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7 Different Types of Generators – Ultimate Guide

A collage of different types of generators.

Most of us look forward to the summer season because it brings with it a great many things like delicious summer fruits, colorful blooming flowers, and the blazing sunshine. Summer is also the perfect time to head over to the beach and get that perfect beach body tan.

As you thoroughly enjoy the summer season in all its glory, you must also be aware of the number of power outages that occur during this time.

You probably always find yourself covered in beads of sweat every time the electricity goes out as if the heat of the summer season wasn’t enough to do that.

Luckily for you, you have the amazing invention of home generators at your disposal. Generators serve the purpose of providing you with a temporary electricity fix every time there is a blackout in your home.

However, the term “generator” is all-inclusive, and there are many different types of generators aside from the one that you may have in your house. Each of them has its own distinguishing features, characteristics, and is used for different purposes of platform trolley.

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History of the Generator

The present or modern-day generator has its roots placed well in history, and it goes back to an apparatus used by Michael Faraday in 1831. 

Faraday was a British scientist, chemist, and a physicist. The apparatus he used was very simple and consisted of a bar magnet, a coil of wire, and a tube that was made of neutral material.

This British scientist and physicist then connected the equipment that he built to a galvanometer which serves the purpose of detecting electrical currents.

Once he attached the two, he noticed that every time he moved the magnet back and forth through the coil wire, the needle of the galvanometer kept moving with it. It moved even when the magnet remained stationary in its place.

This interesting observation led him to the conclusion there was possibly electric current flowing through the coil of wire. Sometime later, after having arrived at this conclusion, Faraday created the Faraday Disc. This was considered to be the first ever electromagnetic generator.

Soon after that, many other scientists followed suit and built numerous electrical devices that ran with electric power and helped in times of power failure.

During the 1980s, several companies like General Electric and a few others sprung up, and they were at the forefront of generator production, manufacturing, and design.

The Basics of Generator Maintenance

Setting up a mobile generator.

Just like with any engine-based appliance, generators also require a fair share of maintenance in order to make them last as long as possible. Every type of generator comes with a specific maintenance schedule that you must follow accordingly.

Typical generator maintenance practice involves the need for general inspection, which includes checking the machine for any possible leaks, checking the battery, cables, and terminals, and also assessing the coolant and oil levels.

Standard generator maintenance includes the following key factors:

  1. A thorough inspection of the cooling system, which basically involves keeping an eye on the coolant levels at varying intervals.
  2. Annual cleaning and filtering. This is done because a generator is probably used every other day, so you need to clean any clogged fuel filters and fuel lines.
  3. Checking the battery power every now and then since, in the majority of malfunction cases, battery failure is what wears out the generator.
  4. Customary testing of the generator to get the know-how of the battery status, the gravity of the batteries as well as their electrolyte levels.

Different Types of Generators

There are different types of generators available for commercial purchase, some of which are specially designed for households while others are meant for industrial purposes.

These are some of the most common and popular types of generators, and each of them has their own unique and specific features, qualities, uses, advantage, and disadvantages.

Types of Diesel Generators The Inside of a Diesel Generator

Also known as diesel genset, diesel generators run through diesel fuel which is one of the least flammable of all the fuel sources. This generator uses a combination of a diesel engine with an electric generator in order to produce electrical energy.

Although most diesel-compression ignition engines are primarily designed in a way that they best run on diesel fuel, there are some types that work really well with natural gas or other liquid fuels.

Diesel generators are best known for their increased durability, lower maintenance levels, and incredibly long life.

Since diesel fuel burns much cooler as compared to gasoline, it greatly reduces the heat and the excessive burden on the engine. These types of generators are also super efficient and have a higher energy density in terms of producing power that is lower in cost.

One of the best things about diesel generators is that they are highly affordable to operate. As long as they are well-kept and properly maintained, they are likely to last for a long time even under rigorous and heavy use.


  • They are highly durable and have a long life.
  • They are really easy to start, even in cold environments.


  • They release emissions which are a threat to the environment.
  • They are not well suited to wet environments because of moisture in the fuel main ruins the engine.

Natural Gas GeneratorsOutdoor Unit of a Generator

This is one of the most efficient and widely used means of generating power and electricity. Natural gas generators work in a very similar fashion to other types of generators.

They use either liquefied petroleum gas or propane to produce energy. The best thing about natural gas is that it can be stored very easily in above or below ground tanks, which makes these generators highly durable.

Natural gas is one resource that is readily available which, in other words, suggests a virtually endless supply.

These types of generators hardly ever run out of fuel primarily because natural gas lines are basically run to the site of the operation.

Some of the major reasons contributing to the popularity of natural gas generators include how inexpensive the gas is as compared to other non-renewable fuels, how clean it is – it is easily one of the cleanest fossil fuels when burnt.

Apart from being cheap and clean, natural gas generators significantly reduce costs when they are used as power sources in households. The main reason behind this is that when you use electricity from the main utility source, it doesn’t leave you with a hole in your pocket


  • They run very quietly and cause very little disturbance.
  • They burn cleanly without producing a lot of waste.


  • They are not as long lasting as diesel generators.
  • They have high installation costs due to their connection to running gas lines.

Gasoline GeneratorsGenerator Kept Outdoors

Also called ‘gas generators,’ these are probably the most common among all types of generators. The main reason behind their commonness and popularity is that they are powered with the help of gas, and gasoline is always readily available.

These generators are also towards the more reasonable end of the price spectrum, which places them at the low-end of the cost scale.

There is a downside to it, though, which is that gasoline may not be available during electricity and power shortages because it’s acquired with the help of electricity.

These generators are usually available in small sizes, which make them highly portable. Portability is, after all, their distinct advantage over other types of generators.

Their small size also makes them really compact. Depending on their power output, you can easily move gasoline generators around according to your needs and requirements.

Some key uses of gas generators include for home use, campsite, on job and work sites and various other purposes. Their cheap price tags also make them the common and most preferred type of generator in different construction jobs.

On the downside, gas generators tend to be really loud, and they produce a very disturbing kind of noise. Also, if you use their portability feature too much, they will require high and almost regular maintenance if they are to last long and show increased durability.

Gasoline generators are the best choice if you don’t require a lot of power. If, however, you need to install one in your home, it is best to go for a standby gasoline generator. They have the potential to provide a high output, and they also produce really less noise and gas pollution.


  • They are very easy on the pocket.
  • They are extremely portable, which means you can easily move them around as per your needs.


  • They produce relatively high emissions.
  • They create a lot of unwanted noise and annoying sounds.
  • They don’t start well and effectively in colder temperatures.

Dual fuel generators have a lot to offer as a backup generator or as a power source for camping, caravans and RVs. Dual fuel generators can accept two kinds of power – such as LPG and diesel.

These generators are convenient since you can use them with whatever fuel is on hand, however the power output will usually vary depending on the fuel used. For example, LPG with have a lower starting power and overall wattage than natural gas.

Standby GeneratorsStandby Diesel Generator Unit

Also known as “backup generators” or “emergency power systems,” standby generators are an electrical system that operates automatically.

These generators may run on diesel or gas, and they have a large external tank that lasts them for at least 48 hours before the need arises to refuel them.

In terms of the physical system unit of these generators, standby generators have a robust commercial engine that is attached on a skid.

The skid has a radiator, a large alternator, and an onboard fuel tank. A standby generator has an automatic transfer switch that allows it to power a device when there is a loss of power or when the electricity goes out.

Some key characteristics of standby generators include automatic operation, delivery of permanent power protection, and the use of an internal combustion engine.

They have two key components, which are a standby generator and an automatic transfer switch.

These generators have the ability to sense or detect power loss within a matter of only a few seconds, and they respond almost immediately so that the whole duration of power loss is actually very brief.

Some common uses of standby generators include safety systems in elevators, fire protection systems, standby lighting, and life and medical support equipment.


  • They ensure seamless switching between systems, which means that you don’t have anything to worry about when the power goes out.
  • They guarantee a continuous flow of power, which is very useful when you need a permanent fix for power shortage.


  • They can be really costly, especially when you need one to run your entire
  • They need thorough and regular maintenance- without which, the engine can malfunction.

Portable GeneratorsGasoline Portable Generator

These are mainly powered by gas or diesel and are an excellent option for producing temporary electrical power.

Some of their key characteristics include the use of a combustion engine that helps produce and conduct electricity. They can also be used in remote sites and have enough power to run televisions, freezers, and refrigerators.

The engine in portable generators turns a small turbine, which then creates a certain amount of usable electricity. There are two ways to use a portable generator.

Firstly, it can be professionally wired into the sub-panel of a home. Secondly, you can plug all your tools or any electrical appliances directly the power sockets of the generator.

Portable Power Supply generators have a great many uses, and they are mainly used by construction teams on remote sites in order to give power to the tools and lights.

Many businesses and house residents also use portable generators when they are left without power for a short amount of time. They majorly use these generators to keep the vital appliances powered and running, for instance, refrigerators, phones, lights, etc.


  • They are the cheapest option available and are easy on the pocket.
  • They work really well when there is a lack of access to other power sources.


  • They require a considerable amount of protection from the weather and its changes.
  • They cannot be operated inside a home or a garage.

Solar Generators

These generators are extremely interesting, considering how they use the radiating energy of the sun for power. Solar power is undeniably one of the simplest forms of energy that can be found around us.

Solar generators primarily work by using solar panels to help capture the energy from the sun. This energy is then used to charge a battery in the generator.

The charge stored in this battery is then used to produce electricity. Since most appliances in today’s time use alternating current, the inverter in the solar generator first changes the power into this type of current before its full extraction.

If you were to get down to the basics of a solar generator, it is basically a small unit with interconnected components inside. It has three key parts. 

These parts are the batteries, the inverter, and the charge controller. All these components together work towards transforming solar energy into electrical energy.

Once the solar generator is fully activated, it gains energy from solar panels that, in turn, derive energy from the sun. After that, you can use that energy to power anything you want.

The one important thing to know about solar generators is the amount of time they require to fully charge. A full recharge for these generators is almost eight hours of direct sunlight.


  • They are quiet and don’t produce any disturbing noise.
  • They are excellent for minimal electrical requirements.


  • They are very slow in terms of charging their batteries to their full capacity.
  • They are really expensive when compared to fuel powered generators.

Inverter Generators

Unit of an Inverter Generator

Generators have always been referred to as loud and bulky electrical tools; however, with the invention of inverter generators, that perception has greatly changed.

These generators use an engine that is connected to an alternator, as a result of which, it produces AC (alternating current) power. This AC power is then converted into DC (direct current) power by these generators with the help of a rectifier.

As compared to the conventional generators, inverter generators offer many advantages to its users.

They are exceptionally quiet and hardly produce any noise during operation. They are also 20 percent more fuel efficient, and they produce the kind of electricity that is safe to use for sensitive electronic gadgets and equipment like smartphones and laptops.

Some key characteristics of inverter generators include the use of high tech magnets and advanced electronic circuitry.

These generators go through three key phases in order to produce electricity. Firstly, they output the AC after which they convert it to DC, and lastly, they invert it back to AC.

A great feature of inverter generators is that the speed of their engine adjusts itself according to the amount of power that needs to be used. This makes it extremely energy efficient – even more than the other types of generators.

Inverter generators were initially marketed to fishermen, hunters, and campers in order to help them bring the comfort of home into the outdoor space.

After that, these generators started to gain significant popularity in the construction industry since they helped workers work long shifts without being disturbed by noises and sounds that are characteristic of other conventional generators.


  • They run longer, quieter, and display maximum performance.
  • They produce low emissions and don’t need to be refilled as often.


  • They carry a heavy price tag as compared to a portable generator.
  • They are not powerful enough to power heavy-duty machinery, tools, or even big homes.

Different Types of Generators for Homes

If you’re looking for generators that are specifically for home/residential use, here is a list to help you in your search:

  • Natural Gas Generators
  • Gasoline Generators
  • Solar Generators
  • Inverter Generators

Every type of generator comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, as well as distinctive features and uses.

Your decision of which generator to get entirely rests on your needs and requirements. All you need to do is weigh up their pros and cons and also assess your needs in order to make a well-informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Generators Work? How Do Generators Produce Electricity?

Normally, generators don’t create electricity. Instead, they convert chemical or mechanical energy into electrical energy. They do this by capturing the power of motion and convert into electrical energy by forcing electrons from external sources through electrical circuits.

How Long Do Generators Last?

Averagely, a generator might run up to 3000 hours powering a medium-sized home. But it’s recommended you don’t run it for more than 600 hours continuously. Two factors that determine the time a generator can run are the fuel source and generator type. 

Do Generators Run on Gas?

Most generators run only on gasoline, though some come with a natural gas line or propane tank, and others are converted with kits.

Does a Generator Need To Be Grounded?

You need to ground your generator, especially if it’s providing electricity to a structure by a connection via a transfer switch (trailer, shop, office, home, etc.).

Grounded generators offer a backup path of least resistance for electric current. Otherwise, ungrounded generated might cause electrocution, fire, etc.  

Does a Generator Charge Its Own Battery?

It depends. For example, Honda generators charge their battery while the generator runs. Starting the engine might discharge the battery, so the generator needs to run for a while to replace the charge used to start it.

What Generator Size Do I Need?                 

Normally, a 6,000-7,000 watt generator is sufficient if you want to power a microwave, lights, sump pump, refrigerator, etc. But, if you need to power more power-hungry appliances like air conditioning units or water heaters, you’ll need to consider a 10,000-watt model.

What Size Generator For a House? Will a 12000-Watt Generator Run a House?

With a generator rated at about 7,500 watts, you might run even the most power-hungry appliances like a well pump, freezer, lighting circuits, etc. A 7500-watt generator might power all these appliances at once.

Alternatively, a 12,000-watt generator can keep power a home without missing a beat. You’ll be able to power your fans, lights, computers, refrigerators, space heaters, etc.

What Size Generator To Run a Refrigerator And Freezer?                             

A three thousand watts generator is fit for all standard freezers and refrigerators. In contrast, a 5,000+ watts generator can power all huge freezers and refrigerators. However, most homeowners don’t have such huge freezers and refrigerators.

What Size Generator For RV? What Size Generator For 50 Amp RV?

Most electrical appliances in RVs operate at about 150 volts, independent of 50 or 30 amp service. You must multiply volts by amps to determine how many watts you’ve available.

For example, a 50-amp RV with a 120 V electrical source can handle about 120 x 50 or 6,000 watts of electric power. This means a 6,000 watts generator might be your top-end option.

How Many Watts Do I Need For a Generator?

You need about a 7,000-watt generator to power a generator. But to run more power-hungry appliances like water heaters, you’ll need to pick a 10,000-watt model.

Can Generators Get Wet? Can a Portable Generator Get Wet?

Avoid letting your generator get wet. A generator’s wetness might easily lead to electrocution or explosion. This might hurt somebody nearby and might permanently damage your model. In particular, getting wetness into your outlets might even be worse.

How Far Should a Generator Be From The House?

Avoid running your generator indoors or in an enclosed space. Instead, place it at least 20 feet from the house with the engine exhaust directed away from doors and windows.

How Far Does a Generator Need To Be From a Window?

Never run a generator near your windows, vents, or doors. Instead, you need to place it in the open air at about 30 feet from any window, door, or vent.

Generators need proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide concentrations in the facility or around the unit that might be extremely harmful.

What Generator Is The Quietest?                                               

Normally, gas generators are obnoxious and loud. Luckily, a great generator like Honda EU2200I Portable Generator Inverter produces little to no noise. It might be the most expensive generator, but for a good reason.

It’s the quietest gas generator on the market. This generator is quiet enough to enjoy your camping trip without the loud noises of a standard camping generator.

It’s also extremely fuel-efficient and can run for about 10 hours on less than a gallon of gasoline! So, if you want the quietest generator with more power for your buck, the Honda EU2200I Portable Generator Inverter is it!

Can You Rent a Generator?

When your job site or home needs extra power, head over to your local Home Depot Tool Rental Center for a high-powered generator for rent. Generators are lifesavers in both residential and commercial situations by offering backup power.

One of the benefits of renting one is that it might be cheaper to rent than to buy. So, if you need a generator for a project or short-term event, renting one is your best choice.

Can You Use a Generator In An Apartment?

You can use a generator to charge some appliances in your apartment, provided you keep it outdoors and comply with your landlord’s rules. A backup generator is the best if you want extra security.    

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