Facts About Generators

The most common generators utilized in the United States are portable and powered by a small gas engine, although there are other kinds that will prove to be useful depending on circumstances and need.

The Facts

Setting up and using a generator is a serious task; the key to using a generator safely is being prepared. You will need to determine which size is adequate based on your plans for use. You will need to plan where and how you will use it, and you will need to test run the machine once it is in place.

When using a portable generator, you will have to wheel it to the location where you intend to run it and test it. If you intend to run appliances from it using extension cords, you will have to take the extra step of test running the machine with the extension cords attached so that you can be positive that the machine will work properly once the power goes out and you need to rely on it. Even when the power is not out, start the generator on a regular basis to ensure it is operating properly. Also, you will want to add gasoline stabilizer to its fuel. This will prevent the generator's fuel from chemically deteriorating.


The generator's main function is to produce either single- or three-phase power. If you have a generator, use the type of power your panel provides. Generally speaking, residences and small business use single phase. Three-phase power is typically used for larger businesses. Three-phase generators produce 120/208 or 277/480 volts, while single-phase generators produce 120 or 120/240 volts. Low voltages should be used to run small appliances; save high voltage use for motors, heaters, stoves, dryers and other large appliances similar in nature. The service panel on your generator is either single phase or three phase.


When discussing types of generators, there are many factors to consider. There are portable and stationary generators. There are also stand-by and prime units, which is a reference to how the machine will use power; do you want it to use stand-by or prime power? Essentially, prime power is required when there is no other source of power or you need to use the system as your prime means of power. Stand-by is used as a backup to normal utility power and is only used when utility power is not available. There are also electric generators, which may be used in a garage for mechanics. Typically, however, users must choose between generators that are not electric and must choose their fuel type--either gas or diesel.


When shopping for a generator, there are some helpful features to seek out. For example, liquid-cooling engines provide quieter operation, even temperature control and longer engine life. You should also consider a residential muffler. Though it is true that most generators are equipped with an industrial-grade muffler, a residential muffler is much quieter and lasts longer.


Portable electric generators give users a way to keep their lights, refrigerators and other appliances running if the power goes out. They also provide a way to generate electricity in remote areas, such as at campsites or while staying in areas that do not have electrical access.

About the Author

Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.