Wattage Wizard Guide Glossary

Choosing the right generator for you.

There are a few important factors to determine when choosing a generator:

In what capacity do you plan on using your generator:

Powercomplete offers a wide array of generators, from small highly portable recreational units, to large industrial style standby systems. Powercomplete carries brand names you can trust to ensure whatever your needs are, we'll provide you with a durable and reliable machine.

  • Recreational/ Camping/ Picnics
  • Portable Home Use
  • Portable Work-Place use
  • Stationary Home/ Industrial use

How powerful does your generator need to be?
Generators in all types produce Alternating Current (AC) voltage much like the voltage produced by local utility companies. A big difference is that a generator is limited as to how much power it can produce as it relates to wattage. When shopping for a generator first determine which TYPE you're in the market for (Portable or Stationary) then determine the wattage requirements you would need. Click on our wattage wizard to help you.

Do you want to be able to easily move your generator?
As stated above, generators come in all shapes and sizes. As the name suggests, Portable generators are built with portability in mind. (Be sure to order a wheel kit with yours if not already included with the unit) These are great is your needs are at all mobile, and oftentimes less expensive than Stationary Home/ Small Business/ Industrial standby units. Portable does not always mean less power however. In fact, Powercomplete offers a portable generator with an 18,000 watt rating!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) - For Portable Generators

Starting

Should I add oil to the engine before starting it?
Yes. Your portable generator unit has been shipped directly from the manufacturer without any oil in the crankcase. Running the generator without oil will ruin the engine (just like a car). Make sure you add oil prior to initial use, and be sure to check the oil every time you use your portable generator.

What kind of oil should I use?
A good rule of thumb is to refer to your manual as engine types and brands vary. Generally, a high quality 30-weight is fine for warmer conditions, and a high quality 10W-30 weight for colder conditions.

How do I go about checking the oil?
Just about every portable generator made comes with a dip-stick (just like a car). Simply fill to the "full" mark on the dip-stick, or in the rare case there isn't a dip-stick, simply remove the cap to the oil compartment and fill until noticeably full.

Does my generator require a special kind of gasoline?
No. These units use regular un-leaded gasoline (unless you have a diesel or other type fueled unit like liquid propane or natural gas)

What does "Hard Start" mean?
If it's been a long time since you've last used your generator, it may be a little difficult to start. (much like a car) The best method to start your generator after a long layoff period is to:

  1. replace the old gasoline
  2. check to make sure there is oil
  3. change out the old spark plug with a new one
  4. check to make sure the fuel valve is open
  5. visually make sure engine parts look ok on appearance

When should I shut my generator down?
Other than occasionally giving your generator engine a rest, you should ALWAYS be shut down when checking or changing the oil, and re-fueling the unit.

Is it OK to run my generator in the house?
No. Just as you'd never run your automobile in the house, the same rule applies here. Engines produce carbon monoxide gaseous fumes, and if exposed to for a period of time can cause serious injury, perhaps even death.

Can I connect my portable generator to my house?
Yes, but if you plan using your portable generator in a home standby capacity, you'll need a licensed electrician to do the install for you and needs to be in compliance with all applicable local electrical codes. Also, most of the time an Automatic Transfer Switch is required (Sold Separately) Ask us for details.

Can I run my television and/or computer and other digital display units from my generator?
Portable generators put out clean power, but it's still an engine, meaning there is a level of line noise on the incoming power that utility power would not have. Therefore, it is possible to use your generator power for televisions and the like, but we recommend you use a line conditioner/ surge protector combination for such applications. (Sold separately, ask us for details.)

Glossary

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The following are terms often associated with generators. We hope you'll find these helpful, and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us!

(A/C) Alternating Current: A term that describes the process of voltage that increases to a maximum positive (+), falls back to zero, then continues to a maximum negative (-) eventually back to zero again. The amount of time voltage takes to complete this process gives you frequency/ Hertz (60 times for 60Hz AC Power)

Amperage: The measurement of the strength of the electrical current in amperes.

Amp: A measurement of current flow. One ampere (amp) will flow as one volt is applied across a resistance of one ohm.

Cast Iron Sleeve: A cylinder cast into the engine which results in a harder surface between the aluminum engine block and the steel piston rings, extending the engine life.

Circuit Breaker: A thermal switch that trips if over a certain amount of current attempts to pass through it. Most all receptacles on portable generators are circuit breaker protected.

Continuous Load: A term which signifies the electrical load the generator can maintain over an extended period of time.

(D/C) Direct Current: Electric current that flows in one direction only. DC current is produced by a chemical action or by an electromagnetic induction system.

Duplex: As it refers to receptacles, two (2) 120V receptacles tied in a row (like the outlets within the home)

Electronic Ignition: A starting system for your generator involving no movable parts. (no-recoil starting required)

Frequency: The number of cycles per unit of time (usually 1 second)

GFCI: Stands for ground fault current interrupter. This will sense current flow from the line conductors in a power circuit to ground conductor and activate a relay to open both conductors.

Ground: The connection between an electrical circuit and a conducting body either directly, or eventually into the earth.

Hertz: a unit of measurement representing one cycle per second.

Idle Control: When a generator is not operating under a full load, this feature will reduce the engine speed of operation resulting in a prolonged engine life.

Low Oil Shutdown: This is a feature that will shut down the generator engine in the event of low oil operation, preventing serious damage from being caused to the engine.

Ohm: This is a standard unit of electrical resistance. One volt will cause current on one ampere to flow through a resistance of one ohm.

OHV: Stands for Overhead Valve. Depicts an engine design that places the valves above the piston, instead of off to the side.

Phase: Represents the number of voltage and/or sine waves generated per 360 electrical degrees. Every phase requires a complete set of windings.

Rated Power: The electric output number a generator can continuously supply when functioning.

Rotor: The rotating element of a generator or motor.

RPM: Stands for revolutions per minute.

Short Circuit: Most often an unintended electrical contact between the current carrying outputs resulting in passage of current in an unwanted path.

Single Phase: An alternating current system that has a single voltage where the voltage reversals occur at the same time and are of the same alternating polarity through the system.

Spark Arrester: A screen that covers the outlet of the muffler

Surge Power: Above the rated load, the load the generator can sustain for a limited period of time.

Three Phase: Represents three complete, separate sine waves that are spaced 120 electrical degrees apart.

Transfer Switch: A device that will switch a load from the main utility power source to a standby power source.

Twistlock: A receptacle that has a locking mechanism in place to prevent accidental removal.

UL: Stands for Underwriters Laboratory. Marks products that have passed the testing requirements set down by underwriters laboratory.

Universal Motor: An electrical motor that can be used on either AC or DC supply.

Utility Line: The line owned by a utility company that can carry and provide power.

Vibration Isolators: Rubber pads placed between the engine and frame of a generator to reduce engine caused vibration to the whole unit.

Voltage: A measurement of electrical potential expressed in volts.

Watt: A unit of electrical power.

Winding: All the coils within the generator.

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Wattage Wizard Guide

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The following will help you determine the size of the generator you may require. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us with any questions.
Amps x Volts = Watts
Typical Household Items Running Watts Needed Additional Watts Needed for Starting
Television 300 0
Desktop Computer 600-800 0
Laptop Computer 200-250 0
Monitor 200-250 0
Fax Machine 600-800 0
Printer 400-600 0
Radio 50-200 0
Coffee Maker 1750 0
Lights on bulb on bulb
Microwave Oven (typically) 625 800
Refrigerator or Freezer 700 2200
Dishwasher 700 1400
Automatic Washer 1150 2300
Central Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU) 1500 2200
Electric Frying Pan 1300 0
Electric Range (8-inch element) 2100 0
Electric Cloths Dryer 5750 1800
Furnace Fan, gas or fuel oil
1/8 Hp 300 500
1/6 Hp 500 750
Hp 600 1000
1/3 Hp 700 1400
Hp 875 2350
Sump Pump
1/3 Hp 800 1300
Hp 1050 2150
On The Job
Air Compressor 1 Hp 1500 4500
Bench Grinder 8 inches 1400 2500
Hand Drill Inch 600 0
High-Pressure Washer 1 Hp 1200 3600
Circular Saw 7 Inches 1400 2300
Electric Chain Saw 14 Inches, 2-Hp 1100 0
Table Saw 10 Inches 1800 4500

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