Generators are a great addition to your home, especially for those days you have power cuts, or need a power supply for your garden. But let’s be honest: buying a generator can be a daunting process if you’re not too familiar with them
There are many different generators out there which have all sorts of properties, so it’s easy to get a little confused. Wattage, prices, sizes, weights, fuel types… yes, it can be a bit of a mindfield to say the least!
Below, we’ve put together a guide designed to help the generator buying process that little bit easier. There is no denying that they are great items to have in your homes, so let’s make sure you are knowledgeable to purchase the correct one for you and your home:
1. Determine wattage needs
Determine how much power you need for the items you care about. There are two basic power measurements for generators: starting watts (also known as startup power, max watts, or peak power) and continuous or running watts. Starting wattage is required for appliances at startup or when they are running at their highest levels of power consumption. Continuous power is the wattage required for operation of those appliances under normal load. Both are measured in wattage.
When it comes to the running watts, the generator will callout how much run time they can get at 25% or 50% load. This represents about how much time they will run with a full fuel tank, using that percentage of their total power. If you think you will need more runtime, or if you are using your generator for emergency situations where you cannot predict how long you will need it to run for, consider purchasing one with a larger tank.
2. Establish a budget for yourself
Generator prices can span a wide gap and fall across a wide range. Start by determining how much you’d like to spend on one, and then do your research, and you might find your budget changes slightly. Standby generators are the most expensive, as these are professionally installed into your homes. These range between $1,500 – $40,000.
Then, you have portable and inverter generators, which can come as low as $100 but as high as $3,000. Also be award that you’ll find a difference in price depending on what fuel they use. A gas generator may differ in price from a diesel generator for sale.
3. Select your generator use
If you need your generator simply for home backup power, you can use a standby or portable depending on your budget, convenience, and power needs. Don’t forget you will also need a transfer switch to safely power the circuits in your home.
If you regularly go on outdoor trips, like camping or caravan parks, a portable may be an excellent choice. So do consider your lifestyle choices too.
Think about the most common uses and benefits of owning a generator, and having it in your home. Most of them are beneficial due to providing storm & emergency Power. If you’re primarily buying a generator for storm and emergency power, you will need to decide what electronics and appliances are important for you to power. Do you need to backup your entire house, or just a couple of appliances?
If you need to backup your entire house or a few circuits, a home standby generator will offer the best solution. If you just want to be able to power a few appliances and electronic, a large portable generator will meet your needs.
4. Give thought to included items and services.
When you start to shop around for the perfect generator for you, ask if they come with warranties or maintenance packages? There are also extras that come with many generators, such as power cords, oil, wheels, and funnels.
If you want a standby generator for your home, remember that professional installation will take place. Make sure you ask how much more will it cost, and double check it will be installed by a qualified professional?
5. Weigh up the types of Generators
As mentioned above, generators come in three different types, but there are two basic ones which are more popular: standby and portable. There also are inverters, which we touched on above, which are not quite generators but may meet your needs. The source of backup power you ultimately choose will be determined by many factors, including your power requirements.
Standby generators typically run between 7,000-20,000 watts to offer 24/7 blackout protection. They automatically provide power to your home until the outage is over. As they are professionally installed, they draw their fuel supply from an existing line of natural gas or propane. They come in a variety of sizes, so be sure to check measurements carefully.
Portable generators can be used to supply a limited source of power, making them excellent choices for the home when power cuts happen. And as mentioned above, these are popular amongst campers and those who throw garden parties and need power sources outside.
It is important to consider wattage, runtime, size and mobility when choosing which portable generator is right for you. Portable generators range in power from 1,000-10,000 watts.
Inverter generators are ideal for tailgating, camping or boating These generators are smaller in wattage capabilities, typically ranging from 800-3,000 watts; but are desirable for their clean power, quietness, efficiency and size. Inverter generators tend to be cheaper, and can cost anywhere from $200-$3,000.
6. Generator Safety
Last but certainly not least, consider generator safety above everything else. Always read the owner’s manual and instructions for your generator and carefully follow all instructions and warnings in order to safely start and operate the generator.
Here are a couple of key warnings before using a generator:
- Operate the generator only on level surfaces and where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, dust or corrosive vapors
- Never run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas such as garages. Only use outdoors and away from windows, doors, vents, crawl spaces and in an area where adequate ventilation is available. Using a fan or opening doors and windows will not provide sufficient ventilation.
- Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion.
- Never add fuel while unit is running or hot. Allow generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel.
- Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating.
- Inspect the generator regularly and contact the nearest authorized dealer for parts needing repair or replacement.
Now, you’re all ready to go generator shopping!