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Generators come in all sizes and purposes. When shopping for a generator here are some things to consider in order from most to least important:

Generator purpose
Whole house or standby generators are designed to operate all the appliances in a typical house. They typically require professional installation and cannot be moved once installated. Portable generators are smaller and intended for temporary use.

Generator capacity
The power capacity or power rating indicates the total wattage of the devices that can be run by the generator. The larger this number, the more devices you can connect to the generator. To determine your required capacity add up the wattage of all the equipment you must run. Always get the next larger size since running a generator at its rated capacity will shorten its life and result in very poor fuel economy.

Generator Fuel type
Most generators sold today are designed to run on common regular gasoline. However, some can be run on alternate or multiple fuels including propane and natural gas. If supplying gasoline will be a problem consider a bi-fuel or tri-fuel generator.

Generator Fuel capacity and run-time
Most generators have fuel tanks that hold between one-half and up to 8 gallons of gasoline. Be sure to determine how long the generator will operate on a full tank of gas. This statistic is typically provided for both the full load (rated generator capacity) and half load. A rule of thumb is that higher capacity generators have larger fuel tanks because they require more fuel per hour to operate.

Generator Noise level
All generators produce noise in various amounts. The amount of acceptable noise is determined by your neighbors and yourself. The noise rating is provided in decibals with a high number indicating a noisier generator. A rating under 60db is a quiet generator and a number over 70db is a very loud generator. In general, quiet generators are more expensive than louder ones.

Generator Power quality
Most inexpensive generators operate at a constant generator speed of 3600rpm. Removing and adding devices cause momentary changes to this speed and result in voltage and frequency changes in the generator output. Non-critical devices can tolerate these changes. However some sensitive devices such as computers and critical equipment may be adversely affected. Inverter-generators use a separate inverter to produce a stable AC that doesn't vary with generator speed. Of course these types of generators are more expensive than traditional generators. An added benefit of inverter generators is that they can reduce furl consumption by operating at lower rpm when lightly loaded.

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