Portable generators are becoming increasingly more popular in the United States. They can be an alternative power source when the power goes out, but they could also prove useful for camping trips in the outdoors, where power is not that readily available.
Want to learn more about portable generators? Read our information below to find out more!
What Is a Portable Generator?
A portable generator provides electricity through its gas-powered engine. The device has an onboard alternator, which generates the electric current. Portable power generators are also equipped with extension cords and power plugs, enabling you to hook up power tools and even appliances when no other source of electricity is available.
How Do Portable Generators Work?
The gas-powered engine of the generator coincides with the incorporated alternator. The alternator converts and generates the power, while the actual power source is the gas-powered engine in the interior of the device.
What Are the Various Parts of a Portable Generator?
Most portable generators have specific parts. We have described each of the parts in a little more detail below so that you can get more familiar with the inner workings of a portable generator.
- Internal combustion engine: an engine that provides power by burning a type of fuel; this could include petrol and oil. The fuel interacts with the air inside the engine and subsequently produces hot gas to drive internal pistons or other structures responsible for electricity generation.
- Alternator: an alternator is a special dynamo that generates alternating current. In practice, this means it converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Most alternators will work with a magnetic field that rotates on its axis.
- Starter: the starter is an automatic device that starts your portable generator and interacts with the internal combustion engine.
- Fuel tank: the fuel tank is the internal storage unit, which stores the fuel used by the internal combustion engine.
- Power outlets: the power outlets are used to plug in your appliances and acquire electricity from the internal combustion engine and alternator.
What Fuel Is Used by the Portable Generator?
Portable generators can use a variety of fuel types. The fuel type used will depend on the construction of the generator as well as its overall purpose. Common types of fuel used in generators include gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, emulsified diesel, propane and natural gas. Of course, certain types of fuel are more suitable for portable generators than others where safety is concerned.
How Do You Service a Portable Generator?
Since a portable generator works with fuel and combustion technology, it is quite essential to keep your portable generator in excellent condition. Below, we have described how you can keep your portable generator working correctly.
Portable generators should be serviced at least twice a year, even if you have not used the generator during this time. It is recommended to service the generator when it is not being affected by extreme heat or cold, since this could have a negative influence on the device.
At the start of the servicing, always check the exterior condition of the generator. Look for any loose connections and frayed wiring. Also, make sure the area surrounding your generator is clear and free of debris. Since any debris surrounding your generator could get into the generator, it could ruin your machine in no time!
When you notice anything out of the ordinary, be sure to get a professional in for a fix. Remember, generators can be dangerous to work with, so leave it to an electrician or another licensed professional to fix any existing problems with your generator.
Of course, there are some things you can do to service your generator if it appears in excellent condition; this includes topping up the battery with distilled water, cleaning the spark plugs, checking bolts and screws, fuel levels, and calibrations. If you do this every six months, your generator will have a longer lifespan.
Professionals recommend having some spare fuel in your home to refill your portable generator. It is impossible to predict a power outage and the length of that power outage, so having some spare fuel lying around for your portable generator is undoubtedly recommended.
In addition to being prepared for power outages, additional fuel is also recommended for maintenance reasons. If you have a new generator, experts recommend changing the fuel after the first twenty-five hours. Then, you must change the fuel every fifty to sixty hours upon consecutive use.
Do you need to refill your portable generator in the dark? Make sure you have a working LED headlamp lying around, which you can strap around the head to see what you are doing. While changing the fuel, make sure to change the fuel slowly, since spills can be quite dangerous during emergency situations.
When changing the fuel in your portable generator, you should always empty the tanks with a hand pump and then run the portable generator until empty. You can then leave the fuel tank empty until you use the generator again.
What Are the Safety Issues?
Most generators are safe, but misuse can lead to some dangerous situations. Therefore, always use your generator as instructed! The most common safety issues surrounding portable generators include carbon monoxide poisoning, injuries, and burns. As mentioned earlier, these safety issues are caused by the improper and uninformed use of the generator, so make sure you are familiar with your generator as well as its maintenance before you start using it.
Aside from the operation of your portable generator, safety issues can arise when it comes to storing your excess fuel. Everyone has some spare fuel in their home for their portable generator, but not everyone stores this fuel safely. There are also residential codes that tell you how much of the fuel you can store, so be sure to check these guidelines before you acquire more fuel for your portable generator.
When storing your fuel, be sure to store it in a cool and dark place. Do not put the fuel in direct sunlight or near a heat source since this could have some disastrous consequences. Also, check the canister or other storage units your fuel comes in regularly. While leaks are rare with decent fuel canisters, it is better to be safe and sorry when it comes down to working with combustible and flammable materials.
To protect your portable generator against theft, it is always a good idea to have it secured. Fortunately, it is easy to lock down your portable generator, merely use a heavy-duty hardened steel chain and a heavy-duty padlock. These items are readily available at your local DIY store.
Finally, make sure you protect yourself against accidental electrocution, which happens when the portable generator is not grounded correctly. You can ground your portable generator with a special grounding rod, which will take any excess current off to the ground.
Is It Really Portable?
Portable generators come in all shapes and sizes, and they are portable! Of course, they are heavier than most portable appliances out there since a portable generator contains a heavy combustion engine to generate power.
To ensure your generator is portable enough to deal with power outages or to provide energy during camping trips, be sure to check out the portable generator in person. Lift it up and determine how easy the portable generator can be moved.
What Is the Difference Between a Standby and a Portable Generator?
Standby generators are installed outside your home permanently and can be compared to air conditioners, so these types of generators are not portable at all. However, the advantage of a standby generator is that they are hooked up to existing gas lines, subsequently, they never have to be topped up with fuel.
Another difference between a standby generator and a portable generator is that the standby generator will turn on as soon as the central power goes off; this could prove advantageous for areas where power outages are widespread. Standby generators tend to have more power than the portable versions too, enabling households to provide power to heating systems, security systems, and more.
Of course, the functionality of the standby generator does not mean that the portable generator is obsolete. Quite the opposite, because a portable generator could prove extremely useful in emergency situations. For example, if your home is hit by a hurricane and the standby generator is destroyed, you can still rely on a portable generator for backup power.
Portable generators can provide power to your essential appliances during extreme weather and acute emergencies. They provide power for your mobile phone and small devices such as your television, power tools, and lights.
Even though standby generators are a fantastic backup for the home, many people still have a portable generator in their home too. If the standby generator does not work for whatever reason, the portable generator can provide the power you need. Of course, you can also take your portable generator on a trip in the great outdoors, something that cannot be done with a standby generator.