The Key To Surviving Life Off-The-Grid: Power Generators

Have you ever considered what it would be like to live off-grid? Simply using power from alternative energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro? Imagine the sheer joy when the post arrives, knowing it won't be a seriously over-inflated electricity bill.

This is the reality for many people. Maybe their home is simply too far out to be connected to the grid, or maybe it's a personal choice for greener of more affordable living. Either way, a growing number of households are turning off and switching over to more natural forms of energy, especially solar power. In the USA alone there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes, and Australia is quickly following suit.

But while they use alternative energy sources the majority of the time, they also have the peace of mind that should nature fail, they have a good quality Generator for Back-Up Power or a portable power station. After all, living off grid doesn't mean you go without power, it simply means you don't take electricity from the power companies.

When you're off the grid, prepare to have a backup for everything. If you're relying on solar power, you might not need to resort to the generators during the summer - but the minute the cooler months set in and the solar panels produce less power, it will be a different story.

Auto-Start Generator For Off-Grid Solar Backup:

A completely off-grid home running on battery storage and solar backup might use a Power Generator to charge up the solar batteries at night, or when the sun isn't shining and the solar panels aren't producing power.

These auto-start generators will automatically start to top up your battery packs when they are running low and then automatically shut down again. This two-wire start stop feature is connected to the inverter/charger of the solar installation and activated through programming within the inverter/charger. There are a range of generator options in the following categories:

  • Petrol

  • Diesel

  • Water-cooled diesel

  • Silenced or open framed

Pramac have been a major player in the solar off-grid generator market for many years. They have designed a simple to use two-wire remote start kit that is externally connected to the generator.

Pramac 2WIRE-AS1 Auto Start Control Box

A silenced diesel water-cooled option presents a range of benefits. Diesel engines should provide better fuel economy and longevity, a silenced canopy goes along way when considering proximity of neighbours. The Kubota Lowboy is offered in a 6kVA and 8.8kVA option, with a two year warranty and global brand recognition, this is one of our premium choices for auto-start backup to solar off-grid.

The Kubota Lowboy's are fitted with two-wire auto start for backup to off-grid solar. These diesel silenced and water cooled generators are a popular choice for farmers living off the grid.

Inverter Generators For Life Off-The-Grid:

The bonus of having a generator is that extra power is there when you need it. For example, an inexpensive 2400-watt inverter generator can be used to power up a few appliances around the home like lights and your fridge-freezer. Then, when it's not needed, it can be packed and stored away easily. These are best for infrequent, small use.

Cromtech Outback 2400 is a great value for money option backed by Crommelins

One of our top sellers for backup on or off the grid is the Yamaha 2800w Inverter Generator.

Why we love the Yamaha EF2800i:

  • Large fuel tank (11.2 Litres)

  • Continuous working time: 17 hr (1/4 load Eco On)

  • 4 year warranty!

  • Only 29kg

  • Sturdy roll frame

  • Pure sine wave power

Inverter generators are generally recoil (pull) start or electric start, but do not feature auto start. These are ideal for portability, fuel efficiency and powering sensitive electronics.

There is one new inverter generator on the market that has taken all the best features of a petrol generator and combined them in one: MaxWatt 8000W Petrol Inverter Generator with Two-Wire Remote Start. This generator is silenced, produces pure sine wave power, has a large power output of 7000W (continuously) and can be connected via the two-wire auto start. This product is a real game changer for the off-grid solar market!

Portable Power Stations For Off-Grid Weekenders:

The tranquillity of a cabin in the bush is easily spoiled by the fumes and sound from a running generator. This is why some customers are switching to a portable power station. These are a quiet, clean way to power all your electronic comforts in your off-grid home.

We recommend atleast a 100Ah combined with a compatible solar panel like the EcoFlow DELTA Portable Power Station (105Ah@12V) Bundle with 160W Monocrystalline Folding Solar Panel.

To deep dive into portable power stations, check out our buyer's guide here.


Conventional Generators For Commercial Off-Grid Living:

More and more farmers are disconnecting from the power grid and securing their own power source. A commercial operation calls for a generator with a little extra grunt. Power tools like welders and air compressors usually require something larger than 6kVA. The Yamaha EF7200E fitted with automatic voltage regulation (AVR) is an all-rounder on a commercial property. The AVR will still produce clean power for sensitive electronics, but the max output of 6000W should cover most power tools.


In Summary:

The important thing to remember is that many generators aren't built for long-term use. Many cheap generators are really only designed for infrequent use, not built to handle intensive operation...Therefore when it comes to powering your whole home or topping up solar batteries it pays to choose your power generators wisely. Research the pros and cons of generators from the best generator brands, such as Pramac, Yamaha, Maxwatt, Cromtech or Kubota. It might be worth paying a little more to ensure you get a power generator that will last longer and perform when you need it.

So if you're thinking of saying goodbye to the utility companies and embarking on energy independency, make sure you're never in the dark - invest in one or two good quality power generators.

For more helpful information visit

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

7 thoughts on The Key To Surviving Life Off-The-Grid: Power Generators

22 June 2020
Hi I am wanting to use a generator only in a holiday home used possibly 10 weeks a year, we will need to run possibly 2 split systems and lights, Stove and hot water would be bottled gas, can this be done with out need for solar.

My Generator Response
Hi Martin, If you are looking for a generator to run your home without the need for solar here is a link to a range designed for this: In terms of sizing, we recommend that you have an electrician measure your peak power draw based on those described appliances. Please give us a call on 1300 400 122 if you require further assistance.

28 May 2020
Hi, I hope you can help with this proposed setup. I have a 15kW solar system on my roof, grid-connected. I am looking at getting off the grid by reconfiguring the switchboard with an ATS and a good 12kVA 3-phase gas generator like Generac for example but at this stage, I don't want to add expensive battery system. What do you think is the best combination: 1. solar and gas generator with ATS for on-grid configuration without battery system? or 2, solar and gas generator ATS for off-grid configuration and that the battery is a must with off-grid configuration? 3. Solar and gas generator with ATS and on the grid? 4. Your suggestions, please. Thanks

My Generator Response
Hi Andrew, Thanks for your comment. I would go with option 1. By having grid tied solar, the generator install will just be a general connection. The solar purely feeds power back into the grid. You will be unable to source power from the panels when the grid goes down. Going off grid is another conversation and is not something I could provide a benefit analysis on. With any generator install we need to qualify with some questions: 1. Why do you need a three phase? Do you have three phase supply to the house and/or do you need to run specific three phase apparatus? 2. What are you looking to power during an outage? 3. How often do you suspect you will need the generator to be used? Thanks.

13 October 2019
You've mentioned the Generac in other posts but always in conjunction with connection to mains gas. For an off-grid solution, ie no connections to mains gas, is the Generac feasible? cheers jag

My Generator Response
Hi Jag, Yes the Generac is suitable to be connected to bottled gas. The fuel consumption on bottled gas is slightly different as displayed in the specifications of each Generac Generator . e.g Generac 8kva Gas standby set: Fuel Consumption LPG, litres/hr Full Load: 5.87 / Half Load: 3.62 For off the grid: Yes, this new Generac series (such as the Generac 8kVA Gas Standby Generator) is fitted with a 2 wire auto start controller so it can be configured to an off grid installation for back up to solar. The 2 wire auto start could be configured with a inverter/charger to start the generator automatically when the capacity of the batteries becomes too low. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact us on 1300 400 122

12 August 2017
With the hot weather just round the corner, i want something simple to power a normal fan and maybe a few lamps in one small room in case there are power cuts. Do you have any suggestions for the non technically minded? my husband understand electrics - I just need to convince him that there is something reasonably cheap and effective that we can install for back up! thanks in advance

My Generator Response
Hi Ann, great question. The appliances you have listed will draw very little power, likely less than 1000 watts. In which case, you could consider a model like the Yamaha EF1000iS Inverter Generator: this model is extremely light (13kg) and very quiet. The next model up, the Yamaha EF2000iS Inverter Generator is also very popular for your type of application - it produces more max power at 2000 watts and is often used by people during blackouts to run their fridge, lights, fans, TV etc. It is also lightweight (20kg) and produces very little noise. These small Yamaha inverter generators are very popular as they have a great reputation for reliability and longevity - plus, they are backed by a 4 year warranty and a national service agent and spare parts network. For other sized models and brands, you can view our full range of suitable inverter generators for home back up HERE. Please feel free to call us on 1300 400 122 with any further help you might need. Many thanks :)

23 February 2017
Hi, if I were to make a system where solar and wind energy were connected to multiple batteries with an inverter, how do you think I would go about that and would I need a generator at that point. Also if I were to need a generator what would your opinion be. -this is all for a single bedroom fifth wheel.

My Generator Response
Hi Fox, in terms of a generator, you could definitely use a small inverter generator to recharge your batteries when they get low on charge. This is a very common use of inveter generators by caravan owners and campers; when their battery packs get low and solar might not be an option, they use the generator power to recharge their batteries. The important thing to note is that it is recommended you use a proper 240volt battery charger between the generator's AC outlet and the batteries - this will ensure the charge is properly regulated and there is no risk of damaging your batteries. Thanks

11 December 2016
I understand how a Generac Guardian auto starts with a grid power supply transfer switch but I am unclear how it works with an off grid system. Where does the Generac accept a 2 wire input from the solar system controls?

My Generator Response
Hi Milton, your solar installer would need to supply a two-wire auto start controller that suits your solar system. This appliance connects the Generac Generator and your solar system to signal when the generator is required to start up to recharge your batteries and then stop again once your batteries are fully charged. Many thanks.

16 October 2016
I live totally off grid in tropical North Queensland Australia. I need to use a generator for at least 5 hours every night, with invertor and quiet operation. Is there such a generator on the market? Thank you

My Generator Response
Hi Carolyn, most certainly. I would recommend you browse our range of Inverter Generators and consider a brand such as Yamaha which would suit your intended level of frequent use and they come backed with a 4 year warranty and national service agent network. Ideally you would know exactly how much power your appliances draw so you can correctly choose the right sized inverter generator. Also, in the case of off-grid living (like this article is suggesting), if you intend to use your generator to back up a solar system (as opposed to running your appliances directly from the generator), then the most appropriate type of generator is a two-wire auto start generator, which needs to be connected to your solar set up by an electrician. Many thanks.

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