How to Find the Best Portable Generator for You
If you experience a recurrent power failure, whether it’s due to technical faults or natural calamities like an ice storm, tornado, or hurricane, portable generators appears as a god send a gift.
You’ll likely have the lights back on in no time at all if you are all set with a portable generator.
There are umpteen variety of portable generators available in the market these days namely – small diesel generators, tri fuel generators, portable gas generators, Briggs and Stratton generator, Generac portable generators and more.
This guide provides details of the different genres of portable generators – including both the top performers and not so good ones.
It’s recommended you to read this guide very careful before you decide on buying the best portable generator you have been looking for.
Our Top 5 Recommended Portable Generators:
The Different Types of Portable Generators:
Just because you need a portable generator doesn’t mean that you can just buy the first one you see online or in a shop. You also can’t just buy a portable generator based simply on the price.
There are several types of portable generators, and each one has certain features and disadvantages. It’s best you learn more about the different types and read up on portable generator reviews before buying.
Portable Recreational Generators:
For field trips, hikes, and trailer trips, this type of portable generator is quite ideal. They’re often much smaller, they don’t make too much noise, and they usually don’t consume all that much power.
The smaller ones are just enough for an appliance or two, but the bigger ones can allow you to power several appliances at once. The size depends on your preferences and the appliances you can’t live without.
On overnight hiking trips, you don’t need to power a TV or a coffee maker, but for trailer trips, these items may be needed to fight against boredom.
To get the right generator for your needs, simply add the wattage requirements of the appliances you will want to use.
Some “portable” generators are stay-at-home types because their primary function is to stand by if there’s a power outage. There are some home appliances which really need continuous power.
For example, your refrigerator needs to be powered constantly if you don’t want the food to spoil. Your security system needs to be powered so that you feel safe. You’ll also need some power for the heater during the cold season and perhaps for the electric fans in the summer.
The medium portable generators in this category can offer anywhere from 3 to 6 thousand watts. That should be enough for several appliances, but you should avoid using the generator to power two appliances each with its own engine (such as the fridge and the furnace) at the same time.
Other generators can provide 7 to 9 thousand watts so that you can power several rooms and can even power two or even three motorized appliances at the same time.
Professional Portable Generators:
These are often used for big work sites (construction sites) as well as for massive rescue operations in the outdoors. Some of these devices are also used by the military. You’ll have to read far beyond this guide if this is the type of generator you need.
So unless you’re an actual pro who uses generators for a living, the generator you’ll probably need will be emergency generators and portable recreation generators.
If you want to use it on field trips and hikes, then the portable recreational generator would be your logical choice. But if you plan to use it for your home or if you’re so used to numerous appliances that you can’t leave home without half a dozen electrical gadgets, then you’ll need to get the emergency generators.
These three are the basic ones, but there are other types too. One model is “portable” even though you can’t really carry it-it’s already mounted on a vehicle. Other types include the multi-functional generators such as the welder generator, which as the name suggests can be used for welding as well.
Just do some basic research and read portable generator reviews, so you can choose the most appropriate one to fit your particular needs.
Benefits and Uses of a Portable Generator:
There are many very good reasons why buying a portable generator is a very good idea. Some of these reasons are just for conveniences, which in many ways we can’t really live without. Other reasons are so serious and they literally involve matters of life and death.
Here are the basic benefits and uses of a portable generator:
A lot of people buy portable generators to serve as a power backup for the home should there be a power outage. Some appliances need to run continuously if you don’t want a disaster to happen. For example, you’ll want to provide some backup power to the refrigerator so that all your food items don’t spoil.
In extreme temperatures, you’ll want to make sure that you have the electrical power available as a backup. In the winter, a generator can provide power for your heater so that you don’t freeze. In the summer, you’ll need to power your electric fans to cool down.
When there’s a heat wave going on, you’ll need a powerful portable generator that can make sure you can turn on the air conditioner (which may be necessary especially if you have senior citizens or people with breathing problems in your home).
In cases of extreme weather, such as blizzards and hurricanes that often cause power outages, the availability of a generator can help minimize the inconvenience and the danger.
Backup for Workplaces:
A power outage can be disastrous for a lot of small businesses. Restaurants and butcher shops, for example, need continuous power so that they can continue to serve their customers and so that the food doesn’t spoil.
A lot of businesses these days also rely on the computer for their operations, and a power outage can be managed as long as you have a generator on hand to power your PCs. Even just the availability of sufficient lighting may be enough for some businesses to do business as usual, and with a generator that’s certainly possible.
Finally, imagine the utter tragedy that will happen if a clinic, a hospital or a rest home experiences a power outage and there’s no generator for medical equipment.
Camping is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but that may not be entirely possible if you don’t have a generator at hand. It can provide enough power for some handy lights, small electric fans and bug zappers, and even a microwave to heat the food.
A generator is also great if you want a fresh cup of coffee late at night or when you wake up in the morning.
A generator is also quite convenient if you’re having a get-together in your backyard. Instead of having to string a lot of extension wires that can get tripped by excitable children or inebriated guests, a portable generator can provide enough power to get your party going.
Work Site Use:
Construction work always requires power for tools, but in some cases, there may not be an accessible power outlet nearby or it may prove insufficient. With a generator, work can continue without unnecessary delays or inconveniences.
A portable generator can make life much more comfortable and convenient in the event of a power outage or a lack of power outlets. It can also save lives, so read some portable generator reviews and get a generator if you still don’t have one.
Best Portable Generator – The Buying Guide:
If you’re buying a portable generator, it’s not enough that you set a budget and then buy something you can afford. You need to get the right one that’s within your budget, and aside from reading portable generator reviews, here are the factors you need to consider:
Determine the Wattage You Need:
First, think of what you’ll be powering with the generator. You have to be exactly as in you need to identify what electrical appliances you would be powering at the same time.
Each of these appliances has its own wattage requirements, so you’ll have to add everything. The total you get gives you a baseline as to the size and capacity of the portable generator you need.
The smallest ones cost anywhere from $400 to $1000 and will give you 3 to 5 thousand watts, which should be enough for the most important appliances.
The next in size cost about $800 to $1500 and will give you 6 to 9 thousand watts which should be enough to power several rooms in your house.
The really large ones can power small homes with their 10 to 17 thousand watts, but these generators cost about $2000 to $3000.
Check the Noise Output:
Generally, the bigger the portable generator the noisier it is. Even if you think you don’t care, some generators are so noisy they can cause damage to the ears. Even if you use them outside your home and the windows are closed so you don’t hear it all that much, it may bother your neighbors.
If you’ll use it for a campsite or a park, keep in mind the effect of all that noise on the peace and quiet of the surrounding. It may defeat the purpose of camping to relax if you have a noisy generator, and it may bother other campsite goers too.
There are even some campsites which have rules as to how noisy a generator can be within the premises.
The generator usually tells you how noisy it is by its indicated decibels. This is usually indicated by dB or dBA (which measures how noisy it is at a certain distance such as 21 feet away).
Check for Additional Features:
While there are some features that are merely convenient (such as having a buttons starter instead of pull-starting), other features are more important. If possible, get the following features:
- Overhead valve engine. It’s easier to start, less noisy, and lasts longer than side-valve engines.
- Cast iron sleeve. This is a liner in the cylinder of some engines, and it reduces wear so that the engine lasts longer. You’ll need this if you use the generator often or for long periods.
- Oil guard. This feature prevents the engine from getting damaged by shutting down the portable generator if the oil level falls below the minimum.
- Fuel gauge. This allows you to easily check the fuel tank at a glance. This is very convenient if you’ll use it for long periods at a time.
- All-metal alternator. This is an excellent feature because plastic housings warp over time, which can cause the moving parts of the alternator to break down.
Don’t forget to read a lot of portable generator reviews so you know which ones are easy to use and which ones are reliable. After you do all these things, then you’re ready to choose the portable generator you should buy.
Portable Generator Safety Tips:
As you know portable generators are an excellent source of provisional electricity for your home and also giving you that additional power when you need it most. However if wrongly used you can end up with terrible consequences.
One of the major sources associated with portable generator accidents is carbon monoxide (PDF). This colorless and odorless toxic gas is produced from the generator’s engine.
A simple tip to avoid this poising is to always run your portable generator outside your house and never use it inside even if the place is well ventilated.
Portable generators can pose a very high risk of electric shocks.
The most obvious method that comes to mind in order to prevent electric shocks is to keep the generator dry and run it under a canopy when it is raining.
Also always run it on a dry surface. One last thing is to always have your hands dry when handling the generator.
In order to avoid fire hazards, it is crucial that you store the fuel for your generators in a safe place, away from any appliances that use naked flames.
Be sure to that these fuels such as gasoline are stored in appropriate containers and are labeled.
One last thing is that if you are unsure about operating your portable generator also contact a qualified electrician for advice.
Choosing the best portable generator takes a lot of consideration or you could end up wasting money on a unit that doesn’t fit your needs.
Whether you are choosing power generators for camping or generators for home use, buying the right one the first time allows you to enjoy uninterrupted power during emergencies or out in nature.