Everyone has come to rely on electricity at this point. Only a century ago, back in 1925, less than half of American homes were powered by electricity. In those days, most people kept with the old ways, using gas lamps, wood heat, and other resources to power their homes and lives. Of course, all that quickly changed. By 1945, electricity had spread to more than 85 percent of homes, and today, most people struggle to make it through even temporary power outages. More extensive ones can cause numerous problems and hardships.
Keeping the Power On
Fortunately, there’s no real need to face power outages without reinforcement these days. Generators are now available to keep the power on. Whether you’re facing temporary power outages caused by storms or extended blackouts due to grid failures, generators can prevent countless issues. Portable models, like EcoFlow generators, can be helpful in outages, emergency situations, and many other scenarios. Different types of portable generators are on the market. It’s important to understand the available options and what sets each one apart.
As the name indicates, propane generators are fueled by propane gas. Propane is considered a clean-burning fuel, so it produces fewer emissions than certain other fuels. These generators can be connected to different types of propane tanks. When connected to 500-gallon tanks, they can power an entire home for about 36 hours or so. On the other hand, a standard portable propane tank can keep one of these generators going for about five hours or so depending on how much demand you place on it.
In emergencies, portable propane generators could last much longer. That’s especially the case if you only use it for the bare necessities, like heating water or providing temporary emergency lighting. These generators are often used as backups for homes and businesses during outages as they can be moved around and connected to different appliances or systems as needed. They also work well for camping and in other instances as long as propane is available to fuel them.
Diesel portable generators are also widely used. They’re durable and reliable, and they can provide efficient power output. Because of their power and longevity, they can be used in a variety of settings where other types of generators might fall short. They can even be used in industrial facilities and large businesses.
Though diesel generators are great for withstanding heavy loads and high demands, they’re not quite as eco-friendly as propane generators. Diesel produces more harmful emissions than some other types of fuel. Diesel is often more expensive than gas or propane as well, so keeping these portable generators up and running can be costly over the long term. Their efficiency may offset that cost, though.
Gasoline generators are among the most common types of portable power sources. They tend to be more affordable and readily available than other fuel-powered generators. They’re very versatile, and they can be used to power an array of essentials. Many consider gasoline to be a bit of a compromise between propane and diesel. It doesn’t burn as efficiently as diesel, but it produces fewer emissions. Propane is a bit less expensive than gas, but it doesn’t quite go as far.
Gasoline portable generators are perfect for any number of uses from tailgating and camping to providing partial backup power for homes and serving users in emergency situations. As is the case with propane and diesel generators, though, you’ll need a supply of fuel to keep these machines going. That can be cumbersome if you’re on the go. In times of widespread hardship, keeping extra fuel on hand can be particularly difficult due to high demand and low supply.
Solar generators can be particularly helpful when you need a backup source of power. They use solar panels to draw in energy from the sun and convert it to electricity. They can also store excess power in batteries for later use. That means they’ll work even at night and on cloudy days. These are the most environmentally friendly generators because they produce no emissions to harm the planet.
Unlike other types of generators, you don’t need to keep a supply of fuel on hand to power solar models. As long as the sun produces light, they’ll produce electricity. These are often more expensive upfront, but they can allow you to save a great deal of money on fuel in the long run. These portable generators are perfect for people who are constantly on the go. They can be immensely helpful in times when conventional fuel sources are limited as well.
Dual-Fuel and Hybrid Generators
Sometimes, it’s nice to have a choice of different types of fuel to use in a portable generator. That’s where portable dual-fuel generators come into play. Most can be powered by either gas or propane. If gas is in short supply, you can switch to propane and vice versa. Some can be powered by gas and diesel or other combinations of fuel. Though you’ll still need a supply of fuel to power these generators, you’re not restricted to only one option. That gives you extra flexibility and added reassurance in emergencies and during times when one fuel source may be more readily available than another.
Dual-fuel generators are a type of hybrid generator, but they’re not the only options available in this category. Some hybrid generators run off of both solar and gas or diesel fuel. That can give you a more reliable power source. If the solar portion of your generator doesn’t produce enough electricity to meet your needs, the extra fuel source kicks in to bridge the gap.
Since these portable generators combine solar energy with traditional fuels, they produce a certain number of emissions. You’ll also need to keep extra fuel on hand to make full use of them. That being said, as is the case with dual-fuel generators, you can easily rely on the solar element of the system when gas or diesel isn’t available, so you won’t have to worry quite as much about running out of fuel when you need it most.
Portable inverter generators are likewise available. They’re fairly new on the market compared to other options. They’re equipped with advanced technology that allows them to power sensitive electronic devices like laptops, televisions, and smartphone chargers. They regulate their fuel consumption to adapt to your demands. These are often smaller, quieter, and more fuel efficient than other types of generators. Most inverter generators are powered by gasoline, but some can use other types of fuel. These generators aren’t always as powerful and versatile as other alternatives, but they can get you by when you need a power source.
PTO generators run off of the power take-off shaft of a tractor or other type of heavy machinery. These generators are often used as mobile power sources on farms and in other outdoor applications. They can be helpful in remote locations and during emergencies and disaster relief efforts as well. They’re highly portable, but they need to be connected to heavy machinery to run. If that machinery runs out of fuel, these generators no longer have a power source to keep them going. They’re not the best options for people who are on the go and need a little extra freedom in terms of where and how they power their portable generators.
Finally, that brings us to hand-crank generators. These are typically lighter and smaller than other types of generators. They don’t require gas, diesel, propane, or solar panels. They don’t need heavy machinery to be available to provide power, either. Instead, they’re fueled by human power. Users operate them manually by turning a crank. That, in turn, provides electrical power.
These portable generators are among the easiest to transport. They’re not always the most powerful, though. Besides that, keeping them running can be exhausting. It’s best to have a few extra people on hand to turn the crank when needed. In general, you’ll get about half an hour of power for every ten minutes you spend turning the crank. They can store power for later use, but propelling them to a full charge is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.
Still, hand-crank generators can provide a lifeline in emergencies when no other power source is available. It’s best to use these generators for minimal power requirements when possible. That may include heating small volumes of water and powering an emergency radio.
Choosing the Right Portable Generator for Your Needs
Those are the most common types of portable generators on the market right now. Those that run off of gas, diesel, and propane are among the most popular because they typically give you more power for longer. Solar generators eliminate the need to keep a fuel supply on hand, but they’re not always the most reliable options. Hybrid generators give you added flexibility. PTO generators are helpful in some situations, but they’re not as versatile as their counterparts. Hand-crank generators require only human power to run, but they’re meant for minimal electrical requirements.
All these portable generators can give you power in emergencies and during outages. Consider how often you might need a backup power source, how much of an electrical demand you’ll place on it, and your capacity to keep extra fuel on hand. Those factors can help you decide just which portable generator would best serve you when the need arises.