Everything to Know Before Buying a Portable Generator

Ready to invest in a portable generator? Portable generators are an affordable backup power solution when you don’t want to spend the extra money to buy a standby generator. Before you make your purchase, here’s what you need to know.

Portable generator basics

As you start researching which generator is right for you, you need to know how to use a portable generator. These power sources rely either on gasoline or liquid propane, but there are also dual gas/propane models that can run on either. Generators can power important devices and appliances during an outage, and with a manual transfer switch you can backup hard-wired appliances for hassle-free operation.

During an outage, you’ll place the portable generator outdoors on a stable surface at least 20 feet from your home. Start the generator, hook a heavy-duty extension cord to it, then run the cord through a window or door so you can plug in the appliances you want to power. You’ll eventually need to add more fuel, and when you do, be sure to turn off all electronics, turn off the generator and let the unit cool before refueling.

Power requirements

What do you want to power? The size generator you need depends on how many appliances you want to power and their requirements. Look at both running watts and starting watts of the appliances you wish to power at the same time. As a general rule, it’s best to overestimate your wattage requirements so you can be sure the generator you pick has the capacity to power essential electronics and appliances.

Run time

You should also take run time into consideration when shopping for a generator. It’s best to choose a generator that has a long run time at half-load, since the longer a generator runs, the less often you’ll need to refuel. Most people find that a generator with a half-load run time of at least 10 hours is enough to provide power through a full night’s sleep without requiring a refuel.


Make the most of your investment by selecting a portable generator with not just enough outlets, but the right types of outlets. Planning on running appliances like a window air conditioner? You’ll need outlets that can accommodate high wattages. Generally, a model with a 30 amp locking-type outlet is the best solution.

Cord sets

Some generators come with heavy-duty cord sets that contain up to four standard house outlets on a single cord. It makes powering multiple appliances much easier since you won’t need to manage several extension cords at once.


Portable generators can be noisy machines. Keep noise levels at a minimum—and get a great night’s sleep even when your regular power source is out—by choosing a model with a low-tone muffler.

Now that you know more about how to use a portable generator and how to choose the best option for your needs, stop by Central Equipment Company today. We carry a wide range of top-quality portable generators that offer reliable power where and when you need it.

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