In a power outage situation, a generator keeps electricity flowing through your house, it will keep your fridge running and lights glowing. There are two kinds of generators, portable and standby generators.
A portable generator has many benefits and few key advantages over stand-by units. It can run your power tools at a Jobsite and can power appliances of your RV. But when it comes to purchasing a portable generator, a market has portable generators in abundance, with different features and power ratings; each of them is a unique choice.
So, it makes the selection of the best portable generator a confusing task. In this post, we have discussed the qualities of a portable generator which you should keep in mind to make a better decision.
Power Output and Outlets
The power output is a key consideration and the first thing that you should decide. Why is it important? and why you can’t just buy a generator with an average or largest power output portable generator. Portable generators are available with a power range of 2000 watts to 10,000 watts.
Of course, there are bigger generators in the market too, but for larger power output, a standby generator is a better choice, as they won’t be much portable, despite having wheels a single person might not be able to move them.
If you get a generator with a lower power rating, then you may run out of wattage when you still have appliances that need to be powered.
Moreover, if the generator has power output more than your needs, then its increased size will decrease the portability. Also, you will pay more for the power that you don’t need.
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A simple way to select the right size power output is by calculating your power needs for all your appliances that you will run simultaneously. The appliances will have starting watts and running watts; add them up individually. The power rating of appliances can be found on their labels; if not, then you can surf google to find out.
For instance, a refrigerator’s power needs can range from between 100 W to 600 W, and an electric stove may need up to 1300 watts. While the electronics will require minimum power, a laptop only needs 50W to 100 W.
Once you have all the ratings, your power need is known, and you can select the generator with a power rating of 10 to 15 % more than your needs.
Moving on, power outlets are also an important consideration. There should be a variety of power outlets on the control panel through which one can power the range of appliances and electronics. A generator typically has 120 V AC outlets, few USB ports, and a DC outlet.
Fuel Type and Runtime
The runtime of a generator depends on the fuel type and the size of a fuel tank. Diesel and propane provide a better runtime than gasoline-powered ones, but they are not as accessible as gasoline in remote places.
A portable generator offers three fuel choices, gasoline, propane, or diesel. All of them have certain advantages and disadvantages.
There are also solar generators, but their use is limited for camping or tailgating due to practical reasons; they take very long to get fully charged, they cost more and don’t provide more than 2000 watts.
Gasoline can be easily accessible but can’t be stored for more than 2 to 3 months. On the other hand, propane can be stored for about 12 years, and that too without any kind of stabilizers. A diesel offers better fuel efficiency, and it kicks in faster.
That’s why it is used as a backup option for critical applications. Also, note that diesel generators will be louder so, be thoughtful when making a fuel choice.
When it comes to the runtime of a portable generator, then it is typically specified at half load or quarter load.
Suppose you have a generator with 4000 watts, and the manufacturer says that it will run for 8 hours with a full tank at 25% load. This means at the connected load of 1000 watts, and the generator will run for 8 hours.
So, the runtime depends on how much load a generator is supplying. If fewer appliances are connected, then the generator will run for longer, compared to when a large number of appliances are connected.
When transporting a generator from your home to your campsite or a job site, the weight and the size of a unit play a critical role, even when you drag it around your house.
With the increase in power rating, the weight and dimensions of a generator also increase, so it will be hard to maneuver a bigger machine.
Also, when transporting to another location, you will need help to load it on the vehicle. So, you should consider the most portable one of your choices if you move your generator around a lot.
It will be best if you purchase a generator with a carrying handle and bottom wheels; they will aid you in transportation and will increase portability.
But, also note that the provision of wheels, for some bigger units, doesn’t mean that it can be moved around conveniently. There are generators in the market with up to 300 pounds of weight, so if you chose one of those for more power, then the portability will decrease drastically.
A well-designed generator of up to 5000 watts will have increased portability than bigger units. Moreover, you should also look for a lifting hook in a generator if it will be mainly used for a job site, as it makes it easy to move it from one level to another vertically.
The noise level is an important consideration. A noisy generator will frustrate your neighbors and will distort your image. A quiet generator is what you need during your camping trip or tailgating, but for a job site application, no one minds the noise since noisy tools will already be running there.
Small generators aren’t that noisy; they can be as quiet as the small vacuum cleaner; when it’s running, you can have a nice conversation going on. But as the power rating of a generator will increase, the noise level also increases.
So, you need to look out for a generator that fulfills your power needs and also has a considerably low noise level.