Portable generators and connections
We are an energy-addicted society that relies on a variety of electronic devices, which have become commonplace and essential for living in the 21st century. Modern societies depend on a variety of electrical appliances, not only in the home, but in the workplace, as well. When the power goes out for any reason, we lose the ability to refrigerate our food, warm and cool our homes and offices, watch television, listen to radios and use the elevator to get to our offices where we use phones, computers, copy machines and other electronic devices to make our workday more efficient and productive. We also lose the ability to recharge power to a variety of modern electrical handheld devices, without which many of us would be lost.
This year, the east coast of the United States experienced one of the worst winters in history, with freezing temperatures and non-stop snow accumulation, many areas have gone for days without power because of frozen and downed power lines. Portable generators help people get electricity flowing in their homes at times like these, leaving those without generators powerless and on the power company’s repair waiting list.
A portable generator is a great investment for those times when the power is interrupted from the main source, leaving you in a cold, dark, quiet room with nothing to do but wonder when the power will be back on again. You may also wish you had a portable generator during a natural disaster or at times when you want to have an outdoor party or tailgating event that requires the use of a big screen television or other electronic media.
There is a wide range of portable generators from which to choose with a variety of options and pricing and then it’s on to your generator connection. If you’re considering purchasing a portable generator, the first thing you should do is determine which devices your generator will power, keeping in mind that some electrical devices need more power than others. The peak power rating of the generator you purchase should be higher than your power needs. Experts suggest using a generator that produces 4,000 watts or more for household power failures, while a generator that produces around 1,000 watts would be sufficient for a tailgating event.
If you plan to use the generator to power your entire house, you will need the expertise of an electrician to install a power transfer switch into your home’s electrical system, without which hard-wired things like furnaces and air conditioners cannot operate during an outage.
You should also consider the size of the generator you will be using, which is relative to its weight, with units weighing between 29 and 215 pounds. Some lightweight units that produce higher wattages are more expensive and some units are so heavy that they require wheels to easily move them around.
Many newer generators include a rectifier, which is a device that converts electrical output into smooth “sine” waves, which is the kind of power used for sensitive electronics like laptops. You will pay more for a rectified generator, but won’t have to worry about frying your new laptop.
Most modern generators use a 4-stroke engine, which means you won’t have to mix oil into the fuel like you do when using a 2-stroke engine. Since they are less expensive to build and more cumbersome to fuel, 2-stroke generators are less expensive.
Since you won’t want to refuel your generator every few hours, another factor to consider when purchasing a portable generator is the type of fuel used and the running time, or fuel efficiency. Most generators run on gasoline, but some use propane and it is important to determine how many hours the generator will run per gallon of gasoline/propane. The State of California has imposed stricter fuel efficiency standards on generators and, therefore, not all generators are available for purchase by residents of that state.
Another important thing to consider is the noise the generator produces, which is measured in decibels. Seventy decibels is the sound level of many generators and is equivalent to the cabin noise on an airliner. Some generators can be very noisy, as you may know if you’ve ever camped next to someone who uses a generator all night.
Finally, to make using your portable generator easier and more efficient, you should select one that has an electric starter, a gas/oil gauge to indicate when to refuel and a low-oil-shutoff feature which automatically shuts down the generator when gas/oil runs low.
Why do you need a portable generator? Because the emergency backup power provided by a portable generator can restore your normal activities and make your life much easier during power outages and natural disasters, as well as enable you to enjoy using electronics in places where electrical plug-in outlets are not available, like tailgating parties and camping trips.