How to choose the right generator

There are a few things you should know about generators before investing your hard-earned cash into one. Certainly in times of poor weather and power outages, the desire to buy a generator right away is strong.

Just take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the types of generators available so you can choose the right unit for you and your needs.


Types of generators

There are two main types of generator, one is the portable generator, commonly fueled by gas or propane that is mobile and often has a wheel kit mounted for easy maneuverability.

The second kind is the standby generator that is generally much larger and not mobile, and stays hooked up to your home, and in times of power outage or loss, these units generally will start-up automatically if they are in standby mode.


Generator sizing

So how do you know what sized of generator you need? This will depend on what you want to use the generator for. If you want to use a genset to power your whole home with all the appliances, so you can live normally in the home, that will require a lot more wattage than for either a basic backup generator or for powering a few electronics when you are camping.

Generally, most homes basic appliances would require about a 5000 to 7000 W generator, but larger homes with more appliances or more demands may require up to 20,000 W. This means that some of the larger portable generators will easily power your fridge, your furnace fan, your freezer, lights and water pump if your water supply comes from a well. It is as simple as adding up the wattage for each item that you want to use, not forgetting the background type of appliances like fans, pumps and air conditioners if required.  You can choose an appropriate generator based on that.  To be safe, choosing a generator with a 25% higher starting wattage is wise as all of these appliances will draw more power when starting up.

Many of the smaller mobile generators designed for camping and RVing are just a couple of thousand watts, and can power lighting and inverter generators are ideal to power TVs, computers and other sensitive electronics that do not draw a ton of power.

Type of generator fuel

Technically, there are many types of generator fuel, but the most commonly available and convenient are gas, liquid propane gas, natural gas and the more expensive diesel powered generators.  Generally, the standby generators are more typically powered by natural gas or liquid propane gas and are convertible between. There are also large diesel power generators available. Usually, the portable generators are powered by gasoline or propane for convenience.

Brand of generator

Some brands such as Honda, Generac, and Champion consistently have high ratings and are known to be reliable, long-lasting, and therefore more economical over time.  It is always wise to read reviews and look at consumer ratings for generators to see which models are with your money.  Sometimes it is not a bad idea to try a new brand, just because it is not already known, does not mean that the products are poor, this is an ideal situation to get a deal on a new generator.


Other features nice to have in a generator

Many of these features do adds to the cost of a new generator, so think carefully whether you really do need remote start or even electric start when you may get get a better engine for less money if you go with a regular pull cord start.

For anyone wanting to use sensitive electronics such as high definition televisions, speakers, gaming consoles and laptop computers will seriously need to consider an inverter generator. These are generally more expensive for the output, but the output is clean and even and will not cause power spikes that will damage your electronic equipment.

The wheel kits do add to the cost and you can often find a less expensive generator without the wheel kit. If you are just going to be using the generator as this backup for your home, it may not need to be as portable as if you are using it while camping or traveling or powering power tools at the far end of your yard.

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