Generators 101: What You Need to Know About Generators

Posted by Lokal on

The power grid is a fragile thing. It can be easily compromised in the event of an emergency or a natural disaster. That's why generators are a must-have for any home. If you're in need of a little power at home or for your business, then it's worth looking into generators. They are typically used in emergency situations like an outage or when there is a storm and electricity can't be provided to an area. 

If you're looking to purchase one, this blog post will give you everything you need to know about generators.

What Is a Generator?

Electrical generators are self-contained units that provide power when the local grid fails. Households, businesses, hospitals, hotels, and similar facilities use generators as backup power sources. They can also provide power to remote locations and also for camping activities.

Generators produce power through the conversion of mechanical or chemical energy into electrical energy. Using a source of electrons forced through a circuit, they capture the energy of motion and convert it into electrical power. In essence, a generator is a reversed motor. A fuel source is used to produce mechanical energy, which is then transmitted into a circuit to create electrical energy. Upon establishing a current, it travels through copper wires to supply electricity to machines and devices.

Electrical generators are available in various fuel types. Residential generators are mostly powered by natural gas or propane, while portable generators are usually powered by either gasoline, diesel, or propane. Several generators are bi-fuel capable, meaning they can run on both gasoline and diesel.

What to Look for When Buying a Generator

When you're looking for a generator, one of the most important considerations is type. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks based on the power requirements you need. There are two types:

Standby Generator

A standby generator is stationary and provides continuous power throughout a power outage. These types of generators are installed outside your house or business, which means they require more installation work that's often expensive--they're not typically recommended unless it's absolutely necessary because they don't offer as much convenience as portable ones do. 

Portable Generator

On the other hand, portable generators provide an on-demand, temporary supply of electricity to devices during an interruption in utility power. Unlike other generators, portable generators can be plugged into an outlet and started up when there's no power. In addition, portable ones can be transported anywhere, so if there's an emergency at your office, school, or cabin in the woods, you can do so easily. The following are other pros and cons of each type besides those mentioned above:

 Generator Type  PROS CONS
Portable Generators
  • In general, it is more affordable.
  • Installation does not require a professional.
  • This generator produces enough power to support a normal level of energy consumption
  • Connects to the existing gas line and automatically starts during a power outage
Standby Generators
  • It can be quite noisy
  • Requires manual refilling of the fuel
  • Only a few electrical devices are capable of being powered by this type
  • The general cost is higher
  • Installing and maintaining the system requires professional skills

Getting the Right Generator Size

Selecting the proper size is another essential aspect of choosing a backup or primary generator. Undersized generators will not provide you with enough power, resulting in deciding what electrical components to power. Moreover, undersized generators are more likely to strain the generator, resulting in it shutting down during operation, which could cause the generator to fail prematurely and damage the devices it is connected to.

There are several factors and considerations that go into sizing a generator correctly. To ensure you have properly sized the generator, consult a certified electrician. Electricians can assess your power needs, your electrical system's capacity and recommend upgrades, including where to place a generator. Nevertheless, you can estimate your own power requirements by following these steps:

Creating a list of all the things that require the generator's power

Take note of the starting and running wattages of each item. You can find this information on the device's identification plate or in its manual.

Find the total amount of power needed in kW or kVA

Some devices will indicate the amount of power they require in amps. To calculate power requirements, you must convert amps to kW or kVA. Using this power calculator, you can perform the conversions.

As soon as you know the total amount of power you require, you can choose a generator that best suits your needs.


Safety Tips for Generators

Electrical generators can be dangerous if misused, which is why you should use caution when using them to power your home. Here are some generator safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for scheduled maintenance  
  • To allow for proper ventilation, maintain 3 to 4 feet of space around a generator on all sides.
  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, your portable generator must remain outside or at a designated location that is safe.
  • Don't refuel a hot generator near a heater or other hot object, and keep fuel containers away from it. Also, remember that putting mufflers on generators can cause temperatures to rise to dangerous levels and melt plastic, posing a fire hazard. Let it cool down first.
  • To ensure that your system runs correctly, you should test it immediately after it has been set up.
  • Make sure the cord used for connecting electrical equipment to a portable generator can handle more than the combined load of the connected appliances. Check to see that the cord is intact and free of tears and that the plug has three prongs and a grounding pin. Portable generators should never be connected to your home's electrical wiring or panel, as this could cause serious injury or electrocution.
  • It is never safe to connect a generator to a wall outlet, a practice known as "backfeeding." This practice is hazardous and results in electric shock.
  • Elevate a generator to keep it dry and away from flooding. Cords should be kept away from the ground and do not route them next to puddles or low-lying places.

Our Top Picks for Generators to Buy

Since an electric generator is a significant investment, it's prudent to research the kind of generator you should get. We can help you make the best generator selection for your home based on our recommendations for generators.




Get All Your Generator Needs From Tools Spezialist!

Natural disasters and power outages can result in a loss of electricity that can be very challenging. Luckily, we have generators to help. When it comes to generators, you need to look for a trusted supplier. At Tools Spezialist, we offer the best brands of generators for you to choose from. For more information, please visit our physical store or our online store

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