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Portable Generator Reviews : The Definitive Guide.

Imagine finding yourself in a hot summer with no electricity or a cold chilling winter with no electricity either. I know what you are thinking, it seems impossible to live such conditions. It has really happened to a lot of people in certain parts of the country. The fact is we cannot predict and fight nature but we can prepare for the worst case scenarios.

In this case your best bet will be a generator. With 100’s of brands out there on the market, how do you find the best one for your needs? Fret not! That is where we come in. We provide you with the best guidelines, comparison charts and reviews of best-selling generators to aid you in deciding on the best one for you. Don’t waste your hard earned cash on one of them without fully reading our portable generator reviews and guide.

Our Solution to your Problem

To make the selection easy and simple without wasting your precious time, we have provided you with:

    • All the pertinent factors you need to consider when deciding on one.
    • Reviews, comparison charts of best-selling  generators. We base this on customer reviews on the web. Most of the products reviewed are Amazon’s best-sellers. You can read all our reviews by accessing the right hand side bar or using the menu.

What Do I Need It For?

The first thing you need to know is the main purpose you will be using your generator for.  Will you be using it mainly for emergency/backup, recreational or professional/commercial purposes?

    • Emergency or backup designed ones have outlets and also work well transfer switches. This makes it safe to connect to your home wiring systems.
    • Recreational ones produce clean electricity for your sensitive appliances. They are the quietest and compact you can find. They are extremely useful for boaters, tailgaters, campers and RVers.
    • Commercially designed generators have extended warranties and also built with materials that can withstand the harsh conditions at work sites.  This comes at the expense on the cost of the generator. Apart from the cost, most of the commercially designed ones don’t produce enough clean power for you sensitive electronic gadgets.  Though, the power produced is clean enough to run your power tools and less sensitive equipment.

Larger or Smaller Capacity Generator?

Bigger is not always better. One thing you have to realize is that power outages are mostly for a relatively short period of time. Unless you are buying a generator to power the whole house or your load requirements are really big, why run let say a 10,000watt generator to heat water, cook food or even power some few electronic gadgets?  It is like transporting only two people in a bus with 100 seating capacity.  The size and heaviness of large generators also give you less portability options.

The solution: do a proper load requirement analysis. In other words sum up all the starting power required to run each of your essential equipment. You can look it up on the identification plate at the back of your appliance or in the Owner’s Manual. The unit of power is in Watts (W). Some motor-driven tools and appliances’ power is listed in horsepower (hp). If you only see Current (Amps) and Volts (V), then you calculate power from this equation;

Power = Volts (V) x Current (Amps). If you want the determination of the power to be easy and super accurate then you need a load tester.  Next compare it with your generator’s peak/starting/maximum output. The summation should be lower than the generator’s maximum output.

Maximum power output is usually produced for only 30 minutes. In order to determine power to run your appliances continuously you need to know the rated/running power of your generator. As a rule of thumb running your generator at 75-80% and below the rated power will increase its life span.

Remember appliances with electric motor require more power to start than to run them. It is estimated that, power required to start a motor can be as much as 4 times the power they do need to run on. And also old appliances draw more power than stated.

Keep in mind that you can always run the most needed appliance one at a time. For example you cycle in a microwave oven, refrigerator and sump pump.

Cost of Running

Most of these generators run on gasoline. What you have to keep in mind is the bigger the generator the more it consumes fuel. Sizing your generator according to your most essential appliances will save you a lot of cost. Most of these generators can be converted to use natural gas or LP gas. One advantage of natural gas is that it is always available. No need to join long lines at gas filling stations during the times of need.

Moreover you get better fuel consumption with natural gas. Hooking up a new tank of LP gas or natural gas to the generator is a piece of cake.  You wouldn’t try to fill a hot generator with gasoline. Unused natural gas or LP gas can be used for cooking or grilling. It can also be stored safely for a longer period of times. That cannot be said of gas. You cannot store large quantities for your large generators safely.

Features to Look for in a Best Portable Generator

All or most of these qualities are expected to be found in a quality generator:

    • Low-oil shutdown :  Shuts off the engine before the oil drops below the level that will cause severe damage to it.
    • Fuel gauge : No guesswork, as you are always informed to the quantity of fuel left.
    • Voltage meter :  Informs you about the voltage your generator is producing.
    • Hour meter :  It keeps you in check for scheduled maintenance.

Ease of Use

Out of the box is it easy to setup? Is it easy to refuel? What about adding or changing oil? Are the controls centralized in a control panel for easy access? What about starting methods: is it equipped with electric start, manual start or both? If it comes installed with only manual start, is it easy to pull start?

If it comes with a battery installed you need to be charging the battery periodically according to the manufacturer. This is when you are not going to use the generator for a long time.

Noise Levels

Unless you are employing the use of your generator at a jobsite or in a lonely place, you wouldn’t be doing your neighbors any good with a loud generator. The noise levels of are measured in decibels (dB).  The decibel is a logarithmic unit. This means that a 60 dB rated generator is 10 times louder than a 50 dB rated generator. Normal conversation is 60 dB, which can serve as guide in choosing a sound level rating.

Safety and Regulations

Are you living in the state of California, and then you can only use CARB compliant generators. CARB simply stands for California Air Resource Board and they manage air sanitation and motor vehicle pollution. A CARB compliant generator should be able to meet the air pollution standards set by the California Air Resource Board.

Not all generators offer ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets but those that do reduce the risk of electric shock.  It works by comparing the current leaving the device to the returning current. If there is any difference it means some of the current is leaking through unintended path. It automatically shuts off the power to prevent any electric shock.

And please never try to connect illegally into your home wiring system. Always install a transfer switch for the proper connection to your home wiring system. Apart from it being illegal, you can kill a lineman or even burn your house.

Reliability, Durability and Maintenance

How would you feel during the time that you need the generator most, it wouldn’t be available? You have to ask yourself whether the components of the machine are made to last. Is the generator well designed?  Please keep in mind that, it is a major investment that you are making, so buying from a well-known and trusted manufacturer is going to save you time, money and a lot of headaches in the long run. You are assured of a reliable and durable generator that you can count on every time that you need it.

This brings us to service and support of the machine. Once a generator is a machine with running parts it will eventually breakdown.  The question is, will parts and service support be readily available at the place of the country that you live? The experience is not going to be a good one, if you have to wait for a long period of time for the availability of a part or even service support of your generator.

Conclusion

Armed with these guidelines, you are spot on choosing the best portable generator for you needs. Proceed further to read about our full reviews, comparison chart and where to buy the best-selling ones. You can access them through the top menu or through the right hand side bar.

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