What Type of Generator Do I Need?

What Type of Generator Should I Choose?

One of the first choices to make when selecting a generator is whether you need a smaller home standby generator, a portable generator, or even an inverter generator. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks - in this guide we will break down all the details on each system to help you make the best choice for your home.

Portable Generators Vs. Standby Generators - Which Is Right For Me?

Portable vs. Standby Generator

Portable generators are more compact, less expensive, and don’t need professional installation. However, because standby generators are more simpler to operate, they are preferable for handling frequent power outages.

Asking yourself these questions can help you choose the right type for you.

  • How Do You Want to Use It? A portable generator is exactly what it says it is. You may bring it along for camping trips or tailgate parties, or you can use it to power your house in an emergency. Compared to a stationary generator, which is permanently fixed to your home, this gives it more flexibility.
  • How Much Power Do You Need? Portable generators don’t produce nearly as much electricity as standby ones do. The power output of a standby generator ranges from 5,000 to 20,000 watts, which is sufficient to run every equipment in your house. Comparatively, portable generators typically only produce between 3,000 and 8,000 watts. That will power a few essential appliances, like a refrigerator, several lights, a window air conditioner, and a gas furnace fan. However, they can’t keep your whole house running along as usual.
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  • What’s Your Budget? The less expensive choice is a portable generator. Consumer Reports’ generator buying guide states that the majority of models range in price from $400 to $1,000. You can put up this kind of generator yourself, or you can pay an electrician a few hundred dollars to install a transfer switch, which makes it safer and simpler to use. A standby generator costs between $3,000 and $6,000, plus the expense of expert installation, according to Consumer Reports. In total, your costs could range from a few thousand to over ten thousand dollars.
  • How Much Do You Value Convenience? A standby generator doesn’t need any reconfiguration or adjustment. Once connected, it automatically turns on whenever the power goes out. Much more effort is required for portable generators. In order to make sure they are functioning properly, you must purchase and save fuel for them in advance and run them frequently once a month. Then, when a power outage occurs, you have to get the generator out, take it outside, connect it, and start it. You may need to dash back outside in the middle of a storm if the power loss lasts long enough. And finally, using a portable generator requires greater safety measures. It could cause a fire or bring dangerous fumes into your home if handled improperly.
  • Where Will You Store It? Finding a good location to keep a portable generator is key. It must be kept within to guard against theft and damage, but it must also be portable so that you may take it outside when you need it. Moreover, you need a good location to set it up when using it, preferably outside on flat ground that is shielded from the elements but is not too close to the home. A standby generator can remain operational year-round wherever it is installed. That saves you time, but it also consumes a significant amount of space throughout the year, not just during storms.
  • Do You Need Power While You’re Away? A standby generator has the benefit of turning on automatically when the power goes off, even if you are not home. That means you won’t have to worry about returning home to a flooded basement if a storm hits your house while you’re away on vacation because the pipes burst or the sump pump malfunctioned.
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Types of Generators

Inverter Generator

Although inverter-type generators are frequently portable, we categorize them separately since their operation differs greatly and technically from that of the other two. They are known for their lower noise levels, they are also lightweight and easy to transport. Inverter generators deliver 120/240 volts of AC electricity, like the

Inverter Generator

 majority of generators do. They use an engine connected to an alternator to produce AC power and convert it to DC power. DC power can be stored, which makes an inverter one of the best types of generators for traveling in an RV, tailgating, camping or boating. 

Circuitry that functions as a filter, smooths out surges, and cleans up the sine wave (or oscillating wave) of the electrical current controls the conversion and inversion. The alternating current sine wave in most generators is distorted to variable degrees. The majority of electrical equipment don’t typically have this problem; the exceptions include delicate electronics like tablets, laptops, televisions, and other smart devices, which can be harmed by current distortion or surges. With “clean” power and constant voltage, these devices will survive longer. Inverter generators can be much more expensive as a result of the additional complexity.

Here are the approximate wattages for items commonly powered by an inverter generator:

  • Lights: 250 
  • Fan: 100 
  • Space Heater: 1500 
  • Hot Plate: 1200 
  • Crock Pot: 1200 
  • Television: 250 

Home Standby Generator

Standby generators are always installed permanently outside your home. They usually start automatically when the power to your home goes out. They have devices that monitor the electricity provided by a utility and can actually power up all the equipment in a home within seconds of a power failure.

Some of the features of a standby generator:

  • Provides automatic emergency backup power within seconds of an outage. 
  • Whole house generators provide blackout protection seven days a week, 24-hours a day and are permanently installed. 
  • An existing fuel source, like liquid propane or natural gas, can be used to power the machine.
  • Depending on your needs, whole house generators can either power the entire house or only a few selected circuits that you have connected.  
  • When choosing the best generator for home backup, consider models with special features that run the unit more quietly or conduct weekly, self-diagnostic tests. 

Portable Generator

When a blackout begins, portable power generators, which are typically mounted on wheels, must be pushed outdoors and connected to your home’s electrical

Portable Generator

system. Sometimes portable generator are also called backup generators, and are used to provide temporary power when and where it is needed. The word “Portable” is a relative term; as some are more portable than others. While the smallest models can be picked up and carried, most have wheels and a handle to make transport easier. To load or transfer them, however, may require two individuals due to their weight of over 100 pounds. Direct plug-ins into regular outlets are available on the generator’s front panel for equipment like appliances and power tools. A twist-lock connector that can deliver up to 240 volts is also included in many models and can be used with a manual transfer switch to power circuits in a home.

Here are the approximate wattages of some common tools that can be powered by a portable generator:

  • Chain Saw: 1000-1800 
  • Circular Saw: 1200-1600 
  • Drill (depends on size): 250-1200 
  • String Trimmer: 600-1100 
  • Hedge Clippers: 300-1000 
  • Leaf Blower: 1000-1400 
  • Planer: 300-900 
  • Sanders: 250-1500 
  • Router: 100-1500 
  • Shop Vacuum: 700-1400 
  • Paint Sprayer: 500-1000 
  • Miter Saw: 500-1000 

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