A Guide to Portable Generators

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Whether you live in an area susceptible to storms, work on a construction site or need power for medical equipment, having a portable generator available can save the day. These generators are the most affordable way to get backup electricity when you need it, and certain large models produce enough energy to meet your entire home’s electrical demands. They can also be connected to your breaker panel with a transfer switch to run hardwired equipment.

How do I calculate what size portable generator I need?

To determine which guide to portable generators is right for your needs, start by listing the items you wish to power and their running wattage requirements. Then, add up the additional starting watts (check your product’s operator manual or data plate to locate these numbers) and compare them to the generator’s total rated running watts.

Then consider the generator’s tank size, as well as how long it can run at half load before you need to refuel. A longer run time can mean less downtime, while a larger tank can let you power multiple devices at once for extended periods.

Keep in mind that generators produce carbon monoxide, which can poison people and pets if it builds up to dangerous levels. Look for a generator with a built-in carbon monoxide detector that shuts down the engine if CO levels reach dangerously high levels. Many manufacturers now include this in their products, while others offer separate CO detectors you can plug into your generator. It’s also a good idea to place your generator outdoors, at least 10 feet away from houses, cars and other structures, and follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to properly vent the generator’s exhaust.

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