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Generator Shopping 101: Key Features Every Smart Buyer Should Consider

When it comes to purchasing a generator, the range of options can be overwhelming. Generators serve as a lifeline during power outages, supporting homes and businesses alike. Whether it’s for emergency backup, recreational use, or industrial purposes, choosing the right generator involves careful consideration of several key features. This blog will provide you with the knowledge to make an informed decision, ensuring that you select a generator that meets your needs efficiently and effectively. 

1. Type of Generator: Standby vs. Portable vs. Inverter

  • Standby Generators are installed permanently and automatically power on during an outage. Ideal for homes and businesses, standby generators require a significant upfront investment but offer convenience and reliability. 

  • Portable Generators are versatile and can be moved around as needed. They are a perfect option for temporary power needs, outdoor events, and construction sites. However, portable generators typically have lower power output and require manual setup. 

  • Inverter Generators provide cleaner power suitable for sensitive electronics. They are more fuel-efficient and quieter than traditional portable models, making them ideal for camping, RVs, and tailgating. 

2. Power Output and Capacity

The generator’s power output, measured in watts, determines what appliances and equipment it can support. Calculate the total wattage of everything you plan to run simultaneously to ensure you choose a generator that meets your power needs. Consider both starting (surge) watts and running (rated) watts in your calculation. 

3. Runtime and Fuel Efficiency

Consider how long the generator can run on a full tank of fuel at a specified load. Longer runtime means less frequent refueling, which is especially important during extended power outages. Fuel efficiency also affects operational costs and environmental impact.

4. Fuel Type: Gasoline, Diesel, Propane, or Dual-Fuel

  • Gasoline is readily available but may not be ideal for long-term storage due to shelf life issues. 
  • Diesel generators offer better fuel efficiency and are more durable but typically cost more upfront. 
  • Propane is clean-burning and stores indefinitely, making it a good choice for infrequent use. 
  • Dual-Fuel generators offer flexibility in fuel choice, allowing users to switch between gasoline and propane, depending on availability and cost. 

5. Noise Level

Noise is a significant consideration, especially in residential areas or when used for recreational purposes. Inverter generators are generally quieter than conventional models. Look for units with noise-reducing features and compare decibel (dB) levels to ensure your generator won’t be a nuisance.

6. Portability Features

If you’re opting for a portable generator, consider its mobility features. Look for models with sturdy wheels, handles, and a manageable weight to ensure easy transportation. Some larger models come with lifting eyes or are compatible with wheel kits and trailers for easier movement.

7. Safety Features and Certifications 

Safety should be a top priority. Look for generators with built-in safety features such as automatic low-oil shutdown, overload protection, and carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring. Certifications from recognized safety organizations, like UL, CSA, or ETL, indicate compliance with strict safety standards.

8. Ease of Use and Maintenance

Features like electric start, clear control panels, and accessible maintenance points can make a generator more user-friendly. Consider models with built-in maintenance reminders and easy access to filters and spark plugs for simpler upkeep. 

Contact Northside Power for All of Your Generator Needs

Choosing the right generator is just the first step. Proper installation, regular maintenance, and timely repairs are crucial for ensuring your generator’s reliability and longevity. Professional generator service providers play a vital role in this process. They offer expert advice on selecting the best generator for your needs, perform installations to meet safety standards, and provide ongoing maintenance and repair services. By partnering with professionals, you can maximize your investment and enjoy peace of mind knowing your generator is ready whenever you need it. Regardless of your generator needs, our team of professionals is committed to delivering outstanding service, no matter the weather conditions. Contact our office at (501) 315-7213 for a free quote or schedule your service today!