Pros: Ran everything we needed during power outages
Cons: The 240 fried after 6 years.
After experiencing numerous power outages that lasted for days at a time, we decided we needed a generator. Of course, everyone else was in the same predicament and generators were already out of stock at the stores with the exception of the smaller wattage generators, which would be of no use to us. I finally found one 5,000-watt generator left that was a 3-hour drive one-way from our home and begged the store to hold it for me while I made the trip. The last one in stock was the Coleman Powermate Pro-Gen 5000 #535202. Upon arrival at the store, I received "the look" from other customers that were standing next to my box, hoping I did not make it. I did not realize that this was a popular model at the time.
9-HP Briggs & Stratton Vanguard OHV (overhead valve) engine
5,000 rated watts
6,250 surge watts (maximum watts)
Voltage is 120/240
Fuel tank holds 5-gallons of unleaded regular gas
Low oil alert
Weight is 160 pounds
How to Use the Generator if Your Home is Not Wired for a Generator
Our former home was not wired for a generator, so we set the generator outside of our patio sliding doors. We bought special heavy-duty generator extension cords and plugged them into the generator and then ran them through the patio door to a couple of power surge protector strips. From there we ran other extension cords to reach the other places in our home that needed to have power, such as the refrigerator, lamplights, and the TV.
The major appliances that you cannot run when your home is not wired for a generator are the furnace, hot water tank, stove/oven, and dishwasher, simply because they are already wired into your home.
I do not know of any generator manufacturer that would recommend that you should run electronic equipment off of the generator. So I cannot recommend that you do it, however, I will say that we have always ran our TV's and computers off the generator along with a electronic power surge protector and have not had any problems. But, this is your risk and you should always have an additional load into the generator if you decide to run any electronic equipment.
Using the Generator if Your House is Wired for a Generator
When we moved, we had our house wired for a generator with a special outside switch next to the generator and electrical box. When the power goes out, we turn on the generator, let it run for a few minutes, then flip the switch to transfer from electrical to generator power. We turn off heavy wattage items such as the hot water tank and the furnace with the inside circuit breakers.
Examples of What We Ran off the Generator
We were out of power this past winter with our first snow for 6 days.
Heating: Luckily, we thought ahead about this problem which is why we had the house wired for the generator and bought a wood furnace that would heat the house and blow the heat with just the furnace blower which does not take near the watts as the heater coil running with the blower of a furnace. We also have a wood-burning fireplace.
Hot Water: We had bought with the wood furnace a water coil which takes the cool water and runs it through the furnace and puts it into a holding tank. Well, that was a joke; it only put out lukewarm water, which is ok but still not hot enough for us to take showers. So, we decided to see if we could run our hot water tank, which is 5,000 watts off the generator. Each afternoon, we turned off everything in the house and flipped the circuit breaker switch to turn the hot water tank on and we were amazed that the generator did not shut off and kept running. You could hear the changes in the motor with the higher watts running but after an hour we would have hot water once again.
Cooking: Using the stove or oven of course takes a lot of watts, but we did it! I would try to use just one heating element on the stove or run the oven and tried not to run both unless I had the oven on low.
Laundry: The washing machine ran fine with no problems. The dryer would run but it would struggle since the heating element cycles on and off. So, I hung the clothes up next to the wood furnace, let them dry some, and then throw them in the dryer for a short period of time.
Refrigerator and Freezer: We have both a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and an upright freezer. Both of these appliances remained running the whole time until we needed to heat the hot water tank.
Typical Electrical Appliance Wattages
Television: 300-400 running watts, 300-400 starting/surge watts
Microwave oven: 700 running watts, 1000 starting/surge watts
Furnace blower (1/3 hp): 600 running watts, 1800 starting/surge watts
Vacuum cleaner: 600 running watts, 750 starting/surge watts
Refrigerator/Freezer: 800 running watts, 2400 starting/surge watts
Toaster: 1200 running watts, 1200 starting/surge watts
Coffee maker: 1200 running watts, 1200 starting/surge watts
Stove element burner: 1500 running watts, 1500 starting/surge watts
Water heater: 5000 running watts, 5000 starting/surge watts
Water well pump (1/2 hp): 1000 running watts, 3000 starting/surge watts
Sump pump (1/3 hp): 700 running watts, 2100 starting/surge watts
Washer: 1440 running watts, 1440 starting/surge watts
Dryer: 5520 running watts (which is why it was hard to use)
For any remaining items not listed here, the formula to calculate is as follows: The formula for finding wattage is amps x volts = watts. An electric motor nameplate states 5 amps at 120 volts, 5 amps x 120 volts = 600 watts. Multiply this by 3. This will show the starting watts needed. 600 watts x 3 = 1800 watts to start. 1 kW = 1000 watts.
For the six days we were out of power using everything as stated in the sections above, we went through 10 gallons of gas per each 24-hour period. We checked the oil daily and never needed to add any. The generator ran constantly for about 150 hours. The only time we had to shut it off was to refuel which we let it cool down for about 5-7 minutes before adding fuel.
Generators are noisy but all motorized equipment is. We built a special generator house for ours with proper ventilation, so we do not hear our generator running while we are inside the house.
Coleman Powermate Kit to Make It Roll
Coleman offers a Powermate Kit that is made out of all steel construction to place your generator on to make your generator portable for easy moving since it has wheels. It is called Coleman Powermate Cart Generator Kit PA0650100.02. Just click on the link to read my review on it.
As with every engine, you must check or change the oil and check or change the spark plugs. Also, you must check/change the spark arrestor and clean the fuel filter.
Final Impressions of the Coleman Power mate Pro Generator
We love our generator and it has provided us excellent reliability.
The warranty is for 2 years.
Update as of May 2004
This generator is used frequently and the only part we have had to replace, other than the regular maintenance, is the gas cap. It is plain to see that this is a reliable product that is well worth the investment.
Update as of December 2004
When we were once again out of power we have to occasionally check and see if the electrical power is available to use. In order to do this we have to go outside and move the big handle from generator to electrical. Well, in doing so a big flash occurred in the generator room and we noticed our water no longer worked, our range also no longer worked, but the lights on the range worked. Our dryer turned on so we assumed it worked. We were baffled. The generator still ran so now I was melting snow on my hotplate for water. Now I truly understand that a pot of snow only gives you a 1/4 pot of water.
We called an electrician and paid $150 to find out that our 240 panel on the generator was fried. If we knew at the time that our water well pump operated on a 240 we could have started to fill the pieces of the puzzle in, but we know now and so do you if this should occur. We did not pay out any more money to find out why this happened.
We had to have 240 for our home so we bought another generator. I will put the link here after I write the review.