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What’s important in choosing a portable power generator?

Many factors count in determining how to choose the right portable power generator. Though every individual has his own requirement for what he wants to use a generator for, some factors are universal and affect all.

The value of portable generators cannot be ignored in the event of a sudden power outage, during a storm and frequent fluctuations in electricity supply in some situations. Campers, picnickers, and hikers often find the importance of buying a portable power generator a great value for their maximum enjoyment.

Some job sites are equally not left out. They need to run on power for some of their operations. People seem to have one need or another for a portable generator in their homes.

What Makes a Portable Generator?

Since you already have a design pattern in a portable power generator as a choice, it is assumed you also have portability features in mind.

Everybody should be familiar with what makes a portable generator. It is more of a compact design. It doesn’t need much of room space if you have to store it for later use. This makes it simple and most often lightweight.

You’ll even find many generators with a box-like structure with grab handles and attached wheels. All these add up to make a utility device that you can use anywhere. Besides the important portability feature you already have, other notable features should not be ignored. 

We put together a broader post on Best Small Generators for Home Use


Fuel Tank Size

If you’re going to run your portable power generator for an extended period, take note of the size of the fuel tank. The capacity of the tank installed on the unit will tell how long you can run the generator before refueling it again.

You definitely want something that will save you all the stress of frequent refueling. A 5-gallon capacity is usually ideal, as this should give you about 7 hours of runtime when you’re on a full load. Imagine how much runtime you’ll have if you choose to run on a 50% capacity. That should be double and can last you a whole daytime to meet your needs.


Engine Type

This may be a bit technical but it is an equally important feature to look at when buying a portable generator. The engine on which a power generator runs will determine its efficiency and effectiveness.

You’ll agree that a 2-stroke engine cannot work as efficiently as a 4-stroke engine will do. The cost may be the limiting factor for this because a 4-stroke engine will be more expensive. If that serves the purpose you want it for, that shouldn’t be a problem when the funds are available.


The Power Output

The power output of a generator gives you the exact maximum power the generator is capable of supplying. A few designs in the market can give you 2,000 surge watts and over 1,500 running watts. But there are many other options available.

Many features such as the engine type and other components can determine the power rating of a generator.

Depending on the total load capacity you’re looking at, you can always adjust to the maximum capacity of your power generator by taking out some appliances to go a little below the maximum power supply.


Noise Level

Noise is considered a disturbance and government regulations may not condone such in some locations. Public places such as when you’re on a picnic or hiking may have a required noise limit and you’ll want something that will fit in anywhere.

For many portable generators, such as the Yamaha EF4500iSE you’ll find their noise levels to be marked within the 70 decibels range.

Checking to find a portable generator with a very low noise level not only helps to meet the regulatory requirement but gives maximum comfort in using the product.  If you find one that is much lower in noise level, the better.

what's important choosing portable power generator

Power Quality

Not many power outputs are of the best quality when dealing with portable power generators. This is more common with the less known brands. This comes into play because of the use of low-tech speed governors, inappropriate motors, and alternators. The faulty power output can cause damage to appliances. The AC signal ought to be a 60-hertz frequency.


Check Weight

One of the features that make up a portable power generator is the lightweight design of many units. Considerably, many are lightweight and mobile-friendly. It is common to find even the lightweight power generators to be more powerful than the heavy designs. A unit below the 100 pounds, like the DuroMax4000s, should be adequate.

what's important choosing portable power generator

Engine Safeguard

People rarely think about this, but I consider it one of my favorite components in my portable generator.

Engine safeguards are designed to safeguard a generator’s engine from damage when the fuel runs out, and the engine has to stop abruptly. If you want to run a portable generator extensively at home without fear of harm, you have the engine safeguard to rely on.

Job site contractors often go for long hours on the field with their portable generator running all through the period. This is why many good portable power generators with a low-oil shutoff feature come in handy to save the situation.

The generator shuts down immediately once the fuel level drops to a mark that may cause damage to the generator’s engine. At first, you may be wondering why the generator suddenly stops when you can actually see some gasoline left. Don’t fret because this is built to safeguard the engine from damage and also save you some repair cost.


How To Buy The Best Portable Power Generator?

Here are some useful guidelines to help you buy the best power generator.

1. Desired Load Capacity

This is arguably one of the factors to zero in when you’re set to buy a generator. Ask yourself the amount of load you want to power with the generator. Are you powering every appliance in the home? Really, this will hardly be possible. It is important whenever you want to choose a power generator to only go for one that will cater for all your calculated loads.

Make sure to have space for excess power in the generator to guide against accidental overloading. So, let your total load be a little less than the maximum the generator can carry.

In your load calculation, sum up the watts for each load (appliance) and also add the maximum starter (surge) load to your total. The starter power also called surge is the power an appliance requires to start. Some motors use three times the running power to start. For instance, a refrigerator that runs on 900 watts will need about 2700 watts within the first few seconds to run.

You’ll often find the power rating of an appliance on the nameplate. In some cases, it is expressed as V-A.  If the watt is not available, you can do a simple calculation by multiplying the amps by the volts. For instance, a 5-amp equipment that uses 120 volts will give 5A x 120V = 600 watts.

You need to do this to know your power requirements for the devices you’ll be powering and match it with the power output of the portable generator you’ll be selecting. Make sure to have some margins of power (watt) on the generator to take care of an unintentional overloading.


2. Your Budget and Price

There are different price ranges of portable generators. After determining your total load capacity, you may want to look at what you can afford at the time. If all’s well and good, you can go ahead to compare prices based on the various brands out there on the market. You’ll find some good portable generators in the $1000 range or lower depending on the installed features and functionality.

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