The Handyguys - Working Together on that Honey Do List Home Energy Savings Tool tests

Selecting a Portable Generator

by The Handyguys

in Audio Only Podcasts, Electrical

Portable Generator Selection Checklist

Large portable generator at True Value and do it yourself portable generator

The Handyguys do not own generators but with all the power outages in the news they are certainly thinking about adding this “power tool” to their arsenal. Portable generators are easy to pick up at your local True Value store and you can be up and running quickly with some limitations. Without modifications to your electrical system, you can only connect household items that reach with an extension cord and which are no hard wired (e.g. a furnace blower). If you want the system to integrate with your electrical system for powering items such as the blower on your furnace you will need to have an electrician install a bypass switch. Here are issues to consider before buying that generator:

  1. Power. How many watts do you need for your required power equipment in the house. Put a buffer in those calculations to help out a neighbor with their refrigerator!
  2. Fuel. Determine how much gasoline you will keep on hand to power the generator. Fuel requires stabilizer or must be replaced on a regular schedule. Most residential codes allow only a small amount of gasoline storage in your garage (generally less then 15 gallons).
  3. Noise. Consider how much noise the generator will make. If this is important to you, look for reviews of models that are quieter.
  4. Maintenance. The engine will require maintenance and regular running to keep it in good shape. Check out the
  5. Run-time. Look at the length of run-time of the generator.
  6. Weight. Will you be moving the generator a lot? Does it have wheels? Can you lift it into a truck or trunk?
  7. Plan ahead. Research and purchase before a disaster strikes!

Generators at True Value and how does a generator work

Have a great new year!

We were one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. We have been compensated for our time commitment to the program as well as our writing about our experience. We have also been compensated for the materials needed for our DIY project. However, our opinions are entirely our own and we have not been paid to publish positive comments.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thank you for this article on generators. After Hurricane Irene hit in New Jersey, we have had many customers asking for recommendations on what generators are best for their household.

Reply January 8, 2012 at 2:29 am

A portable generator is really useful, especially when you’re working on the home wiring and need to use power tools that are not cordless.

Really good article. Thanks.


Ottawa Roofers January 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm

There is nothing like a portable power source that runs on fuel. I use one almost everyday on new construction job sites. It comes in very handy when there is no other power source around.
Thanx for the tips.


Elaine Gloria January 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Wow, great post.

Reply February 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Informative and easy to read article. This will be a great help for consumers who lack proper information on how to buy the right generator. Portable generators are important nowadays since we are easily hit by natural disasters and generators are vital to keep the household going during emergencies.


jason February 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for sharing this very useful and informative article. Thumbs up!


Robert Waters March 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm

You should also check out the availability of parts, a lot of the generators made overseas do not have parts availability. In a lot of cases you have to buy a carburetor when you could fix the problem with a single gasket. I suggest buying from a servicing dealer or at least talking to one before you buy anything with an engine.


The Handyguys March 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

That’s good advice for lots of power equipment, thanks for contributing to the conversation.


Sam Home April 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

When I owned Pet Keepers boarding kennel in Mount Pleasant, I kept an emergency generator, but kept it in one of the kennel buildings. The environment took it’s toll. I currently have one for my home. I keep it in the garage. The unstablized fuel and humid conditions took it toll. Good point on parts. This generator is about seven years old. Had a rubber part go bad on the outlet to the gas tank a couple weeks ago. A few hours ago, I Googled the company, found the parts listing, called the number and the inexpensive part will be in my hands in a few days. Point being, your generator should last for many years. Some of the parts will not. If you can’t find the part, your generator life is limited to the “weakest link”.


Johnny Curtis March 28, 2012 at 11:59 am

Good generators as mentioned above should be quieter, consume less gasoline and aren’t too heavy. Many generators makes a lot of noise that even a few meters away one can hear the roaring noise created.Thanks for posting.


Joe Oliver April 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Great 7 tips before buying a generator. I have been looking for a while for a generator for my cabin. This really helps me focus on the important aspects to purchasing a good generator.
Thanks for posting.


Charlotte August 24, 2016 at 5:33 am

This is a cool checklist to have when buying a portable generator. For my RV, the top 3 things I was looking for in a generator was size, power, and noise. We have quite a few appliances on our RV that needs a fair amount of power so that’s really important but I also have to put inconsideration the noise it will make and how big it will be. Gladly we found a middle ground for the three.


Gary September 3, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Hey Handyguys,

Thanks for the brief list. You might note also that there are several lists online that will help you determine how much power you need. It can be hard to figure this on your own.


The Handyguys September 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Indeed you are correct. Thanks for your input.


George Pattinson September 8, 2016 at 2:19 am

Really great post for me! Impressive tips for buying a generator for my home. Love this idea very much. Actually, I would like to buy this generator for me.I am satisfied that you just distributed this useful details with us. Thanks for discussing.


Genma December 23, 2017 at 2:35 am

These tips are very important for choosing generators before buying. Each of them should be considered. Price factor should also be considered. Anyone can not afford expensive generators. Thanks for sharing.


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