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How does a portable generator work?

When conventional electrical power is down, during a power outage, or not available at a job site or campsite, a portable generator provides power where and when you need it. Remember, the best time to buy a portable generator is before you need it. 

Portable Generators 101.  Here’s how they work:

Portable generators provide electricity by running a gas-powered engine. That turns an on-board alternator to generate electrical power. Power outlets on the unit allow you to plug extension cords, electric-powered tools and appliances into it. In general, the more powerful the generator, the more outlet combinations are available.

A typical portable generator contains the following primary components assembled together onto a metal frame in a single unit:

  1. Internal combustion engine
  2. Alternator
  3. Starter
  4. Fuel tank
  5. Outlets

Unlike standby generator systems, portable generators are not permanently installed, can be easily moved from place to place and must be manually started. Portable generators are rated by the amount of power they produce called watts. 

There are two kind of watts:

Running Watts – The continuous watts produced to keep items running.
Starting Watts – The extra power needed to start large motor-driven appliances or multiple items.
Typically, the more watts – the more items you can power up.

The power behind your portable generator – engines matter

The engine that powers your portable generator plays a pivotal role in product performance, reliability and user experience. You can rest assured that your engine is:

  • Easy to start
  • Powerful
  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • Rated to meet or exceed environmental standards
  • Backed by experienced service engine dealers worldwide

Portable Generator Selection Tool

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