Pros: Wheels/handle means easy to move around, electric start, battery charger included, well designed controls, powerful.
I set out to purchase a generator for my parents who are both in their mid-70's. As you might imagine, electric start was a must, as was portability. There was no way I was going to convince them to go for the expense of a standby generator with automatic changeover, so I also needed something simple enough for my father to operate since my mother is more technologically capable than he is!
Aware of Generac's reputation for sturdy equipment and purpose-built engines, I sifted through their offerings and settled on the 10000EXL based on my parents requirements; run two refrigerators, a television, lighting and a sump pump as needed, a furnace, and maybe a couple of window air conditioners.
I ordered the unit from a popular tool etailer and was told the unit would be drop-shipped from the manufacturer within 10 days and a delivery date would be provided at that time. On day 8 I was notified that shipping would be delayed somewhat due to a run on the model - I ordered it maybe two weeks after Hurricane Irene. Shortly after the first notification I was contacted again, this time with news that the unit is backordered up to a month. It eventually arrived on a date promised, nearly 35 days after the order date. I give the etailer credit for keeping me advised.
One thing to keep in mind when catalog shopping - shipping was advertised as "Free", however the fine print read that delivery to residential addresses would run an additional $75. I was lucky enough to have a commerical address with a loading dock available. Also, this machine weighs 250 pounds and will require equipment or numerous people to move around before it is unpacked.
Now, on to the machine itself. It comes packaged on a pallet and in thick cardboard. Unpacking was a matter of simply cutting open the box sides. The unit sits on a couple of thick cardboard spacers, high enough to allow installation of the wheels while still on the box base. The wheels attach without tools by simply inserting axles through the wheel and chassis, then locking them with hitch pins. A large, swing-down handle is already attached and is quite stout. With the wheels on, the 250-pound unit was no problem for my 90-pound, 74-year old mother to move around the garage - a huge relief!
The 10000EXL has some really nice features. First, a battery charger is provided. A fuel level gauge sits atop the 9-gallon tank. Pressurized lubrication and a spin-on filter mean longer engine life. Generac gives you a spare air filter, spark plug, and oil filter - basically, the first maintenance is on them. Overall, the construction and layout of the controls are solid and well thought out. Panel mounted fuel valve and choke controls are a nice touch.
The unit is shipped dry and there are plenty of warning stickers and tags indicating this. After adding oil and gasoline, I connected the starter lead (left off to prevent accidental starting) and started the unit for the first time. It fired up immediately and ran smoothly. LED's illuminate the control panel, but only when the unit is running - kinda self-defeating since you might still need a flashlight to get the unit running. I think Generac should consider powering the LED's on the battery for a few minutes once the charger is disconnected, indicating useage is imminent, or at least provide a button to provide momentary ilumination. This small oversight aside, the breakers, hour meter, power meter, and receptacles are all well placed and spaced.
Once running, the 10000EXL makes no apologies about being an industrial quality generator. In other words, it's not about to win any quiet competitions. The muffler does what it can, and the tone is low enough so that it won't be mistaken for an old lawnmower, but this is a loud machine that is clearly intended for emergency use. Your neighbors may not be too pleased with you unless you offer to let them run a cord!
I placed a resistive load on the unit by plugging in a large electric heater and a blow dryer. The governor kept the engine running at optimum speed, and the power meter barely moved under the ~3,000 watt load. Next, I ran a long extension cord (maybe 100-feet) to the 1-HP basement sump pump. The pump started easily and pumped out without any issues while the generator barely changed tone. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the meter while the pump ran, but I'm sure it didn't stress out.
I had an electrician/friend install an E-panel with a generator switch, plus he installed an outdoor generator receptacle so that no cords at all have to be run through the house. Running two refrigerators, the furnace fan, and about half the lights in the house resulted in a mere 40% load (about 30 amps). He told me this unit is very likely underrated and should be able to do much more than it's rated for.
The best part - after a short tutorial, my 74-year old mother was comfortable starting and shutting down the unit, wheeling it back into the corner of the garage, and plugging in the charger. Victory! The real test will come during the next power failure, but I think we're ready!
A few tips for anyone considering an emergency generator - make sure you have fuel stabilizer in the tank AND any stored fuel. This will help prevent bad gas from keeping you in the dark. Also, turn off the fuel valve BEFORE shutting down the generator in order to let the carburetor bowl run dry. Once the unit stops, shut off the run switch. Consider running synthetic oil rather than the standard oil provided with this machine. Synthetics endure long term storage much better and will withstand much more heat and stress than conventional oils. I ran this unit for about an hour on the standard oil, then drained it and refilled with Mobil 1 in the proper grade. Finally, make sure you exercise the generator for 15-20 minutes once a month. Hope this helps.