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Buying Guide

Generator buying guide

 When buying a generator, you need to first decide what you would like to use it for. Generators are used for wide variety of reasons:  backup power during a power outage at home, camping where there is not an electric hookup, tailgating, hunting, boating or powering tools on a job site.

 Once you have made this tough decision it is time to figure out which generator fits your needs best.  The portable generator is the most versatile and can be used for everything.  Its only limit is how much it can power for you. The home standby unit the choice for home coverage. All you need to decide is if you want to power just a few essential things in your home or the whole house and which unit will meet your needs.

 Portable Generator buying guide

There are two main types of portable generators open frame or an inverter generator.

Open frame generators have a fixed engine speed, greater power output, and at a lower cost. Make sure if you purchase this type of generator, you get a wheel kit for easy transportation.

Inverter generators are more advanced, have engine speed on demand, cleaner power, quieter, fuel efficient, and have a longer engine life. They also offer you parallel connectivity to another inverter for increased power.

A  1000 to 3000 watt generator should provide enough power for most outdoor activities. A 3000-4000 watt unit works well with trailers and RV’s, and has enough power to start and run most 15,000 BTU RV air conditioners.

Choose at least 3500 watts to keep a few home essentials on like your lights, TV, laptop, microwave and refrigerator. To power everything in your home you will need at least a 10,000-Watt generator.


Note - to power hardwired appliances like a central AC unit or electric water heaters you will need additional hookups installed by a licensed electrician.

All portable generators run on gasoline, but dual field generators run on either gasoline or propane.

To start your generator, you can use a simple pull cord like a lawn mower, a push button or a handy wireless remote that can start and stop your generator from inside your house. Bluetooth connectivity means you can use your phone to monitor power usage, fuel level and more.  Most models have two simple outlets. 

For work or job site use

If your project needs reliability and no fuss operation a generator in the 3000 to 4000 watt range will run one or two small tools at a time.  Certain power tools have very high starting watts to start compared to their running watts. So make sure you get a unit that will cover the wattage requirements for all the tools you need.

You will need 5000 to 8000 watts to run multiple tools at the same time.

8000 watts or above will allow you to run multiple power tools plus large power equipment all at the same time. Choose a model with the wattage and outlets that are good for your equipment. Consider an electric start to save time and effort.

Since noise is not a big deal on a project site a traditional (open Frame) generator is a practical and economical choice. This will also offer you the highest wattage capability in one unit.  Outlets with covers are also a good idea so you can keep them free of dirt and dust at the job site while you are not using them.  Be sure to include a wheel kit for easy transportation to and from job sites.

 For play/recreational use

If you are camping, barbecuing or taking a weekend trip a model in the range of 1000 to 3000 watts would be ideal.  For use with your trailer or RV choose a model in the 3000 to 4000 range.  Push button start or wireless remotes are great options to make play even easier. Choose a model with Bluetooth connectivity for even more convenience.

For an RV make sure to choose a generator that is RV ready with the type of outlet that your RV requires, 30 or 50 amp, make sure to choose a generator with one of these or both outlets.  They are small, lightweight, easy to carry, fuel efficient and most importantly quieter.  Since most campgrounds have noise restrictions on generators, inverters are the perfect choice for camping. If you need more power choose a model with parallel capabilities so you can pair two inverters together to increase your output. This gives you the benefit of a small lightweight unit that is easy to store and can give you the increased power you may need to run things like an RV air conditioner.

 Home Standby Generator buying guide

 This generator is the simple solution for peace of mind during a power outage at your house.  Picking the correct generator and set up could mean that you will hardly notice a power outage and will be able to run everything you may need until the power is restored.  A home standby unit is installed on the side of the house or garage for a permanent solution that you will hardly have to think about during a power outage.  It is connected to your homes propane or natural gas so you always have power and is connected to your electrical system.  This is hooked up to your homes electrical panel to feed the home just like the electricity that comes into to the house from the electrical grid.  An automatic transfer switch will turn your generator on when is senses a power outage and will also automatically return your power to the grid when it senses that power has been restored.  You will never have to think about it during a power outage and with the proper maintenance will last years, most models have a 10 year warranty (the product page will let you know the warranty length).

With a home standby generator, you will be able to face unexpected emergencies with confidence since it works whether you are home or not and monitors your utility power, so you do not have to.   It will provide you with seamless power, and never needs refueling since it is connected to your home propane or natural gas system.  The unit is all weather so it will operate in winter and summer no matter what the weather is outside.

If you want a generator that will power your whole home - you will need the whole home standby generator system.  This is the most flexible of the generator systems and usually based on the size and age of your home.  Newer homes tend to have energy efficient appliances which effect the total amount of power needed during an outage. 

If you only need your system to manage a pre-selected list of items or circuits – you will need the select circuit emergency essentials system.  This is the most cost-effective solution.  This system is not based on the size of your home but on the items that you choose to power during an outage.