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Favored Portable Generators for Tent Camping, RV Camper Generators, Home Generators for Power Outages and more...

When choosing a generator first take a few minutes and truly think about how you plan to use your new generator. If you need a generator for your camping trip where you just need some lights, a fan, the coffee pot, your radio or portable TV and to charge your cell phone a small quiet portable inverter generator should fit your needs.

If you are a contractor of some type and you constantly work a lot on job sites that do not yet have power from the utility company, and you need power to run your power tools, then you too should find one of the small to medium size portable generators will meet your needs.

If you have someone in your household that is using some type of medical equipment that they really can't be without for a period of time then you may choose to keep a generator as backup power for this equipemnt until your electrical power can be restored.

If you are interested in home generators for power outages then you have more power needs to consider when selecting a portable generator. Stay with us and we will show you how to calculate your power needs and select the right portable generator for you.

What Wattage Do You Need?

Unless you are an electrician you probably don't put a whole lot of thought into how much power an electrical device is using, because your utility company has provided an adequate supply of power to your house for all your needs.

However portable generators not only come in different physical sizes they come in different sizes when it comes to the amount of power they generate for you to use.

So, let's take a look at what you want to power with your generator and figure out how much wattage that requires.

Running Watts / Startup Watts

Be aware that some electrical appliances need more watts to start up than they need to run (reactive loads) and others need the same amount to both start up and to run (resistive loads).

Many reative loads are involved in heating or making heat of some kind. For example, Coffee maker, Toaster or Light bulbs.

Reactive loads contain an electric motor, which requires additional power to start, but significantly less power to run once it gets going. Typically starting power is three times the amount of power to run the appliance. Some examples are: Refrigerators, Freezers, Power tools, Air conditioners, Air compressors, Furnace fans, Well pumps. Some household appliances, like a refrigerator or furnace, have internal fans that come on intermittently. Extra wattage is needed to start the fan each time. Refrigerators also have a defrost cycle that requires power in addition to the compressor and fans which turn on intermittently.

If you are going to use your generator to power your work tools then be aware that a lot of these tools are reactive load type devices. For instance, whan a saw begins cutting wood, its power requirement will increase.

If you are sizing a generator for your household power backup then understand that that a microwave oven may be marked "1100 watt oven" whice means that it will produce 1100 watts of cooking power, but it will require more than that from a generator to run.

Most electric motors and appliances list their power requirements in amps. You can usually find these Amp requirements on the nameplate or a stamp on the bottom or side of the appliance. A data tag is found on all electric motors.

On the data tag you should find volts, amps, phase, cycle, hp and sometimea a code for the electrical motor.

  • The volts (V) must be either 12 (110-120) or 120/240 which means that the motor can be wired to operator on 120V or 240V.
  • Amps indicate the amps required to RUN the electric motor but doesn't consider STARTING or LOADED power requirements.
  • Horsepower (HP) is a rating how much work an electric motor can perform.
  • If the Code is provided on the data tag it represents the maximum STARTING power required of the electric motor. To see a list of codes and the amps check out this chart. Multiply the code (amps) times the HP to get the starting amps of the motor.

To convert amps to watts multyply volts x amps.

  • Watts - Volts x Amps
  • Amps = Watts / Volts

What Are Your Going To Power With YOUR Generator?

If you are going to be using your generator for camping or to carry to a worksite to power your work tools or equipment then you won't have a very long list of items to calculate your wattage needs.

However, if you need a generator for your RV or as backup power in your home during power outages.

You have seen above how to calculate the wattage requirement of each item that you want to power from a generator.

Consumer Reports Power Estimation Guide

If you don't want to hunt down all the tags on your electrical appliances and would like to just estimate your wattage needs then you can use the Consumer Reports Power Estimation Guide.

There is also this Wattage Estimation Guide that is located on the Honda site.

Do You Need It All?

When calculating your wattage requirements, especially for your home, give some thought to what you really need. Most home power outgages last from a few hours to generally a max of a couple of weeks. Don't forget that most generators are fueled by either gasoline or propane fuel. You will want to consider not only the cost of this fuel but the availability and / or storage of enough fuel to get you through your outage.

So, do you really need the dishwasher during that time. Or, maybe you could have a clothes line and dry the clothes outside in the fresh air vs. using the clothes dryer.

If you have someone using critical medical equipment you will certainly want to power those items. You will want preserve the food supply you have in your refrigerator and freezer. Maybe you can get by with fans and not use the central air conditioning unit.

There are whole house generators which are really nice to have but that may not be in your budget at this time. However, there are many reasonably priced portable generators on the market that can be used to save your food and give you some of the comforts of home during a power outage. You can always upgrade to a whole house one later when you can afford it.

Other Generator Features To Consider

  • Is It A Quiet Generator - Are the campers next to you in the park going to hate you.
  • Size and Weight - If you are going to be throwing it in the back of the truck for work or play can your easily pick it up.
  • Inverter vs. Conventional Generator - There are pros and cons for each which are covered here.
  • Fuel Capacity and Fuel Usage - How much fuel will it hold and how long will that last based on the load.
  • Pull Start or Electric Start - If you are not endowed with a lot of arm strength the the electric start is a nice feature. Most of the generators with this feature also have a pull start feature as a backup.
  • Wheel Kit - If the generator that provides the power you need is too heavy to move around easily a wheel kit can make moving much easier.
  • Safety Features - Such as automaticly shuts engine off when low oil is detected.
  • Parallel Kit - Allows you to chain generators together to create more power for your needs.

More information will be provided about these features as we review the various generators.

Safety Use Guidelines

One more item for us to cover here is how to safely use your generator.

Portable genertors burn fuels that result in exhaust that contains carbon monoixde. Never operate a portable generator inside a garage, shed, tent, home or any other enclosed structure. Carbon monoxide levels can reach lethal levels in just minutes.

When running generators always place them away from home windows and doors, tents and sleeping spaces. A small opening can pull large amounts of exhaust into an enclosed space.

Also think about your neighbors while using a generator at home or at a campsite. Position your generator where noise and exhaust won't be a factor for them also.

When refueling your generator turn it off and let it cool for a few minutes before adding fuel. While you have it off to add fuel is a good time to check the oil also.

Please proceed to the portable generator review group (Camping / Recreational) (Home / Emergencies) (Work Sites) that fits your needs at this time.

 

 

Portable Generators for Campers

Camping / Recreational

Portable Generators for Power Outages

Home / Emergencies

Portable Generators for Power Tools

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