We’ve all wanted a portable generator to help with electricity concerns. With a travel generator, you can go as far as you want from your house and still use the tools that use electricity. If an emergency occurs and there’s a power outage, it can provide the electricity that you need to use your electrical appliances.
With all these benefits, buying a generator is totally worth it. If you plan to get one, you need to know some tips for finding the best one. Here is a short buying guide to help you pick the best portable propane generator.
Tips for Buying a Portable Generator
1. Pick the Right Generator Size
It’s easy to pick any size for your generator, especially if you only plan to keep it at home. You can get a bigger size with a bigger wattage so you can run almost all your appliances. However, this is not a practical move since bigger generators require more propane, and they are more expensive.
To select the right size, you need to take note of all the electrical appliances that you need to use simultaneously in case of a power outage. It might be your HVAC system, your computers, lighting, and more.
What you have to check is the startup current of your appliances. Remember that most appliances would require more electricity to start their motors compared to the amount they need to maintain them. Bigger appliances like your HVAC systems and refrigerators might need two or three times their running load.
Generators usually have two types of wattage: running wattage and surge wattage. When picking the size of a generator, you need to look at the running wattage. As long as everything that you need fits the running wattage, the surge wattage will surely fall into place.
Calculate the Right Size for Your Generator
It’s more efficient to have a generator that can provide the power that you need for your home. During power outages, you don’t need all of your appliances to work at the same time, so you don’t need a large generator unless you are powering a lot of HVAC systems.
The first thing that you need to do is to look for the electrical appliance in your house with the largest starting wattage. Your HVAC system will surely be at the top of the list if you have one. Any device that is used for cooling or heating usually draws the most electricity.
Once you’ve figured out the highest starting wattage, the next step is to take note of all the running watts of the appliances that you want to use simultaneously. Add all of them, including the highest starting wattage, and it would be the total wattage that you need from a generator.
2. Movable or Fixed?
Large generators are usually fixed and hooked up to your electrical system. If an emergency power outage occurs, the generator would kick in immediately and keep your electrical appliances running. This kind of generator is often used for businesses, but you can have them in your home if you want.
A portable generator is usually the best option for small households. If you don’t need a lot of electricity, you can get a 1000 watts generator and start from there. It can at least keep a few electrical appliances running at the same time without any issues.
Which One is Better?
If you plan to use the generator for your business or you have a large house that requires multiple HVAC systems, a large generator is a better option. If you have a small to medium-sized home and you only need the generator to run a few electrical appliances during a power outage, you should opt for a portable model.
3. Fuel Source
Generators require fuel to run. The more electrical appliances you use, the more fuel the generator will burn. You have three choices when you are looking at fuel sources:
Gasoline is the most common choice to fuel portable generators. If you have a small generator that you usually bring around with you, it is often powered by gasoline.
Propane is getting a lot of popularity lately as it can power both portable and standby generators. This is often a preferred option, especially for people who have both standby and portable generators.
Natural gas is only applicable for standby generators. This is because natural gas is installed directly in your house and you cannot move it around like gasoline and propane.
4. Type of Outlets
Since you are looking for portable generators, you need to check the type of outlets that they have. Some appliances run on 120V and some are made for 240V. Smaller generators have a couple of 120V outlets and there are USB ports as well.
When you reach 4,000 watts, you will see some outlets with 240V. If you plan to use electrical appliances that require 240V outlets, you need to look for portable generators with 4,000 watts and above.
It is also important to look for a generator with GFCI-protected outlets. GFCI will monitor the balance of the electric current moving through the circuit. If the power accidentally goes somewhere, the GFCI will immediately cut the electricity to prevent any accidents.
5. Consistent or Occasional Use?
Most people buy a generator to serve as backup power in case of emergencies. With this in mind, you are not expecting to use it regularly. This is the reason why most of the warranties given by generator manufacturers cover several years. It’s because it won’t get damaged if you are not using it regularly.
This would be completely different if you were going to use the generator consistently. If you are using it daily for work or other activities, you need to look for a model with a commercial engine. Yes, this is more expensive than your typical generator, but it would guarantee that consistent usage won’t damage it easily.
6. Noise Level
Bigger generators are noisier than smaller ones. Although there are features that reduce the noise released by generators, they are still very loud. Smaller generators can operate quietly, which is also why more and more people are using this. However, not all portable generators are the same. Some models are still very noisy when running.
Before you buy one, make sure that you ask the seller if the generator is very loud when operating. Even if you place it outside, the noise will still enter the house and cause discomfort for you and your family.
7. Electronic Fuel Injection
This is a standard feature that you usually look for in a generator. Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) will remove the need for carburetors. It means that you won’t have to deal with clogged carburetors in the future, especially when performing maintenance. Also, EFI allows you to open your generator easier even when the weather is very cold.
8. Automatic Shut Off
The automatic shut-off is one of the best features that you need to look for in a generator. This kind of safety feature will automatically shut down the generator if it detects a high level of gas build-up. This will ensure that the generator will function properly and prevent any serious accidents.
There is also a low-oil shutoff feature that will protect the generator from damage because of the low oil level. Once the oil reaches below a certain level, the generator will automatically shut down. This will indicate that the oil is very low and it needs to be refilled.
One of the main factors when buying a generator will be your budget. You need to look around if you want to find affordable generators, but always take note cheap models are a big no-no. All of your electrical appliances will be connected to the generator in case of a power outage and something that is made from cheap materials won’t be able to handle it.
For safety purposes, you should only look for top-quality generators. Budget will always be an issue, but if your money is still not enough, you can wait a little while and add more to it so you can afford better quality.
10. Ask for Help
If you’re not an electrician or you don’t have any idea how generators work and how to go around electrical wirings in your house, it’s better to ask the help of a licensed electrician.
This is the most basic tip that you need to follow, especially if you’re buying a standby generator. Well, even if you’re only getting a portable model, you still need the help of an electrician to figure out the best size to get.
They can set up everything for you and help you decide on the best generator to get for your home.
Final Thoughts on What to Know When Buying a Generator
Getting a portable generator is a smart idea. It doesn’t matter if you are going to use it regularly or during emergencies only because having one in your house can give you peace of mind. If an emergency suddenly occurs and you experience a power outage, your generator can run all the important electrical appliances in your house to keep your family comfortable.
If you are looking for a high-quality portable generator, there is a wide range of models and products that you can find on our website.