When the power fails, and you’re left in the dark, nothing can be quite as helpful as a generator. They can not only provide you with electricity to keep your food from spoiling in your refrigerator, but they can also provide you with the power to still enjoy yourself if the power goes during a storm or sudden blackout.
But how do you know which generator to choose? There are tons of makes and models out there, from basic units that provide power for a few items to larger ones that can run a host of different appliances and devices at once, designed for a small family for short-term usage to preppers and others who want to have as much power for as long as they need. Here are a few tips when you’re looking for a generator to suit your needs.
What is a Generator?
A generator is a fuel-powered (usually gasoline or diesel) unit that creates electricity from the mechanical energy produced by moving an internal turbine. The turbine turns in a magnetic field and electricity is produced, with varying power. The generator body will have electrical sockets built in that you can plug important items into whenever you need quick energy.
Portable generators are usually built onto wheels that make moving them around easy. The small units may just have a handle that you can use to carry from place to place.
Besides generators that run on gasoline or diesel, there are some that can work with two or three different types of fuel. Units like these can use kerosene or even natural gas as a fuel alternative that gives you much more options that a single-fuel generator. Which type you choose should depend on price and what you intend to use the generator for if you expect prolonged use for weeks or even months, then the more fuel options, the better.
Know What You Need
Because the styles and power-output of generators can range greatly, you should determine what you are going to use the generator for. The best way to do this is to list all of the things that you will need to plug into during whichever times you plan on using it.
If you want a generator in case of short power outages from storms that may only last hours or a couple of days, you may only need to plug in the refrigerator and can go with a small model designed for one appliance. But, don’t forget that if the power goes out in the summer or winter, you will probably want a heater or fan running off the generator as well.
Only you know what your needs are, so think of all the things you can and determine how much power you will need. Then, buy accordingly.
Know How to Safely Run a Generator
Generators can be dangerous if you don’t know the proper ways to use one. Before operating any generator, you should read the manual and find all of the safety hazards that come along with improper usage.
As a general rule of thumb, though, never operate a generator in a closed spaced. The engine in a generator runs much like a lawnmower engine and produces harmful gasses which can accumulate in closed spaces. Always runs the generator outdoors and use extension cords to power your appliances and devices.
Also, inspect all the fuel lines and electrical outlets for damage before each use and never plug the generator directly into your home’s power supply unless the generator is specifically designed for it.
Finding a Generator
You can visit your local hardware stores to find a generator, but there are also plenty of sites on the internet that can help your search.
Sites like PlanBPrep can provide you with a list of the best portable generators that are available in your price range. The site also gives vital stats on each generator so you can know the fuel usage and power output of each unit. You’ll have no problem finding the right generator because reading the reviews at planbprep.com made it easy.
Whatever generator you choose, make sure that it fits into your budget and provides you with all of the power you will need during an emergency. The more power and options, the more expensive they are, so know what you want to spend.
Don’t get caught in the dark: find a generator that’s right for you.
Theron Mehr graduated from California State University, Fresno with a B.A. and Loyola Law School, Los Angeles with a J.D. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three sons and is a manager at a large investor-owned electric utility. Before moving to Los Angeles for his schooling, however, he grew up a ‘farm kid’ in Minnesota and later Idaho where he developed a knack for tinkering and fixing all manner of devices and gadgets in his home shop.