It depends on what you need a portable generator for. If you’re looking to run an RV, there are generators out there that can do that reliably. For powering your home when the utility power goes out, gasoline-powered generators are your best bet. But if you need a battery-powered generator for camping or off-grid use, go with an inverter generator because they’re quieter and much more fuel efficient.
For home use, I would recommend an inverter generator. It’s a little bit more expensive than the other options, but they last much longer and have a lot of additional features that might make up for that price.
There are several different brands of inverter generators out there, including Big Blue Power (generator-side only), Generac (generator-side only), and Yamaha.
There are also AC models, but they aren’t as efficient as their inverter cousins, so you’ll want to look into diesel-fueled inverter generators for small applications like your house.
Inverter generators are primarily driven by gas and diesel fuel.
The natural gas inverter generator I’ll discuss here is the Yamaha MT-D120B and its larger twin, the MT-D130B. These inverter generators are available in a stand-alone application or with a solar panel. Like their gasoline-powered counterparts, they’re designed to produce power for up to 4 hours. They can be used indoors or outdoors, but make sure you install them in an area where they can get enough air flow to keep cool, as these generators definitely need it (you can’t hook them up to your home’s central air conditioning).
The inverter generator puts out 230 watts through a 120v outlet and can run on either natural gas or liquid propane gas (LP). While the Yamaha MT-D120B Yamaha has an 18.1 gallon fuel tank which supports up to 5.0 hours of running time, the MT-D130B can be upgraded to a 26.6 gallon fuel tank, which supports up to 7.0 hours of running time or up to 10 hours when the optional 6lb LP bottle is added. This larger model has wheels for mobility and can be used with solar panel – it’s known as the Yamaha MCiB30i Portable Inverter Generator with Solar Panel Bundle Kit Generator .
Now, about the advantages:
What are the advantages of inverter generators over regular generators? The main benefit of the inverter generator is that it doesn’t emit as much noise–about 80db instead of 90db. The reason why they don’t emit as much noise is that they’re designed to not recycle power. Recycling power puts stress on the unit and can damage engine components if it happens too often. Inverter generators also start quicker than regular generators, and they tend to be more fuel efficient than their counterparts, making them perfect for home use.
As I said, Yamaha makes a solar panel option for their inverter generator.
As a matter of fact, Yamaha makes several different options for the solar panel generator. Now, they have generators that work with other solar panels on the market–but they also have a specific home solar system designed to work with their generator. The Yamaha Home Power Package with Solar Kit is their version of an off-grid solar setup. It includes a 30 watt solar panel and charger that’s rated for use with the natural gas-powered Yamaha inverter generators. It’s an excellent option if you want to power your home without relying on utility power at all times.
Now, these units are not cheap by any means–but they are extremely well made and will last for years.
As for the size, these generators weigh between 550 and 650 pounds. That’s pretty hefty, but when you compare the weight of a standard gasoline-powered generator to these inverter generators, it’s not too bad.
Are generators worth the money?
If you want to buy a portable generator for camping, go ahead and do it. They’re not that expensive, and they can power most things in a camper trailer or RV. If you’re looking to use a portable generator to power your home when the electricity grid goes down, you’ll probably want to invest in an inverter generator. Inverter generators cost more than other options out there, but they are far and away superior in quality. Remember: if your life depends on it, buy the best quality units you can afford.
Attributes to look in a power generator:
- Noise: Generators don’t run quietly. You’ll still hear the noise from the engine, but it’s far quieter than a gas-powered generator.
- Fuel capacity: You have options with power generators–gasoline, diesel, solar panel units, and more. Look into each of their fuel capacities and make sure you match what you need with your specific use.
- Price: If you’re on a tight budget, stick to gasoline generators–as I mentioned above, they work well in situations where you need to power your home without access to utility power for less money than you could get an inverter generator for. However…
- Quality: Buy the best quality you can afford. If you don’t, you might end up having to buy a replacement generator when something goes wrong. My advice? Stick with the more expensive generator if it means saving money in the long run.
- Fuel type: Again, this comes down to your budget and specific needs. If you’re only planning on using a portable generator for camping, use gasoline fuel–it’s easy to find and cheap too. If you want something that runs on natural gas or liquid propane gas (LP) see what kind of generators are available for those fuels to determine which one is right for your situation (generators tend to be cheaper per hour than the specific fuel tanks are).
- Size: Portable generators should be lightweight–as long as they’re under 500 pounds, you should be able to move them around with little effort. Larger models will have a weight limit of 650 pounds, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at getting a very large generator.
- Wind: If you plan on using your portable generator during an event where wind is an issue (camping or at the beach, for example), look into what type of wind speed rating your unit has and what it can handle. Generally speaking, the higher the engine RPM and wattage of the generator, the better it handles stronger winds.
- Power: The more power you need, the bigger and more expensive your generator will be. If you plan on using it for your home, look into getting a unit that can power the entire house.
- Fuel: Portable generators run on different fuels–gasoline is a great option if you don’t need to move your generator often, but natural gas or liquid propane gas (LP) are good options if you want something cheaper to run and can get a tank filled at any hardware store or propane distributor. Gasoline generators are also the most common type of generators out there, so even if you want to eventually switch to another fuel, it’s an easy one to get started with.
- Warranty: Most portable generators have standard warranties from one year to 10 years. If you plan on using your generator for an extended period of time, look into buying a model that comes with longer (or lifetime) warranties to make sure it’s protected if something breaks or fails in the future.