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Portable Generator Selection Help

Portable generators can be used for many applications. These generators are popular for home and business emergency power, recreation (camping, tailgating, picnicking, RV), and jobsite applications (construction site).

Portable Generators for Emergency Use

When purchasing a generator for emergency use, there are several factors that need to be considered:
1. Which type of fuel?
2.Should I use a transfer switch?
3. What voltage do I need?
4. How many watts do I need?

The fuel source for portable generators can be of several different types. The most common fuel for portable generators is gasoline. However, T-Rex also supplies several portable generators that run on propane, one that runs on diesel, and several that run on what is known as tri-fuel (also called triple fuel). These tri-fuel units run on gasoline, natural gas, or propane. (Our staff highly recommends the Winco tri-fuel units for emergency use. These are among the highest quality portable emergency generators available and provide the greatest flexibility which can be critical during an emergency.)

To see additional information on the different generator fuel types including advantages and disadvantages, please visit the following link: Alternative Fuel Generator Information

The most common way to use a portable generator is to remove the generator from the garage/shed, place it outside, start the unit, and then plug one end of a cord into the generator and take the other end into the house through and open door or window. It allows any standard plug-in appliance to be powered (things like lamps, microwaves, TVs, fridges, etc). This is a frequently used method because it is easy and requires no installation.

A second option is to use the portable generator with a manual transfer switch. A transfer switch is an electrical device that allows for the safe connection of a generator to the electrical wiring of a home or building. The transfer switch is permanently installed near the service panel in a home or business. See the following illustrations for the two most commom installations of a manual transfer switch.

Without a transfer switch, a generator cannot power some critical pieces of equipment like the furnace fan, well pump, and sump pump. These things are all typically hardwired to electrical circuits. The only way to power them is by supplying power to the entire electrical circuit in the home or building. Using a generator with a manual transfer switch allows you to power some or all of your circuits, including those used by the furnace fan, AC, well pump, and sump pump. The National Electrical Code requires a transfer switch to power such circuits. Direct connection to a home’s circuits without a transfer switch can result in damage to the home, damage to the generator, and harm to utility workers.

For further information on manual transfer switches, please click the following link: Manual Transfer Switch

Portable generators typically provide either 120 volt or both 120/240 volt power. The appliances that can be plugged into a wall outlet use 120 volt power. There are only a few things that could require 240 volts and they are all hardwired into the electric circuits of the home/building. Generally speaking, unless you plan to use the generator with a transfer switch or a large piece of power equipment, you will not need 240 volts.

How do you know what size generator to purchase? To make this determination, you must decide what you want powered during a utility power failure. You may want to power your whole house or only a few specific things. Keep in mind that appliance power requirements very considerably. See the wattage guide for help determining your wattage needs: Sizing a Generator

Portable Generators for Recreation

There are two types of generators that can be used for recreational purposes. One is the traditional type and the other is the inverter type. The primary factors when purchasing a generator for recreation are wattage, portability, and noise. (We highly recommend inverter style units for recreational use due to the substantially reduced noise levels.) The pros and cons of each generator type are listed below:

Traditional Generators

  • Lower Cost
  • Makes more noise than an inverter generator
  • Less fuel efficient than an inverter generator
  • Runs at full RPM (3600) regardless of load size

    Inverter Generators

  • Hard shell encased design reduces noise levels
  • Produce clean power which is safe for electronics and other sensitive equipment
  • Onboard electronics allow engine RPM to increase and decrease depending on load size resulting in lower noise and better fuel efficiency
  • Higher cost
  • See the wattage guide for help determining generator size (wattage needs): Sizing a Generator

    Portable Generators for Jobsites

    When purchasing a generator for a jobsite, it is important to get a high quality unit that is classified as a jobsite or industrial generator. These jobsite/industrial grade units are built to withstand the added demand associated with heavy use. It is also important to assure the generator produces sufficient power and has sufficient outlets.

    See the wattage guide for help determining generator size (wattage needs): Sizing a Generator

    Need Help? Call 866-613-9115
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    Winco W100FPTOS-100 kW-Single Phase-120/240 Volts

    Winco W100FPTOS-100 kW-Single Phase-120/240 Volts

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    T-Rex Generators distributes products from many different standby and portable generator manufacturers at substantially discounted prices. These represented companies include: Asco automatic transfer switches, Briggs & Stratton generators, Winco generators, Generac Generators, GenTran transfer switches, Reliance Controls Transfer Switches, and Zenith automatic transfer switches. T-Rex also carries Honda powered generators which have the same time-tested Honda engines as the substantially more expensive Honda generator brand units.