A gas generator is a portable engine which produces power from the combustion of a fuel substance-most often gasoline, as the name suggests, but often diesel or propane as well. An automobile engine is itself a form of gas generator, but the term is most often used to refer to external devices used to provide power in areas with no electrical access, or to maintain a steady flow of power when the main electrical grid goes down.
Features of Gas Generators
A gas generator operates like a standard internal combustion engine, burning fuel in a small chamber to generate power. An ordinary gas generator produces around 5,000 watts, an amount roughly sufficient to simultaneously power 80 light bulbs, 25 personal computers, or a single household electric water heater. Generators with higher energy outputs are progressively more expensive in terms of dollars-per-wattage. A 10,000 watt generator, for example, may cost as much as four times more than a 5,000 watt generator.
Most gas generators can hold five gallons of fuel or more, with each gallon providing about two hours of 1,000 watt output. Most generators can produce currents of 120 or 240 volts. Gas generators are frequently fairly noisy, but some are equipped with mufflers to limit this annoyance. Many high-quality generators are equipped with automatic shutoffs to prevent damage to the engine if the oil supply runs low.
Gas Generator Usages
Gas generators are frequently used at work sites for construction jobs and similar projects. They provide an easy means for such sites to access power without requiring a connection to an electrical grid. Because standard usage of a gas generator will drain a tank in about 11 or 12 hours, an ordinary generator can provide power for a full workday without necessitating refueling.
Gas generators are also commonly used as sources of backup power in case of electrical failure. Auxiliary generators can:
- Ensure a steady supply of heat into a home
- Prevent retail losses from food spoilage or service system downtime
- Keep medical equipment constantly powered, often preventing loss of life.
Smaller gas generators are commonly used by campers to provide heat for cooking and comfort, as well as any other of the amenities of modern life desired while in the wilderness.
Gas Generator Hazards
As with any engine, a generator produces waste gases such as carbon monoxide which can be toxic if inhaled by humans. For this reason, generators must never be used in enclosed spaces that do not possess adequate ventilation.