Okay, this is definitely an article that may only appeal to the mechanically minded, but hopefully gives a lot of insight into some of the realities of why Kohler’s air-cooled product line beats out the competition without the typical “many-more-betters” every manufacturer markets. So, What Makes Kohler Generator Engines Different? Here’s the answer from your trusted team at Premier Generator in Carver, Massachusetts
What Makes Kohler Generator Engines Different?
First off, its important to note that this subject really pertains to the air-cooled tier of Kohler Generator products. This is typically any generator on the market that you will see described as 22kW or smaller. Due to their relatively simple, small and lightweight nature; air-cooled products can be manufacturer at a price-point that is affordable for many residential standby generator installations where a liquid cooled would typically cost several times as much in terms of the generator itself. Still unsure What Makes Kohler Generator Engines Different?
So here’s where we get technical.
The primary mechanical difference in the engine design that sets a Kohler Generator apart from the ‘other’ big brand is the design of the lifters. The lifters are the mechanisms that actuate the ‘lifting’ of the valves. If you think of a simple engine design, you have a piston going up and down, and two valves (one for air and fuel, the other for spent exhaust).
In the engine we’re talking about those valves are actuated from inside the engine block, known as ‘Over Head Valve’ or OHV engines. This means that a pushrod is moved by the cam (or often in this case crankshaft), pushing the pushrod into a rocker arm which in turn depresses or ‘opens’ a valve.
Okay, but whats the difference in a Kohler Generator?
Although the overall mechanism is very similar in appearance the lifters used in Kohler Generator air-cooled v-twins are flat-tappet hydraulic lifters. Flat tappet meaning that where the lifter makes contact with the lobe it has no roller and hydraulic meaning that the lifter is cushioned by pressurized fluid. Other manufacturers, especially the ‘other’ big name use flat-tappet non-hydraulic lifters.
While this may not sound like a big difference, ask a mechanic who has experience with older cars and they’ll tell you there is typically a night-and-day difference in reliability as a result of this one mechanical improvement. Non-hydraulic lifters tend to cause excessive wear as their points of contact are constantly jarred by forces without any forgiveness.
Worse yet, they require more frequent and involved maintenance as the valve lash has to be regularly checked and adjusted as the previously mentioned jarring force cause the rocker arms to become out of tolerance and loosen. What happens if the lash isn’t set properly? Worse case scenario eventually the rocker arms will come completely out of tolerance or even come apart potentially causing catastrophic engine failure.
Hydraulic lifters: Its not the future. Its what you should expect.
There are some other mechanical and electrical design differences that we believe help but we’ve probably already bored you by now. If you would like to get the ‘seeing is believing’ difference, check out for yourself some photography of comparable products. One of the most obvious differences is Kohler’s overall bulkier use of material on their mechanical equipment. Simply put, because Kohler engines are manufactured in the United States the overall weight doesn’t matter as much because they Kohler doesn’t have to ship across oceans before they are put into a piece of equipment.
Suffice it to say, given the choice, we at Premier Generator would much prefer a product with the more reliable design. The material costs may be slightly higher but we always try to offer the best long term value to our customers, and we believe investing in the right equipment meant to last is a much better value than a cheaper sell with a potential achilles heel.
There are other reasons why we believe Kohler as a company itself provides a better overall system for long term reliability and warranty backing but that is outside the scope of this article. Like we always say, we are not obligated by anyone to exclusively sell Kohler, we just choose to because what Kohler offers to our customer’s has yet to be matched by anyone else.