Not sure if you should be getting a generator? Whether it’s for home use or your business, a generator can be a lifesaver.
This is true, especially if you are still stuck with a work-from-home setup where the last thing you want is a sudden power outage on the day of a deadline or in the middle of an important meeting.
In the case of your business, a day’s power outage may be worth hundreds of lost income. In a time where every penny counts, that’s not something you would want.
Furthermore, power outages can come from almost anything at any time. There may be a storm, a fire taking place, or even an unannounced power interruption that can cause all of this. Your generator is your insurance so that you never have to go through the inconvenience of losing power when you need it most.
Then, which generator should you get? Picking generators isn’t exactly as simple as choosing a generator that looks “powerful”. Depending on the size of your establishment, home, and the number of appliances, you should look for one that fits you well.
Table of Contents:
What to Look For?
When buying generators, you would need to keep an eye on what you’re using it for, and price should be secondary. So before you bring your wallet out and buy the best-selling generator at your local hardware store because the salesperson says it fits all your needs, it’s better to determine what your needs are first.
Generators have a different power output measured through watts. In finding the right generator, you need to know how much wattage you need in your house.
How do you do this? For starters, you only want a generator to power things you need in case of an outage. Again, not every single appliance, but only those that you need. You can start listing which appliances are necessary to you and compute how much watts they consume.
If you don’t want to do any number crunching and don’t really mind having more power than you need, 5000 watts is usually enough to power your home, and that’s with a thousand watts of extra power. You can still opt for something lower at around the 3000 watts mark, but it still depends on the amount of equipment you need to run.
Here is a quick breakdown of watt usage of most essential household appliances to give you an idea:
- Refrigerator – 600W
- Ceiling Fan- 100W
- Computer- 300-480W
- Television- 300W
- Portable heater- 800-1400W
There are mainly three generator types, each with specific features aside from power output unique to them, which will fit you more than the other depending on your needs.
- Standby Generator
Standby generators provide permanent and automatic protection. With this kind of generator, you don’t have to worry about manual startup since everything is automatic. The only time you’ll lose power is the moment that the power lines come back on.
Standby generators run on propane or natural gas, or other fuels depending on the model’s specifications. Some models run on gasoline if you want a cheaper fuel source. Furthermore, standby generators test themselves for malfunctions weekly. Standby generators work well in emergency settings like hospitals, or in places, you never want to experience an outage for a long time.
- Portable Generator
You can take a portable generator anywhere, including areas where there is usually no electricity. Portable generators are powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, so it’s relatively cheap to operate.
Features that make portable generators stand out is that you can plug this into built-in sockets of home appliances or even the subpanels of a facility. It can produce the same amount of power that standby generators can, depending on the generator’s required power output, of course. Consider portable generators over standby generators if you value the portability over the automatic response of standby generators.
- Inverter Generator
Unlike the other two types, inverter generators convert DC power to AC power with a rectifier. Why does this matter? AC power works efficiently when transferring between long distances, and inverter generators can also easily convert it back to AC for appliance use. This is why it is more efficient. Furthermore, inverter generators do not always run on full power and can save more fuel and are more efficient than other generators in the long run.
The last thing you want when you finally get your generator is that you can’t start it during the first power outage. With this in mind, make sure whatever generator you are getting is convenient and easy to start. The less hassle, the better. This is why getting a generator with an electric starter would be better than one with a tiresome recoil start.
Monitoring and Control Panels
A control panel does wonders for your generator because it gives you all the information you want to have. You would be able to see how much fuel, oil, or power levels your generator has. It lets you know if you have any trouble with your device in terms of fuel and power output, so you can respond to it as soon as possible.
Which is Better?
After determining the things you need to know when comparing generators, it is still important to know that not all generators are built the same. Even if you have decided you would be getting an inverter, there are many inverters out there. Today, we will be looking at two inverter generator brands and see which would fit your needs most.
|Features:||Westinghouse iGen4500||Predator 3500|
|Duration||18 hours (@25% load)||11 hours (@25% load)|
|Portability||Wheel kit and telescopic handle||Wheel kit and double handle|
|Startup Mechanism||Electric start, remote start and pull start||Electric start and pull start|
|AC Outlets||3 AC Outlets||3 AC Outlets|
Westinghouse is a brand known for their quality, long-lasting portable generators, and they have been in the business for 130 years already.
The company creates user-friendly and reliable generators. Just like their products, Westinghouse has produced one of the best inverter generators out there with their iGen4500 Inverter Generator. This machine can run most of your household appliances in case of an outage.
Power and Efficiency
The iGen4500 can produce 3700 running watts and 4500 peak watts, which can supply power to most of your household electricity needs. It uses a 3.4-gallon gas tank to run up to 18 hours at 25% load. When it comes to fuel consumption, the iGen4500 consumes around 0.19 gallons per hour(GPH). It can run for more than enough time that you need before the power returns.
The generator is relatively quiet and only as loud as 52dBA when running, which is like the noise of an electric fan. For a generator, that’s really quiet!
In terms of emissions, the iGen4500 is EPA and CARB certified.Remote Electric Start
The iGen4500 is relatively easy to start. You have three options. You can opt for a standard electric start, or you can opt to start it via wireless remote. If you find any trouble in using any of these methods, the device also has an old-school recoil start. Regardless of what problem you encounter, you will have multiple ways of starting your generator and carry on with the power outage.
Portable and RV Ready
It has an RV ready outlet that makes it perfect for trailers. Not to mention roller board wheels, telescopic handles, and carry handles to boot, you can bring it almost anywhere. Furthermore, it’s more portable with measurements of 24.5″ x 17.5″ x 20.5″ and 98lbs weight.
While it’s not as portable as entry-level portable generators, it offers excellent power and efficiency in its fairly portable package.
This generator has an LED display that has all your needed information about your device. It has 2 bars on both sides with one representing fuel and the other for power output. The middle display rotates between time left depending on the load, power output, fuel output, and voltage output. You will never have a problem keeping track of all this information with the iGen4500.
The Predator 3500 is a low budget portable inverter generator that can still perform up to your needs.
Power and Efficiency
When it comes to power and efficiency, the Predator 3500 has 3000 running watts and peaks at 3500 watts. It has a 2.6-gallon fuel tank, which helps it power your appliances for up to 11 hours at 25% load, which is about 0.24GPH.
With it being an inverter, it’s relatively quiet, with the noise only getting as loud as 57dBA from a distance of 23 feet. It’s very quiet and can be run overnight without worrying about interrupting your neighbors. It also has an emergency shutdown feature that prevents damage caused by insufficient oil levels.
This generator also passes all EPA and CARB standards for efficiency.
The Predator 3500 has an electric start button. You would have to go to the device every time you start it because it lacks remote startup, but it’s still better than settling with recoil start.
The Predator 3500 has a built-in LED monitoring for your oil overload, fuel output levels, and other important information.
Portable and RV Ready
The Predator 3500 has wheels and an RV-ready socket, making it a good companion when you’re out of town in your RV. It has dimensions of L22.8″ x W17.3″ x H20″ and weighs 99.2lbs, which makes it easy to transport.
After looking at both models, let’s start comparing them.
Power and Efficiency
Regarding power, the iGen4500 is better than the Predator 3500. The iGen4500’s running and peak wattage of 3700 and 4500, respectively, is higher than the Predator 3500’s 3000 and 3500. Overall, the iGen4500 can supply more power.
When it comes to efficiency, the iGen4500 can run up to 18 hours at 25% loads using a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, while the Predator 3500 can run up to 11 hours at 25% with a smaller 2.6-gallon fuel tank. The iGen4500 has the edge in fuel efficiency because it consumes less fuel at 0.19GPH compared to the Predator 3500 at 0.24GPH.
Next, regarding noise levels, the Westinghouse has the advantage with just 52dBA compared to the 57dBA from the Predator 3500. However, both are already relatively quiet for inverter generators and it really isn’t that much of a difference.
The additional 7 hours and 1000 watts you can get with the iGen4500 is the difference-maker. Both devices pass emission standards, but the Westinghouse is better. The iGen4500 provides higher wattage, but the Predator 3500 can still give you a similar experience if you don’t want the additional 1000 watts.
However, if you’re looking for a generator that has power and efficiency going hand in hand, the iGen4500 is a no-brainer.
Size and Weight
The Westinghouse iGen4500 and Predator 3500 are fairly even when it comes to portability. Both the Westinghouse iGen4500 and Predator 3500 have special wheels and handles that work to improve portability and ease-of-use. However, the iGen4500 is 1.2 lbs lighter.
When it comes to size, the Predator 3500 with its L22.8″ x W17.3″ x H20″ is more compact than the iGen4500s with L24.5″ x W17.5″ x H20.5″. While it’s just a small difference, it can make things easier for you when you need to use it in tight spaces like inside RVs.
Startup and Displays
Both the iGen4500 and Predator 3500 have electric start. However, the iGen4500 has remote start, making it better than the Predator 3500.
Both generators have LED displays to monitor what’s going on with the generator. However, the iGen4500 has the advantage with a dedicated fuel gauge that the Predator 3500 lacks.
If you plan to use your generator often, here are answers to the questions you might ask.
Which is the best fuel for my generator?
It really depends on your generator. For example, some generators can only use gasoline, while others can use propane or diesel as well. Gasoline is generally popular and the cheaper choice, but it is dangerous in large amounts. Propane and diesel have a longer shelf life than gasoline and provide cleaner emissions.
Can I store it inside the house?
You can keep it inside the house, but preferably in a cool storage area. Also, make sure that it has an empty fuel tank upon storage.
How long will my generator stay working?
A generator can last for a long time if it’s well-maintained. Make sure to give it a regular check so you can immediately tend to parts that need replacing and other maintenance procedures you need to perform.
How often do I need to maintain my generator?
It usually depends on how much you use it, but make sure to read your user manual to see if your unit has any specific type of care and maintenance needs. As a general rule, however, make sure to check for leaks, oil levels, and battery and cables to make sure it runs properly.
The iGen4500 has an overwhelming advantage over the Predator 3500. This big difference can make or break your experience with your portable generator. As we said earlier, you must know your needs to find the generator that fits them.
The biggest difference between the two is the advantage in power output and fuel efficiency that the iGen4500 has against the Predator 3500. If these power and fuel efficiency are not in your top needs, then it wouldn’t be terrible to get a Predator 3500 instead.
However, if you’re thinking long-term and if you think you might be using more appliances in the future, then maybe it is better to invest in a more powerful generator like the iGen4500.