Answering the question as which generator is the best buy, depends on a wide variety of factors and considerations. Importantly, for the consumer wanting to purchase the best generator for their needs, the needs must be clearly understood.
Purchasing a good generator is more than just knowing how much power is needed. Generators come in three basic types, portable, inverter and standby. Knowing which type is best suited to the specific needs is just as important as the wrong kind of generator can cause more difficulties after purchase. Therefore it is best to identify the needs and the types needed before determining the power demand, in order to get the right generator.
There are three basic types of generators, portable, inverter and standby. To start with inverter generators are small. compact generators who use a secondary electronic circuit in the form of a AC/DC/AC converter to even out the power distribution curve to produce a near perfect sine wave of 60z AC power.
This means the power from the inverter is almost exactly the same as that in the main residential grid. These are great for camping, tailgating, and limited home backup use. They are great for sensitive electronics but are also more expensive than other portable units. They can be run in parallel, meaning more than one inverter can be used to produce more power but again, this gets cost prohibited if the demand is too high.
The most common generator for the home or job market is the portable generator. These range from small compact versions of around 45 pounds to larger units weighing around 300 pounds. They have the widest range of power options available and they can be used for almost any purpose that requires power.
They are not as lightweight as inverter generates but they can be used for a wider range of applications, including home backup power generation. They also have a range of features and with automatic voltage regulation, they can produce very clean power for sensitive electronics.
The third type is the standby generator. These are static units that are connected to the home’s main power supply via a transfer switch. When a loss of power is detected, the standby generator activates and supplies power until grid power is restored.
These generators are usually fueled by the residential natural gas line to provide a long running time. These generators are primarily used for home backup power. This is especially important for those with medical needs, who can not handle an interruption of service due to an outage.
Generators are rated two ways, in surge capacity and continuous power.Surge capacity is the amount of power needed quickly when an appliance or tool activates. Refrigerators, sump pumps, freezers etc, all have high surge needs.
A generator who is required to supply power to these types of appliances or tools must be able to quickly supply that level of demand. The best way to determine that power demand is to check each appliance and find the voltage and the amperage of the appliance.
This is usually located on the power plug or transformer of the appliance. Once this information is obtained, there is a simple mathematical formula to determine the wattage needed. Watts =Voltage Times Amperage. This will give you the continuos power demand. Be sure to add all appliances to be run on the generator. Once the continuous power demand is obtained, add 1,000 to 1,500 Watts to the total for surge capacity and that should give the total wattage demand.
It’s All About the Features
Now that a person knows what type of generator they need and how much power demand they require, it is all about the features. The basic rule of thumb is the more safety features the better. However, there are other features that are just as important. The first is automatic voltage regulation. This allows the generator to supply clean power without any dips or unnecessary surges that can damage appliances or equipment.
Also, a low oil sensor is important as it helps prevent damage to the generator from running low on oil. A voltage meter and hour meter are also good features as they allow a person to monitor the power output and to know how long the unit has been in operation. A fuel gauge is a wonderful feature, as a person can know how much longer the generator will function and when fuel will be needed. Finally, make sure that the unit has overcharge protection and circuit breakers for each leg or outlet. Generators require a safety first attitude.
Determining the type, power demand and the features will make a person ready to purchase a generator. However, there are a few minor things to keep in mind. Mostly related to safety. Since these units supply electricity, all precautions concerning shock must be kept in mind. Never allow a generator to be exposed to the elements like rain or snow, unless it has been designed to do so.
Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is hot, allow at least 30 minutes before attempting to refuel. Always watch for cords or plug, as they represent a tripping hazard and if a breaker trips, remove all plugs from outlets before attempting to reset the breaker. Safe operation of a newly purchased generator is easy if a person reads and follows the operators manual. Generators of all types can last a long time and provide reliable service if they are maintained properly and safety precautions are taken.