Features to Look for in a Generator

On the market for a generator? We've got your back. Look for these features in your next generator

The scoop on the must-have features for a generator

Nothing creates more chaos than when there is a power outage. These days, it is impossible to get any work down without it. There are, of course, other things that can be done without electricity such as hiking in the woods or riding a bike, but eventually, everyone has to come home. While showering in the dark is not ideal, it can be done too, but why not just avoid the havoc and pick out a generator that suits your needs. Not sure how to pick one out? Well, read below, and you’ll find some generator features to look for when shopping and never be without power again.

Do You Want a Portable or a Stationary Generator?

Portable generators cost less than stationary generators and usually run on gasoline, which means if you have outages often, you may need to store gas in case of emergency. While you can take them anywhere, they do need to be within 20 feet of the property and will provide you between 3,000 to 8,500 watts (depending on the type of generator purchased). Portable generators are roughly between $400 to $1000 in cost.

Stationary generators cost more money and range between $3,000 to $6,000 in price. However, they can run self-diagnosis if there is maintenance is needed, and it comes with a variety of fuel choices, such as propane or natural gas, and supplies you an unlimited amount of power. The wattage will range from 5,000 to 20,000.

Size (aka Watts)

Now that you know if you’re going to get a portable or stationary generator, it’s time to look at the size of your generator. There are many classes of size when looking for what will suit you best. The wattage levels between the generators will make or break what can be used in a general power outage.

Generators have a starting watt rate and a running watt rate, check both out to see what each generator will consistently deliver for your needs.

Generators range from 2,000 watts up to 10,000 watts. Each size provides a myriad of needs and requirements for its size and gas-powered, battery-powered, and solar-powered will offer different wattages.

The refrigerator takes 600 watts, a sump pump can range from 750 to 1,500, a window air conditioner uses 1,000 watts, and lights can take up to 600 watts (depending on how many lights run in the house).


Figuring out what type of outlets are needed on the generator is necessary too. In an emergency, are you going to use the bare necessities or try to run your home as if there is no outage? Depending on what options are the right option for you, make sure to find out how many outlets and what voltage those outlets are.

Some generators come with USB ports now also. (Something to keep in mind for those who need electronics charged and working, even in a power outage).

General voltage/s run from 120V AC to higher. The bigger the generator, the higher the voltage will be.

Type of Fuel

While gas generators are the most common, fuel is easy to come by (most times). However, diesel generators are more efficient. Battery-powered is also an option--generators charged by battery have the opportunity to recharge with solar panels. This type of generator runs quieter and has no emissions--the downside is that they only offer up to 1800 in voltage and are more expensive.

Size of Fuel Tank

The bigger the tank, the longer your generator runs. With a 50 percent load, most generators will give you 7 to 9 hours of usage. Keep in mind that the bigger the tank also means the more gas you have to store and generally indicates a heavier generator.

How to Start Your Engines

There is a pull cord or an electric start engine. Either one will start your engine, but which way you choose is up to you.

Do You Want Your Generator on Wheels?

Did you know that not all generators come with wheels even though they are heavy? Check to see if the generator you’re looking at comes with wheels; if not, some wheel-less generators have kits. If wheels and easy mobility are a plus for you, remember to research and get what you are looking for.

Other options to look for in generators are run-time, EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection), Type of Fuel Take (plastic tanks last longer), Usage, and Noise Levels. Surprising, but true, generators have a lot of features to look for. Keep in mind that the right one is out there and will help make power outages more tolerable and will come in handy for plenty of other uses, too.

Resources—Consumer Reports, MaxTulsa, Pro Tool Reviews, Pro Tool Reviews