Perhaps the worst thing any family could experience is having to cope with a power outage lasting several hours or even days.
Generators are some of the best solutions to power outages.
Bear in mind these factors when shopping for a one:
Six Manufactured Home Generators Shopping Factors
- Type of Fuel
- Wattage & Power Needs
- Type of Generators
- Features to Consider
- Cost v/s Budget
1. Type of Fuel
What does the generator of your liking use to run?
Is the fuel readily available or affordable?
These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself about the fuel factor.
- Standby generators produce up to 22-kW and are typically powered by either liquid propane (LP) or natural gas (NG).
- You still can find a model that runs on diesel, although this type tends to be liquid-cooled (which is good, more on this later), but costs slightly more.
- Both diesel and LP fuels will require huge tanks large to store pools of the fuel.
- Similarly, those powered by natural gas will require a large and more precise meter and an improved gas line that can support the “big” needs.
2. Wattage & Power Needs
The first thing you need to get right are your wattage and power requirements.
But, how do you even know the wattage you will need in your home? Well, it all boils down to the type of appliances you have in your home. The many and power hungry they are, the more powerful the generator will need to be.
Home generators come in two power measurements each which can be appropriate for specific scenarios:
- starting watts
- running watts
It takes more power to start an appliance than merely running it.
These initial or momentary power needs are measured in Starting Watts.
Other names for Starting Watts are Startup Power, Peak Power, or Max Watts.
Also referred to as Continuous Watts, it describes the needs of an appliance under normal conditions.
Determine Power Needs
The average American home requires 5,000 watts of uninterrupted power.
The best way to determine your wattage and power requirements is to add each of your appliance’s wattage to find the total load.
Thereafter, choose a generator that provides slightly more than the power you calculated.
3. Type of Generators
There are different types of generators designed to power different sizes of homes. The difference between them can have something to do with their own sizes as well as portability among other factors.
This class of generators consists of devices that are permanently installed outside the home.
They are wired directly into your home’s electrical system to supply power to all necessary circuits in the event of power outage.
Many standby generators are designed to automatically click into operation when your house loses power and take a few minutes to shut themselves off when power returns.
It is almost standard for a standby generator to be fueled either by natural gas or liquid propane. A unit requires certified professional installation.
If you are looking for a more versatile generator that you can use to power your home and even travel with it during your weekend camping, then a portable generator would be a great choice.
Their uses are near limitless. They can be used to provide emergency power in homes or in remote areas where the usual utility power is unavailable.
You can also use them for recreational purposes, like tailgating and boating.
Portable generators are typically fueled by gasoline. They normally come with 120-V power outlets similar to those found on walls of your house.
When the portable generator is in operation, you can plug tools and appliances directly into those outlets.
The exact size you need can be hard to tell, but will depend on what you are planning to power.
For that reason, consider planning and conducting research accordingly to get your goals right.
This is a unique class of generators. Inverter generators comes with intricate engines that will throttle up and throttle down to meet your power demands, rather than running constantly.
This is the best kind of generator for such activities as tailgating, boating, camping, or RVing.
The best thing about inverter generators is their quieter operation, which makes them the best choice for homeowners who would want as much silence as possible.
Better yet, this type of generator runs quite efficiently and is a great option if you are thinking about reduced emissions.
Portable power stations don’t use gasoline, propane, or natural gas like other types of generators.
Instead, they use a battery to deliver power to your appliances. You simply plug them into a power outlet to charge, something that can make you wonder if they are real generators.
Nowadays, you can even buy solar generators that are powered by the sun. They are very much like inverter generators when it comes to quietness and reduced fuel emissions.
Because this type of generator relies on solar or battery power, there is a limit to where you can use them and the number of appliances they can support.
Also, the length of period they can support a load can be very limited if you compare them with gasoline-powered options.
While these might not be considerable issues to some homeowners, especially if you don’t plan to use them as your primary source of power, you shouldn’t depend on a portable power station for electronics that require 24/7 support, especially medical products and some types of lighting.
If you would like the battery-powered type, check out with Goal Zero, Westinghouse, EcoFlow and Aviva.
4. Features to Consider
Not just any generator would do. You want a machine that will meet your power needs as well as possess features that fosters better experience.
Look for these twelve features in a manufactured home generator:
- Automatic CO Shutoff
- Automatic Start
- Alternative-Fuel Capability
- Electric Start
- Fuel Gauge
- Low-Oil Shutoff
- Multiple Outlets
- Inverter Technology
- Removable Console
- Noise Reduction
- Transfer Switch
Automatic CO Shutoff
Gasoline-powered generators produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) due to incomplete combustion of the fuel.
This safety feature allows the generator to detect the buildup of the CO gas and shut down if a threshold level is reached. Different generator brands call this feature by different names.
So, look for such terms as “CO Shield” or “CO Guard” and also make sure it is compliant with these standards:
Carbon monoxide can kill if inhaled for a given period.
Some generators come with engines that have been rated as Low CO, meaning these engines emit less Carbon Monoxide in normal operation conditions.
This is a second safety feature added specifically to guard against CO poisoning and you might check for it if the device doesn’t comply with above two standards.
A generator with this feature will automatically start in the event of power loss. It is a must-have feature on your generator if you travel often and can’t return home quickly enough in emergency situations.
A big part of the portable generators you will find in the store runs on gasoline, but a few are designed to take a second fuel such as propane or natural gas using a handy conversion kit.
Most stationary generators run on natural gas or propane.
This feature sounds obvious because most devices come with it (try one without it, unless it is a standby generator?).
An electric start comes as a simple push-button that you will push to bring the machine to life —no more strings or pull-starting.
Please imagine learning that your equipment is low on fuel just after a blackout has struck!
A fuel gauge lets you know the level of fuel so that you can refill the generator before the emergency occurs.
This feature is similar to fuel gauge, except that it deals with oil.
When the oil drains off below a given level, this feature will avert engine damage by shutting down the device.
It is becoming standard for stationary and even portable generators to come with Low-Oil Shutoff features.
It can help big time to have a generator with least four outlets on any side to spread the wattage evenly.
Although it is recommended that you only reach this maximum load during extreme situations such as a brownout or blackout.
The job of an inverter is to turn DC input into AC output. AC (alternative current) is the sort of current used to power everyday household appliances.
When you buy an inverter, you want one that can comfortably handle the total wattage of the equipment and appliances in your home.
If you dislike extension cords, then look for a generator with a removable console.
Connected to the device, a removable console permits the user to connect a few loads without linking extension cords all the way to outdoors.
If you have used one already, you know generators are not exactly the quietest devices to have around your home.
That’s why some of them offer extra features in an effort to cut the noise produced during operation.
Buy large mufflers if you cherish silence – the occupants in your home and neighbors will be thankful.
Some generators can be incredibly heavy that even two people would have a hard time carrying and moving them from place to place.
Fortunately, most of the machines sold nowadays feature small sturdy wheels that make movement easy.
You can easily move portable generators between different locations at home, which means you can use them virtually anywhere in the compound.
The smallest portable machines are relatively lightweight—can be around 50 lbs.—permitting them to be moved easily.
Larger models weigh hundreds of pounds, making it necessary to bolt them on a wheeled frame essential.
Transfer Switch is yet another must-have feature in a home generator.
If you plan to use the machine to power your house, you will need the correct size of a generator plus a transfer switch.
The switch serves to close off your utility power line at a point it feeds the house’s electrical system and creates a direct line linking the generator.
The best thing is that the transfer switch will reverse this process anytime you wish to restore your utility power.
Standby models will feature either an automatic or manual transfer switch.
As aforementioned, automatic switches are more than convenient, more so if you want your devices to run flawlessly when you are not around.
Generators normally come with automatic transfer switches (ATS) that can comfortably handle a particular number of circuits.
The number of circuits depends on the strength or kilowatt (kwh or kw) power rating of the generator.
Each circuit links directly to a matching circuit on the main circuit breaker panel of your home, providing electrical power to that particular area or appliance of the home.
For instance, an 8-kw generator and a10-circuit ATS can connect:
- TV and Lights in your family room
- A refrigerator
- Microwave and lights in your kitchen
- Power to your bathroom
- A garage’s door opener
- A furnace
- A computer and related home office equipment
- An air conditioner
As mentioned earlier, you need to calculate the total wattage of your home appliances, lights or any other load before deciding the size of the generator.
If you intend to use it to run your main air conditioner, you will need a machine that can sufficiently handle it.
Telling the size of a generator appropriate for your air condition is easy, simply look at the HVAC unit’s data plate, you will see the size in either Tons or BTUs. There are 12000 BTUs for every ton of capacity. There’s also 12,000 BTUs for every 3.517 kW of energy.
So, if your HVAC is rated 36000 BTUs (3-ton), for example, you need a standby generator capable of producing 11kW or more.
Here are a few classes of household generator power coverage worth considering:
Essential Circuit Coverage
Some homeowners opt to cover only a select-few specific circuits during power outage instead of all circuits. These may include such essential circuits as cooling and heating systems, refrigeration, well pump, and lights. This is the most cost-effective route you can ever take when using a generator.
Managed Whole-Home Coverage
With only light and medium electronics and appliance usage, all you need is a smaller generator, the size of 11-kW or 13-kW and a 200-ampere ATS to provide coverage for your home. This category can allow you reduce power usage helping you manage how much power each appliance consumes.
Complete Whole-Home Coverage
When your home loses power goes out, everything every electronic and electrical appliance becomes unusable regardless of the number of circuits you have. Choose this category of power management for your whole home protection although it might not be the most energy-efficient route to take.
The most accurate and best way to select the appropriate option is to call the specialist to conduct load measurements of the circuits plus all the items you plan to support with your generator in the event of a blackout. An amp meter can be used to measure the power needed as each item starts up. The findings of the load measurement will give you the overall power requirement for your backup power.
Air-Cooled v/s Liquid-Cooled Generator – Which One Would Your Prefer?
Generators can be split into two broad categories based on the cooling method –
- air-cooled machines
- and liquid-cooled machines.
The reason why you need to consider the cooling technique is that the machine will need some ventilation, but your preferred installation point may not provide enough air or liquid for cooling.
The distinction between liquid-cooled and air-cooled generators is just obvious. Air-cooled standby generators are equipped with fans to force a stream of air over the engine to cool it.
For most households, air-cooled machines provide exceptional value.
It depends on the model of the machine. One air-cooled generator can power eight (8), ten (10), twelve (12), or sixteen (16) key circuits in the event of an outage.
A 20-kW air-cooled standby machine is capable of providing complete protection for virtually any size of home.
Also, as long as the generator is positioned in an open environment where it can get enough air, it will run smoothly, for longer.
Liquid-cooled generators utilizes an enclosed radiator unit for cooling, very much like a car. Larger kilowatt generators that come with larger engines are often designed to be cooled by a liquid.
6. Cost v/s Budget
The cost of the generator depends on
- the type of the machine
- type of fuel
- wattage (size)
- among other factors.
Start by listing down your needs and the features you want the generator to possess.
Then proceed to prepare your budget and decide the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend for the machine.
According to Home Advisor, most homeowners pay anything between $1,400 and $7,500.
The price tags vary as follows:
Generator cost based on fuel:
|Fuel Type||Price Range|
|Gasoline||$500 and $3,000
|Natural Gas||$1,900 and $5,000
|Diesel||$3,000 and 15,000|
|Liquid Propane||$500 and $6,000|
|Solar ||$300 and $5,000|
Cost based on power capability
|Power Capability||Average Price||Typical Coverage|
|7-kW||$1,900||8 circuits max. or 1 appliance|
|11-kW||$3,000||16 circuits max. or 2 appliances|
|16-kW||$3,700||Full 1,000 – 3,000 sq. ft. home|
|17-kW||$4,500||Full 2,500 – 3,000 sq. ft. home|
|20-kW||$4,900||Full 3,000 – 5,000 sq. ft. Home|
|22-kW||$5,800||Full 5,000+ sq. ft. Home|
|30-kW or MORE||$12,000 ||COMMERCIAL USE ONLY|
There’s just a lot to get right when choosing a generator.
To select a product that meets your needs, you need to determine whether the fuel type is readily available or affordable.
There are several types of machines each great for specific loads.
Also, consider your home’s wattage & power needs, specific must-have features, size, and cost.