Choosing a Portable Generator
Power for home, work, or play, a portable generator keeps you in control by providing power for use during power outages, on the jobsite, at the campgrounds or anywhere you need power.
Determine the Size You Need
Selecting the right size generator (running watts and starting watts) depends on what you want to power. Running, or rated watts, are the continuous watts needed to keep items running. Starting watts are extra watts needed for two-to-three seconds to start motor-driven products like a refrigerator or circular saw - this is the maximum wattage the generator can produce.
To determine your wattage requirements:
- Select the items you wish to power at the same time.
- List the running watts and additional starting watt requirements for each item (check your owner's manual for each product or the data plate to locate these wattage requirements).
- Add the RUNNING WATTS of all the items you wish to power. You'll need a generator that produces at least this many RUNNING WATTS.
- Select the ONE ITEM with the highest number of additional starting watts. Take this ONE NUMBER, add it to your TOTAL RUNNING WATTS. You'll need a generator that produces at least this many STARTING WATTS.
Look for a generator with a long run-time at half-load. The longer the generator can run, the less often you will have to refuel it. A generator with a run-time of at least 10 hours at half-load will allow you to get a full night's sleep without having to get up to refuel.
Make sure you select a generator with enough outlets and the right type(s) of outlets. If you plan to run a higher wattage item, like a window air conditioner, look for a generator with a 30amp locking-type outlet.
Portable generators can be heavy. Folding handles and wheels makes it easy to move the generator in and out of storage.
Some generators come with a heavy-duty generator cord set. This cord set (a $90 value) gives you four standard household outlets on the end of one cord, eliminating the need to manage multiple extension cords.