a seperate compartment which is vented and under as the controls-not in the engine compartment. I must say that if I follow you correctly, you have only seen one or two mounted there that have exploded. I'm not sure whether that makes me feel good or bad. I guess any batteries exploding is bad if it happens when you are working on it or facing it. Generac will not comment. I certainly don't know the answer, but the one guy has had 4 batteries go in 4 years. Some are reporting that the water is just being "cooked" out of the battery which leads me to believe the charger circuit is too "hot" for the battery. Some don't explode, but go dry and fail too quickly which suggest a different problem. Until Generac decides to acknowledge the issue, we are left to speculate. I have written them twice and talked to a service rep once about it and am damned if I am going to kiss their butts to get an answer they should be eager to provide in the interest of safety. They can no longer play dumb about the problem- they choose to ignore it and hope it goes away. It will not. Are you still installing Generac units? Do you have any contacts that can define the issue better as to which model are prone? Can they offer a solution? If your thoughts were correct, a time delay relay that would prevent the motor from cranking until a charge cycle had been completed 10 minutes might work. Kelly was going to speak to GENERAC, BUT WE STILL HAVE NO ANSWER. What are people with maintenance -free batteries supposed to do to keep their wqter level up? There is no way this should cook the battery to this degree. I'm putting a battery tender on mine and disconnecting the internal unit, but that's $50 we should not have to spend. Tell us what you do now and if you have any contacts that can help. Welcome to the board as a voice of experience who has seen the problem first hand.

Bill

Gman1
December 5th, 2007, 10:40 AM
Hi Bill, thanks for the welcome. I have not seen the problem in a unit like yours. It was the previous units that I noticed the problem with. They have the same battery charger that is used today. My thought was, is the gas exploding and causing the battery to explode or is the battery just exploding?

Bill Liedtke
December 5th, 2007, 12:47 PM
One issue- two different outcomes I believe. Issue being charging voltage too high. Not necessarily the current, but the potential between the charger and the actual battery voltage. I believe the voltage of the charging circuit is too much higher than the voltage of a fully charged battery. Boils the water out. Outcome#1 is battery just keeps losing water. Not too bad with battery caps, but mtce.-free batteries, you are screwed. Outcome #2 is that the gas ignites and explodes. Either issue is battery charging circuit is flawed. Best case is that you don't get hurt....you just discover a mess and it hurts your wallet. Worst case is you lose your hearing like the guy who took a generator to a remote island to power his ham radio gear. The generator battery exploded while he was looking at it and he has not regained his hearing yet. His eyesight has gotten better. Generac won't discuss. Can anyone guess why that may be? If they really believe they have no problem thay should just say so. We are looking for people with contacts that can help us get to the bottom of the issue so as an installer, your experiences are most interesting to hear and we thank you for your willingness to help us be heard.



Bill

kpdwpb
January 10th, 2008, 07:03 PM
We installed a 12Kw (Model 4456) this past summer. In early December, almost 6 months to the day installed, the battery exploded. When I took the battery in to the parts store the clerk, without any comment from me says, "Let me guess, it was in a Generac generator". He went on to say that his store alone sells 3-5 batteries each month for this, and has been over the last 12-16 months. This coincides with the fact that this was the period over which many have installed back-ups for post-Hurricane survival.

I would consider joining in on a class action suit, but consider it a measure of last resort. I'd like to hear others opinions, but I would like to recommend that as many of us with this issue submit an on-line complaint to the FTC-Consumer Protection. I did this several years ago with less than 2 dozen other local residents on a different product, and low and behold, the manufacturer got a visit from FTC investigators. Within 6 weeks, we received communication from the manufacturer regarding options available to us. None of them were complete give-aways on their part, but we got our issue addressed.

I'm submitting my complaint now, and would encourage as many others as possible to do the same. Let's see what happens. The URL for the FTC is; http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml

Best regards,
Kevin Dearden
West Palm Beach, FL

kpdwpb
January 10th, 2008, 07:30 PM
Here's how my on-line complaint to the FTC-Consumer Protection reads;

Success!
Complaint Accepted. Thank you for your input.


First Name: Kevin
Last Name: Dearden
Age Range: 50 - 59
Street Address:
City: West Palm Beach
State or Province: Florida
Country: UNITED STATES
Zip Code or Postal Code: 33412
E-Mail Address:
Home Phone:
Work Phone: Ext.
Subject of Your Complaint: Home
Name of Company You Are Complaining About: Generac Power Systems
Street Address: Hwy. 59 & Hillside Road
P.O. Box 8
City: Waukesha
State or Province: Wisconsin
Country: UNITED STATES
Zip Code or Postal Code: 53187
Company Web Site: www.guardiangenerators.com
How Did the Company Initially Contact You?: Unknown
Did You File a Dispute with the Credit Bureau?: N
Explain Your Problem: (Please limit your complaint to 2000 characters.): (Product Name: Guardian Model 4456 (12 Kw) Back-Up Home Generator) Back-up generator professionally installed summer of 2007. In December of 2007, the battery to start the unit exploded. Investigating this on the Internet, a Web forum sponsored by Ziller Electric, zillerelectric.com, identified well over a dozen other consumers with the same issue. This battery explosion can cause serious injury to any consumer near the unit when it occurs. Technicians at Ziller have stated they have made repeated attempts to get Generac to put out a position on this, but to no avail. Essentially, Generac is stating the issue doesn't exist. An investigation is warranted by the FTC, as this affects consumers with Generac back-up generators everywhere they're sold in the US. By not acknowledging the situation, Genearac is endagering the lives of consumers. When this occurred on my unit in December, I happened to be approximately 20 feet away from it, and the noise level outside the generator sound enclosure well exceeded 110 dB. Smoke exited the unit, and the units components had to be washed down with water/baking soda to neutralize the battery acid.

Bill Liedtke
January 12th, 2008, 05:50 PM
I believe the general thought (and it is only a thought because Generac doesn't want to be involved) is that battery gas is formed when the battery is over-charged or the potential of the charger has too high a voltage for a 12VDC battery. Gas builds up from the battery charge and then during a start cycle the heat from the strong demand on the battery creates enough heat to cause the gas to explode.

If someone in the know (like Generac) would enter the discussion we might save a serious injury. Generac seems more concerned with being sued.

Bill

rentsch
January 14th, 2008, 10:23 AM
I have replaced batteries on a 7kw Guarding Standby unit 3 times in a 3 year period. The last one went last month and I decided to do some checking. All of the batteries failed by cracked cases and the cells that did not crack were lacking electrolyte.

In checking the charger, I found that the charging current was about 2.5 amperes and it did not reduce to Trickle Charge as specified. This changeover should occur when the the Battery reaches the proper full charge voltage which is about 13.8 vdc when charging. I found the voltage keeps increasing to about 15 vdc and overcharges the battery due to a defect in the charger which is probably caused by a failed component. This condition is indicated by a gas like smell, rotten egg?, around the battery compartment vents.

The batteries may have exploded however all I noticed was a broken case and electrolye on the base of the Generator and the ground below it. This is a design failure and could be dangerous in some cases. This is especially true as the gas line and regulator are nearby and the electrolyte is splashed on those parts causing corrosion.

I removed the two wire output plug from the module and installed a Marine trickle charger for the time being. The charge current should not exceed 200 to 300 ma in this size of battery when in float charge.

Writing the Product Safety Commission is indeed warranted.

Bill Liedtke
January 14th, 2008, 02:58 PM
To all: RE: BATTERY EXPLOSIONS

Please contact the FTC if you have had a problem; whether it was an explosion or just a loss of electrolyte. The loss of electrolyte is the symptom of the disease. Some units seem more susceptable to this than others. I have written to Generac twice using their online form. In neither case did I even get a response-not even the form letter saying "thank you for your time". Needless to say, I was more than disappointed in this.

My next plea was to Kelly who moderates this forum. Kelly has no obligation to take on Generac on this issue. Kelly also stated that his company sells more units than anyone and he has never seen this happen. However, if you read his post earlier in this thread, he has said that he is going to take this issue up with the Generac engineers. It dies right there. There is no further comment from Kelly saying they are working on it, deny they have a problem, or refuse to comment. I, for one, would like to know what Generac said even if it was "go away" or "I'll get back to you" and then they never did. I would think the largest distributor would get a response or could demand one. The fact that Kelly has not wrapped this up tells me there is a known problem and they don't want to deal with the cost to fix it and would prefer Kelly (Ziller) stay out of it. I hate to say that, but I believe if Generac acknowledges the problem, they then CAN NOT ignore it. At this point, they can claim they know nothing of the issue, yet they "supposedly" monitor this forum.

If I were to send them a registered letter, that is probably their worst nightmare as they could then not claim ignorance of the problem. However, at this point I myself do not have this problem with my 4390-3 13KW unit. I would be reporting on behalf of others and have no serial numbers etc.

Last, I spoke on the phone with a "Katie" at Generac customer service who said she would pass-on the issue to engineering, but she said it would not go very far without specifics such as serial number, model, date installed, brand of battery, etc. This too rings somewhat of a stall tactic. I believe Generac could examine their whole philosophy of how their charging system is designed without these specifics. This is a small forum. If we have this many instances in a small forum like this, what is the chance that this problem is not HUGE?

I spoke with my local elite dealer in Michigan City, Indiana named Current Electric. I asked if they had ever had any instances of this problem and the owner told me that they had two. One was when a consumer called them to try to get a new battery as theirs was shot. The other instance the battery exploded while their technician was actually working on a unit. He was uninjured as he was off to the side. Battery acid in your eyes or on your face would not be a pretty sight. If I was an attorney or had one in my family, I would initiate a class action suit in a heartbeat based upon what we have here. If Generac would acknowledge the problem, I would probably be more amicable.

If you are nervous about this issue, I would do as this last person has done and disable the internal charger and hook up a battery tender brand (or similar quality) external charger which you will have to pay about $50 out-of-pocket to obtain. I would not relish messing with the battery in the unit. Certainly do NOT attempt this without eye protection and disconnect the unit from any power source for a 1/2 hour at least prior to even touching the battery. If someone who has particulars is willing to send a registered letter to Generac engineering, you would then have a case. Hopefully, someone has enough information and is angry enough to not let this die. I really don't want to read about someone who got hurt like was in the QST ham radio magazine last fall. I would be more than willing to reimburse any of you for your trouble. Good luck and be safe-

Bill Liedtke

kpdwpb
January 14th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Good recommendation on submitting a complaint to the Consumer Protection Agency, which I just did, but recognizing that there's seemingly a lot of politics going on within the agency, I think it's prudent to take Bill's recommendation and disable the units trickle charger and to install an external charger.

Bill; can you provide me instructions, or recommendations on who I can get them from, on how to properly disable the trickle charger?

Thanks everyone
Kevin

Bill Liedtke
January 15th, 2008, 09:48 AM
Thank you all on behalf of the rest of us if you submitted a FTC complaint. You may nave saved someone's eye sight, hearing, or in the case of a super-model, their career! Seriously, you did a good thing.

AS far as disabling the charger, it may be as simple as removing the 5 amp fuse from the holder on the main programming panel and then hooking up your own trickle charger to your battery and plug it into the external 110V outlet on the side of the unit. However, I am just a guy like you all trying to make my way in this world without paying every idiot for shoddy, over-priced repairs. I don't claim to be, nor am I a generator tech. I'm a 53 year old geek who has been a ham radio operator since age 8, avid car buff and restorer (ergo, the preference for trickle chargers) and a plant manager for a steel company so I am not afraid to tackle most any repair and I read a LOT of whatever I can get my hand on. I recently replaced my stator on my 4390 when a Generac "Elite dealer" did not want to "work in a customer's garden" and wanted $1600 to repair my in-warranty Generac so I had to do it myself using generac parts, Kelly's knowledge, and two part Saturdays. I gave my repair manual to the next guy who had a dead 4390 and so on and so on.

Repair manuals are on line. If you can't decipher them I will for you gladly. I will not give advice on a specific unit until I look at your schematic. If I tell you to do something, I want to know you are better off for it and not worse off! I also want you to know that working on your own unit may void your warranty if you still have one or care. If it can be done pulling the fuse and plugging in a trickle charger is pretty easy and clean if that will work. Do not do it until I look at your unit, but I think that is what the 5 amp fuse is for. Remember, I only have a 4390-3 of my own and a new 16kw unit I installed for my next-door neighbor last month. I think he has a 5243 or something close.

Harbor freight tools and others sell trickle chargers for as little as $8 plus shipping. I trust them, but don't tout them. If money is not an object, I will always use the unit called "Battery Tender" which is more like $50, but is rugged and time proven on classic cars left in storage for years with no adverse effects.

Shoot me your model number and I will research tonight as well as look again at my own unit and battery. I have a sealed battery so it is difficult to know the internal condition. I would always call Generac customer service first and give them a chance to rectify, but I don't know of any batteries personally replaced by them. You can try. Kelly can tell you off the top of his head the answers to a lot of these questions, but he has to maintain that fine line with Generac and can not go out and take a stance without a great deal of possible repercussions. I feel "ok" asking him to speak to Generac on our behalf, but beyond that I don't think we can ask him to put a relationship on the line. Due to the severe nature of the injury that could occur, I would hope Generac would say cost-be-damned and do whatever the next right thing is.

Bill Liedtke

Kelly Myers
January 15th, 2008, 11:16 AM
The fact that Kelly has not wrapped this up tells me there is a known problem and they don't want to deal with the cost to fix it and would prefer Kelly (Ziller) stay out of it. I hate to say that, but I believe if Generac acknowledges the problem, they then CAN NOT ignore it. At this point, they can claim they know nothing of the issue, yet they "supposedly" monitor this forum.
Bill Liedtke

Please don't put words into my mouth. We continue to install 2 generators a day, as well as shipping out hundreds of generators across the nation each day.. I have yet to receive a phone call from a customer of mine stating that the generator we installed/sold them has experienced this issue. Since I have yet to investigate this happening, I can't give my .02 on it.. Obviously there seems to be an issue, but for some reason I've yet to have one of our products experience this.

Not sure what more you want me to do, according to server logs, generac frequents this forum around 30 times a day. So I'm sure they know about it.

If I have a battery charge issue with one of the many thousands of generators I have sold or installed, I will investigate. Until then, I can't go off 2nd hand information and badger generac about it.

Bill Liedtke
January 15th, 2008, 12:15 PM
Kelly,

I do not believe I put words in your mouth. I think if you review my posts, I have always taken the "high road" as far as you are concerned personally or your company. I have said "Kelly has no obligation to this forum, Kelly does not have to talk to Generac for us, etc". If I put words in anyone's mouth it is Generac's- not yours. I take that very seriously and would like you to tell me where I spoke for YOU Kelly.

You volunteered way back in post #6 to take this to the engineers at Generac. Did you? If you did, what was their response? That is what more we would like you to do "at this point". Finish what you volunteered to start and tell us what Generac said or why they won't deal with these people.

I, speaking only for myself, really don't want to hear again that Ziller has sold 2000 units or 2 million units and never seen this problem. How is this relevant? The fact is that this is a small forum yet there are many, many instances stated here of this happening. Even a Generac Elite dealer had it happen to his employee while working on one of their customer's units. The fact that you have not seen it at Ziller means what? That it never happened? (Now I am putting words in your mouth). This is your forum Kelly. You started it and it's your baby. I assume you did it for some reason and my *guess* is that this is not what you had in mind. Well, sorry. Whether you intend to or not you are coming across like you too are in denial. If you want to help these folks, get them someone at Generac who will address their issues or the FTC will do it for them. There are incidents here of people measuring highly excessive current when their charger should be in "trickle mode". Generac should put someone in a car and go look into it. That's what companies do that don't want bad P/R. Either help fix the problem or become part of the problem. If you feel you have done everything you can possibly do then I respectfully suggest you not post here anymore (in this thread). That's just my opinion as your posting, but not helping, will not help you or Ziller. Just my
.02

I think it would be better if Generac helps these folks one by one until they decide what is at work here and then decide if a fix is warranted or a recall, or what. They have experienced tremendous growth and profitability. They know their outside service group is severely lacking in many areas. They need to slow down and make sure they are not creating problems in their haste to solve problems.

Bill Liedtke

Kelly Myers
January 15th, 2008, 01:02 PM
I started this forum to help out people with tech support. This is obvious a technical issue that should be addressed, and you're reaching generac by having your posts here.

Since I have not experienced this problem, I cannot go any further. Theres certain things that I would do on a damaged generator to find out what caused it. If and when I experience a failed battery charger, I will pursue it with generac. You should probably pressure your elite dealer into contacting generac, instead of me, especially since one of their technicians was almost injured. They were on site, they can figure out what happened, and they can give first hand info to generac.

Please do not include me in your other posts about this subject, as I cannot do anything more. I'm not in denial of anything, and if we experience a blown up battery, I will personally call you with the information I find.

Saying that I'm in denial is pushing it, especially when I know how my company functions. Any other derogatory remarks about us will net this complete thread being deleted.

Thanks.

Bill Liedtke
January 16th, 2008, 12:49 PM
Deleting this thread is like saying you are taking your toys and leaving. Nothing derogatory has been said about your company. I asked you before to tell me where I am putting words in your mouth and you could not. I similarly want to know what I have said derogatory about your employer?

I said that will all due respect that maybe you should not say any more about this thread given your position and that's fine. We see that we need to go another way and we will. Is that sufficient? I did not tie your company to this forum, you did. You did not have to link their name with this forum. You did it that way for a reason and we can figure that out. You will not be mentioned again. I told you that before. Fell free to PM me and we can discuss on the phone if you like, but nothing derogatory has been said about you or your company. It just isn't going the way you anticipated and I'm sure your company doesn't like it.

Bill Liedtke

kpdwpb
January 16th, 2008, 07:44 PM
On Monday evening, 14 January, at the recommendation of one of the forum posters, I submitted an on-line complaint to the Product Safety Commission, I received an e-mail and phone message back from one of their field personnel here in Florida (Orlando, specifically). Below is the wording from his e-mail to me, and I encourage the handful of Florida owners who have experienced this to get on-line and submit one of their own complaints.

From his e-mail;

Thanks for notifying us about this problem.

I have been asked to document all the product and circumstances regarding the battery explosion.

Please keep all receipts and any evidence that might help document this problem.

I will make arrangements to come and photograph the battery, the trickle generator and take some voltage readings.


It feels like we're making some headway on this, everyone. Let's not get short with each other, when we share a common purpose, and that is to cure a potential safety issue on a product which is becoming more and more common place throughout the States. We're on the same side, let's not get polarized at this point, please.

Bill Liedtke
January 16th, 2008, 10:09 PM
I could not agree more. Your points are all well made. I hope that you do not feel I over-stepped the line of reasonableness (is that a word!?) I personally have not experienced the problem with my generator and have stated that from early on. My purpose here is two fold: to hopefully prevent anyone from getting hurt or injured. My nightmare is that it would come to my attention somehow that someone got hurt or lost their eyesight and I would know that I failed to act. Secondly, I believe I can help some people to hook up an external trickle charged should they want to. I am not telling anyone to do this as it is each person's individual decision, but should they want to I will try to help them. I have no dog in this fight so to speak. Our common goal is and should be to solve the problem. I personally believe it would be easier with Generac's assistance, but that has not come forth to this point. Therefore, I believe we are trying to act responsibly and professionally.

I once stated that if Generac ever went public I would buy their stock as I believe they have a terrific product. Not a perfect product, but the best I have ever seen and I hope we can resolve this together.

Bill Liedtke
January 17th, 2008, 12:42 PM
To disable the internal battery charger, I am amending my recommendations. I looked on my schematic and my charge voltage goes through the larger 15 amp fuse. On the 4390 and likely others, there are two aluminum "boxes" or square devices mounted near the control board. One is the voltage regulator and the other is the battery charger. On my unit, the silver-gray device that's about 3" square on the left is the battery charger controller and the one on the right with like 5 connections all in a row and a red led is the voltage regulator. I would pull the output wire from the charger module. On my unit it is terminal one on the output side. Leave the fuses in. Then connect a battery tender or alternate charger of some kind. Best to look at your owners manual and see the wire number that exits the charger module and goes to the battery. On my unit, the wire number is #13. Since there are more owners manuals listed, try to follow the owners manual schematic. It appears this is the best way on the 4390.

Wait a good 1/2 hour and make sure you are not close to the exercise time. Best to throw the main breaker in the unit. You will have to open the top panel. Throw the breaker to "off" which will make sure the unit does not try to come on should you lose city power at the same time you are doing this. go to: http://www.pacificbattery.com/charger.html there are many others who sell the battery tender. I prefer the 49 dollar one. It is a great charger to have around and will never cook your unit. It will also not start yourcar on a 10 below day. It's a full time trickle charger, but drops when it senses it can. Use this charger full time and plug it in to a full time 110v outlet. I believe the one on the side of my unit is always "hot" even under generator back-up. You are done and can forget about ever cooking your battery again.

Like I said, they make very cheap units, but I can not speak to their effectiveness. They put out a trickle charge, but may not have much "smart circuitry". Using one should not be a big deal. You have to decide for yourself if you want to do this. I can't recommend or advise you what to do with your unit. If you don't have an issue then why do it. My only question is whether a sealed battery will reveal it's condition to you. Can you really see the electrolyte level? I, for one, will do the mod. I also advise that you keep the charger dry. Put it inside the unit. Wherever it will fit and stay dry and clean. You may then forget about your battery until you are doing normal mtce. such as filter/oil changes, terminal cleaning, leaf removal, whatever. You should feel safe, but have likely just voided your warranty. At least it is simple to reverse. If you have questions, shoot me an email and I will try to answer. I, in no way, can say for sure whether Generac has a dangerous situation. Each of you should read the posts carefully and decide what your risks are. Some feel there is no problem, some feel it is due to a component failure, and some feel it is a bad design. I have no proof of any of these being absolutely true. Proceed at your own risk.

Bill Liedtke
BillLiedtke@netscape.net

RobertMIA
January 18th, 2008, 12:56 AM
I too filed a complaint with the FTC on January 18, 2008. I look forward to hearing from them and hope that the FTC will take action to force Guardian to address and correct this situation.

kpdwpb
January 18th, 2008, 05:52 PM
Hi, Robert. Since I have gained the interest from an investigator with the Product Safety Commision stationed in Orlando (see thread 43) it would be benefical for you to submit an on-line complaint to them as well. Here's the link, http://www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. Icon for "Report an Unsafe Product", and then, "For consumers: report an injury, death, or unsafe product to us"

He's scheduling a visit next week to see my unit, the exploded battery, and other material (manuals, receipts, etc).

Kevin

Bill Liedtke
January 19th, 2008, 09:37 AM
Kevin, give him a copy of this thread so he can see the magnitude we are talking about.

kpdwpb
January 20th, 2008, 10:27 AM
Not sure I know what you mean by "give him a copy of this thread", Bill. Robert's first posting was thread #26, so he's able to see all of these threads, right? I am a novice at this, so it's very likely that I could be missing something. Thanks.

Kevin

Bill Liedtke
January 20th, 2008, 10:52 AM
I was referring to giving your rep. from FTC a copy of this thread all the way back to thread #1 where I believe 3 different guys who all knew each other had separate, but similar issues just so the rep. can see: A) how large an issue is this? B) What steps have been done to rectify on our own. C) The fact that a Generac Elite rep reported this issue happening twice to his own techs. Once, the battery exploded while a tech was working on the unit. The owner of the firm said that he mentioned it to a Generac engineer at one of their many get-togethers where they get training, etc. The engineer said he would "look into it". The Elite rep said he never heard another word about it.

This is second hand knowledge to me. If they are interested they (the FTC) could contact these people directly. Need to keep in mind that all GENERAC dealers make money selling and installing units. Servicing units is another matter and is not profitable for most installers, but comes with the territory. If they want to sell, the must service, but that does not mean they like it, are good at it, or make as much money as they would doing new work. Some dealers will stay on top of the training and will always be responsible. Many are less so. There are also a ton of nightmares in here about botched service calls, mis-diagnosis, and worse. These folks are not eager to upset Generac who I think really tries to make it right, but are somewhat at the mercy of a rather mediocre service group. The Zillers of this world are not the rule, but more the exception in that they sell enough units that they must do good service and economies of scale helps greatly. However, how far (in miles) would you send a service man to service a $4K unit sold in say...Arizona from a Northern state? At some point, another tech might have to be their eyes, ears, and fingers. The phone has to substitute for being there.

kpdwpb
January 27th, 2008, 03:21 PM
Just an update on the investigation into this by the CPSC. An investigator from Orlando stopped by my home on Friday, 25 January 2008. He reviewed all documentation (receipts, manuals, etc) this website, and obviously the unit itself. He spent about an hour and a half taking copius notes & photos as we spoke. He was returning to Orlando to begin writing an investigation report which he will copy me on when it is released.

This is not the Fedral Trade Commission, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency in Bethesda, Md., with branch offices in each state. Especially for those in Florida, the more on-line complaints they receive, the more ammunition the CPSC investigator will have in approaching the manufacturer. If you haven't submitted one yet, regardless of where you live, please do so.

Kevin

John H
February 1st, 2008, 08:14 AM
Add another to the list. I just purchased my home 2 weeks ago and the genset worked fine at closing. I went out two days ago to check oil and the "tinker" and found the battery in pieces. I called the previous owner and he never had a problem with the unit.

I stumbled upon this forum when I searched in google for batteries blowing up in generac's.

This problem does not give me a "warm fuzzy" about this unit. I'm going out tonight to get some baking soda and a new Group 26 battery. Yay for home ownership. :(

John

Bill Liedtke
February 1st, 2008, 09:04 AM
PLEASE help us by reporting this in your state to the consumer protection group, BBB, and whoever else will listen. This could happen when you are servicing your unit and blind you forever. We have been trying to get attention to this issue for months and Generac refuses to even comment so we are going another route. What state are you in?

John H
February 1st, 2008, 09:09 AM
Virginia. I'll get my exact model # and serial # and call whoever will listen.

Thanks.

Bill Liedtke
February 1st, 2008, 11:11 AM
Read up a few posts on this thread and I think that you will find a link to the consumer protection folks even though you are in a different state. What model do you have? Approx. how old is it if you know? You can defeat the internal charging circuit and put your own trickle charger on it if you want to keep this from happening again. I would certainly call Generac whether your model is in warranty or not and give them all the details of what you found. I would also tell them you want a fix for this or you are going to have to take it farther. Generac customer service is 888-436-3722. Good luck and thank you from all the rest of the forum who are trying to find resolution.

Bill

P.S. the model number will help us try to put together an idea of which units are effected. We believe (or I believe) not all units are like this and that newer units may have be fixed in the design stage. Try the direct approach first calmly explaining what happened, your model and serial number. They will probably tell you that if it wasn't installed by a licensed Generac service center that they are not responsible, but give them a chance before going elsewhere. If you haven't read all the posts here on this one subject, you may want to when you have some "down time"

John H
February 1st, 2008, 11:18 AM
I read them all. Its just pouring rain here today.... I'll likely get the info over the weekend and call on Monday.

Thanks!

Bill Liedtke
February 1st, 2008, 02:09 PM
Model and age please?

ibfestus
February 25th, 2008, 12:42 PM
First of all I had a 005243 installed in Jan of '07.

I am retired from the auto/commercial battery industry and although I am neither a engineer nor a electrician, I may have useful information.

Batteries blowing up in generators is not a new development and is not specifically linked to Generac. One of our customers was a very large hospital that had a dozen or more back up generators that used 8D batteries for starting the big diesel Cat engines. An 8D battery is 4X as large as a auto battery and weighs in at over 100 lbs. Sometime around 2004 these batteries began exploding. This was a surprise because we had been supplying their batteries for years prior to this with zero problems. We discovered 2 things: 1)The batteries were under a trickle charge continously. 2) At their request, we had switched to "maintenance free" type batteries. "Maintenance free" is not a good description, "maintenance impossible" is more accurate.

Bottom line is the hospital had a strict inspection routine that called for the inspector to check the electrolyte every 30 days, they couldn't do that so the batteries started "gassing" as soon as the electrolyte went low and Ka-Boom! By the way, a battery can only explode when there is a spark present.

This also applies to this discussion, either you have maintainable batteries or not. If not, you cannot have a constant trickle charge or there will be trouble. A simple solution would be to have the generator only charge during the excercise cycle. I reiterate, you must either maintain the battery, or not use a constant trickle charge. With that said, there are chargers on the market that only supply voltage when the battery falls below something like 12.0v and cuts out when the battery gets over 12.6v (full charge).

A bit about battery groups. Battery Council International (BCI) is the body that standardizes group sizes for battery manufacturers. The very first battery that was standardized was, of course, the group 1... a 6v battery that is still being built. A particular battery group has set dimensions. The letter after the number relates to terminal configuration. The standard battery has the positive post on the left side when viewed with the post toward the front. A 26R has the posts "Reversed," 26M has marine terminals, and the ubquitous 26DT has both top and side posts. A 26DC is a "Deep Cycle" battery. The 26DT was at one time arguably the most popular battery in the U.S.. It is small, will fit many applications, has both top and side (GM) terminals, and was heavily promoted by the large discount chains. They used to love the DT's because it cut down the number of different groups in the inventory. If you have a local store that specializes in batteries you should be able to get a group 26 with as many as 750 CCA.

Oh yeah, for what it is worth, I changed out the cables on my 5243 and moved the battery to the ouside the enclosure. The battery I'm using is a group 24 marine starting battery (600CCA) housed in a marine battery box

Sorry to get long here but I hope this helps somebody.

Bill Liedtke
February 25th, 2008, 05:04 PM
From all of us who own generators, I think I can give you a group "thank you". I read every word with great interest and respect for your knowledge and the clarity you bring to the subject.

I do not fully know whether I feel good or bad about what you said. On one hand I am pleased that Generac may not be the only one with this problem around their neck. On the other hand, we potentially have a bigger problem than first thought. I guess it surprises me a little that companies competent enough to design and build a generator would not know about a constant trickle charge. You say that a battery can not explode without an ignition source (a spark), but where is this spark coming from? I think heat can become that ignition source. I envision something internal to the battery getting hot enough to glow or set off the built-up gases.

What other devices come to mind when you think of this problem? Any application that has a constant charge without a fixed cut off, I guess. What is the solution at this point for the manufacturer in your estimation? I know what you said the consumer can do, but what do you think the industry or at least Generac should do to warn the consumer? How dangerous do you see this problem to be?

Again, please feel free to educate us to whatever degree you can. Can a maintenance impossible battery be modified to take water?

Bill

M Miller
February 25th, 2008, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the information festus. I had considered going to a maintenance free battery but knew they were vented and could gas so I was concerned about not being able to fill them. Now I know maintenance free is not a good idea.

As to "where is the spark coming from" I had posted information I had found about this in an earlier battery thread. This is from http://www.batteryfaq.org/ Section 14.3

The most probable cause of internal battery explosions are from a combination of low electrolyte levels below the plates in the battery, a low resistance bridge is formed between or across the top of the plates, and a build up of hydrogen gas in the cell. The low resistive bridge is called "treeing" between the positive and negative plates. When current flows in the battery, a spark occurs and ignites the residual gas in one or more of the cells. A second possible cause is a manufacturing defect in the weld of one of the plate connecting straps causing a spark igniting the residual gas. Another source of internal battery explosions are caused from direct electrical shorts across the battery's terminals. The battery rapidly over heats form the high current and can explode. The largest number of internal battery explosions occur in hot climates due to the loss of water while starting the engine. Most internal battery explosions could have been prevented if the plates were always covered with electrolyte.

Bill Liedtke
February 25th, 2008, 09:08 PM
Yes Mike you sure did. I recall your previous post now that you mentioned it. So, Generac should either re-engineer their charging system, include a note to the consumer to not use mtce. free, or both. Seems like the likelihood that someone would use one though is great and the circuit should be redesigned. I would imagine it's not that simple though and the best bet if the battery can get enough charge would be only charge at exercise cycle or a timer circuit that runs the charge cycle for 20 minutes maybe once a day.

Bill

ibfestus
February 26th, 2008, 01:50 PM
Several years ago I was involved in a law suit. One of the batteries I sold had exploded injuring the owner. In that case a farmer had taken his tractor battery in to the Co-op to be charged. They put in on heavy charge for 30 minutes and when the farmer picked it up in his arms... KaBoom. Essentially, any time a battery is charged it gives off hydrogen gas and in this instance the farmers wool shirt against the plastic battery created enough static electricity to set it off.

We prevailed when a battery engineer testified on our behalf that only an "external" spark could cause an explosion. The warning on all batteries specifically states "Danger/poison no sparks flames or smoking." The spark can come from loose connections or the brushes in starters/alternators or even static electricity.

Personally I believe a 500 CCA battery is plenty to crank an engine like the GT-990. Furthermore, I believe the excercise cycle of 12 minutes per week should be enough to keep the battery charged. (Caveat: That is if it starts easily. Mine starts every time in about 10-15 seconds.) The battery on your auto would be OK if you ran it 12 minutes every week. By the way it is not cold that is your battery's enemy, it is heat. A fully charged battery will not freeze until way below zero. A discharged battery will freeze and burst.

"Can a maintenance free battery be modified..." Yes, some can be be opened
and water added while others are sealed with plugs that generally can't be removed. In any event, forcing the covers off will most likely void any warrantee.

For me to advise the manufacturer would be presumptious, but, if I were them, I would advise placing the battery outside the unit in a separate container. That would probably reduce the explosions to nil but a constant trickle charge will run the electrolyte out at minimum ruining the battery. That gets us back to the requirement to maintain the battery.

Bill Liedtke
February 26th, 2008, 02:56 PM
Festus, I think I have the picture. The only difference still remaining in my mind is that http://www.batteryfaq.org/ posted by Mike states that the spark can be created internally in the battery if the electrolyte level drops below the top of the plates. Your statement seems to indicate that a spark in the unit is what lights them off and removing them from the box *should* cure the problem. This seems th contradict what the battery group says in that a spark can still be created in the battery by a bridge. This says the battery is at risk no matter where it is stored as long as a constant trickle is applied.

Gman1
February 26th, 2008, 07:17 PM
"What other devices come to mind when you think of this problem?"

While it didn't happen to me personally, I was present when a battery blew up in a car on two separate occasions. I think the lesson here is that batteries store energy of more than the 12 volt kind and need to be treated with respect at all times.

On a side note, I asked someone of importance why other people were having this problem and we were not. His reply was that "you maintain your batteries". This is true to a degree. We have a post cleaner that has cutters for both the post and terminal. We use this on all of our batteries...even on a new install. This insures a good connection and we see almost no corrosion. When we do any service on a unit, we clean them again. Lastly, we noticed a long time ago that generators were hard on batteries and we replace them every two years. This may insure that the electrolyte never gets low enough to cause the internal sparking mentioned earlier. I have tried not to comment on this post as it becomes increasingly legal, but in the interest of personal safety, I would like everyone to know that batteries are dangerous whether in your generator, your car, or your riding lawnmower. My $.02

Gentleman
March 2nd, 2008, 07:32 PM
ibfestus:

I read your post on mounting your battery in an external marine battery box. I too own a 5243 and I would like to do the same. Could you post some photos of your installation for those of us who wish to do likewise?

BobbyG
October 2nd, 2011, 04:23 PM
To all who have stumbles upon this thread by searching for "Generac batteries blowing up" or similar: I could not find anything in this thread about the actual voltage values of battery charging. If you have a good quality venting lead acid battery (NOT maintenance free) the proper float charge, or the constant charge rate after the battery is fully charged, should be approximately 2.25V per cell, in case of a 6 cell 12v battery the equivalent of 13.5V. My Generac 5240 puts out 13.55V in float state. It's reasonable to check your electrolyte level several times a year and if the battery fluid level is kept above the plates and the float charge does not exceed the norm, only a defective battery would self-destruct. I have hooked up a set of test wires to the battery and from outside the generator I check the battery's condition on a regular basis. It may be true that Generac's had a problem with inferior chargers, I don't know, but this simple maintenance check should keep you ahead of any problems.

Alkit
November 8th, 2011, 04:21 PM
I've got a 15KW unit that has been installed for 10 years...I can't remember the fate of my first battery, but the last two have blown up.

I found this forum by doing an internet search...

What have you folks found as a fix?

Rather than a lead/acid, I have ordered an Odyssey dry cell. I have had good luck with them in other installations...

Is there an easy way to disconnect the charger on these units? (PS, I have just read a bunch of this thread now and it looks like I may try to disconnect the built in charger)

I have had good luck with other solid state battery maintainers and may try one...

Anyone out there with good luck using the Odyssey Mx Free batteries...?

Al

johnc
November 8th, 2011, 07:21 PM
You sure are lucky that only the batteries blew up and didn't cause other damage. Gen. model # needed for best info. Every one will give you good info about eliminating generac's charger and installing battery maintainer, plus installing battery in external marine battery box. Easy if you are fairly competent with electric. Or you can go back thru archives, don't need to go back too far, this topic discussed often.

genme
November 8th, 2011, 07:46 PM
...I can't remember the fate of my first battery, but the last two have blown up.Have you reported this to the CPSC?

SuperDave
November 9th, 2011, 07:11 AM
I have had two batteries explode on my old 13 KW unit. Even after flushing with bakeing soda and much water, the rust that came later almost destroyed the enclosure. Installing the battery in an outside box certainly won't prevent an explosion, but will save the enclosure from certain rust destruction.

Dave_eng
November 9th, 2011, 08:27 AM
In response to someone's request for a picture of a marine battery box installation, this is what I did. Behind the air intake grill is a wire mesh or hardware cloth to keep out rodents. I carefully cut two small holes and ran the existing battery cables out thru the air intake. The bables were long enough. I split pieces of rubber gas line and secured then around the battery cables where the touched the hardware cloth and intake louver to prevent any damage to the battery cable installation over time due to vibration. I carefully bent the wire mesh around the cable to prevent any animals getting inside. Battery box was approx $30 and it took about 30 minutes to do.
Dave p

http://i42.tinypic.com/xm0i2p.jpg

Dave_eng
November 9th, 2011, 08:31 AM
I will try and remember to resize my photos in the future to prevent my posts from being too wide.

Sorry for the hassle.

Dave p

genme
November 10th, 2011, 02:29 PM
Thanks for the details. I too was wondering how you routed the battery cables.

Frank T
July 21st, 2012, 08:48 PM
Thank God I came across this. We bought our unit in 2004 - a 12.5 kW. Well today I just put my 3rd battery in it. 1st one blew the top off. 2nd one cooked out, my fault. This last one along with the 1st one were the best interstates I could buy. This battery was just over a year in service. In May of this year I topped off the battery level so I don't see where that was the problem. Can't say for sure because I don't know the level when it blew. Also, terminals were tight. I needed a puller to get them off. They were clean and corrosion protectors on the posts. I have no idea what caused the spark. I now replaced it with a gel battery, but the acid has started its ugly work. I would really like to get to the bottom on this so I can put this problem to rest. Will continue to monitor this for any update info. Will also read the rest of the site for some helpful tips. Frank Travaglio, Odessa , Fl 33556

murphy
July 21st, 2012, 10:27 PM
Where did you find a GEL battery that is capable of 525 CCA (cold cranking amperes)?

I've never seen it mentioned here but bubbling is important in a stationary wet cell battery to keep the electrolyte mixed. In a car the motion provides the mixing action. Without the mixing action the acid will separate to the top of the battery. It's called striation and is bad for the battery.

If the plates are uncovered there is nothing to prevent a spark between the plates if a piece of material that has flaked off of a plate floats by.

Distilled water must be used to top off a battery. You can get a gallon at Target for less than a dollar. Minerals or worse yet water softener salt in tap water will play havoc with the chemistry of a battery.

Do not top off a brand new battery before it is put into service. The level may appear to be low but will rise as the battery warms up under charging.

genme
July 22nd, 2012, 06:42 AM
Do not top off a brand new battery before it is put into service. The level may appear to be low but will rise as the battery warms up under charging.I fully charge first, then make sure the electrolyte level is at an acceptable level (i.e. still leaving room for the electrolyte to rise.) I am not a battery expert.

Frank T
July 22nd, 2012, 08:17 AM
I got the Gel Battery from my Interstate battery supplier. We had to go to the spec book. The one we chose was roughly 1/16 bigger and 650 cca. Also, posts were on the right side rather than the left, but the cables were long enough so that was not a problem. What I did have to do was remove the duct work { intake side } and shave 3/8 of an inch off so the battery would go in far enough for the front cover to completely fit in place. Two of my neighbors have the same units. They also had batteries blow up. In my earlier post I stated that I know for a fact the connections were not loose or dirty, so what caused the spark to make them blow is still a mystery to me. I believe that this Gel battery may solve the problem for me. Really not sure, but I have been cleaning the sheet metal, and spraying it with OSPHO http://ospho.com/ then coating that with metal etching primer, then color, to try and stop the rust. Frank T

SkipD
July 22nd, 2012, 08:41 AM
In my earlier post I stated that I know for a fact the connections were not loose or dirty, so what caused the spark to make them blow is still a mystery to me.Frank, it is believed by most who understand the problem that the ignition is caused by a spark INSIDE the battery. That can only happen when the plates are exposed. The reason that the plates are exposed is because electrolyte has been boiled off due to constant overcharging.

It is very likely that, if you don't do something about the charger, your gel cell battery will also be destroyed by constant overcharging.

Canada_Guy
July 22nd, 2012, 11:24 AM
I believe that this Gel battery may solve the problem for me.

I don't think it will. It may mask the problem, but not solve it.

To solve the problem, you need to correct the root cause, which is most likely to be overcharging by the faulty designed Generac charger.

Measure the battery charge voltage. If it's above 13.2 to 13.4 volts, that's the issue.

Frank T
July 22nd, 2012, 12:32 PM
I don't think it will. It may mask the problem, but not solve it.

To solve the problem, you need to correct the root cause, which is most likely to be overcharging by the faulty designed Generac charger.

Measure the battery charge voltage. If it's above 13.2 to 13.4 volts, that's the issue.

Thanks for that tip. I will get on it and see if I can clear this problem up. In the mean time, I will monitor the board for other hints to solve this problem. Frank T

ceb58
July 22nd, 2012, 01:10 PM
I don't think it will. It may mask the problem, but not solve it.

To solve the problem, you need to correct the root cause, which is most likely to be overcharging by the faulty designed Generac charger.

Measure the battery charge voltage. If it's above 13.2 to 13.4 volts, that's the issue.

True

Thanks for that tip , I will get on it and see if I can clear this problem up , in the mean time , I will monitor the board , for other hints to solve this problem , Frank t

The gel-cell will be weakened as they cannot stand a charge over 14 vdc. As for a hint here's one, check the charging voltage. If it is above 13 vdc then it is time to unhook the POS Generac charger and install a battery tender.

nrp3
July 23rd, 2012, 09:04 AM
Are these primarily pre-nexus units? I only have one pre-nexus unit out there and one Corepower. These chargers we are speaking of, are they the black plastic ones? I am talking about the ones that come as part of the level 1 parts kit.

SkipD
July 23rd, 2012, 10:09 AM
Are these primarily pre-nexus units? I only have one pre-nexus unit out there and one Corepower. These chargers we are speaking of, are they the black plastic ones? I am talking about the ones that come as part of the level 1 parts kit.The Generac chargers that typically over-charge batteries are in the pre-Nexus units. Typically they are modules that are about 4" square with an aluminum case having fins on the back and have all the circuitry potted in what looks like black epoxy on the front side.

Kelly Myers
July 23rd, 2012, 11:06 AM
Last Thursday I go out to an emergency no-start. 4390-3. Original battery, 6 years old.

I take off the front door and hook my graphing fluke up to the battery to do a load test. (the battery looked fine). I'm kneeling right in front of the battery and as soon as I clicked the switch to manual, the battery literally exploded into my face. Sounded like a shotgun. Scratches from the plastic and battery acid EVERYWHERE.

I took off my shirt, customer gave me some baking powder and I covered myself in it. Acid was all over my face, including my mouth and eyes. Long story short, I don't have a single issue now, but my chest was very red. Emergency room visit and they put some acid neutralizing drops in my eyes.

No matter how many generators you have worked on, don't take safety for granted. I have a full face shield in the truck, and I should have been wearing that.

I'll attach a photo of my (once) black t-shirt I was wearing.

d11gnccer
July 23rd, 2012, 11:32 AM
I make it a habit to rest the door panel over the battery compartment when servicing.

SkipD
July 23rd, 2012, 02:56 PM
Last Thursday I go out to an emergency no-start. 4390-3. Original battery, 6 years old.

I take off the front door and hook my graphing fluke up to the battery to do a load test. (the battery looked fine). I'm kneeling right in front of the battery and as soon as I clicked the switch to manual, the battery literally exploded into my face. Sounded like a shotgun. Scratches from the plastic and battery acid EVERYWHERE.

I took off my shirt, customer gave me some baking powder and I covered myself in it. Acid was all over my face, including my mouth and eyes. Long story short, I don't have a single issue now, but my chest was very red. Emergency room visit and they put some acid neutralizing drops in my eyes.

No matter how many generators you have worked on, don't take safety for granted. I have a full face shield in the truck, and I should have been wearing that.

I'll attach a photo of my (once) black t-shirt I was wearing.Kelly - are you planning to pass this on to the folks at Generac? Maybe, if you do, they will finally admit to having a bad charger design in older generators and do something to at least formally caution all owners of the older machines.

genme
July 23rd, 2012, 04:27 PM
Kelly - glad you are ok. Will you report this to the CPSC?

nrp3
July 23rd, 2012, 04:39 PM
Where is this charger located on these units? I have one pre nexus 17kw and I mean just one model before nexus came along. I wonder if the corepower being non nexus has this issue too.

SkipD
July 23rd, 2012, 05:31 PM
Where is this charger located on these units? I have one pre nexus 17kw and I mean just one model before nexus came along. I wonder if the corepower being non nexus has this issue too.In my 5416 (16kW on natural gas, 2008 vintage), the charger module is right next to the voltage regulator module. Both of these are under the top cover panel that's just behind the control panel.

Canada_Guy
July 23rd, 2012, 05:35 PM
Kelly, I'm glad your OK. Was the generator that you were servicing when it blew up in your face of the same series that others have complained about overchraging and batteries exploding?


Where is this charger located on these units? I have one pre nexus 17kw and I mean just one model before nexus came along.

My unit is also the model just prior to the Nexus unit. My charger is a black plactic block (resembles a laptop charger) located inside the transfer switch. I have not had an over charging issues with mine. It charges the battery at 13.1 VDC. I have not had to add water to the battery in 2+ years.

HKFever
July 23rd, 2012, 05:42 PM
Kelly,
Glad that you are o-k! That could have been much worse, my wife is a rehabilitation teacher for the blind and I do not want to become one of her customers. I take eye protection for granted way too often and after reading this will do much better. We don't realize just how close we come everyday.

douglas123
July 23rd, 2012, 05:44 PM
Thank you Kelly for posting that honest scenario and glad you are OK. Excessive heat and emergency conditions cause BF"S. Please do not do that again.

nrp3
July 23rd, 2012, 05:48 PM
I need to get out the service manual for those and look at some of the drawings. That was the charger I was describing, the plastic one.

SkipD
July 23rd, 2012, 06:19 PM
The 4390-3 is a model prior to the 5416 that I have, but they both use very similar charger modules. These modules are in an aluminum housing but what you see from the top side (after removing the access cover behind the control panel) is mostly black potting compound and (in mine) three connector blade sets (the plugs attached to the cables are female connectors).

johnc
July 23rd, 2012, 07:52 PM
Kelly - are you planning to pass this on to the folks at Generac? Maybe, if you do, they will finally admit to having a bad charger design in older generators and do something to at least formally caution all owners of the older machines.

Generac will just blame it on improper maintenance on the unit and the battery. Which is most likely the case. Even though the chargers are junk and do overcharge batteries, I think many folks here have stated that they have not had battery problems if they checked the water level often. However the chargers are a POS and definitely should be replaced with a battery tender. If Generac admitted a problem, the ambulance chasers would be all over them. This has been stated before, it will take some catastrophic injury before anything happens. Kelly was lucky, it just wasn't his turn. I did like the info provided the other day that the acid and water can separate in a constant position battery which could also cause a problem. I shook my battery today.

Kelly Myers
July 24th, 2012, 10:18 AM
Generac will just blame it on improper maintenance on the unit and the battery. Which is most likely the case. Even though the chargers are junk and do overcharge batteries, I think many folks here have stated that they have not had battery problems if they checked the water level often. However the chargers are a POS and definitely should be replaced with a battery tender. If Generac admitted a problem, the ambulance chasers would be all over them. This has been stated before, it will take some catastrophic injury before anything happens. Kelly was lucky, it just wasn't his turn. I did like the info provided the other day that the acid and water can separate in a constant position battery which could also cause a problem. I shook my battery today.

Yes, this was lack of maintenance. And it was my fault for doing what I did. Me blaming generac for an old non-serviceable battery blowing up in front of me is is like blaming Sig Sauer if I shot myself in my foot :)

I posted up that story and the photo of the shirt to remind others to follow the Generac manual which clearly states batteries can explode ;)

HKFever
July 24th, 2012, 03:38 PM
Yes, this was lack of maintenance. And it was my fault for doing what I did. Me blaming generac for an old non-serviceable battery blowing up in front of me is is like blaming Sig Sauer if I shot myself in my foot :)

I posted up that story and the photo of the shirt to remind others to follow the Generac manual which clearly states batteries can explode ;)
Good choice of firearms, I have a P226 "NSW" Navy. But lately the HK's get more attention. :D

hrt
July 24th, 2012, 05:34 PM
Yes, this was lack of maintenance. And it was my fault for doing what I did. Me blaming generac for an old non-serviceable battery blowing up in front of me is is like blaming Sig Sauer if I shot myself in my foot :)

I posted up that story and the photo of the shirt to remind others to follow the Generac manual which clearly states batteries can explode ;)

Don't worry, Bloomberg will blame them for you.:)

SteveInMD
July 31st, 2012, 06:38 AM
35-40 years ago you had to add water to car batteries as well. Since then, modern battery chargers and battery technology has made them much more safe and reliable. Unfortunately Generac is way behind the times on batteries and chargers. It's unfortunate since they could have gotten it right for pretty much no additional cost.

jamesck
August 4th, 2012, 10:21 AM
I was concerned with the overcharge issue because it looked like acid had spewed from a maintenance free batter during and extended power outage. Someone recommended checking the voltage of the battery with it off and with it running. I just did and found 13.57 volts with it off and 12.84 volts with it running. Does anyone think this is out of line?

MacMan
August 4th, 2012, 05:32 PM
I was concerned with the overcharge issue because it looked like acid had spewed from a maintenance free batter during and extended power outage. Someone recommended checking the voltage of the battery with it off and with it running. I just did and found 13.57 volts with it off and 12.84 volts with it running. Does anyone think this is out of line?

According to some reports on this forum, anything over 13.5 seems to be the "danger zone".

Just check the electrolyte level every couple of months, and possibly monthly during the summer if it's real hot out.

If level is correct, there shouldn't be any problem.

techntrek
August 4th, 2012, 09:01 PM
I assume this was with the charger still connected. 13.5 is generally ok but on the high side for long-term float. 13.2-13.3 would be better.

jamesck
August 5th, 2012, 04:39 PM
Yes the charger is still connected but it was reading 13.57 volts. I hate to ruin a good battery, but am not sure how to disconnect the charger. Is it difficult to remove? I would rather put an after market charger on now, before it ruins the battery.

SkipD
August 5th, 2012, 04:47 PM
Yes the charger is still connected but it was reading 13.57 volts. I hate to ruin a good battery, but am not sure how to disconnect the charger. Is it difficult to remove? I would rather put an after market charger on now, before it ruins the battery.What model/vintage generator do you have?

jamesck
August 6th, 2012, 04:51 AM
It has been in less than a year and is a Honeywell 15KW. (Made by Generac) The model is 0060330 serial 6308182. Thanks for Help!

SkipD
August 6th, 2012, 07:25 AM
It has been in less than a year and is a Honeywell 15KW. (Made by Generac) The model is 0060330 serial 6308182. Thanks for Help!You have a generator using the Nexus controller and the battery charger is part of the Nexus controller board. To date, nobody has figured out a way to disable the embedded charger. However, we have not had anybody reporting over-charging of their battery in generators using the Nexus controller either.

My suggestion is to check the electrolyte level in your battery often enough to be sure that the battery isn't being overcharged and boiling off electrolyte. I would suggest monthly checks for the first year (to get through all seasons) and then further checks based on the first year's results. I would check the battery at least quarterly after that. I like to do an occasional load test as well as a static voltage test and observation of electrolyte levels.

My battery, by the way, is four years old and going strong.

murphy
August 6th, 2012, 08:52 AM
My battery, by the way, is four years old and going strong.

I had a battery with a 5 year warranty in my generator.
A few months after the warranty expired it developed a dead cell.
They seem to have battery design to the point that a few months after the warranty expires the battery will fail. In over 50 yeras of driving I've never had a battery last much after its warranty expiration date.
:(

ohmslaw
August 6th, 2012, 03:18 PM
I had a battery with a 5 year warranty in my generator.
A few months after the warranty expired it developed a dead cell.
They seem to have battery design to the point that a few months after the warranty expires the battery will fail. In over 50 years of driving I've never had a battery last much after its warranty expiration date.
:(

You have been subjected to Murphy's law.

HKFever
August 6th, 2012, 05:10 PM
I had a battery with a 5 year warranty in my generator.
A few months after the warranty expired it developed a dead cell.
They seem to have battery design to the point that a few months after the warranty expires the battery will fail. In over 50 yeras of driving I've never had a battery last much after its warranty expiration date.
:(

You have been subjected to Murphy's law.

More like "Planned Obsolescence". ;)

Peddler
August 6th, 2012, 06:54 PM
I have had zero problems with the new Nexis panels overcharging the batteries. I have about 800 generators in service and I think that Generac is getting a bad rap on the old chargers as well. If you replace the batteries as you are suposed to every 3 years you won't have any problems. The only exploded batteries I have delt with were 5 or more years old and were overdue for replacement. The old style charger does double duty as a power supply as well as a battery charger and while it lacks the features of the nexis charger it overall has served them well. When we have a wide area power outage the only complaints I get are from people who have failed to do normal maintance and then have a failure. While I am not saying the old system was perfect, it certainly wasn't as bad as this thread makes it seem. The old aluminum cased charger was a lot more reliable than the brick type they went to in about 2008 but not as good as the Nexis. If someone is having acid boil out with a nexis panel they either have a bad battery or a bad panel! Peddler

jamesck
August 6th, 2012, 08:15 PM
Skip, I did not know that you could check the fluid levels in maintenance free batteries until this evening. Someone told me that even this style battery has plugs that pop out so that they can be checked. I will be looking for these plugs tomorrow. Thanks for the information.

DanB
August 7th, 2012, 10:05 AM
I had a battery with a 5 year warranty in my generator.
A few months after the warranty expired it developed a dead cell.
They seem to have battery design to the point that a few months after the warranty expires the battery will fail. In over 50 yeras of driving I've never had a battery last much after its warranty expiration date.
:(

Why not buy one of these:
www.lithionicsbattery.com/

yikes!!

Kelly Myers
August 7th, 2012, 10:10 AM
Why not buy one of these:
www.lithionicsbattery.com/ (http://www.lithionicsbattery.com/)

yikes!!

:eek:
four figure group 26 batteries!?!!?!

Ridgewiz
August 12th, 2012, 10:55 AM
I got a call last week to find out why the customer's 17 kw Generation I set didn't start during their recent Power outage. When i arrivedi noticed corrosion at the bottom of the unit near the battery compartment. The lid was stuck very well (telling me no service on this unit lately). Once i raised the lid i could seed the batty had exploded. Pic is on my fb page at http://Facebook.com/Moorepower65 . The customer is an elderly lady who's husband USAF on oxygen & uses Power to run the machine that provides his oxygen. She obviously can't check battery fluid level. So i was concerned with just putting another battery in this unit without changing the charging system. Generac strongly advised me not to install a battery tender as mentioned in this discussion. They did offer a new battery upgrade float charger that comes with instructions & requires, as the Generac tech put it, substantial rewiring of the generator. The Generac tech also said the current charging system is fine add long as you maintain fluid level in battery. The customer is fine with having me on an annual maintenance schedule. I just hope that's enough. Thanks to Kelly for his comments on this subject also.

Http://moorepwr.com

mastr
August 12th, 2012, 12:06 PM
...customer is an elderly lady who's husband USAF on oxygen & uses Power to run the machine that provides his oxygen. She obviously can't check battery fluid level. So i was concerned with just putting another battery in this unit without changing the charging system...

Good call.

...Generac strongly advised me not to install a battery tender as mentioned in this discussion...

Of course. Generac makes no money from the sale, and probably has not bothered to test the Battery Tender in that application.

...They did offer a new battery upgrade float charger...

Please define "offer"- offer to sell, or offer to supply at no cost?

...The Generac tech also said the current charging system is fine add long as you maintain fluid level in battery.

If Generac was wring me a check on payday, I would say the same.


...customer is fine with having me on an annual maintenance schedule. I just hope that's enough...

It is not nearly enough. The application is somewhat critical, and there are known issues with the charging system. IF that set ran my O2 machine, it would be checked at least every month, AND get a Battery Tender or similar.

nrp3
August 12th, 2012, 12:30 PM
What I take from this is, why should a customer have to check it all? Shouldn't maintenance free batteries be the way to go, understanding that some of the older charging systems might be inadequate. I don't have any of the older machines to take care of yet, so I haven't seen this problem yet. I have mostly Nexus stuff. I'd rather not have my customers have to deal with that at all. I don't expect any of my older customers to do it, thats what I'm here for, and even that shouldn't be that regularly. I can live with a 3yr or so battery life, that seems reasonable.

Peddler
August 12th, 2012, 12:44 PM
Ridgwiz, If you follow the suggested maintance schedule and replace the battery with any good quality group 26 battery every three years you won't have any trouble and neither will the customer!

DanB
August 12th, 2012, 02:38 PM
Generac strongly advised me not to install a battery tender as mentioned in this discussion. They did offer a new battery upgrade float charger that comes with instructions & requires, as the Generac tech put it, substantial rewiring of the generator.

"the current charging system is fine," but they have a "battery upgrade float charger" available? Sounds like double talk to me.

nrp3
August 12th, 2012, 04:31 PM
Did they specify a part number?

d11gnccer
August 15th, 2012, 08:12 PM
Generac strongly advised me not to install a battery tender as mentioned in this discussion.


Generac sells their charger for $70 bucks. Battery tender sells for $25. I'd instruct my phone technicians to advise against it also.

Rludington
January 27th, 2014, 05:49 PM
Well. I have finally tried to figure out whats wrong with my 2002 generac 12K generator. Ever since purchase, like clockwork, it blows a battery every 2 years .. now its down to every year. I found this thread and see its not just me.. I checked my voltage and it starts out around 13 and slowly creeps up to a bit over 15. I didnt bother with the decimal as .. OMG 15 plus volts .. no wonder they boil up and crack or blow up depending on mainteanace or mantenance free. So I just want to fix this.. My owners manual seems to point at the regulator going through the 5 amp fuse, but if someone could check me on that I would appreciate it. Also, the best way to hook a Battery Tender in. I would think just diconect the fuse and hook the tender in there. But sisnce my model doesnt have a 110 receptical, it would be nice to know if there was an easy spot to hard wire into.. or is this more of a run a perminant extension cord from the house .. or maybe have the tender in the house and just run a long cable to the generator tie in.

Wireform
January 27th, 2014, 06:44 PM
Well. I have finally tried to figure out whats wrong with my 2002 generac 12K generator. Ever since purchase, like clockwork, it blows a battery every 2 years .. now its down to every year. I found this thread and see its not just me.. I checked my voltage and it starts out around 13 and slowly creeps up to a bit over 15. I didnt bother with the decimal as .. OMG 15 plus volts .. no wonder they boil up and crack or blow up depending on mainteanace or mantenance free. So I just want to fix this.. My owners manual seems to point at the regulator going through the 5 amp fuse, but if someone could check me on that I would appreciate it. Also, the best way to hook a Battery Tender in. I would think just diconect the fuse and hook the tender in there. But sisnce my model doesnt have a 110 receptical, it would be nice to know if there was an easy spot to hard wire into.. or is this more of a run a perminant extension cord from the house .. or maybe have the tender in the house and just run a long cable to the generator tie in.
Automatic battery maintainer/tender like this one
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200438116_200438116
will go up to 15.2vdc and then drop down slowly to 12.8vdc and do that over and over as it maintains. When you saw 15 did it stay there or has it come down.
About what you want to do,I recommend mounting it in the generator enclosure and running it to your 120vac because the other way will have too much voltage drop to work properly.

Peddler
January 27th, 2014, 09:26 PM
What ever you do remember the battery charger in the unit is also a power supply and a charger that puts out less the about 2.5 amps isn't big enough. Also it has to be connected to a circuit that is covered by the generator. Peddler

techntrek
January 28th, 2014, 07:31 AM
Over 15 volts is too much on a regular basis. Normally you should only see that if the battery is being equalized, which is rare and not something the Generac chargers do at all. During the usual 3 stages of charge (bulk, absorption and float) you'll see the voltage go as high as 14.7 during absorption and then drop down to around 13.6 during float.

Your best bet is for you (or an electrician) to pull a new romex line to the generator through the existing flex conduit, or add a 2nd conduit if the original is full (heat is a consideration - just because there is room doesn't mean you can fill it). Then install an outlet inside the generator housing near the battery. Make sure this is connected to a circuit fed from your generator panel so it operates all the time, as was mentioned above. I also agree whatever battery tender you get should be above 2.5 amps, preferably 5 amps.

Canada_Guy
January 28th, 2014, 08:35 AM
There is also the option to install the newer style charger in the old generator. Mine has the new style charger and I have not had had any issue with overcharging.

Here's a link to a thread that has instructions:
http://zillerstore.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1800&highlight=0G8023

techntrek
January 28th, 2014, 10:46 AM
True, although if he thinks he may add any cold-weather gear he'll need that outlet anyway. Personally I think it shoud be factory-issue. One of the first things I did was run romex out to the outlet that came mounted on the exterior. Didn't make any sense to only have that thing powered only when the generator was on.

Rludington
January 28th, 2014, 01:48 PM
I refilled my current battery yesterday, as it had boiled pretty much dry. I may need to replace it though as after charging all night, it still does not have enough power to turn the moter over to start it. I also have rechecked the voltage and it is pretty much staying above the 15 volt level. I will run a new romex line to the generastor and install a receptical for the new tender that i will purchase. The question now is .. where to attach the plus side of the tender. I havnt had the top off to see the wiring under the panel, but I would think I should detach the wire leading into the 5 fuse and attach it there. Not really sure where the current regulator is to turn it off.

20kW
January 28th, 2014, 02:05 PM
Reading as an observer, with no problems in this area [yet]...I have a basic question...
Q.
Is the battery being trickle charged at a low amperage in the non run standby mode 24/7 or with full charge 24/7 ..?

I have an automotive 12v battery charger that will switch automatically from the full charge of about 14 amps down to 2.5 when it detects a full charge for a car or fishing motor battery..or can be set manually... The fishing motor battery might sit for several weeks or maybe a month (shame on me) after a full charge in between use's.., but being on the trickle cycle it is always good to go!

Never got the battery hot or cooked off the fluids....

The gas from the battery constantly cooking from over charging is what is explosive..... any slight spark and Ba-Boom!

Peddler
January 28th, 2014, 04:30 PM
If your battery is less then 3 years old and has cooked out you need to replace the factory charger or disconnect it abnd install an alternative, If the unit won't crank over after you refilled it and it charged you need to replace the battery. I replace the factory charger usually when they go bad. Peddler

Rludington
January 28th, 2014, 05:02 PM
Battery is less than 1 year. And replacing the charger with a tender is the current plan. yet no one has responded as to the best way / place to attach it. And if the current regulator should be disconected from main power .. so it completly stops.

Peddler
January 28th, 2014, 05:58 PM
You definatly need to unpluge both plugs from the existing charger. I would run a separate 120VAC line(that is on the generator system) to the generator and tie the tender into the 12VDC system in the generator enclosure. Peddler

techntrek
January 28th, 2014, 06:29 PM
Once the plates are exposed the battery looses capacity - more exposed plates, bigger loss.

SteveInMD
January 28th, 2014, 06:58 PM
This is an excellent charger that includes a desulfator cycle...

http://batteryminders.com/details.php?prod=1500

Install a 120 V outlet that has backup power inside the cabinet. It fits nicely just above the battery. I've used a charger like this for years, but mine doesn't have the temperature compensation feature. It has plenty of power to keep the battery topped up to full charge, but doesn't boil away the electrolyte. I very rarely have to add any water to battery - maybe a few tablespoons every few years.

Generac should have outsourced this part of their generators. Even their "modern" chargers have nothing on this unit.

Canada_Guy
January 28th, 2014, 08:22 PM
Some have indicated that you need a minimum of a 2.5 amp charger to provide sufficient current during utility-loss running to power the control panel, fuel solenoid, provide enough current to recover the battery from the start sequence, etc

SteveInMD
January 29th, 2014, 05:54 AM
The charger I've been using for many years is a 1.33 amp charger. My battery is always between 13.1 and 13.4 volts, which is perfect for a wet cell float charge. This tells me the charger is not undersized. If it were, the voltage would be lower. The charger is keeping up with demand, no problem.

SkipD
January 29th, 2014, 06:25 AM
Some have indicated that you need a minimum of a 2.5 amp charger to provide sufficient current during utility-loss running to power the control panel, fuel solenoid, provide enough current to recover the battery from the start sequence, etc

The charger I've been using for many years is a 1.33 amp charger. My battery is always between 13.1 and 13.4 volts, which is perfect for a wet cell float charge. This tells me the charger is not undersized. If it were, the voltage would be lower. The charger is keeping up with demand, no problem.Steve, what folks have been saying about the capacity of a float charger is that if the generator had to run for a long time - say 24 hours - there may be more draw on the battery than a 1.5A float charger could replace.

I, too, have used a 1.5A float charger for years and never had a problem. I've never had a power outage that lasted longer than about four to six hours, though. I doubt that I'm going to replace my float charger but if we had a long-duration outage I would give some thought to checking the battery's charge level and utilizing a conventional charger to top up the battery during the run if needed.

SteveInMD
January 29th, 2014, 07:12 AM
Steve, what folks have been saying about the capacity of a float charger is that if the generator had to run for a long time - say 24 hours - there may be more draw on the battery than a 1.5A float charger could replace.

I, too, have used a 1.5A float charger for years and never had a problem. I've never had a power outage that lasted longer than about four to six hours, though. I doubt that I'm going to replace my float charger but if we had a long-duration outage I would give some thought to checking the battery's charge level and utilizing a conventional charger to top up the battery during the run if needed.

Thanks for bringing me up to speed on that. I'll watch the voltage next time I have a long run. It should be easy enough to tell if the voltage is dropping over a few hours period, and if it is, how many amps are being pulled from the battery.

SkipD
January 29th, 2014, 07:17 AM
Thanks for bringing me up to speed on that. I'll watch the voltage next time I have a long run. It should be easy enough to tell if the voltage is dropping over a few hours period, and if it is, how many amps are being pulled from the battery.I have not measured the draw on the battery while my generator (a 2008 vintage 5416) is running, but I suspect that mine and yours may have less battery draw while running than the newer units with the fancier controllers that have live displays and remote communications.

I should take my Fluke meter and current clamp out and see what the draw on the battery is while the unit is running. Unfortunately, it's too darned cold to do it now (about 0F). :rolleyes:

SteveInMD
January 29th, 2014, 07:38 AM
I think I saw a post that says the newer generation Generac chargers float charge at 13.8 volts. This is way too high especially during the summer months. I would be concerned about using that charger too.

Wireform
January 30th, 2014, 12:56 AM
You definatly need to unpluge both plugs from the existing charger. I would run a separate 120VAC line(that is on the generator system) to the generator and tie the tender into the 12VDC system in the generator enclosure. Peddler
This is what I recently did to power the battery warming blanket and oil pan heater in the generator. The 120v will be switched to generator power in the event of a power failure.
Ran a new line out to create the GFCI outlet. From there I ran a branch circuit via liquid tight conduit through the wall mounted junction box to the lower knock out on the back of generator. Then installed a two outlet handy box mounted to the intake air baffle. A small green indicator light on the wall mounted GFCI outlet tells me its juiced.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09017.JPG
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09020.JPG
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09014.JPG
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09003.JPG
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09005.JPG
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/49579940/generator%20heater%20install/DSC09012.JPG

20kW
January 30th, 2014, 10:27 AM
Did Generac ever toy with the idea of a generator starter that double as a generator.. i.e., this to power the engine needs and battery while running..

Small gas engines have had them for years.... (at least half a century).. Size and shape of the straight starter verse the combo look the same...

I can see the point of trickle charging the battery when the system is in standby mode..
Up until I started following this topic, I thought the starter was a combination of both(?)

Peddler
January 30th, 2014, 11:23 AM
That system is much more expensive. Generac has had some old units that that had a starting winding in the generator on belt drive units. It is too expensive and if it fails you have few options. The starter/generator as a seperate unit was used on lawn tractors years ago but they were not that great and again very expensive. Peddler

Garth
January 30th, 2014, 01:32 PM
I think there are some riding mowers that recharge the batt but these generators are a little to power thirsty with all of their control relay stuff for a coil off of the ignition to keep up with. I believe they are electrically noisy also.



PS. The main piss off to me is why they draw so much power in standby mode that you need a charger connected or else the battery will go dead while the generator is doing nothing except waiting for remote switch contact closure to start.

I guess if I could have 2 or 3 exercises per week it would keep its battery charged. When away from cabin we want to leave inverter off.

techntrek
January 31st, 2014, 10:13 AM
Intall a single PV panel with small charge controller. Problem at the cabin solved.