Caterpillar portable generators hit the consumer market. The following story explains the company’s new series of generators. This blog post is not an advertisement for Caterpillar, but we recognize their global leadership and their move into the consumer market with these new items is noteworthy, not only for consumers, but for those of us in the soundproofing industry. Our web site talks about generator noise and how to soundproof standby generators. We look forward to bringing you more information about how to quiet whatever type of generator you currently use, whether residential, commercial or industrial.
PEORIA — Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of generator sets, on Wednesday unveiled a new series of portable power units that extends the company’s reach for the first time in that sector from industrial applications into the consumer marketplace.
Far from the diesel-fueled Caterpillar behemoths that serve as backup power sources on an institutional scale, the newly introduced gasoline-fueled generators are intended for home or light commercial use and have a form factor that follows suit.
“Our focus has been the entire customer experience,” said Prabhat Mittal, with Caterpillar’s marketing and digital division. “This is the best in the industry — it exceeds any of our Caterpillar standards for this class.”
The initial rollout of the Cat RP Series generators includes four models that range in power output from 3.6 kilowatts to 7.5 kilowatts in North America; similar models of slightly different capacity will be available elsewhere in the world.
Each is rated to supply power for at least 10 hours on a full tank of fuel and includes both electric and manual starting mechanisms. A lithium ion battery designed to hold a charge for two years — and be immediately recharged each time the generator starts — powers the electric start.
“A lot of times, these things get used once a year,” Mittal said. “Basically everything you need to start it and run it is right here.”
Beyond the basic mechanics of the device, teams of engineers and structural and industrial designers worked together over the last couple of years to create a device with a low center of gravity and solid wheels similar in nature to gigantic counter parts on Caterpillar mining trucks.
The result is a relatively heavy piece of home equipment — the RP6500E on hand in Peoria on Wednesday weighed just more than 200 pounds without any fuel in its 7.9-gallon tank — that is easily maneuverable.
Designers also used technology available at Caterpillar’s proving grounds to devise a muffler that significantly dampens the generator’s noise while also making it sound like a Caterpillar product — or at least an echo of one of its bigger relatives.
“What we tried to do is make the product Cat,” said Nick Kelsch, omni channel marketing manager for Caterpillar.
The process of arriving at that “Caterpillar feeling” for the generators involved surveys and customer input, as well as competitive testing with other portable generators on the market. The company used that feedback to tweak the design, along with input from the overseas contractor who ultimately landed the job of manufacturing the units for Caterpillar.
“It originated with existing customers,” Kelsch said.
Caterpillar also brought tenets of customer service it offers for other products to the new portable generators. It offers a two-year warranty out of the box and a third year for free when the generators are registered with the company online.
Online customer support services also are planned that can provide real-time feedback for generator operation using live video from a customer’s cellphone.
The generators became available Wednesday at Caterpillar dealers and some small independent businesses specializing in lawn and garden and other motorized products in the United States and Canada, including Illinois Valley Electric and Wielands Lawn Mower Hospital in central Illinois. Manufacturer recommended prices range from $480 to more than $1,000 for the current models, with additional models planned.
By Matt Buedel
Journal Star Caterpillar/industry reporter
More information and product specifications can be found online at www.cat.com/homeandoutdoorpower.
Matt Buedel is the Journal Star business reporter. He can be reached at 686-3154 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.