A portable generator is such a cracking bit of gear to own, whether it’s for use at home, on the jobsite or out at camp. Being able to produce your own clean electricity as long as you’ve got a bit of unleaded fuel at the ready opens up so many opportunities.
Portable generators have come down dramatically in price these days, and where you used to have to spend $2000 or more, you can now pay a third for one that’ll do just as good a job! We sell two different sized camping generators here at 4WD Supacentre, and many campers, tradies and home DIYers who buy them are purchasing their first portable generator. Here’s our list of six essential things everyone should know when they buy their first generator.
- BIGGER IS ALMOST ALWAYS BETTER: We sell two different sized camping generators at 4WD Supacentre; a 2kVa generator, and the monster Colossus 3.5kVa. For the vast majority of people, a 2kVa generator is plenty sufficient. It’ll run just about anything you could ever dream of around camp, including a hairdryer! But if you’re a tradie or you just love the idea of never running out of power, then there’s little to be lost from buying a bigger portable generator. All that means is you’ll always have ample power to spare, have the ability to run power-hungry tools like grinders and cut-off saws and never really risk over-stressing the motor. And the Colossus isn’t actually that much physically bigger than the 2kVa generator, either.
- TWO-STROKES’ DAYS ARE OVER! It used to be that small, high-revving engines like mowers, whipper snippers and generators were all two-stroke. These days, new technology means that four-stroke engines are more powerful than ever before. Forget carrying two-stroke oil and trying to mix it in the dark, because 4WD Supacentre’s portable generators all use highly-efficient, surprisingly-quiet four-stroke motors. Just give ‘em a splash of 91 unleaded and they’ll run for ages!
- LIKE ANY MOTOR, IT NEEDS TAKING CARE OF: That means doing your best to protect it from water and dirt. While our camping generators are built tough, they’re still motors after all and motors generally hate water and dust. That’s why you can buy purpose-built travel and storage covers for your 4WD Supacentre generator, for barely more than the cost of a six-pack. It’s a worthwhile investment! It’s an especially good idea if you store your generator on the drawbar of your trailer, on your roofrack or just leave it out at camp in between using it.
- TECHNOLOGY’S HIT THE GENERATOR SCENE: Back in the day, the power that came out of portable generators was rough and dirty. It’d make your light-bulbs glow on and off as it came in dirty waves. These days, pure sine wave inverter technology on both the 2kVa and the Colossus 3.5kVa portable generators is clean and safe enough to run your laptop, phone or other delicate voltage-sensitive equipment straight off without having to worry about causing any damage.
- THERE ARE SOME RESTRICTIONS ON USAGE AT CAMPSITES: Not all campsites allow generators, and some allow them only at certain times. That’s not the end of the world – typically it just means that the porkchop four campsites over can’t run his rough old two-smoke generator all night to power his air con. A lot of the time you’ll find that it’s perfectly okay to run your generator up until about 8pm at night. We’re big fans of carrying about 50m of extension cords with us and sitting the generator up and over the next sand dune or down behind that dry creek bank, just as a way of muffling the sound.
- ADD A CTEK BATTERY CHARGER FOR THE ULTIMATE IN 12V POWER PRODUCTION! If you run a big battery bank in your 4WD, caravan or camper trailer, then adding a 240v charger from the CTEK range will let you crank serious power into your batteries, seriously quickly. The bigger the charger’s capacity, the faster the batteries will recharge and the less time you’ll need to run your generator. Most typical power setups will drain about 40-50A in any given 24 hour period, so assuming you didn’t have solar panels topping your batteries up, two hours with a CTEK M300 25A charger would have your battery bank completely full again. Free camp for as long as you like!
And remember, 4WD Supacentre have a price-match guarantee on the range of CTEK battery chargers that we stock. If you find a better price anywhere, we’ll match it! Terms and conditions apply, see https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/terms#ctek.