The Coleman Pulse 1850- A good, fair value
Dec 1, 2000
Review by Robert_Betts
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Easily available, inexpensive, good service
Cons:somewhat noisy, some parts flimsy,
The marine environment, especially in the sub-tropics, is one of the most difficult that exists. Having lived on a boat for the last ten years I have seen quite a bit of machinery disintegrate into rubble. Some is due to salt damage and the remainder due to ultraviolet radiation damage, which causes plastics to become brittle and break. The Pulse 1850 does contain many parts which are aluminum, and dark colored plastics which are more resistant to the salt environment and UV radiation.
Recommend this product?
Several years ago I bought a used Coleman 1450, often known as a “suitcase” generator. I used it until it finally found its resting-place due to the environmental damages to it. The design was nearly the same as the pulse 1850 and from the outside you could not easily tell the difference. It performed very reliably with a minimum of problems. However the problems were extremely annoying and have been inherited in the 1850’s design.
Recently I bought a new Pulse 1850. To start it I set the choke on and give it one pull. Sometimes it wants the second but by then it starts up. It runs rough at first but rapidly smoothes out when the choke is turned off.
Coleman seems to be skimping more and more on small items. The 1450 had several covers over various parts which the 1850 lacks, specifically over the spark plug and to dress the bolts in the handle. The pull cord is even thinner than the 1450’s and in fact, seems quite fragile. Worse yet, to replace this cord, a frequent chore with the 1450, one must practically disassemble the entire engine. The choke control is a very flimsy-looking white plastic affair, which sheered off from the old unit due to embrittlement by UV radiation. As for portability, well it does weigh 68 lbs., a rather hefty “suitcase.”
Coleman does enjoy a large distributorship and has many authorized repair shops. This makes them easy to buy and get repaired, a factor strongly in their favor. I bought mine at Home Depot. It is certainly nosier than some other generators, but the noise is tolerable and it is considerably less expensive and easier to find than quieter Hondas or Yamahas.
Ok, it is a generator, so how well does it generate? 1850 refers to its maximum power output, surge to be more specific. 1850 looks nicer on the label than the actual 1500, which it will output continuously. On a fiberglass boat, the major tool used is a grinder with a sanding disk. This is also the tool that requires the most electric, about 1000 watts, well within the range of this generator. This translates into about 12-100 watt bulbs, a considerable amount of light.
Possessing an oscilloscope, I was able to examine the waveform. It was rather “spikey” on its upswing and might not be particularly good for running sensitive electronics. I avoid the problem by running my computer from an inverter and using the generator to charge my batteries. Lights or motors would not be bothered by this “hash.”
The pulse 1850 generator also outputs 12 volts DC for battery charging. However it only delivers 15 amps which is not a lot for charging large battery banks used in a boat. A better idea for this application is to use a large commercial type charger, which can output 50-100 amps.
The electrical controls are quite easy. A run/stop rocker switch, two outlets, which can easily be split off into more as necessary and two auto resetting breakers to protect the unit.
Economy satisfies me. I get about 4-5 hrs. on a gallon of gas, its tank capacity.
Now some advice from experience:
Most any repair shop will tell you that the majority of problems in small gas engines stem from water in the gas. To curtail this problem and save repair bills, install a water separating fuel filter. Raycor makes a small one, which is excellent, but expensive at about $35. Several in-line filters are available from your local auto parts supply houses for a dollar or two. Remember it’s water not sediment, which is at the root of the problem and choose the filter accordingly.
Another fact of life for small gas engines is that the fuel MUST be drained if it is to be put away for any amount of time. Fuel stabilizing additives help but are no substitute for draining the carburetor and fuel lines.
All in all I like the generator. I do not expect it to be a permanent addition to my boat, but will replace it when it has served its grueling year or two in a very harsh environment.
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