Buying Guide

Why buy a Powermate portable generator?

Powermate's versatile line of portable generators makes it possible to have portable electric power to support activities ranging from recreational to industrial; from camping or the do-it-yourself projects with our 1200 watt units all the way up to a commercial/contractor line producing up to 12,500 watts of power. We have a complete line designed for reliability and ease of use.

If bad weather interrupts your electrical service you can find yourself in a position where you are not able to provide the essential things your family needs; from running your refrigerator and lights to powering your sump pump they require power. These essentials will stay off until the power grid is restored. Powermate portable generators make it possible to maintain the essential power in your home during such outages.

How does a Powermate portable generator work?

Powermate portable generators have four basic components:

  1. The generator head, the component that produces the electricity

  2. The engine that powers the generator head

  3. The tank that holds the gas necessary to run the generator

  4. The outlets, used to connect to your power sources

Powermate's portable generators come in several different sizes and configurations; each one designed for specific applications and uses. Which one is right for you depend on how you plan to use your portable generator. Understanding these core components will help you make the right choice.

  • 1. Generator Head

    The generator head produces the power and is rated in watts/wattage. Many people buy their first generator without really researching their wattage needs. This often leads to purchasing a generator that does not have enough power to support you in an emergency. Determining your power requirements is not difficult.You can use our Power Wattage Worksheet (need to insert hyperlink to separate document) and the directions below to help you determine your specific needs.

  • 2. Engine

    For infrequent or short run-time usages we have a complete line of generators built with value in mind. These generators are constructed with side valve engines, similar to the common lawn mower engine and offer reliability at an affordable price.

    If your needs require longer usage or greater power we suggest that Powermate's OHV (overhead valve) engines as the right choice for you. OHV engines provide increased fuel efficiency (up to +20%) and are built with cast iron sleeves to run cooler. These engines also have lower exhaust emissions and a longer life. OHV engines cost more than side valve engine but for longer life and quieter operation they are the right choice.

  • 3. Tank

    This component is often overlooked but a critical factor. The size of your tank will determine how long the generator can run. Every Powermate portable generator comes with a running time rating to provide an idea of how long your generator will run between re-fueling. Of course you can always carry extra gas tanks to refill the unit but it is wise to consider your basic power requirements before you purchase your model.

  • 4. Outlets

    Outlet configuration will depend on your power requirements. The more powerful the generator the more outlet combinations are possible. Most generators come with the standard duplex 120 volt, 15 amp outlets. As you get more powerful additional outlets are added in a variety of combinations. Possible outlets available depending on the generator model:

  • 120V 15 amp single

    120V 15 amp duplex
    120V 20 amp duplex
    120V 20 amp GFCI duplex
    240V 15 amp
    240V 20 amp
    120V 30 amp
    240V 20 amp
    240V 30 amp
    120-240V 20 amp
    120-240V 30 amp
    120-240V 50 amp

    Determine your power requirements then check the generator outlet configuration for a specific model to confirm it meets your needs.

How do you determine how much power you need?

Powermate's portable generators are rated by the amount of power they produce called watts. To choose your Powermate portable generator you need to determine your power requirements and your wattage needs. Begin by looking at what you need to power. Ask yourself whether you'll be running one item or several and whether they run continuously or do they start and stop frequently?

Electrical appliances have two ratings, surge wattage and running wattage. Surge wattage is the amount of power the item uses to startup. This is usually higher than the amount the item needs to run after it has begun to run. To determine the right generator:

  1. Create a list of all the items with surge and running wattage

  2. Identify the highest surge wattage

  3. Add all the remaining running wattages to the highest surge wattage, do not include the running wattage of the highest surge wattage item

  4. This will be your total wattage requirements


Item Surge/Starting Watts Running Watts Calculated Watts

Sump Pump












Required minimum generator wattage


Refer to the manufacturer's start and run requirements of the equipment prior to starting.

Always start your largest electrical motor first and then plug in other items one at a time.

Our Powermate Wattage Worksheet can help you estimate your needs.

If the item you need to power does not show running wattage you can use this formula: Amps * Volts = Watts

This will give you the approximate running wattage. But remember electrical motors typically require 2 to 3 times the running wattage to start, their starting/surge wattage.

Example: A refrigerator with a motor rated at 5 AMPS running on 120 VOLTS:

5 * 120 = 600 WATTS, 600 WATTS * 3 = 1800 STARTING/SURGE WATTS

NOTE: This is only an example. You should always refer to and use the items nameplate or manufacturers information.