Our modern civilization comes to a naught without electricity. During such times, portable generator comes as a very handy power source. This equipment runs on fuels, namely diesel, gasoline or gas, to produce power for domestic use. Their applications are many: for the house, at the camp site or even in your RV.
If you need one such generator, then it is important that you choose wisely, out of so many makes and models available in the market. The good news is it does not require rocket science to select a good portable generator.
Let us discuss some important dos and don’t of buying generator best suited to your needs:
Wattage represents the load that is planned to work on the generator. In simple terms, it is the total of the wattage requirement of all electrical appliances to be run on such an equipment. You can get the wattage of each individual equipment by either referring to the product manual or looking at the specification tag posted on the equipment itself.
However, there is one important precaution to take care. Some equipment takes more wattage to start than what they need under normal running condition. This is called Peak Load or Starting Load. So while planning the right generator, keep some cushion in the rated capacity of the generator to take care of the peak loads. For a normal household, normally this will be around 20% of the total normal running load.
In case you want to run bigger induction motors, it is better to seek help of a professional. This shall help to avoid committing an error of choosing an underrated generator.
The Noise level
This is one very important factor to select a good generator. Normally portable generators are either used in your house, or during a family function, picnic, camping etc. So, a high noise level is a big no, no. It will spoil the mood of the occasion. Higher noise levels may also create an issue with your neighbors.
The noise level of generators is measured in terms of decibels. A domestic portable generator must have a noise emission of less that 75 decibels. Anything above this will be considered noisy. This noise level is the sound intensity at a distance of 7 meters from the engine.
The Spark Arrestor
This is an important safety feature that must be installed on generator exhaust. It will stop any sparks going out of the engine exhaust, thereby eliminating any fire hazard or damage to nearby structures.
Size and Mobility
A portable generator needs to be easily portable in the true sense, especially when you plan to buy one as backup during outings or open lawn parties. The guiding parameter for this parameter shall be defined by your specific needs.
One good way to improve portability of the generator is to buy the model mounted on a tractable trolley withholding brakes. With this, you can buy a bigger model, without compromising on portability.
The commonly used starter mechanism is the electric button start or the recoil system. The recoil system is manually done, reliable but cumbersome. The button system is electrically operated on DC battery. It is convenient but need good care of starting battery.
So choose a model that has both types of starting provisions.
Other Important Features
Besides the basic selection features discussed above, there are some important aspects to be kept in mind like that of the number of high ampere and low ampere outlets, provision of voltage and current regulator, fuel gauge on the fuel tank, low oil level or high temperature tripping relays etc.
Some generators also come with Multifuel functionality. They can work on petrol, gas or propane.
In our opinion, looking at the importance of a portable generator and that it is expected to last long and give good service, let price not be the deciding factor. Go for a good, established reliable brand with excellent track record and after-sales-service.