9 Different Types of Generators for Off-grid Living

Nature has healing power. Living in nature is fun. Anyway, It is a great pleasure indeed to pass some quality time in the wilderness after a busy weekend. It makes you strong and you will regain your lost energy.

However, passing time in an off-grid cabin, Camp, Rv, or farmhouse does not mean that you have to sacrifice the modern facility like the refrigerator, air conditioner, etc. You just need the supply of electricity for getting all the convenience in the wilderness.

A generator is a perfect solution for this situation. To select the right generator for your off-grid house, you should have a clear idea of the different types of generators.

In this article, I’ll discuss different types of generators for off-grid living. Furthermore, this guide is also applicable to the types of generators for home use during blackouts or tropical storms.

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Here are the types of generators for off-grid living at a glance!

  1. Solar generator
  2. Gasoline generator
  3. Propane generator
  4. Dual fuel generator
  5. Diesel generator
  6. Inverter generator
  7. Portable generator
  8. Standby generator
  9. Natural gas generator

A Brief History of Generator

Before going deep into the types of generators, let’s discuss the history of the generator briefly.

Everybody knows that Michael Faraday, a British innovator is the father of Dynamo. It was in 1831, Michael Faraday invented the first generator.

He used some simple materials like a bar magnet, coil, and tube to produce electricity. He used a galvanometer to identify whether it produces current or not.

He noticed, when he moved the bar magnet through the coil, the reading of the galvanometer changed. That means the mechanism produces electricity. He also noticed the galvanometer kept responding even after removing the magnet.

Then Faraday concluded into law, known as “electromagnetic induction”. This law is basic. After this remarkable innovation, many scientists and engineers researched to develop the model. Now, we enjoy the consequences of their hard work and sacrifice.

Types of Generators

1. Solar Generator

The solar generator is the best solution for people who are looking for an environmentally friendly energy source. If you want to be completely green at your off-grid cabin or house, a solar generator is the exact one that you have been looking for.

The principle of the solar generator is very straightforward. To operate a solar generator, you need a solar panel, battery, and controller. Solar panels capture and energy and the battery store it. The generator converts solar energy into electric power.

Since the solar generator has a built-in inverter system, you don’t need to worry about your devices. You can operate almost every type of appliance in your off-grid cabin or house with a solar generator. 

This is a one-time investment. You don’t need to spend money to buy fuel. The solar generator is the source of green energy. So, there is no chance of radiation or danger to the human body.

solar generator
@Jackery

Thinks I like most

  • Source of green and environment-friendly energy
  • No fuel cost
  • No chance of danger
  • No noise
  • Built-in Inverter
  • Can operate almost every appliance
  • Best choice for off-grid living
  • High power output

Things I don’t like

  • Comparatively expensive than other generators (but no fuel cost)
  • Depends on the environment
  • Need intensive maintenance

Related: Best 2000 watt Solar Generator

2. Gasoline Generator

A gasoline generator is also known as a gas generator somewhere. Refined petrol is used as the fuel here. Gasoline is one of the most efficient fuels for getting the maximum output of an engine.

The gasoline generator is one the most popular generator for the off-grid cabin, camping, or portable use.

The gasoline generator is extremely easy to use and doesn’t need intensive maintenance. You can store this generator anywhere in your house. Which means this is good for rough use.

Another important feature of a gasoline generator is its fuel efficiency. The power output depends on the power of the generator. Anyway, you can operate almost everything with a gasoline generator in your off-grid cabin or farmhouse with a 5000-watt portable generator to a 12000-watt portable generator. For a campsite or RV, a 3000-watt portable gasoline generator is enough.

The gasoline generator is sturdy and portable. This is perfect for rough use. If you are looking for a portable generator for outdoor activities, a gas generator could be the right choice.

Many people complaints that the gasoline generator has high noise. It’s true. But the situation is changing. If you can buy the right gasoline generator, believe me, you will never regret it.

gas generator
@Champion Power Equipment

Thinks I like most about the gasoline generator

  • Comparatively cheaper than other types
  • Sturdy and portable enough for long outdoor activities
  • Very easy to maintenance
  • Fuel efficient

Things I don’t like

  • High emission rate
  • Starter becomes jam in the cold months
  • A bit noisy

3. Propane Generator

The propane generator is the most popular generator in the USA. Whether you are looking for a generator for the off-grid farmhouse, campsite, RV, or regular home, a Propane generator could be the best choice for you!

Propane cylinder is available everywhere. Moreover, Propane is an efficient fuel for generators. You can run your generator for 1 hour with only .8 gallon to .12 gallon propane. It depends on the wattage of your generator.

Propane generators are not very expensive. they are lightweight also. you can easily handle your propane generator. Like other types of generators, you can run your propane generator even for 1-day to 3-days. That is incredible indeed.

The noise of the Propane generator is tolerable. Most importantly, you need not think about the fuel always. Because a Propane cylinder is available in every house whether it is an off-grid or grid area.

Propane generator
@Duromax

Things I like Most

  • They are Portable and Lightweight.
  • Fuel and cost-efficiency
  • Perfect for home use
  • Easy to handle and store
  • Don’t need intensive care

Things I Don’t like

  • Since you need to connect your generator with an external pipe, there is a chance of leakage.

Related: Best Propane Generator for Home

4. Dual Fuel Generator

Dual fuel generator is a recent innovation in the generator industry. By its name you already understand that this type of generator supports two different types of fuel.

Most of the Dual fuel generator supports gasoline and propane. Some dual-fuel generator supports diesel and propane also. But gasoline and propane is the most popular choice across the USA. This type is the most efficient.

You can run your generator with two different fuels at a time just by pressing the switch. Most people buy dual fuel generators to run with propane actually. When the gasoline is available they go for the gasoline. But initially, you should run the generator with gasoline. It will keep the engine and carburetor good.

Dual fuel generator
@westinghouse

Things I like Most

  • Convenient fuel choose
  • portable and lightweight
  • Low noise
  • Easy to maintenance
  • Good for home use

Things I don’t like

  • They are expensive

5. Diesel generator/ Genset

If you are looking for the sturdiest and most long-lasting generator, the diesel generator is the right choice for you. You can use a diesel generator smoothly for over 20 years by maintaining properly.

The diesel generator is also known as Genset. Diesel is the least flammable fuel. Also, it is cheaper than other fuels.

A diesel generator is the combination of an electric generator and a diesel engine. The main problem with the diesel engine is its sound. You can not keep your diesel generator inside of your off-grid cabin, house, or camping. But some of them come with reasonable sound.

Diesel generator operates well by diesel. You don’t need to mix other fuel in it. Also, some diesel generator comes with dual fuel facilities.

The price of the diesel generator is affordable as the gasoline generator. For rough use, a diesel generator is best. You can use a diesel generator even in the snowfall, unlike the gasoline generator. But if the generator becomes wet, it will not start.

diesel generator

Things I like most

  • Affordable and durable
  • Fuel efficiency
  • High power output
  • Suitable for the coldest month
  • Less maintenance than other types

Things I don’t like

  • Malfunctioned in the wet condition
  • Not good for the environment since emits harmful materials
  • High noise level

6. Inverter Generator

If you are looking for a portable and soundless generator for your off-grid farmhouse or cabin, the Inverter generator is the best suit for you. They are the consequences of the up-gradation of technology.

An inverter generator is perfect for running a smart device like mobile charging, laptop, or similar kind of work. You can not run heavy-duty machinery with the inverter generator.

The inverter generator comes with definite power output. So, you have the chance to use specific appliances with a specific generator model.

The mechanism of the inverter generator is different from a gasoline or diesel generator. An inverter generator is 20% more fuel-efficient rather than other generators. But it comes with a high price tag.

The mechanism is complicated also. First, it produces Alternative Current. Then the AC changes into DC. Then DC converts into the AC.

inverter generator
@predator

Things I like most

  • Best among all portable generator
  • Fuel-efficient than other generators
  • It Comes with the least noise
  • Perfect for small electric devices in the home
  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Upgraded technology

Things I don’t like

  • A bit pricy than other generators
  • Need intensive maintenance

7. Portable generator

A portable generator is perfect for temporary and outdoor work. Most of the portable generators are propane or gasoline-powered. Diesel-powered portable generators are also available.

If you are living in a tiny off-grid house and you need to run different small appliances, a portable generator could be a great choice indeed. The portable generator is the best option for low voltage appliances.

You will not get a long-term backup from a portable generator. But a portable generator is enough for running the must-needed items like the refrigerator, portable ac, etc.

But fortunately, some brands develop giant portable generators. Now you will get even a 15000-watt portable generator. Yes, they are heavy but you can easily move them from one place to another since they come with a wheel and handle.

So, you don’t need anyone to handle this giant generator. A giant generator like a 12000-watt generator is enough for a medium-sized farmhouse or regular home.

The most convenient part of the portable generator of its ease of use. You can use this portable generator in your off-grid house in two ways.

  1. Install the portable generator through the wiring system of home
  2. Directly connect by chord

That is why portable generators are popular among outdoor-loving people.

portable generator
@champion Power Equipment

Things I like most

  • A portable generator is cheap and easy to use
  • No complicated installation
  • Very handy and lightweight
  • Suitable for small scale home appliance

Things I don’t like

  • Doesn’t lasting a long period
  • Only for limited use

Related: Best Portable Generator Made in the US

8. Standby Generator

Standby generators are mainly used for commercial purposes. Some people also use it at home. A standby generator which is also known as a backup generator or stationary generator is almost the same as a diesel or gasoline generator.

The main difference between standby and other generators is the power supply. The standby generator is usually permanently installed. It automatically starts when the electricity fails.

Standby generators are sturdy and connected with the main grid of the building. It supports an automatic transfer switch. That is why it starts within seconds after the electricity goes out.

standby generator
@generac

Things I like most

  • Ensure the continuous supply of electricity
  • Long-lasting commercial-grade engine
  • Can support large appliances like the elevator, fire equipment, and other

Things I don’t like

  • They are expensive indeed
  • Need professional to install

9. Natural Gas generator

A natural gas generator is perfect for those who are looking for a fuel-saving generator. They are almost the same as gasoline or diesel generator. Even you can convert your propane generator into a natural gas generator.

The natural gas generator is very easy to handle like a diesel or gasoline generator. They come usually with a sturdy outlook. So, you can store it anywhere in your off-grid home.

Moreover, compressed natural gas is an environmentally friendly fuel. They don’t emit dangerous substances like diesel generators. They are almost as safe as the solar generator.

Natural gas is much cheaper than gasoline and diesel. That is why the natural gas generator is fuel-efficient and also saves your money.

Things I most like

  • Fuel efficient and nature friendly
  • Doesn’t emit hazardous material
  • Cost-efficient
  • Long-lasting and sturdy enough

Things I don’t like

  • Can malfunction in the coldest month of the year
  • Installation needs comparatively more money
  • Not a portable one in most cases
  • Every homeowner has not the natural gas line

How to Maintain and Take Care of your Off-Grid Generator?

Living off-grid is never easy. An off-grid house owner has a lot more duty than urban people. Like all other machines of your off-grid housing, you need to maintain your generator for electric supply.

Actually, as a non-technical person, you don’t need to open the generator parts and check them out. You just ensure basic maintenance, especially in the cold winter. Most type of generator doesn’t work fine in the winter. So you should take special care in the winter.

Here is a simple list to take care of your off-grid generator.

Generator Cover

you should use a generator cover to keep your generator safe from dust, mud, dirt, and water. If you use a well-known generator, probably you will get a dedicated cover for your generator.

Most of the generator covers are designed for storing purposes. Only a few generator covers are designed to use while running the generator. You could read this article to get the right cover for your portable generator.

Read this article to learn more about the best generator cover while running here.

Battery

Among all the parts of the generator, the battery performance becomes weak fast. You need to check the capacity of the battery regularly. since it drains fast, you should store extra pieces for an emergency.

Cleaning The Fuel Filter

It is mandatory to clean the fuel filter of the mechanical machine. If you are a daily generator user, you need to clean the fuel filter regularly.

Check Out The Cooling System

If you run your generator for a long time, don’t forget to check the coolant system of your generator. If the coolant system fails, your generator will lose its shelf life.

Check The Air Filter

The air filter locates on one corner for most of the generator. you should clean the air filter with a cleaner regularly. It keeps the engine good.

Change the Engine Oil

whether you use your generator regularly or not, you should change the engine oil regularly. Use the recommended engine oil by the generator manufacturer company. Actually, the engine oil depends on the capacity of the engine. Bu the most common engine oil is 10W30. Anyway, you should double-check the recommended type of oil.

Empty the fuel tank before store

You should empty the fuel tank of your generator for storage. If you don’t use your generator for more than 2 weeks, you should do it. To learn why you should empty the engine, you could read this article.

FAQ

Can you live off-grid with a generator?

Sure, you can. You could use only two types of generators, a 4000-watt portable generator for light work and a standby generator for heavy work.
Portable generators are perfect for outdoor works like woodworking or camping site. And the Standby generator will provide continuous energy for your house.

What is the best off-grid generator?

Among all the generator types, portable generators are by far the best option for temporary living on the off-grid. If you are planning for a permanent solution you could consider the Standby generator for your house.

Final Thoughts

The efficiency, outlook, durability of the generator has been changing. The modern generator is far different from the old days. Living in an off-grid area doesn’t mean that you must be in the darkness.

Those times are gone. Find yourself in nature and make strong bonding among your family member in a calm and quiet place. a generator is a perfect partner in off-grid living.

I hope this in-depth writing on different types of generators will help you to understand the basics.

Rayan

Rayan is an engineer, lives in a farmhouse. He has a passion for electronics and alternative energy. He loves to share his thoughts with other people. That is why he started the blog.

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