Choosing the Best Off Grid Fuel Generators for Prepping
If you live off-grid, you need a generator. Actually, you’ll probably need two or three. With solar-powered generators now, as well as gas-powered generators, the choice is limitless. While solar-powered generators have their place, there’s nothing like a gas-powered generator to get you out of trouble in an emergency.
Solar generators are good for long-term solutions. If you plan to live off-grid long term, investing in some solar generators would be well worth your time. However, for short, powerful bursts of electricity, a gas-powered generator is something every prepper needs.
What if there are cloudy days? What about winter with its short days and long, dark nights? What if your solar panels need to be maintained and repaired? There are plenty of situations where back-up gas-powered generators come in handy.
Not only that, but a good gas-powered generator can save your life in an emergency. Extended power outages can cut you off from friends and loved ones, limit your access to food, and cause about a thousand other inconveniences and hazards.
A good, reliable gas-powered generator can turn an emergency into a comfy staycation while you wait for the storm to pass. If your fridge, lights, computers, and phones work, an emergency can be a lot easier to weather.
Like all survival equipment, there are millions of generators out there. From premium to budget-friendly, monsters that can hold over 6 gallons to little portable generators with 1-gallon capacities, you’ll see every kind of generator out there.
Whichever generator you go for, make sure to take a close look at the specs as each generator is a little different. I’ll outline a few key factors to keep in mind when you’re comparing the generators, plus a list of the top 6 gas-powered generators out there. I’ll give a quick outline of each generator’s specific features as well as the pros and cons of each.
Key Features of a Fuel Generator for Going “Off Grid”
To find the right generator, take a look at the following key features. Whether it’s the number of outlets, starting mechanism, tank capacity, or power output, generators vary a lot between models. Keep an eye on each generator’s specs to guarantee you get the right one for you.
In general, the bigger the generator, the bigger the output. Keep an eye out for a generator’s output measured in watts. Some big generators on the list produce over 7000 watts, while the smaller generators crank out around 1000.
You’ll see two different numbers when it comes to output. With generators, especially generators with electric starting mechanisms, there’s a running output and a starting output sometimes called a peak output.
The running output (the lower number) is how many watts the generator produces while everything’s running normally. The starting, or peak, output (the higher number) is how much the generator produces during surges and starting up.
Most generators come with at least one starting mechanism. Basic generators come with a pull cord like a lawnmower. Premium generators tend to come with an electric push-button starting mechanism as well as a pull cord, while some generators also have remote starts.
Generators are built to deliver you power. Whether it’s a fridge, lights, or charging your devices, you’ll want a generator that can power your stuff. Again, the more powerful or bigger your generator, the more outlet combinations you’ll have.
The generators you’ll see tend to have some combination of 120V, 20A household outlets to power your everyday electronics; 120V, 30A RV-ready outlets; and USB ports. Some generators have 240V, 20A outlets as well.
If you’re charging devices like phones and laptops with your generator, the last thing you want is variable power output. An irregular surging or dipping power output can severely mess up a sensitive device.
If you intend to use your generator to charge devices, keep an eye out for the models that produce clean and reliable power with less than 3% total harmonic distortion. The lower the percentage, the better.
Clean power generators create safe electricity for sensitive electronics and appliances and are ideal solutions for charging phones and laptops.
EPA and CARB compliant
Essentially, EPA and CARB restrictions have to do with how environmentally-friendly a generator is. CARB-compliant generators meet and follow the standards set by the California Air Resources Board to reduce air pollution. EPA-compliant refers to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Fuel Generators vs. Solar Generators
We compared the top solar-powered generators for off-grid living, prepping, and emergency situations in another post. While they definitely have their space in your garage or basement, fuel generators have their place too.
A fuel-powered generator is perfect for using on cloudy days, maintenance days, and repairing your solar panels. A fuel-powered generator is also cheaper than a large solar set up and delivers more consistent power.
One of the downsides of any fuel-powered generator is the noise. Keep an eye out for the noise levels produced by each generator, measured in decibels (dBs). A relatively quiet generator with producing 50 dBs sounds approximately as loud as a new car’s engine.
Fuel-powered generators also burn fossil fuels, and are therefore “dirtier” or less environmentally-friendly than solar generators. However, the technology is improving every day, and make sure you keep an eye out for generators with Eco Modes if you’re worried about your generator’s impact on the environment.
The Top 6 Best Off Grid Generators for Preppers
Out of all the fuel-powered generators for preppers out there, these are the best of the bunch. Some of them are premium generators with huge power outputs, while others are budget generators you can keep in your truck. They’re all good generators, though, and they could all save your life in an emergency situation.
You’ll see a decent variety of prices, sizes, and power outputs, and I’m sure one of them is the right generator for you.
Take a look at these key points to keep in mind when you’re buying a generator. Whether it’s for camping, safety at home, living off-grid, or keeping your family safe in an emergency, answering a few simple questions will guide you towards the right generator for you.
What’s your generator for?
Are you looking for a generator to use camping, living off-grid, or as a life-saver during emergencies. Depending on your use, can you afford to save a few bucks and get a budget-friendly generator that will get the job done but shouldn’t be leaned on too heavily?
Or should you splash out and get a bomb-proof premium generator that you know won’t let you down when you need it most? If your life or the lives of your loved ones depends on it, I’d say get the best generator you can afford.
Portability or durability?
Some generators have heavy-duty external steel frames for added durability and strength. These tend to weigh more than fifty pounds and come with wheels and a bar-handle for transport. Ideally, you won’t have to move these generators much as they’re large, heavy, and cumbersome.
Other generators are relatively lightweight and easy to maneuver. They tend to be plastic and have integrated plastic handles. While they might not stand up to adverse weather conditions or emergencies, lightweight generators are definitely the way to go if you know you’ll be moving your generator from location to location.
How to maintain a generator?
Generators are no different from anything else with an engine, as in it needs maintenance if you want to rely on it. If you don’t take care of a fuel-powered generator, there’s no guarantee it’ll take care of you.
To take care of your generator, you need to do proper maintenance, including regular oil changes, spark plug changes, and air filter replacements. Always make sure you use fresh, high-grade gas to power it, and store it under a cover in a dry place out of direct sunlight.
Even if you never need to use your generator, it’s a good idea to start it every 30 days and let it run for twenty minutes or so, just to keep everything ticking over. The last thing you want is to try to turn it on and realize it’s out of gas.