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Generators for Construction: An In-Depth Overview

Generators for Construction: An In-Depth Overview

Generators for Construction: An In-Depth Overview

Reading time: 7.5 min

Generators are an essential piece of equipment for construction teams, providing power to jobsites where typical sources of electricity are unavailable.

Using a variety of combustible fuels, like gasoline, diesel or propane, a generator’s engine turns the mechanical energy of a combustion engine into electricity. 

This electricity can be used on jobsites to power electric-powered tools such as power drills, demo hammers, electric saws and lights, even when standard sources of electricity are inaccessible.

Without generators, many construction projects would be impossible to complete. Here’s what you need to know about generators and how to choose one that suits your needs.

Types of Generators

Generators come in a wide variety of sizes, form factors and power types for various applications. The most common types of generators are portable generators, standby generators, inverter generators, portable power stations, mobile generators and induction generators.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are compact generators designed to be moved easily from one location to the next. They’re used commonly for camping, outdoor events or powering household appliances during outages.


Easy to transport, inexpensive, convenient to use.


Only enough power for small appliances and electronics, can be noisy, low power output.


Can be powered by gasoline, propane or diesel. Produces medium to high power output.

Standby Generators

Standby generators are installed in fixed locations and turn on automatically during power outages. They are most often powered by natural gas or propane and are used to power homes and businesses during outages.


Automatically turns on during an outage, can power an entire home or business.


More expensive than a portable generator, requires professional installation and maintenance.


May be powered by natural gas, propane or diesel fuel. Generally produces high power output.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators produce AC power, convert that power to DC and then back to AC. This results in a more stable and clean power output than is possible with traditional generators.


Produces clean and stable power output, quieter operation, more fuel-efficient than traditional generators.


More expensive than traditional generators, may not provide enough power for larger tools and appliances.


Can be powered by gasoline, propane or diesel fuel. Produces medium to high power output.

Portable Power Station

Portable power stations are battery-powered generators that can be used to charge small electronics or power small appliances. They are typically lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and use in indoor settings.


Lightweight and compact, easy to transport, battery-powered, no fuel required.


Typically provides only enough power for small appliances or electronics, requires charging before use.


Battery-powered, produces low to medium power output.

Mobile Generator

Mobile generators are typically mounted on a trailer or vehicle for easy transportation. They are usually seen around construction sites, outdoor events and other temporary settings.


Can be easily transported to different locations, can provide power for construction sites, outdoor events or other temporary needs.


More expensive than a portable generator, may require special permits for transportation.


Can be powered by gasoline, propane or diesel. Produces medium to high power output.

Induction Generator

Induction generators use electromagnetic induction to produce electricity. These generators are typically used in wind turbines, hydroelectric power plants and other systems that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy.


Efficiently converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, can be used to provide renewable energy.


Expensive and requires professional installation, not suitable for most types of power generation, not a good replacement for traditional generators.


Used in wind turbines and hydroelectric power plants, can produce very high power output.

Choosing the Right Generator

There is a virtually endless selection of generators available on the market. If this is your first time selecting a generator for your business, you may be wondering how to pick the best one for your application.

Here are seven key factors you should keep in mind when purchasing a generator:

1. Power output: Your generator’s power output, measured in kilowatts (kW), determines how many devices/appliances/tools you can have running simultaneously. Make a list of the devices/appliances/tools you’ll be using with your generator and determine what your wattage requirements are. Make sure the generator you choose will have enough power output to meet your wattage demands.

2. Fuel type: Some generators run on liquid fuels, like gasoline or diesel, while others run on propane or natural gas. Consider what fuel type is most convenient for you, as you’ll need to refuel your generator regularly.

3. Run time: Not all generators can run for days on end, and some are designed to run in short bursts of just hours at a time. Make sure the generator you choose can run long enough to meet the demands of your use case.

4. Portability: Some generators can be moved around with ease, while others need to be installed in a fixed location. Consider whether your generator will be installed in a fixed location, such as an office or workshop, or if you need one you can take from jobsite to jobsite.

5. Noise level: Some generators can be very loud while running, which may be a concern if you’re working in a residential area. If this is a concern for you, consider choosing a generator designed to run quietly.

6. Price: Generators can vary greatly in price depending on their power output and design. Determine your budget so you can search for models that fit within your price range.

7. Maintenance needs: Generators require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Before making a purchase, make sure you’re aware of the maintenance requirements.

8. Brand and warranty: Look for brands that have a strong reputation and offer decent warranties. Popular manufacturers of generators include Wacker Neuson, Generac, Atlas Copco, Airman and Magnum.

How Much Does a Generator Cost?

Depending on the type of generator you choose, its power output and the brand, you should expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to over $20,000 for a generator. Here’s an average price range for each type of generator:

  • Portable generators: $200-$2,000
  • Standby generators: $2,000-$20,000
  • Inverter generators: $300-$3,000
  • Mobile generators: $5,000-$50,000

The power output of the generator you choose will have the largest impact on its price. A generator’s power output is measured in kW and is a measure of how much power the generator can supply at one time.

Generators with greater power output (higher kW) can power more tools and appliances simultaneously but will also cost more than generators with a lower power output.

Some generators, such as mobile and standby generators, have many commercial/industrial uses, so they tend to be more expensive.

Keep in mind that some generators will require professional installation. Standby generators, for example, need to be installed by a professional electrician, adding anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000 to the total cost.

Common Generator Maintenance Issues

Although generators are smaller and more compact than other machines found on the jobsite, they still require maintenance to run smoothly. Here are some important aspects of generator maintenance you need to keep an eye on.

  • Low oil, gas and fluid levels: Regularly check the oil, gas and other levels in your generator and top them off as needed. Running your generator with low levels of gas or oil can damage its motor and reduce its lifespan.
  • Fix/adjust the choker lever: If the choke lever is not set properly, then your generator may stall or run poorly. Adjust the choke lever according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dead battery: This can prevent your generator from starting. Check your generator’s battery regularly, especially after prolonged periods of not using it.
  • Clogged carburetor: This can cause the engine to run inefficiently or not start at all. Clean or replace your generator’s carburetor regularly, according to the instructions in the operating manual.
  • Clogged fuel valve: This can prevent fuel from flowing to the generator’s motor. Clean the fuel valve regularly and replace it if needed.
  • Faulty spark plugs: Worn or faulty spark plugs can prevent the engine from starting.
  • Devices that are plugged in, preventing the generator from starting: Some generators will not start if devices are plugged into them. Before starting your generator, unplug all devices.
  • Clogged air filter: This can cause the engine to run inefficiently. Make sure to change your generator’s air filter at the intervals indicated in its operating manual.


From providing power for tools and lighting to keeping equipment charged, generators play a critical role in construction projects.

At EquipmentShare, we understand the importance of having a reliable generator on site and offer a range of generator parts to keep your equipment running at its best. Our team is committed to helping you keep your jobsite powered up. Can’t find the part you need? Contact one of our parts experts for personalized assistance.

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