14 Best Portable Generators Reviews
Table of Contents
Portable generators help you get the opportunity to power your devices anywhere and at any time. Irrespective of whether you wish to safeguard your family and home, a job site, or campsite from power outages, the best portable generators can help you. It can be a portable power station, and some of them can be equipped with camping solar panels as a solar generator kit. These generators are a dependable source of power and they are easy to use and compact as well. They are capable enough of providing you with consistent power supply and performance irrespective of the job you use them for. You can also use them as solar powered generators during camping.
As against a standby generator, you need not have to permanently install a portable generator. You can easily move it from one place to another. This type of generator is rated by the amount of power it produces known as watts. When a generator has more watts, you can naturally power many of your devices. When talking about watts, there are two types available. One is the running watt and the other is the starting watt. The former denotes the continuous watts that a generator produces to keep your items running. The latter is the additional power required for starting large motor-driven appliances or many appliances.
Portable generators have multiple usages. It can be used as a home backup battery, inverter generator, RV generator, solar battery charger, and solar generator with solar panels. And it also has different types of generators, such as portable fuel generators, gas-powered generators, portable electric generators, and portable propane generators.
When it comes to a portable generator, you can find this device from different brands. To help you with the selection, here is the list of the top 15 options available:
- The Best Dual-Fuel Generator: WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator from Westinghouse
- Generator With Fuel-Choice Flexibility: XP12000EH Generator from DuroMax
- Best Generator with Cold Start Technology: 1008919375/7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator from Champion
- The Best Ultra Lightweight Generator: 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator from Champion Power
- Quickly Chargeable Generator: 1260Wh Battery Pack DELTA Portable Power Station from Ecoflow
- Monster in Power Generation: 1260Wh Generator with 2 x 160W Solar Panels from Ecoflow
- The Best Generator For Average Power Needs: Explorer 1000 with 2 SolarSaga 100W Panels from Jackery
- The Most Powerful Solar Generator: AC200P Solar Generator with 3-Pieces Solar Panels from Bluetti
- Generator with large LED Display: PowerHouse II Anker Portable Power Station
- Ultra-Compact Generator: iGen 160S Portable Power Station from Westinghouse
- Generator with voltage versatility: DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator from WEN
- High-Capacity Generator for your job site: Generac 7678 GP3600 Portable Generator
- The best generator for Conserving Fuel: GP2500i Inverter from Generac
- Generator with super-bright LED light: 83Wh Solar Generator 22500 mAh Portable Power Station from Marbero
Top Rated Portable Generators Reviews
Are you particular about buying a solar-powered generator? If so, you might wonder which one to choose among the top options given above. To help you with easy selection, we have posted a detailed review of each of the above-mentioned options here:
1. WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator from Westinghouse
Are you looking for a generator that you can power using different fuels? If so, this generator from Westinghouse can help. The reason is that this is a dual-fuel portable power station. You can use either gas or propane to power this generator. With 9500 Rated power and 12500 peak watts, this generator can help you power many devices.
If you would like to have a generator with recoil start as conventional generators, this is the best choice for you. Even, you can get other ways to start it. You can start it remotely with the remote start key fob that you will get with this unit. When the fuel gallon tank is at 6.6-gallon fuel, this unit can run for 12 hours maximum.
With a propane regulator, you can easily plug and play this generator. It also comes with a 12V charger, heat-resistant plastic wheels for easily moving from one place to another. Above all, the wheels contain polyurethane tires that never get flat.
This power generator is powered by a heavy-duty 457cc Westinghouse 4-stroke OHV engine. It also has a low-oil auto-shutdown feature to protect the motor. The digital hour meter with VFT display will give you real-time updates with lifetime hours, frequency and voltage output.
- Dual fuel generator
- Plastic wheels with never-flat tires
- All outlets come with rubber covers for added safety
- Different options to start
- It is hard to operate the control panel in dark areas as it does not have any lights
2. XP12000EH Generator from DuroMax
This portable battery charger comes with the most powerful DuroMax Engine with 457cc OHV. With dual-fuel technology, this unit brings you flexibility when it comes to choosing the fuel you wish to use. You can use either use gasoline or propane fuel. Whenever the generator senses low oil in the fuel tank, it shuts off the engine. So, your precious investment will remain protected.
With a starting power of 12000 watts and a running power of 9500 watts, this unit is capable enough of handling heavy loads of power tools with high amperage, a home air conditioner, a refrigerator and loads of lights.
The utmost power generation with this generator is possible because it uses DuroMax MX2 technology. You can get the utmost power from each of the 120-volt receptacles from this unit. You can select between 120V and 240V to operate this generator at the same time. Otherwise, you can use it at 120 only with complete power. It uses a 4-stroke engine.
It is ideal for home backup and it has a fuel tank capacity of 8.3 Gal. It has all-metal construction and a 50 AMP outlet. It has all copper windings and an MX2 power boost.
- Offers plenty of power
- Dual fuel technology
- Powerful DuroMax Engine
- Four-stroke engine
- It is not portable and weighs heavy at 300 lbs.
3. 1008919375/7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator from Champion
You can operate this 7500-watt portable battery charger right out of the box. You can use either propane or gasoline for powering this unit. Also, it holds 1.2-quarts of oil and it also has a low oil shut-off sensor. You can power up the 439cc Champion engine using a handy rocker switch part of this unit. A battery is also part of this unit.
With this generator, you can keep track of run-time hours, hertz and voltage to easily keep an eye on the power output and maintenance intervals. This unit is powerful with 8400 starting watts and 6750 running watts on propane and 9375 starting watts and 7500 running watts on gasoline. To prevent overloads, it comes with built-in surge protection and Trust Volt Guard for added safety.
This battery generator comes with Cold Start Technology and provides a maximum of 5.5 hours of run time on propane and 10 hours on gasoline. The Cold Start Technology ensures that you can start this generator quickly even in cold weather. It offers the most dependable recoil start from Champion.
- Cold Start Technology
- Volt Guard Support
- LPG Hose included
- Easy-to-understand control panel.
- It functions with a great noise.
4. 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator from Champion Power
You will feel this generator is as impressive as solar panel kits. Do you know why? It is offered by Champion as an ultra light-weight generator. When you compare this generator with most 2500-watt inverter generators in the market, you will find that this is the lightest of them all.
Unlike other conventional generators that produce a lot of noise, this generator ensures quiet operation with its 53 dBA from 23 feet. So, if you are looking for a perfect generator for camping and tailgating, it will help. Even, you can power a few home essentials with this generator that features 1850 running watts, 2500 starting watts and up to 11.5 hours of run time.
As against your solar charger, this generator offers a unique feature. It is that it offers an optional clip-on parallel kit. This kit enables this inverter to be connected to another 2500-watt champion inverter. In turn, you can double the power output from this unit.
To make sure that you get clean power, the couple of 120V 20A household outlets in this generator have covers. With less than 3% THD, these outlets assure you of clean electricity output.
- Comes with Handy dual 2.1A ports USB adapter
- Covered outlets
- Parallel Ready
- Starting this generator with propane is tricky
5. 1260Wh Battery Pack DELTA Portable Power Station from Ecoflow
This solar charger features 6 AC outlets, a standard DC 13.6V Port, a couple of USB-A fast charging outlets, a couple of USB-A ports and a couple of USB-C ports that will let you power your in-car appliances, drones, camera, laptop and smartphone. Even, you can use this unit for powering other devices like a blender, a refrigerator and a CPAP Machine as well.
This generator comes with a lithium battery pack. You can charge it using 10-65V Solar panels from the same brand that you can buy separately. Even, you can recharge it using the included car charger or wall adapter.
With its patented X-Stream technology, this generator can be powered at 10 times quicker speed as compared to most other generators in the market. You can power it from 0-80% within an hour and within 2 hours, you can recharge it completely. Above all, you can expect this speed just when you charge using a standard AC Cable.
This portable power station comes with a 1260Wh capacity. So, it can meet many of your electricity needs. You can use it when you camp and travel. You can easily carry it by placing it in the backseat of your car when you are on a trip. Otherwise, you can also use it at home for powering your home appliances.
- Charges from 0-80% within an hour
- 1260Wh with 1800Ac Power
- Compatible with solar input
- Powers 13 devices simultaneously with many ports.
- The unit does not come with a supporting app.
6. 1260Wh Generator with 2 x 160W Solar Panels from Ecoflow
This product is offered as a complete kit. As the solar panels for home and outdoor use come as a bundle with the generator, you can easily power this unit from solar energy.
You can recharge this generator at 10 times faster speed using a regular AC adapter. This facility is offered by the generator because of the fact that it uses the patented X-Stream Technology from EcoFlow. Even when you recharge it via the panels, you can get it completely recharged within 5-10 hours. This is because of the MPPT Controller part of this unit. You can call this unit a power monster. Yes, to help you power different devices, it has 6 1800W AC outlets and a couple of 60W USB-C ports. Even, it has four USB A ports with two of them fast charging ports and two normal. It also houses a 13.6 V Carport. Its 1260Wh capacity is yet another factor that makes it a monster.
The 160w Solar panel part of this bundle is waterproof. It means that it can endure all weather conditions. Also, you can submerge these panels in water for up to 30 minutes. Even when you do it, there will not be any detrimental effect on its functioning. This feature makes the panel ideal for outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, climbing and camping.
- Comes as a complete kit with solar panels
- Charges from 0-80% in one hour
- Includes water-proof and durable panels
- 1260Wh capacity
- Possibility to power 13 devices simultaneously
- Adapter for connecting the two panels should be bought separately.
7. Explorer 1000 with 2 SolarSaga 100W Panels from Jackery
With the best solar panels from Jackery SolarSaga 100W, this Explorer 1000 power station will help you unlock the true potential of solar power. With this complete bundle, you can get the opportunity to experience the energy from Mother Nature when you are over-landing, on a camping trip or on a road trip.
The Explorer 1000 is geared with a huge 1002Wh Capacity and 1000 high running wattage. So, it is capable enough of powering even a full-size refrigerator. You can use it for powering a blanket, electric grill, a heater and a TV unit. Also, the Explorer features three standard AC outlets. It means that you can get the power required for powering and protecting more AC-powered devices. Above all, as against many other portable generators, it supports pass-through charging without affecting the battery life in any way.
With this bundle, you will get the Jackery Explorer 1000 portable power station. Along with this unit, you will get two SolarSaga 100W solar panels. Also, you will get a parallel adapter for connecting these two panels. The package includes a car charger cable and also an AC adapter. It means that you will get everything required for generating power.
- Comes as a complete package with solar panels.
- Impressive endurance and massive capacity
- Versatile and powerful ports
- SolarPeak Technology
- Utmost solar efficiency
- Discharges quickly
8. AC200P Solar Generator with 3-Pieces Solar Panels from Bluetti
Are you looking for the best solar generators with solar panels included? If so, this bundle from Bluetti can meet your needs. Apart from the AC200P power station with 2000Wh and 4800W surge power, this bundle comes with three pieces of 120W foldable solar panels named SP120 from Bluetti. It also comes with a 118-inch length MC*4 solar charge cable along with all accessories for the solar generator and the panels. It encompasses an AC adapter charger, an MC4 to XT90 solar charging cable of about 67 inches, a car charging cable and an XT90 to aviation plug.
You can recharge this power station within 3-3.5 hours when you use a solar input of 700W due to the MPPT Controller. Also, to fully recharge this unit using a 400W AC adapter, will take 5.5 hours. It also supports three hours of charging when you use a dual AC adapter. But, you will have to buy the second AC adapter separately if you need one. When you use a 24V/12V car charger, it will take around 10/20 hours respectively to power this unit. You can also simultaneously power this unit using AC+PV recharge. When you do this type of charging, it will take around 2.5 hours for a complete recharge.
- Uses highly qualified monocrystalline silicon cells
- 5% better efficiency than traditional monocrystalline cells
- Panels have ETFE lamination for better durability
- Safer LiFePO4 battery
- The touch screen is hard to read
9. PowerHouse II Anker Portable Power Station
With this portable generator from Anker, you can get multiple charges to any mobile device. This is due to its 388Wh capacity. It has a 300W AC Outlet, a couple of DC ports, a car socket, three USB-A ports and a 60W USB-C port. With these ports, you can use this generator for powering 8 devices simultaneously.
This unit houses 60W PowerIQ 3.0 UBS-C port. This port will let you recharge your mobile devices 40% faster. This is in comparison with the original charger you get with a mobile device like the MacBook Air 2020.
The built-in AC adapter in this unit uses a Pure Sine Wave inverter. It means that you can expect a power output that is as good as the power output that you get in your home from a wall outlet. This feature ensures that the audible electrical noise of your television, speakers, lights, fans and other sensitive devices reduce.
When you choose this portable charger, you will get PowerHouse II 400 station along with a 65W adapter, a carport to DC cable, a USB-C to USB-C cable and USA to USB-C Cable.
- Solar compatibility
- Portable and space-saving design
- Large LED display
- Durable and rugged construction
- Can power devices of less than 300W capacity alone.
10. iGen 160S Portable Power Station from Westinghouse
With the versatile outlets that this unit offers, you can power up to 9 devices at the same time. It means that you can push 100-rated watts and 150 peak watts that this system offers through a couple of 120V household outlets, three 6 mm 9-12V DC outlets, one USB-C port, one quick-charge USB port and a couple of USB ports. The 600 9-12V DC outlet in this generator has been designed to be strong enough to easily power your 36-inch LED television. Even, it can be used for powering heated blankets and box fans.
After a single recharge of this generator, you can get hours of power. The reason is that it houses 155 watt-hours of lithium-ion battery that provides long-lasting power. You can expect the delivery of hours of power for your GPS systems, Bluetooth speakers and Nintendo Switch from this generator.
It holds the pride of being one of the smallest and lightest portable power stations in its class. Yes, this portable generator weighs only 3.75 lb. It has been designed for the convenience of travelers with a handle. Also, the built-in flashlight again makes it the best choice for backpackers.
- Versatile outlets
- Built-in lights
- Ultra-portable design
- 4 different ways to recharge
- Solar panels not included
11. DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator from WEN
Are you thinking that a solar-powered generator will not fit your needs? If so, you can go for this dual-powered generator. You can power it using either propane or gasoline, whichever you have in any given instance. Above all, you can easily switch between these two options with an easy rotation of the selection dial in this unit.
The voltage in this unit easily goes from 120V to 240V. This facility ensures that this unit is ideal for emergency backup and transfer switches. The electric start option offered by this generator powers the 457cc 4-stroke OHV Engine with just a turn of the key. With an electric start, you are relieved of the conventional pull starts.
It houses a 6.6-gallon tank that provides a maximum of 8.5 hours of run time when there is only half load. It encompasses 120V GFCI outlets and these outlets are four in number. Also, it comes with a 47-inch LPG Connection hose, a bottle of oil, and a DC Cigarette-lighter-style plug of 12V capacity, a 120V/240V 50A outlet and a 120V 30A twist-lock outlet.
This unit has 9.5 –inch wheels with fold-down handles to save space. These features ensure easy storage and transportation of this unit.
- 457cc OHV Engine
- Wheels for easy transportation
- Voltage versatility
- It has a noisy operation.
12. Generac 7678 GP3600 Portable Generator
This generator from Generac uses the powerful OHVI engine. It has a plug-in battery charger jack and an electric start with battery is also included. It comes with features like low-oil level shutdown, hour meter, idle control to bring down the noise and for oil conservation. Its large gallon fuel tank can provide up to 9 hours of run time.
For added strength and durability, this generator uses a hardened steel tube cradle. Also, it comes with an integrated lifting eye. This feature ensures easy transportation. Even, it assures security at the job site. For extended run times, the large-capacity fuel tank in this unit comes with a fuel gauge.
Irrespective of whether you need a generator with high capacity for your job site or a generator with the capacity to run a AC unit at your home, this generator can help. With starting watt capacity of 4500 and a running watt capacity of 3600 watts, this generator can meet many of your power needs.
- Huge capacity
- Ensures longer engine life
- Automatic low-oil shutdown
- Large fuel tank capacity
- Initial assembling is not user-friendly.
13. GP2500i Inverter from Generac
Are you looking for a generator that will help you conserve fuel? This portable generator from Generac might help. It comes with an economy mode that automatically adjusts the speed of the engine for reducing sound emissions and saving fuel. To simplify start-up procedures, this generator comes with an integrated choke/run/off knob.
When the unit is low on oil or when it is ready to use or when there is an overload, it has LED indicators to alert you. You can use this generator for charging mobile devices as it comes with a USB port. It has been designed parallel ready. It means that you can connect two GP2500i inverter generators. In turn, you can generate twice the power it can actually produce. But, you will have to buy the parallel kit separately when you wish to do this.
You can stay confident about the safety of the engine even when the oil is low. The reason is that it comes with an automatic low-oil level shutdown feature. For added protection from environmental damages, the outlets are covered in this unit.
To dramatically reduce noise levels, this unit comes in a fully enclosed design. To make sure that you can use this unit for powering your sensitive electronics, it uses Truepower Technology. It provides stable and clean power for your sensitive tools and appliances as well.
With a built-in handle and lightweight and compact design, it is easy to carry this generator.
- Compact design
- Powerful enough to run an AC
- Parallel ready to generate more power
- Comes with an economy mode
- LED indicators
- It is a bit noisier than other portable generators in the market.
14. 83Wh Solar Generator 22500 mAh Portable Power Station from Marbero
This portable power station is equipped with an 83Wh capacity. To let you power different devices, this unit has one AC output socket with 80W running capacity and 120W peak capacity. It also houses a DC port, two USB C ports and two quick-charging USB ports.
It weighs only 2.2 lbs and it has a super-slim design as well. Further, it comes with a compact handle. So, you can use it wherever you go.
It comes with a super-bright LED light with SOS mode. You can just press the LED button to switch between different modes of light. It produces an utmost power of 7W and a maximum of 562 lumens. When you fully charge the generator, you can use it for powering the light alone for 12+ hours.
You can recharge the power generator in three different methods. The unit comes with a couple of adapters. So, you can use them for charging the generator either using the car adapter or wall outlet. You can also buy solar panels separately if you wish to power this unit on the go.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Super-bright LED light
- Multifunctional outputs
- Solar panel has to be brought separately.
Portable Generators Buying Guide
Earlier, people handled power failures just by lighting a candle. Also, some used torchlights that too only for a short while. But, nowadays, no one likes to use a candle when there is a power failure. Of course, when there is a power supply, they wish to light many candles to celebrate their candlelight dinner party. Above all, we cannot even imagine spending an hour without our smart devices.
Thanks to portable generators, they make handling power outages easier these days.
What is a Portable Generator?
Whenever we think of generators, many of us think about huge machines standing tall in a dedicated space. Due to space constraints, many of us do not go for them. So, mostly they are seen only in commercial spots and huge residential complexes with many houses. The noises they make also make many of us stay away from them. But, unlike traditional generators, portable generators are small in size. And they have different sources of power supply, such as portable electric generators, dual fuel generators, gas-powered generators, and portable propane generators.
Above all, nowadays, you can find solar-powered generators that are portable and do not make any noise. They do not produce any harmful effects on the environment as well. Not only solar-powered generators, but also you can find gas and propane-powered small-size generators these days. The idea here is that they are small in size and even light in weight, thereby allowing you to use them anywhere and at any time.
How Do Portable Generators Work?
To understand how portable generators work, you should first gain some knowledge of the basic components involved in these generators. Of course, initially, you will feel it to be a complex piece of machinery. But, its core components are simple in reality. Naturally, you will come across different models of portable generators from different brands. Nevertheless, all of them put together components and function in the same way in most cases.
Be it a diesel-powered or a petrol-powered generator it will have an internal combustion engine. Also, the generator will have an alternator as a component. You can refer to it as a genhead or a generator head as well. It will also have a starter, a fuel tank, control panels and devices including outlets and protection/safety devices. The key steps involved in the working of a portable generator that is petrol/diesel-powered are as follows:
1. The fuel be it diesel or petrol is first fed into the fuel tank. Some portable generators also use natural gas as fossil fuel. This feeding of fuel is done via a safety spout in general. Even, you can fill the tank using a funnel, which will take a long time though.
2. The second step is the use of a starter. If you are particular about old-model generators, you can go for the one with a pull cord start. But, thanks to modern generators, they do not come with a pull cord start option alone. They offer simple switches for powering up the generator.
3. Once the engine starts, the fuel provides the engine with a source of combustion energy. In turn, the engine will continue to run as long as the fuel is available.
4. The internal combustion engine turns the generator head or alternator. In turn, the mechanical energy is converted into electricity. This generator head is essentially constructed of a drive shaft. This shaft remains connected to the engine. So, the engine spins an electromagnet inside a coil for generating and harnessing an electrical field.
5. The electricity is then modified to wattage/voltage that is usable. This conversion is taken care of by a regulator. Then, it is fed to the power outlets present in the portable generator. From there, the power reaches the devices through standard cables.
Some models of portable generators also come with the exhaust or cooling systems, exterior housing and lubrication pipelines.
What are the Benefits of Portable Generators?
1. Emergency Power
When you have portable generators in your office or home, you can make sure that you have an emergency source of power. Just in case, there is a long power outage, particularly in the nighttime, you cannot complete many of your tasks. But, with a portable generator that will not occupy much space in your office or home, you can get some illumination to complete the tasks. Some of these generators come with built-in lights as well.
2. Power Your Appliances and Tools
Some portable generators these days come with a better capacity. Yes, you can get power sufficient enough to run some of your home appliances. Also, most of them are efficient enough to power your mobile phones. So, you need not have to run out of battery your mobile phone and even computer when you have a portable generator in your home. Are you looking for a generator as an alternative source of power for your work-related tools, you can get help from these handy generators.
When you are in your office, you can get the power required to power your laptop and even desktop PC from a portable generator.
3. Get Help for your Recreational Needs
The portability of portable generators makes them the best choice to power your camping site. You can get the required lights powered on your camping site so that you can spend some quality time outdoors with your family when you camp. Even, some of these generators can power your mini-fridge to keep meat and fish fresh to cook the next day. Also, you can power a mini television using this generator so that you can watch some quality movies with your family on your camping site.
4. Damage Prevention
You know that frequent power outages on and off can cause great damage to some of your appliances. When you are at home, you will immediately switch off the wall socket switch to which you have connected your large and sensitive appliances like the television and refrigerator. The reason is that when the power gets back with a surge, there can be damage to your appliances. But, you cannot do it when you are not at home. In these instances, you can program portable generators in such a way that they can immediately get into action to power your appliances when there is a power outage. So, you can prevent damage to these sensitive appliances with a portable generator.
How to Choose A Portable Generator?
When you intend to choose one of the best portable generators, you will have to consider different factors to make sure that you end up making the right choice. Here are some of these factors to know about:
1. Identify your Size Need
The selection of the right-size generator depends on the appliances that you wish to power. The right size here involves considering both the running watts and starting watts. The other factor you will have to consider in the selection of the right size generator involves evaluating the rated watts of the appliances that you wish to run. Also, you should know the continuous watts required to keep the appliances running. You might wonder what does starting watts mean. It is the additional watts required for around two to three seconds to begin a motor-driven appliance like a circular saw or a refrigerator. This is nothing but the utmost wattage the generator can produce.
To identify your wattage needs, you should do the following:
- Choose the appliances that you will have to power simultaneously
- For each appliance that you wish to run, list the additional starting watts and running watts required. You can know the wattage requirements from your operator manual of the appliance.
- Now, get the total of the the running watts of all the appliances that you intend to power. You should choose a power station that can produce at least the total of running watts.
- Here, you can choose the highest number of additional starting watts. Along with this number, add the total running watts of the appliances that you wish to run. You will need a power station that produces the least starting watts.
2. Consider the Run Time
The run time denotes how long you want the appliances to be powered by a portable generator. In this factor, it is better to consider a generator, which can run for a long time using half-load. When you find a power station that can run longer, you need not have to frequently refuel it. When you find a generator, which can operate for 11 hours at half load, it means that you need not have to wake up in the middle of the night to refuel the generator when you camp.
3. Consider the Outlets
The more the number of outlets portable generators have, the better you can power many of your devices at the same time. So, when you wish to shortlist a particular generator from many options you come across, it is better to evaluate the number of outlets. Not only the number of outlets but you should also consider the type of outlet that a generator has. For instance, if you wish to power a window AC, it is better that you shortlist a power station with a 30amp outlet that you can lock.
4. Portability is Important
Naturally, you will think portable generators are always portable. So, you might think that you can easily carry them wherever you want. But, the thing to remember here is that they are not always portable. Some of them come with wheels for easy transportation. When a generator has wheels, you can understand that it will weigh more. So, before you shortlist any generator, it is better to enquire about the size and weight of the generator. This is a key factor to consider if you have plans to use the generator when you travel.
5. Cord Set Consideration
When you compare portable generators, you will find that some of them come with sturdy cord sets. This feature will ensure that you are relieved of managing multiple extension cords. It means that this type of cord set will have four standard outlets at the end of each cord. This will be an added feature considering the convenience of usage. So, do consider this as a feature.
6. Know the Total Harmonic Distribution
You can find the Total Harmonic Distribution or THD from the technical specification page of different portable generators. Let us consider that you have plans to run sensitive electronics like lab equipment and laptops using the generator. If this is the case, you will have to consider the waveform as an essential factor. It is better to make sure that the overall harmonic distortion is less than 6%. in turn, you can avoid damaging electric circuits. Often you can find that generators with this capacity will denote pure sine wave or clean power. You should know that it is a more predictable and stable level of voltage. However, Pure Sine Wave generators will cost you more and you can find them as lower-watt generators in most instances.
The thing to remember here is that battery inverters are not all low THD models. Some units put out square waves. So, do not forget to check the specs before you shortlist a generator to make sure that you will get clean power that will not harm your sensitive devices.
7. Consistent or Occasional Use?
When you compare portable generators, you should decide whether you will be using the generator consistently or occasionally. Of course, most generators encompass a consumer warranty that covers you for many years. When it comes to recreational or emergency use, you can go for a generator from a reputable brand. On the other hand, let us consider that you have a team that is regularly going to use the generator. In this case, it is better to ensure that you choose a generator, which has been made with a commercial engine. When you do this, you will get a generator, which comes with a warranty that lasts for more than a year as against a model with 6 months or 90 days warranty. Of course, you will have to spend more in this case. But, your investment will be worthy.
FAQs of Portable Generators
Do you really need a portable generator for home?
Portable generators are a perfect solution if you need portable power. These standby units provide the necessary backup in different emergencies, recreational activities, and more.
Some situations where a portable generator becomes handy are:
During Power Outage:
Portable generators can cover different devices and appliances like laptops, coffee makers, smartphones, etc. This form of supplemental electricity is useful when there is an extended blackout or power outage.
Battery Charge Up:
The power generators usually come with a DC outlet for car charging. So, when in an emergency, you can use a portable generator to charge an electric car’s battery.
Portable generators are meant for easy transport. They can be a significant addition to your recreational trips. Present-day portable generators can run low-voltage lights, small stoves, and appliances too. So, you can use this equipment as a standby until you get back home. The main purpose of portable generators is to provide a power backup. Be it a small outage, a recreational trip like camping, or an electric car running out of charge, a portable generator always comes in handy.
How to use a portable generator?
Portable generators do not have fixed wiring and can accommodate different connections. So, determine your requirement before connecting the appliances. The generator’s runtime varies based on the appliance being used. Refer to the manual and figure out the runtime for your devices.
Place the portable generator in an appropriate position so that you can connect every device that needs a backup. Follow the power cord safety tips and plug in the generator. Don’t connect any appliance at the moment and ensure that the fuel tank is full. Switch on the generator based on the instruction manual.
You can now plug in your devices. Remember to start with the appliance that needs more power among all. You can refill the fuel tank if you need the generator to run longer. In that case, remove all the connections, turn the generator off, and then add the fuel.
What size portable generator do I need?
Portability is what this generator is all about. So, the purpose of using it decides the type of generator you’ll need. For example, if you need a generator for home usage, camping, or a town picnic, you wouldn’t need a generator with more wattage. Applications like construction sites require more power and wattage from these machines.
So, the calculations are simple. You need to figure out your power requirement or the capacity of the equipment. Look for the number of watts given by a generator. Consider the appliance that needs more surge and compare the power outputs accordingly. List out all the feasible options and choose the generator with a convenient size.
The size and weight of a generator usually go together. So, if you need a generator for construction sites and on-field applications, you can go with larger sizes with more outputs. But if you are planning on buying a power generator for your home or carrying it often, choose a smaller generator.
Can a portable generator get wet?
Running a generator during rains, cyclones, or on a wet floor can damage its outlets and wiring. If the water levels are too high and enter the internal parts of a generator, it can be permanent damage. So, best that a generator is run in dry conditions.
But if you don’t have a choice, follow these precautions to prevent the damage:
Enclose or cover your generator with a proper setup. Ensure that this setup protects the equipment’s internal parts from water while letting the exhaust escape.
Avoid using extension cords when using the generator on wet surfaces. But if you have to, use grounded extension cords with three thongs to prevent high-voltage shocks and fluctuations.
Avoid placing the generator in low areas where the water is likely to become a pool.
In case your generator gets wet, disable its start function and isolate it. Open the affected area and dehumidify it with hot air. However, if the damage is internal, i.e., if the internal parts like the alternator, fans, etc. are wet, call a professional and seek help from them.
What portable generator is best for home use?
The choice depends on your requirement. As in, you first need to determine the backup you’ll need. It can be:
Partial backup is where you only need to power some devices and appliances. This doesn’t need much output power. You just need to know the maximum surge required and find a generator that can compensate for the requirement. Or, you can add up all the total watts required by the devices and find a generator that provides this output. Usually, a generator with 5000-7500 watts capacity can cover up here.
In this case, you need a generator that can run your entire house. This means that the portable generator should be connected to your house’s circuit breaker panel. So, you’ll need a high-power generator that can run for a long and cover almost every device, equipment, and appliance in your home. You can use the same calculations to determine the required output power. Just that the requirement here would be more.
Whenever you calculate the required output from a generator, it should be the minimum output power from the chosen generator and not the maximum one.
How long can I run a portable generator?
The maximum runtime of any portable generator depends on several factors like the fuel tank capacity, type of fuel used, number of connections, etc.
Fuel Tank Capacity:
It is the maximum amount of fuel a generator can take at once. Traditionally, portable generators come with different fuel tank capacities in liters or gallons. Equipment with a smaller fuel tank cannot stand by for long.
Type of Fuel:
Another aspect influencing a generator’s runtime is the type of fuel it runs on. Usually, portable generators run on gasoline, propane, or diesel. The latter isn’t widely used. So, it comes down to propane and gasoline. Propane can run your generator for a longer duration when compared to gasoline.
Connecting low-power devices can help run your generator for a long time. If you connect a high-power appliance like a grinder, refrigerator, air conditioner, etc., the runtime reduces significantly. Similarly, if you connect multiple devices at once, the generator cannot run for long, even though the power required is low.
Manufacturers usually mention the runtime of a generator with half load capacity. Similarly, they also mention the time when each device or an appliance is connected individually. So, you can estimate the appropriate runtime based on these calculations.
As per the values, a generator can run around 7-12 hours continuously on gasoline. Some generators can also run throughout the day based on their model. In total, a portable generator can run for around 2000 hours.
How to connect a portable generator to electrical panel?
You can connect an electrical panel and a portable generator either by diverting a circuit or through a transfer switch. Using the latter is less complicated and is safer compared to circuit diversion. The transfer switch has three components – a control box, generator connection, and a power cord running from the generator to the control box. The control box connects the switch to the place’s electrical system.
Follow these steps to connect a portable generator and an electric panel through the transfer switch:
First, identify the panel board box at your place. You’ll usually find it near the entrance.
Disconnect the main breaker and ensure that the electricity doesn’t flow through the place.
Now, open the main panel cover and locate the primary electrical panel. Turn the circuit breaker’s handle counterclockwise to remove the breaker.
Connect the generator to the transfer switch through the generator connection. Connect the transfer switch and the incoming circuit breaker through the control box. Use the power cord to connect the main breaker and the generator.
You have now connected the generator to an electric panel. Test the connections before starting to rely on them. Check if the lights and the appliances are all functioning when the connection is intact.
Do portable generators need to be grounded?
Every portable generator requires a grounding connection considering the user’s safety. The grounding electrode eliminates the risks of shocks and electrocutions. Modern generators come with a metal frame bonding with the generator’s housing, engine, and fuel tank. This setup is what acts as a ground connection. Every user manual discusses if the generator needs to be grounded.
However, some situations require the generator to be grounded externally, based on the application. They are:
If you just use the extension cords to connect different devices, you don’t need the grounding rod.
In case the generator is connected to a structure through transfer switches, the equipment will need the installation of a grounding electrode. Here, the ground rods should be pounded at least 8 feet into the earth. You can then connect it with the generator using its ground cable.
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