Generators are a common sight in industrial and commercial locations, whether as a source of backup power for emergency lighting or a fundamental power source for work on building sites.
These generators are typically huge, hulking things that provide large amounts of power for industrial equipment.
However, there are smaller, portable generators available for small-scale and domestic use.
You may have seen them in the wild, or come across them while shopping in tool shops or outdoor equipment shops. But why would you need one for your home?
This is perhaps the single most useful application for a portable generator in a domestic setting.
There are a number of emergencies that can pose a risk to your power supply at home – and a number of reasons for which you may need emergency access to power.
Unpredictable weather patterns are on the rise as a result of man-made climate change.
These weather patterns pose a direct risk to the integrity of power systems across the country, and could lead to unplanned power outages.
There is also the prospect of planned outages in the winter, as a result of supply shortages.
Either way, these outages can have serious consequences on life at home. If your fridge is without power for too long, you may find your food spoiling – resulting in significant grocery costs.
You may also be working from home, with power cuts posing a risk to your productivity and job security.
As such, generators are a shrewd safety measure to ensure you have access to power even during an outage. You can keep your devices charged and your food cold with no problems!
Generators are not just useful as an emergency alternative for access to power, though.
They can also be useful in the delivery of power to remote or difficult-to-reach areas – something which can come in particularly handy for domestic DIY work.
If you are working on outdoor landscaping or construction, some way away from your home, you may be used to daisy-chaining extension leads to deliver electricity to where you’re working.
Doing so can be dangerous, though, especially if your equipment is drawing more current that the rated amperage of the socket you’re using.
A generator allows you to deliver electricity to power-hungry tools and equipment without trailing cables across your garden.
This reduces trip hazards for the rest of your household, and makes the carrying-out of garden work much simpler a process.
Generators can also be useful for indoors work, where your domestic power supply needs to be switched off for safety.
Camping and Caravanning
Lastly, generators can be hugely useful for leisure activities – particularly camping or caravanning.
With a generator, you can provide power to a caravan or motorhome without an electrical hook-up, enabling you to camp anywhere without compromising on access to electricity.
What about Generator Maintenance?
If you own a portable generator, you want it to be ready and running whenever you need it. So it goes without saying that you should perform regular maintenance tasks on it.
What are these?
First, be sure to keep all the fluids full, including gas and oil. Your model’s owner’s manual will list anything components that may need lubrication.
Next, you should have extra filters ready. You don’t want to find out in the middle of a power outage that you are low on oil or need to change a filter for your machine to run properly.
Finally, be sure that you run your generator periodically. A suggested time-frame is every few months, as this helps keep the battery charged and prevents it from dying.
What Size Generator Should You Get?
It all comes down to your needs, and the demands your home and purposes require.
Generator size is measured in watts in output.
Of course, the physical size of the generator can also play a factor in your purchasing and owning decisions, especially when portability and storage are main concerns.
Fortunately, there is a broad range of generators to fit your needs. Gone are the days of just one or two models to choose from.
Here are some simple guidelines for sizing:
1200 watts is decent for lighting and charging, while often still being portable.
Stepping up to 3500 watts allows for more lighting but also can power basic appliances such as pumps and refrigeration.
Larger (and much less portable) home generators can usually handle demands between 5000 to 7500 watts.
This will allow for multiple appliances, lighting and small electronic devices to be powered simultaneously.
The higher the power, the more electricity you’ll have available to your home.
Just consider the size of your home, the number of occupants and what electronic parts of your house you are unable or unwilling to live without such as during a power outage.
What about Larger Generators?
If you want to power your home appliances, lighting, TVs and air conditioning, you should consider a whole house generator.
These generators will allow you to run lots of equipment in your home without worry.
This is important to note, especially for those that live in a more rural area where outages may last longer or take more time to address and repair.
If you live in an apartment and only want to power a handful of devices and appliances for a few hours, a portable generator should suffice for all your needs.
Additionally, as mentioned above, a smaller generator is helpful to have for DIY projects, road trips, camping expeditions.