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What do I need to know before buying a generator?

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What do I need to know before buying a generator?

There may be various reasons you’re considering buying a generator. You may suffer from a regular power outage issue at home and want backup power to run items such as kitchen appliances.

You may run a business and need backup power to ensure you can continue to run your business in the event of a power cut.

You might be looking for solutions for generating power outside to run items such as power tools. You might simply want one for leisure use to power devices and electronics when you’re doing activities such as camping.

Whatever the reason, the generator buying process can feel like a daunting process. There are so many makes and models, and what you need it for will determine the type of generator you need.

Before you begin shopping for a generator, you need to consider the following:

  • What are the power requirements of your generator? Is it just for basic appliances, equipment, tools, or are you looking to power an entire house or commercial building?
  • What are your wattage needs going to be? How much do you want to operate and run off your generator?
  • Do you want a generator that is permanently fixed in place or one that is portable?
  • What sort of run time do you need on the generator? This can determine factors such as fuel tank size.
  • Are you conscious of buying a generator that produces fewer emissions and has good fuel economy?

Throughout this article we’ll share advice on how to make sure you buy the right generator for your needs.

Choosing the right generator for your needs. In this article we look at buying a generator and what you need to consider before you invest in a new generator.

Why can’t I just buy any generator?

They type of generator you need depends greatly on how much power you need. If you buy any generator without consideration you could face problems.

Generators are designed and built to generate a certain amount of power for varying power needs. If you are looking to occasionally power appliances for short periods of time at your home, diesel generators built to run for long durations that tend to create a lot of noise and produce large amounts of carbon monoxide are not going to be suitable.

The same can be said for smaller generators being used to power a large electrical system, you will overload the generator and it will fail to work.

Generators need to be chosen to suit the use and environment they are intended to be used in. Getting the wrong generator can be a safety hazard and a costly mistake.

Teksan Diesel TJ20BD standby generator

What type of generator is best for home use?

Choosing the right generator for your home depends if you’re looking to power a few home appliances or whether you want to power your entire house.

If you want to be able to provide power to your whole house in the event of a power cut, and especially if these are regular occurrences, you’ll want to consider a standby generator.

Standby generators are also know as stationary generators as they are fixed in place. Standby generators often work by an automatic transfer switch that automatically switches to use the standby generator in the event the mains power goes out.

With a standby generator you’ll need to get a professional installation. Standby generators need to be fixed in place and often connect to a fuel source such a natural gas. Most diesel generators have their own in-built fuel tank.

As mentioned above they also need to be connected to the house electrical system using an automatic transfer switch or manual transfer switch.

Standby generators offer peace of mind to home owners

Especially if power outages are common. Knowing the generator will switch on when needed and produce power outputs large enough to run your home can be reassuring.

Portable generators are also a suitable option for your home, again checking the power and wattage needs before you buy. It is also possible to run two portable generators together so their combined wattage can meet your needs. A transfer switch can also be used with a portable generator to so you can easily switch to generated power if needed.

Consider suitable placement and storage

If you do consider a portable generator, you need to consider suitable storage and placement. All generators produce harmful carbon monoxide, a standby generator will be installed with the exhaust pushing fumes away from the property. With a portable generator you’ll need to ensure you place it at least 20 feet from your home and any windows near by are closed. If you are using any type of generator near your home you should get CO2 detectors fitted.

If energy efficiency is high on your list, you may want to consider an inverter generator. Inverter generators are portable generators that power the engine up or down to meet the power demands rather than running at full power the whole time.

With an inverter generator you won’t have to fill the fuel tank as often as it will run more efficiently, it will also produce fewer emissions and less noise. The disadvantage on inverter generators is how much power they produce, they are not as powerful as other portable generators. It will also cost you more than a conventional portable generator.

What type of generator is best for commercial use?

If you want to make sure your business has backup power in case of an unexpected power outage and you’re running important equipment or sensitive electronics such as computers and servers, you may want to consider getting an industrial standby generator installed which runs off an automatic transfer switch, meaning there is no downtime should the utility power to the building fail.

If there is a problem to the utility power or power lines are effected by a storm, the transfer switch will turn the generator on automatically.

Warrior LDG12S diesel generator

Large commercial use

If you need a generator to run tools and equipment such as air compressors on a construction site where utility power may not be present, you’ll probably want to look at diesel generators.

Petrol generators are also an option and petrol is the cheaper fuel type in the UK, but diesel generators actually use less fuel to produce the same power output, so diesel tends to be the preferred fuel type over a petrol generator.

An LPG generator could also be an option, especially if you want a fuel source that produces less pollutants than diesel. These generators can require more maintenance though, and generally have a shorter life expectancy than alternative generators.

Large portable generators can produce a lot of noise. If this is a problem for you depending on where your generator is situated, you can buy large mufflers for the generator’s exhaust to help the generator run quieter.

What should be considered before installing the generator?

By now you should have a better idea of the type of generator set up you need. Here’s a simple checklist of things to consider before you buy a generator.

Location

Whether you’re at home or at commercial premises, you’ll need to find out the local building codes to determine where your generator can be placed. Generators can’t just be placed anywhere, you need to ensure it doesn’t violate local building codes, it’s a safe distance to avoid issues from fumes, and it’s protected from the environment.

Weight

If you need to move the generator regularly you need to think about its weight. If the generator being portable is essential for you, you can buy a wheel kit and wheeled frames to help you transport your generator around to where it’s needed. You’ll need to check you get the right kit for the weight of your generator.

Size

Generators come in all different shapes and sizes. Considering where your generator will be placed and the space required around it will help you decide on what size you need.

Price

Generators vary greatly in price depending on type, brand, and size. It’s worth remembering that the outlay of the generator may be more, but depending on the fuel type and its efficiency, it may be cheaper to run in the long-term. It’s a case of comparing the initial cost to running costs.

Power output

The point is to have enough power and produce enough wattage to run what you need the generator for. Before you buy work out the wattage you require.

Are you aware of the conditions a generator needs?

Generators need to be looked after if they are to have a long and efficient life span. Keeping generators out of the elements and under cover will greatly help, as well as keeping it away from dusty areas where debris could contaminate the system.

Generators also need to be placed away from buildings and public areas or they could cause a hazard to health. Standby generators usually have an exterior housing and exhaust system that keeps it clean, dry, and sending toxic fumes away from the property. With a portable generator you need to make sure you can store and use it safely.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things to consider before you buy a generator, but getting the right one will ensure you have power when you need it most.

If you would like help finding the best generator for your needs, contact the team at Solent Power, we’d be happy to help.

Paul Phelps Solar Power Owner
Paul Phelps
Paul is the MD of Solent Power and specialises in emergency power solutions, helping to protect your facilities from power loss. Get in touch with us today to discuss the different power brands that we can offer and how they can suit your needs.
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