Choosing the best type of power generator for your unique needs can be a daunting task. There are three different types, and if you can’t tell them apart, you could end up with a generator that does not match your intended task. But if you only familiarize yourself with the major benefits of each type of generator, settling down on the best for you should be easy. Understanding the types of power generators will help you decide whether a solar, gas or battery generator is the best power backup for your home. You will also easily decide what type of generator is best for camping, travel, work, parties and more. If you don’t have a good grasp of the different types of generators, don’t worry. We have put together a thorough guide of all generator types to help you find the best.
In this guide, you will find comprehensive info about all types of generators, their pros and cons, and the best uses for each type. Aside from that, we have included our best pick for each type to make finding the best generator for your needs even easier. In the end, you will be well informed to confidently choose the best type of power generator for what you have in mind. Ready?
#1. Solar Generator
What is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator changes sunlight to electric power using its built-in solar panel, stores the power in its built-in battery and supplies electric devices with instantaneous and steady power in the type of current needed. So unlike a standalone solar panel which generates variable DC current that is not instantaneous and steady enough to power devices, a solar generator has a built-in battery to store the variable DC current from its solar panel and to supply steady power to electric devices when necessary. But solar generators don’t only supply DC current, they also have built-in inverters to change the DC current from the battery into AC current suitable AC devices.
In a nutshell, a solar generator is a 3-in-1 device comprising a solar panel that uses sunlight to generate variable DC power, a battery that stores the variable DC power and supplies steady instantaneous power as needed, and a power inverter that changes the battery’s DC current to AC for powering AC devices.
Benefits of a Solar Generator1. Silent: Solar generators are quiet which makes them a good choice to power your outdoor passion. They don’t disturb nature in any way and are ideal for activities like camping, hunting, and fishing. Choosing a solar generator over a gas generator will make it easy to listen to natural sounds when camping trip, lure animals when hunting and attract fish when fishing. 2. Green Power Supply: Want to go green? A solar generator is a great way to do so. Solar generators do not use non-renewable energy sources like gasoline or coal. They use the free rays of the sun to generate power and do not contribute to climate change. 3. Economic: If you want to save on power bills, there is no better way to do that than to invest in a solar generator. The reason? Solar power is absolutely free from the sun once you have invested in a solar generator.
Best Uses for a Solar Generator1. Power backup: A solar generator can power your essential devices in cases of unexpected power outages and when you just want to save on power bills. It’s free power from the sun that you will never have to pay a dime for. 2. Camping: When camping in remote off-the-grid places, a solar generator can come in handy to power your important devices such as smartphones, laptops, and cameras. The best part is that it will only need sunlight to generate power.
3. Hunting and fishing: When hunting or fishing a solar generator can power your essential electronic devices such as smartphones, cameras, and drones using the free energy of the sun. 4. Outdoor parties: Bringing a solar generator to a tailgate party will help you power your smartphones, laptops, tablets, audio system, outdoor fans and more. Who knows, you could even sell your party buddies on green living.
Renogy Portable Solar Generator 150W — Our Pick for the Best Solar Generator You Can Buy Right Now
With its two 20-watt solar panels for generating power, 16Ah battery to supply instantaneous and steady power when necessary, and 8 power outlets for powering devices, the Renogy 150W is simply one of the best solar generators you can buy right now. Its 150W or 210Wh capacity is just what you would need to power your devices during a power outage, a camping trip or an ecstatic tailgate party. The 8 power outlets comprising 1 AC, 2 DC, 4 USB, and 1 Cigarette outlet make it easy to power an array of devices such as laptops, smartphones, cameras, drones, LED lights, audio systems and more.
While the Renogy 150W is a solar generator, you can also charge it faster and more conveniently with the AC wall outlet at home, the DC cigarette port in your car and two external solar panels (POVs) up to 100 watts. It also comes with rugged construction that will easily endure physical traumas when powering your outdoor adventures. The only downside to the Renogy 150W is that it lucks a battery management system, but the built-in NMC lithium-ion battery — which is highly tolerant to overtemperature, overvoltage, and overcurrent — makes up for that.
#2. Gas Generator
What is a Gas Generator?
Gas generators use gasoline to generate power. They supply steady and instantaneous AC current that can power a wide range of devices and appliances such as laptops, smartphones, fridges, dishwashers and more. Unlike solar generators, gas generators do not have a built-in power storage battery — they don’t need it to supply steady and instantaneous power. Additionally, gas generators only supply AC current and often come with 2 to 3 AC power outlets.
Gas generators typically supply more power (over 1800 watts) than all other types of generators and are ideal for powering high voltage devices. While a solar or battery generator will only power your essential devices during a power outage, a gas generator will easily power almost all the electronic devices and appliances in your home simultaneously. Higher capacity gas generators will even power your entire house in a pinch.
However, gas generators also have their downsides. First, they are the most inefficient type of generators — a lot of gasoline is wasted when powering devices. Gas generators also produce poisonous fumes and should not operate inside living spaces. On top of that, they are relatively noisy even though new technology has continued to make them quieter by the day.
Nonetheless, gas generators are the best and cheapest option if you intend to power your high wattage appliances such as fridges, microwaves, coffee makers, etc when there’s a power outage. While solar and battery generators are more efficient, cleaner and quieter, they are still not powerful enough to replace gas generators in powering power-hungry appliances.
Benefits of a Gas Generator1. High power capacity: Gas generators are the go-to power supply for powering high wattage appliances. While most battery and solar generators luck the capacity to power high wattage devices like clothes dryers, air conditioners, coffee makers and microwaves, a gas generator will easily power these appliances during power outages. 2. Longer lasting Power: Gas generators not only give you high power capacity but also longer-lasting power. While a solar generator will run your wine cooler for just over three hours, a gas generator can power your refrigerator, your ceiling fan and your 49 inches LED TV the entire day. 2. Low cost: Despite their high power capacity in comparison to solar and battery generators, gas generators come in relatively lower price tags. For what you would pay for a 300 watts battery generator, you can get a gas generator ten times the capacity. 3. No recharging needed: Unlike solar and battery generators that need hours to recharge, gas generators don’t need any charging. They only need refueling with gasoline which takes less than a minute.
Best Uses of a Gas Generator1. Home power backup: A gas generator has the capacity to power most of your devices and appliances when there is a power outage. Most gas generators have high capacities usually more than 1800 watts which is enough to power most devices and appliances including smartphones, laptops, fridges, LED TVs, microwaves, coffee makers, etc for up to 12 hours. They will give you more power capacity than all other types of generators. 2. Hurricanes/typhoons/tornados, earthquakes, and snowstorms: Natural disasters damage power lines and can keep you off the grid for days. A gas generator will provide convenient power for almost all your devices and appliances when disaster strikes. 3. Backyard party: Wanna throw a memorable backyard bash for your neighbors and friends? A gas generator can come in handy for supplying uninterrupted power to your sound system, outdoor refrigerator, icemaker and other electric appliances you may need. 4. Camping: If you intend to go camping for a couple of days, you will need power for your phones, laptop, CPAP, camping refrigerator, LED TV, outdoor fans and more. A gas generator will power all your important gadgets, devices and appliances to give you the comfort of home while away from home. 5. Off-grid Construction: Are you in the construction industry? A gas generator will give you reliable power supply when working in off-grid construction sites. It will meet the high power demands of common power tools such as drills, nail guns, table saws, jigsaws, screwdrivers and more.
DuroStar 4000 Watts Portable Gas Generator — Our Pick for the Best Gas Generator You Can Buy Right Now
If you are looking for backup power supply for your home, the DuroStar 4000W is one of the best gas generators you can find. It has a high power capacity of 4000 watts which is just what you need to keep your important appliances running through a long power outage. It is particularly useful for powering high voltage appliances such as fridges, blenders, coffeemakers and more.
Even when you want to power your job site, the Durostar 4000W has got you covered. Its 4000 watts capacity will easily power your drills, jigsaws, power screwdrivers, nail guns, angle grinders and more. To power devices, it comes with three AC outlets: two 120 volts outlets and one 120 volts lock outlet. And with its 3.96 gallons tank, it can supply power up to 12 hours on a full tank. You will, therefore, be able to power your essential devices the whole day in case of a power outage or when camping in remote areas.
The DuroStar 4000W’s built-in muffler cuts its noise to just 69 decibel which is just as loud as a shower or a dishwasher. On top of that, it is EPA and CARB approved and meets the environmental protection guidelines for gas generators. So whether you use it to power your home or to power your outdoor passion, you can have a guilt-free experience knowing very well that your generator emits minimal amounts of noise and fumes.
For safety, the Durostar 4000W has an automatic low oil function that instantly shuts it off when there is a low oil level in the engine. This protects the engine and maintains optimal performance. It also comes with a surge-arrest that protects its electric parts from voltage spikes. Moreover, the compact and sturdy construction with a strong frame offers maximum protection and durability. Whether you want to power your essential appliances during a power outage, go camping, host a backyard party or power your job site, the DuroStar 4000W — which comes with an optional wheel kit for portability — will give you a reliable wall outlet wherever you take it.
#3. Battery Generator
What is Battery Generator?
A battery generator is almost similar to a solar generator but for one big difference: it doesn’t have a built-in solar panel. Sure, you can charge a battery generator by solar, but you will have to connect an external solar panel. There are lithium-ion, lead-acid, lithium-polymer, and LiFePO4 battery generators depending on the type of battery. But the most popular are lithium-ion battery generators thanks to their high energy density and lightweight construction.
Battery generators usually come with multiple charging options and can be charged by an external solar panel, an AC wall outlet and the DC cigarette outlet of a car. And because of the sensitivity of lithium-ion batteries to various conditions, most battery generators often come with a built-in battery management system to protect the battery from such conditions as overvoltage, overtemperature, overcharge and more.
In terms of power, battery generators typically have lower capacities than gas generators and most will not power higher voltage appliances like coffeemakers, dishwashers or power tools. Nonetheless, they are excellent options for powering a full range of essential devices like smartphones, laptops, cameras and more, thanks to their multiple power outlets, unlimited portability, and nature-friendly operation.
Benefits of Battery Generators1. Lightweight design: Battery generators are the lightest type of power generators and hence the most portable. Most of them weigh less than 10 lbs with the heaviest weighing no more than 20 lbs. This is in contrast to gas generators that start at 45 lbs. If you are looking for a portable power supply for your devices when camping or traveling, a battery generator is the best for you. 2. Portability: The lightweight construction of battery generators make them the most portable type of power generators. If you are looking for a generator to power your important devices when traveling or camping, a battery generator is your best bet. 3. Eco-friendly: Unlike gas generators, battery generators do not emit fumes and apart from a built-in cooling fan on some models, they don’t emit any noise. Gas generators may be getting quieter thanks to technology, but if you are looking for 0 decibels in your power supply, battery generators are the best options out there — aside from solar generators of course. 4. Low maintenance: Just like solar generators, battery generators don’t require maintenance apart from regular cleaning. Unlike with gas generators, there is no need to replace oil filters, add engine oil or use oil stabilizers. If you want reliable power for your essential gadgets minus the numerous maintenance demands of gas generators, a battery generator is an excellent pick.
Best Uses for a Battery Generator1. Power backup: A battery generator can be a convenient power backup for your devices during regular power outages. While it lucks the high capacity to power high wattage appliances like microwaves and heater fans, it can come in handy to power most of your essential devices like smartphones, laptops, and CPAP device. 2. Camping, Hunting and Fishing: When having fun in the great outdoors, it’s always a good idea to have a reliable power supply for your devices and lights. Battery generators make no noise and emit no fumes making them nature-friendly options for powering your gadgets outdoors. 3. Tailgating: Planning to attend a tailgate party? You will need a reliable power supply for your audio system, can cooler and smartphone. A battery generator can supply all your important gadgets with ready power and save you the frustration of dead devices in the middle of an exuberant party. 4. Tours and Travel: Bringing along a battery generator when traveling, touring or vacationing will give you a wall outlet wherever life takes you. You will conveniently charge your smartphones, laptops, cameras and more even when in the remotest places. 5. Work: Do you have a job that keeps you on your feet? Careers fields such as journalism, nursing, photography, etc may keep you off-the-grid for hours on end. A battery generator can be extremely useful in powering your personal devices and job equipment for maximum productivity even when away from the mains.
Picowe 250Wh Battery Generator — Our Pick for the Best Battery Generator You Can Buy Right Now
At first glance, the Picowe 250Wh is an ultra-modern battery generator with a sturdy compact build, multiple power outlets, and an exceptionally ergonomic handle. Pick it up and its exceptionally lightweight weighing no more than the 5.95 lbs specified. If you are a regular traveler in need of superb portability in a power supply, the Picowe 250Wh might just be the one for you.
It’s incredibly powerful for its weight with its 250-watt capacity which is just what you need to power your most important devices including smartphones, laptops, cameras, minifridges, drones and more. Sure it may not power your microwave, but it will easily keep you comfortable and connected through power outages, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Even when camping, hunting or fishing, you should have no problems powering your devices with the Picowe 250Wh. It comes with plenty of power outlets — one 110 volts AC outlet, 3 DC outlets, and 2 USB ports — so you are never short of outlets to power your devices.
The best part is that all your sensitive devices will be safe with the Picowe 250Wh thanks to its pure sine wave output that runs sensitive devices like fans and CPAP safely and efficiently. Couple that with its built-in battery management system — that keeps overvoltage, overtemperature and overcharge in check — and you get one of the safest battery generators you can buy, not just for your devices but also for yourself. And when the Picowe 250Wh runs out power, there are of plenty of charging options — it can be charged with a compatible solar panel, an AC wall outlet, and the DC cigarette outlet in your car.
If you want a battery generator for powering important devices like smartphones, laptops, cameras, and CPAP when there is a power outage, when camping or when traveling, the Picowe 250Wh with its relatively high capacity, top-notch safety features, and super-rugged design is a worthy consideration.