Last updated: October 15, 2021

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The German electricity grid is one of the most stable and best developed grids in Europe. Nevertheless, there may be situations in which you are cut off from the public electricity supply and have to resort to electricity generators. Whether you are camping, working in the garden or in the event of a power cut, generators can make life a lot easier.

In the meantime, there are many different power generators, which raises the question: Which genset is the right one for me in which situations? For our product comparison, we have therefore compared different models and worked out the most important aspects.




Summary

  • With the help of a generator, you can produce electrical energy yourself without having to rely on the public electricity grid. It is driven by an engine that burns either petrol, diesel or gas.
  • Basically, you can find different models in the shops, which differ mainly in their power potential and the stability of the power frequency. Generators are available in a wide range of price categories.
  • Since the use of generators inevitably produces toxic exhaust gases, you may only use your generator outdoors. Do not connect the genset to the house or flat's power distribution system on your own. This should be done by an electrician.

The best power unit: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for power generators

To help you find the perfect power generator, we have selected some buying criteria that you should consider when buying. These criteria should make it easier to compare the individual models so that you can make an objective and informed choice.

The most important criteria that you can use to compare power generators with each other are:

Engine type

You have various options to choose from when it comes to engine types. The most common models are equipped with combustion engines, whereby you can choose between petrol, diesel and natural gas. In addition, you have the choice between a four-stroke engine and a two-stroke engine.

The structure of a two-stroke engine is simpler than that of a four-stroke engine. A two-stroke engine has a low weight, but due to its technical mode of operation, it produces more power than a four-stroke engine.

The four-stroke engine works with less wear overall and thus usually lasts longer than a two-stroke. It also runs more efficiently, especially when burning gas. It all depends on your individual preferences.

Engine power

There are different devices for different requirements in the commercial and private sector. Whether for camping, in the garden or on the building site. The power you should expect from your appliance depends on the type of consumer.

For example, if you want to charge your laptop while camping, a power generator with relatively low engine power is sufficient. If you want your device to provide electricity for the house in the event of a power failure, it will inevitably need a lot more power (at least 5000 watts).

However, you should take into account that almost all electronic devices require a higher wattage for a short time when they are switched on. Therefore, allow for an additional 25 % of the required power to prevent damage to the generator.

Voltage

To ensure that you can use your generator as you wish without any problems, you should take a closer look at the voltage of generators.

If you work with sensitive consumers such as laptops, TV sets, microwaves or music systems, you should use a device that works with the so-called inverter technology.

Such a device can reliably transform direct current into harmonised alternating current. This ensures that the generated current has perfect frequency and voltage characteristics at all times.

A power generator without inverter technology can have voltage deviations of up to 25 %. Sensitive electronic devices can suffer damage or break down as a result. If, for example, you are working on a construction site with less sensitive consumers, you can do without the inverter technology.

Size

Generally speaking, the more power a unit can generate, the larger it is. Both the product dimensions and the weight of the units increase with increasing power. Here you have to decide: more power or more mobility.

Especially if you want to use your power generator in different places for different purposes, the device should have a high degree of mobility. Size is an important criterion. Gensets that cannot be transported by car lose some of their functionality and are rather unsuitable for multifunctional use.

Volume

Since generators are powered by a combustion engine, noise emissions are inevitable. However, the noise level varies from unit to unit and depends on the power, the type of engine and the load of the unit. As a rule, you should expect noise levels of 55 to 95 decibels.

Efficiency

The runtime per tank filling is a good indicator of the efficiency of your unit. We recommend power generators that have low fuel consumption and run for a long time, but still deliver maximum power. This is good for the environment and good for your wallet.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about power generators answered in detail

In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about the topic of power generators. In this way, we want to give you a deeper insight into the topic.

What is a power generator?

If the public power supply is not accessible to you as a consumer, for example because the power is out for a longer period of time, or you have no power source in your garden, you can help yourself out with a mobile power generator.

This consists of a generator and a combustion engine. The generator converts mechanical drive energy into electrical energy, while the engine acts as a drive.

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A power generator can significantly improve the camping experience. It also allows you to use fairy lights and other electronic devices in remote areas. (Image source: Daan Stevens/ Unsplash)

Using a power generator inevitably produces toxic exhaust fumes. Therefore, you should only use it outdoors, in a well-ventilated place. In addition, neighbours, for example, can quickly feel inconvenienced because gensets can sometimes be quite loud.

What types of power generators are there?

The most important types are mobile generators, inverters and stationary emergency generators. Mobile power generators are ideal for all occasions in the great outdoors where there is no fixed power source.

Whether camping, on construction sites or at events in the forest. These devices are also used, for example, by the THW and the fire brigade to reliably supply their emergency forces with electricity at all times.

When working with sensitive end devices such as mobile phones, laptops or game consoles, you should definitely use an inverter.

Stationary emergency power generators are designed to ensure the power supply of entire blocks of houses in case of an emergency. They are much larger, more powerful and unsuitable for private use. Such generators are used in hospitals or research facilities, for example.

What does a genset consume?

Consumption depends mainly on the type of engine and the power output. Diesel engines consume less than petrol and gas engines during prolonged use. Models with an output of less than 3000 watts consume between 1.2 and 1.5 litres per hour. Models with a higher output can easily reach 4 litres per hour.

Conclusion

Power generators are helpful for getting reliable electricity on the road or for continuing to use certain electronic devices in the event of power outages. Thanks to their low weight, they are mobile and therefore a real game changer when camping, for example.

When buying a power generator, you should always keep in mind what you intend to do with it. Important points are the type of motor, the motor power, the voltage, the efficiency, but also the size and volume are important purchase criteria.

You can get a good product for relatively little money. You can get entry-level models for as little as 150 €. If you want more power, however, you will have to expect to pay at least 300 to 400 €. Very important: Do not use power generators in closed rooms!

(Cover photo: Thomas Kelly / Unsplash)

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