For many households, a generator is the only way you can get reliable electricity delivered to your home. In most situations, the generator is used for an emergency or a blackout. The power grid is not impervious to fuel shortages, storm damage, and unrest. Those different situations can disrupt the power delivery to your house. Therefore, you should not rely solely on the municipal power supply to your home. The best way to avoid that is with a good generator that delivers steady power. Typically, a generator will deliver alternating current (AC) much like the outlets in your home. The simplest way to hook up your house to a generator is by running a generator outside and running extension cords into your house. Your concerns should be centered around three different things: type of generator fuel, maximum watts, and price.
#1. Type of Fuel
Generators typically run on one of four different fuels: natural gas, propane, diesel, and gasoline. In Nigeria, diesel and gasoline are fairly common. Propane tanks are common for many people as well. If you want to have the most options, you could also choose a dual fuel generator.
Gasoline is incredibly common and easy to find. Every petrol station in your area will have gasoline. However, since it is ideal for cars, trucks, equipment, and generators, it will be in high demand. If you do not plan ahead, the rush for fuel after a natural disaster could mean that you can’t find gasoline. You can store it for about 12 months if you store it in an appropriate petrol canister. In summary, gasoline is affordable and widely available, but you need to plan ahead.
It’s mainly for farm equipment, heavy trucks, military vehicles, and other types of emergency vehicles. That means that it will be available throughout a natural disaster area. However, since it is in such high demand by so many priority vehicles, it might not be available for you. You’ll need to make sure you plan ahead. Diesel, however, will keep for longer than gasoline; it can last in an appropriate container for about 24 months. Furthermore, a diesel generator will consume less fuel than a gasoline generator. It will have a lower maximum wattage but will produce low, steady watts with greater efficiency.
This is the final form of portable fuel. Propane typically comes in tanks from 12 kg to 47 kg. The tanks are completely sealed, which means that the propane will last indefinitely. Also, propane tanks can be filled without the use of electricity. That makes propane the preferred fuel if the power is out where you are buying fuel. Propane is slightly more expensive, and the propane generators do not deliver as much power as gasoline generators.
♦ Natural Gas
Finally, you can find a natural gas generator, but these are not portable. Natural gas generators are stationary and installed in your yard like an HVAC unit. They’re connected to your natural gas line. When the power goes out, they can automatically come on, or you can turn them on manually. They’re the most powerful generators but also the most expensive and hardest to use. If you don’t have natural gas lines, they’re not useful.
You need to look for two different kinds of watts. Generators are ranked by their running watts and their starting watts. Running watts are the amount of power needed to operate your home’s appliances. Add the required watts for all of your appliances and you’ll have the amount of power you’ll need from your generator. Starting watts are the amount of power you need to start some appliances that require more power to get going. Your generator needs to have a maximum wattage or a surge wattage rating higher than the starting watts of your most energy-intensive appliance. You can find the number of watts used for each appliance on a tag connected to the appliance or at the manufacturer websites.
Generator Fuel: Price
Finally, you should consider the price of your generator. The most expensive generators are also the most efficient. These are inverter generators. In a traditional generator, the engine turns a magneto that creates an alternating current. That means there is a minimum RPM typically around 3600 RPM to produce electricity. An inverter generator, on the other hand, converts the AC to direct current (DC) and then back to AC. That inversion process allows the generator to operate at a much lower RPM and produce steady electricity. Therefore, you can save fuel by running the generator. At 25% load, an inverter generator is about 30% more fuel efficient than a standard generator. They’re sometimes more appropriate for tailgating, camping, and RVing though.
Diesel generators are very efficient as well. They consume less fuel than gasoline generators, but you have to run them at a higher load. If you run your diesel generator at a low load for a long time, it could result in overfueling or wet stacking. Wet stacking is when liquid fuel comes out of the exhaust. Overfueling occurs when the fuel pump delivers more diesel than the generator can use; that causes excess heat and pressure in the cylinder and can cause permanent damage to your generator. Diesel generators are close to twice the price of gasoline generators but diesel fuel is often more affordable than gasoline.
Propane generators typically are dual fuel generators that also run on gasoline. They’re some of the most expensive generators but they’re also the most useful. Since they run on multiple kinds of fuel, you have a much better chance of finding a sufficient supply of fuel for your emergency. A dual fuel generator is about 25% more expensive than a comparable gasoline model.
The most efficient generator is going to be a gasoline inverter generator that covers the number of kilowatts you need. For example, if all of your essential appliances add up to 3000 kilowatts per hour, the most efficient generator for you is a gasoline inverter generator around 3600 watts. If you want a standard portable generator, your most efficient choice will be a diesel generator. Diesel generators must run at higher RPMs than gasoline generators, though. Therefore, if you have very low loads, a dual fuel generator will be most efficient. When the power goes out, a generator could be a lifesaver. Running your household appliances could make all of the difference. The right generator will make that possible. If you want a more in-depth analysis of generator efficiency, you should check out this comparison. I hope that this information helps inform your generator buying decisions.