How to Choose the Best Portable Generators
Portable Generators are units which cost less and run on a variety of consumable fuel. They are easy to operate and homeowners can use them anywhere on or off the property. It must be at least 15 feet away from your house and not in an enclosed space. Several models of portable generators offer electric starting, however, the battery required for the purpose may not be included. Portable generators can provide power from 3,000 to 8,500 watts and cost from $400 to $1,000.
Enduring power outage in the past was as simple as starting the chimney corner but this is not so anymore. Without electricity, security systems can falter and businesses can fail. You don’t realize how much you rely on electricity until it is gone. When the power goes out, a generator can keep your home warm, your kitchen cooking and phones charging.
Choosing the most suitable and best portable generator is not an easy and simple job. Looking up to the task, most panic buyers have no idea of what to do with it when they get it home. Buying in haste might also mean boycotting recommended installation measures and depending on extension cords. Read our expert tips on how to choose the best portable generators.
Know Your Power Priorities
Generators are typically grouped and sold by wattage. How much they put out defines not only how many appliances you can run at once but also how well. Homeowners need to know the amount of wattage needed by their households. Portable generators with smaller output may not be enough to power your entire home. So you need to properly choose one that suits your needs. You simply select one of three sizes:
- Medium Generators: Medium emergency generators (3,000-5,000 watts) may be relatively small, but they pack a good offer. Unlike smaller generators, medium-sized portable generators can simultaneously power multiple appliances including your refrigerator, pump and furnace fan. Most homeowners simply run the generator and the extension cords through open doors or window to the inside appliances.
- Large Generators: If you want to succeed instead of just endure, consider a large emergency portable generator of 6,000 to 9,000 watts. Yes, you can run extension cords from the generator. But you would not be able to maximize its full potential. Large generators work best with transfer switches that can restore power to many circuits in your main electrical panel. They can energize multiple rooms in your home.
- Extra Large Generators: If you want the power of a home standby generator without the restraints of being tied down, get an extra-large portable generator (10,000+ watts). These portable generators produce enough power to keep your central air conditioner working during a summer scorching black out. While the electric start is standard in most extra-Large models they are not automatic. If you’re not home, unfortunately, the electric start button won’t press itself.
Enlist What Matters To You
Some mutual essentials are the refrigerator of about 600 watts, sump pump of about 750 to 1,500 watts, portable heaters (1,500 watts), window air conditioner (1,000 watts), lights and computers of 60 to 300 watts. Check which models faltered when demand was high and which one overheated the appliances.
Features That Count
Don’t let rain, wind or snow keep you in the dark. Considering these options can help you make sure you are getting the best generator for your needs:
- Automatic Start: When the power goes off, the standby generator goes on without your intervention. This is useful if you travel a lot or have a long commute.
- Alternative Fuel Capacity: Most portable generators run only on gasoline, though some are equipped to run on natural gas line or propane tank. It can also be converted with kits.
- Electric Start: Several portable generators offer this push-button alternative to the stress of pull-starting the engine. Factoring it in is an added cost (around $50) if the battery is not included. Stationary models have automatic starting.
- Wheels: Believe it or not, some generators price these independently. You could probably move a wheeled generator, but without wheels, you would need help (most of them weigh even up to 200 pounds). Wheels can cost up to an extra $150.
- Fuel Gauge: This is especially useful during long blackouts. You can check fuel level at a glance on a generator.
- Low-Oil Shutoff: If the oil level falls below minimum levels, the generator would shut down to prevent damage. This is usually standard on generators, but it is increasingly common on portable generators too.
- Inverter Technology: On some higher-end generators; this provides cleaner power that would not overheat sensitive electronics. Some campsites require generators like this because inverter generators usually run much more quietly.
- Multiple Outlets: Having more outlets lets you use the wattage best by spreading the load. Though using these only for emergency or outdoor purposes such as camping is what we recommend.
- Removable Console: This provides connection to the generator so you can plug in appliances without running extension cords outdoors.
You Need a Transfer Switch
What is that, you say? Well, the answer is that it links the portable generator to your circuit panel in one cable. Ignoring this could cause appliances to fry and damage the generator. We recommend that you have a professional installation which could cost around $500 or above. With some models, the transfer switch turns on automatically while for others you need to connect it manually and flip the switches by hand. It works with 5,000 watt or higher models. Few model shuts off when the power goes on while others need to flip the same switches back to live power.