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Generators: What Are They and Should You Buy One?

October 15, 2018

You have probably at least heard of the term “generator”, even if you are not entirely clear on what it does. 

Generators allow people to generate their own electricity if they are in a remote area or are experiencing an emergency situation. But, what exactly are they and should you buy one?

 

What Is a Generator?

 

A generator is defined as a device that converts motive power into electrical power for use in an external circuit. There are two types of generators: portable and stationary. A portable generator is useful if you frequent an area that does not have electricity, such as a camping ground, and you would like to be able to use devices that require electricity. A stationary generator can be kept at your home and can allow you to keep your refrigerator running and your phone charged during a power outage.

 

How Does It Work?

 

You should understand that generators do not simply create energy out of nowhere (physically impossible), but they use mechanical energy from steam turbines, gas turbines, water turbines, internal combustion engines, and hand cranks and convert it into electricity. Generators have nine major components (engine, alternator, fuel system, voltage regulator, cooling and exhaust systems, lubrication systems, battery charger, control panel, and main assembly/frame), all of which work together to output an electric current.

 

How Often Would You Use One?

 

This depends on where you live, your lifestyle, and your personal level of emergency preparedness. Some areas, such as the coastal regions, tend to have more power outages due to hurricanes, so if you live in one of those or another blackout-prone area, you would probably use a generator quite often. Even if you rarely experience blackouts, it’s never a bad idea to have one on hand if disaster should strike. Additionally, generators can be useful in your everyday life. For example, if you enjoy hosting outdoor parties, you can use a generator to light up the gazebo and keep the food warm in crock pots.

 

What Kind Should You Buy (If Any)?

 

A stationary generator is significantly more expensive than a portable generator, but it is also more powerful and usually has more features. Most stationary generators start up automatically if the power goes out, so you will barely even notice if you lose electricity. They also run on propane or natural gas, which is safer to store than gasoline, which powers many portable generators. Portable generators do have some perks as well. They are more affordable, and they are easy to transport to a new location if needed. As such, if you are simply looking for a way to have a reliable backup in case of a blackout, a stationary generator is probably your best bet. Otherwise, if you are wanting to have a source of transportable power, a portable generator will do the trick!