Things to consider before purchasing a generator

Below is a list of things we recommend you consider before purchasing your next generator:

1. Do you need an inverter generator?

An inverter system stabilizes the amount of voltage and frequency produced by a petrol driven alternator through the supply of “sine wave” electricity. As a result, fluctuations in engine speed do not affect the voltage or frequency of the electrical output. Generators with an inverter can be used to run equipment with built-in micro computers and microchips for example, laptop computers, ipads, plasma tvs, lcd tvs, iphones and smart phones, electronic chargers etc.

Do not use a non-inverter generator to run electrically sensitive equipment.

2. How quiet does the generator need to be, will you be running it in a residential area or campsite?

We strongly recommend that you check the rules and regulations of the campsite you intend visiting before taking along your generator.  If you do intend using a generator in a campsite or residential area, it should have a noise level of less than 62 dBA at 7m at full load. Generators which produced 5000 watts or more of power generally have a higher noise level that the aforementioned 62 dBA.

3. How often will you use the generator?

We recommend that you purchase a Yamaha or Honda generator if you are using it to run your business, traveling around Australia or using it on a daily basis.  The reliability and spare parts / service back up on these brands is well worth the extra money you will pay for them. If you are only using the generator for the occasional camping trip or as a backup power supply we recommend the FME, Fuji Micro Electronics, inverter generators. These offer fantastic value for money.

4. What size generator do you need? How many watts does the generator need to produce?

Purchasing an underpowered generator is not only a waste of money but can also lead to damage to your appliances and the generator’s alternator.  Before you purchase a generator you need to add up the running watts of the appliances you intend to run together. All appliances have a compliance sticker which lists the wattage they draw.  The wattage for appliances with an electric motor for example a fridge, water pump, freezer or air conditioner needs to be multiplied by 2.5 to obtain the starting watts for the appliance. Electric motors draw approximately 2 and half times their rated wattage on start-up.  Once your fridge or air conditioner has started it will automatically reduce the number of watts it draws.

The above is also important to remember when you are running an appliance with an electric motor simultaneously with another appliance for example your fridge and your tv. Every time your fridge switches on (when the thermostat kicks in), it will draw 2 and a half times its rated wattage.  If your generator can’t accommodate the extra power draw, the overload protection (if fitted) will activate and cut power to both your tv and fridge.

5. What kVA rating does the generator need to have to run your appliances?

Most kVA ratings do not equate to kilowatt ratings. For example, a 5 kVA generator does not equate to 5000 watts, this is because most kVA ratings are calculated using a power factor of 0.8. A 5 kVA generator therefore only produces 4 kilowatts or 4000 watts of power (5 kVA x 0.8 = 4 KW).  We recommend that you only consider the generator’s rated watts when deciding which generator to purchase.

6. How many power outlets does the generator need to have?

Most generators above 2000 watts have 2 power outlets.  Dual power outlets are convenient for running more than one appliance simultaneously without the use of a power board.

7. What size fuel tank does the generator have, how long is the generator required to run for?

It goes without saying that the larger the fuel tank, the longer the generator will run for. If you intend running the generator over night or using it for your business, make sure you buy a generator that has a run time of at least 8 to 10 hours.

8. How heavy is the generator?

Weight is a very important factor when purchasing a generator, particularly a camping generator which will have to be lifted in and out of a vehicle and moved around the campsite. Make sure you lift and lower the generator before purchasing it to ensure you are comfortable with its weight. Some generators have a pull out handle and wheels for easy transportation.

9. How easy is it to obtain back up service and spare parts for the generator?

Many Chinese made generators sold in hardware stores and on the internet do not have any spare parts or back up service. You should particularly avoid purchasing an inverter generator that you can’t purchase spare parts for.  Inverter generators tend to more expensive and they are have intricate electrical components which may need replacing if they fail. Further, if using the generator to run your business or as your main power source for your house, caravan or motor home, we highly recommend you purchase a brand name generator like a Yamaha or Honda generator with proper service and spare parts back up.

10. Does the generator have a low oil alert and earth leakage protection?

These features are standard on all of the generators we sell however, this is not the case for many generators.  The low oil alert will prevent your generator’s engine from running with low causing engine damage.  The earth leakage and overload protection will prevent damage to your generator’s alternator and your electrical appliances in circumstances of excessive current draw down or voltage spikes.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you need any further advice on choosing a generator please contact us.


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