The paper discusses the concept, specification and overall performance of a small microcogeneration unit of about 1,5 kW of electric power and about 4,5 kW of thermal power, suitable for domestic applications, designed at Istituto Motori CNR of Italy. This unit has been conceived specifically as a energy conversion system for houses, having in durability, electric and thermal efficiency the most important goals to be achieved. The paper starts by defining the state of art of small power microcogeneration units and then the ratio which leaded to the adoption of a single cylinder internal combustion engine derived from a motorcycle unit, in order to produce the above mentioned electric and thermal power. This is followed by an explanation of the main design characteristics of the system, with a discussion over the modified elements, made to enhance electric efficiency, emissions and durability and reduce, at the same time, cost coming from new design and manufacture. The system has been separately analyzed in its two main elements, i.e. the electric generator and the internal combustion engine (the latter with the aim of a simulation program); then a complete running test of the whole equipment has been carried out, in order to evaluate the effective electric and thermal efficiency.