#1 How long with the unit run between oil changes and rebuilds? The ongoing
maintenance cost often times outweighs the initial low price of the unit.
Also ask if that maintenance must be done by a qualified factory trained
tech from a local dealership and how you document to the factory that the
maintenance has been done to keep the warranty (if any) in force. IF so
check with a local authorized dealer to determine the cost of that
maintenance. You need to factor this into your decision to purchase.
#2 Does the unit require factor authorized installation by a dealer or a
Factory Check out in order for the warranty to be valid? There is one
manufacturer out there that has a 90 day warranty that starts ticking when
the unit is shipped from the factory to the dealer. While the unit does have
a 3 year warranty (I believe it is) in order to qualify it must either be
installed by or be inspected and turned on initally by a factory authorized
dealer. If not, then the 3 year warranty doesn't kick in. Further if a
warranty card is not filled out by the factory authorized guy then there is
no warranty.. Oh factory install or turn on and check out cost about $2500.
Factory check out and turn on when installed by others runs about $1000.
#3 Does the generator have a control card that is shielded so that it can
run in an RF environment? I ask because, again from experience, there are
generators out there that are not designed to do this and as soon as the
transmitter comes up to full power it may cause eratic behavior of the
generator (Massive power fluxations) that cause transmitter damage.
#4 Although we all try to be frugal we tend to forget that frugel doesn't
mean cheap or buying cheaply. The key to both good stewardship and frugality
is to ensure that the best value is obtained for the dollar spent, not spend
the least amount of money on the cheapest thing you can buy.
Most importantly do your research and ask the hard questions. Call a local
dealer, not a box house, to find out more information and gather as much
info as you can before you purchase.
I won't go specifically into brand names and issues that have existed. But,
I will say that historically ONAN seems to be the most popular generator
used by broadcasters.
Hope this helps