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There are many different generators available on the market, some of which differ considerably in their design. In this guide, we will quickly and concisely reveal the specific properties of the individual types of generators.
The different types of generators and their characteristics
Nowadays, practically nothing works without electricity, which is why portable generators have almost infinite application possibilities. Whenever fixed power sockets are not available or fail, they show their full strength. During a major power outage as an emergency power generator, in a mobile home, in the garden at home, on construction sites, during a festival visit, as a tailgating generator, on boats or as a power source at open-air events – this list of possible applications could be continued for as long as you like.
A whole range of different generators is available on the market. Based on the question of where and for what purpose one wants to secure the power supply, each type has its own specific advantages and disadvantages. In the following paragraphs, we present the most common types of generators, so that a beginner will gain a good overview of the various characteristics of the devices.
According to Their Technology
The so-called conventional generators have been available on the market in this form for several decades without any major developments that have taken place during this period. These devices are the well-known frame devices, which have a comparatively loud working volume due to the missing casing. Conventional generators are available as gasoline and diesel models. As a major disadvantage, both variants have in common that they cannot prevent significant voltage fluctuations. For this reason, conventional generators are not suitable for operating voltage-sensitive consumers (e.g. laptops, PCs, TV sets, or music systems), as they can destroy them in the worst case.
The term “inverter technology” is increasingly used in the field of mobile power generation. Inverters reliably convert direct current into alternating current. At the end of this conversion process, a perfect and harmonious sinusoidal voltage is emitted. It is also said that the current is “clean”.
Inverter technology effectively prevents the voltage fluctuations that occur with conventional power generators. Therefore, even highly sensitive electronic devices can be connected without hesitation. Because of the innovative technology, the acquisition costs are correspondingly higher. Many inverter generators come in a very compact format so that they are very mobile and flexible. The encapsulated design also ensures good sound insulation properties. This is why inverter generators are quiet.
If the inverter generator has an eco mode as an additional feature, the motor speed is optimally adapted to the required output power. This significantly reduces fuel consumption at the touch of a button and improves running characteristics. It can be assumed that the advanced inverter generators will sooner or later dominate the market.
Probably very few people will come into contact with a PTO generator, but this overview will nevertheless also address it. In contrast to all other types of generators, a PTO generator does not have its own engine. It is driven by the PTO of a tractor, which is usually a tractor. No wonder, then, that the PTO generator is often found in agriculture and forestry. There it is in good hands due to the very manageable maintenance effort, the robustness as well as its high reliability.
According to Fuel Used
Gasoline generators are (still) the most widespread type on the market. They usually have lower fuel consumption than diesel generators and achieve good performance – although not as high as diesel-based generators in the same class. Gasoline generators are usually quieter and smoother to run than diesel generators with identical performance. The purchase price for gasoline-powered generators is rather moderate. However, one should pay attention to the maintenance costs: Due to the higher fuel price, the frequent use quickly turns into an expense.
The diesel generators score points over the gasoline models due to their higher robustness and better performance values. This is why they are particularly common on construction sites where power cables have not yet been installed. Diesel engines can be of particular interest in the case of planned frequent use due to their comparatively low fuel price. For this, you have to make significant compromises in terms of working volume and running behavior, and the purchase price is also sometimes quite high.
Gas generator(Natural Gas or Propane)
Gas-powered generators account for smaller market share than those operating only on gasoline. The basic functionality remains the same, except that the fuel is gas (mostly they are propane and dual fuel generators). Especially in the camping sector, cost- and environmentally conscious people rely on gas generators. Due to the very favorable gas price a gas generator belongs to the devices with the lowest maintenance costs at all. In order to amortize the high acquisition costs halfway again, a very high frequency of use is required. Therefore, a gas generator is primarily interesting for people who already have a large number of gas-powered appliances (e.g. gas grills).
The type powered by solar energy. They convert solar radiation into AC using the solar panels. Despite them taking close to 8hrs to charge fully and having a high purchasing cost, they are the best generators to use in a quiet environment.
According to Portability
You can move around with your generator, or not; your choice. Based on portability, below are the three renowned types in this category.
What you can move around with. Many gasoline, propane and diesel generators fall under this category and are perfect for cases of a temporary power outage. They are affordable and the best generators to use in domestic and outdoor activities. You can go camping, use in construction zones and operate your refrigerator using portable generators.
The automated option. With them, you can rest assured of permanent power protection and immediate response when experiencing a blackout. They are expensive to purchase and need regular elaborate maintenance procedures: but what do you expect? They keep crucial machines running in hospitals, elevators, and fire protection systems anyway. Also, they are a great solution as a home generator.
According to current used
You can categorize generators depending on whether they use direct or alternating currents.
The type with the easiest maintenance because they are brushless and use alternators. Most of them are small and have an upper hand over DC generators because they can step down power using transformers. They are very common in gasoline engines.
They use commuters and are the easiest to operate. There are three types of these depending on how you want to create a magnetic field: permanent magnet, separately excited, and self-excited DC generators. They do not shield radiation, hence saving some dimes that you would have otherwise spent buying and replacing cables as in the case with AC generators.
Diesel or gasoline-powered generators, gas generators, PTO generators or inverter generators – the list of solutions available on the market for mobile power generation is long and confusing. But with this guide, we hope that we have cleared the thicket a bit.
In summary, we can say that conventional generators are often found on construction sites. There they supply larger hand tools (e.g. hammer drills) with electricity, if (still) no fixed electrical equipment is available. Diesel converters are cheaper to maintain, more robust, and somewhat more powerful than their petrol counterparts, but also much louder and more restless in operation. PTO generators can be found almost without exception in agriculture. Gas generators(mostly propane) are generally dual fuel generators or tri-fuel generators. Inverter generators are considered to be the most innovative products on the market. They deliver electricity on the move with the quality of a home socket so that even voltage-sensitive consumers can be operated reliably. Power generators without inverter technology, on the other hand, are likely to seriously damage devices such as laptops, music systems, or televisions.