Generator Jungle
world by NASA

Written by Chris on April 3, 2023

Updated on: 9 November 2023 

The World Of Portable Generators

Since they first appeared in the 1830s portable generators have grown steadily both in availability and affordability. And that growth has been fueled by all kinds of buyers who have either been unable for a variety of reasons to depend on flawless grid power or who have just made the choice to live off-grid. Portable generators have also been a favorite for anyone who likes or needs an independent power source, be it professionally in, say, the construction industry, or campers out and about in their RV.

Hippolyte Pixii Dynamo

Asia Dominates the Production of Portable Generators

The one fact that we can’t seem to avoid is that the vast majority of this type of equipment and associated parts are produced in the Far East, particularly China, however hard some manufacturers may advertently or inadvertently try to obscure that fact. But as we attempt to explain in our article on where portable generators are made, under normal circumstances this may not necessarily be a bad thing. However, we understand the strong views held by some people about the need to produce and buy home-grown products to support local communities and the national economy in general. 

This sentiment is bound to grow stronger as we go forward following Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine in 2022, which may further impact supply chains which were already severely affected by the pandemic. And this has tended to aggravate problems with the availability of spare parts when these come from far away. It’s quite likely that as time goes on we will see more strenuous efforts at the political level to bring more production capacity back home.

But that’s not all.

Grid Electricity Supply Cannot be Guaranteed

Though the hypothetical danger has been acknowledged by the Department of Homeland Security for years, we must all now be more alert to the increased threat of a cyber attack from Russia, North Korea and even China on sixteen areas identified as critical infrastructure in the US. These include the energy sector, which could disrupt the grid’s supply of electricity in large parts of the country.

Supply chain issues, hostile actions and the response, make it now more important for people to update their plans to mitigate events that could seriously affect their daily lives in ways rarely seen in recent times.

For more information on this we recommend a read of Politico’s article published on 25 February 2022.

Choosing a Portable Generator

Against all of this sombre backdrop it’s not hard to see ownership of an independent source of reserve power as a no-brainer. Choosing the right one is a different matter.. Whether to play safe and take the plunge for one that is big, powerful but expensive, or choose a smaller and more affordable one, is a personal decision based on some good prior research.

This is why we have written an article on some factors you may want to consider when looking to buy a portable generator. And we have added information about the effects altitude can have on power outputs, as well as selecting a gas powered model or one that operates with dual fuel (gas and LPG), with an additional explanation about their differences.

The Dangers of Owning a Portable Generator

We must not forget that portable generators can be dangerous if not handled and operated carefully and correctly. We have written about this and what to watch out for, including the ever-present dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

We also touch up the need for proper maintenance as a means to ensure all is working well and help to lengthen the life of what is quite an expensive product that you may only have had to use occasionally (bear in mind that no portable generator is designed to run 24/7 all year. For that, you should be looking at a standby generator like this one from Generac).

Bad Gas and Fuel Stabilizers

Many owners say that the use of a fuel stabilizer is essential to preserve the fuel in a generator’s tank from going bad when it’s in storage. So we have written an explainer about this to provide you with some useful information.

Fire Risks Associated With a Portable Generator

In view of the fire risks associated with portable generators, and besides mentioning a number of fire suppression accessories (see below), we have also written an article about the kind of fire suppression devices that are available, how fire is classified, and which ones may be the best option for you as a home owners to have handy.

Portable Generators and Noise Levels

We have taken a look at noise levels and Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), and why portable generators are so noisy. These are subjects are of interest to many buyers who may, for example, be concerned about the impact on neighbors of operating the generator outside (always remember, portable generators should ALWAYS be operated outside).

Portable Generator Warranties

Not all of the products arrive in full working order and we have seen that some develop problems and can fail fairly early on. Though buyer views may be subjective, we note that in some cases customer service has not been as good as it should have been. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how much a warranty will cover you for if and when trouble arises, so we’ve had a look into this aspect with our article on portable generator warranties in the USA.

Portable Generator Accessories

Prospective buyers of portable generators should note that in addition to the cost of the product itself they should also budget for some essential accessories. In this regard we have added some information on such accessories as protective coversfuel containerstransfer switches, replacement wheel kitsfuel stabilizers, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, electrical extensions and adapters, fire suppression, and line conditioners.

While perhaps not essential at the beginning of ownership, many buyers have found that the wheel kits supplied with a lot of the heavier and more powerful generators are made of either plastic or other types of material that can break easily or develop flat spots if left standing for some time. We raise this issue in this article, as well as offering some of the alternatives mentioned above.

The Future of Portable Generator Accessories

In the very recent past at least one state, California, has put a particular focus on how much damage to the environment the gasoline engine is causing. Although there has been some opposition to government moves to restrict or ban their use, among the products that have come under the spotlight are lawn mowers and portable generators, often sharing similar engines.

Wherever you stand on this issue, California regulators voted in 2021 to ban the sale of portable generators by 2028. In this state at least, owners of portable generators will want to look closely at replacing them with portable power stations (see below). Other states may follow in due course.

Portable Power Stations

So, it is for this reason that we have also added some options for people who might need nothing more than a portable power station rather than opting for a portable generator. We have also added information in an article explaining some more about these models and how they compare with portable generators.

Battery Technology

Battery technology is advancing all the time and one day in the future batteries may be a standard source of reserve and backup power for homes and cities. We hope you will find this subject to be as interesting as we do, and you can read a bit more about it in our article on the future of energy capture and battery technology.

But for now, power stations cannot compete overall with portable generators though there are various reasons why this sort of power solution may be preferable or the only option. These include their greater portability in general, lack of any significant noise, and safe use indoors as they do not emit the toxic gas carbon monoxide. They may also be particularly suitable as the only alternative for people living in apartments, especially for those people who just have to have a power source available at all times for health reasons.

So, if you are more interested in these devices, have a look at our sister site powerstationjungle where we go into greater detail about many of these models and their specifications as well as the kind of essential accessories, such as solar panels, that go a long way to increase their usefulness.


Article by Chris

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