Tips and reviews for Portable Generators

A portable generator is inevitable for your home when temporary or remote electric power is needed

Parts and devices in portable generators

portable generator toolsPortable generators are available from a number of manufacturers, in many sizes, with a whole range of features that increase safety, efficiency and convenience.
Additional features increase cost of portable generators, but common sense helps you find compromise between cost, safety and requirements.

Voltage regulator

Voltage regulator designed to regulate the output voltage produced by portable generator. Ideally, output voltage should be at or close to 120 or 240 volts.
The ability of a generator to maintain voltage in a narrow range around 120 or 240 volts is critical in situations where loads (particularly electric motors) are regularly cycled on and off. The effectiveness of voltage regulation is designed into each generator model, and varies significantly from model to model. Higher priced units generally (but not always) will have better regulation.

Disconnect breaker

Disconnect breaker designed for safety purpose to switch off in a short circuit or significant overload situation. Also allows power to be turned off during connection to or disconnect from load.
Not all portable generators have this feature. In direct hookups to electrical sub-panels this is the preferred system.

Circuit breakers

Circuit breakers have the same function on a generator as in the regular electrical panel in your house.
Generally each circuit or plug has its own circuit breaker. Automatically trips if there is a short circuit or an overload, preventing damage to the generator or electrical equipment connected to circuit. Some generators have a main disconnect breaker as well as protection for each circuit. This combination gives the greatest protection for generator and personal safety.

Circuit selector switch

Circuit selector switch allows directing full rated power to the outlet, which is used for direct hookup through a transfer switch connection.
Advantage this feature is in flexibility of using power output from generator while guarding against over loading. Only certain receptacles can be used at any one time.

Ground fault circuit interrupter

This tool cuts off electricity if some of the current tries to return to ground by a method other than the neutral wire (a fault). It does this by measuring current in the live wire and comparing it to the neutral wire; when these 2 measurements are different; power is disconnected from the receptacle.

Ground fault circuit interrupter protects against the hazards of grounding faults from defective tools, or cords. If the ground wire does not make a perfect contact to the ground, the leakage current will flow through the operator to the ground. It is particular important when working in damp areas or conditions.

Voltmeter

Voltmeter is device which measurers voltage. It can be built into the generator or purchased as a hand held unit.

Frequency meter

It is device for measuring frequency of alternating current. In North America electricity is delivered at 60 cycles per second (60 Hertz or Hz).
Frequency is directly tied to engine speed. By ensuring that frequency is at or close to 60 Hz, (between 58 and 62) the correct engine RPM can be maintained for optimum voltage output.

Ensure that the voltage produced is within acceptable range. See VOLTAGE REGULATION for acceptable voltage range. Electrical equipment can be damaged by voltage too high or too low.

Oil alert

Oil alert is a device intended to shut down the engine when the crankcase oil drops below a safe level. Some systems apply a float in the engine crankcase to sense the oil level. If the oil falls below a certain level during operation, the float signals the engine to shut down. The indicator light blinks on and off to show low oil.
Another type uses a sensor in a pressurized engine oil system. If the oil pressure falls below the preset value during operation, the engine ignition is grounded out and the engine shuts down. A time delay allows for low pressure during engine starting.

If the oil system doesn’t build sufficient pressure quickly enough to close the oil sensor switch, the engine will not continue to run.
This device helps prevent engine damage from low oil situations.
The oil pressure sensor system is a much more robust and accurate system. The float system can be affected by cold weather operation, cold oil does not flow as freely as warm oil and float may give erroneous shut down readings.
If you planned use involves long periods of unattended running of the generator this may be a worthwhile feature.

Fuel tank capacity

It indicates how much fuel the tank holds.
A large capacity tank allows the generator to run longer without refueling

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