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GardenSMART :: Be Prepared With Portable Power

Be Prepared With Portable Power

By Honda Power Equipment
Photographs courtesy of Honda Power Equipment

Summer storms can bring their own headaches, including lengthy power outages. And, let's not forget that hurricane season is officially here. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted the 2018 hurricane season will likely be another active one, and many coastal residents in the U.S. may be turning to gasoline-powered generators for backup power emergencies. Keeping the lights on, medical equipment running, wireless connections active and other necessities powered are an important part of the modern, everyday routine—and that means having the right portable generator ready. 

According to experts at Honda Power Equipment, which produces some of the quietest, most dependable home and recreational generators in the market, getting the most from a portable generator requires some simple planning.

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Preparation, safe operation and knowing your needs and budget are critical. "Since generators have a broad wattage output range, consumers must understand electrical requirements and estimate their emergency needs," said David Bush, Senior Marketing Strategist at Honda Power Equipment. "Refrigerators or freezers operate on about 500 watts, but require as much as 1,200 watts to start; a computer draws 80 to 300 watts.  So, it could take a 2,800-watt generator to run a refrigerator, small fan, minimal lighting, a computer, TV, and phone chargers."

Generator safety

There are many benefits to using a portable generator, especially during a power outage, and there are vital safety precautions to observe during operation. Most important, because a gasoline-powered generator emits carbon monoxide (CO) during normal operation, a generator must be run outside—never indoors or in any partially enclosed space. To prevent overexposure to CO, Honda advises users to understand proper placement and usage of a generator, recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning and be aware of the benefits of a properly installed CO alarm. 

"To keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, it's absolutely mandatory to operate a portable generator outside, away from people and living spaces, including windows and doors," said Bush. "By educating yourself about carbon monoxide risks, you'll be better prepared to protect your family from this colorless, odorless threat." Honda, a member of the Portable Generator Manufacturers' Association (PGMA), advocates safety for everyone when it comes to the operation of all power products.

Honda supports the new ANSI/PGMA G300 standard's auto-shutdown feature that stops a generator from running when carbon monoxide begins to accumulate as a result of improper operation. The auto-shutdown feature also benefits consumers by indicating proper locations to operate the generator and is affordable, helping keep portable power available for most consumers. Honda is committed to meeting this standard for generators manufactured on or after March 31, 2020. Consumers can learn more about safe portable generator operation at http://www.takeyourgeneratoroutside.com/.

In addition, a portable generator should never be plugged into a standard outlet. 

"A safe connection starts with a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician," advised Bush. "The switch cuts off the utility power while the generator operates, and powers only selected circuits." When utility power is restored, the generator and transfer switch are disconnected so that power is not fed back to the utility power source (thereby preventing injury to a utility worker).

The Honda generator line offers variable wattages and other innovative features, including inverter technology that provides clean, stable power, protecting against damaging power surges; large fuel tanks; full frame protection; and electric starters.

Choosing the best generator for the job

There are a number of important things to consider when selecting a generator:

How do you plan to use your generator?

Generators are used to perform a wide variety of tasks, and Honda offers a broad range of models to suit almost all potential users. Honda generators provide a high-quality power source that is reliable and convenient for a myriad of applications:

  • Camping / Recreation / Boating
  • Home Backup
  • Construction / Rental

How quiet does your generator need to be?

Honda generators are known for quiet operation. Honda has engineered exceptionally quiet portable models, and offers options that may meet your needs at a lower cost. While outdoor enthusiasts may require a super quiet EU Series choice, home backup and construction applications could be satisfied with a Deluxe or Industrial Series model, and some applications will allow for the Economy Series that do not have the additional features required to provide quiet operation.

How much power do you need?

Generators produce the same AC voltage available in your home. However, while your electric utility company produces sufficient power for all your electric powered devices, a portable generator is limited in power output based on the engine horsepower. The amount of power that a generator can produce is rated in watts. Rated power is generally 90 percent of maximum power because certain components lose efficiency as they are heated from use.

To determine wattage requirements, select which devices need to be powered simultaneously and the starting requirement of each device. Remember that with simple power management techniques, a small generator can provide adequate power for home or recreational applications.

Maximum and rated power

A generator should never be operated at its maximum power output for more than 30 minutes. Rated power, or the power that a generator can produce for long periods of time, is a more reliable measure of generator power. Typically, the rated power is 90 percent of the maximum power.

For example, a 2,800-watt generator produces a maximum 2,800 watts of power. This means at maximum power this generator could light up 28 100-watt light bulbs at the same time. The rated wattage of this generator would be 2,500 watts and should only be used to power 25 100-watt light bulbs.

When considering your power needs, first determine the highest power application required, such as an air conditioner. The power required to start the capacitor motor will determine the maximum power of the generator you should choose for your application.

A portable generator might not replace all of the electricity provided by the public utility, but it can make life more comfortable and keep critical work applications running until power is restored. More information, including wattage calculators, is available at http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/wattage-calculator.

About Honda Power Equipment

Honda Power Equipment, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., markets a complete range of outdoor power equipment, including outboard marine engines, general-purpose engines, generators, walk-behind and robotic lawn mowers, pumps, snow blowers, tillers and trimmers for commercial, rental and residential applications.

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