What Is A Portable Generator And Do I Need One?
A portable generator is used to power electrical devices when a home electrical system (electrical sockets in the wall) isn't available. If you live in an area prone to power outages, blackouts, or brownouts, you may need portable power. For a home or business, they're a handy temporary power supply for lights, refrigerators, air conditioners, sump pumps, or medical equipment during power outages.
Alternately, portable power can provide electricity for lights and small electronics in recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, outdoor construction trailers, motor homes, or recharge laptop batteries on a camping trip. The amount of power output needed for small appliances can be produced by a small, compact power generators.
What Wattage Portable Generator Should I Get?
A portable generator's "rated wattage" determines what it will be able to continually power. "Maximum wattage" is the power it can produce only in short bursts, such as during startup (starting watts from first pull).
How Many Watts Do Standard Home Appliances Need To Run?
A refrigerator needs between 350-780 watts. Microwaves? 600 to 1,200 watts. TVs are generally under 100 watts, and the average lamp is 60 watts. A portable generator's average power output ranges between 500 watts and 7,500 watts, and if you need the most powerful generator (17,500 rated watts) it's available for a hefty price.
On any modern appliance, its wattage requirements can be found on the device itself near where the cord begins (opposite the plug). To determine which wattage you need in a portable generator, simply add the wattage requirements of all the devices you wish to power. Purchase a portable generator with a wattage rating that matches or exceeds that number.
How Long Will A Portable Inverter Generator Run?
Most portable generators have a fuel tank that will run for 7 – 9 hours at a 50% load. A lower load (less running watts) will increase the run time, but if you're looking for home backup power to match your home's electrical system it likely won't be sufficient power output to power the entire house during power outages. You could purchase a more fuel efficient unit (compared to other generators), but its price will be higher. If prices are high you'll often find the best portable generators at a better price in the search results online, rather than in stores.
Which Portable Generators Are the Best?
4 Types of Portable Generators
Portable Solar Powered Generators (Portable Battery Powered Generators)
Solar panel powered generators run without creating any emissions or exhaust (carbon monoxide), so they're perfect for indoor use. The power output of a solar generator with a full charge (from a top brand of solar powered portable generators like Goal Zero) rivals the backup power generated by small gas generators. The power it collects and stores will provide enough running watts to power some lights, some (minimal running power) appliances like a coffee maker or laptop, and a television.
Recreational Inverter Generators (Portable Inverter Generators)
Gasoline or propane powered recreational inverter generators are light-weight, relatively quiet, and powerful enough to run the essentials. Similar to solar generators, they're handy for tailgating, camping, and other outdoor activities.
Emergency Portable Generators (Best Portable Generator For Power Outages)
Portable emergency generators (aka backup generators) have more powerful engines, capable of powering higher wattage appliances during an emergency power outage or blackout. A fully charged portable backup generator can power refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners, washing machines, garage door openers, etc. Most also have a larger capacity duel fuel tank so they can run continuously for hours at a time.
Professional Portable Generators (The Best Portable Generators For Industrial Use)
Full size portable professional generators are the best portable generators for industrial use. They're larger, operate louder, cost more money, are harder to access, and use commercial grade components that can best account for the wear and tear of long-term daily use.
Portable Generator Fuel Types
Portable generators can run on gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, liquid propane, natural gas or sunlight. Dual fuel standby generators can switch fuel types based on availability.
Other Considerations When Purchasing A Portable Gas Or Propane Generator
Portable Generator Peak Watts
How much running power / home backup power it can provide.
Portable Generator with Dual Fuel
Dual fuel generators can run on more than one type of fuel .
Portable Generator with GFCI
Ground fault circuit interrupter - they eliminate the risk of an electric shock.
Portable Generator with a Larger Fuel Tank
For extra run time without having to reduce the load every single time.
Portable Generator with Clean Power
Inverter generators better regulate the flow of electricity, and reduce power surges called harmonic distortion that can damage electronics.
Inverter Generator with a Quiet Engine
Some portable generators have low-tone mufflers for quieter operation.
A generator with a high run time can power appliances longer without having to refuel or switch to a different power source.
Wheels & Fold Down Handles
Sometimes sold separately, wheels and fold down handles make a generator more portable.
An electric start generator powers on with a button push or a key turn.
How Much Does A Portable Generator Cost?
Portable Generator Prices:
Unless your bank account has an unlimited capacity and money is no object, you'll have to take price into account. The average gas power generator ranges from $500 - $2000, depending on brand, run time, watts, battery power, engine type, and generator power. If you have any further questions, please contact us and we'll help you find the best portable generator for your budget.