How to Choose the Right Generator
Nothing happens on a job site without power.
You need fuel for your vehicles and electricity to run your lights and tools. But rarely on a construction project is finding power as simple as locating the nearest outlet. You’ve got to make your own power. For that, you need a generator.
Generators are the lifeblood of most construction projects. But there are a lot of options to choose from. So, how do you know which one is right for you?
We’ve got a few tips, based on decades of experience bringing power to projects in need. Take a look.
What are your power needs?
This is the first question you need to ask as you begin your search for a generator. Are you looking to provide power for tools and lighting? Or are you looking to run large-scale heating or cooling systems? Both situations require power, but how much varies greatly.
It’s all a matter of wattage.
Each piece of equipment you want to power requires a certain number of watts to get it started and then keep it running. An air conditioner, for instance, can require between 2,000 and 10,000 watts to stay on, with a surge requirement of 11,250 to start it up. Your generator has to be big enough to accommodate those maximum wattage levels for everything you’re looking to power.
Once you have that number, you can assess whether a 10,000-watt generator (ideal for powering most standard 120/240V tools, lighting equipment, fans, and blowers) is enough, or if you’ll need to bring our 2000kW diesel generator to accommodate your high-wattage project. For the biggest job sites, the right solution may mean multiple generators to give you the power you need to keep pushing forward.
What power source is best?
Gas-powered generators are typically less fuel-efficient than their diesel counterparts, which means they tend to have shorter run times. Diesel generators, on the other hand, burn fuel more slowly and can be outfitted with large fuel tanks to provide extended run times, which can come in handy when you need long stretches of uninterrupted power. Auxiliary fuel tanks can make those run times even longer for diesel-powered generators because, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t have time to stop.
What outlets will you need?
The generator you choose will also need to have the right outlets to support all the equipment you want it to power. So, while you’re assessing wattage needs, take stock of the different types of outlets you’ll need to support.
If you’re looking to power 120 - 240V tools, your generator needs to have outlets that will accommodate both. You should also look for GFCI-protected outlets, which allow you to operate your generator safely outdoors.
How much do you need to spend?
All of the above questions will help you make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing the right generator for your construction project. That plays a key role in keeping costs down. If you have a solid understanding of what you need, you can avoid paying for things you don’t — excess power included.
Another key consideration is whether to rent or buy your generator. If you’re routinely using generators across your job site, you may be tempted to purchase one to keep on hand. But there’s a lot to think about before taking the leap. Each job site is unique, with its own set of power needs. And while one generator may work most of the time, chances are, it won’t work for everything.
Renting, on the other hand, allows you to tap into a wide pool of generators designed to fit a variety of needs. You don’t have to pay for equipment maintenance or storage. And if it breaks, you have a team to call on for support.
The answer to all of these is different for every job site and every construction team. We’re happy to talk through your particular needs one-on-one to help you find your way to the best possible solution. Click here to contact one of our team members today.