Top 10 Portable Generators
|Portable Generators||Rated Watts ||Fuel Capacity (gallons) ||Run Time|
|Westinghouse||2,200||1.00||10 hrs @ 25% load|
|Champion||3,100||0.60||7.5 hrs @ 50% load|
|SereneLife||120||0.40||5 hrs @ 50% load|
|DuroStar DS4000S||3,300||4.00||8 hrs @ 50% load|
|Yamaha EF2000iS||1,600||3.50||10.5 hrs @ 50% load|
|DuroMax XP4400E||3,500||4.00||8 hrs @ 50% load|
|WEN 56180||1,500||1.45||7.5 hrs @ 50% load|
|Champion Power Equipment 46539||3,500||1.45||12 hrs @ 50% load|
|Westinghouse WH7500E||7,500||6.60||13 hrs @ 50% load|
|Generac 5943 GP7500E||7,500||1.75||12.5 hrs @ 50% load|
Portable Generator Comparison
Champion Power Equipment 46539
Generac 5943 GP7500E
| Engine Type – |
|15 / 18.3||20||15||20||13.3/16.7||20||12.5||12||12||12|
|Run Time||10 hrs @ 25% load |
/ 7 hrs @ 50% load
|7.5 hrs @ 50% load||5 hrs @ 50% load||8 hrs @ 50% load||10.5 hrs @ 50% load||8 hrs @ 50% load||7.5 hrs @ 50% load||12 hrs @ 50% load||13 hrs @ 50% load||12.5 hrs @ 50% load|
|Warranty||3 Years||3 Years||1 Year||1 Year||2 Years||1 Year||1 Year||2 Years||3 Years||1 Year|
Portable Generator Buying Guide
What is a Portable Generator?
Owning a portable generator allows you to power vital devices when facing a blackout, or when there is no power source, such as when you’re camping or out in the woods. When placed outside of your home, the generator can successfully power TVs, small appliances, lights, and power tools. When needing a generator at a construction site it’s best to use a medium to large generator to operate power tools like saws, drills, and paint sprayers. No matter which portable generator you buy, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance instructions for optimal performance and safety.
In this buyer’s guide we’ll take a look at the benefits and features of owning a portable generator, helping you to narrow down which model might be right for you. There are numerous generators out there to choose from, and above we highlighted the top rated generators that customers consistently praise for their efficiency and ease of use.
The Benefit of Backup Power
All portable generators operate on gasoline or liquid propane, and they’re designed to backup important devices and appliances such as lights and refrigerators in the case of an outage. When you add a manual transfer switch you can deliver the full output of your portable generator to the electrical system of your home, allowing you to backup hardwired appliances.
It’s important to regularly maintain and test your portable generator to ensure readiness. Find a safe outdoor location to place it, and always stay abreast of the information in the manufacturer’s operation guide. Once you learn the ropes and have the generator up and running you can enjoy the remarkable benefits of having backup power when you need it most. This adds peace of mind to your home and fun and freedom to your camping excursions.
Requirements of a Portable Generator
What items you can power with your portable generator will depend upon the wattage the generator produces. You need to first decide how much power you will need before selecting the appropriate generator for you. It’s possible to even find worksheets online that help you to calculate the exact requirements you’ll need for your home or outdoor excursions. Once you have your requirements worked out you’ll be able to select a generator that will meet these requirements perfectly.
Portable Generator Features
Portable generators come in a wide variety of sizes and all of them have different features that you may enjoy. Ask yourself which features are essential for you, and which are not at the top of your priority list. You may decide that you simply want a generator that supplies you the power that you need, or if you’re willing to spend a bit extra, it’s possible to get a portable generator that is packed with features and allows you to enjoy a wider range of benefits and uses.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re buying a portable generator is that safety concerns are key. No matter what model you buy it can be incredibly dangerous to operate a generator when you don’t know how to use it properly. Fully review these safety considerations, and be sure to review them from time to time, even when you think you’re a pro at operating a generator. You’re wasting your time purchasing any portable generator when you don’t know how to use it safely.
Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation
- Did you know that portable generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide which is a deadly poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelt? For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you never run a generator indoors or in any partially enclosed area such as in a garage.
- When using the generator outdoors be sure to keep it far from windows, doors, vents, and crawl spaces. Do not think that you can operate the generator indoors if you use a fan or open doors and windows, as this will not provide sufficient ventilation.
- If you use a generator for your home, be sure to install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms inside your home.
Gasoline, Fueling, and Preventing Burns
- As you probably know, gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive, and for this reason it’s important to not overfill the fuel tank. You need to allow enough room for fuel expansion. When the fuel tank is overfilled the fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause a dangerous fire or explosion.
- Do be sure to also never add fuel while the unit is in operation or when hot. Allow the generator to fully cool before adding new fuel.
- Some other things to keep in mind: never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach a spark, pilot light, or any open flame.
- Lastly, never smoke near a generator or come too close to the generator when it is hot.
Electrocution and Electrical Shock Hazards
- Never, never connect a portable generator directly to your household wiring as this can be deadly for you and those around you. When you directly connect your generator to your home’s wiring you risk back-feed onto the power lines connected to your home and you may injure your neighbors or utility workers in your area.
- Only stop or start the generator when no electrical loads are connected. When you overload your generator you can potentially damage valuable appliances and electronics. For this reason you do not want to operate more appliances and equipment than the generator can handle. Check the output rating of your generator and know how much your appliances are using up.
- It’s important to only use your portable generator when absolutely necessary and only to power what you consider to be essential equipment.
- Only use the proper power cords for your generator, and plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor cords that have wire gauges adequate for the appliance load.
- Never use your generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow, and keep the generator properly grounded to avoid the risk of electrocution. Be sure to review all your federal, state and local regulations as pertains to grounding.
Tips for Placement and Operation
Placing your portable generator properly and operating it per the instructions is key to keeping yourself safe and getting the most out of your portable generator. Take a look at these tips and guidelines for using your portable generator the right way.
- Always keep your generator away from children, pets, or anyone who can be harmed by it.
- Make sure to have at least 5 feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when it is in use.
- It’s possible to use the generator during a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures, but be sure to protect the generator from the elements when not in use, as this prevents shorting and rust.
- Never under any conditions run a generator indoors.
- Find a level surface to operate your generator, where it will not be exposed to excessive dirt, moisture, dust, or vapors.
- On a regular basis, be sure to inspect the generator and contact your local authorized dealer when the generator is in need of repairs or replacement of parts.
- Be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it is no longer in contact with the spark plug. This prevents accidental starting of the generator.
Portable Generator Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between rated watts and maximum (surge) watts?
Rated watts describe the continuous amount of power that the portable generator can produce. Maximum wattage, on the other hand, is the power that the generator can produce for a short amount of time. A good example of surge watts is the power that is required to start the motor up.
Is it a good idea to use a portable generator during a power outage?
You can easily plug household appliances and devices into the generator during an outage, but don’t plug them all in simultaneously. You should also never plug your generator into an outlet in your home or business. To connect it to your home wiring you need to hire a certified electrician to install an approved manual power transfer which is in compliance with all electrical codes.
What is a transfer switch?
The transfer switch allows you to connect your portable generator to your home wiring system, while simultaneously disconnecting you from the utility grid. This is the only way to prevent dangerous feedback.
What is a back-feed?
Back-feed occurs when the generator is connected to an electrical outlet, and subsequently feeds power back onto the utility lines. This is a life-threatening occurrence that could potentially be fatal for utility employees working to restore power lines in the case of an outage.
Do I need to ground my portable generator?
Yes, you do. For safety purposes it’s important to properly ground your generator. If the generator is not grounded then you risk electrocution. Remind yourself of all federal, state, and local regulations regarding grounding.
Is it possible to vent the exhaust out of an enclosed area?
No, and you should never run the generator inside a home or any enclosed area. All portable generators are designed to run outside where there is plenty of natural ventilation. The exhaust from a generator, like all gasoline engines, emits poisonous carbon monoxide.
Is it possible to use a generator during inclement weather?
It is possible to use the generator under a variety of weather conditions, but also take care to protect it from the elements when not in use.
Should I perform routine maintenance?
Read the manual that comes with your portable generator to learn about what maintenance schedule is advised.
Where can I purchase parts?
Any authorized dealer will be able to get you the parts that you need. Check your manufacturer’s website to find a local dealer near you.
Owning a portable generator adds convenience to camping trips and outdoors excursions and also provides peace of mind during power outages at home. We’ve explored the very top rated portable generators, and these are so popular due to their ease of use, dependability, and lightweight design that makes it easy to take them on the go. Like with anything, it can be daunting when looking for the right portable generator for you, as there are so many out there to choose from. Determine what size you would like, and also analyze the power output that you’ll need from the generator to narrow down your search.
It’s important to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before purchasing a portable generator, and that means knowing all about the safety considerations and usage tips that will allow you to get the most out of your generator without putting yourself or anyone else at risk. No matter which generator you choose, you’re going to be amazed at how handy these devices are, giving you the freedom to power your life, even when there’s no electrical power.
- Westinghouse: http://www.westpropower.com/
- Champion Power Equipment: http://www.championpowerequipment.com/
- PowerPro: http://www.farmandfleet.com/