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tri and dual fuel generatorsLooking for an emergency back-up generator for your home? Need a powerful but portable generator for your camping/RV adventures? Whether you’re a construction professional who requires a reliable power source on the job or you’re an off-grid enthusiast looking for an ultra-quiet generator, we’re your information source for all things about generators.

Depending on your power needs and your situation, there’s a wide variety of power generators to choose from. With the continuing advancement of technology, the selection of generators has never been better. Today’s electricity generators are more efficient and operate using a variety of sources, some of which include:

  • Fossil Fuel Powered Generators (Eg. Propane, Natural Gas, Gasoline and Diesel)
  • Inverter Generators
  • Solar Powered Generators
  • Wind Powered Generators
  • Hydro Powered Generators

The fossil fuel (gas) powered portable generators of today are extremely efficient and powerful, with some even operating on 2 or 3 different types of fuels (Dual Fuel Generators and Tri Fuel Generators). There are even conversion kits available that allow gas powered generators to operate on natural gas and propane. The cost savings involved with generating electricity with natural gas or propane are considerable compared to gasoline, which explains why these 2 types of fuels have become much more popular than ever. Diesel generators are also very efficient and powerful. However, due to tighter emissions standards in some countries, there’s a limit to the number of hours these can operate during the day due to their higher emissions output. In some countries, they’re banned altogether.

While gasoline powered generators are the most popular type of unit in use today, there are other options that suit people depending on their intended use and location. Next, we’ll have a look at the different types of generators (including inverter generators) and the pros and cons of each. This should help you decide which option to choose with your next purchase.

 

Fossil Fuel (Gas) Type Generators

Gasoline Powered Generators

champion gas powered portable generatorThe most common of all fossil fueled powered generators, gasoline powered generators are popular due to the large supply and easy access to gasoline. These types of generators are also more affordable then other types of generators, but can be costly to operate. Especially when ran continuously under high loads. However, most gasoline powered generators can be converted to a duel fuel generator or even a tri fuel generator with a few simple modifications. Below are the pros and cons of gasoline powered units:

PROS

  • Gasoline is widely available and easy to access.
  • Gasoline powered units are more affordable and compact.
  • Gasoline generators are easier to find and buy in emergency situations.

CONS

  • Gasoline can only be stored up to a year.
  • Costly to operate.
  • Maintenance costs are higher.
  • Produce higher emissions.
  • Shorter operating lifespan.
  • Tough to start in cold conditions.
  • Gasoline can be hard to find in emergency situations.

Some of the most popular and trusted brands of gas powered portable generators are; Honda, Yamaha and Champion portable generators.

Propane (Liquid & Gas) Powered Generators

propane lpg dual fuel generatorGenerators powered by propane are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower operating costs and overall affordability. These units also have a longer operating life compared to their gasoline powered counterparts. Propane is also much more affordable and more available even in the event of power outages. It also has a very long storage life and offers lower emissions. Below are some of the pros and cons of propane powered generators:

PROS

  • Long operating life.
  • Cheaper to operate and maintain.
  • Units are affordable.
  • Starts easy in lower temperatures.
  • Propane available in emergency situations.
  • Low emissions.

CONS

  • More complex fuel delivery system.
  • Highly flammable/explosive.
  • Higher fuel consumption compared to other fuel types.

 

Natural Gas Generators

natural gas tri fuel portable generatorWith the increasing supply of natural gas (due to more domestic exploration and extraction of natural gas) this type of fuel is becoming more affordable than ever. Because of this, natural gas generators a popular choice among users due to its affordability and availability. For those looking for a whole house generator in cooler climates (with a natural gas line to the property), ng generators are an ideal choice as they can be connected directly to the supply line. As a result, when the power goes out, you’ll have a virtually unlimited fuel supply to keep your generator running until power is restored.

Natural gas generators are available in either portable or non-portable configurations. Even better, there are conversion kits available that allow the user to convert a gasoline powered unit to a natural gas operated unit (duel/tri fuel conversion kit). Below are some of the pros and cons of natural gas generators:

PROS

  • Cheap to operate due to low cost fuel.
  • Natural gas is very abundant.
  • Burns clean, very low emissions.
  • Lower maintenance costs.
  • Extremely quiet operation.
  • Starts well in colder climates.

CONS

  • Natural gas is highly explosive/dangerous.
  • Additional costs to convert/connect to home gas line.
  • NG delivery system needs to be regularly inspected and maintained for safety reasons.

 

Diesel Powered Generators

diesel portable generatorDiesel generators are a good choice for those looking for a unit that can run under high continuous loads without spending a small fortune on fuel. While diesel powered generators typically cost more upfront, fuel savings down the road are definitely worth the initial investment. Diesel fuel is also extremely abundant and relatively cheap, but the generator itself is also more costly to maintain over its lifespan. Compared to other fossil fuel burning generators, diesel generators emit significantly higher emissions. Because of this, some countries and states limit the number of hours these generators can operate during a 24 hour period.

It’s also important to note that diesel generators are extremely prone to “wet stacking”, which is the result of sludge buildup in the engine and exhaust due to continuous operation while under light loads and cooler climates. Wet stacking can cause significant damage to a diesel generator’s internal engine components and can damage exhaust systems. Diesel units are also heavier than their other fossil fuel burning cousins, which makes them less portable. Below are some pros and cons of diesel powered generators:

PROS

  • Affordable to operate.
  • Diesel fuel is cheap.
  • Long lifespans (when properly maintained).
  • Very efficient.
  • Safe to operate (diesel fuel is the least flammable of all fossil fuels).
  • Easy to start in colder climates.

CONS

  • Costly maintenance.
  • Prone to “wet stacking”
  • More expensive to buy.

A good, dependable type of diesel generator is the Generac portable generator. Generac also produces an open frame and inverter type generator which are also very reliable units.

Portable Inverter Generators

portable inverter generatorEver heard of an inverter generator? These incredibly portable and efficient power generating units have become more popular recently due to their fuel efficiency, quiet operation and ability to produce incredible amounts of power in such a small package. Inverter generators produce more power per engine rotation than the conventional generator does, thus increasing efficiency while saving on fuel. The main difference? Inverter generators produce DC power initially, but is then converted to “clean” AC power with the use of a built in power inverter. Portable inverter generators are completely safe for charging electronic sensitive appliances and are extremely quiet in operation.

PROS

  • Extremely fuel efficient.
  • Produce more power per engine revolution than conventional generators.
  • Light and compact.
  • Very quiet (50 dBA on average)

CONS

  • Considerably more expensive then traditional generators.

Some of the most popular and reliable types of portable inverter generators include; Westinghouse inverter generators, Honda, Yamaha, Rockpals, Sportsman generators and Wen inverter generators.

Alternative Power Generators – What Are Your Options?

If you’re looking for greener, more environmentally friendly options for producing power on demand, there are other options. While fossil fuel powered portable generators are definitely a good option for producing power whenever and wherever, there are limitations for each. Fossil fuel generators are limited to the amount and availability of fuel to operate the unit when power is needed the most. In emergency situations, having an alternate source of power is a good idea.

Generators that produce power using renewable energy sources are good options to solve supply and demand issues and rising costs of fossil fuels. Generators that use renewable energy sources are a good idea to have as a back-up in the event that your primary fuel source is limited. Below are some examples of power generators that use renewable energy sources to produce power portably, efficiently and affordably.

  • Hydrogen Powered Generators
  • Hydro Powered Generators
  • Solar Powered Generators
  • Wind Powered Generators

These four power generator types all have their limitations, but are excellent choices in the event a secondary portable power source is required. Let’s have a look at each type and explore their pros and cons.

Hydro Powered Generators

portable water powered generatorsHydro powered generators harness the energy of water flow to generate electricity. Considered to be more reliable then wind powered generators (if you have access to a steady flow of water year round), hydro powered generators can produce enough power to operate a variety of small to large appliances 24 hours a day. Some recent hydro generating technology has even produced some of the most smallest hydro powered generators to power a whole house! Hydro powered turbines can be found in many different configurations, but operate very similarly to solar and wind technology. That it, this clean and green technology requires at least one or more batteries, an inverter and a charge controller to complete the system. Below are the pros and cons of hydro powered generators:

PROS

  • Affordable to operate.
  • Produce no emissions.
  • Use renewable energy to operate.
  • Affordable to set up, depending on your power requirements.
  • Many different configurations to choose from.

CONS

  • Must have a reliable source of water flow with a generous head to generate power.
  • Will not work in drought stricken areas.

Solar Powered Generators

solar powered portable generatorSolar powered generators can produce power by converting sunlight into electricity. If you live in a geographic location where sunlight is abundant all year around, then solar power is an extremely affordable and viable option to power your home or cottage. Solar generators work by using solar panels to capture energy from the sun, and then use this energy to charge one or more batteries (usually deep-cycle or lithium ion batteries). With the use of an inverter and charge controller, a solar generator system can supply enough electricity to operate virtually all appliances within a home. While solar generators can be quite expensive to purchase and set up, they are virtually maintenance free and extremely affordable to operate.

PROS

  • Uses FREE energy to produce electricity.
  • Cheap to maintain.
  • Cheap to operate.
  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • Can be portable or fixed, depending on your needs.
  • Perfect alternative to fossil fuel type generators.

CONS

  • Sunlight not always available.
  • Expensive to build (depending on power requirements).
  • Batteries are expensive and will require replacement eventually.

 

Wind Powered Generators

wind turbine portable generatorSimilar to solar powered generators, wind powered generators (wind turbines) harness free wind energy to produce electricity. Wind turbine generators produce energy when the wind passes through fan blades, which in turn rotates a shaft that is connected to a generator turbine. The energy produced is passed to batteries where it is stored until used. Wind turbine generators can be very effective electricity producers when conditions are ideal, but unless you live in a consistently windy location, a wind turbine is generally considered a very unreliable source of energy.

PROS

  • Uses FREE wind energy to produce electricity.
  • Cheap to maintain.
  • Cheap to operate.
  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • Very portable.

CONS

  • Extremely unreliable.
  • Like solar generators, batteries will need replacement eventually.

 

What Type of Portable Generator Do You Need?

Depending on your situation and your power needs, there are many types of generators to solve your off grid power needs. The type of generator you require is dependent on a variety of factors. Some things to consider are:

How many kW do you use on a daily basis?

What type of fuel do you have the best access to?

How big of a generator can I afford?

What is the sole purpose of the generator? (home emergency/backup power use, camping/RVing, construction job site, off-grid cabin, etc.)

What climate do you live in? (Dry, wet, cold, hot, etc.)

what size generator do i need

There are many things to consider before making a decision on what type of portable generator would suit your power requirement best. A good place to start is to read through our many portable generator guides and reviews found on this website to help with your buying decision. We aim to answer many of your questions, which many of the common ones include;

Can you convert a gas powered generator to natural gas?

Can you convert a gas powered generator to propane?

Can you operate/run a generator in the rain?

How much propane does a 10000 watt generator use?

How much does it cost to run a generator?

How do you hook up a generator to your house (via Generlink transfer switch)?

How does a portable generator work?

Is a propane generator better than gas?

How big of a portable generator do i need?

How do you hook up a generator to your house?

Are propane generators more efficient?

How long will a generator run on 1 gallon of gas?

How long can you run a whole house generator?

Can a portable generator get wet?

 

How to Safely Set Up and Operate a Portable Generator

To answer all your questions related to portable generators, including many of the most common questions you see above, be sure to visit our blog or check out our reviews and guides located through our website.

Have any questions in the meantime? Contact us here and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

 

 

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