Do you really need a Generator? What happens to your ability to cook, charge phones, run the fridge or lighting and hot water once the power goes off.? What if you have elderly or very young dependants? After the Christchurch earthquake, within 18 hours everything had run down and there was no communication, no electricity, water, sewage facility or food provision. So yes, a generator comes in very handy once all of our daily facilities fail.

Would a solar generator make sense?

Here are the benefits of solar generators:

  • No moving parts. That makes for silent operation. It also makes for a lower maintenance system. Parts that don’t move don’t wear out so fast.
  • There’s also the green benefit that they don’t burn gas and they don’t give off toxic exhaust.
  • Finally, once the solar generator is up to full speed, it will run day and night without any input from you. During the day, the sun charges the batteries and the excess powers your equipment. At night, the batteries power your equipment. As long as there’s enough daylight every day, it just goes on and on.

What kind of Solar generators are there?

See our information on generators in the Freebie downloads. The size and panel types are of importance as there is a lot on the market that will not give you the supply you need.

Gas generators can be really compact and still put out a large amount of electricity.

  • They’re easy to operate and get going. Just fill with gas, pull the cord or press the starter button and you’ve got power. As long as you can keep putting gas in it, it’ll keep running and putting out a lot of power.
  • Most home-use generators can be loaded by one or two people in the back of a truck, with plenty of room for other things.
  • Finally, because they are mass-produced and pretty simple to build, they are also a lot less expensive than a solar generator of the same ability. BUT YOU DO NEED THE GAS.

So which one do you need?

There are so many different situations where you might need a generator. It’s impossible to cover them all. What you need is something quick and simple to set up but will also give you the power to support the basics.

  • In a crisis where power has failed you will not be able to get fuel from the pumps therefore having either a solar or gas, generator is very useful. Let’s look at how each generator works and its benefits and drawbacks.

Backup Power for outages.

  • You want to make sure that if the power goes out, you can run the most necessary things in your house, like a heater and lights and fridge.
  • You need something that can be stored easily and set up quickly. You need something that doesn’t take up too much space while doing its job. Maybe you’ve got a small yard or just a balcony.
  • In this scenario, the gas generator is likely your best bet. A gas generator that would do the job is about the same size as a large luggage bag or maybe a footlocker. You will need a gas supply.
  • All it takes to set it up is to put it near enough to your home to run an extension cord, but far enough that the exhaust fumes don’t come into the house. The gas generator will instantly provide enough power to run your most necessary things.
  • Once the crisis is over and the power is back up, you simply turn it off, let it cool down, drain the gas that’s left, and put it back into storage. Sure, they need a little maintenance every now and again, but nothing more than a lawnmower needs.

What size of Generator do you need?

  • Now that you know what kind of generator you want, you need to figure out what size of generator you need. You’ll need to understand a bit about generator ratings.
  • Gas or solar generators are rated in different ways. You need to know the peak Amperage either can handle. For gas generators, you need to know their Wattage (W) rating. Often, the Watts will be in the thousands so it’s expressed as Kilowatts (kW).
  • For solar generators, you need to know their Amp hour (Ah) rating, because the electricity generally comes out of a battery. What do those things mean?

There are many on the market but most of them are rubbish and will not give you enough power for the basics, or have poor inverters or batteries. For Solar, having the right panel is also important. Finding what you need that gives a decent delivery can take hours of research. Especially if you are non-technical. See
our recommendations under our product list. We have approached this from a single, non-technical female that wants simplicity.

What Does this terminology mean?

Here’s a quick overview of amps, amp-hours and watts.

  • An Amp (A), or Ampere, is the unit of measure for electrical current. The electrical current is the rate of flow – how much can flow at once. To calculate the peak Amps you’ll need, find out the Amp rating of all the devices you’d want to run, add them up, and then look for an Amp rating that could run them all at once. The calculation looks like this: Item 1 Amps + Item 2 Amps + Item 3 Amps … = Total Amps
  • An Amp hour is how much electricity can flow from the battery at a usable voltage, typically for a 20 hour period. You’ll often see it expressed as something like 100Ah. Divide that 100Ah by 20 hours. You’re left with 5A. The calculation looks like this: 100Ah ÷ 20h = 5A for 20 hours
  • Watt (W) is the unit of measure for the amount of work 1 Volt (V) of electricity at 1 Amp (A) can do per second. Here’s the calculation: 1 Volt x 1 Amp = 1 Watt

When considering Watts, be careful!  Usually, the Wattage rating that you first see is how many running Watts the generator can handle. Some electrical devices have a starting Watt rating that’s much higher than its running Wattage. For example, a dishwasher may run at 1200W but require 3000W to start up. Make sure your gas generator can handle bursts like that.