Generator Accessories and Extras

Generator Accessories and Extras

Along with every generator comes extra accessories like gas cans, tachometers, funnels, and other items to test and make sure your generator is working optimally. The last thing anyone needs to worry about is having a backup power source but no gas.

Below are the most common items purchased in conjunction with best-selling generators. You’ll most likely need at least a couple of these items to make maintenance and the use of power much easier.

Best Inverter Generators to Buy: A Top 5 List

If you are in the market for an inverter generator, you need to be aware of its characteristics, what it does, how it works, along with the types and models that are considered the best for the money spent. So, before you run out and buy one, take a look at some of the preliminary information and the reviews of the top 5 given here to get an idea which ones are currently top of the line. No matter the model, there is one that will likely meet your needs.

Quick Overview: How an Inverter Generator Works

An inverter produces direct current (DC) power and then converts it to alternating current (AC) power using digital electronics. Digital electronics transmit information, which has been encoded digitally for the storage and processing of information. It generates AC power in phases at high frequency. Then it is converted to a direct current (DC),then back to alternating current (AC), which can be used with electronic equipment, power tools and appliances that require power.

READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE >>

Types of Output

Most inverters put out AC current in pure sine waves, others in square or block waves and still others in modified sine waves. They not only modify the signal but they can make it clearer and cleaner. Consumers need to be aware that pure sine wave AC power is the most reliable, steady and clean of the three.

A pure sine wave will deliver the same wave as what is delivered from a normal generator or a power company. There will not be fluctuations in voltage, which can occur with more traditional generators. They produce a purer energy output as opposed to square or block waves. The output from an inverter is often called clean power, which brings a stable and consistent current and a stable sine wave delivery.

Square wave inverters are not used as much as others, though they are good for powering motors in power tools. They are less expensive, but they are difficult to find.

Modified sine wave inverters create power with a wave form that is similar to a square wave. Larger items like pump motors, fans, refrigerators and other items will not operate as efficiently with this type.

Characteristics of These Generators

Most are usually compact, rectangular or streamlined in shape, considerably lighter than regular generators and are easily moved from one area to another because of their portability factor, which usually includes a built-in carrying handle. They are also safer, quieter, eliminate distortion and, depending on the model, can be started through a remote device or a pull start.

They are used for both restoring back-up power and for operating equipment such as small and large appliances, power tools, laptops, tablets, monitor screens, cellphones and other sensitive electronics. Restoring back-up power is a necessity, especially if you’re in a position to invest in a generator.

Most inverters are equipped with display panels, USB ports, 12V DC receptacle, and three-pronged 120V (Volt) receptacles. They are fuel-efficient and are usually fueled by gas, propane or natural gas, and have excellent run times.

Top 5 Inverter Generators to Buy

1. Honda Eu2000i Companion Portable Model

 

honda-EU2000-generatorThe Honda EU 2000i has a 2000 maximum wattage with a 1600 watt rated output. It contains one 20 amp 120V (Volt) outlet and one 30 amp 120V (Volt) outlet that can be linked with another Honda inverter to double the power of the GX100 OHC engine.

When two Honda EU2000i’s are linked this way, a recreational vehicle air conditioning unit is easily powered as well as more demanding power hungry equipment. This model is lightweight and quiet, particularly in the eco save mode; starts easily and runs clean and smoothly, for about 6 hours, though the gas tank could be slightly larger to accommodate a lengthier running time.

It is gasoline run and is CARB-compliant (California Air Resource Board compliance that ensures strict air quality measures in the state) for the 50 states, and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

2. DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator

 

With a 4400 Watt surge (3500 Watt Continuous), you’ll be able to relax knowing that the Duromax generator has you covered. With this model comes a four-gallon gas tank, an 8 hour runtime, and also an electric key start.

Highlighted Benefits:

  • 4400 Watt Surge/3500 Watt Continuous
  • 4 Gallon Gas Tank/8 Hour Run Time
  • Electric Key Start/Includes Battery
  • EPA Approved
  • Automatic Low Oil Shut Off

3. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable

 

Yamaha EF2000iSv2 PortableThe Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a pure sine wave inverter that is an upgrade from its previous EF2000is model. It is packed with power yet quiet, compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to transport and store. There is quick access to controls as well as a fuel gauge that is easy to view.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC outlets and one DC outlet-8A (amps) 12V (Volt) for charging batteries, which includes cables. It powers a number of items in various ranges and has a 1600 watt rated AC output with a 2000 watt maximum.

It also has a very quiet muffler with a spark arrestor. A Smart Throttle aids in varying the engine speed based on load, which improves fuel use and limits noise. Its  system has a Pulse Width Modulation control (PWM) that provides voltage stability. This Yamaha, like the other models reviewed, is CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board), and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

4. Champion 100261-3100 Watt Portable

 

Champion 100261-3100The 3100 maximum watt Champions 100261 has a true sine wave output along with a remote wireless starter that contains an automatic choke design for easy start and stop- up to 80 feet in distance. There is a 12V (Volt) DC outlet as well as dual-port USB adapter and battery charger.

The inverter is fully enclosed with a durable housing that eliminates sound output and enables quiet operation, and it contains integrated wheels and stow away handles for moving and storing. Its clean power output can be utilized for just about any energy need such as campsites, recreational vehicles, cabins, electronics and appliances.

A Champion 192cc OHV engine powers with a low oil shut off provides protection and extends the life of the generator. There is even an economy mode with this model that allows it to run over seven hours as it adjusts engine speed to optimum levels. Fuel use is reduced as is engine wear. There is a 2-year limited warranty and it is EPA and CARB (California Air Resource Board) certified in 50 states.

5. Westinghouse WH2400i Portable

 

Westinghouse WH2400iThe WH2400i gas powered inverter is a reasonably priced, lightweight, compact and quiet inverter that offers power at any time and any place. It can safely power sensitive electronics with its low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) as well as provide clean power for refrigerators, power tools, smartphones, tablets and laptops with its 1800 running watts and 2200 starting watts.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC power outlets and one 12V (Volt) DC power outlet. This model has a 13 hour run time that allows for all night use and enhanced fuel efficiency along with an automatic low oil shutdown. Power can be enhanced with anchoring to another Westinghouse inverter to increase wattage and the power necessary to take on real energy eaters.

Westinghouse has provided a 2-year limited warranty on this model, and it is EPA and CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board) certified.

Inverters manufactured by Honda appear to be leaders in the industry, though their higher price-points can hold off a purchase, which comes down to where they are purchased. Yamaha, Champion and Westinghouse provide competition with somewhat lower prices and are still effective given the necessary features and fuel efficiency to get power going when electric power is limited, or is required for any number of devices that require power.

Whatever the choice, these five inverters are top of the line for most any use or need you might have.

Why Investing in a Generator is Actually Worth It

It’s 2am. Lightning strikes and the LED for your alarm clock flickers. It’s the first sign that your electricity is about to fail. Your little one comes scampering into the room screaming “Mommy, Daddy, I’m scared!” Of course, you take a minute to calm her down and remind her that the boogeyman doesn’t exist, but you have a real monster to worry about.

You just spent $300 on groceries and all the food in your refrigerator and freezer will go bad if your electricity fails. Come to think of it, your phone only has 20% charge, your laptop is dead, and your internet depends on your electricity. How will you call work? How will you find information about the current weather situation with no television and no internet?

Worse, what if it was a serious problem that caused the electrical outage, such as a tornado that came through your neighborhood? Even if it completely missed your house and you are otherwise safe, you could still be displaced for lack of basic services.

You could be without electricity for days. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you could wait out the clean up in the comfort of your own home because you were well supplied and prepared?

Winter storms present a danger as well. Even though most have gas heat, their heat won’t switch on without electricity. I remember a winter when my parents were trapped at home for a week with no electricity and no heat but what came from turning on their stove and lighting the gas with matches. They had a 3,000 square foot two-and-a-half story ranch house with a basement…but no electricity.

All they could do was wall off the kitchen with blankets and sleep on the hard tile floor. They literally lived in that one small room for a week with the exception of trips to the bathroom or trips outside to Nature’s “great outdoor refrigerator,” which thankfully preserved their food. No hot water. No showers. No TV. No light for books because the flashlight batteries wore out.

A week–cooped up in the same room–with a hard tile floor for a bed and no entertainment. They now have very reliable backup electricity.

A lot of people wonder whether a generator is a worthy investment until they find themselves replacing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries after sweltering in the heat or stumbling around in the cold and dark for days. After that, the question is no longer, “is this worth the cost?” but “which one should I buy?”

How did I become so sage about this particular decision-making process? I went through it last week. Live and learn. And now I’d love to share what I have learned with you so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll never be left in the dark.

How Do I Choose the Right Backup Power for My Needs?

When deciding on a major purchase with several different factors to consider, I like to think of each decision as I would a game of table tennis. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so I just keep track of what wins for the most important factors (for my needs) and look for the best product in my price range with all of these characteristics. Here are some points to consider:

Convenience: Stationary vs. Portable

Stationary generators are large, produce a lot of electricity, and are already connected to your house’s electrical supply. If the electricity goes out, the motor switches on and supplies enough electricity (if we have chosen well) to keep your basic essentials on. You won’t need to trudge outside in the rain and mess with a pull starter or search for extension cords. You won’t be without electricity for more than a few short moments as long as your equipment is well-maintained. And best of all, you won’t lose your hard-earned groceries.

>> READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE

Lightweight machines offer the convenience of transport so they can be used for camping and traveling as well as house electricity. But they are not as easy to use for the house since they must be stored at least 20 feet away. They should also be kept in a covered area to protect them from rain. When the electricity goes out you will have to start it up, check cords for any worn areas and then plug them into the house’s transfer switch.

Fuel Supply: Propane or Natural Gas vs. Gasoline

Most small machines require large quantities of gas to provide enough electricity for your basic household appliances unless you can find one with alternative fuel capabilities. Large standby models use natural gas or propane. Natural gas and propane tend to be safer to store than gas, and gas will require stabilizers for storage.

But, sometimes all you have left is the gas in your car. That’s why having an alternative options is a bonus. Some transportable machines, even very inexpensive ones, can use both gas and propane. Some can even run on natural gas too. These are called tri-fuel options, and you can expect to pay a couple thousand dollars for one that produces around 10,000 watts. It’s worth it though if you consider the security that comes with having several different options.

Cost: Large vs. Small

Lightweight machines can cost 1/5th to 1/10th as much as a large stationary unit, yet the more expensive transportable machines (around $1,000) will produce as much energy as a small stationary one (between 5,000 and 8,000 watts). So when it comes to bang for the buck, transportable provides more watts per dollar. (Consider the fluctuating cost of gas, however.)

Starting: Manual vs. Electric

This won’t be a concern for the larger, whole-house equipment, but it applies to the smaller machines. Most small units use a manual starter instead of a switch. If you have trouble pull-starting a lawnmower, you will want a machine that will operate with an electric start.

Don’t Forget the Transfer Switch

When considering cost, don’t forget that you’re going to need to install a transfer switch for any equipment that produces over 5,000 watts of electricity to safely share it with your household appliances. While some people try to make use of only an extension cord when the electricity goes out, this is unsafe for both your electronics and for you. Your only use for an extension cord should be to plug it into the transfer switch.

Now for the last of our tips. Whichever type of machine you get, make sure it produces enough electricity to meet your appliances electrical needs. You can take a look at your energy bill to see what your daily usage is. Most electric providers will even tell you how much electricity you use on average during peak hours.

Even if you were assured by the salesperson that this is all the machine you need for your household, double check the instructions to be sure that you completely understand the capacity of your unit. You don’t want to find out that you can overtax it in the middle of a storm.

Now that you know a little more about your backup electricity choices, feel free to share this information with your friends in hopes that you can all become better prepared with your backup and safety equipment together. Meanwhile, we’ll keep the light on for you.

What the Heck is an Inverter Generator?

What the Heck is an Inverter Generator?what is an inverter generator

Lighter, more portable, and much cleaner with the electricity they produce,Inverter generators are a breed of their own. These generators typically provide lower wattage, but give the option to “invert” the electricity back into more constant flow and stable power.

What Are Benefits of Choosing an Inverter Generator?

In short, not only will you be receiving a higher quality output, but according to Honda that power will be just as reliable as one of the outlets in your home. They mentioned other features like higher fuel efficiency and also another cool feature called parallel capability. This allows two generators to be paired together allowing for double the power capacity.

One of the difficulties of running a portable generator is trying to maintain the same voltage if the engine varies in RPM (revolutions per minute) speeds. This is the beauty of an inverter generator. The power doesn’t fluctuate, but instead becomes more of a stable and constant power source.

yellow inverter generatorBack in the time around the late 90s, Honda saw the benefits of the portable generators, but knew they could be better. So what did they do? Began the pursuit of inverter technology which really no one else at the time was successful with.

As mentioned in our buying guide, inverter generators are typically used for recreational purposes. Taking them camping, finding a place to store it for an RV, or just for tailgating parties. On average, they’re usually smaller and more reliable without the hassle of wondering about the burden.

The way they work is similar to a car — a fossil fuel is used to power the engine on the generator. The engine in turn powers an alternator and that alternator “generates” your electricity. Pretty cool concept, huh? I think that was the thought about the car too — cool concept 🙂

Honda was actually the first to be successful in integrating what was then known (before 1998) as the “sine-wave inverter” control system. Believe it or not, in 1965 Honda actually had the first commercially released generator!

The big struggle in the beginning was trying to maintain the heat and sound created by the older generators. They seemed to do well when the size was larger, but trying to contain the newer components was not working out well. So, Honda took the approach to run some trial and error tests (in stages) until the power was consistent and stable enough to be used for things like electric appliances and other technology coming into society.

Okay, enough with the history lesson.

What’s The Difference Between a Conventional Generator and an Inverter Generator?

Conventional generators are the most well-known. They have been around for the longest time with the best track record. You can use a variety of gases (like diesel, regular gasoline, or propane) and simply power a motor to create electricity.

Inverter generators are still considered newer technology (within the last 20 years) and are made specifically for recreational activities like camping, outdoor fun, and similar get-together occasions. Although they may not put out the highest wattage, they tend to run cleaner and provide that stable power system.

✔ Noise Levels
Conventional generators are known for being a little on the loud side when being used. Now, I’m assuming this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem with neighbors in the case that everyone is out of power, but you just never know people’s reactions.

Since inverter generators are designed from the beginning to be quieter, that’s what you can expect. This is a similar setup to website design (don’t ask about the comparison) where websites are now written with code from a mobile first perspective. That allows developers to focus on that aspect first and then move on to the remainder of the project.

✔ Wattage Output
With a conventional (or portable) generator, you can sometimes find them with outputs of up to 20,000 watts. Not only does this give you the power you’re looking for, but it can also be used in a situation when you lose power at home.

When using an inverter generator, you are most likely not going to see that 20,000 watt power output. Expect ranges of about 500 watts to 5,000 watts. In an average case where an individual may not be using many plugs, 5,000 watts might just be plenty; however, add additional wattage for a “cushion” of unexpected uses.

✔ Fuel Efficiency
In the scenario of a conventional generator, the engine will run an average of 3,600 RPM when giving a max output. That allows for a great amount of power, but it can also create a surge in power leading to damaged electronics or even fried circuit boards. This is the last thing you want to worry about when trying to have fun outdoors, right?

The technology in the inverter generator is a digital electronic alternator and adjusts depending on the user’s needs. With this smarter control, the engine is maintained more precisely above or below 3,600 RPM. With a more varied and maintained engine comes better fuel efficiency and better quality power.

✔ Powering Sensitive Electronic Equipment
Laptops, electric grills, and other equipment with fragile circuits will benefit from an inverter generator. The distortion of power is far less than a traditional generator and helps with the sensitivity of the electronics.

✔ Long-Lasting Runtime
A good feature of both traditional and inverters are that you’re going to get a nice runtime. The technology has come increasingly farther to get the longest runtime out of a single tank of gasoline. Some models will last for 8-12 hours on a full tank — perfect for events where you’ll be outside for a majority of the day.


This Champion comparison video does a great job of showing benefits of both traditional and inverter generators. It’s compacted into a brief 2-minute overview of some of the features listed here in this article.


Higher Quality Power

The cool feature of an inverter generator is the science and technology of the way it works. When you start the generator, it creates a current that goes through an alternator. That type of current is in the AC (alternating current) form. Generally speaking, AC will move rapidly in different directions and although it can be a strong source of power, it’s sporadic.

Once the generator grabs the AC that’s being created, that current is converted into DC (direct current) for a more stable and constant power. The advantage to having the DC is that the current is now flowing more consistently in the same direction.

That last phase is for the generator to take that DC and turn it back into AC (the same type as your home outlets) to be used for the outlets on the generator. This is a game changer because now you have a high quality power source that’s going to be more reliable for your needs. Not only is it more reliable, but less worry of electricity being erratic.


Can I Use One to Power My Home?

Since inverter generators are designed to be quieter and more efficient, they don’t allow for the excess power to distribute the proper load things like a high consuming electrical appliance or multiple outlets. Now, in a special case, where you live in an RV, it may be more typical to use an inverter generator’s capabilities. But one other thing to think about is that depending on what you are running in the RV is going to decide whether it’s a good type of generator for your needs.


[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=”Quick Safety Tip”] Running a generator causes a release of carbon monoxide which is a poisonous, odorless, and tasteless gas. There will be serious consequences if the right precautions are not followed when using an inverter generator.[/thrive_text_block]


Another exception to using one at home is if you have some guests over and you will be using electrical tools or items in the backyard. You’ll be able to benefit from the quiet noise of the generator and get a more stable wattage. Perfect for better fuel efficiency and saving money!

Are There Any Additional Items I Need To Run An Inverter Generator?

Typically the generator you purchase will come with the necessary components; however, you will need fuel and possibly batteries (for an electric start). If you choose to get a model that does not use an electric start, you won’t need batteries to power it, but be advised that you may have to pull-start the machine.

One accessory you may need to purchase is additional cables for using two identical models to run with parallel compatibility. With the two connected, you will be able to double the power capacity of your generators. A perfect case for having the smaller size and portability, but increasing your power output.

Is an Electric Start Option Included?

It depends on the model that you purchase. It’s an added option sometime as a convenience to skip the pull-start feature. If you’re really lazy (or like to be efficient) you can check out the Champion Power Equipment 75537i 3100 Watt that includes a wireless remote start function. Yep, that means you can lay in bed and start your generator.

The range for the remote start is about 80 feet — roughly the same distance as using your car door lock remote.

*Keep in mind that by having the remote start, you’ll need to periodically check the remote’s batteries to ensure they are working correctly.

All of These Features – What’s the Catch?

There’s not really a “catch” so-to-speak, but more of a question for you to consider. How much are convenience and features worth? This is not a question just for a generator purchase, but really any type of technology that saves us time or money.

The downside — and I’m not sure I would call it a downside — is that you will have to spend a bit more money to get the inverter generator you’re looking for. One of the best sellers on Amazon, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00T7VT450″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”lawnaholic-20″ cloak=”n”]WEN 56180 model[/easyazon_link] is less than $200 as of December 2016. Not a bad price for having a consistent backup power source!

Let’s just reiterate some of the advantages that you’ll be getting should you decide to go with an inverter generator for your next camping trip (that’s an example, sorry if you aren’t a happy camper):

✔ Convenience: Getting the advantage of a quick start and long runtime.

✔ Size & Portability: You won’t have to worry about lugging some excessive weighted machine.

✔ Double Power Capacity: Carry two lightweight generators and get the same power as a conventional model.

The above is not an all-inclusive list, but may remind you of the significant advantages versus using a traditional generator. From a personal standpoint, I think the advantages are far worth it especially given the fact that once you own it, you can see the difference.


Don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide all about generators, their features, and options to consider when trying to find a generator.


Summary and Thoughts

More and more people are rooting for the better features of products. The usefulness, design, and overall options available. For an inverter generator some of these features include convenience, portability, and stable power. Having a quieter generator is certainly a plus.

One other thought about the traditional generators is that if you really attempted to get two birds with one stone, an example use of a conventional generator would be to use it outdoors at places like a campground and also have it as an alternative for backup home use. This would definitely be helpful if you needed to fire up the generator in a blackout and you wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about the limitations of an inverter model.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’ve found value in this post. It’s important to think about backup equipment for unexpected circumstances. Being proactive can make a disheartening situation much less stressful to help yourself know that you’re prepared for the future.

Take care, and we’ll discuss more in the next one!

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–Nick the Lawnaholic