A home generator can be a massive convenience during a power outage or an emergency situation.
In some cases, a generator could even be your primary source of power. Finding the right generator requires more than just looking at the different models that are available on the market, because you’ll also need to find the right technology that suits your needs.
Portable gas generators can provide plenty of power but require a steady fuel source, while solar generators can provide power that is charged any day when there is sunlight.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. This guide will help you to become familiar with what’s currently on the market and help you choose the best portable generator for home.
Portable Gas Powered Inverter Generators
Portable gas powered generators were originally designed and used for use on construction sites and other areas of industry where mains power was not available.
The market for portable generators has grown in recent years, and there has been a steady increase in demand from home based users.
Gas powered generators are currently the most popular portable types, especially when considering small to mid-sized applications. Diesel generators are also an option, but may not be suitable depending on the fuel that is available to you.
Generally, if you need a mid-sized generator, gas will be your best option because fuel can be purchased from any fill-up station, and you can even store fuel for up to three years with the right fuel stabilizer.
Gas generators use small engines similar to what you would find in lawn mowers and other large power tools.
Modern units are low maintenance and simple to use, and they have convenient power outlets designed for end-consumers. This means you’ll be able to plug your devices directly into the generator, or through an extension adaptor box if you need to run more than one device.
When looking for the best generator for home, look for an inverter type. An inverter takes the power generated by an engine and converts it to safe AC power that runs at constants similar to what you would get off of your local grid.
We’ve reviewed a number of gas powered generators here on Power Tools Ninja, and have found that there are some highly reliable options that can provide portable power, or backup power for your home. Some of the larger generators can even be used as a primary source of power for the essentials at a home that is not connected to a main power grid.
Make sure you take a look at all of our generator reviews for an idea of what’s available.
A couple of the standout models we’ve seen have been the powerful DuroMax XP4400E 4400W Portable Generator, and the smaller Pulsar PG2000iS Compact Portable Inverter Generator.
Solar Rechargeable Portable Generators
A gas powered generator, even a small one, won’t have trouble running a mid-sized refrigerator, lighting, and most of the consumer electronics in your home. If you get one that’s powerful enough, you’ll even be able to cook with an electric stove using just your generator.
This is great for people who need backup power or a primary (but infrequent) power source. However, there will be cases where you don’t need a Gas generator, and where a rechargeable solar generator would make much more sense.
Solar generators are quite different in both design and feature set when compared to gas powered inverter generators. They use battery packs for storing power, and are more suited for use as a lightweight UPS, or even a travel generator for camping or hiking.
In many ways, the best portable generator for home that you are looking for, will have more in common with a battery power pack than it would with a gas generator.
The difference is that you’ll be able to use a solar panel to recharge the batteries inside the generator, and it can even be possible to run the device and power electronics while charging, just as long as you have a powerful solar panel and plenty of sunlight.
With a solar generator, you can expect to run lighting, small devices like electric fans and mini fridges (40W), and you’ll be able to charge electronics or run a low powered laptop. Solar generators are much lighter than their gas counterparts because they don’t have any of the heavy engine components or even an alternator. In some cases, you could even purchase a solar generator that weighs as little as 3 or 4 lbs.
These types of generators definitely fit into a smaller niche.
They won’t be used to power your home, at least not when you look at portable models. You could use a solar generator as a UPS backup for a computer or laptop, which could be essential if you live in an area where you experience frequent power outages.
Finally, solar generators are much more affordable than gas powered models. The technology is simply easier to work with and manufacture, so the savings are passed on to you, the consumer.
- The AcoPower 220Wh is one model that we’ve looked at in our generator buying guides. It provides 220Wh, which is enough for around 5 hours of laptop running, 4 hours of running a mini fridge, or up to 30 charging cycles for the average smartphone. This model can be recharged through an optional solar panel, or it can also be charged using a car adaptor or through a mains outlet.
- The Webetop Multi-Function Portable Solar Generator is another option to consider. It doesn’t provide quite as much stored power as the AcoPower, but it does have some interesting features, such as a built in flashlight. It would be a great generator for keeping around the home so that you could charge the essentials during a power outage. It would also be great for camping, and can be used to charge all kinds of battery powered or mains powered consumer electronics.
How About Large Standby Generators for Homes?
Portable generators are hugely popular, but there are some cases where you might need something more substantial to provide backup power automatically, any time that your power drops off. These are popular in areas that are regularly affected by storms.
If you do choose to buy a standby generator you will be looking at a sizeable investment, and you’ll also need to arrange for a professional installation. These generators are not portable, but they do provide much more power than the average portable gas generator.
These generators are sometimes gas powered, but they are more commonly powered by LP or natural gas. If you are connected to a mains gas line, then installing one of these would provide regular power whenever you need it.
Some models also come with batteries that stay constantly charged, so that there is almost no downtime between a power outage and your backup power kicking in.
- Generac models are popular and have been reviewed positively by consumers. Although pricey, these may be necessary depending on your location. A model like the Generac 7030 Guardian can provide 9kw to the home, which would be enough to power all the essential electronics in the average family home.
- Briggs & Stratton 40532 12kW Standby Generator is also a good option. It provides slightly more power than the Generac, but at a highly competitive price. Briggs & Stratton uses quality components and is one of the top small engine producers in the world. There’s a lot of trust in this brand and their generators are increasing in popularity.
Choosing The Best Portable Generator For Home: Making the Right Purchase
Gas powered inverter, solar powered, or standby? These three options cover the range that most consumers will be looking at to find the best portable generator for home, but it can sometimes be hard to make the right decision. There’s a basic system that you can follow whenever you are looking for a portable generator, and using this will help you to identify which class of generator would suit your needs.
- Portable Gas Powered Inverter Generators – This is what you’re looking for if you need a reliable portable or backup power source for infrequent use. These are affordable and can provide decent power figures, and models are available that will run refrigerators and other large appliances.
- Solar Powered Portable Generators – These models are generally low power and suitable for basic applications like lighting and devices charging. Purchase one of these if you want to have a backup for emergency lighting, charging cell phones and laptops, or if you need a UPS for use in the home with a computer or other devices. CPAP Machines can also be run from small solar powered generators.
- Home Standby Generators – These generators require professional installation and are not portable. However, they can provide enough power for a whole home, depending on the size of the generator that you get. This is the kind of device you would need if you experience regular power outages or live in an area that is prone to storms.
The more you know about generators, the more informed your purchase will be. Make sure you check out all of our generator buying guides so that you can get the perfect device for your needs.