Finding the right portable generator to power the toughest jobsite—while also meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements—can be a challenge.
“Jobsite managers need to find a portable generator designed to handle the varying power demands of a construction site that is also compliant with OSHA regulations,” said Dan Roche, director of marketing for Briggs & Stratton portable power division.
Some jobsites are also far away from fuel stations, so fuel efficiency is important. Perhaps the job is very large, so the generator will require a higher wattage unit. Other locations have a rough terrain, so stability and larger wheels may be a higher priority. Additionally, some jobsites, such as one in a neighborhood, may require certain noise restrictions, making a quality muffler important. Whatever the demands are, there is a generator that will work hard and fit that need.
“Construction site managers expect work crews to deliver high-quality, dependable work, no matter what,” said Roche. “Those expectations should be no different for the portable generator that’s powering a construction site.”
Quality jobsite generators need to be hardworking, long-lasting and safe for the crew operating the unit. Having the right portable generator will help to decrease downtime and maximize productivity.
It may go without saying, but the higher the wattage, the higher the production capability. “Running watts” is the continuous wattage produced to keep items running, while “starting watts” represents the maximum current that can momentarily be supplied when starting a motor, multiplied by the generator’s rated voltage. Units that have a higher wattage output will use more fuel than ones that run at a lower wattage output. Look for a unit that can operate for long periods of time without running out of fuel. A generator with at least a 7-gallon tank should ensure plenty of runtime for even the longest work days.
Units that come with a fully protected ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) panel are recommended. Having multiple outlets enables a user to power more tools, while protecting against overloads and ground faults. Commercial grade engines, such as Vanguard engines, are fast-starting, dependable engines equipped with advanced features that extend life, minimize maintenance and dampen noise. To help mitigate the loss of productivity hours, purchase a portable generator with an oil alert system. Some portable units on the market will shut down when the oil gets too low.
Jobsites can be dirty. From sawdust to grease and mud, things can get messy. Having a generator that can take dust and dirt without clogging up the engine is important. To mitigate any damage due to the accidental abuse with the generator, look for features like the following:
- Steel frames
- Premium, extra-large, all-terrain wheels
- Lifting handles
A solid-built, steel frame will not only protect the engine, but will also ensure the unit won’t quit if someone bangs into it with a bumper or a tire. According to Roche, “Tires may not be top of mind when choosing a portable generator, but they should be. All-terrain tires will help to ease maneuverability over the roughest terrain.” Depending on the generator, the unit and weight can be difficult to manage. Make sure the handles are built to help the user get from point A to point B.
Keep safety top of mind when purchasing a new generator to help keep job progress on track and meet completion deadlines. Any portable generator needs to include safety features on it to limit hazards, such as shock or tipping of the unit. A big safety hazard around portable generators is carbon monoxide. A colorless, odorless poison called carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when a generator is running. To prevent the toxic gas from drifting indoors, always place the portable generator as far away as possible from doors and windows. Because portable generators sit in one place and run for an extended time, it is important to place the unit downwind and point the engine exhaust away from people. Never run a portable generator inside a building or a house. Takeyourgeneratoroutside.com has a helpful printout that can be posted as a reminder to your construction crew.
“The overall goal is to help construction site managers find a durable, safe unit to power any jobsite,” Roche said.