Generator Features : Expectations vs Reality

Have you thought about buying your first generator? Maybe you own an older generator and are now in search for an upgrade but realise that the market has changed a lot in the past few years. Gentech offers a quick guide filled with everything you need to know about generator features to help you choose the right generator.

If you are looking for a portable generator for a worksite or a quiet generator to keep your neighbours happy, we have all the necessary information to make an informed decision. Getting started is easy.

Here are 3 Generator types to choose from:

Choosing the right generator depends on your intended use and the amount of power you need to generate. Are you looking for something lightweight and portable to give you power on the go, or something more robust to counter the challenges brought about by load shedding? To help you match your generator needs to the available options, here is a list of generator types:

  • Inverter Generators – Often lightweight and highly portable, inverter generators meet the incoming demand for power rather than running full speed regardless of demand. They minimise fuel usage and are extremely quiet generators. They work well for on-the-go scenarios like powering a food truck or running your computer at the campground. If you want clean, stable power, inverter generators are the way to go.
  • Tradesman Generators – Are generators designed to power larger pieces of equipment that need more power in factories as well as agricultural and mining industries. They are still lighter and more portable than stationary generators but are open in design. If you need a mobile generator that offers more power, tradesmen generators are a great pick.
  • Stationary Generators – Are larger generators that are designed to remain in place rather than working on the go like portable generators. They are perfect for keeping larger homes fully powered during loadshedding and power outages or powering large events with more applications demanding power.

Now that you know about the different types of generators, it’s time to weigh in on the type of fuel your generator could use.

Petrol Generators vs. Diesel Generators
The price of diesel fuel may still be higher than petrol, but diesel generators use about 50% less fuel than petrol generators. On the other hand, petrol generators are less expensive, quieter and produce less harmful carbon dioxide fumes. 

Which generator is best depends on your needs and what you will use it for. Diesel generators are recommended for more power, and portable petrol generators are suitable for more modest needs.

How Much Power Is Enough?
Among the biggest differences between generators at different price points is their ability to deliver power. When you have a generator with more power, you will be able to run more electronics, appliances, and lights at once. You can determine how much wattage you may need by checking the data plate on the back of the appliances you want to power. From that, you should have an average amount of power you will need to power your home.

It is a good idea to buy a generator that has at least 20% more wattage than you anticipate you will need. That way, you can account for temporary power spikes and the increased power required to start appliances. The operating time for most generators is based on running at half capacity. In general, you can expect to get more out of your generator if you don’t use it at peak wattage regularly.

Using the following information regarding running watts, peak watts, and starting watts, you can compare portable or petrol generators properly.

Running Watts vs. Peak Watts vs. Starting Watts
A generator’s running wattage refers to its maximum power output. This wattage should cover all appliances, lights, and electronics you plan to power simultaneously from one generator. You may have to shut off some items or cycle to stay within your maximum continuous power load if the generator’s wattage is too low.

Your generator’s peak wattage is its maximum power output for a short period of time. During a power spike, an appliance might suddenly require a burst of energy lasting just a few minutes.

You may also see the term “starting watts” during your search for a portable generator. This refers to the maximum wattage your generator can sustain while starting appliances up. During the first few seconds after powering up, most appliances require a more extensive power supply.

A high peak wattage may make some generators look more powerful than they are in real life. Ensure your generator’s maximum running wattage meets your needs by looking at its maximum running wattage on the digital meter.

Generator Features to Consider
Shoppers looking for generators will see many added features. Some are just what you need while others aren’t worth paying more for. Here is a list of some of the key features to look out for.

  • Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) – Reduces the risk of damage to the engine due to power spikes or surges by maintaining one consistent voltage output regardless of shifting loads.
  • Electric Throttle or Economy Mode – Automatically adjusts the engine speed in response to the demand for power. You use as little fuel as possible at any moment. The Gentech 2500W Pure Sine Wave Digital Inverter Generator is a great example. It has an economy-low idle setting and is one of the quieter generators.
  • Electric Start – Are generators that start quickly with the push of a button. Batteries power the electric start button, so you don’t have to pull a recoil cord to start the machine. A good example is the Gentech Electric Start 7kV Petrol Generator.
  • Low-Oil Shutoff – Turns your generator off when the oil reaches a certain level.
  • Fuel Gauge – Tells you how much fuel is left in the generator’s tank.
  • Long-Range Fuel Tank – Larger fuel tank allows you to turn the generator continuously for up to 12 hours between fill-ups. Standard generators may run for less than five hours before running out of fuel.

Now that you’ve decided what kind of generator you want, it’s important to know how to care for it.

How to Care for Your Generator:
Follow these simple tips to maintain a high-quality generator:

  • Change the oil on a routine basis. Check the owner’s manual to determine the right frequency for your generator.
  • Don’t allow the oil to run low. Check it regularly and top it up before it gets below half empty. Use the type of oil recommended in the owner’s manual.
  • Gently brush the filter clean if it starts to look dirty. Check it regularly along with the spark plugs.

Read your owner’s manual and follow any additional maintenance guidelines provided. The more you care for your generator, the longer you can expect it to deliver peak performance for you. If you don’t use your generator often, check it before a big storm or trip to ensure it is in good working order.

If you’d like some more advice about buying your first generator or more on generator features, then call the friendly team at Gentech today. We are here to help!