Choosing the best generator for the job comes down to thoroughly assessing what you need your generator for, where you’ll be using it, and what features it needs.
Here’s everything you need 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 an extensive range of models to suit almost all potential users. They provide high quality, a consistent power source that is reliable and convenient off the grid.
How Quiet Does Your Generator Need To Be?
Honda generators for tradesmen and personal use are known for their quiet operation. Honda has engineered exceptionally quiet portable models but also offers less costly options that may serve your application at a lower cost and without the same whisper-quiet operation.
While a camping application may require a super quiet EU series choice, home standby and construction applications would be satisfied with a Deluxe or Industrial series model, and some applications will allow for the Economy series that does not have the additional features required to provide quiet operation.
In every case, it’s important to consider your needs and purpose when using a generator, and choose one that matches these requirements.
Is Electric Start Required?
Honda engines are renowned for their ease of starting, even when only equipped with a manual recoil starter. Honda offers many models with the convenience of electric start for applications that may require a remote start or where the ease of electric start is preferred.
Do You Require Easy Transport?
While all Honda generators are portable by definition, many models include standard wheel kits for easy movement of the generator from storage to worksite. Consider all the options available to you when selecting the right model for your home or work application.
How Much Power Do You Need?
Generators produce AC voltage, very similar to the voltage available in your home. However, while your electricity company produces sufficient power for all your electric powered devices, a portable generator is limited in power output directly relational to the engine horsepower.
The amount of power that a generator can produce is rated in watts. Rated power is generally 90% of maximum power, as certain components lose efficiency as they are heated from use.
To determine your wattage requirements, you should determine which devices need to be powered simultaneously and what the starting requirement of the device is. A Wattage Calculator is provided to assist you. Remember that with simple power management techniques, a small generator can provide adequate power for home or recreational appliances.
‘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, is a more reliable measure of generator power. Typically, the rated power is 90% of the maximum power.
For example, a 2500-watt generator produces a maximum of 2500 watts of power. This means at maximum power, this generator could light up 25 100-watt light bulbs at the same time. However, the rated wattage of this generator would be 2300 watts, and it should only be used to power 23 100-watt light bulbs.
When considering your power needs, first determine the highest power application such as a good pump for home power, or an air compressor for the job site. The power required to start the capacitor motor on these applications will determine the rated power of the generator you should choose for your application.
Types of Loads
In the previous example, the light bulbs are the load of the generator. A 2500-watt generator can handle a load of no more than 2500 watts maximum.
Resistive and Reactive Loads
The light bulb example is called a resistive type load, and the power it requires is pretty easy to understand. Other resistive types of loads are things like:
- Convection ovens
- Hot plates
- Curling irons
- Coffee makers
Resistive loads are usually appliances that do not have electric motors.
Resistive Loads = 1 x Power
A reactive load, on the other hand, contains an electric motor. Some household appliances like a heater or refrigerator have internal fans that come on intermittently, so extra wattage/power is needed to start the fan. Another example is power tools. An appliance or tool with a reactive load may require up to three times as much power (wattage) to start as it does to keep it running.
Examples of reactive type loads include:
- Refrigerators and freezers
- Heater fans
- Well pumps
- Bench grinders
Reactive Loads = 3 x Power
Calculating Load Requirements
Volts x Amps = Watts
The above equation shows the relationship between watts, volts, and amps in a purely resistive load. If you know any of the two variables, the third can be calculated.
Example: You want a generator to power a 1000-watt floodlight. The light is 120V and requires 1000 watts of power. Using the equation, we can calculate that the floodlight will draw approximately 8.3 amps of electrical current.
For reactive loads, the equation shows only a general relationship between watts, volts, and amps. That’s because of the power requirements for reactive loads changes with operating conditions.
Generators for Reactive Loads
When determining the proper generator for reactive type loads, you must consider three modes of operation:
Starting: The electric motor requires more power to start. The starting power required can be up to three times the running amount.
Running: The power required to run the electric motor once it has been started.
Loaded: When the electric motor begins to work (saw begins cutting wood, drill begins drilling through a wall), its power requirement will increase. This is not applicable for most household appliances.
The second method requires a visual inspection of the data tag supplied by the electric motor manufacturer. All electrical motors have a data tag attached to their bodies that give volts, amps, phase, cycles, horsepower, and sometimes a code.
Volts (V): The volts must be either 120 (110-120) or 120/240. 120/240 means that the motor can be wired to operate on 120V or 240V. Honda generators are either 120V or 120/240V.
Amps (A): This indicates the amps required to run the electric motor but doesn’t consider starting or loaded power requirements.
Phase (PH): Honda generators can power single-phase motors only.
Horsepower (HP): The rating of how much work an electric motor can perform.
Code: This isn’t always provided on the data tag. It represents the maximum starting power required of the electric motor.
Cycles (Hz): All U.S. electrical appliances run at 60 cycles per second.
The load code is a letter that represents the amps per hp required to start the motor. Multiply the code (amps) by the hp of the motor to determine the starting amps.
For example, the data tag on our electric motor shows a code of L. Our motor is 1/3 hp. An L code is 84 amps per hp x 1/3 (motor hp) = 28 amps to start the motor.