How to Fix a Portable Electric Generator


How to Fix a Portable Electric Generator

1 -It is a known fact that portable electric generators allow road crews to work at night or allow you to travel with your RV. On the other hand, some portable generators are simply kept in a garage and only taken out if there is a power shortage. Just remember that portable electric generators are machines that will eventually weaken one day. With this in mind, it is important to provide proper care and maintenance so that it will be ready when you need it. In case of problems with your portable electric generator such as not starting or not supplying enough power, they can be fixed. There are basic maintenance tactics that can help prevent future repairs.

Best 8 Portable Generators in 2014

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ProductFuel TypeSizeWeightRunning WattsPriceRating
Yamaha EF2000iSGas19.3 x 11 x 17.944.12000$$$4.7
Westinghouse WH7500EGas27.2 x 20.5 x 222017500$$$4.7
Powermate PM0601250Gas39 x 22 x 303601200$$$$4.8
DuroStar DS4000SGas27 x 20 x 22934000$4.4
Briggs & Stratton 30469Gas28.7 x 18.4 x 25.32006000$$$4.7
Champion Power 46539Gas28.5 x 21.1 x 20.71404000$$4.6
Sportsman GEN7000LPPropane30.8 x 26.5 x 271847000$$$4
Generac 600Propane35.5 x 26.3 x 36.51845500$$$4.1

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Fixing your portable electric generator

Once your generator fails to start, your initial step is to check its system and perform minor repairs before calling in professional help. There are simple ways on how to fix a portable electric generator. Take note that these portable generators can be jump started or “field flash” utilizing an electric drill or battery.

Fuel check

Your primary task is to check the level and quality of fuel. Always remember that generators that are used intermittently such as during emergencies might not have fuel. There is also a possibility that the fuel degraded due to prolonged storage. In case there is no fuel, simply add fuel. For degraded fuel that seems to have gummed up the carburetor of your generator, you might need help from a mechanic in order to overhaul the fuel system.

“Field Flash” using a battery


If you are going to “field flash” your portable electric generator, you are simply jump starting it. Prolonged storage of your generator can diminish the magnetism in the rotor of your generator, thus lowering its capability to generate enough electricity.  Take note that any approach that brings in a minimal current can solve this issue. By using a battery to “field flash” your generator typically has steps involved.

  • 1.    The first step is to create the generator “jumper cables” by trimming the female end from an extension cord and strip the wires at that end.
  • 2.    You have to connect the wires to a 12-volt battery of a car or lawn tractor – positive to positive and negative to negative. With an extension cord, the black wire is typically the positive one and connected to the prong of the plug which is smaller in size.
  • 3.    Lodge the male end of the extension cord into the 120-volt side of the generator.
  • 4.    Take away the spark plug wire of your generator.
  • 5.    Pull out the starter cord 4-5 times.
  • 6.    Detach the extension cord and reconnect the spark plug wire.
  • 7.    Lastly, start your generator and plug in the 120-volt household device to confirm if it is supplied with power.
  • After the span of 30 minutes usage at maximum load, the system must restore itself at a level that must enable storage for about a year.

“Field Flash” using an electric drill

With this method on how to fix a portable electric generator, it simply allows the electric motor of an electric drill to work as a small generator once it is spun in reverse.

  • 1.    Connect the electric drill into the 120-volt receptacle of your generator.
  • 2.    Check if your electric drill is set to rotate forward in case if it is a reversible drill and start your generator.
  • 3.    Press the trigger of your drill down and spin the chuck in a reverse motion, even if the drill is configured to rotate in a forward manner. This can produce adequate excitation that will start your generator.
  • 4.    In case the generator failed to start, you can spin the chuck in the opposite direction if the reverse switch is positioned inappropriately.

In case either both method of “field flash” works on starting your generator, the issue might be due to the lack of magnetism in the rotor of your generator.

maintain portable generator

Try using the self-starter

The self-starters are usually powered with batteries, thus if the batteries have minimal charge or simply failed, your portable electric generator will not start. There are several ways on how to fix a portable electric generator with this issue. In case your generator has a starter crank that will not turn, it might be due to the battery or a fuse that was blown. All you have to do is to replace the fuse or replace the batteries.

In case the crank turns yet not power is generated, it can be caused by certain problems related to lack of maintenance. Make it a point to check if the fuel is running smoothly via the carburetor without any blockages. You can add oil and fuel if required or simply replace or clean out the dirty air filters and even the spark plugs. Once your generator will start but generating an unusual sound, you should check the spark plugs. The sound is typically produced if your generator is running with dirty spark plugs. In such scenarios, if your generator started with the help of these actions, there is no need to replace the auto-start mechanism anymore.

Check if your generator is overloaded

A portable generator dealing with an excessive load will surely face problems. Always remember that portable generators were specifically designed to handle specified electrical loads. Some electrical equipment takes in more power during the startup and eventually lowers down when they are operating normally. With this in mind, you have to disconnect some equipment that is powered by your generator in order to reduce the load. Once an appliance or equipment goes through the startup phase and settles in its operating mode, you can add another appliance. Make sure that you will enable it to go through the startup phase and eventually settle into its operational phase before adding more appliances.

Replacement of circuit breakers and fuses

With a portable electric generator that is operational but not producing voltage, it might have a fuse that is blown or a tripped circuit breaker. All you have to do is to reset the breaker and replace the blown fuses, but before you will restart your generator, you have to figure out first what caused them to blow or trip. If you failed to determine the cause, they will surely blow or trip again once you will restart the generator again.

Test the current output and voltage

If your generator is operational but not supplying enough power, it might have problems with the engine, valves, piston rings, governor or the exhaust system. You can test the power output by utilizing a voltmeter and an ammeter, in which both are combined in a single device. There are some generators that are equipped with these displays that are already built-in. During an off load, your generator must be able to provide a voltage that range between 125 -135 volts and a current of about 62Hz. Once the generator has a load, the figures must present 110 volts and 58Hz. Take note that repairs on the engine block would often require the help of a professional mechanic.

When to seek professional help

For those who do not have experience when it comes to electrical and mechanical repairs, it is best to seek help from the professionals. Always bear in mind that if you will resort to do-it-yourself repairs, it will cause more damage to your generator as well as voiding the warranty. Even if the warranty period has lapsed, a professional working on the repairs will cost less time and money.

Regular maintenance minimizes repair needs

A lot of individuals consider a portable generator as an emergency device and utilized intermittently and even forgotten. These individuals are more likely to encounter problems when starting their generators since they were not maintained properly. Generators that were used regularly received proper care and maintenance. There are several ways to ensure that your generator is properly maintained.

Gummy fuel prevention

Once a generator has been stored and unused for long periods with fuel in the tank, it can become gummy and useless. If your generator has not been used until the tank is dry, one way to how to fix a portable electric generator is to simply add a fuel stabilizer and run the generator for several minutes so that the stabilizer will work up to the carburetor. Some users report that fuel stabilizers can keep their fuel stable up to 15 months. You can even run your generator under load at least every few months for 30 minutes. In doing so, it can help prevent the fuel from becoming gummy.

Check the oil

Majority of portable electric generator typically shutdown automatically in case the oil levels drops. Once fuel is added, you have to check the level of oil with a dip stick. If needed, you can add oil so that it will reach the full level. Always keep oil readily accessible in case it will be needed. You can check the manual of your generator on the kind of oil that you can use.

Examine the parts that might require replacement

The manual of your generator can provide you information on how often the fuel filters, air filters and spark plugs should be replaced. Additionally, the indicators should also be checked with such parts as the carburetor.

Repair your portable electric generator with the help of eBay

Once parts are required to fix a portable electric generator, you can easily find them on eBay. You can easily search for generator parts suitable for different generators. In case you need a specific part, all you have to do is to search for the part that you need so that the results are narrowed down. You can even include the brand name of the generator, but it is not needed since it will limit the results to OEM products as well as aftermarket parts.

Purchase with confidence on eBay

Majority of small businesses have taken part of their marketing efforts online using eBay. In doing so, it greatly helped in expanding their client base and success. Take note that these entrepreneurs manage their own stores on eBay and are dedicated in establishing good relationships with their clients. If you are new to buying generator parts online, you can work with these entrepreneurs as well as the Top Rated Sellers who have an established record of customer satisfaction. When looking for generator parts in eBay, choose the “Advanced” option next to the search button. With the “Advanced” search menu, it allows you to filter out your search in various ways such as including only items offered in the eBay stores.


With a portable electric generator, it is important to different fields as well as useful in emergency scenarios. Always bear in mind that generators can provide power to road crews, emergency workers and campsites. They are even used in households for maintaining cold food storage as well as during power shortage. Unluckily, generators might not work when needed, thus you should be familiar on ways on how to fix a portable electric generator. Obviously, the capability to assess and fix one is an essential skill.

You can simply check the level of fuel, output of voltage and the current output yet any of these can reveal issues that might be beyond your expertise. Jump starting or “field flashing” a portable generator using an electric drill or battery can start your generator. If a generator has been unused for an extended period, it might only require fuel. There are some generators that are correctly sized for their operational load but not for their startup load. If this is the case, turning off some appliances temporarily so that the generator can power up appliances one at a time. If repairs need specific parts, you can check eBay since you will find a wide selection of parts offered by experienced and reputable sellers.

fixing a Portable Electric Generator

2 – 

In case of a power shortage, a portable generator serves as the ideal backup tool, particularly if you reside in a rural area where power can become unavailable for an extended period. Nevertheless, portable generators can malfunction too. They can break down thus it is best to deal with repairs right away. If you want to know how to fix a portable electric generator, there are steps that you need to follow.

1.    Check the fuel

Once your portable generator will not work, your initial move is to check the fuel level. Always remember that generators that are not regularly used, thus there is a possibility that the fuel level is low or already empty. Understandably, a portable generator needs fuel so that it will be functional as well as avoiding problems every time you will use it.

2.    Check the self-starter

Some portable generators are built with self-starters that can help save a lot of effort on your part. Nevertheless, these self-starters are battery-powered so if your generator will not start with the self-starter, the batteries might be dead already. The best way to deal with this issue is to know how to start the generator manually, which is a skill that you have master so that you will be prepared in case you need to use it. Once your generator can be started manually, it simply means that the battery of the self-starter is dead and needs to be replaced.

3.    Overload

If your portable generator starts seamlessly and suddenly cuts out in an intermittent manner, it might be overloaded. Always take note that all generators have their own maximum load. Once you go beyond this limit, the generator will cut it out since the surge in power could no longer be handled. Even if the capacity of your generator is similar to the electrical rating of your household appliances and equipment, the air conditioners require more power since once they start up, they can easily overload your generator. If you want to know how to fix a portable electric generator with this issue, you have to turn off some of the electrical equipment and start your generator again. If your generator starts and continues to operate, the issue has been fixed.

4.    Check the fuses

Once your portable generator is functional yet unable to produce any voltage, you should check if there is a fuse blown or you have tripped the in-built circuit breaker. All you have to do is to reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse that was blown. Additionally, you should also determine the reason why the fuse blew since it might indicate an underlying problem with your generator.

5.    Current and voltage

In case there is no output from your generator, use your voltmeter by checking the output once you have started your generator. It must produce a voltage between 125-135 volts when off-load along with a supply of 63 Hz. The moment load is applied; it should change to 110 volts and 58 Hz. If your generator is not supplying these voltages, there might be an issue with the exhaust system, governor, valves, piston rings or even the engine. In such cases, it is best to call in a professional to check on your portable generator.


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