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What To Look For When Buying a Portable Generator

Updated on August 15, 2016
Portable Generator
Portable Generator

How to Choose the Right Portable Generator

From time to time, some people have found themselves needing an alternative power source. Wheather it is a cold, hard winter that has knocked out your power due to snow and ice conditions, or perhaps a strong spring thunderstorm has struck your area and left downed power lines. What ever the reason may be, you need an alternative source of power. A portable generator is a wonderful item to have as a backup power source. As with any other purchase, there are many sizes and types of portable generators and the choices can be quite confusing. I would like to make your decision making a little easier for you.

Here are a few things that you should look for when purchasing a portable generator.

  • The electricity created by a portable generator is measured in voltage and watts. When choosing a generator, first determine your specific voltage needs and then you can pick a generator model that supplies enough wattage for everything you want it to run. Your main uses will be heat, some lights, stove, refrigerator, television or radio and maybe a water pump.
  • Choose the type of fuel you will be using for your generator. Portable generators commonly run on gasoline. However, gasoline can't be stored for very long, so once it is no longer needed, be sure and drain the fuel tank. Propane is another option for fuel. It can remain in the tank without doing damage for extended periods of time and may be a good idea if you think you may need to use the generator several times throughout the year.
  • Portable generators should have large fuel tanks for the best running time. Depending on how long you feel you may need to use your generator, you don’t want to have to continually add fuel.
  • A fuel indicator gauge. I believe all models come with this gauge, but be sure it is easy for you to read. You want to be able to easily see how much fuel it has, as you don’t want it to run out of fuel in the middle of the night!
  • Be sure it has enough receptacles to allow you to plug in all the devices you want to run. Don’t try to run too many on a portable generator. Be sure it has the safety feature that it will “trip out” and shut itself off if it does become over loaded. Again, your main uses will probably be heat, some lights, stove, refrigerator, television or radio and maybe a water pump.
  • They should also have solid steel or aluminum enclosures. Be sure you choose a sturdy generator, you want it to last a long time and it should be sitting outside while in use. Portable generators produce fumes that can cause serious health problems or death if used indoors.
  • Good mufflers to reduce noise. If you are going to use it for more than a few days at a time, you may want to spend a little extra to get a generator with a better muffler. Trust me, if you don’t, the noise will get on your nerves before long!
  • Be sure it is fully compliant with all relevant emissions regulations.
  • Look at new generators that have a two-year parts and labor warranty. Make sure you know what the warranty covers: some only cover certain parts of the generator.

Always follow the directions for use supplied with your portable generator and I hope you have a safe and wonderful year!

Have you ever been out of power in the winter?

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    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hi Susie! We have power outages in the spring and winter. We get a lot of spring storms that down power lines and if we get much ice, the power lines go down again. Hubby bought a big generator/welder a few years ago. He welds with it in his shop and when the power goes out, we bring it to the house and use it.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      I was thinking about buying a portable generator for emergency use when there is a power outage. Last winter a logger dropped a tree on the power lines, and the community was without power for four hours, and it was -30 degrees out. I decided to buy batteries and a solar panel to charge them because it is a quiet way of producing energy without needing to buy gas. However, a generator is not out of the question, it would be great the have one on hand.

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hi Peg! Hubby has a small one for the track too, but we decided to get one that would run the house if necessary. It has come in handy several times. Thank you for stopping in and commenting, I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hello Rochelle! In Oklahoma, you never know what type of weather is going to hit, ice storms or tornadoes! My husband had a small generator for his race car, but is wasn't enough to run anything in the house. After the last ice storm, we decided it was time to get one big enough to run the house when needed. It has been a life saver! I'm glad you found my article helpful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, it is always appreciated! :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      These are really important factors to consider when looking for a generator. We have one small one that we use at the track that powers up the RV. We've been thinking about getting one for a back-up when the power goes off at the house.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      8 years ago from California Gold Country

      We've been thinking about getting one for a long time, but never quite know what features to consider-- this is very helpful.

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hi Peggy! We muddled through a few times too. Then one year we had a terrible ice-storm and ended up borrowing a generator from a friend. Thank God he had an extra, we were out of power for about a week. The next year we bought one. I'm glad you found my information useful. Needless to say, hubby helped me with some of the information on this. Thank you for the votes and share! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Sheila,

      So far we have muddled through without electricity on the rare occasions that something happens. We lucked out when the last hurricane came through here several years ago and had our electricity back in a day and a half whereas several of our friends went over a week without it. Naturally we shared our home, laundry facilities and meals with them. One of our friends has a gasoline powered generator and he had to keep adding gasoline at intervals to keep it running. I was unaware that there were propane powered ones. Voting this hub up and useful and will share. Thanks for the information!

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      9 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hello Guss. A good generator would be a must for a power washing service. I am glad you found my information useful. Thank you for stopping in and commenting. Good luck with your new venture!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have been in the market for a generator recently for a power washing service I'm looking into. Thank you for the information.

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      9 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Thank you alocsin. I am very glad you found this useful! Thank you for your comment and vote, it is always appreciated! :)

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      9 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for these guidelines. Have been considering getting one of these for quite some time. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      9 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hello cebutouristspot. Thank you for kind comment on my hub. I am glad you find it useful. Have a wonderful day! :)

    • sgbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheila Brown 

      9 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Thank you Brett. We had to get one when we had a terrible ice storm several years ago and the ice snapped power lines. We were lucky, we were only out of power for 4 days. Some were out of power for weeks and of course, all the generators were "bought up" and you couldn't find one. Thank you for commenting and sharing my hub! :)

    • cebutouristspot profile image


      9 years ago from Cebu

      This is a great information. For someone who live in a country that experience at least 1 power outage every 2 weeks the information you provided is gold :D Thanks for Sharing

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      9 years ago from Asia

      Good buying tips for something that many don't have, but that more households should have as a backup! Especially with this unpredictable weather.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • akune profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

      This took me back to when I used portable generators a lot in another part of the world. helpful hub. Voted up.


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