Evaluating Portable Generators

For Reliability, Service Life and Value


READING ELECTRIC, a leading supplier of electro-mechanical equipment, services, and problem solver for Industrial and Commercial customers for over 50 years provides technical information to the Region’s Residential, Commercial and Industrial Community.  This Bulletin provides information on the evaluation of Portable Generators for maximum Service Life and Value.


Today there many Portable Generators to choose from in the 3Kw to 15Kw power with a broad range of options and prices.  Purchasing a Portable Generator under conditions of ‘haste’ many times can lead to selecting a generator that will leave you without power when you most need it. Given below is list of items that need to be considered when selecting a Portable Generator. This Check List is based on our experience, and actual experiences of users who rely on portable generators for emergency power back-up


Electrical Power Generating Sine-Wave Performance: 

Most voltage sensitive loads such as UPS systems, computers, microprocessors, and all other micro-chip ladened equipment, can withstand up to typically 10% harmonic sine-wave distortion without the possibility of in-operative or damaged equipment.  A typical brushless portable generator with capacitor voltage regulation will produce from 30% to 40% harmful harmonic distortions in the generated sine-wave.




Engine and Fuel Systems

              OHV Engine design with cast-iron cylinder sleeves

              Oil Pressure sensor with automatic engine shut-down

              Separate ‘spin-on’ oil filter and full pressure oil system on 9-15kw units

              Minimum 4 gallon fuel tank on 3 to 7.5Kw units, 8 gallon minimum on 

                 9 Kw units

              Ethanol E85 compatible fuel tank and fuel line components.

              Run Time Hour Meter

              Two element air cleaner filter


Generator System

              Windings manufactured with Class H, 180°C to 200°C insulation.

              Life Time Warranty on Rectifier Circuit Diodes and Voltage Regulating


              Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) – OSHA/NEC Compliance

              Magnetic Circuit Breakers for winding and electrical circuit overload


              Volt Meter

              Weather covers on electrical outlets


Portability and Packaging

              Pneumatic tires (at least 10”) on units of 9-15Kw


Important Note:  It is always good practice to install external surge protection and or UPS on sensitive electronics being powered by the utility or standby generation.




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