Extreme weather conditions across the world are making generators a must-have for many people. For people living in a suburban area, portable generators are a common thing. Asides from the fact that generators are for emergency power in the home, they are used in construction sites, camping, barbecues and other events. The beauty of generators today is that anyone can get one because they are affordable. However, not all portable generators out there is good value for your money. Some of them are way too expensive for the value they offer. This is why you need some help to understand your options before you go ahead to buy a generator for your home. In this article, we have selected some of the best portable generators that you can use in your home.
Our Top Pick
The Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Generator
Durostar Gas Powered Portable Generator
Champion Power Equipment Portable with Inverter Generator
Champion Power Equipment Portable Generator
DuroMax Dual Fuel Portable Generator
This is one of the best portable generators that fit the description portable as it weighs only 6.6 pounds. Although you cannot fit it in your pocket, its size allows you to carry it with you almost everywhere. It has a handle that you can hold and carry along with you for camp trips, emergencies and you can even use it at home. The Jackery explorer has on its inside a powerful 240 wats lithium battery. Depending on how strong the battery of your phone is, you should be able to get up to 20 charge cycles with this generator. More so, the device is easy to use. All you need is to plug it into the wall socket using its charger. You can also charge the generator using solar panels. That makes it ideal for outdoor events and in areas with prolonged power outages. When it is fully charged, you can easily plug your devices into the outlets. All the outlets have buttons attached to them and that gives you control over charging. There is an LCD screen attached in front of the generator. With the screen, you can monitor the battery levels of the generator and also see its outputs and input strength.
What we Liked
- The Jackery Explorer is small, light weight and easy to carry about
- It is powerful too that is easy to use
- The generator comes with a car charger
- It has a solid handle to pick up and go
What we Didn’t Like
- Being an older model, the Jackery Explorer does not come with type C USB ports
Those who are familiar with Durostar know they have a good history of producing power equipment. This happens to be one of their best as it proudly carries their name on it. The lightweight generator fits the bill for a portable generator as it weighs only 115 pounds. At that weight, one person can easily lift it into a truck. However, for safety reasons, it’s best that two people carry it. On its own, this generator gives you a running power of 4,000 watts and it can get up to 4,400 watts. That’s good enough power to support most of your basic electric needs. To help you move the generator around, it comes with wheels and handles. The beauty of the generator is the fact that you can fold its handles. So, you can easily put the generator wherever you want to put it in your house. There is a fuel gauge attached to its 3.6-gallon fuel tank. Using the fuel gauge, you can easily monitor the fuel so you don’t get caught off-guard. More so, the fuel tank opens easily, the fuel tap is easy to open and choking the carburetor is also a very easy process. To start the engine, all you need is to flip a switch and you can start enjoying electricity. The generator is a little loud but not too loud for its size. Without load, it produces about 89.1 decibels of sound. When there is a load, the sound increases to 90.1 decibels. From 25 feet away, the sound reduces to about 73.2 decibels. The most important feature that this generator has is its Carbon Monoxide (CO) guard. The generator comes with a CO sensor that monitors the amount of CO released from the engine of the generator. Once the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) gets too high, the CO guard automatically shuts down the generator. With this feature, you can be sure that your family is safe from CO poisoning or death. DuroStar DS4400E Portable generator is the perfect choice for people who are going camping or people in areas where there is no electricity.
What we Liked
- Comes with a fuel gauge
- Has Carbon Monoxide guard
- Light weight generator
What we Didn’t Like
- Has only one standard outlet
- Has a small tank of 3.6 gallons
Champion Power is one of a few power companies that keep getting better. Over the years, they have continued to stay as a reliable source of electricity for many families. If you have used a smaller version of the Champion power generators, you will understand how these things work. The Yeti 3000x brings in a whole new dynamic into the game. This generator comes with a massive lithium battery and a 1700w AC inverter. In addition to that, you have a 2000w AC inverter that has a 2000w surge capability. With this large capacity, you will have enough juice to power up all of your major appliances and small devices over the weekend. What more do you need for an ideal power backup? With a full charge, you will be able to power a fridge, bulbs, radio, toaster, laptop and your phone for 38 hours. To recharge the generator, you only need to plug the generator into a wall socket for about 13 hours. The company also sells solar panels with which you can charge the generators. These solar panels are sold separately and they will charge your generator within 13 hours. One of the biggest advantages of this generator is that it is silent. More so, it does not give out any emissions. So, you can use it in your sitting room or your garage without fear of suffocating yourself or disturbing your sleep. With its frame that has wheels and a sturdy compact body, you can easily transport the generator from place to place without stress. Finally, the generator comes with an integration kit. The kit is usually provided along with the generator for seamless integration with the circuits in your home. That way, you can always have access to electricity in your home.
What we Liked
- The generator operates silently
- You can use the generator indoors
- Zero emissions
What we Didn’t Like
- Unfortunately, this is a bit more expensive than the regular gas-powered generators
- If you do not have power and sunlight for too long, its batteries might run out of power
With Champion’s Dual Fuel generator, everything is easy. This is one of the few generators where can decide what type of fuel you want to use. With Champion’s Dual Fuel generator, you can either pour in gasoline or propane. Asides from the variety of choices available to you, there are many other advantages of choosing your fuel. For instance, gasoline tends to degrade when stored in the home for too long. After a while, you will notice it becomes gooey and can block your carburetors and other core components of your generator when you leave it there for too long. More so, gasoline can easily become scarce especially when there are issues with storms or other natural disasters. With prone, you really do not have to worry about these issues because propane is more stable than gasoline. More so, the propane demand is not so high and its supply not usually affected by shortages. The beauty of the generator is that you can easily switch between either fuel. But then, propane gives less starting and running watts compared with gasoline. That is because the energy in propane is far lesser than what you have in gasoline. On a good note, though, the generator runs quieter when on propane than when on gasoline. While it produces 78.2 decibels on propane, it can be as loud as 81.5 decibels from 25 feet when running on gasoline. The only problem with using propane is that you can not turn off the generator with the main power switch while using propane. To turn off the generator while on propane, you have to use the fuel selection panel. This will both cut the flow of propane to the engine and also stop the generator. That way, propane does not continue to flow to the engine after the generator goes off. You will love the digital gauge on top of the control panel. With the gauge, anyone can easily see the voltage and frequency the generator is generating. Also, the gauge makes it easy to see the total hours of use of the generator. That way it is easy to keep track of maintaining the generator. This generator is best suited for emergency backup for your home. At the same time, it can work for construction sites, campers and bigger RVs.
What we Liked
- Can use either gasoline or propane
- Digital gauge makes it easy to read the voltage and frequency
What we Didn’t Like
- Does not have a fuel gauge so you can’t monitor fuel consumption
This is by far one of the biggest generators on the list. This generator offers massive running power starting at 13,000 watts. That means you can power almost anything in your house from the biggest power-hungry tools to small tools. The beauty of this generator is that it works with either propane or gasoline. With a large power generator like this, you do not have to worry about power outages anymore. All you need is to connect the generator to a manual transfer switch and you can supply power directly to your home from the generator. This makes things easier for you instead of running cables and extensions around the house. With the size of this generator, it is ideal to use as a power source at construction sites. It can also be used for Large RVs that need a lot of power. When in use, the generator keeps those around it safe through a unique carbon emission monitoring system. With the system, the generator monitors its carbon monoxide emission. Whenever it notices a rapid spike in the generation of CO, the generator automatically turns itself off. That way, those around do not stand at risk of CO poisoning. Besides, the emission from this generator meets the standard in all states of the United States For a generator of this size, DuroMax XP13000EH is not too loud. From about 25 feet away, the generator only produces 3.3 decibels of noise with the load. The size also allows you to have 8 gallons of fuel. Meaning you do not have to fill up frequently. The generator also has an hour meter on top to allow you to measure how much fuel you have used in how many hours. The beauty of this generator is that it gives you alerts as it approaches 100 hours of use so you can give it the service it needs.
What we Liked
- Has a high starting watts rating of over 8000 watts
- It comes with three standard power outlets
- The large fuel tank of 8 gallons
- Low noise
What we Didn’t Like
- The generator is on the heavy side
Portable generators are great at what they do—supplying backup electricity. However, before you buy one, you need to consider some factors otherwise they might not be useful. In many states, laws and regulations are guiding the use of portable generators in residential areas, camping
sites and construction areas. So, if you pick the correct type for your area, you will enjoy electricity. On the other hand, if you pick the wrong portable generator, you risk damaging the generator or even causing injuries to yourself and those around you. These injuries can range from fire accidents to electrocution or even carbon monoxide poisoning.
How to Select the Proper Generator For the Work?
You’ve seen what can happen during natural disasters, storms and power outages. You know you want an alternate power source for your home. To determine what proportion power you need, follow these steps.
Before you buy a portable generator, the first thing to consider is the fuel type. While most models run on gasoline, some new models run on propane gas. There are even a few others that allow you to use both at the same time. The type of fuel you choose to use ideally should be determined by the resources that are available at your disposal. For instance, if you stay in a rural environment where there are no nearby gas stations, a propane-powered generator might be your best bet. That is because propane is easier stored than gasoline as it does not degrade over time. More so, propane generators do not emit as much Carbon monoxide as gasoline generators. Propane does not offer as much power as gasoline because it does not have as much energy in it. Solar-powered generators are also a good option compared with propane and gasoline types. With solar-powered generators, you do need to buy any fuel. All you need is the sun. The only issue you might have is unstable weather. Also, solar generators do not give as much energy as portable generators powered by gasoline or propane.
Size of the Generator
Before you buy a generator, another important factor to consider is the size of the generator. Usually, the size will depend on the intended use of the generator. On every generator, you will notice there are two figures. That is, the starting and the running watts. Starting watts is the rating of the generator that tells you the initial surge the generator offers to start your appliances with powerful electric compressors or motors. The thing about appliances in this category is that even though they need a lot of power to start, they do not need much power to continue working. To make things easy for you, many manufactures have charts that tell you how much electricity your basic appliances consume. By understanding how your appliances consume electricity, you can easily add up the power consumption of all these appliances. To calculate the energy consumption of an appliance, simply multiply the voltage consumed by the amperage required to run the appliance. You will find all these ratings on the appliance in question. Voltage is usually measured in volts (V) and most cases are 120v. Amperage is measured in amps. Ensure to do the calculation for all the tools you intend to power with the generator. When you are done, add all the watts together and see if it’s less than the total power of the generator.
What Do You Need to Power?
Make a list. Ask yourself what power you will use during an electrical outage: Suppose only equipment and lighting? Then list the extras for whatever you want to use at the same time. On camping or fishing trips, what proportion of outdoor cooking, heating or entertainment appliances or accessories will you and your family or friends will use together?
Determine what it takes to start each appliance. Ensure you’ll be ready to start (not simply run) your appliances. The “Starting Wattage” is the amount of wattage needed to start an appliance with a motor and it may be two to three times the wattage required to run the appliance. If you have the owner’s manuals, check for your appliance’s listed start-up wattage.
Calculate your total power needs. It’s a two-part equation. First, add up all the “Running Wattage” for all the things you would like to power simultaneously. This equals the entire running watts your generator must produce simply to run your equipment. Next, add to that total the highest of the “Starting Wattage” you wrote down in step 2, above. Now you recognize what proportion of power you would like to start out and run your appliances and equipment! With the knowledge you now have about your power needs, you’ll compare buying generators within your wattage requirement. Warning:
Never connect a generator to a home’s wiring! If you intend to connect a generator to your home’s electrical system, hire a qualified electrician to install a transfer switch.
To Shop for a Portable Generator, Follow These Steps
Determine your power needs. Portable generators can range from 900 to 10,000 watts
Think about the convenience of transporting your generator. Most Briggs & Stratton portable generators accompany wheels and a few are light enough to hold. Look for a generator with a minimum of 10 hours of runtime. This enables contractors to form it through a full day’s work and homeowners to urge a full night’s sleep without refueling. Count what percentage of outlets you’ll need on your generator. This relies on what percentage of appliances you’ll get to power directly. Check your appliances
to ascertain what sort of outlets you’ll need. See the diagram below for outlet types.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
This is a crucial factor that you must consider before buying any fuel-powered generator. All states have regulations as regards the amount of Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels that should be produced in a generator. That is because Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless yet poisonous gas that comes out from generators. So, before you buy a portable generator, ensure that you check for its carbon monoxide emission rating. Ensure that the rating on it meets up with the standard in your area. Furthermore, manufacturers now include CO sensors in their generators to help them detect high levels of CO in the air. Generators with this feature will automatically turn themselves off when the CO level in the air is getting too high. Ensure that you buy generators that have this feature and have also passed their CR safety tests. Several brands are offering these features today as we discussed earlier. Usually, generators with this feature have marketing terms like “CO Detect”, “CO Protect”, “CO Guard”, “CO Sense” or “CO Shield” on their packs. To be sure, ensure to check the packaging of the generator for either of the following standards.
- ANSI/PGMA G300 Certified Safety & Performance
- ANSI/UL2201 Certified for Carbon Monoxide Safety
As a rule, do not use any type of fuel-powered generator inside of your house—not even in the garage. Generators are best used around the house at about 25 feet away from you. If you are an environment-conscious person, you might as well drop all the fuel-type generators. The solar-powered types offer you clean energy without emissions and are safe to use anywhere.
Q1. Do you Need to Earth your Generator?
This will depend on the intended use of the generator. For instance, if you intend to plug in other devices directly into the standard outlet of the generator, you do not need to bother about earthing. If you intend to connect the generator to your house, you should consider earthing. Your best bet is to seek the opinion of a licensed technician or the operator’s manual of your generator.
Q2. Do you Need a Transfer Dwitch?
Yes, you need a transfer switch depending on the purpose of your portable generator. A transfer switch is a device that helps you connect your generator to your home circuit via one cable. Without the transfer switch, you will need to buy extension cords. The problem with extension cords is that they can be dangerous. For instance, they can heat up easily when you overload them and can cause fires. With a transfer switch, you have all the convenience that you need. You do not have to go through the stress of joining extension cords. More so, extensions only allow you to use appliances that have plugs. That means you cannot use your pumping machine, water heaters etc. with extension cables. However, a transfer switch allows you to use all the appliances in your home including those that do not have plugs. That’s because the transfer switch connects directly to the circuit in your home.
Electricity is a necessity in the world we live in today. We have so many gadgets that rely on electricity to function. This is why, if you leave in an area where power outage is common, you need to get yourself any of the above portable generators
. So, before you choose a generator, ensure that you read through the buyer’s guide to know what you need exactly.