Uncle Bobs Tips: Generator Guide

Fake Generators: How to Avoid Them

How to tell a fake generator from the real deal

Everyone knows to look out for the skeleton case back or jerky second hand movements on a counterfeit Rolex, but often signs are less conspicuous when it comes to a fake generator. So what are the telltale signs that will help you steer clear from the imposter generator section at your local hardware store? Let's find out.

Signs that something is amiss:

  • Packaging or product does not contain the company or product name or certification label
  • Packaging is damaged, resealed or sloppy
  • Lack of instruction or user's manual with safety regulations and maintenance instructions is often, but not always, an indication that this is a counterfeit product.
  • Lack of genuine UL listing marks, including the UL trademark, the word LISTED in capital letters, product id, and a control or issued number. Often counterfeit certifications are printed, so be on the lookout. If the UL logo is not displayed properly, if the label does not have all four of the above mentioned requirements, or if the word LISTED is replaced by PENDING or CLASSIFIED, do not purchase.
  • Product casing is not attached properly or fits loosely
  • Product lacks proper or any nameplates for particular pieces or functions, especially rated output and voltage
  • Double male ended extension cords
  • No contact info is often a sign that these people don't want to be contacted. Professional businesses encourage customer interaction and feedback. Be suspicious if no toll free number or company information is present on the packaging.
  • Also beware of counterfeit approval markings

Why should I care?

Concerns regarding unapproved generators:

  • switches do not match generator rating causing malfunction or blown fuse
  • double males are particularly dangerous because they allow an uneducated user to plug the unit directly into a house receptacle, causing back feed, a fatal occurrence
  • live blades are also hazardous to the user and other residents
  • none or not enough over-current protection
  • switches do not control equipment properly
  • "improper bonding" of casing and pieces causes serious malfunctions

One last thing to look at when purchasing is how long has this company been in business. If it's been less than five years, be cautious. Most small businesses fold before the five-year mark, so the longevity of a company is an obvious indication. Not to say that all young companies are bad, everyone has to start out young (even me!) It's just to say be careful.

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