When you buy a new car you are told how to break in your new engine. You are not supposed to drive fast, carry heavy loads, and so on for the first few hundred miles. The same applies to generators. You cannot use them at full strength right away
Breaking-in is a process for some generators where you put oil in the oil tank and gas in the gas tank. Then run it for an hour without load. After that hour, drain the oil and refill the oil tank. Then run the generator again for another hour
To learn more about breaking in a generator including finding out the steps to take for specific brands, just continue to read our article. It explores the topic so you get the steps you need for most generic and brand-name generators.
One of the characteristics you do not need when bringing home a new mechanical device like a generator is impatience. You need to be patient with this new device because you could ruin it if you brought it into full-time service too soon.
The reason you break in a generator is that the factory parts are not perfect. There are little metal shavings that need to come off some of those parts. Then since the generators are shipped without oil, you need to lubricate all moving parts.
What it means to break in a generator is that you are getting it ready for full-time duty. The metal shavings are the reason you are changing the oil frequently during this break-in period. The oil will wash those shavings out and bring them to the oil tank where you dispose of them by changing the oil.
Then at the same time, the new oil helps lubricate all the moving parts inside the engine and makes cylinder heads and walls smooth. You are reducing friction inside the chamber so the generator operates at peak levels all the time.
The break-in period helps the generator model last a very long time.
For the most part, yes these devices do need a break-in period. If you do not properly follow all the steps and change the oil frequently, then you would be shortening its lifespan.
If that happens, then you are spending more sooner than you planned to. Buying a new generator is not going to be inexpensive and your budget could take a hit.
Before you buy, check with the dealer to make sure you have the right instructions to do the break-in period correctly. Those steps are vital if you want your new generator to function correctly and for a long time.
It would be a wise idea to ignore any dealer who says that the generators have been pre-broken in. That may be possible but not for all generators. However, we have not been able to confirm that claim. It is best to do a break-in regardless.
Doing a break-in is not going to take a long time and it is time well spent. Plus, the oil tanks on most RV generators are not that large so you will not be using a lot of oil or fuel during this time.
The first reason you are doing this procedure is to protect your generator. Machining metal does not leave a perfect finish inside the engine or other engine compartments.
There will be rough edges that need to be smoothed out and that smoothing out process brings tiny metal shavings to vital engine areas. Without getting rid of those shavings, you could easily damage the generator.
If the company finds out you did not do a break-in period, they probably will void the warranty. That means the repair or replacement will be out of pocket. Cleaning the generator of those metal shavings is essential.
Then, the second reason is you are helping the generator run smoothly. Without lubrication, those metal-on-metal parts would seize, and again, you would ruin the device and need to pay out of pocket to replace it.
In other words, what you are doing is protecting your generator so it will be ready to work when you need to use it. That is why the break-in period is so important. You will be able to use the generator when the power goes out, you need extra power, and so on.
There are different steps for different generator brands if you can find them. According to one owner, the break-in steps are not listed in the owner’s manual so you need to talk to the dealer first before making the purchase.
The steps are fairly basic and simple as you shall soon see. You just need a little oil, a little gas, and a lot of patience. The patience comes in as it will take the better part of one morning to complete the different steps.
You do not have to bring the generator to full power to do this task. Running the generator at idle should suffice and make sure the parts are cleaned and lubricated thoroughly. The different steps will tell you if you have to go past idle or not.
While every generator needs a break-in period, do not assume that each brand has the same process. They may and you can check the upcoming steps for the different brands to see if they are the same or not.
Step one- know the type of oil your generator needs. Buy at least a couple of quarts of oil for this break-in period.
Step two- buy the proper fuel for your generator. It can be a gas, diesel, or propane model
Step three- lubricate the spark plug chamber. Remove the spark plug and add a few drops of oil to the chamber. Now with the spark plug out, pull the recoil starter between 8 and 10 times to lubricate the chamber
Step four- replace the spark plug, fill the oil tank and the fuel tank if you have not already done so. Then start the generator per the ignition system for your specific generator. Electric starters may have different instructions here so read your manual
Step five- once the engine is started let it run for an hour without any load. After the hour is over, stop the generator and change the oil. You can repeat this step a second time before moving on to the next step
Step six- after changing the oil, restart the generator and plug in electrical devices that need between 500 and 1000 watts. Leave this setup running for 2 hours.
Never break in a generator using peak or maximum load. Once the two hours are up you have broken in your generator and it is ready for full-time use. Some people say just let the generator run until the fuel runs out.
This is a choice left up to you but check to see what the manual says about letting the fuel tank go dry. If it doesn’t say anything check with a generator technician or dealer to see if this is safe to do.
As you have read in the previous section, you start the break-in period with no load. The first hour is mandatory but the second hour after changing the oil is not. The second hour will be up to your preference and decision. It won’t harm the generator if you do this step
After the first or second hour, then you need to run the generator for two hours with up to 75% of the load. As we warned in the previous section, never break in your device at maximum or peak load.
You are breaking the device by not running it to power your RV. You will need to do both options during the break-in period. As you can see, patience is needed as this task can take between 3 to 4 hours just to run the generator.
A little more time is spent getting your fuel, oil and priming the spark plug chamber. Most of the information we are providing deals with portable generators, not built-in models.
Make sure when you buy a new RV that you discuss the breaking-in process of the built-in generator with your dealer. There may be some differences that you should be aware of. Read more about generator break in load or no load.
1. Fill the oil tank with 10 W 30 traditional oil and fill the fuel tank
2. Run the generator without load for 30 minutes, 20 minutes at minimum. Do not run the generator for very long without a load
3. Stop the engine and change the oil. It is recommended that you provide a short cool-down time so you do not burn yourselves.
4. Once the oil has been changed run the generator again for 7 to 8 hours. Only connect a small load to the generator during this time.
5. After the 7th or 8th hour, stop the device, change the oil with the same conventional oil you have been using, and get ready to add load.
6. Start the generator and work the load up to 50% over time. You will run the device for 10 hours during this stretch.
Repeat the last step if you want but after that second stretch, you can use the generator normally if you want. The instructions state that synthetic oil should not be used during the break-in period.
For some reason, synthetic oil does not help the piston ring to break in. But after the break-in period, you can use synthetic oil if you want to. These instructions are for the Predator 3500, check with your dealer or look in the owner’s manual for instructions for other Predator models.
The following instructions come from the manual for the Generac 004692-0. With each company making multiple models of their generators, it is not possible to place more than one set of instructions here
1. Set the generator’s switch to auto. It should read auto/off/manual
2. Turn the utility power supply to the transfer switch OFF. The unit should still start and the transfer switch will go to standby.
3. Using the transfer’s switch built-in emergency load center, turn the circuits on and load only about 25% of the load, Run the generator for one hour at this setting.
4. Next, bump up the load to 50% and run for another hour
5. After that hour, bump the load up to 75% and run for a third hour.
6. When that hour is up, move the load to 100% and run the generator for one more hour. You should run the generator for up to 4 hours in total so far and after filling it with oil
7. During the end of the last hour, turn the utility power supply back on so the transfer switch can switch from standby to utility power. You are still on automatic so when you do this step, the generator will run for one more minute and then shut down.
8. Let the generator cool down at this point
9. Change the oil and filter. At this point, you are to switch to synthetic oil per the instructions found in section 4.3 of the manual. The generator is ready for full-time service when these steps are done.
You can read and possibly download the manual at this link.
One of the problems with this brand of generator is that the manual does not provide a break-in set of instructions. We have come across this information twice now and you should double-check with the dealer to make sure this is true.
The attitude some owners have is that if the manual does not provide a set of break-in instructions then you do not have to break the device in. However, there is a set of break-in instructions if you look hard enough online.
1. Fill the oil tank with 10 W 30 conventional oil. Remember synthetic oil does not break in the piston ring
2. Fill the fuel tank with premium no ethanol fuel. Turn the engine over without starting about 15 to 20 times
3. Turn the switch on, open the carburetor intake cover, pulled the air filter down, and spray one shot of starter fluid inside the carburetor (this was recommended by Honda technicians). Pull the starter cord and let the engine go to idle.
4. Use the ECO mode on the control panel and run in this mode for one hour.
5. After 1 hour, change the oil, put the generator under a light load and run for another hour.
6. Change the oil one more time and run the generator under a light load for another 10 hours (yes, that is right). Increase the load to a moderate level during this time frame. Also, you can switch back and forth between ECO and normal run modes during these hours.
Switch to synthetic oil and run the generator normally.
According to one video, the first 5 hours of use is considered the break-in period for this brand of generator. During the break-in period, you are to stay AT OR BELOW the 50% of the maximum running watt load.
You can vary the load occasionally during this time, as long as you do not go over 50% load capacity. The adjustment of the load will also cause the engine speed to vary and help seat the piston rings.
When the 5 hours are up, change the oil and you are ready for full-time service. Like other brands, you need to use conventional 10 W 30 oil during the break-in time. After that, you can switch to synthetic oil if you want.
The fuel you will need should be 10% of ethanol or less in the gas. Like Honda, there were no break-in instructions found in the manual. We checked the manual for the 2500 model as well as the 7500’s manual and there were no instructions for this period.
Even under the maintenance section, there were no instructions. We went to that section as one little paragraph said to look there concerning the oil during the break-in period. Nothing was found that provided any steps to follow.
Breaking in your new generator is not always a guarantee your generator will last a long time. It is just an important step to help it last for many years. Some owners will be in too big of a rush to use their new generator and end up shortening the device’s lifespan.
Others go by the manual’s omission of instructions as a sign they do not need to take this step. Do not follow their lead. Find the break-in steps for your specific model and follow them.