Uncle Bobs Tips: Generator Guide

Generator Buying Guide Condensed

Generator buying guide- 5 steps to finding the right standby, portable and electric generators for you.

Welcome to the concise shoppers generator buying guide. This is a quick overview of what to look out for when purchasing your electric generators. For a more in depth look at this topic, read this detailed buying guide.

First things first, what exactly do you need these electric generators for? Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you not to buy one. I'm just telling you to understand what you'll be using this puppy for before you enter the competitive market. While it's always nice to have the latest and greatest, it's even nicer to have money for the mortgage, rent, food, or an incessant electric bill. So before you go blowing your hard earn bucks on unnecessary features, think about what this generator is going to be used for and buy accordingly. A simple example of this economically sound advice is the full-pressure lubrication addition. This feature will run you a whole lot more than a standard model, and will give you a rated 3000 hours of work. For the occasional blackout, camping trip or tailgating party, this is just not necessary. On the other hand, a construction site would do well to welcome such an obvious benefit. So you have to weigh your needs and spend appropriately.

1. Wattage- The amount of wattages is the number one determining factor when buying a generator. Well, that and your wallet. You must properly balance the amount of watts you'll be using with the generator's load capacity or results will be catastrophic. The easiest way to do this is to look at the individual appliances for smaller generators, and add them all up. Add a bit more to the total amount to allow for surge charge. Calculate which items need to be run at all times versus items that can be rotated. Alternatively, or for larger appliance or items that are not easily gauged, you can look at your circuit box to determine how much power you use on a regular basis.

2. While we're on the subject of wattages, we may as well mention fuel types as well. The type of fuel you use will alter the amount of wattage you produce, and therefore the amount you'll need to be looking for from the offset. A 10.5 kW generator will only give you about 9.5 on propane and a mere 8.5 on NG. As such, you have to take this decrease into consideration when you're making your wattage tally.

3. Carb emissions- This is an issue for California residents, as they have the highest level of restriction from all the states. Many generator models are being made that pass emission levels regulations, but there are still plenty that don't, so watch out for them.

4. Sound levels- The average conversation is held at 50-60 decibels (depending on the situation and area). Latest model generators are running from 50-70 dBA for good ones and upwards for the rest. Honda and Yamaha make particularly quiet models, so start there if this is an issue for you. Also be sure to check with the campsites (if applicable) as many have a maximum decibel level that they allow.

5. Lubrication w/ a spin on oil filter- This is not just a technical aspect, but an important point to look out for. Why? Because it prolongs the engine life to two or three times its competitors' and cuts down on maintenance, as well. That's why.

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