Portable Generator Buying Guide
Why Do You Need a Generator?
Hurricanes. Ice storms. Wind storms. You’ve seen the after-effects: entire communities without power. A home generator will ensure your family has the power needed when faced with unexpected outages. Two types of generators are available: portable generators and permanently installed home generators. Portable solutions will power your home appliances during blackouts, your recreational toys when you’re camping or outdoors, and/or tools on your job site. Home generator systems are installed at your home and will power at-home medical equipment, multiple home appliances, and in most cases start automatically during power outages.
How to Select the Right Generator for the Job
You have seen what can happen during natural disasters, storms and power outages. You know you want an alternate power source for your home. To determine how much power you require, follow these steps:
1. What do you need to power? Make a list. Ask yourself what you will need to power during an electrical outage: just appliances and lights? Computers and home electronics, too? Some families have in-home medical equipment that is a priority, while others need to ensure they have enough power to keep stocked food supplies on ice. If you need a generator for recreational or jobsite usage, list out the tools or appliances you will want to use at the same time. Will you need to power work lights along with your tools? What about a radio? On camping or fishing trips, how many outdoor cooking, heating or entertainment appliances or accessories will you and your family or friends be using at once?
2. Determine what it takes to start each appliance. Ensure you will be able to start your appliances. The “starting wattage” is the amount of wattage needed to start an appliance with a motor; and it may be two to three times the wattage required to run the appliance. If you have owner’s manuals, check for your appliances’ listed start-up wattages (vs. the running wattage or the rated wattage). If you do not have owner’s manuals, use our wattage calculator to estimate your power needs.
3. Calculate your total power needs. It’s a two-part equation. First, add up all the “running wattage” for all the items you wish to power simultaneously. This equals the total running watts your generator needs to produce simply to run your equipment. Next, add to that total the highest of the “starting wattages” you wrote down in step 2, above. Now you know how much power you need to start and run your appliances and equipment!
With the knowledge you now have about your power needs, you can comparison shop for generators within your wattage requirement. Warning: Never connect a generator directly to a home’s wiring! If you intend to connect a generator to your home’s electrical system, hire a qualified electrician to install a transfer switch
Portable generators provide dependable power during power outages and can also be used to run your power tools or to make recreational areas more comfortable where there is no electricity.
To shop for a portable generator, follow these steps:
1. Determine your power needs. Portable generators can range from 900 to 15,000 watts
2. Think about the ease of transporting your generator. Most portable generators come with wheels, and some are light enough to carry. If you require wheels, you’ll love our never-flat, puncture-resistant wheels for easier transportation over rugged terrain like construction sites.
3. Look for a generator with at least 10 hours of runtime. This allows contractors to make it through a full day’s work and homeowners to get a full night’s sleep without re-fueling.
4. Count how many outlets you’ll need on your generator. This depends on how many appliances you’ll need to power at once. Check your appliances to see what type of outlets you will need.