Looking for a cheap generator for camping? Maybe you need portable back-up power around the house but don't want to spend a fortune.
There was a time when buying a cheap generator meant you couldn't expect it to last beyond the shop door. We have some good news for you - those days are long gone.
Today generators don't have to be expensive to be fit for certain tasks. Just as devices like smart phones, TV's and tablets have come down in price, so too have portable generators. In fact the latest technology means you can enjoy a whole heap of great features that, just a couple of years ago, you would have paid top dollar for.
Do your research
Nevertheless, whether your budget is $300 or $3,000, it always pays to know what to look for when buying a generator. After all, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars if you buy one of those cheap 'no-name' generators on an auction site such as eBay...BUT how confident will you really be when it comes to plugging in your expensive appliances and power tools? The damage caused could end up costing you much more than you saved in the first place! So, don't just look at price alone, you need to sort out the good value for money options from the dodgy stuff.
Know your brands
First and foremost, you should get to know the guys who will guarantee you good value for money. Cromtech Generators have one of the best budget inverter generators on the market and come backed by a 1 year warranty and national service network. It's low price point is mainly because it is manufactured in China, where manufacturing costs are far lower than Australia and other countries like Japan. But just because these generators have a "Made in China" stamp doesn't mean they are rubbish. These days China has some of the best quality standards in the world. Even premium brands like Honda and Yamaha have some of their generator models and componentry coming out of factories in China and Taiwan.
What's more, Cromtech is backed by Crommelins Australia - a veteran of Australian Power Equipment Manufacturing and distribution. For example, MyGenerator.com.au has service technicians who perform quality control checks before committing to distributing any generator brand. We've tested plenty of different Chinese brands and whilst some stack up nicely, many just don't produce what they say they do...some units will claim they have an output of 4000 watts, when in reality they struggle to deal with 3000 watts!
So again, be sure to buy your generator from a retailer that can stand by their products...we have heard too many horror stories about customers buying a cheap, faulty generator and then the retailer provides them no help at all - the customer has just lost hundreds of dollars!...so again, there are some good budget brand generator options out there, but it just needs to be the right one and for the right application.
What about the warranty and support?
The main difference between premium and budget generators is the warranty and service support. Cheap generators often don't come with the extensive warranty that premium generator manufacturers provide. That doesn't mean you're not covered at all though. Cromtech Generators have service and warranty backed by the reputable Australian manufacturer, Crommelins, so if there are any issues with your purchase, you know there is a nationwide service support ready to help - Crommelins have hundreds of accredited service agents all over the country
Be careful of cheaper brands like Lectron, Fuji, Gentrax and other cheaper generator brands found on eBay etc. We've tested these units (and in some cases previously stocked them) - they can perform okay, but the main issue is spare parts availability and after service support; often you'll need a spare parts to get your generator going again or have it inspected by a technician...this is where you will run into issues. Most cheaper Chinese brands won't offer this support and you're left with a useless machine.
Cromtech also comes with a 1 year warranty, which is on par with other generators at the affordable end of the spectrum. If a longer service warranty is important to you, check out the well-known Japanese brand generators instead, such as market leaders Yamaha, who offer 4 year warranties and have over 200 accredited service agents nationwide. Many customers want the national service network with their Generator and will opt for a premium brand such as Yamaha, albeit you'll have to pay a bit more, but that is expected for a superior product.
Fit for purpose
Generally speaking, the bigger and more powerful the generator, the more money you'll pay. So a good way to save money on a generator is to only buy the size you need. The best way to work this out is to look at the wattage of the appliances you want to power and find a generator that best fits this number. You can find out more about this in the Generator Buying Guide at MyGenerator.com.au. The other end of the spectrum of course is buying a generator that won't produce enough power to run your appliances - again, do the numbers on your particular wattage requirements and you'll make the most effective generator selection.
Also extremely important is the type of application; if you plan to use your generator for heavier applications such as medium to large power tools and equipment on job sites or for rural applications, then we recommend you consider a portable trade generator from the likes of Powerlite and Gentech - these are seriously tough, durable Australian assembled trade machines that are built to handle the heavy demands of Australian work sites. Again, its a case of fit for purpose; the right cheaper imported generator brands are fine for light domestic or recreational use, but if you require portable power for your business or heavier demands then opt for a premium brand.
Final important word of advice
Our final piece of advice is to ask yourself how frequently you will be using your generator. Cromtech generators for example are only a good value for money option if you require home back up power during the occasional outage or for power reserve on your camping/caravan trips...however, if you plan to use your generator more frequently and don't want to jump to a premium option, we highly recommend checking out Briggs and Stratton Generators. These generators will cost you a little more than the Cromtech but they are a higher quality and come with more features and benefits. Briggs and Stratton currently has three inverter generator models on the market:
Briggs includes the latest technology and features in their generators including variable RPM engines, USB outlets and even bluetooth connectivity. Plus we must make a special mention to the Q6500 which features a 32 Amp outlet meaning it can be connected to the switch board of your house via the Briggs and Stratton Manual Transfer Switch Kit ($395). These generators all come with a 3 year warranty.
Okay finally, if you are looking to run heavier loads on a worksite or perhaps portable power for running small business or event, then we recommend you look at premium brands such as Yamaha: these products come with longer warranties and are designed to withstand more regular use and so paying the extra money is worth it as you'll be using it more often. These premium brands also come with national service networks for extra support and peace of mind. All in all, we would sell 3-4 times the Premium Generator units as opposed to the Cheap Generators as they appeal to a wider variety of customers in the market...but a Cheap Generator can be a good money-saver for those just needing a generator for light, irregular use.
The more you know, the more chance you have of finding a cheap, value for money generator that will suit your budget and your needs.
For more information visit www.mygenerator.com.au
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.