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General News · 19th October 2010
John Sprungman
We're into the season of power outages. There's a scheduled one coming Friday. If you have a backup generator, this information may be helpful. When some generators sit for a long time without use, the windings demagnetize, lose their polarization. The gas engine runs but you get no power.

I have a 5000w Honda genny that did this when it was practically new. I phoned the shop where I bought it in Comox and they told me to take a lamp cord, bare the wires, tape them to a C or D flashlight battery and plug the cord into the generator's 120V outlet with the generator running. I thought maybe they just wanted to kill me so I wouldn't bring it back, but they insisted it would work and it did.

Since then I've run into several other people with similar generators who had the same problem, and the battery trick has worked for them. It is important to use a lamp cord that has one wider prong (the negative side) and connect that wire to the base of your battery. The wire from the narrower prong (positive) goes to the + end of the battery. Fasten the bare wire ends to the battery firmly with several wraps of electrical tape.

Now, don't hold the battery while you do this, set it on the ground: With the generator motor running and the power switch on, put plug into the generator's 120v AC outlet. If de-magnetization is your problem, the voltage indicator on your genny will jump right up and you'll have juice. Unplug your device and save it for next time.