Portable Generator Buying Guide

A portable generator can be a great option for families looking to safeguard themselves and their homes in a power-related emergency. This type of generator is a much lower-priced alternative to standby generators. Portable generators can keep power running in an emergency when you’re feeling anxious and panicked and can help to give you a little peace of mind.

This being said, you need to select the portable generator that suits your needs. They are not all created equal, and choosing the one that will suit you best is a must. This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

How To Pick a Generator That Suits Your Needs

It’s absolutely imperative that you don’t just go out and purchase any old generator. You need to pick one that suits your needs. You can start by looking at watts for the items you feel you’ll need to power in a power outage, and selecting the wattage of your generator accordingly. Even getting the wattage wrong could mean wasting thousands on a generator that wasn’t right for you.

Some wonder whether a portable generator or a standby generator is the right choice. If the price is a deciding factor, then portable is a great option as you don’t have to pay out half as much. Here are some of the most important things to consider when selecting your portable generator:

Type of Fuel – gasoline, propane (LP), natural gas, diesel or even solar energy can be used to power generators. Most portable generators on the market are fueled by gasoline. It’s important to have a lot of spare fuel on hand regardless. Storing this fuel properly is also essential for safety purposes. The fact that you’ll probably have to store it in the house could very well affect the kind of generator you choose. Propane burns cleaner, for example, and carbon monoxide emissions are up to 40% lower. Propane will not degrade either. However, your portable generator produces less wattage from propane than from gasoline. It all depends on what is important to you.

Capacity – you need to consider carefully how many appliances you’re going to want the generator to power. They are unlikely to be powerful enough to keep your entire house running as normal, such as the refrigerator, water pump, heater, and other appliances all at once. The smaller models can potentially run two appliances, and bigger ones may be able to run 4 or 5. You can figure out what you need by adding up the wattage of your tools, appliances, and motors and then select your generator’s wattage to match or exceed the total load. Some appliances may need an extra surge of wattage to actually start up, so this can affect your requirement too.

Ease of use – a generator is usually pretty easy to power up, however, a single person may struggle to lift or move the generator. Having tires on the generator will make it far easier to move.

Starting the generator – there are both electric start generators and manual start generators. In some cases you just push a button, however, a pull start can be harder.

Oil Guard – if the oil levels fall below the minimum, it can affect the generator and some of them will switch themselves off automatically. Some low-cost generators don’t have this feature, but the more expensive models do.

Wattage output regulation – some generators have better technology than others, allowing smooth and consistent wattage output. They are able to deliver higher quality, cleaner electricity than other models. It all depends on how clean and reliable you would like the energy from your generator to be. With something like this, there’s no need to worry about damage caused by unrefined energy.

The noise levels – some generators tend to produce more noise than others. A quiet generator would be preferred by all consumers, but each model can vary. That being said, most models do fall in the range of between 50-80. The average is around 73 decibels. You may need to enquire about this separately when purchasing your generator, as they don’t always include it in the specs.

Fuel gauge or fuel level monitor – checking the fuel level at a glance is convenient, especially during long power outages.

The number of outlets – around 4 or more outlets will give you best use of a generator’s wattage by spreading out the load. The more outlets the generator has, the better it will be for you to use.

How long until you need to add more fuel – many portable generators on the market run for 8-12 hours on 50%, which is more than enough to leave them on for the night.

What To Be Aware Of When Choosing A Portable Generator

When looking at a permanently installed standby generator, a portable backup unit requires less money up front. You’re looking to spend about $500 to $2,000, versus $4,000 on a non-portable generator. They are pretty easy to get up and running too. It’s worth bearing in mind that a portable generator can take 34 gallons of gas to run an average-size portable for two days, however, it can vary from model to model. You should factor all of this into the price.

One very important thing to remember is that carbon monoxide poisoning is possible if the portable generator isn’t stored or used correctly. It must be checked over regularly, and the batteries may need to be replaced. Because of the issues with carbon monoxide, you should:

  • Never use your generator in the house, even if you have lots of ventilation. This includes your garage.
  • Have the generator outside, away from your home. Keep it away from doors, windows, and vents. Pick a safe location and do a test run to ensure your cables are long enough.
  • Always read the instructions that come with the generator and ensure that it’s properly working. You may also want to check the manufacturer website to be 100% that it’s safe.

Make sure you take this seriously and operate your generator correctly to keep your loved ones safe. Providing your generator is operated correctly, it can be a convenient and cost-effective way to stay comfortable in an emergency.

The Pros and Cons Of Portable Generators

Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of portable generators to help you figure out what’s right for you:

Pros

  • A cost-effective option for when you lose power.
  • Many different makes and models suited to different needs.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can power up to 5 appliances at once with the right model.

Cons

  • You have to be home to operate it.
  • Like a car, it gives off smelly exhaust fumes, heat, and noise.
  • If not properly ventilated, a portable could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

As you can see, there are a few downsides to the pros of the portable generator. However, they pretty much all boil down to you using it correctly. It may not be for everybody, but it’s the perfect solution for people who want to prepare for a power outage without the premium price tag. You’ve got to monitor the system very closely to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe, but providing you are vigilant, check over our generator, and store it properly, you shouldn’t experience any problems.

Use this buying guide to purchase the right portable generator for you, and you and your loved ones will have total peace of mind if you do experience a power cut.

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