Selecting the Right Portable Generator – A Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a portable generator for your needs, whether it be a backup power source, a way to improve your tailgate parties, or a way to power up your job site ventures, is a decision that must not be taken lightly. When selecting the right portable generator, there are a few things to keep in mind. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll take a look at important factors.

Price and Wattage

Most portable generators begin at about $200. However, depending on your needs, you can go up or down price wise. Some of the best companies include Westinghouse, WEN, Honda, and DuroStar. To select a generator, first think about how much wattage you will need. If you just need to power up tailgate parties with a video screen and maybe a grill or some trays to keep food warm, a 1000-watt generator should work. But powering your whole house during an outage requires much more wattage. So you should use a wattage calculator to decide just how much wattage you should look for. For a TV, furnace, and fridge, you’ll need just upwards of 2000 watts; for more appliances, you’ll be adding 200-300 watts per unit.

Generator Weight

Consider the generator’s weight. As power of the unit increases, so too does its size. While most portable generators include wheels, the heavier units will absolutely need them unless you plan to always have a partner helping you carry the unit. 100 pounds or less can usually be carried by one person, while anything above that can be tough to manage. Generator engines are also a very important aspect to keep in mind when selecting the right portable generator. Since most generators use a 4-stroke engine, they don’t need fuel-oil mixtures.


Because many portable generators use gas, you can simply swing by a gas station to fuel it up. However, each generator has a different gas tank, and can hold varying amounts. For example, many of Yamaha’s generators are very gas-efficient, using 1.1 gallons for about 10.5 hours at 50% load. However, some generators are CARB compliant (environmentally friendly) while others aren’t. Additionally, larger and more powerful engines will use more fuel, so keep in mind how much you have in your budget to fuel the unit as well. Depending on how the unit burns fuel will determine its CARB compliance status, as well, so if you live in California, you have to consider this factor in your purchase.

Noise Level

The noise level of a portable generator is very important. A super loud generator isn’t fun for anyone. 60 decibels or less is considered acceptable, but anything above that and you start to get in trouble with the neighbors. Look for technology that quiets the muffler, such as Westinghouse’s Pulse Flo feature.

Generator Use Type

Finally, be sure to consider where you’ll use the generator. Generators usually fall into three categories: backup, recreation, or industrial. Depending on how you plan to use it, different factors will become more or less important. For example, inverter generators are becoming more popular as they produce extremely clean power and are good for sensitive appliances like computers and cell phones. They are also quiet and more fuel-efficient. More generators are becoming electric start, as well, meaning you don’t need to use a pull cord to power up the unit.

When selecting the right portable generator based on size, there are basically three types of generators: medium, large, and extra large. Homeowners and tailgaters can get by just fine with a medium generator, which will give you 3k to 5k watts easily. On the other hand, if you frequently experience power outages or have a very big house with many appliances to power up, try a large generator because they can power many rooms at once. If you need even more power for an industrial site or simply because you want to keep your A/C on as well in an outage, try an extra large generator, which gives you a big boost of power at 10,000 or more watts.

Customer Support

Another important consideration when choosing a portable generator is the customer support offered by your company of choice. If you choose a local dealer, you will have more chances of getting good customer service if the unit fails, since you can just go down to the store and ask them about it. But for a unit you order online, it’s important to make sure they have at least a 1 to 2 year warranty. Ask if the company will replace parts during this period and provide maintenance free of charge.

High-End Rectifiers, Control Panels, and Durability

A few final considerations are to get a high-end rectifier, to look at the control panel, and to consider durability. High end rectifiers will convert electrical output into sine waves, which makes them great for use with sensitive electronics. They cost a bit more but will ensure you don’t need to worry about frying your laptop. Secondly, get a generator that includes an easy to use control panel is critical, especially if you don’t have much previous experience with using generators. Choose a generator that has a simple panel you can easily figure out, so you won’t struggle to discern where to plug in a device. Finally, Make sure to choose a generator that is durable, with a reputation for lasting many years. Looking at reviews online or simply consulting the company is a good way to find out how long it will last. Ask where the parts come from, how they are assembled, and what the warranty is. As long as you’ve covered these bases, it should be easy to select a good generator.


Ultimately, choosing a portable generator just requires some research and forethought. Knowing your wattage requirements and how you plan to use the generator is very important when going into the buying process. Remember to think about electric start, high end rectifiers, and inverter generators if you want the best technology for sensitive electronics – and consider what type of appliances you will be powering up based on your needs. Tailgating, backup sources, and job or construction sites all have different power uses, so it’s critical to know how you will use the generator before buying. Ask an expert at your local supplier or take a look online to find the best generator for your needs. Happy shopping!


What Is a Portable Generator?

What is a portable generator? A portable generator is a gas or diesel-powered device which provides temporary electrical power and can be moved from one place to another. The engine turns on a small turbine, which creates usable electricity up to a certain level of wattage. People can then plug electrical appliances directly into the generator’s sockets. With professional help, the generator can be wired directly into a sub panel of the home.

Portable generators are used by most construction teams and companies to power their tools and lights in remote construction areas. These devices are also used as backup power supply during power outages and in areas where electricity is a problem. Unlike standby generator systems, portable generators are not installed permanently. They can be moved from one area to another and are manually started.

Safety measures

For safety reasons, portable generators must be operated under dry conditions and in a ventilated outdoor area. This is because this device emits carbon monoxide fumes and this can be a health hazard to the user or his family. It is therefore imperative to point out that indoor use of portable generators is strongly discouraged in spite of the ventilation system.

Touching a working or powered portable generator with wet or damp hands should be avoided at all costs. This is because wet hands can lead to electrocution. It is similar to touching live electrical cables with wet hands. To protect the device from weather elements a canopy or a shed can be created over it. But it should stand on a dry surface.

The following are some of the uses of portable generators

Household backup electrical power

Most people purchase these generators because they want to be prepared in case of a power outage. This will ensure that all the electrical appliances in the home run normally and the food preserved in the refrigerator remains fresh during the power outage. Additionally, people with health problems may require an emergency electrical source in case of power failure. Some medical equipment for example oxygen machines, room air conditioners can be run temporarily with a portable generator.

Power backup for small businesses

There are certain small businesses that require continuous supply of electricity. Such businesses especially those that provide client services can immensely benefit from having a portable generator during moments of power failure. Due to their design, these generators only provide certain amounts of electricity measured in watts.

Electricity supply for onsite contractors

For contractors and workers working on building sites without the availability of electricity, a portable power source can come handy and enable them to operate their tools. Other technicians and professionals like painters who use spray guns, roofers who use nail guns and grinders can also benefit from having a portable generator in place.

Electricity for recreational activities

Certain recreational activities especially those that take place outdoors or in the wild can also benefit from having these generators. A good example is camping. A portable generator can actually bring some of the conveniences of a typical home to a rustic campsite.

In conclusion, portable generators are important in our day to day activities. However, it is important to understand how to operate and how to maintain your generator to ensure that it serves you for a long time. Carefully choose a portable generator that suits all your needs and one that will give you the best service.