Generator Buyer’s Guide
Generators are used to provide power in cases where there is no power. One of the most popular uses of generators are at homes during extended power outages. However, portable generators are also used to provide RVs with power, but also to provide power at construction sites. If you plan to use a generator to power your home during a power outage, users need to ensure they find one that is safe to use with sensitive electronics.
There are two main types of generators stationary and portable generators. The difference with these two generators is that stationary generators stay in one place, such as outside the home. Portable generators can be moved from one location to the next because of how small they are compared to the larger stationary generators.
Another difference between these types of generators is the wattage, stationary ones can often power and entire house plus the central air and heating because they put out anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 watts. Portable generators can be used to power up certain appliances inside the home, such as the furnace fan or a window AC unit; they can also be used to power up a variety of smaller devices inside the home. Portable generators can put out anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 watts of power.
Something else to think about when purchasing a generator is the type of fuel being used for the generator. Majority of portable generators are gas powered, but users can also find diesel powered generators or propane powered ones. Propane fueled generators are the cleanest burning generators and can be run off the same type of propane tank used to fuel a grill. Gas powered generators are more common, but they do tend to stink. How long each generator can run depends on the size of the fuel tank and the size of the load.
Must Have Features:
- Low Oil Shutdown – The generator should have a low oil shutdown feature because it prevents the generator from running without enough oil. The shutdown option is better than an indicator light because it will not allow the generator to run at all, so no accidental damage can occur to the engine. The lights or alerts will still allow the generator to run and can damage the engine.
- Idle Control – This is a big feature to look for because it allows users to reduce the amount of noise put out by the generator, but also can help users save fuel. How this works is the idle control allows users to adjust the speed of the engine based on the electrical load being used. Some models come with a smart-throttle mode or economy mode, which adjusts the speed on its own.
- Fuel Gauge – Allows users to see just how much fuel is left, which lowers the risk of the generator running out of gas. The fuel gauge also helps remind users to check the oil because oil should be checked every time fuel is added.
- Spark Arrester – This needs to be approved by the US Department of Agriculture or the US Forest Service for generators that are going to be used in the outdoors, such as camping. This spark arrester can help prevent fires from the generator.
- Decibels – How loud the generator is will depend on what you choose, but also on what you plan to use it for. Generators are available in decibels ranging from 47 to 79, but average about 75 decibels. To use a generator while camping it cannot be more than 60 decibels from 50 feet away.
- CARB Compliant – These generators are environmentally friendly, so they can be sold in all 50 states. If they are non-CARB complaint, they cannot be sold in CA.
- Wattage – The most important feature to look at is the wattage that is being produced, but users should realize that the manufacturer provides is under perfect conditions, they don’t take variables into account. The amount of wattage users need will depend on how they plan to use the generator. If using it for a house the bigger the house the higher the wattage.
Knowing about the must have features is important when choosing a generator because it ensures users will pick out the best possible generator for their current needs. However, knowing about the most popular brands is also important. ETQ is one of the more popular brands, but none of their generators are CARB complaint.
The propane generator is one of the most popular ETQ models currently available. Honeywell and Yamaha are two other popular choices in terms of generator manufacturers. Both of these manufacturers make gas powered generators in a variety of different models. The Honeywell HW6200 puts out a maximum of 7750 watts of power, but is not CARB complaint. However, the Honeywell HW6200L offers everything the Honeywell HW6200 does and is CARB compliant.