How Portable Generators Work for Your Job Site

Posted on November 12, 2015

how-portable-generators-workWhen you’re in need of a portable generator for your job site, there are so many questions that can come up. How many watts do you need to keep your site rolling? Do you need particular technologies? Let’s take a look at common questions contractors have about how portable generators work.

Add it up

The first step is to determine what size generator you need to keep working efficiently. This isn’t based on the size of the job site as much as how many tools you’ll be running and at what levels of power. To figure out this number, list what power tools you’ll need to provide power for and look at the information plate on each one to find the wattage. Record that information along with how many of that tool you’ll need to power, then multiply them to find the total wattage. Include chargers for your cordless tools.

Next, look at surge wattage, which is the power used to start a tool compared to continuing to run it. Air compressors and circular saws usually have a higher starting surge. Most generators have a surge wattage and a rated wattage, so the total surge wattage can’t exceed the difference between the two. Add the total wattages you’ll need together, then add a buffer of 10% just in case.

If you can’t find wattage for a particular tool, you can calculate it by multiplying volts times amps, so a 12-volt drill that draws 5 amps will use 60 watts. High-quality generators will typically include a Direct Current circuit to charge items at 12 volts, If a machine is listed by horsepower, a good rule of thumb is that one horsepower is equal to 746 watts. If you have a 1/2 horsepower motor, divide 746 by 2 to get 373 watts for the motor.

True Portability

One of the most important features beyond power capacity is how portable the generator is. For most purposes, a generator with wheels is a great advantage, because it avoids problems with having to lift or carry the generator’s entire weight. A longer handle is also helpful when moving a generator, as it provides more leverage for hauling. The other thing that can affect portability is overall weight. An overly-heavy generator can be difficult to maneuver, especially on slopes or to move it into or out of a vehicle.

Key Features

There are several other key features that will help you select a portable generator. The generator’s run time and fuel tank size will tell you both how often the generator will need to be refueled and how efficient the engine is. At the same time, sticking with a generator that is CARB compliant helps maintain your job site’s air quality. An electric key ignition is much easier to operate than a pull start, while a generator with automatic voltage recognition allows the voltage to be automatically converted to the best possible setting for your equipment. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets can help prevent work site tragedies due to electrocution.

At BN Products, we pride ourselves on engineering quality products that will give a long service life to our customers. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.