Generator Buying Guide
This guide will help you choose the best generator. Whether it’s for a farm, a home backup generator, events or recreational use, here we detail what you'll need to know before to make sure you get the best one.
What's Right for You?
For most households we would suggest a 6.8kVA Petrol Digital Inverter as a backup. Inverter technology makes these generators perfect for powering sensitive electronics e.g. computers, printers, TV, microwave. They produce a clean sine wave of electricity which guarantees there will be no power surges.
If you’re only going to be running one or two pieces of equipment or appliances, the 4kVA Digital Inverter generator is our most popular model.
For a good portable generator, choose the 3.5kVA Digital Inverter. Perfect for camping, motorhomes, marine, tradies, or basic home use. It’s perfect for powering one appliance at a time, like a laptop.
Things to Consider
1. What Do You Need to Power?
For home use:
- Appliances and lights? Fridge, oven etc
- Computers and home electronics?
For recreational, work or offsite usage:
- Which of your tools will you need to power?
- For camping / fishing excursions, how many entertainment / cooking appliances and accessories will you be using at once?
2. What Capacity Do You Need?
Advantages of choosing the right sized generator:
- Avoid generator damage
- Increased longevity of the generator
- Guaranteed performance
- Smooth maintenance
- Increase in system life span
- Safety assured
The wrong sized generator:
This is a common mistake. Most generators can sustain only 80% of their maximum power for the long haul. If you constantly push your generator to over 80% of its maximum power, you will shorten the life of your generator. It also risks damaging the generator and the appliances connected to it. Therefore, when choosing between a smaller or larger generator, bigger is always better.
3. Start-up Wattage.
You will need to know the start-up wattage and running wattage of your appliances. These can be found in their product manuals, or online.
Start-up wattage is generally about 2 - 3 times as many watts as the running wattage. i.e. if your total running wattage is 1600W or 2kVa, then choose a 4 - 6kVa generator. Add 27% (wattage x 1.27) to the Wattage for an approximate of the total running power requirements in kVA.
Running wattage of common household appliances.
- Clothes Dryer 4000W
- Dishwasher 1200 - 3600W
- Electric Oven 2000W
- Heater 150 - 2000W
- Microwave 600 - 1500W
- Toaster 800 - 1500W
- Electric Frying Pan 1200W
- Iron 1000W
- Blow Hair Dryer 1000W
- Stove Range 800W
- Coffee Maker 800W
- Vacuum 200 - 800W
- Washing Machine 500W
- Fridge/Freezer 200 - 700W
- Television 100 - 450W
- Computer + Monitor 100 - 400W
- Blender 350W
- Electric Blanket 200W
- Sewing Machine 100W
- Light Bulb 18 - 60W
- Laptop 50W
- Shaver 15W
Outdoor Power Tools:
- Electric Mower 1500W
- 10" Bench Saw 1500W
- Weed Eater 500W
- Hedge Trimmer 450W
- Belt Sander 380W
- Drill 330W
This list is indicative only. Please refer to your product manuals for actual values.
4. Inverter or Standard?
Standard generators run at full speed regardless of how much power you need. An inverter uses a self-governing smart throttle which adjusts when you turn on a light or appliance. This means you save on fuel, it's quiet, runs smooth, and is better for the environment. Inverters use clean power by utilising fuel economy, tailoring the engine output speed to whatever electrical items you have plugged in.
5. Petrol or Diesel?
Most portable generators run on petrol, but it's worth looking at diesel models as well. Diesel engines are generally harder to start and are a little bit more expensive than petrol. But they last longer, especially with continuous use. For larger models diesel is going to be cheaper to run due to lower fuel costs.
We recommend using a conditioner with diesel fuel, to stop the diesel growing fungus and degrading its quality (this happens naturally).
- Keep generators at least 5 metres away from the house in a well-ventilated area away from enclosed living and working spaces. Generators excrete carbon monoxide.
- Use heavy duty outdoor extension cords to plug appliances into the machine. Or connect the generator to a power-transfer switch.
- Never connect a generator directly to your home's wiring. If you need to do this, hire an electrician and get them to install a transfer switch.
Still need more help?
Either send us an email or give us a bell during office hours on 0800 800 880.