Portable Generator Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Portable Generator
By investing in an electric generator, you're taking power into your own hands during increasingly uncertain times. Portable generators offer a particularly convenient and agile way to get power where and when you need it most, especially now with increasing natural disasters and the aging electrical grid.
Portable electric generators are perfect for the following:
- Home Backup: Power essential items during an outage like refrigerators, sump pumps, and microwaves.
- Recreational Activities: Enjoy the convenience of electricity at picnics, camping, tailgating, and more.
- Professional Applications: Get heavy-duty power on the job, whether you run a food truck or work in construction.
Portable generators can be transported relatively easily from place to place, unlike other more powerful types of generators. They come in a wide variety of different power ranges and prices. Don't get yourself caught up in all of the numbers, though.
How to Choose a Generator
Start by selecting the right type of portable generator for your needs. There are basically 4 different types: Solar, Recreational, Emergency, and Professional.
Do you want a generator that won't just power your stuff, but powers itself too? Alternative power stations are becoming more popular as the demands for renewable energy and portable-power increase.
There is no noise, fumes, or gasoline involved with these solar power stations, making them perfect to have for camping or areas without primary power sources. Since they don't have exhaust, they are also the only kind of generator you can use indoors, such as in an apartment room.
Solar and battery-powered generators are safe for all of your sensitive electronics, and are evolving every year. Today, brands like EcoFlow and Goal Zero have solar-powered generators that have the power output of traditional small gas generators.
Recreational Inverter Generators
Portable generator uses are as diverse as a person's hobbies. Recreational inverter generators are light, relatively quiet, and easy to take with you on your next outdoor activity, whatever it may be.
The main highlight of recreational inverter generators, though, is their clean power that allows you to charge sensitive electronics like a smartphone or laptop. Plus, they can provide up to 6 kW of power.
RV owners, campers, tailgaters, and other outdoor hobbyists are quickly learning how convenient recreational generators are in offering power on the go. They're quiet enough to meet RV park decibel rules, yet powerful enough to run all your essentials.
While recreational generators are great for tailgating or camping, they're not the best option for longer power outages.
Emergency portable generators, also known as backup generators, feature larger and more powerful engines designed to restore power to mission-critical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and garage door openers. The most powerful models have an output of up to 17 kW.
In addition, emergency generators come equipped with larger gas tanks designed to run for hours without interruption. While not quite professional-grade, these generators are durable yet affordable.
For heavy-duty, long-term use on a farm, jobsite, food truck, etc., a professional portable generator is best. These serious-duty generators are built in limited quantities for professionals who recognize that quality doesn’t come cheap.
Professional generators are constructed with commercial-quality components designed to run a full shift on a daily basis. Basic features – like hour meters, lifting eyes and GFCI outlets – aren’t accessories, they’re necessities. Their robust construction and durability means they can handle siginificantly more wear and tear than non-professional units.
Portable Generator Sizing
Deciding between solar, recreational, emergency backup, and professional generators depends on how much you want to power and for how long. For example, a solar generator should handle your TV and lights just fine, but adding a microwave and refrigerator at the same time wouldn't be a good idea.
To properly size a portable generator, you need to determine the wattage of every appliance you'll want to power at one time, which will be the maximum load on the generator. To help you with the math, we've developed a free generator wattage calculator to figure out your power needs.
Where to Get a Portable Generator
The ongoing U.S. supply chain crisis has made getting all sorts of goods more difficult, including electric portable generators. However, it's possible with some patience. Electric Generators Direct regularly has portable generators in stock, and we'll keep you apprised of any sudden shortages or lead time changes.
The main thing is to be patient and plan ahead. If you need a portable generator, don't wait. No one knows how long the supply chain crisis will last, so if you see a generator you want in stock, go for it.
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