5 Things You Should Know About Portable Generators

things you should know about portable generators

A portable generator is a device that generates electricity and can be easily transported from one location to another. They are often used as a backup power source during power outages or when electricity is not readily available, such as at a campsite or construction site.

Portable generators can be powered by gasoline, diesel, propane, or solar energy and come in various sizes and power outputs to meet different needs.

This article will cover everything you need to know about generators, including different types, how they work, how to choose the right one, and safety tips for use.

1. Types of Portable Generators

portable generator at campsite

Several different types of portable generators are available, each with unique characteristics and benefits.

Here are some of the most common types:

⚡ Gasoline:

Gasoline-powered generators are the most popular type of portable generator.

They are widely available and inexpensive, and it’s easy to find fuel for this type.

However, they do require regular maintenance, such as changing the oil and spark plugs and can be noisy.

⚡ Diesel:

Diesel generators are more fuel efficient than gasoline generators and tend to have a longer lifespan.

They also produce fewer emissions, making them more environmentally friendly.

However, they can be more expensive and harder to find fuel for, especially in the US.

⚡ Propane:

Propane generators are a good alternative to gasoline generators because they are clean-burning and do not require as much regular maintenance.

However, they do require a separate propane tank and may not be as widely available as gasoline generators.

⚡ Solar:

Solar generators are powered by a solar panel and do not produce any emissions.

They are a good choice for those who want a clean and quiet power source.

However, they may not be as powerful as other types of generators and may not be suitable for running high-energy appliances or tools.

2. How do Portable Generators Work?

sideview of portable generator

A portable generator is essentially a small internal combustion engine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

The engine is fueled by gasoline, diesel, propane, or solar panels and runs continuously, producing electricity as long as it runs.

Inside the generator, a rotating armature is attached to a set of wire coils.

When the engine runs, the armature rotates, causing the wire coils to move through a magnetic field.

This movement generates an electrical current, which is then directed through a transformer to increase or decrease the voltage as needed.

The electricity produced by the generator is then supplied to appliances or devices through outlets or cables.

The larger inverter generators can also act as a power station for home backup power.

Some generators also come with features such as voltage regulators and circuit breakers to ensure a stable and safe power supply.

What’s The Difference Between a Conventional Generator and an Inverter Generator?

A conventional generator is a type of generator that produces AC (alternating current) electricity through the use of a mechanical alternator.

The AC electricity produced by a conventional generator is not always of a consistent voltage and frequency and may fluctuate depending on the load being placed on the generator.

An inverter generator, on the other hand, is a type of generator that produces AC electricity through the use of an electronic inverter.

The inverter converts the generator’s DC (direct current) electricity into AC electricity.
It can produce a consistent voltage and frequency regardless of the load being placed on the generator.

Inverter generators are often smaller and more portable than conventional generators and are more fuel efficient due to their ability to adjust their engine speed based on the load being placed on the generator.

They are also typically quieter than conventional generators and produce cleaner power, making them a good choice for sensitive electronics and appliances.

However, they may be more expensive than conventional generators.

3. Choosing the Right Portable Generator

making a choice

When choosing a portable generator, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you get the right one for your needs. Here are some things to think about:

Size and Power Output

Generators come in various sizes and power outputs, so it’s important to consider how much power you need and how much space you have to store the generator.

Smaller portable inverter generators with a lower power output may be sufficient for running a few basic appliances during a power outage, while a larger generator with a higher power output may be needed to run multiple appliances or power tools.

Fuel Type

Gasoline (or petrol for the rest of the English-speaking world), diesel, and propane are the most common fuel types.

Consider the availability and cost of the fuel, as well as the generator’s fuel efficiency and expected emissions.

Additional Features

Some portable generators come with additional features that may be useful, such as multiple outlets, a built-in inverter, inertia and overload protection, a digital display, or a quiet mode.

4. Safety Tips for Using Portable Generators

safe generator use

Portable generators can be a convenient and reliable power source, but it’s important to use them safely to prevent accidents or injuries.

Here are some safety tips to follow:

  1. Proper use and storage of fuel: Only use the type of fuel recommended for your generator, and store it in a safe and approved container. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fueling the generator, and never overfill the fuel tank.
  2. Correct placement and ventilation: Place the generator in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide buildup, and keep it away from doors, windows, and vents to prevent the exhaust gas from entering your home.
  3. Use of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): A GFCI is a device that can help protect against electric shock by shutting off the power when it detects an imbalance in the electrical current. If your generator has outlets, be sure to use a GFCI outlet or GFCI extension cords to plug in your appliances.

Following these safety guidelines can help ensure that you and your family stay safe while using a portable generator.

📗 Related Reading: Homeowners Guide to Electrical Safety

5. Maintenance of Portable Generators

Proper maintenance is important to ensure your portable generator runs safely and efficiently.

Here are some maintenance tasks to keep in mind:

  1. Regular inspections: Regularly inspect your generator for any damage or wear and tear, and repair or replace any faulty parts.
  2. Change the oil and check spark plugs: Check and change the oil and spark plugs according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Check out this link to check what oils are suitable for your type of generator.
  3. Check air filters: Clean or replace the air filters regularly to keep the generator running efficiently and prevent engine damage.

By performing these maintenance tasks, you can help extend the lifespan of your generator and ensure that it is always ready to use when you need it.

portable generator

Final Thoughts on Purchasing a Portable Generator

Portable generators are a convenient and reliable power source for various situations, such as providing power during power outages or in an off-grid location.

Though there are several important things to consider when using portable generators.

Choosing the right generator for your needs and budget is important.

It is also important to consider safety features such as inertia and overload protection and to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and maintenance.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your portable generator provides reliable power while being environmentally friendly and safe.

Want to learn more about your home’s electrical system? Feel free to check out our other electrical articles!

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

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