What Type Of Generator Do You Need?

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You need a dual fuel portable inverter generator for situations where gasoline availability can be uncertain and you want to power electronics.

If gasoline will be readily available and you want to run some sensitive electronics, gasoline-only portable inverter generators with an enclosed design tend to be the right type.

You can also consider the non-inverter models of these generator types to save some money if you have your own ways to “clean up” the power or don’t need low THD.

There are also standby generators that require less work during a power outage but these tend to be a lot pricier so many people stick to portable models.

Figuring out what type of generator you need is one of the key steps in deciding on the best model for you.

Main generator type differences

Generators can vary in areas that are important enough to make these differences separate types.

Instead of going over every single generator type combination, it tends to be more helpful to talk about the main specification differences you will encounter, their pros, and their cons.

  1. Inverter vs regular generator
  2. Gasoline-only vs dual fuel generators and other options
  3. Portable vs standy
  4. Enclosed design vs open frame

Inverter vs regular generator

Inverter generators have a few pros and cons over regular generators.

The one that is typically the most important when choosing a generator type is that inverters produce clean, low THD power.

This type of power is more suited for sensitive electronics.

Even for devices that are less sensitive, high THD power can speed up wear and tear.

The main downside of inverter generators to keep in mind is their higher price.

That being said, unless you have your own inverter, don’t need low THD power, or have other ways to “clean up” your power, inverter generators are likely the type for you.

Gasoline-only vs dual fuel generators and other options

Generators convert some type of fuel into usable electricity.

However, different generator types can use different and potentially multiple fuels in this electricity creation process.

Whether dual fuel generators are worth it for you depends on multiple details.

The main questions you want to ask yourself are how easily gasoline is available, what you will use your generator for, what your budget is, and how often you plan to use your model.

Portable vs standy

It can be easy to forget that there are also standby generators because the best generators available online are often portable.

You can describe these standby generators as a machine without wheels that is installed in one place.

When the systems “notice” that there is no power coming in from other sources, the standby generator turns on to satisfy the electricity needs anyway.

On the flip side, you need to set up portable generators for home backup power yourself in case of a power outage (after some initial preparation help from an electrician).

A downside of standby generators is that they tend to be a lot pricier.

Additionally, you will not quite be able to put one of these in your RV to get power on a camping trip.

Enclosed design vs open frame

This next difference in generator types is often decided in the inverter vs non-inverter section.

However, within the inverter generator category, you have both enclosed design and open frame models.

The quietest generators tend to be enclosed designs thanks to the extra layer (and noise-blocking materials) between the engine and your ears.

On the other side, it tends to be easier to troubleshoot open frame generators.

These open frame models also tend to be more budget-friendly.

Examples of good generator type combinations

Ideally, you want to go over each of the differences above to know what type of power generator you should buy.

That being said, here you can find a few popular generator types and for what people and situations they tend to be good.

  1. Gasoline-only, portable, and enclosed design inverters
  2. Dual fuel, portable, and enclosed design inverters
  3. Gasoline-only regular generators
  4. Dual fuel regular generators

Gasoline-only, portable, and enclosed design inverters

This type of generator tends to be the most popular because of the balance of functionality, relatively low noise levels, and reasonable price.

If you plan to run at least some sensitive electronics, don’t have your own inverter, have gasoline readily available, and/or plan to use your machine for less essential purposes, this can be the right type.

That means this type of generator tends to be great for camping, running power tools, construction sites, and home backup power in areas where gasoline shortages don’t really happen.

Dual fuel, portable, and enclosed design inverters

In situations like off-grid living or power outages in certain areas where gasoline is not always available, you can also consider the dual fuel version of the previous generator type.

Being able to run on propane adds an extra layer of backup.

You do want to keep in mind that the dual fuel versions of generators tend to be pricier than the gasoline-only versions.

Customers of these dual fuel models also seem to encounter just a few more technical issues.

Gasoline-only regular generators

Inverter generators have their benefits but not everyone needs them.

More specifically, you may only want to run bigger machines that can deal with some extra THD or don’t mind risking some extra wear and tear.

In these cases, gasoline-only regular generators could be the best type for you.

Dual fuel regular generators

The same inverter vs non-inverter principles apply to this generator type but you may still want the flexibility of dual fuel generators.

You may need to buy this type of generator if you are not certain gasoline will be convenient to get your hands on.

Additionally, it is more important to have generator fuel available when running something like a refrigerator full of food than when running an electric grill while tailgating.


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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.