generator buying guide

Generator Buying Guide

Many homeowners know that a generator can be a saving grace during power outages. You experience power outages once every few years or all the time. As a result, you may be researching what type of generator you need. Here is our generator buying guide which outline all the options and hopefully help you make your decision.

What Are Generators Used For?

Generators can come in handy in a variety of situations. Homeowners can utilize them during power outages to power air conditioners and larger appliances. Campers and tailgaters can use them to power smaller appliances for short term energy solutions. Generators are units that provide energy solutions to people when they are without electric power.

Different Types of Generators

When shopping for a generator a consumer needs to consider the specific need they are seeking. If a generator is only going to be used for short term solutions, to power small appliances these are mostly less expensive. The pricier versions are whole house generators that can keep a home up and running during a severe power outage.

There are 3 types of generators to take into consideration when shopping; standby, portable and inverter.

Standby Generator

A standby generator is considered an investment in the home. Residents that live in regions that suffer from many power outages may want to consider this type of generator. A standby generator will instantly switch on in the event of a power outage and run all appliances and electric in the home until power is restored.

generac standby generator

Portable Generator

Portable generators are commonly found in most garages. These generators run on gas and are used during short term power outages and for camping. A standard sized portable generator is a 5,000 watt generator. This sized portable generator will use roughly 18 gallons of fuel during a full twenty four hour day.

Inverter Generator

A Inverter generator is one the quietest and most energy efficient running generators. These are light weight generators that are ideal for tail gating, picnicking or short term camping. The inverter generator is able to only utilize the amount of energy necessary to run a certain appliance which makes it an energy saving machine.

Generator Fuel Type

Generators run on various types of fuel.

Natural Gas

Standby generators that keep a whole house running will tie into a natural gas line or a liquid propane line. These are the safest type of generator to operate because homeowners do not need to be concerned with gasoline, power cords, poisoning or electrical shock.

Diesel, Gasoline, and Propane Fuel

Portable generators run on diesel, propane, or gasoline. These generators will need to be routinely filled if they are expected to run for more than a few hours at a time.

Dual Fuel

Dual fuel generators are portable generators that run off of 2 fuel sources. These usually run off diesel gas and propane. Dual fuel generators give homeowners flexibility in fuel options when one specific fuel source may not be readily available.

Inverter

Inverter generators are created with a newer technology. They utilize alternators to convert DC power to AC. These are smaller and have shorter run times then other generators but are effective for a temporary solution. 

Generator Wattage

A generator will come with a running wattage and a starting wattage.

Starting Wattage

Sometimes referred to as peak wattage, the starting wattage includes the extra wattage that is needed during the first few seconds of start up to get an appliance running. The running wattage is the continual flow of wattage that is necessarily provided from the generator to the appliance it is powering. 

Running Wattage

If you're wondering what type of wattage you need to run a specific appliance, it varies and is specific to the appliance that is being run off a generator. Each appliance comes with a specific running wattage. Double the wattage of your largest wattage appliance and factor that into your number. By doubling the largest wattage appliance you will create a buffer for the starting wattage. 

Generator Sizes

Home Standby generators are typically about two feet long and a foot and a half in height. But it's not the length and width you need to worry about when looking for a generator. These babies are HEAVY. 

You'll find standby generators that weigh around 450 pounds. Some are larger and some are smaller. These are located outside of the house and are not moved. Therefore weight won't play as much of a factor. 

You'll want to pay attention to the weight of portable generators. These can weigh up to three hundred pounds and are quite bulky. They average about two feet in height, width and length.

Another reason why inverter generators are popular is because they are much lighter. These range from 60 to 150 pounds and are compact in size. These are usually roughly two feet in height and about fifteen inches in length and thirteen in width.


Stackable Generators

There are many generators on the market that can easily be stacked. Why would you want to stack multiple generators? Well, some generators come with a parallel option. What this means is that two generators can be hooked up to produce even more power than one generator alone. In these instances, you may want to pick an option that can be easily stacked to save space.

stackable generator

Popular Generator Brands

The most popular home standby generator is the Generac brand. These range from $2,000-$8,000 in cost depending upon needed wattage.

Westinghouse, Generac, Honda, and Champion are popular portable generator brands. These brands range from $200-$2,000 in cost. 

generac portable generator

Cost is completely reliant on wattage and size in regards to portable generators. Inverter generators fall in the same price range as portable generators however most average around the $300 price point.

Honda, Wen and Champion have some of the best consumer ratings for inverter generators.