We live off grid in southern Arizona. In September, 2009, we bought our first Yamaha EF2000iS portable generator.
Despite the heavy use it’s had–and a bit of unfortunate abuse due to my carelessness–it’s been running now for an average of 20 hours per day for more than 17 months…and it’s still going.
It’s using a bit of oil these days, though, and is starting to “miss” enough to indicate the need for a carburetor job or a thorough fuel line cleaning, probably both. Since we power two TV sets, one computer with printer, and two 40 watt lights–plus charging the 840 amp battery bank I use to run power tools–I’ll be ordering a second, identical model after posting this review. (Then we can power down the first unit, take it to our favorite gennie-fixer, and see what’s what.)
The problems we’ve had with all that heavy usage are minor if you know the score:
1. After a bit more than a month of running hard under low load in high heat conditions, the machine “died hard” (clearly choked to death) and would not restart. Turned out the problem was the in-muffler, cone shaped wire spark arrestor screen, which I had not cleaned regularly as should have been done.
A bigger problem was that carbon (or whatever) buildup made it impossible to remove the screen by normal methods. So I drilled it out (snagged the drill bit, but hey), then ripped the remaining shreds away with a pair of needle nosed pliers. After that, the generator worked perfectly, no starting problems at all…and no spark arrestor, either. This could be spooky in RV situations, but we’re set up so that sparks are not a problem. Since that day, the EF2000is has never failed to start and run unless the oil was low.
2. It had a tendency to wear out starter ropes, breaking them right next to the pull handle. We solved this (on about the 3rd or 4th new rope) by “sheathing” that section of rope (prior to installation) with rubber (electrical) shrink wrap, just making a bit of a “rubber baby buggy bumper” to keep the rope from scraping directly on the “exit hole”. Since then (about 8 months), the rope has not broken once.
3. The side panel that you remove to check and/or change the oil (and service the air cleaner, etc.) is normally fastened with two screws set into metal receivers. One of those receivers (the one on the left side) tore loose from its seating one day–allowing the screw and receiver to spin in place together without accomplishing much. I eventually ripped the entire thing out and have since been fastening the panel in place with only one screw…which of course has allowed the panel to warp noticeably.
But those items are “no big deal”.
It was only a few months ago that I changed the spark plug for the first time. There was so much carbon accumulated on the plug that the spark gap had closed to almost nothing…and yet the machine simply refused to die. I’d never before seen any engine that could run with a plug in that condition.
This will be our 4th Yamaha generator purchase (the first 2 were 1000 watt units); Yamaha is the only brand we’ll consider buying until further notice.
(For small, electronics-friendly generators, that is. As of October of 2013 we owned five different brands of larger generators, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 watts in size. We’d likely be better off switching those out to Yamaha, too, but the big beasts are available at local stores, they’re cheaper than the better built Yamaha machines, and so….)
UPDATE: MARCH 3, 2011
We ordered a new EF2000iS (the one shown above finally wore out enough to start missing noticeably). The replacement showed up this morning, a day earlier than forecast by the shipper, courtesy of FedEx. It seemed best, despite a lot of interest from a curious Gato kitten, to do a few things indoors where tools are handy:
1. Remove from box and trash warranty card.
2. Wrap a bit of duct tape around the starter rope next to the handle. This is simply to hold down the wear on the rope which (as noted above) tends to break at that point. (Didn’t take a photo of that.)
3. Remove the two spark arrestor screens, which proved to be no small task in the case of the cone shaped screen situated inside the exhaust pipe (and extending well into the muffler itself). This of course voided the warranty immediately, but (a) the machine–as noted above–will clog up and die otherwise and (b) we have plenty of external “spark protection” in our current setup.
Not that we’ve ever seen a Yamaha generator throw even one spark out through the exhaust…but as a machine wears, anything is possible.
The manual calls for pulling that cone screen regularly to brush out the carbon. Unfortunately, it was a bear to remove; no one in his or her right mind would voluntarily go through the process more than once per machine.
The in-house photos came out pretty blurry, but here they are, anyway.
Don’t Forget the Oil!
The final touches prior to actually starting the generator for the first time are simple but crucial:
1. The manual calls for a bit of oil to be added to the air filter foam. Catches and holds a lot more of the incoming dust that way.
2. Speaking of oil, the crankcase is empty when shipped from the factory. Yamaha wires a big tag onto the starter rope handle, warning the new owner in both English and Japanese of this fact. Like all manufacturers, they pitch their own brand…but I’ve been using Pennzoil for a long time, and it’s cheaper–at least at Wal-Mart. Before the oil, though, I always throw in a touch of Slick 50. (We’re convinced the older machine wouldn’t have survived this long without it.)
3. Gasoline. Duh.
Finally, it was time to open the gas cap vent toggle, turn on the ignition switch, pull the choke out fully, and pull the starter rope. Yep. Started on the first pop, just like every Yamaha generator we’ve ever owned.
At this moment, our new little beauty is powering this computer (and of course Fox News on my office TV). Its throaty purr is downright incredible to hear with one ear while listening to its older, worn (10,000 + hours in service) brother clankety-rumble along with the other ear, for sure for sure! But Older Bro needs to keep running, just idling along, until it runs out of fuel on its own accord–sometime this evening, mostly likely. Then it can go into storage until we have the money to have it refurbished.
Another day, another Yamaha at the Border Fort.
Update: October 11, 2013: That header photo, way up there at the top of the page? That’s this same machine as it looks today, more than 18,000 usage hours later. We bought our third Yamaha EF2000iS more than a year ago, waiting for this one to wear out–but it just keeps on running. The new one is sitting in storage, still in the original box.
Product rating: Obviously, with no hesitation whatsoever, the Yamaha EF2000iS pure sine wave portable generator gets a full FIVE STARS. We’ve never seen another machine in its class that could match it.