Guide To Buying A Generator

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If you've ever lost power in your home, then you know how inconvenient it can be. Whether it's due to a major storm or a downed power line in your area, you never know if the power will be down for minutes, hours or even days. And not only can that be inconvenient, but it can also be dangerous. That's where generators come in. Having a generator on hand to power your home (or anything else) can be a game-changer.

Safety concerns

But the first step is choosing the right generator for you. It's important to do your research and understand exactly what you need. It's also important to understand some of the safety concerns that come with generators, such as the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. In this guide, we are diving into how generators work, the different types of generators, how to maintain your generator and a few considerations to help you choose the right generator for your home.

  • A generator is an appliance that can supply electricity for your home, your business or when you're on the go. Despite what the name implies, generators don't actually create electricity.
  • Instead, they take another form of energy and convert it into electricity. Generators can be used to provide backup power to your home or business when there's an outage due to inclement weather, downed power lines or any other hazards.
  • They can also be used to provide power on the go, such as when you're camping or traveling in an RV. Before choosing a generator, it's important to understand the safety considerations involved.
  • Like anything that produces exhaust, generators can result in carbon monoxide poisoning if you aren't careful. To learn more about the safety considerations of generators, we spoke to Christopher Haas, a licensed master electrician and owner of Haas & Sons Electric.
  • "Never run the generator in enclosed spaces, as they produce exhaust no different than your car or power tools and, that's not good for anyone due to CO poisoning," Haas said.
  • "Even so, we recommend a portable CO detector to be certain exhaust doesn't find its way to your living quarters. These can be purchased easily online for infrequent use, but I recommend installing CO detectors in your home anyways, so place a wall unit near your garage year-round."

Maintaining your generator

Underwriters Laboratories also provides a comprehensive overview of the potential safety hazards associated with portable generators. The UL guide includes specific certification (UL 2201) to look for to ensure your model meets the requirements for carbon monoxide mitigation, though you still need to take the precautions spelled out above. "UL 2201 has requirements that limit the active CO emissions coming from the portable generator.

It also has a shutoff requirement for additional protection if the product is sensing a high output of CO," according to UL.

  1. Now playing:Watch this: Be smart and save money warming your home this winter . When it comes to choosing a generator, you'll first have to narrow down the type of generator you want.
  2. The primary types are portable generators, inverter generators and standby generators. A portable generator, as the name suggests, is one that's easily portable. These generators often have wheels, making them easy to move around to deliver electricity anywhere.
  3. Even smaller models may be handheld rather than on wheels, making them even more mobile. Portable generators usually run on gasoline and tend to be more affordable than standby generators. An inverter generator is similar to a portable generator in that it's smaller and easier to transport.
  4. But inverter generators tend to be even lighter than a standard portable generator. They are also quieter, which can make them suitable for a wider range of activities, including camping and other activities. Inverter generators and standard portable generators differ in the type of electricity they produce, the amount of power they can generate, their portability, their noise level and their price.

Inverter generators tend to be more expensive and produce less power, but are more portable, quieter and produce fewer emissions.

A standby generator is a more permanent solution than a portable generator. It's larger and considerably more expensive. Rather than being easily transported, it's permanently installed at your home or business.

When your power goes out, the standby generator automatically turns on to continue providing power.

Rather than gasoline, standby generators are often fueled by propane, and can also be powered by natural gas.

According to Haas, the licensed electrician we spoke with, standby generators eliminate many of the safety concerns associated with portable generators.

And while they're most expensive, it could be an option if safety is your top priority.

How much do generators cost?

The cost of a generator can span from hundreds to thousands of dollars, with standby generators being the most expensive of all.

For a standby generator, you can expect to pay at least $2,000 for your unit, and possibly more than $10,000. In the case of portable generators, you could pay anywhere from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Generator considerations

The good news is that they are easily purchased -- you can find them at just about any home improvement store, including Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hardware and more. There's a lot to consider when buying a generator.

Below, we'll talk about some of the most important considerations that can help you make your decision. One of the most important considerations when choosing a generator is the amount of power you need. You can likely answer this question by considering what you'll be using the generator for. Portable generators produce less power and may be suitable for powering a few small things.

On the other hand, a standby generator could power your entire home. "When weighing the options for a generator, you need to consider and tally what appliances you consider mandatory for the continuation of services." "A refrigerator needs about 600 watts, your sump pump (helpful for flood-prone regions) needs about 1,300 to 2,150 watts to start and about 800 to 1,000 watts to run. For those in winter regions, a portable heater may need up to 1,500 watts.

Small devices like our phones charging only require 10 watts, so they're not a concern compared to the big appliances that you'll have to factor in and gauge what's right for your needs."

It's not just about how much power you need your generator to produce, but also what you'll be using it for.

Choosing a generator to power your home in an outage is very different from choosing one to take on a camping trip.

As we mentioned, standby generators are installed permanently at your home and provide backup electricity during an outage.

The bottom line

A portable generator, on the other hand, can be taken with you on the go. For even more portability, you might choose an inverter generator that is lighter and makes less noise. There are generally three different ways you can fuel your generator. The choices available to you will depend on the type of generator you choose and the specific model. First, gasoline is most often used to fuel portable generators. Propane can be used to fuel both standby generators and portable generators. Finally, natural gas can be used to fuel standby generators, but isn't available for portable generators.

What is a home generator?

The generator you choose will also ultimately depend on your budget. Remember that standby generators are more expensive, while portable generators are generally more affordable. There are many features you can find with a generator. Before choosing the right model for you, consider which features are most important to you and which you can live without.

Types of generators

Here are a few features to look out for in generators:. Automatic CO shutoff: This safety feature automatically shuts off your generator if it detects a dangerous level of gas building up. This feature is important to ensuring your and your family's safety. Electric start: Rather than requiring you to pull-start the engine, an electric start simply requires that you push a button to start your generator.

Automatic start: If your generator is intended to power your home in a power outage, you may want an automatic start. It will automatically turn on your generator if your home's power goes off. Fuel gauge: When your generator has a fuel gauge, you can easily glance at it to see how much gasoline or propane is left so you know when it's time to refuel.

Multiple outlets: Having multiple outlets on your portable generator allows you to plug in multiple items or appliances and spread the wattage use out.

Inverter generator

Low-oil shutoff: This feature protects your generator from damage by automatically turning it off if the oil dips below a certain level. No matter what generator you choose, it's important that you regularly maintain.

Standby generator

Not only will regular maintenance ensure that it runs its best when you need it, but it will also be necessary to use your generator safely. "You have to service these generators annually so if you need them in an emergency you can rely on them in an emergency," Haas said.

Common uses

First, it's important that you check and change the oil in your generator. It's recommended that you check the oil before using it and change the oil every 100 hours or so (though it should be earlier for a new generator). While you're checking the oil, also take the time to check the filters and the spark plug to ensure they're in good shape.

Budget

Next, avoid letting your generator sit for too long of periods without being used. Running your generator helps to burn off moisture and recharge the battery. And when you aren't planning to use it for more than a few weeks, it should be run dry so it's not sitting with fuel in the lines.

Other features

Finally, be sure to store your generator properly in a way that it's protected. "You shouldn't store your generator outdoors, but if you had to, please don't operate it with any sort of green debris on it," Haas said.

  • "Dead leaves, pine needles, and more can find their way into the unit and when it fires up they can lead to fires."
  • There's a lot to consider when choosing the right generator. But when you take into consideration all of the information above, you'll have an easier time narrowing down the right generator type and model for you.

Here are a few articles to help you learn more:.

Power requirements

Inverter generators have standard 3-pin plugs. Please do not use an inverter generator in the rain (SGS or Hyundai).

Portable generator

There’s nothing more frustrating than a long power outage - waiting around in the dark, completely reliant on the National Grid. This is when domestic standby generators come in handy, providing power so you can use your household lighting and appliances. Being completely independent of the grid with a generator means you’re always prepared for a power-cut.

The simplest way of providing back up power to your home is to install two products; a standby generator and a transfer switch. There are two main types of transfer switches which we’ve explained below:

Manual Power Transfer – A manual transfer switch (MTS) allows you to switch between utility power and backup power at the touch of a button. They’re simple to use and relatively easy to install – the only drawback is that you might have to find the switch in the dark if you have a power cut at night!

Automatic Power Transfer – With an automatic transfer switch (ATS), the process is even simpler; the ATS senses when the power goes down and automatically starts the domestic standby generator. Within a few seconds, your home has power again and you can continue your day as normal. When the primary power for the home is restored, the ATS will switch back to utility power and shut down the generator. It will be left in a standby state until needed again.

As well as providing you with convenience and security, standby generators for home use can reduce your home insurance rate and even boost the value of your house.

Beware: installing a standby generator and/ or a transfer switch should only ever be carried out by a competent electrician.

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Here at SGS, we understand that everyone has their own unique requirements, which is why we stock a range of specialist generators. As well as our comprehensive range of petrol, diesel and inverter generators, we have LPG, welder, rail approved, welfare and export generators to suit more specialist needs.

Fuel source

On average, LPG is 30-50% cheaper to run, and as the price of petrol and diesel steadily increases, an LPG generator becomes an ever more attractive solution. If you’ve got LPG gas canisters readily available, the LPG range can be a great mobile power solution.

Industrial Generators

These specifically designed diesel generators are great for powering accommodation or welfare units. They’re all made in the UK and powered by super-silent Yanmar and Kubota engines. So, those looking for the best cheap silent generators need to look no further. Their simple to use, single phase, low vibration units deliver straight to site.

Welder Generators

Stephill offer a small range of generators specifically designed for welders. They’re rugged, purpose-built generators made in the UK and are perfect for commercial use on site. We also offer a range of compatible welding leads in AC and DC varieties.

Rail Approved Generators

Here at SGS, we’re one of the few suppliers of Network Rail approved generators in the UK. Designed to be robust, dynamic and incredibly safe to work with, these specialist generators are perfect for commercial use on and around the railway.

How to buy a generator

Wondering how to buy a generator? It couldn’t be easier with us. Headto our range of generatorsto explore the models we have available, including portable models, LPG fuelledoptions, light generators for the home and much more. If you have anyquestions, our in house experts are always on hand for buying advice and toprovide bespoke care, regardless of the application.

Still need help?

Our in house experts are always on hand for buying advice and to provide bespoke care, regardless of the application.

Call SGS on 01332 576 850 or fill out our contact form today.