Portable Generator Buying Guide

When it comes to generators, we understand that the wide variety of generators can be overwhelming. No need to worry, this guide is here to make things as simple as possible. What we need to ask ourselves is, what type and size of generator do I need? 

What type of generator do I need?

Recreational Generators are used for:

  • Caravans & Motorhomes
  • Camping, Camper Trailers
  • Boating, 4WD
  • Small Domestic Use, Small Mobile Businesses

Portable Trade Generators are used for:

  • Construction Sites, Building, Mining
  • Power Equipment, Tools, Welding
  • Farming, Agriculture, Rural Properties

Emergency Backup Generators are used for:

  • Direct backup to house mains or small business
  • Running key appliances during blackouts
  • Auto-Start backup for off grid solar

What size generator do I need?

All generators are rated to run at certain wattage. Therefore we need to understand how many Watts we need our generator to produce. Regardless of whether you plan to run a caravan or a whole construction site, this is a vital step to ensure you buy the right generator for your needs.

  • You can find the individual wattages of appliances/equipment in the user manual, by contacting the product manufacturer or give us a call/email and we will do our best to help you source the information.
  • Are you planning on running these items at the same time? If yes, then you will need the combined wattages in order for that to be achieved.
  • Do you know the items starting wattage? Items with an induction motor or heating element have a much higher starting wattage, think fridges, air-cons, pumps, drills etc. A general rule of thumb is multiply the items wattage by three to find its starting wattage.
  • Give yourself a buffer. Just because your car can drive 200kph doesn’t mean it’s suitable to drive at the max all the time. Your generator is the same, try to give yourself a 10-20% buffer.

Below is a chart that will give you a rough idea of starting and running watts required for a variety of tools and appliances.

We have outlined some considerations you may want to take into account now that you know the size and type of generator you need:

Do you need clean power?

If you are planning on powering sensitive electronics like laptops or phones, then having clean power is very important. In order to avoid damaging the electrical circuits, you need a harmonic distortion of less than 6%. If this is you, then an inverter generator is necessary to create the pure sine wave you need.

Noise Level:

Noise is an important consideration especially if you are using the generator recreationally, at home or have certain business requirements. Generator technology has come a long way, inverter generators for example operate at the same level as a normal conversation. If not an inverter generator, then petrol generators are quieter than diesel generators. Look out for the dBA (decibel) rating for comparisons.

Fuel Tank:

Simply put, bigger fuel tank = longer running time. Keep in mind that the bigger and fuller the tank, the heavier the generator will be.

Electric Start:

Electric start is handy if you prefer not to pull a starting cord or if you are not physically able to. Keep in mind that electric start generators require a battery which needs to be charged.

Emergency Backup:

If you want to use your generator to back up your house in cases of an emergency, then installing a transfer switch is required. The transfer switch allows you to switch safely between main power and generator power.

Cheap or Premium Brand?

It depends. Due to performance and reliability, premium brands are used for every application, from camping to commercial. They also have warranties which are backed by many service centres across Australia. Budget brands can be ok for light, infrequent use however be careful when choosing a budget brand as a lot of the time they offer limited or no after sales support.

Weight & Mobility:

Lightweight models are able to be carried and heavier models have accessories such as wheel kits and lifting bars to increase their mobility.

Occasional or Everyday Use?

Among the types of portable generators only worksite approved generators have been designed with heavy, every day use in mind.


If you have any questions feel free to comment below or contact us on 1300 873 588 or support@generatorwarehouse.com.au


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published