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Old 07-07-2018, 11:59 AM   #1
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13.5k Penguin, Easystart, Honda eu2000 Troubleshooting Please

It's sure hot here on the west coast today (high 105* F)!

I'm prepping at home for an upcoming trip in 2 weeks. Got the eu2000i generator out, fired it up, and turned on the Penguin I 13.5k AC (fan low) to shakedown everything before we head out. My Penguin does have an Easystart installed about a year ago. Last year, things worked just fine.

Today, to my surprise, the compressor wouldn't come on. I can hear the generator lug and almost stall (eco not on). Same with the A/C fan. Then I think the Easystart steps in and and removes the compressor load recognizing it's not going to fly. It all tries again in something like 5 minutes.

I'm at 1000ft elevation if that means anything, about 95 degrees at the moment.

I resorted to plugging the trailer in to the household outlet and everything works dandy.

Where should I start troubleshooting? Honda generator?
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Old 07-07-2018, 01:53 PM   #2
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Some more information:

I actually have 2x eu2000i generators. Tried both, and both fail to start my 13.5k penguin compressor with easystart, exhibiting the same symptoms as above.

I believe I have shut down my converter, by turning off my #2 20amp breaker. Actually, I've tried turning off all breakers, except the main 30amp and 20amp A/C breaker. Nothing else in the trailer is on.

The fuel sitting in my generators is about 10mths old, with Sta-bil. Premium fuel (not that the generators call for it, but I also use this same fuel tote for my car which uses premium). Pretty sure it's ethanol laced fuel.
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Old 07-07-2018, 02:08 PM   #3
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Hi Pteck. I saw your e-mail to our sales account. I wasn't subscribed to your thread here, but now I am. I'll reply to your e-mail shortly.
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Old 07-07-2018, 04:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
Some more information:

I actually have 2x eu2000i generators. Tried both, and both fail to start my 13.5k penguin compressor with easystart, exhibiting the same symptoms as above.

I believe I have shut down my converter, by turning off my #2 20amp breaker. Actually, I've tried turning off all breakers, except the main 30amp and 20amp A/C breaker. Nothing else in the trailer is on.

The fuel sitting in my generators is about 10mths old, with Sta-bil. Premium fuel (not that the generators call for it, but I also use this same fuel tote for my car which uses premium). Pretty sure it's ethanol laced fuel.


My AC unit requires 3500 W. So I have 2 - 2000 Honda generators. One is a "companion" so I can link together for about 3800 W. That works for me.

Is one generator enough for your AC compressor power draw?
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:57 PM   #5
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I have to commend Micro-Air / Matteo. Shot them out an email this morning and they responded promptly with some troubleshooting tips.

I was asked to do a load test on my generators. Fortunately I have an ammeter and an AC line splitter. Also two hair dryers.

Armed as such...

Generator 1:
Generator wouldn't even hold 11 amps before dropping its output. I tried to ease on the load and every time I went over 10 amps, it started surging and dropped its output.

Generator 2:
This one did better. But still not up to spec. I was able to do a bit over 13 amps until it resorted to surging and dropping its output, before recovering.

Salient question from Matteo:
Quote:
"Does the generator light its overload LED when the failed compressor start attempt occurs?"
No, neither one trips its overload LED. I believe this means neither are being overloaded prior to their output dropping out. Said another way, neither are meeting their full outputs.

Matteo notes that these generators should be able to output a full 15-16amps. Neither are doing that before they drop out.

In my testing, I'm also noting that both need some choke in order to not stall with some load. I'm suspecting both need a tune up. Specifically, since I'm unable to source non ethanol fuel down here, the carbs and jets are getting gummed up.

Of course, none of which is Matteo's/Easystart's fault, but they provided me excellent advice just the same. A sincere thank you for such class acts.

Going to get some cleaner and gaskets to service these generators shortly.

Matteo, if you have time, what are your thoughts on the new eu2200i?
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:12 AM   #6
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Many thanks for your outstanding work, compliments, and follow-up, Pteck! Your issue isn't at all uncommon, and given the nature of how compressor's abruptly stall when subjected to low voltage, everyone is intially inclined to lay the blame on the EasyStart. That is why I asked you to use more "resistive load" appliances to conduct the load test, since resistive loads will "keep operating", even when the generator's output voltage starts to collapse. We understand this at Micro-Air, and have invested a LOT of time researching the Honda EU2000i for this exact reason. I greatly appreciate your exorating the EasyStart, but I'm not going to leave you hanging from here since we're not about "throwing the problem over the wall" here at Micro-Air. There's no reason why you shouldn't be enjoying the benefits of EasyStart on either of your Honda EU2000i generators like everyone else can!

That said, first off, you don't need a new generator (yet)! The new Honda EU2200i and even the Westinghouse iGen2500 that we now distribute are great choices, but that's a costly solution to what I believe is a simpler problem.

-----------------------------------------------------

How an Inverter Generator Works
You may or may not know the painful and slightly-embarrassing saga of me purchasing a BROKEN Honda EU2000i with a very complex problem (posted in a power equipment forum at this link). That 10-month odyssey into the guts of the Honda EU2000i - including 2 separate teardowns of EVERY last part down to the piston rings and just about every part replaced - taught me quite a bit. An inverter generator is a unique machine. It has an "engine side" with a 3-phase AC alternator (rectified to DC), an "inverter side", and a "DC storage (capacitor) bank" in between. Using water as an analogy to electricity is a great way to understand how this machine works. Water pressure (PSI) is the analog of voltage, water flowrate (gallons/minute) is the analog of current (amps), and water storage (gallons) is the analog of total energy (coulombs stored in capacitors of microfarads). Think of the engine side as a "water pump", the capacitor bank as a "bucket", and the inverter as a "siphon". If the engine side can't keep the bucket full by adding water while the siphon is taking water away, the "pressure" (i.e. voltage) at the output of the siphon drops. This is exactly what is happening to any inverter generator when its engine can't keep up with the demand. Note how this issue always occurs well below the output current limit of the generator where it will light its overload LED (16.7A or greater on a Honda EU2000i). That is exactly why I asked you the salient question.

What Causes Engine Power Loss
There are many contributors to loss of engine HP. The causes in order of likelihood are: 1) fuel delivery, 2) air delivery (including altitude), 3) spark, 4) mechanical load, 5) compression loss. Although my investigation into the "broken" Honda yielded #4 as the root cause (i.e. a shorted stator "braking" the motor), the problem with your two generators are almost assuredly #1 - fuel delivery. You did mention you put fuel stabilizer into the tanks of your Hondas at the end of last season, but the owner of Micro-Air was a motorcycle drag racer and engine builder for most of his life and he swears fuel stabilizers are total garbage in many cases. The carburetor comes off very easily on the Honda: two nuts, a screw to hold in the body of the air cleaner after removing its cover, a fuel line, and the electrical connector for the servo motor that controls the throttle setting. I'd take the entire carburetor out, disassemble it, separate the servo motor, and soak all of its metal parts in carburetor cleaner, Gumout, kerosene, or some equivalent. Then, blow out all the jets and tiny ports with compressed air, and I'm willing to bet you'll be back up to full power!

I hope this helps you. If you need it, I have a copy of the Honda EU2000i service manual, and you can also find it online.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:31 AM   #7
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Kudos to Matteo/Micro Air for your support and help with a problem not even related to your product! You all impressed me at the International in Escanaba where I purchased an Easy Start. I am even more impressed now.
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:18 AM   #8
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I tried various stabilizers and have come to the conclusion the best thing do to is to empty the gas tank and run the engine dry just before you store the engine.
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:29 AM   #9
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13.5k Penguin, Easystart, Honda eu2000 Troubleshooting Please

Yup. A carb bowl full of air and nice and clean will not accumulate gunk.
It should be noted that not all gas will be out of the bowl when the engine quits. Need to open a drain cock or bolt to drain out every last bit of gasoline in the carb or it will sit there, dry out, and leave ‘varnish’ just waiting for fresh gas to send it where it can cause maximum pain. Gasohol adds the problem by always attracting water and corroding things.
That’s why I plan to run my Champion 3400 dual fuel inverter generator ONLY on propane if at all possible to reduce possible issues
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:30 AM   #10
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Thank you all, great input!

So I did some sleuthing on the interwebs and found some tutorials on how to clean the carb and jets. So late last night, dug into the generators after the family went to sleep.



I have to say, I love Honda's, as all their products including generators are quite easy to service. I thought I'd be stuck without fresh gaskets on hand, but they came apart and went together just fine.

Both generators proved to have fueling issues.
1) Generator 1 that wouldn't hold 11 amps
Lots of varnish and gummed up orifices within the carb. Lots of carb cleaner, and some fine wire cleaned these out.

2) Generator 2, that would do 13 amps
Barely any varnish, but lots of corrosion and contaminants in bowl itself. Same generous doses of cleaner and rags. Fortunately the rest of the carb, especially its sensitive parts are squeaky clean. I'll have a replacement bowl the next time I tear into this.

Both fired up with renewed vigor. Once fired up, they immediately didn't need any choke at all and settled into a smooth rhythm. Load tests showed they both easily went to 16 amps with no hiccups. The engines just dug in and said is that all you got? Without any surge to speak of. I did test both to overload such that their overload lights illuminated.

I'm confident the fueling issues are resolved. The saga continues...

Load test snapshot: 15.25 amps at 88.2V
Click image for larger version

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Old 07-08-2018, 11:39 AM   #11
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With both generators running much better, I tried to fire up the A/C again.

Alas, testing both in turn, neither could not get the compressor to start before the EasyStart "pulled the plug" so to speak. As the picture shows above, it seems like I'm getting too much voltage drop at higher loads.

As a reminder, both generators were able to power my A/C last year singularly, when I had initially installed my EasyStart.

Anyone have any guesses?

My generators are very likely the culprits here. I'm suspecting it's the old fuel in both at this point. Going to get some fresh stuff to see if I can't figure out this riddle.
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:40 AM   #12
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I appreciate you following up with the "rest of the story". Great information that I'll store away. Also, appreciate your sharing so that the MicroAir people could respond. It made me feel very good about my purchase of an EasyStart earlier this season. This is using Airforums to its best! See you down the road.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:02 PM   #13
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Small engines should be run on clear gas, no ethanol. Honda recommends no more than E10, sounds like the ethanol laced fuel has damaged your generators.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kay0 View Post
Small engines should be run on clear gas, no ethanol. Honda recommends no more than E10, sounds like the ethanol laced fuel has damaged your generators.
Although Pteck mentioned he couldn't find any no-ethanol (marine) fuel where he was, he didn't say that he used E85, which would have indeed been bad for the engines. E10 is what standard automotive gasoline is, and yes Honda clearly recommends nothing more special than that in the regular grade (87 octane), as they describe at this link.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
With both generators running much better, I tried to fire up the A/C again.

Alas, testing both in turn, neither could not get the compressor to start before the EasyStart "pulled the plug" so to speak. As the picture shows above, it seems like I'm getting too much voltage drop at higher loads.

As a reminder, both generators were able to power my A/C last year singularly, when I had initially installed my EasyStart.

Anyone have any guesses?

My generators are very likely the culprits here. I'm suspecting it's the old fuel in both at this point. Going to get some fresh stuff to see if I can't figure out this riddle.
This is most disappointing, Pteck, in spite of your heroic efforts here. Stale gasoline is certainly a possible cause, so as you already intend, definitely replace it with fresh fuel before you do anything else.

During your clandestine carburetor cleaning , I assume you really did a good job on that main jet and the air ports the mechanic talked about in the first video? The main jet is relatively easy, but those air ports are critical, and sometimes very stubborn to truly get clean. For this reason, I actually gave up on the carburetor in my generator repair project and simply purchased a new one to completely eliminate it as a cause. I'm not implying that should be necessary for you since all the symptoms are pointing to your carburetor, but I've read many times that people's attempts at servicing a carburetor fail to do what they intended. Since your generator's output voltage is clearly sagging quite badly still, and you believe your cleaning efforts had some positive effect, I would try it again, this time soaking and agitating the carburetor in some real cleaner for as long as the directions allow, then thoroughly blowing out all of the individual ports with compressed air.

You might also want to consider a new spark plug. As unrelated as it may sound, a similar sort of Honda EU2000i investigation with another Airstream customer like you from about 6 months ago ended up being resolved by spark plug replacement. I know, this seems very counter-intuitive, but it's a low-cost way to eliminate spark as a cause.
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