Besides the huge earthmoving equipment Caterpillar builds for grand-scale construction, it makes a few lines of industrial generators supplying kilowatts in the hundreds. For a company used to thinking big, the notion of marketing a home generator line might seem a head-scratcher. But if its new RP Series catches on, the company will expand its customer base as it retrenches during a year that’s been rough for both Caterpillar and many long-time employees.
The Cat RP Series, announced this week, includes four models ranging from 3,600 to 7,500 watts and intended for both homeowners and professional contractors. Each portable generator comes in two flavors, one for 49 states plus a pricier, CARB-compliant version for sale in California.
Common to all eight models are overhead-valve engines made for Caterpillar, all-steel construction, recoil start (with electric start at the line’s high end), low-oil shutdown (helpful when running the generator for long periods), automatic voltage regulation, fuel gauges on the tank, never-flat wheels and double-folding handles. There’s also a three-year warranty, the third year of which is conditional upon registering the product within 30 days of purchase.
As with other manufacturers serving the residential market, Caterpillar offers a sizing calculator that points you to specific models depending on what you need to power.
The RP3600 (see photo above), $480 or $530 for the California version, is rated for 3,600 watts and up to 4,500 for surges, the extra power needed when some appliances, such as pumps, fridges and air conditioners, cycle on. Neither wattage, however, is sufficient for connecting these to a home’s transfer switch—making them more suitable for plug-in appliances or, using the TT-30 receptacle, powering RVs. (Here’s a guide to estimating an RV’s wattage needs.) Their fuel tanks hold 4.5 gallons.
The minimum-size Cat models that you can plug into a home’s transfer switch, expanding what you can power, are the RP5500, $750 ($850 for California), which delivers up to 6,875 surge watts. The fuel tanks step up to 7.9 gallons, enough gasoline to last a day depending on the load.
Closer in wattage to portables bought for the home, the RP6500 E ($930 and $1,000 for California) and RP7500 E ($1,050/$1,150) respectively are rated for 8,125 running and 9,375 surge watts. These models have electric start, and their fuel tanks also hold nearly 8 gallons.
The company expects to sell the Cat RP Series not only at Caterpillar dealers but also at local retailers—with national retailer and wholesaler agreements in the works. A spokesperson for the company said to expect announcements “soon.” The RP Series should be available for sale by the end of the year, and the company further plans to expand the line in 2017.
In the meantime, you can see the Cat RP Series first hand if you’ll be attending the Green Industry & Equipment Expo this year in Louisville (October 19-21). GIE+Expo shows off much of the outdoor gear you’ll see in home centers, hardware stores and dealerships over the following season, offering 750 exhibits throughout 500,000 sq. ft. inside the Kentucky Exposition Center and 20 acres of outdoor demo space.