BlaineBug
I am diagnosing this problem for my Father's 14kW Generac automatic standby natural gas generator with automatic transfer switch. I am not sure of the model off hand - I can look for it next time I am by there. The log shows dates back to 2008, so perhaps this is really a 2008 mode, but I know for a fact that it was installed in June of 2009.

I noticed yesterday when I visited that the red light was illuminated on the side of the case. I opened it up, and it had two stored fault codes for "Lost RPM Signal" or something to that effect.

I tried to start the unit manually and nothing, not even a click from the starter solenoid. While it is attempting to crank (according to the display on the panel,) I am getting a buzzling or fizzling noise out of the panel itself, or directly below the panel. It buzzes/fizzles for a couple of second and then cuts out completely.

I understand the symptoms of a dead battery, which he had exactly one year ago. With a low battery one would expect the starter to at least click, or perhaps turn over slowly.

I checked voltage on the battery. It was a little lower than I would expect, hovering around 11.8 volts instead of the normal 12.6 one would expect to see in a battery like this. I do not have a load tested but I do not believe the battery is bad at this time, as it was replaced September 22, 2017, exactly one year ago yesterday. It is a group 26R battery, perhaps slightly bigger than what was intended for the unit based on the tight fit in the battery box area, but is the same size as the battery that was installed by the original installer in 2009.

The buzzing/fizzing from the display panel or directly beneath it is rather concerning, and I would have to assume that there is a more serious issue with this generator. For the time being, I pulled the 7.5 amp fuse for safety and switched the unit to OFF for the sake of safety.

Has anyone run in to a similar symptom such as this? Beyond the "Lost RPM Signal" fault code that is all that I am seeing, in addition to the buzzing/fizzing sound from the area of the display panel on the top right side of the unit.
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Peddler
The buzzing you hear is likely the start relay which is below the controller. That unit has a battery charger that is located in the transfer switch and prone to fail. You need to disconnect the battery cables and with a good meter connected to the disconnected cables see what voltage you have. If the one year old battery has failed you have either extremely high voltage (cooking the battery) or marginally low voltage letting it get down to a point where it won't turn the engine over. I would bet you will have to replace the battery and the charger. You can disconnect the charger in the switch and use a battery tender of 3 amps or more temporarily until you can get a replacement charger, the replacements are better than the originals.
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BlaineBug
Peddler;n59359 wrote:
The buzzing you hear is likely the start relay which is below the controller. That unit has a battery charger that is located in the transfer switch and prone to fail. You need to disconnect the battery cables and with a good meter connected to the disconnected cables see what voltage you have. If the one year old battery has failed you have either extremely high voltage (cooking the battery) or marginally low voltage letting it get down to a point where it won't turn the engine over. I would bet you will have to replace the battery and the charger. You can disconnect the charger in the switch and use a battery tender of 3 amps or more temporarily until you can get a replacement charger, the replacements are better than the originals.


I will check the voltage tomorrow.

When a battery was dead in the past, the starter solenoid would at least click, or crank slowly before clicking. This is doing nothing, and the buzzing continues until something clicks off beneath the panel. In my opinion is seems more serious than just a charging issue, as the buzzing symptom did not happen in the past.

As far as the battery charger being in the transfer switch, are you talking about the transfer switch mounted beside the breaker panel inside?

I know that there is a loose black box floating around near the battery in this unit. It looks SOMEWHAT like a battery tender without the label. It was originally attached to the case with velcro, but the adhesive backing has long since failed.

Is this possibly the charger, or some other device?

PS, I posted a photo but it seems as if someone has deleted it. Also, whoever edited the subject title to the correct 14kW, thank you!
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Peddler
Some people located the charger in the generator and it does look something like a battery tender. You need to confirm that it is powered from the emergency side so it has power when the utility is out and the generator is running otherwise the generator will run out of battery power after about 12-24 hours of operation. I don't think it is anything more serious than what I have described. Check the battery and the charger voltage while the cables are unhooked and report back. It is possible the relay has gone but I doubt it.
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BlaineBug
Alright Peddler, I'll be stopping by tomorrow to check and dig in a little further.

As far as I can mentally remember, the battery charger looks like it was spliced in with wire nuts, as in the plug end cut off. I'll be sure to check it all out tomorrow.
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Peddler
They did not have a plug so wire nuts would not be unusual.
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BlaineBug
Very well. I'll let you know what happens.
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78buckshot
Peddler is leading you in the right direction, I agree with him, sounds like a battery issue, very common for that era.
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BlaineBug
Thank you!
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BlaineBug
Just wanted to post this late since it crossed my mind. When the battery WAS dead last year, the panel would cut out and blank out when attempting to start.

This time around it wasn't blanking or cutting out at all.

Food for thought.......I will report more findings tomorrow.
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78buckshot
Confirm you have a good battery, shut the machine off, turn off the gas cock on the exterior of the unit, remove the 5 amp fuses in the transfer switch, remove the control panel metal cover, remove the controller and gently unplug and check each connector on the control, look for oxidation on the pins and sockets, also look for ants or earwhigs in the control, they like to nest in it and their debris kills the printed circuit board. If all is good at that point you can diagnose the starting circuit. Battery, battery cables and both ends, starter contactor relay, starter contactor(solenoid), starter motor, and all wiring connected to these items. You can test the relay, solenoid, and starter motor with 12vdc and small jumpers. The small relay with 4 blue and/or black wires is a pilot relay to isolate the control from higher amps from the solenoid. It is simple, the control energizes the relay and the relay energizes the solenoid, solenoid pulls in and energizes the starter motor while engaging the pinion gear with the flywheel.
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BlaineBug
I am here on site and just had the battery explode at my feet. Literally, a bomb.

I had removed the battery from the generator housing. Before I was going to check for voltage, I wanted to try to start the generator manually. At that point, the battery exploded.

How I am not covered in battery acid, blinded, or injured, I have no idea. Battery case fragments flew out maybe 30 feet from where I was standing.

What I did find out is that the charger was putting out 20 volts. So it must have cooked the battery. I'm not sure why it exploded when I attempted to start, as the charger is active 24/7.

For whatever reason, it appears as if there is no way to disconnect the voltage to the generator so that it can be serviced without cutting power to the entire home. The contractor added another breaker beside the home's original breaker box, in addition to the automatic transfer switch alongside as well. But there is NO specific breaker for turning off JUST the power to the generator. Is this usual?

I'm a bit shy about batteries now, to be honest. This was definitely a very scary and life altering experience. Would you assume that everything will be OK when replacing the battery and charging unit, without any worry of an explosion?
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JMD822
I was just doing the same with my battery following your thread.
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murphy
The battery exploded because the electrolyte level was below the top of the plates due to the overcharging. When you attempted to pull a lot of current a spark jumped between the top of the plates which ignited the hydrogen / oxygen gas mixture above the plates. Now you understand why it is vital to religiously check the electrolyte level in a battery and keep the plates covered at all times.
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BlaineBug
I am actually quite upset. This could have had an absolutely terrible outcome for me. Why didn't the battery explode on Saturday when I attempted a start more than a few times? Two extra days to cook the battery?

Take a look at this nonsense. Is this "Operating Tech Electronics, Inc." a charger that would have been supplied by Generac with their generator, or is this component purchased separately by the installing contractor?
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BlaineBug
Battery acid melts nylon.
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78buckshot
Do you have someone with you that can help with medical attention? Wash with lots of water.
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murphy
Battery acid is sulfuric acid. It dissolves a lot of things. A spark is not guaranteed to happen with exposed plates. But with enough tries the odds go up.

That looks like a cheap wall wart. I doubt there is any circuitry in there to switch to a trickle charge when the battery is fully charged. It should be a battery maintainer that can charge the battery and then switch to trickle mode or stop charging altogether until the battery has discharged about 10% or so and then recharge it.
The electrolyte didn't actually boil. When charging continues on a fully charged battery the water molecules are separated into hydrogen and oxygen gas. That is what bubbles up through the electrolyte to create the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gasses above the electrolyte. That mixture is very explosive.
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JMD822
I’m glad you were not seriously injured. What a disaster.
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Peddler
The charger came with the unit and they often failed within 5 years. They could fail high as yours did and cook the battery or low and the battery would go down a varying rates. The replacement part is a better unit then the original. Make sure you wash out the battery area with a baking soda slurry to halt any corrosion. Generally with the units prior to the Genesis panel when I go out to service one that has faulted on a no start fault like RPM sense loss I remove the cables first and see what I have, reduces the explosions.
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CPSS
Those "Operating Tech" chargers were the original equipment chargers supplied by Generac back then. I've had MANY fail, but always failed with no voltage output. Today I was servicing a 14kW that had a bad battery, or so I thought. The no load charger output was 20VDC! When connected the the battery it was 19V across the battery terminals. I've never seen one fail with a high output voltage. I will replace the battery, and use an aftermarket electronic charger instead of the Generac charger as I have done in the past. I wonder if the high voltage has damaged the control board?
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Charles G
murphy;n59410 wrote:
Battery acid is sulfuric acid. It dissolves a lot of things. A spark is not guaranteed to happen with exposed plates. But with enough tries the odds go up.

That looks like a cheap wall wart. I doubt there is any circuitry in there to switch to a trickle charge when the battery is fully charged. It should be a battery maintainer that can charge the battery and then switch to trickle mode or stop charging altogether until the battery has discharged about 10% or so and then recharge it.
The electrolyte didn't actually boil. When charging continues on a fully charged battery the water molecules are separated into hydrogen and oxygen gas. That is what bubbles up through the electrolyte to create the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gasses above the electrolyte. That mixture is very explosive.


cheap walmart? NO that photo's bottom shows it is a factory generac maintainer/charger, personally i have had 3 fail in my unit over the last 9 years, 2 would not charge,each had a burn mark in the plastic casing where something inside overheated from power surges, 1 overcharged like the Op's .overcharged batteries overheat make major explosive gasses where any spark makes them blow up, overheating melts the plastic like he posted a shot of , proper dress and handling of any battery is a must do, esp goggles over one's eyes and long sleeve shirts .even for this 70 plus year old retired master auto tech who has had many blow up at him trying to jump start a engine,

TG the op did not suffer a major injury or get blinded
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