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Generators Buyers Guide: Which Generator Should I Order?

sgs petrol generators

Here at SGS we have a wide variety of generators for a number of various domestic and commercial applications, so we understand that finding the perfecting one for your requirements might seem daunting at first. We’ve spent some time putting together a simple check-list of considerations to help you narrow the choices.

Working out what you need

  • Wattage – determine exactly how much power you’ll require for the items you wish to run.
  • Domestic or professional – some generators are designed specifically for hobbyists and leisure use, others are perfect for workshops and commercial use.
  • Equipment – do you want to run sensitive equipment such as computers or televisions straight from your generator? We have a range of inverter generators for sensitive electronics.
  • Petrol or diesel – you need to consider the total cost of ownership when investing in a new generator. With a comprehensive petrol and diesel generator range, you’ll be able to pick the most cost efficient fuel source for your power requirements.
  • Outdoor Use – you may want to use your generator outside, for activities such as camping. Find out how you can tell if a generator is weather proof and where it's appropriate to use them in wetter conditions.

Your total required wattage

locating the wattage of items

All of our generators are rated to run at a certain wattage. The first thing you must consider during your purchse is what wattage you need your generator to produce. Regardless of whether you’re going to be running camping equipment or a whole construction site, this is a vital step in the buying process – otherwise you might end up with a generator that isn’t fit for purpose.

  1. You can find the individual wattages of an item on the equipment itself, in the user manual, on a manufacturer’s website, or by contacting the manufacturer by phone.
  2. What items do you want to run together? For example, if you want to run a slow cooker and a fan at the same time, you need the combined wattage of the equipment. If you’ll only ever run each item independently, then you just need to worry about the item with the highest wattage.
  3. Do the items have a starting wattage? Any piece of equipment with an induction motor will have a starting wattage, and therefore a higher wattage requirement. This includes chop saws, air compressors, vacuum cleaners, pressure washers, and freezers - anything with a motor in it. Simply multiple the items wattage by three to find it’s starting wattage.
  4. Give yourself some headroom. Just because your car can go 120 miles an hour, it doesn’t mean that it’s suitable to drive at the maximum all the time. Your generator will be very much the same; a 4200W generator shouldn’t be used to power 4200 watts worth of equipment. Give yourself at least 20% head room.

So your final required wattage is:

All the individual equipment wattages for the items you wish to run together (x 3 if the item has an induction motor), + 20% head room = minimum wattage generator you require

For example, to run a 250W slow cooker with a 650W hand drill the maths is:

650W (drill) x 3 (starting wattage) = 1950W

1950W (drill total) + 250W (slow cooker) = 2200W

2200W + 20% = 2640W total required watts required

To see how much wattage typical items use see our power ratings guide.

kVA, kW and Watts:

how wattage can be calculated

Generators are often listed in kVA (kilo-volt-amps) or kW (kilo-watts). These are both measurements of power,  just in slightly different formats. 

   - To convert Watts (W) to KiloWatts (kW) divide by 1000 - Eg. 1000W = 1kW
   - To convert KiloWatts (kW) to Kilo-volt-amps (kVA) divide by 0.8 – Eg. 1000W = 1kW = 1.25kVA

Domestic or Professional Use?

what can i use my generator for

We split our range of generators in two ranges; domestic and professional use – each with their own warranty specific to its intended use.

If you want a generator for doing occasional jobs requiring power tools, for your hobby, or as a short back-up generator for outages, a SGS generator will be exactly what you’re looking for. SGS generators are fantastic value for money and perfect for home and hobbyist use. Designed to be run occasional, they are perfect for back up use or working in the garden at the weekend.

If you’re planning to use the generator every day or commercially, we have a whole range of generators perfect for the task. If you need a power source regularly, or for a prolonged period of time, we’d suggest a Stephill generator. They’re made in the UK to the highest of standards, with energy efficiency and performance in mind. They’re fitted with Honda, Yanmar or Lombardini engines and come with a three year commercial use warranty.

domestic house hold generator


3.75 kVA Portable Petrol Generator With Wheel Kit

professional generators


Stephill 6.0 kVA Yanmar Super Silent Diesel Generator

Electrically Sensitive Equipment?

mini processor generator

Anything with a microprocessor in it, is considered sensitive to electrical power. This means computers, phones, TVs, games consoles, printers, DVD players and even some kitchen appliances and power tools, shouldn't be run directly from a conventional generator.  A simple solution is to run them from an inverter generator to prevent damaging them. These generators "invert" DC power back into AC power, resulting in a much "cleaner" power (pure sine waves).

Hyundai HY2000Si

petrol inverter generator

The Hyundai HY2000Si is the smallest model of petrol inverter generator in the Hyundai leisure range. This is an ideal petrol generator to take on your camping, caravanning or boating trips, at only 28kg, it has a lightweight design that makes transporting this generator very easy. The new improved design is smaller, lighter and had a brand new digital display panel for simple, accurate usage.

Petrol or Diesel Generators?

Choosing between a petrol or diesel generator may seem arbitrary, but in reality it will seriously affect your total cost of ownership. Diesel generators tend to cost more out of the box than petrol alternatives. However considering long term running costs, it’s not quite that simple.

Over the long term, diesel will give you a considerable saving on fuel, especially if you have access to red diesel. Diesel engines generally stand up to regular use.

As a rule of thumb, it you’re looking for a generator under 10 kVA then you would purchase a petrol model. Over 10 kVa you would look at diesel generators.

Petrol Generators

petrol generator

Petrol generators come in 1 to 10 kVA models and are available as great value domestic use models as well as professional models design for high usage. Available in 110 and 230V sockets, you would need a fly lead for a standard 3 pin plug.

Diesel Generators

diesel generator

Diesel generators tend to be larger and more expensive than petrol. However, they offer better fuel economy and longer run times. Large capacity diesel generators (10kVA+) are available, such as "welfare cabin" models.

Can My Generator Be Used Outside In All Weather?

There are many applications where you might want to use your generator outside, such as camping. This quick guide explains what weather protection each of the generators we sell have and where it's appropriate to use them in wetter conditions.

SGS Generators


It is not recommended these generators are exposed to extreme elements. Please try and keep your generator protected from the elements, whilst ensuring ventilation is provided so as not to cause a safety hazard or impede air intake.

Stephill Generators

 Stephill Generators

The sockets on the petrol and diesel stephills are IP63 rated. IP63 is effective against:

  • 6 = No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.
  • 3 = Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.

So, yes you can use your Stephill generator outside, however it would be better covered. 

Inverter Generators

 Inverter Generators

Inverter generators have standard 3-pin plugs. Please do not use an inverter generator in the rain (SGS or Hyundai).

Standby Generators

There’s nothing more frustrating than a long power outage. Waiting around in the dark, completely reliant on the National Grid. Standby generators allow you to use your household lighting and appliances in the home. Being completely independently of the grid, means you’re always prepared for a power-cut.

The simplest way of providing back up power to your home is to install two products; a standby generator and a transfer switch.

Manual Power Transfer – A manual transfer switch (MTS) allows you to switch between utility power and backup power at the touch of a button. They’re simple to use and relatively easy to install – the only drawback is that you might have to find the switch in the dark if you have a power-cut at night!

Automatic Power Transfer – With an automatic transfer switch (ATS), the process is even simpler; the ATS senses when the power goes down and automatically starts the generator. Within a few seconds your home has power again and you can continue your day as normal. When the primary power for the home is restored the ATS will switch back to utility power and shut down the generator. Thus leaving it in a standby state, until needed again.

stand by generator

As well as providing you with convenience and security, a stand-by generator power system can reduce home-owners insurance rate and even boost the value of your house. You can see a full range of SGS standby generators here.

Beware; installing a standby generator and/ or a transfer switch should only ever be carried out by a competent electrician

Specialist Generators

As our range of generators has grown over the years, we’ve added more and more specialist generators. As well as a comprehensive range of petrol, diesel and inverter generators we now stock a range of LPG, welder, rail approved, welfare and export generators, to suit more specialist requirements.

LPG Generators

LPG generator

On average LPG is 30% - 50% cheaper to run, and as the price of petrol and diesel steadily increase, an LPG generator becomes an ever more attractive solution. If you’ve got LPG gas canisters readily available, the LPG range can be a great mobile power solution.

Industrial Generators

industrial generator

These specifically designed diesel generators are great for powering accommodation or welfare units. They’re all made in the UK and powered by super-silent Yanmar and Kubota engines. They’re simple to use, single phase, low vibration units delivered straight to site.

Welder Generators

welder generator

Stephill offer a small range of generators specifically designed for the welders. They’re rugged, purpose built generators made in the UK, perfect for commercial use on site.  We also offer a range of compatible welding leads in AC and DC varieties.

Rail Approved Generators

rail approved generator

Here at SGS, we’re one of the few suppliers of Network Rail approved generators in the UK. Designed to be robust, dynamic and overall incredibly safe to work with, these specialist generators are perfect for commercial use around and on the railway.

Still need help?

Still need help?

Our in house experts are always on hand for buying advice and to provide bespoke care, regardless of the application.

Call SGS on 01332 576 850 or fill out our contact form today.

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