In our previous article on the subject of generators, we looked at the difference between backup and standby generators. Today, we’ll discuss two different types of fuel sources for generators.

Gasoline-Powered Generators

The most common types of gasoline-powered generators are small, portable, backup models. Although you can certainly sit down and work out the exact wattage you’ll need based on the running and startup loads of the appliances you will need to power in an emergency, it’s usually better—and easier—to speak to someone who sells the brand of generator you’re considering. That person will be well versed in the specifics of the models you’re considering, and he or she should also be able to help you determine the optimal size for your generator. It’s smart to have a general idea of how much power the generator will need to handle, however, so look for the information plaques on each appliance you intend to run during a power outage. These plaques are typically located inside the door or on the back or underside of the machine, and they should include data for both the startup and running wattage. If you can’t find that information directly on the appliance, consult the owner’s manual or do a quick internet search to see if you can find it. A good rule of thumb is to choose a generator that can handle a bit more power than your initial calculations. This way, you’ll avoid straining the engine.

Because gas-powered generators are essentially combustion engines with a few more bells and whistles, they require maintenance just like any other engine. Keeping a supply of fuel on hand is essential for running any type of fuel-powered generator, and it is equally important to test the engine periodically. Generators usually don’t get daily use like most car engines—they are used in emergencies. Gasoline goes bad if it sits unused for too long, so add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, and start the generator up periodically to ensure that it will run properly when you really need it.

Solar-Powered Generators

Solar-powered generators are much quieter than gas-powered models, and they are essentially maintenance free. And since they don’t emit any harmful fumes, they are a fantastic, eco-friendly alternative to traditional generator options. Rather than using combustible fuel to power a motor, solar-powered generators work by using solar panels to harness the sun’s energy. This energy can then be used directly or stored in batteries for use at a later time. Unless you configure a large network of panels, solar-powered generators are not able to power an entire household, and sunlight must be present if batteries need to be recharged. For this reason, it’s important to consider the area of the country you live in and why you might need a generator. For a few household appliances, you will need a relatively large solar panel, but if your needs are smaller—powering or charging a small electronic device, for example—it is possible to purchase small, portable solar panels.

Buying a generator is not a quick, one-day process. Generators are intended to be a lifeline during an emergency, so it is worth the time and effort to examine your options and make the best choice for the needs of your family.

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Sources:; HouseLogic.;; Popular Mechanics; The Huffington Post.

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