The Buyers Guide to Industrial Generators

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The Buyer's Guide to Industrial Generators

Buying an industrial generator can provide a consumer with a useful tool for emergencies and for operating electronic devices at remote locations. These power units have domestic, recreational, and business applications and come in a variety of sizes with varying feature sets. For consumers who have little experience with generators, the wide array of options in the marketplace can be confusing. Even seasoned generator users might be stymied by a new application for one of these devices.

Knowing what types of generators work in certain settings or with certain appliances, tools, and devices can help consumers with the buying process when they are in the market for a generator. Issues such as voltage control, power output, and portability can all affect the choice of a generator. Consumers may also benefit from understanding the best retailers for buying a generator. While traditional vendors may carry a limited variety of generators, online retail sites such as eBay often carry a much wider range of choices for interested buyers, particularly when it comes to industrial versions.

Selecting an Industrial Generator Based on Setting

Choosing a generator can be a matter of considering the setting in which the generator is to be used and then factoring in the appliances and devices in that setting. Before buying an industrial generator, it is crucial that consumers take careful stock of their power needs so that they can select an appropriately sized generator. An industrial generator needs to have more than enough power available to drive whatever tools or appliances a consumer hopes to operate with it in a particular setting.

Domestic and Recreational Applications

Domestic or recreational consumers who hope to use a generator as an emergency backup during an outage should consider all of the appliances in their homes that may be needed during such a scenario. Most appliances have an indication on either a serial plate or a manual as to how much power they consume. As far as assessing the lighting needs in a house, consumers should account for each bulb in a home that might be operational, as well. Bulbs are often the easiest items to compile since their wattage demands are typically printed on the glass.

All of these numbers should be tallied and then a buffer should be calculated over and above this number. For example, if the total power required to operate a home's appliances and lights is around 500 watts, a consumer might want to purchase a generator rated at around 700 watts. Domestic or recreational users may also want to consider noise and portability issues with a generator. Most domestic or recreational consumers do not have the wherewithal to move a large unit and may want a portable version or even a trailer-mounted option. They may also want to look for a unit that does not run at a volume that disturbs the quality of life of the users.

Appliance Sensitivity in Domestic Applications

Another factor consumers should consider when buying an industrial generator for a domestic setting is the sensitive nature of many household appliances. Domestic appliances in general are sensitive to the quality of electricity driving them and are sensitive to fluctuations. While an air compressor at a construction site is designed to stand up to robust power, a hair dryer is not. Because of this, domestic consumers may wish to look for a generator with a stable frequency that delivers good quality voltage.

Professional Construction Applications

Despite their sometimes compact designs, power tools demand a lot of power. Any use of a generator at a build site could very well require a good deal of power. Common sense dictates that any generator used on a construction site for power tools should be a large-sized unit with a sizable power rating. It is also critical that anyone using a generator with power tools or a motor-driven device factor in the start-up wattage needed by the machine. This is known as a tool or device's motor starting needs.

Understanding Motor Starting

Motor starting relates to the amount of power a device needs at start-up. Any device that has an induction-style motor can require as much as two or three times its running power to get the motor started. As an example, a running power rating of an air compressor could be several hundred watts, but its start-up demands may reach into the kilowatts. Power tools that use universal, brush-type commutator motors do not make these additional demands at start-up.

This is not to say that a generator working with an induction motor device needs to have triple its power rating. Since start-up does not last very long, the maximum KVA rating on a generator can be used to determine its motor starting capabilities. Consumers working with large machines or in an on-site setting should confirm the motor used on all devices and factor this into their overall power needs. They should also ideally consult with an informed vendor to determine if a generator is a safe match and has sufficient start-up capabilities.

Selecting an Industrial Generator Based on Load Type

Rather than parsing between domestic, recreational, or commercial applications, consumers can also base their selections on the types of loads their devices, appliances, or tools put on a generator. There are three main types of loads that come from electronic devices: resistive, reactive, and electronic.

Resistive Loads

Resistive load are stable devices that require no extra power at start-up and consume power in an even-handed way. These types of appliances or devices do not need a generator with a high-quality voltage waveform or frequency stability.

Reactive Loads

Reactive loads are devices that contain a motor. These machines depend on good quality output from a generator and can fluctuate in tandem with a poor power output. Using reactive load devices with a low-quality generator can shorten the life of a device's motor by never allowing it to reach maximum torque, or it can cause it to overheat. Reactive load devices also need that extra power at start-up, but they often need less power once start-up is achieved.

Electronic Loads

Electronic loads come from devices that contain electronics. These machines are very sensitive to electrical output quality and absolutely require stable power to operate safely and consistently. These devices can burn out if not ported with high-quality power from a generator.

Different Appliances and Their Respective Loads

The following table lists some of the common tools, devices, and appliances in each load category. Consumers can use this to determine what quality of generator they need based on the appliances they need to power.

Load Type

Appliances, Tools, or Devices

Electronic Load

Desktop computers



Hi-Fi systems

Entertainment systems

Resistive Load

Light bulbs


Electric heaters

Reactive Load

Power tools (saws, drills, et cetera)



AC and HVAC systems

Users in any type of setting can use any one of these tools. Consumers should determine their highest priority items and choose a generator that works compatibly with those devices.

Judging the Power Output Quality of a Generator

A generator's power output quality depends on its regulation of voltage and power. Consumers looking for a generator with good regulation should keep an eye out for the following features on a unit.

Generator Feature


Condenser or Inductive Generator

Suited for resistive loads


Popular feature

Voltage Regulators

Electronically controls voltage

Fewer power drops or spikes

Enhances performance of reactive load appliances

Digital Voltage Regulators

Smoother output than analogue regulators

Eliminates flickers in lights


Good for electronic devices

Clean, even power

Quieter operation

Lighter form factor

Enhanced fuel efficiency

Consumers can weigh the advantages of these respective features and then look for an appropriate generator. A consumer, for example, who needs a generator to power electronics at a campsite might want an inverter generator. A consumer looking for a generator for home emergencies might want a generator with a digital voltage regulator to limit light flicker in a home.

Buying Industrial Generators on eBay

The online retailer eBay brings together a number of different types and designs of generators into one catalogue. To begin looking through this catalogue, you can leverage the search interface on the site, which can be found on any page on eBay. Enter a keyword term such as "industrial generator" iinto this window and click on search. Click on and review any listings that catch your eye as possibilities. Look for details on the generator's features as well as purchasing information, such as shipping costs and accepted payment methods.

Evaluating Sellers on eBay

In addition to reviewing listings, you may want to click on a seller's highlighted name in a listing and review the seller's page, as well. On this page, you can find a vendor's past listings to evaluate his or her experience with generators. You can also read and consider any feedback submitted by other consumers.


Shopping for an industrial generator involves parsing through some very important specifics. Using the wrong generator could potentially harm the appliances, tools, and devices that are powered by it. Fortunately, by just understanding a bit about the nature of power loads and the different features that are available on generators, consumers can find a safe and appropriate generator for any setting. They can also choose a generator based on their basic power requirements by tallying the power needs of devices in their homes or businesses.

With this information in hand, consumers can search through the large catalogue of generators on the online site eBay, where they can find numerous product listings and review the features of various generators in detail before making a choice. In terms of shopping locally, an industrial generator may be harder to find, although home improvement stores may carry a limited selection of generators of this magnitude.

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