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Selecting the Right Portable Generator for your Needs

Selecting the Right Portable Generator for your Needs

7 minute read

Why Do You Need a Generator?


Hurricanes. Ice storms. Tornados. You’ve seen the after-effects: entire communities without power, sometimes for days. A portable generator will ensure your family has the power needed when faced with unexpected outages. Portable generators will power your home appliances during blackouts, your recreational toys when you’re camping or outdoors, and/or tools on your job site. A portable generator is a good power solution if you don’t want to invest in a permanently installed home generator system or if you need electricity away from home.  Portable generators range between $399 and $3,000.


How to Select the Right Generator For the Job


The first step in selecting the right generator is assessing your emergency power needs. Portable generators can range from 900 to 15,000 watts.  Check out this handy guide from DuroMax to help you calculate your power consumption needs:

To determine how much power you require, follow these steps:

  • What do you need to power? Make a list. Ask yourself what you will need to power during an electrical outage: just appliances and lights? Computers and home electronics, too? Some families have in-home medical equipment that is a priority, while others need to ensure they have enough power to keep stocked food supplies on ice. If you need a generator for recreational or jobsite usage, list out the tools or appliances you will want to use at the same time. Will you need to power work lights along with your tools? What about a radio? On camping or fishing trips, how many outdoor cooking, heating or entertainment appliances or accessories will you and your family or friends be using at once?

  • Determine what it takes to start each appliance. Ensure you’ll be able to start (not simply run) your appliances. The “starting wattage” is the amount of wattage needed to start an appliance with a motor; and it may be two to three times the wattage required to run the appliance. If you have owner’s manuals, check for your appliances’ listed start-up wattages (vs. the running wattage or the rated wattage). If you don’t have owner’s manuals, use our wattage calculator to estimate your power needs.

  • Calculate your total power needs. It’s a two-part equation. First, add up all the “running wattage” for all the items you wish to power simultaneously. This equals the total running watts your generator needs to produce simply to run your equipment. Next, add to that total the highest of the “starting wattages” you wrote down in step 2, above. Now you know how much power you need to start and run your appliances and equipment!  With the knowledge you now have about your power needs, you can comparison shop for generators within your wattage requirement. 

All DuroMax portable generators are powered by high-quality DuroMax gas or propane engines that offer power you can count on. Portable generators provide dependable power during power outages and can also be used to run your power tools or to make recreational areas more comfortable where there is no electricity.

DuroMax 12000 Watt 18 HP Portable Gas Generator

DuroMax 12000 Watt 18 HP Portable Gas Generator


When you don't have power, but desperately need it, what are you to do? You can either shut the job down and finish it later or power through. Power through with the help of the DuroMax 12000-Watt 18 HP Portable… Read More

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Think about the ease of transporting your generator. Most DuroMax portable generators come with wheels, and some are light enough to carry. If you require wheels, you’ll love their never-flat, puncture-resistant wheels for easier transportation over rugged terrain like construction sites.


Look for a generator with at least 8 hours of runtime. This allows contractors to make it through a full day’s work and homeowners to get a full night’s sleep without re-fueling.

Count how many outlets you’ll need on your generator. This depends on how many appliances you’ll need to power at once. Check your appliances to see what type of outlets you’ll need.


Gasoline, Propane, or Dual Fuel?


A dual fuel generator allows the freedom of operating your generator on gasoline or liquid propane. Enjoy safe, reliable power whenever and wherever you need it. Compared to gasoline, liquid propane is fuel-efficient, less expensive, and has a longer storage life.  It offers the peace of mind that you can have power no matter how bad things get out there. Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes can disrupt gasoline supply. If you're dependent on that one type of fuel, you could be limited to what you have stored at home.  

Here's a great dual fuel generator with loads of power:

DuroMax XP12000HX 12,000-Watt 460cc Dual Fuel Gas Propane Portable Generator with CO Alert

DuroMax XP12000HX 12,000-Watt 460cc Dual Fuel Gas Propane Portable Generator with CO Alert


The XP12000HX is the BEAST of the HX Series with 12,000 watts of POWER. This unit provides the power normally found in stationary home standby generators but in a more affordable, portable package! With a 460cc OHV DuroMax Engine, this… Read More

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Features That Make a Difference

  • Weather Protected Control Panel Protects your control panel from rain, dirt, dust and debris.
  • Dual Fuel Technology allows the freedom of operating your generator on gasoline or liquid propane. Enjoy safe, reliable power whenever and wherever you need it. Compared to gasoline, liquid propane is fuel efficient, less expensive and has a longer storage life.
  • Low Oil Shutoff protects your investment by automatically shutting the generator off when it senses that the oil is low.
  • Fully Featured Power Panel includes a wide selection of outlets for maximum compatibility in your applications including: 2 120V household GFCI outlets and 1 120/240V 30A twist lock outlet. The panel also includes a voltmeter and 12V DC charging posts for charging external batteries.
  • Compliance with Emissions Standards – All DuroMax generators are both approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and CARB (California Air Resources Board) and follow strict guidelines to ensure our generators are as environmentally friendly as possible.
  • Fuel Tanks Larger fuel tanks provide longer uninterrupted run times.
  • Portability and Ease of Transport Look for pneumatic wheels for easier transportation over rugged terrain like construction sites.


Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between rated watts and maximum (surge) watts?

Rated watts describe the amount of power the portable generator can produce continuously. Maximum wattage is the power that the generator can produce for short periods of time. The power a motor needs when starting up is a good example of maximum wattage requirements.


Can I use a portable generator for backup during a power outage?

Yes. You can plug household appliances and devices into a portable generator but not all simultaneously.


Never plug your generator into an outlet in your home or business. If you'd like to connect a portable generator to your home's wiring system, have a certified electrician install an approved manual power transfer switch in compliance with electrical codes.


What's a transfer switch?

A transfer switch allows you to connect a portable generator to your home's electrical system, while safely disconnecting you from the utility grid. This will eliminate any chance of a dangerous back-feed.


What's a back-feed?

A back-feed occurs when a generator is plugged into an electrical outlet, feeding power back onto utility lines. This creates a life-threatening hazard for any utility employees working to restore power to these lines.


Does the portable generator need to be grounded?

Yes. For safety, the generator must be properly grounded. If the generator isn't grounded, you risk electrocution. Check and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations relating to grounding.


Can I vent the exhaust out of an enclosed area?

No. Never run the generator in a home or an enclosed area. Portable generators are designed to run outside where there's plenty of ventilation. Generator exhaust, like that of all gasoline engines, contains poisonous carbon monoxide. For more information, refer to the Portable Generator Safety Tips above.


Can I use the generator during inclement weather?

You can use a generator during a variety of weather and temperatures, but you should protect it from the elements when it's not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. Never run a generator indoors.


How often should I perform routine maintenance?

Check your owner's manual for the recommended maintenance schedule.


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