If you make changes to a piece of equipment that is still under warranty, you risk voiding the warranty even though the changes you made weren't the cause. Unfortunately, all the “bells and whistles” aren’t included on most equipment and there are times when the simple addition to a piece of equipment will insure it functions properly.
Many generators don’t come with an hour meter. Hour meters are great for keeping track of run times on equipment and to help you keep track of service intervals for your equipment. This will help you get the maximum life out of your equipment. Adding an hour meter in the wrong way by altering the equipment (like drilling holes for a gauge) can effectively negate your warranty. Companies don’t like you altering their equipment, even if it serves a worthwhile cause.
Most generators include a 12 volt outlet on their control panel. Using a 12 volt plug-in adapter and a fairly strong magnet, you can easily hook-up an hour meter to your generator without making any modifications to your generator. This works on other types of equipment also. You can also use double sided self-adhesive tape or plastic zip ties. Use whatever is handy and avoid making any permanent modifications to your generator to avoid loss of your warranty.
To accomplish this you will need a DC hour meter, a 12 volt male plug-in adapter, a short piece of wire( two strands), a single gauge mounting panel ( 2 inch in this case) and a flat magnet (an old key holder works great!). You will also need a pair of pliers (needle nose pliers work best), a knife to strip the insulation from the wires and some electrical tape. I also used a small drill to make two holes to mount the gauge holder to the magnet case. Hook the connectors (included with the hour meter) to one end of your two strand wire and the 12 volt male plug-in adapter to the other end of your wire. I used a male plug from an old 12 volt air compressor that had died and was sitting in the garage for a couple of years. Knew it would come in handy for something.
If possible, try to find a double wire that has a black with white stripe and a plain black wire. The wire with the white stripe should be used for the positive connections (+). This keeps the polarity correct and in accordance with current 12 volt wiring standards.
You might want to use a double outlet plug-in that will allow you to use your 12 volt connection to power items other than your hour meter. In this case I used the additional outlet to power a two speed 12 volt fan that can be used to provide additional cooling to the engine on hot days or if it is in an enclosed space (generator box).
Prior to installing on my generator, I plugged the finished assembly into the power outlet on my truck until 2.4 hours had been registered to update the meter reading to include the hours run on the generator at this time. After final testing, the meter read 2.6 hours which indicated a total test time of about 15 minutes. Total cost for this non-invasive hour meter installation is about $35 and can be done for less if you scrounge a few old parts.
This completed my final test on the generator and everything worked as expected. The only item left is an oil change since the initial engine break-in period has been completed.
Got hour meter?
Staying above the water line!