The Generac GP17500E is a bit of a gas hog; owners say it burns more than a gallon of fuel per hour and is noisy, to boot. However, most forgive that gas consumption because they can power just about anything a house needs, including well pumps and large air conditioning units. The GP17500E doesn't meet California's strict emissions requirements.
Easily powers heavy loads. Users agree that the Generac GP17500E can run just about anything. It provides 17,500 watts of steady power and surges to a peak of 26,250 watts. At least one owner used it to power his entire marina business; others say they've powered 3,000-square-foot houses, including heat pumps, with no problem. "This generator is solid. It ran for 10 days straight," says an Amazon.com poster who ran the GP17500E after Hurricane Sandy and shut it down only when not at home or for maintenance.
Quite a few purchased this generator specifically to replace others that weren't strong enough to power central air conditioning, 3-horsepower well pumps, 240-volt 30A welding and so on. Although the GP17500E represents a sizable investment, owners say its power is well worth the price. "Turned on geothermal, electric water heater, clothes dryer, refrigerator and freezer. Did not miss a beat," writes one at HomeDepot.com. "It ran my entire house...including central A/C, and even provided 120-volt service to my neighbor," says another. A few also post positive comments about the intake air preheat that reduces carburetor icing on cold days.
The only negative feedback comes from an ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com reviewer, who warns that his electrician was "not thrilled" with the GP17500E's idle control. It provided only 150 volts instead of 240 volts, and lower-wattage appliances like computers didn't trigger the generator to deliver more power.
Plenty of power options. The Generac GP17500E is about as close as it gets to plug-in nirvana with four 5-20R outlets, two of which have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets to reduce the risk of electrocution in wet conditions. It also has two 30-amp L5-30R twist-lock plug-ins, a 30-amp 120/240-volt L14-30R twist-lock connector and one DC outlet. It can run appliances that draw up to 50 amps.
Predictably loud. Noise level is a concern for some owners; several say they built a shed around the Generac GP17500E to both protect it from the elements and reduce the noise, although experts strongly advise against running generators in any enclosed space. One reviewer sums up the general consensus at HomeDepot.com: "Acceptable noise level for size of unit." "Kinda loud, but it's worth it," says another at ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com.
Owners say the GP17500E's muffler assembly looks impressive, but some parts -- the exhaust shroud, for example -- rattle when the generator is run at full power. Its idle mode is quiet, and might placate your neighbors when the generator isn't under load.
Power requires fuel. The more power a generator provides, the more gas it'll use, so it's no surprise that owners call the Generac GP17500E a gas guzzler. "Uses a LOT of gasoline," writes one at HomeDepot.com. Another says it uses a little more than a gallon of gas per hour, which is actually better than the manufacturer's predicted runtime of 10 hours at half load from a 16-gallon tank of gas. An Amazon.com poster says, "I had 60 gallons in the shed, but that really is not a lot for this big guy. I was burning 1.2 gallons an hour."
Weighs almost 400 pounds. Attaching the wheel assembly to the GP17500E isn't complicated, and the machine comes with clear instructions for both assembly and operation. However, at 390 pounds, it's so heavy that you'll want either a floor jack or a couple of burly friends to help you lift it to attach the wheels. All told, plan to spend about an hour putting it together. Once you do have the wheels on, owners say the generator is balanced but still requires a lot of muscle to move around.
The GP17500E has a two-year warranty, and we found no complaints about customer service and defective parts that plague many other Generac generators. Several owners say they have to purchase a charger for the battery that powers the generator's electric start.
Review Credibility: Very Good About 30 reviewers rate the Generac GP17500E on HomeDepot.com, giving it an average score of 4.8 stars out 5. Most say assembly was easier than expected, and they're pleasantly surprised by how much power this generator provides.
Review: Generac GP 17500E-Watt Gasoline Powered Electric Start Portable Generator, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of November 2012
2. Electric Generators Direct.com
Review Credibility: Very Good This site offers an impressive selection of generators of all types, and about 60 owners post their opinions about the Generac GP17500E. It earns an overall score of 4.9 stars out of 5.
Review: Generac GP17500E - 17,500 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator, Contributors to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good About 10 users review the GP17500E here, giving it an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. That's one of the highest scores any Generac model gets on Amazon.com. We usually find many negative critiques of Generac's customer service on this site, even for models with very few reviews, but that isn't the case with the GP17500E.
Review: Generac 5735 GP17500E 26,250 Watt 992cc OHV Portable Gas Powered Generator With Electric Start, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012