Generator Basics

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If you’ve never owned a generator or have one and are looking to upgrade, typically consumers ask these questions, “Which generator is the best?” Which generator costs the less? “Which generator brands should I avoid?” And, “What should I look for in an emergency generator?”

Here we provide basic generator information. We’ll answer questions such as, “What is a generator? What types of generators are available? And what type of generator should I choose?

What Is a Generator?

Simply put, a generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy or as we call it, electrical power.

What Are Generators Used For?

Generators are used for a variety of purposes, issues, emergencies, situations and events. When we experience an electrical outages, generators can be the difference between life and death. They ensure that most of the essential appliances, equipment and computers can still run while the primary power is out. There are also generators for instance, if a family is camping; they can still have power, provided they have a suitable portable generator.

What Type Of Generators Are There?

There are basically two types of generators: portable generators and standby generators. Portable generators are usually used in places where there is no power from the local power company. You can find portable generators at: camps, construction sites, concerts and even sporting events. These generators are sufficient for lighting and running appliances such as: computers, televisions, radios, sound systems, furnaces and refrigerators.

Standby generators are permanently installed outside houses, buildings and hospitals. They provide backup power in the event of a power outage. They are hard wired into an electric system with special circuitry that detects an outage and then automatically and seamlessly switches over to the standby power supply.

How Do Generators Operate?

Generators can run on anything from gasoline, to natural gas and propane, to diesel and even wind. The choice of fuel depends on a number of factors such as availability and cost of fuel, wattage usage, generator usage referring to whether the generator will be used at resident, verses industrial or construction or emergency usage.

Which Type of Generator Should I Choose?

It depends; each source has its own pros and cons. For instance, the cons of gasoline generators are: they emit harmful carbon monoxide, are noisy, require frequent maintenance, the engines wears faster than diesel, propane or natural gas generators and with the cost of gas fluctuating upwards, they can become somewhat expensive to run. The pros of gasoline generators are: they give you the most power per weight unit and gasoline is readily available just about anywhere.

For more in depth information on choosing the right generator, see our articles: Choosing The Right Generator and How Generators Are Powered.

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