Generator Buyer’s Guide

The process of selecting the right power generator is quite simple. The first step involves understanding various generator options. There are four basic styles of electric generators: portable generators, standby generators, power take off (PTO) generators and recreational vehicle (RV) generators. These types of generators can be powered by propane, natural gas, gasoline, or diesel fuel.


Picking the Perfect Electrical Generator

Portable Generators


Portable Generators










Portable generators are a versatile type of electric generators, which are movable from place to place. These generators are designed to provide power in remote areas where utility power is unavailable.

They are used for a variety of purposes, including providing backup power for households, businesses, recreational activities, as well as providing electricity for work site contractors.

Portable electric generators are available in four basic styles: recreational, emergency, semi-professional and professional.

Recreational generators, also known as camping generators, are typically small units that run on gas or diesel. These generators are inexpensive to buy and readily available. They are extremely easy to put into position, either by wheeling or carrying by hand. They are also small enough to store with ease in the trunk, garage, or basement.

Emergency generators are smaller, wheeled units which are also great for tailgating and camping. These generators may also be used to power a few appliances during a power outage. They come with large and more powerful engines compared to recreational generators, and can run for hours without interruption.

Semi-professional generators are powerful, heavy-duty generators capable of restoring full power to a home and power all types of appliances. These engines feature high-quality engines that are fitted with durable components, making them ideal for providing electrical supply for work site contractors.

Professional-grade generators are serious-duty generators produced in limited quantities to meet the specific needs of professionals. These generators are typically fitted with commercial-quality components, including lifting eyes, hour meters and GFCI outlets, to operate full-time shifts daily.


Standby Generators

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A standby generator is a large, stationary generator designed to deliver an ongoing flow of electrical supply to a home or business in the event that the main utility power is disrupted. This type of generator has become essential to business operation, as they help ensure that essential tasks remain uninterrupted even during power disruption.

Standby generators are often connected directly into the building’s electrical supply via an automatic transfer switch, which automatically starts the device when power is disrupted. These “mini power plants” are powered by propane or natural gas. Their engines can be air-cooled or liquid-cooled.

Standby generators come in three styles: home standby, whole house and commercial standby generators.

Home standby generators produce 8-20 kilowatts of power, enough to run a number of appliances but not the entire house.

A whole house standby generator can produce over 25 kilowatts to power an entire home and all appliances therein.

Commercial standby generators are designed to power factories, industrial parks, manufacturing centers and other commercial entities that require huge amounts of electricity. These large, liquid-cooled generators come with high-quality components, and are typically built-to-order on the specific requirements of their prospective owners.


Power Take Off (PTO) Generators


Pto Generators


A Power Take Off (PTO) generator is simply a fancy alternator of which you can attach onto your tractor’s engine to generate electricity. This device can be very handy for creating electricity to power tools, buildings, or barn in a farm during a power outage.

To find the right PTO generator, you need to consider these three factors: your tractor’s engine size, engine speed, and your power requirements.

Simply match the horse power (HP) of your tractor to the PTO generator. Basically, 1kW of electricity requires 2HP. So if you are looking to generate 25kW of power, then you need a 50-HP engine.

The speed of the PTO generator must correspond to the tractor’s engine speed. PTO shafts operate at two different speeds: 540 RPM or 1000 RPM. Most new tractor models run at both speeds, but there are some tractors that are limited to a single speed.

PTO generators can produce single- or three-phase electricity.



Recreational Vehicle (RV) Generators


Recreational Vehicle generators


Recreational vehicle (RV) generators, or motorhome generators, produce electricity to power RV appliances and accessories, including lighting and air conditioning. These devices are usually housed in a convenient location outside of the RV, and can use the same type of fuel as the vehicle’s engine. This can be gasoline, propane or diesel.

When buying RV generators, you need to consider two factors: fuel and size. What type of fuel do you need? Does your generator share the fuel tank with the RV? Check your current fuel type if you’re replacing an existing unit.

Then, decide how much power you’ll need. This will determine the size of RV generator you’re going to buy. Check the power requirements of all your appliances to determine the total wattage needed. Ensure you understand how to install the generator before you embark on your trip. You should also read our buyers guide for compressors.