Do You Need a Towable Generator?

Between large standby generators and small portable generators is a category of generators that is ideal for a wide range of applications — towable generators. These units can help you get power wherever and whenever you need it. If you think you may benefit from a towable generator, learn more about these generator models and their many uses below.

What Are the Advantages of Towable Generators?

Towable generators, also called tow-behind or trailer-mounted generators, offer some valuable advantages that make them the ideal choice for powering up in a variety of scenarios. Towable generators offer some of the best elements of portable generators and standby units in one product. With a towable generator, you get:

  • Mobility: Towable generators are designed to be easily mobile, unlike standby generators. Portable generators are mobile of course — they may even come equipped with wheels — but only towable generators are designed to hitch directly to the back of a vehicle. This means you can effortlessly haul your generator, including units that are too large to carry, anywhere you need to go and park it in place as long as you're using it.
  • Power: Compared to smaller portable generators, tow-behind generators tend to offer more power, making them ideal when your demands exceed what a smaller portable unit can support. Trailer-mounted generators can often operate multiple devices at once and can keep running for longer thanks to large gas tanks. Most towable units are powered by diesel fuel, though some models use other fuel types.
  • Versatility: Because of their portability and output, towable generators work in a wide variety of applications, from construction to camping sites and more. They can also temporarily provide power to a home in the case of a blackout. Towable units come in various models, each with different features and power levels, so you can choose the unit that best fits your needs no matter the application.

What Are the Uses of Tow-Behind Generators?

Tow-behind generators are useful in a variety of scenarios. First, consider how useful a tow-behind generator can be when the power grid remains up and running but you can't easily access it. Let's look at a few ways people use tow-behind generators for primary power.

1. Construction Sites

In the construction industry, towable generators are essential. They can power tools when there are no nearby electrical outlets. Even battery-powered tools need to be charged periodically, which can cause an inconvenience if you don't have access to power on-site.

Another major way towable generators come in handy on a job site is by powering lights. Construction crews are no strangers to working after dark, especially when doing road work. Bright lights are a must-have for keeping the job site safe and helping workers see what they're doing. Light towers can attach directly to towable generators so you can place them wherever you need them and flood the area with light.

2. Residential Outbuildings

Many homes have outbuildings like detached garages, barns and sheds that aren't equipped with electrical wiring. That may not pose a problem in some cases, but what if you want to work in the barn after dark, or what if you want to jump on the trend of turning your backyard shed into a home office? Or you want a "she-shed" or a man cave where you can unwind?

You could have an electrician dig a trench from your house to your outbuilding and wire it, or you could go with a simpler option of powering your outbuilding with a generator. With a towable generator parked nearby, you can charge your phone and laptop, light your workspace and more.

3. Outdoor Events

Events that take place outside often call for electricity, and a generator may be the only feasible way to get it. This includes outdoor concerts and music festivals, sports events and outdoor parties, for example.

With a towable generator, you can easily get generators to the places where you need them. You can light a stage, field or a whole event area after dark. Food vendors can use towable generators to power their cooking appliances. Whatever you need electricity to power for your event, mobile generators are an ideal solution.

4. Camping

Some campsites offer power hookups for recreational vehicles and campers. But what if you want to camp somewhere more remote or you want to go tent or truck bed camping? There's no need to limit yourself to campsites with power hookups.

With a tow-behind generator, you can power whatever you need to make a campsite more functional, no matter how far off the grid you are. For example, you could plug in a laptop, an electric blanket, a cooktop, an electric cooler or mini-fridge, a coffee pot or whatever else you need to enjoy your trip. You can enjoy the great outdoors without leaving behind all the conveniences of home.

How Do Mobile Generators Help During Weather-Related Outages?

Weather-related outages are inevitable from time to time, and this is usually when people wish they had a generator. Everything from thunderstorms to extreme temperatures can cause an electrical grid to fail.

In 2018, Americans experienced an average of just under six hours of power disruptions. That number was much higher in states that had major weather events that year. North Carolinians experienced an average of nearly 30 hours without power due to hurricanes that year. People living in rural areas may have to go without power for days at a time due to a weather-related outage.

Power outages — especially those that last for more than a few hours — can be inconvenient at best and catastrophic at worst if you don't have backup power. Towable generators can be invaluable in these instances. You can use your generator to keep systems like the following going even when the power grid fails:

  • Sump pumps: After a heavy rain, you need to keep your sump pump running to avoid interior flooding. If heavy rain is part of a storm that causes a power outage, you could be in a bad position unless you have backup power to keep your sump pump running.
  • Heating: For homes with electric furnaces, a power outage from a winter storm could leave your home dangerously cold — unless you have backup power to keep your furnace going. Plus, you can keep your water heater going so you don't have to take showers that leave you shivering.
  • Air conditioning: Your HVAC system may not be as critical in the summer as it is in the winter, but no one wants to go without air conditioning in the hot summer months. If you lose power in the summer, a generator can help you maintain a comfortable temperature inside.
  • Water: If you depend on a well pump for water, a loss of power also means a loss of running water to your home. Having a generator can ensure you're always able to access the water you need to drink, bathe, use the toilet, wash dishes and more.
  • Refrigerators and freezers: After a fridge has gone four hours without power, even if it has been kept closed, the food inside could be unsafe to eat. Longer outages could even cause all your frozen food to thaw. Backup power can help you keep your fridge and freezer going so you avoid spoilage.
  • Medical equipment: People who depend on electrically powered medical equipment can be put in a dangerous position in a power outage. These folks need access to backup power so a power outage never becomes more than an inconvenience.

These are just a few examples of how having a towable generator for backup power can make life easier during a blackout. Just be ready for your friends and neighbors to come knocking at your house for everyday comforts like a hot shower and air conditioning that quickly turned into luxuries when the power cut out!

What Should You Look for When Selecting a Towable Generator?

If you want to buy a towable generator, you'll need to compare models and determine which one is the best fit for your needs. Here are some of the factors you should consider when shopping for your towable generator:

  • Power output: One of the most important factors to consider is a generator's output. There are two numbers to pay attention to — rated output and maximum output. Rated output, also called running power, is the amount of power a generator can consistently deliver, and maximum output, also called starting or surge power, is a higher level of power a generator can briefly produce to start up appliances. Choose a generator that can deliver all the wattage you need for your electrical devices.
  • Fuel type and capacity: You should also think about what kind of fuel you want your towable generator to run on. Towable diesel generators tend to be the most common option, but you can also find mobile generators that run on gasoline, propane and natural gas. Some generators are designed to work with two fuel types, but most models are made for a single fuel type. You should also note how large the gas tank is so you know how long you can run your generator before refueling.
  • Size and weight: When mobility matters, you also need to pay attention to a generator's size and weight. All tow-behind generators are made to be pulled behind a vehicle, but larger, heavier generators may need a vehicle with a different class of hitch. For example, you may be able to tow smaller units with a car equipped with a light-duty receiver hitch, while larger units will call for at least a pickup truck or SUV.
  • Noise level: You may also want to think about the noise level you'll get with different generator models. Some models are designed to be quieter, which can be helpful when you're using your generator for a live music event or when you're operating in an area with noise control regulations. On the other hand, noise may not be an issue in some scenarios, like on a remote construction site.

What Towable Generator Accessories Might You Need?

After you choose the best generator for your needs, you can select accessories to upgrade your generator. Some of the most common accessories include:

  • Transfer switch: A transfer switch is a must if you're using your towable generator for backup power. The switch changes the load over from the main power source to the generator, either automatically or manually, depending on which type of switch you get.
  • Weatherproof cover: A cover designed to fit over your generator can keep it protected against the elements when you need to leave it exposed. For instance, you may wrap up for the day at the job site and want to cover your generator overnight.
  • Extension cords: Heavy-duty extension cords make your generator more functional. They help you power all the devices you need, even if they're relatively far from the generator.
  • Maintenance kit: A maintenance kit comes with supplies to help you maintain your generator. This often includes cleaning supplies, air filters, oil, spark plugs and other essentials.
  • Fuel stabilizer: A fuel stabilizer is helpful when you want to store your generator with fuel in the tank. Without a fuel stabilizer, you need to drain the tank before storing it.
  • Mufflers: Mufflers can help you enjoy quieter operation. Not all generators can be fitted with mufflers. If you unit can, this accessory is an easy way to cut down on noise.

How Do You Operate a Towable Generator Safely?

If you're getting a tow-behind generator, you need to familiarize yourself with some important safety rules. Always read your owner's manual. It will tell you what to do and what not to do in order to safely run your generator. In general, there are some principles that apply to all mobile generators.

First, generators should always be placed outside. If you want to provide power to the inside of a garage or shed, don't park the generator inside. If you do, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could build up. Instead, keep the generator a safe distance away from enclosed spaces so it has plenty of ventilation. If you're using a generator outside your home, install carbon monoxide detectors inside as an extra safety measure.

You should avoid operating a generator when it will get wet from rain or snow. If you need to run a generator outside in these conditions, set up a canopy. That way you can protect the surface while still keeping the space open for ventilation.

Some safety tips depend on the type of fuel you're using. If your generator runs on gasoline, make sure the generator has been off for a few minutes before adding fuel. Be sure to check your owner's manual for operating instructions.

Browse Towable Generators Online at Ingram's Water & Air

If you're ready to shop for generators and accessories to help power your home, job site, event space or anything else, Ingram's Water & Air is a trusted source. We can help you find a towable generator that meets your needs and preferences. If you want to be ready for any situation, a towable generator has you covered.

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