11 Types Of Generators For More Power

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Some popular types of generators are portable generators, standby generators, inverter generators, and solar generators.

Discover the other options so you can find good ways to get more power for your home, camping trip, or other activities.

This list is a combination of the different fuel types available and other important categories in terms of other generator details.

1. Portable Generators


Portable Generator

As their name implies, portable generators are simply machines you can carry or roll around.

In turn, this is the most flexible generator type with uses ranging from home backup power to powering the air flow for bounce houses or just charging your phone on a fishing trip.

Within this broad category of portable generators, there are a variety of other subcategories. As you will notice from the many other types.

Pros:

  • Easy to move around
  • You can take them to different locations
  • Relatively convenient way to start getting power
  • You can use them for many different purposes
  • Available with many different features that can suit your specific preferences more
  • Tend to be budget-friendly
  • Typically compact storage

Cons:

  • Larger portable generators are not that mobile either
  • Big commercial activities may need more power
  • Gasoline-only models need refuels every once in a while
  • You can’t run them inside
  • Safety concerns due to carbon monoxide
  • Not weather-resistant unless you add protection
  • Can be noisy
  • You have to turn them on and off yourself

Typical uses:

  • Camping, RVing, and outdoor activities
  • Powering small appliances, tools, and electronics
  • Power supply for events or construction sites
  • Emergency backup power for homes or small businesses
  • Many other purposes

2. Standby Generators


Standby Generator

Standby generators are basically the opposite type of portable models.

These are basically “boxes” you install and connect to whatever you want to power.

When the standby generator “notices” there is no electricity coming in from other sources like the power grid, it starts running to compensate.

Keep in mind that this category typically runs on propane, natural gas, and diesel.

Pros:

  • Convenient power transfer during outages
  • Typically provides power for a long time without (too m)any refuels
  • Offers high power capacity
  • Can run for a relatively long time
  • Can be a good investment in areas with many power outages

Cons:

  • Higher cost compared to portable generators
  • You need professional installation and maintenance
  • Limited number of situations where you can use them
  • You still need to take care of natural gas, propane, or diesel fuel

Typical uses:

  • Home backup power in areas where outages often happen
  • Essential facilities such as hospitals, data centers, and emergency services
  • Commercial buildings that need an uninterrupted power supply
  • Remote locations with limited access to the power grid

3. Inverter Generators


Inverter Generator

Inverter generators are a subcategory of portable generators.

While inverter generators offer other pros and cons too, their main benefit is that they offer “clean” low THD power.

Whether you need this type of generator depends on what devices you want to run, your budget, and whether you have your own inverter.

In simpler words, if you want to power sensitive electronic like a microwave, TV, certain refrigerators, certain ACs, etc. you generally do want a good inverter generator (or other low THD type).

The extra investment may not sound fun but it is likely more budget-friendly than replacing your damaged electronics.

Pros:

  • Produces “clean” low THD power for sensitive electronics
  • Tend to be quieter than regular generators
  • You can often put two inverter generators in parallel for more power
  • Tend to be more fuel-efficient than regular generators
  • Provides clean and stable power for sensitive electronics.

Cons:

  • Pricier than regular generators with similar features
  • Upper power capacity limits are lower than regular generators

Typical uses:

  • Camping, RVs, outdoor activities, etc.
  • Powering sensitive electronics like microwaves, laptops, and smartphones
  • Tailgating
  • Backup power for certain home appliances

4. Gasoline-Only Generators


Many portable generators, both inverters and non-inverters are gasoline-only models in terms of the fuel types they can use.

Pros:

  • Gasoline is often conveniently available

Cons:

  • Gasoline stores require regular replacement
  • Your gasoline-only generator needs more maintenance if you only use it occasionally
  • Shorter run time and more refueling sessions due to smaller fuel tanks
  • Higher flammability risk

Typical uses:

  • Generally shorter run time purposes although there are good gasoline home backup generators too

5. Propane & Dual Fuel Generators


Many standby generators and a decent number of portable generators are able to run on propane (LPG) or both propane and gasoline (dual fuel).

One of the main benefits of propane over gasoline is that it typically stores longer but there are other positive points too.

Pros:

  • Long shelf life of propane
  • Sometimes propane is easier to get due to gasoline popularity
  • You can get a big tank for longer run times

Cons:

  • Propane is not always conveniently available
  • Dual fuel portable generators tend to be pricier
  • Duel fuel portable generators tend to produce fewer watts when running on propane

Typical uses:

  • Similar to gasoline-only generators but especially useful for:
  • Off-grid living
  • Home backup power
  • Occasional generator use

6. Natural Gas & Tri Fuel Generators


Natural Gas Generator

Natural gas generators and tri fuel generators (propane and gasoline too) can be convenient for specific locations that have the supply available.

On the flip side, not everyone has convenient access to a natural gas supply.

In turn, this type of generator will definitely not be for everyone either.

Pros:

  • No refueling sessions if you have the supply
  • Cleaner than certain other fossil fuels

Cons:

  • Not everyone has convenient access to natural gas supplies
  • Tri fuel generators tend to be pricier than other portable models
  • There are fewer tri fuel generators on the market

Typical uses:

  • Backup power for residential homes and commercial buildings
  • Certain industrial settings or construction sites

7. Diesel Generators


Diesel is another fuel type that is more common for bigger industrial generators.

While these have their uses, the average person should likely not worry too much about this generator type.

Pros:

  • There are diesel generators with big power outputs
  • Relatively fuel-efficient
  • Diesel tends to be easily available

Cons:

  • Often too big for typical generator uses
  • You often need other machines to move the big diesel generators

Typical uses:

  • Industrial settings where you need a lot of power.
  • Emergency backup power for important buildings
  • Construction sites and remote locations

8. Solar Generators


Solar Generator

Solar generators aka panels convert sunlight into usable electrical energy.

If you have the right accessories aka batteries available and/or have the surface area for enough panels, solar generators can be great.

On the flip side, they can also be lacking if you plan to move around a lot.

Especially in combination with bigger power needs you likely prefer certain other generators.

Pros:

  • Uses a renewable energy source
  • No extra fuel costs
  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • Relatively large initial investment
  • Somewhat dependent on the levels of sunlight
  • No significant power production when it is dark
  • Limited power output compared to many other types of generators

Typical uses:

  • Off-grid living
  • Home power
  • Small devices while camping, fishing, or on a boat

9. Wind Turbine Generators


Wind Turbine Generator

Wind turbine generators use the movement of wind to generate electricity.

These are another type of generator regular people typically don’t have to worry about too much.

Partly because of the location requirement to make wind turbine generators worth the setup.

Pros:

  • Uses a renewable energy source
  • Effective in the right locations
  • High power output in areas with consistent wind flow.

Cons:

  • Highly dependent on wind conditions for performance
  • Specific location requirements

Typical uses:

  • Coastal areas and open plains with consistent wind flow
  • Electric utility companies

10. Hydroelectric Generators


Hydroelectric Generator

Hydroelectric generators use flowing or falling water to produce electricity.

As you may already guess from the familiar big dam installations, installing hydroelectric generators tends to be a big operation.

There are some residential devices too but for now, this category of generators is typically for larger companies and other organizations.

Pros:

  • Uses a renewable energy source

Cons:

  • Consumer devices do not look that good right now
  • Requires access to flowing or falling water sources.
  • Construction and maintenance costs can be high

Typical uses:

  • Power generation from dams and rivers
  • Theoretically, remote areas with access to flowing water sources
  • Electric utility companies

11. Geothermal Generators


There are areas within the Earth’s crust that reach high temperatures.

Geothermal generators use steam or hot water from underground reservoirs to power turbines and generators that in turn, produce electricity.

Pros:

  • Uses a renewable energy source

Cons:

  • Limited to specific locations with geothermal resources

Typical uses:

  • Areas with geothermal hotspots
  • Electric utility companies

Related:

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.