Benefits Of Portable Generators
Last Updated on June 1, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Going on camping deep into the woods, and you need a source of electricity? Well, you might want to read through this guide as we’ll tell you what a portable generator is, and its benefits.
What Is A Portable Generator?
A portable generator provides a consistent power source for a variety of situations, whether keeping the lights on during a blackout or delivering electricity to a job site, campsite, or sporting event. They produce electricity using a gas engine that turns an on-board alternator to generate power and is easily movable, making portable generators more versatile than permanently installed standby generator systems. Portable generator units must be manually started, either by electrical switch or by pulling a recoil rope.
Equipped with a series of outlets, you can use a portable generator to power everything from extension cords to power tools to appliances. More powerful models generally feature more outlet combinations.
Depending on power requirements and how often you plan to use your unit, accessories such as generator covers, cords, cables, and adaptors can provide ways to expand the use of your generator, as well as protect your investment.
For example, a manual transfer switch—combined with an exterior outlet receptacle (known as an inlet box) and a heavy-duty cable—can be used to connect your generator to select circuit breakers to provide safe and dependable home power backup.
Parts of a Portable Generator
Much like an electrical plant, only in miniature, a portable generator works by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Many models use gas as a cheap and convenient way to get this process started, but you can also find diesel or propane units.
5 primary components of a portable generator:
- Internal combustion engine: The workhorse of the generator. Fuel is injected into this chamber, where a spark is created, converting the fuel into mechanical energy.
- Alternator: This is where the ‘magic happens. The alternator uses two parts to convert the mechanical energy into electricity. A rotating component – often called the rotator – creates a magnetic field around a group of wound coils, which generates an excess of electrons.
- Starter: Simply put, the starter starts your generator. Sometimes the starter is powered by a DC battery, and other times, it is a pull cord mechanism.
- Fuel tank: Typically, portable generators are fueled using gas, diesel, or propane. This makes them accessible to initially fuel, but keep in mind, these fuel sources don’t last forever, and much like a lawnmower that doesn’t turn on if it’s been sitting in the garage for too long, running your generator a couple of times a year will go a long way in ensuring your fuel is still ready when you need it.
- Outlets: The number and configuration of outlets are dependent on the make and model of your portable generator. Often, the more expensive your generator is, the more combinations of outlet types you’ll have.
Benefits Of Portable Generators
- Emergency Power
If your business provides an essential service, you can’t afford to be without power at all times, especially in times of natural disasters. Portable generators are great for providing power to first-responders and other medical front-line staff, so they can provide patients with quality care using state-of-the-art equipment. Inside hospitals and clinics, portable generators can save lives.
Even if your business isn’t an essential service, you likely can’t afford to lose time or money in a sudden power outage. A portable generator is the perfect piece of equipment to keep the lights on and machinery running.
At home, a big worry during a power outage is food waste since the fridge and stove are out of commission. Aside from being unable to cook the food that exists, there’s a risk of perishable food rotting and going to waste, especially if the power outage is prolonged. A portable generator helps prevent waste by keeping essential household appliances working, saving you money in the long run.
- Power for Appliances
In this technological age, we rely on computers and tablets to do a lot of our work, and even if we don’t, these electronics are staples in our everyday routine. An electrical blackout can be short, or it can last for days, forcing those in your household to find ways to entertain themselves. With a portable generator, you can easily power computers, lights, and even television sets, allowing you to ride out any power outage in comfort.
Similarly, if you live in areas that are prone to storms that can knock out the power, a portable generator is a wise investment. With a generator present for emergencies, you don’t need to go to a hotel to ride out the storm. Instead, you can stay in the comfort of your own home and even ensure that appliances essential to your household — whether it’s the sump pump or the garage door, or the oven — will continue to work.
- Power for Tools
It may seem like the main reason to have a portable generator is to have power during emergencies, but the benefits of having a portable generator extend to non-emergencies, as well. Contractors working on a site need to use electrical tools, and a portable power generator is a best and most convenient solution. The portable part of the generator comes in handy in this case because it allows the generator to move over multiple sites with relative ease.
Plus, construction work during nighttime becomes much easier, thanks to the portable generator, which can easily power adequate lighting for the job in addition to providing power for tools.
- Recreational Uses
The ease of use of portable generators makes them an ideal addition to any outdoor activity. A family camping trip can make use of a portable generator to power a mini-fridge to keep meat and fish fresh or provide some light at nighttime. If you have a recreational vehicle, a portable generator is an excellent investment because it can allow you the comforts of home wherever you are.
Additionally, since we do live in a technology-obsessed world, it can be out of the question to go camping or on a long road trip with no access to work emails or without communication with colleagues, and a portable generator takes the worry out of extended trips since it can easily power computers and tablets as needed. Or, if you and your family just feel like having a night watching a movie in your tent, a portable generator is more than capable of making that happen.
But, it’s not just camping trips that are great uses for a portable generator. Any outdoor event can be improved with the comfort and convenience that portable generators provide. Upgrade a regular backyard barbecue to the event of the season with string lights, a screen projector, or a bouncy house added to the mix. Or take your party to the beach or a park and bring along any electric necessities to enjoy the day in comfort.
Similarly, have that dream outdoor wedding by using a portable generator to power a fog machine, a stereo, and unique lighting. Or bring a portable generator to power a scoreboard for a sporting event. It can even help provide light for night games.
Or enjoy a tailgate party using a portable generator to get live updates on the game on television sets, or use it to power accessories like an electric blanket or a portable stovetop to easily whip up some snacks.
- Damage Prevention
A power outage or another electrical mishap when you’re away from home can be costly. The great thing about generators is that they can be programmed to come on as soon as the power goes out, allowing for nearly seamless electricity. While this is very convenient when you’re stuck at home, it’s a lifesaver when you’re out of town and unable to check up on your home.
Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping your kitchen appliances running, so you don’t return home to a fridge full of rotten food, a portable generator can also power your sump pump, preventing you from coming home to a flooded home.
Or, it can keep your HVAC system going, so the indoor air quality of your home doesn’t deteriorate while you’re away. Keeping the HVAC system running has the added benefit of keeping your home clear of mold and mildew, especially if you live in a humid area.
What Size Portable Generator Do I Need?
There are several sizes of portable generators available, and figuring out which size is best suited for your needs can be tricky. If you’re buying a portable generator to be prepared for power outages or other emergencies, you may need a different size generator than if you plan only to use the generator for using power tools while working on a job site.
The key is to figure out what you plan to use your portable generator for. Generators are measured by wattage, so if you’re unfamiliar with sizing in watts, it’s a good idea to seek the professional expertise of a generator salesperson. They’ll ask you what you plan to power with your generator and calculate the wattage needed to make that happen. Then, they’ll recommend the best portable generator for your specific needs.
If you’re the sort who prefers to do some research ahead of time, you can use the portable generator sizing calculator provided by Cat® and get an accurate idea of what sort of wattage is needed. The free calculator asks you to check all the appliances and accessories you want to be powered by the generator and then suggests the size of the generator best suited for your needs.
Larger generators offer the most freedom when it comes to what can be powered. With small or medium-sized generators, you may have to economize, picking and choosing to power only the essentials, but that’s less likely to be an issue with larger generators.
However, though the size of a generator tends to refer to its wattage, its physical size and weight also change with the wattage. Smaller portable generators are likely to easier to transport than medium-sized or large ones.
Portable generators are flexible and easy to transfer as needed. You don’t need to buy three different portable generators for three different uses. Instead, one portable generator can be used to power your home during emergencies, power your business during a blackout, or make your beach party a little extra special and memorable.