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Portable Generator Questions & Answers
We take for granted that our generator is going to start and run as it is intended when we need it. When the unexpected happens, we can get frustrated and fall into a blind panic. Why won’t my generator start? Why does my generator shut off for no apparent reason? How do I maintain my generator? There are a lot of common generator questions, and these are but a few of them. This article is intended to answer all the common generator related questions that people ask.
The list is long. So if you’ve typed a specific generator question into your search bar, you should be able to scroll down the page until you find your specific question. I’ll provide detailed answers for every generator question. So you’re bound to find the answer here.
Before I delve into the list of common generator questions, I’ll begin with the golden rule — ensure that your generator is properly serviced. Every generator manufacturer specifies the hour intervals for routine maintenance. This is the running hours, after which your generator needs to be serviced. Though, if a generator stands for long periods without running, it may need more attention than one that is used on a regular basis.
If you rely on your generator during the hurricane season or heavy storms, you may find that it stands in the garage, unused for most of the year. It’s important that you prepare in advance. When you’re expecting adverse weather, and it’s likely that you’ll need to use your generator, check your generator beforehand. You may want to have it serviced by a professional, or conduct a check yourself. I’ll provide a generator maintenance checklist as part of the question and answers.
Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: generator questions and answers. Each heading will take the form a commonly asked generator question or topic, with a detailed answer to follow.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Portable Generator Questions & Answers
- 1.1 Why does my generator keep shutting off?
- 1.2 Why is my generator not producing power?
- 1.3 Generator maintenance checklist
- 1.4 How long can a generator run?
- 1.5 What kind of oil goes in a generator?
- 1.6 Generator not putting out full power
- 1.7 Why won’t my generator start?
- 1.8 How to store a generator?
- 1.9 How to start a generator that has been sitting?
- 1.10 What size generator do you need to run an air conditioner?
- 1.11 How many watts does a refrigerator use?
- 1.12 Is it bad to run a generator out of gas?
- 1.13 Difference between a motor and generator?
- 1.14 Can you put gas in a generator while it’s running?
- 1.15 What size generator do you need to run a house?
- 1.16 Related posts:
Why does my generator keep shutting off?
If your generator starts and runs for a few minutes and then shuts off, here’s what to look for.
Firstly we need to distinguish between a complete shutdown (the engine stops running) and a tripped circuit. If the engine continues to run but there’s no power at your outlets, you’ve probably tripped a breaker. I’ll discuss this lower down, when we cover the heading: Generator runs but no power.
VIDEO | Generator Keeps Shutting Off
If your generator’s engine shuts off completely, then your problem is at the engine and not the load. You’ll need to run through a basic checklist of possible issues that may cause your engine to shut off, starting with the most basic.
- Check your engine oil. Most modern generators have a low oil shutoff switch. This prevents unwanted harm to the engine by shutting it down if the oil level is too low. So, first check that your engine oil is at the correct level. Remember that too much oil can be just as bad as too little.
- Check your fuel supply. It may be a simple matter of forgetting to turn on the fuel valve. If your generator has a manual fuel shutoff, and this valve is closed, it will run for a short period of time until the fuel in the carburetor and fuel line has been depleted. If you don’t see any fuel in your fuel filter, check that the valve is open and that there is gas in the tank. If your generator has an automatic fuel valve that works using a switch or a key, check that all the connections and electric wiring is at it should be.
- Stale fuel could prevent the generator from starting or cause it to run for a short time and come to a standstill. If you have gas in your tank that has been standing for a month or more, drain your tank and refill with fresh gas. These days, ethanol blended gas is common. These higher octane fuels degrade quickly and experts recommend that not use gas that is more than a month old.
- A partial blockage in your fuel system, or debris in your gas tank, can also cause your generator to shut off. Dirt in the fuel line or filter may not be visible and can take some time to accumulate as the fuel flows from the tank to the carburetor. In this case, you should drain your gas tank, clean out all your fuel lines and your fuel filter using fresh, uncontaminated gas.
- An obstruction in the air supply can also cause the generator to stop working. This will usually result from debris in your air filter. You can clean your air filter by removing it and then blowing clean air through it. You can also use gas to clean out carbon or oil that has collected in your air filter. If you do this, make sure that the air filter is completely dry before reinstalling.
- A dirty carburetor can be another cause, especially if the generator has been standing for some time. You can use a can of carburetor cleaner to clean it, following the instructions on the can.
- Some generators have electronic fault detection and diagnostic systems. These systems usually run a check that can last several minutes. If a problem is detected, the computer will automatically shut the engine down or disconnect the power outlet supply. If your generator has an electronic diagnostics system, you’ll need to check the error code displayed on your LCD screen. Using this code, you can consult your owner’s manual to find the cause and solution to the problem.
- Your generator may be overheating. This can be caused by insufficient airflow. If your generator seems to be hotter than normal, allow it cool down before restarting. Ensure that your generator is in a well ventilated position before attempting to run it.
- If your generator is old and has done many hours of service, you may need to consider mechanical failure as the cause. This can often take the form of a blown engine gasket or worn engine rings. You’d be best advised to take your generator to a certified service agent, if none of the solutions offered above do the trick.
VIDEO | How to Flash A Portable Generator
Why is my generator not producing power?
If your generator runs but you don’t have power at any of the outputs, there could be several reasons for this.
This can be as a result of an overload or a shorted circuit. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a breaker has tripped by simply looking at it. This is particularly true for the small round circuit breakers that you push to reset. I recommend switching all breakers off and then on again to ensure that none have tripped.
Sometimes, a high current appliance, like an air conditioner can peak the load beyond the amp rating of the circuit breaker and cause it to trip. A faulty appliance or extension cord could also cause a circuit breaker to trip. In a case like this, your best course of action is to disconnect everything running off the generator and then reset your circuit breaker. Reconnect your appliances one by one. When the generator reaches its peak load, or you reconnect a faulty appliance, the breaker will trip. At this point, you’ll know where the problem lies. It will be the last appliance or cord that connected before the breaker tripped.
Check the extension cord for exposed wires, or exchange it for another one that you know is working fine. If your generator trips the moment you connect a high wattage appliance, like a refrigerator, pump, or air conditioner, it is probably the start-up load, or inrush current that is causing the generator to trip. If this is the case, you’ll need check your total running and peak (start-up) load of the appliances that you’re using and remove some, less important appliances, until you’re operating within the load capacity of your generator.
If all the breakers are on and your generator still produces no electricity it is likely that the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) or your alternator is faulty. In the case of an alternator, it is often the diodes that can become problematic. Diodes are not too difficult to check. Sometimes a visual inspection will tell you immediately that a diode is damaged, they can burn and turn black. A more definitive test can be conducted by removing the diodes and testing the resistance with a multi-meter. The resistance should be high in one direction and low in opposite direction.
Allowing your generator to run out of fuel under load can cause a loss of magnetic energy to the alternator and this will result in a loss of power the next time you start your generator. This can be easily rectified by boosting the engine revs for a short quick burst. Make sure that you have no equipment connected to the outlets, as increasing the revs will cause a voltage spike and change the frequency. With no load on the generator, give a quick pull on the throttle. This should breathe new life into the alternator and restore the power.
Brushless generators use a capacitor to provide the initial charge to start the magnetic field that produces the AC current. A capacitor will hold power for a reasonably long time, but not indefinitely. If a generator stands, unused, for too long the capacitor may lose its charge and this will prevent the alternator from producing any power. To check a capacitor, you’ll need a multimeter capable of measuring capacitance (μF). A capacitor is likely to contain a high charge. To avoid getting a sharp kick, discharge the capacitor by disconnecting the terminals and then short the two terminals using an insulated screwdriver. Holding the insulated end of the screwdriver, make contact between the two terminals with the metal tip of the screwdriver. The capacitance for that capacitor will be displayed on the casing. This should match the reading you get across the two terminals.
If you have no experience in diagnosing and repairing generators, I’d recommend taking your generator to a professional to attend to the problem.
Generator maintenance checklist
A generator requires routine maintenance and your instruction manual will provide the information needed as to how many hours you can run a generator before servicing is required and what to check. Though some maintenance and checks should be performed every time you start your generator and before or after long-term storage. I’ll provide a basic checklist that every generator owner should consult in all these instances.
Before starting your generator do a visual inspection and check that all electric wiring and pipes are in good working condition. Check your fuel and oil level. A generator will have an oil inspection window or a dipstick that will indicate the maximum and minimum oil level. Your oil must remain between these two markers, preferably just on the full level mark.
If you need to add engine oil, do so by adding a little at a time. Add a small amount of oil and wait about 5-seconds for the oil level to settle. Check the level again and add more oil if necessary. Keep repeating these steps until you reach the maximum oil level. It is important not to exceed the maximum oil mark. If the crankcase contains too much oil, the oil pressure inside the engine will be too high and may cause serious harm.
Before storing generator drain all fuel from your carburetor. Some generators are fitted with a drain valve for this purpose. If your generator does not have a drain valve, the easiest way to remove residual fuel from the carburetor is by running the engine with the fuel valve closed. Run the engine until it cuts from a lack of fuel. Do this only when there is no load on the generator. In other words, there must be no appliances connected to the generator outlets. Fuel that remains in the carburetor for prolonged periods will evaporate, leaving a sticky residue that will block the inlet jets.
Drain your gas tank or add a fuel stabilizer to prevent the fuel in the tank from degrading. If your generator has an electric starter, disconnect the battery to prevent it from discharging whilst not in operation.
Store your generator in the normal upright position and it’s a good idea to keep it covered to prevent dust from accumulating.
Routing generator service needs to be conducted at least once a year or when the required hours have elapsed – whichever happens first. Manufacturers recommend servicing your generator annually by an authorized service agent. However, if you’re a reasonably accomplished DIY guy, you may want to do this yourself. Here’s the recommended checklist for a full generator service.
- Drain and replace engine sump oil.
- Replace oil filter.
- If the generator has a water cooling system, drain and flush the radiator, then refill with coolant.
- Flush the gas tank and fuel lines.
- Replace fuel filter.
- Replace air filter.
- Check and clear crankcase breather by removing any oil build-up and debris.
- Check starter motor solenoid connections.
- Check battery electrolyte levels.
- Check and clean battery terminal connectors.
- Check all electrical connections.
- Check alternator connections.
- Clean engine and alternator.
- Clear all air grilles of debris.
- Run the generator under load, checking voltage and frequency.
VIDEO | Step-by-Step Generator Maintenance
How long can a generator run?
This question is like asking how long a piece of string is. Theoretically, a generator should be able to run indefinitely providing it has a constant supply of fuel. A portable gas generator will be limited by the size of its gas tank and the efficiency of its engine. It will also depend on the load that you’re placing on your generator. If you’re using more watts of electricity, your generator will burn through more gas, propane, or diesel – depending on the fuel type that it uses.
Generally, you should expect at least 4-hours from a tank of gas at full load. Some generators can run as long as 12-hours on a tank. You can check the runtime per tank of gas on the manufacturer’s website. Most generator review websites should also offer this information.
While gas consumption is a deciding factor, there’s one more thing to consider. This is how long your generator can run before it overheats. Under ideal conditions, most generators should be able to run non-stop all day and night. However, if the load remains constantly high (above 75%) some generators may produce too much heat and will shut down. You will then have to let the generator cool down for about 2-hours before attempting to restart it.
The generator’s operating temperature will also be affected by ambient temperature and ventilation. In cool weather, with enough airflow, your generator should be able to run continuously, even with a substantial load. Conversely, a high load on a hot day can easily result in overheating.
What kind of oil goes in a generator?
As with any internal combustion engine, the oil in your generator engine is vitally important. Your instruction manual will specify the recommended oil for your generator. Generally, a 4-stroke gas-powered generator will use 10W-30 engine oil. A 2-stroke generator requires the gas to be mixed with 2-stroke oil. These engines do not use crankcase engine oil, like 4-stroke engines do.
Modern synthetic oils contain many different additives for specific conditions, one of these being oil developed specifically for very cold conditions. Most reputable generator manufacturers provide branded oil that has been developed and tested for generators. While it’s difficult to confirm which is the best oil for a generator, it is widely accepted that generator branded oil (Briggs & Stratton, Generac, Honda, etc.) are the best for generators.
Generator not putting out full power
The most common cause for low voltage is incorrect RPM. Your voltage output is directly related to the engine speed. So if your engine is moving slower than it should, you will not get full power from the alternator. Another cause could be the Automatic Voltage Regulator, or a damaged stator.
You should first check the engine revs. Models vary, so it is not easy to give a one size fits all way of adjusting your generator engine RPM. In most cases, you should have an adjustment screw somewhere close to your carburetor. This screw sets the throttle position and you might find a diagram in the instruction manual that can guide you. If you aren’t able to locate the throttle adjustment screw, the manufacturer will be able to advise you.
Adjusting the RPM, once you’ve located the adjustment screw, is a simple affair. You can turn it in or out and you will hear the engine become louder or quieter. Turn the screw so that there is a slight increase in the engine speed and then test your voltage. You should notice an increase in the voltage as you increase the engine speed. Keep making fine RPM adjustments, followed by a voltage test until you reach the correct voltage.
Test the voltage with no load to begin with and then add load by plugging in different equipment. Start with low watt stuff, like lights, and then gradually add load. Do your final voltage check with the generator delivering upward of 70% of its total running load capacity. The engine should adjust the power as you add load. You’ll see the governor lever move as it does so. If the RPM does not remain constant as you increase the load, the governor lever may need lubricating. You can use a spray lubricant on all the linkages that control the lever.
If you’ve tried this and the problem persists, it’s highly likely that your automatic voltage regulator is faulty and needs replacing. You can do this yourself, if you have the knowledge. But most people would probably need to consult a professional as diagnosing and replacing an AVR is not a simple task. A visual inspection of the stator may be a clue as to whether it has been damaged by excessive heat. Though it’s best to have your stator professionally tested, if none of the other remedies have worked.
Why won’t my generator start?
This is probably one of the most frequently asked generator questions. There are many things that need to be checked when a generator won’t start. So I’ll provide a point by point check list for you to use as a guide. Some of the points may seem completely obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people overlook these. I suppose one can become flustered when the power fails and you need to get generator up and running in a hurry. It may be easy, at a time like this, to forget the most basic of checks and procedures.
- Generators with an electric starter often fail to start because of a weak battery charge or faulty electric connections. If you push the start button (or turn the key) and you don’t hear the starter motor turn, you know that there is no power at the starter. You can use the recoil starter, if your generator has one. If not, replace the battery with one that works. You could also use a battery booster or jumper to provide power to the battery. If the battery is fine, and it still won’t start. Check the connections to the starter switch, on/off switch, and the starter motor solenoid.
- In the case of a recoil starter malfunction, the most likely cause is that the flywheel key may be sheared. To inspect the flywheel key, you’ll need to remove the flywheel and check that the key is in working order.
- If your recoil or electric starter is functioning and the engine refuses to start, you first need to eliminate the obvious. Check that there is gas in the tank and the oil is at the correct level. Make sure that the fuel valve is open and the generator start switch is in the on position.
- If all the normal stuff is as it should be, you’ll need to do a more detailed check. Start by making sure that the stop run switch is making contact. Ensure that the wiring that goes from this switch to the ignition coil are secure. Use a multi-meter to check for continuity.
- Check the spark plug and the connection between the plug and the ignition coil. Ensure that the spark plug lead is properly secured.
- Check the carburetor, ensuring that there is fuel reaching the inlet jets. You may need to replace the fuel filter or clear a blockage in the fuel line. Old fuel in the tank may also prevent your generator from starting. To be sure, always put fresh fuel into your gas tank if the generator has been standing.
- You may have dirt in the carburetor. Using a can of carburetor cleaner will sort this out.
- Check and clean your air filter.
- Your generator may have a number of safety switches on or around the engine, like a low oil shutoff switch. Check all the wiring and connections to these switches.
Can you run a generator in the rain? Can a generator get wet?
While a generator is able to run in the rain, you should never do this unless the generator is properly sheltered. We all know that water and electricity make for a very dangerous mix. So, if you want to use your generator when it is raining or snowing, you need to place it where it cannot be exposed to any moisture. This also means that you should avoid placing your generator where it could come into contact with runoff water. You should never run a generator in a low-lying area where water can easily form pools.
If you’re using your generator at home, for emergency backup power, the best place is usually a covered porch. You can also place your generator in the garage, providing you have adequate ventilation. Keeping the garage door at least halfway-open and the windows partially open should be fine. If you see or smell excessive exhaust gasses accumulating, you’ll need to increase your ventilation. Alternatively, you can build a permanent structure to house your generator. This will need to provide adequate protection from rain and snow, along with appropriate openings to allow for the necessary airflow. The generator should also be elevated from the ground sufficiently to prevent water from accumulating that could submerge part of the generator.
Using a generator for camping or on a jobsite can be more challenging in wet weather. If you have to place your generator out in the open, you’ll need to find a means of sheltering it. Products like GenTent provide a perfect solution if you need a mobile, portable housing to protect your generator from the elements.
How to store a generator?
Most of us only use our generators occasionally, for camping trips or when there’s a power outage. This means that the generator is going to be stored for prolonged periods. Storing your generator correctly will help ensure that it remains reliable and ready for use when the need arises.
Always store your generator in dry place, preferably where there isn’t much chance of dust and debris collecting for the duration of the storage period. Avoid turning the generator on its side as this will damage the mountings and may cause oil or gas to leak. If you store your generator in a basement, or any area where there’s a possibility of flooding, ensure that it is at a safe height where it won’t come into contact with water.
It’s a good idea to clean your generator before storage. The most important aspect to correctly storing your generator is to drain the fuel from the carburetor. It’s advisable to empty the gas tank, as fuel doesn’t hold up well to long term storage. If you don’t want to empty the gas tank, add a fuel stabilizer to the gas in the tank and make sure the tank is full.
Always disconnect the battery before storing your generator.
How to start a generator that has been sitting?
If your generator has been sitting for a few months, it’s best to do a basic maintenance check before you decide to use it. Do this well before you intend using the generator, as you may need some time to repair anything that may have gone wrong. Clean your generator and pay particular attention to air grilles that may have become obstructed by debris. Check for rust and treat any rusted parts by sanding and repainting or applying a rust treatment. Check that there is no buildup on the battery terminals. You can use baking soda, mixed with warm water, to clean the battery terminals if needed.
If you’ve followed the correct storage procedures listed above, you should have little problem getting your generator started after it has been standing idle. Reconnect the battery, fill the gas tank with fresh gas, less than a month old, and check the engine oil. It may take several attempts to start your generator for the first time after it has been sitting. The fuel can take some time work its way through the system. You may need to give the throttle a quick pull to peak the revs for a second or two. If the alternator has lost its magnetism during storage, this help restore it.
If you haven’t stored your generator correctly, you may experience some difficulty. Generally, if a generator won’t start after it has been sitting, the cause is fuel that has been left in the carburetor. This leaves a sticky residue and the carburetor will need to be cleaned. The battery may have also run flat and need to be charged. Stale gas in the tank may need to be discarded with fresh gas. If you replace the gas in the tank, you should also flush the fuel pipes with clean, fresh gas.
What size generator do you need to run an air conditioner?
There are two considerations to take into account when choosing the size generator needed to run an air conditioner. Starting watts refers to the amount of power an AC needs to start and running watts is the power that it draws when running. Because an air conditioner cycles on using a thermostat, you never know when it may start. So you need to ensure that your generator has the starting wattage to supply enough power when your air conditioner starts, together with any other equipment that may be running at the time.
The smallest window air conditioner will use 500W when running and about 1200W to start. A central air conditioner will use up to 3,500 running watts and may require as much 10,000 watts to start. The average window air conditioner draws about 900W – 1500W running power and 2,200W – 4,000W to start.
A 7,000 BTU RV air conditioner will require 1,700W to start and run at 600W. A 10,000 BTU AC will start using about 2,000W, with 700W running power. If you’re using a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner, you’ll need a generator with a starting capacity of at least 3,500W and 1,500W running power. Since you’re likely to be using more than just an air conditioner on generator power, I’d recommend buying a generator with at least 1,000W more than the starting power requirement for your air conditioner.
How many watts does a refrigerator use?
The amount of watts a refrigerator uses can vary quite considerably, depending on the size and model. Though as a basic rule of thumb, you can safely say that an average single door refrigerator will consume 400W running power and about 1,200W start up current. A double door refrigerator will typically draw around 600W when running and approximately 1,800W when starting.
The best refrigerator to use on generator power is one with a high Energy Star rating. These refrigerators may use as little as 150W running power and will usually have start up current draw of about 200W.
Is it bad to run a generator out of gas?
Allowing the gas to run out while you’re using the generator is most certainly a bad idea. If you have a load on the generator and the tank runs dry, the engine will splutter as it dies. This is going to cause highly erratic voltage and most probably affect the frequency too. Spikes and dips in the voltage, along with unstable frequency, can cause serious damage to your electric equipment. Furthermore, running out of gas whilst the generator is under load, can damage the automatic voltage regulator.
I’ve mentioned earlier that closing the fuel valve, with the engine running, is a quick way of correctly storing your generator. In doing so, you won’t be left with harmful fuel residue. However, this should never be done whilst there is any load on the generator.
Difference between a motor and generator?
The basic construction and principles of an electric motor and a generator are almost identical. Both use a rotor and stator, working on the basic principle of an electromagnetic field (EMF). They really do the same thing, but in reverse.
An electric motor turns electric energy into mechanical energy. An electric current supplies the energy needed to generate magnetism that spins the rotor. The rotor is connected to a shaft that drives many types of electrical machinery.
A generator converts mechanical energy into electric energy. Energy supplied by a gas, diesel, or propane-powered engine provides the mechanical power that spins the rotor. A magnetic field is created between the rotor and stator which creates the electric current that is supplied to the generator outlets.
Can you put gas in a generator while it’s running?
I know it can be a great inconvenience to switch your generator off while you’re using it just to fill the gas tank. As annoying as this can be, it is extremely hazardous to pour gas into a generator while it’s running.
Whilst running, a generator vibrates, sometimes quite considerably. This means that it is easy to spill gas when transferring it from a can to the tank. Fuel spilling onto a hot engine is potentially dangerous. Furthermore, small sparks cause by friction can ignite the gas fumes – even if you don’t spill any.
It’s recommended that you switch your generator off and allow it cool down sufficiently before putting gas into the tank.
What size generator do you need to run a house?
Providing generator backup power for your entire house is going to be an incredibly expensive exercise. A built-in, fully automatic standby generator for your home is a wonderful thing to have. This will provide you with all the power that you get from the utility and it will switch on and off without you doing thing.
However, to give you an idea of the cost involved, I’ve taken a relatively small house (3000 – 3500 sq. ft.) with a swimming pool, central air conditioner and all the normal stuff – sump pump, heat pump, refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, general appliances, lights, and an electric stove. To fully provide for all this, with no compromises, you’ll need a 70KW standby generator, costing in the region of $20,000. If this amount hasn’t sent your blood pressure through the roof, remember this doesn’t include the installation cost. Once you add the gallons of gas that you’ll be consuming every hour that the generator runs for, the cost is enormous.
Most homeowners will look for a more affordable option. A portable generator is not only cheaper, you have the advantage of using it for more than simply backing up your home during an outage. Of course, this means giving careful consideration to the size generator that will meet your requirements.
Before sizing the best generator for your home, give it a good deal of thought. Compile a list of equipment that you want to run on generator power. Remember that every watt counts, both in the size of the generator that you need to buy and the fuel that you’ll be using. Start with the basics – lighting, refrigerator, sump pump and, perhaps basic heating. Then consider what would be nice, if not essential. There are some electric items that really aren’t necessary to keep powered up during an outage, like a swimming pool pump. Large heating equipment (central heating furnace, electric water heaters, and electric stoves) should be avoided if you’re trying to cut back on watt consumption. There are many websites that provide wattage consumption figures for most household electric equipment. Though it’s always best to obtain the exact watts for the equipment that you use. This can usually be found on the appliance or in the owner’s manual. Remember to take starting watts into account for equipment like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, and pumps.
You should apply some thought to the probability of several appliances (particularly those requiring a peak wattage) starting at the same time. Use your discretion as to what you’re likely to be using at any given time. Your total running and starting watts for all the items on your list can be much higher than what your generator can supply. You won’t be using everything simultaneously.
As a basic guide, I’ll offer some generator options and what you can expect to achieve with these generators.
3,000W – 4,000W generators are a basic, affordable option if your budget is limited. Brands like Briggs & Stratton, Champion, DuroMax, and Westinghouse are among the more affordable generators and are of a good quality standard. Using a generator of this size, you can keep your basics powered up during an outage. By this, I mean a refrigerator, lights, TVs and computers, along with some small appliances – possibly even a small space heater. You may have to switch some appliances off when using others, but you can live in reasonable comfort during an outage.
Smaller generators don’t usually provide 240V. So you’ll probably be limited to only using 120V equipment.
6,000W – 7,000W generators are, to my mind the perfect solution for a relatively inexpensive way to power your home during an outage. These generators provide 120V and 240V power. They also provide the wattage needed to supply your home through a transfer switch, along with the appropriate outlets. Using this size generator, you can carry on your normal activities without much compromise. My first choice in this category would be the Honda EU7000is. This is by no means a cheap generator, but is certainly worth considering.
Quiet & Powerful Inverter Generator | Honda EU7000is
You may end up using a 6 or 12 month budget plan. But if you bite the bullet for the repayment period, it’s likely that you’ll never need to replace your generator. It’s also incredibly fuel efficient. There are cheaper, very adequate, alternatives. Again, I’d recommend Briggs & Stratton, DuroMax, Champion, and Westinghouse as good quality machines in the lower price range. Although there are cheaper generators, I feel that these brands meet the criteria of a good quality medium-duty machine at a reasonable price.
17,500W is, as far as I know, as big as it gets when looking at portable generators. In this category, you only have one option – the Generac GP17500E. It is the most expensive portable generator available. Being the most powerful, and from a highly respected brand, this is inevitable. Though with this size generator, you have the same kind of power that you’d get from an entry level standby generator. Yet you still have the versatility of a portable generator.
Read our indepth review of the Generac GP17500E, a powerful generator that will power your entire house.