Buying Guide and Advice
There is no point in panicking when your power suddenly goes out due to a storm and you are stuck with a sick child or finishing an important assignment for work. Imagine what will happen if there is an emergency during a camping or boating trip! That is why you need outdoor portable generators to prepare for these situations in advance – they can supply limited emergency storm power, jobsite power or during leisure activities like camping and tailgating.
What are inverter generators?
While considering an outdoor generator, it is necessary to remember performance, convenience, features, accessories, and warranty & service. These five factors are instrumental – all of them should be taken into account, along with price. Inverter generators are portable outdoor generators, but usually smaller in wattage capabilities, typically ranging from 800-3,000 watts, but are a great choice for their clean power, quietness, efficiency and size. They generally cost anywhere from $200-$3,000.
Who can use outdoor portable generators?
For those who wish to buy a generator for storm and emergency power, make up your mind on what electronics and appliances you absolutely have to power. Do you need to back up a few essential circuits or just a couple of appliances? In that case, a portable generator will suffice. An inverter generator is ideal for activities like tailgating and camping as well as household
purposes. These relatively quiet so you don’t have to worry about neighbors complaining.
How are they rated?
These outdoor portable generators usually have low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) so they are safe for all electronics, even sensitive ones like mobile phones, laptops, etc. You will come across terms like “clean electricity” and sine wave power, which are essentially the lower harmonic distortion of the electrical AC wave and the ability to take square wave generated electrical power and smooth the edges to produce a phase that is smoother and less square. Clean electricity is a THD of 5% or less.
Generators are also sold by power output, as measured in watts. The amount of power they deliver determines how many lights and appliances you can run at once; the quality and consistency of that power determines how well they will run. Most of these inverter generators offer up to 3000W of power. There are two basic power measurements for generators:
- Starting Watts- It is needed for appliance at startup or when they are operating at their highest levels of power consumption.
- Running Watts – It is required for operation of those appliances under normal load
The runtime is also an important factor – these gadgets callout how much run time they can get at 25% or 50% load. It indicates the amount of time they can run with a full fuel tank, utilizing that portion of their total power. If you need more runtime, or are using your generator for emergency situations where you don’t know how long it will be required for, consider purchasing one with a larger tank.
A bulky and cumbersome outdoor generator will be of little use if it is tedious for you to carry. These generators are portable and generally weigh less than 70 pounds, so you don’t have face any difficulty in transporting them. Moreover, they have built-in ergonomic handles for a firm grip while carrying. Being lightweight and compact ensures they are easy to store as well.
A few important features to consider while shopping for outdoor portable generators:
- Option for parallel connections – this is necessary so you can link the unit with another of at least similar capacity to get more power.
- The generator will automatically shut down the engine to prevent damage to components if the oil drops below minimum levels.
- Multiple outlets lets you best use the wattage by spreading the load, though we recommend using these only in an extreme pinch at home, or at a campsite.
- Whisper quiet operation at low decibel levels.
- There shouldn’t be any overloading so the system needs to be equipped with circuit breaker protection.
- LED indicator lights on the control panel indicate system status.
Some models have Eco-mode throttle automatically adjusts your portable inverter generator to maximize fuel consumption to run longer.
An owner’s manual is usually the standard inclusion with the package, but at times you might get adapters for charging batteries, tool kits for maintenance, empty oil bottle, and spark plug sleeve. However, it depends upon the company, model, and the platform you are buying from.
Warranty & Service
Here too, these gadgets will provide different warranties. For instance, some units offer separate warranties for residential and commercial use, while others offer extended warranties on labor and parts as well. The standard time period is a period of 24 months, but it can go up to 36 too. You might get limited warranties with some units. Customer service and technical support is provided via phone and email, and you are lucky if there is a service center located nearby, for repair purposes.
Safety aspects to bear in mind
People tend to buy generators around major storms, when they are prone to making a desperate decision—without a plan for what to do when they get it home. Working with a flashlight, in a rush to get the power up and running, they might skip over critical safety steps during setup. Moreover, people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning related to generators.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2005, for 10.6 million portable generators, there were 85 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. A rule of thumb is to keep a portable generator 10 feet away from the house. Make sure the generator's distance from the house meets both the manufacturer's specifications and the requirements of building and zoning codes.
Most of these outdoor portable generators are affordable and won’t be too hard on the pocket, but safety shouldn’t be compromised on, under any cost. This investment will be worthwhile during emergencies and for keeping your loved ones safe from harm.