You get what you pay for and even though the prices of generators have dropped significantly in recent years, don’t sacrifice value for saving a few cents. Here are some of the pitfalls of buying cheap and off-brand generators.
1. You may be paying the same anyway
The cost of ownership of a generator goes well beyond what you see on the price tag, a theme you’ll notice in the points below.
But we should start this conversation by underlying the most important fact: generators have hidden costs. A generator can’t just be installed and left alone: parts, accessories and maintenance all come into play. Often what looks like a great deal is just a sales pitch without all the other costs added in.
2. Maintenance costs are often hidden
A generator is a workhorse: it has an intense job, one that it may be doing for hours on end. It may also languish for days or weeks without being operated – this can also impact its effectiveness.
Regular maintenance is key to giving your generator a long and fruitful life, whereas skipping it will likely lead to costly breakdowns and even damage to your appliances and equipment. So make sure the brand you buy has proper maintenance support to avoid breakdowns (or sort things out when a breakdown does occur).
3. Parts can be hard to find
Generators are just like cars: sophisticated and hard-working machines that from time to time need some love and attention. Through the course of their duties they will need new parts – and as any car owner can testify, these are often the hidden costs of ownership.
Always learn about a generator’s parts availability and prices, which will often go hand-in-hand with its maintenance network. You don’t want to buy a generator only to find it’s down most of the time because your supplier is waiting for some exotic bolt.
4. Accessories often come separate
A generator doesn’t magically transfer power: it needs other equipment to bridge the gap between its output and where you need it. All parts are not necessarily included.
Cables, converters and transfer switches may all be sold seperately. Your generator could require an enclosure to muffle its sound and protect it from the elements. It may be required to install pipes to extend the exhaust. Maybe your generator needs wheels.
A generator can be cheap because it doesn’t include accessories. Worse: it may not have the right accessories at all, leaving you with a white elephant.
5. Insurance may bite
This is a rare scenario, but worth investigating: how does your insurance feel about your choice of generator?
One of the largest claim areas for companies is around equipment. Power surges in particular can be very troublesome and your generator also has a hand in that. But it goes further: no power means no work, which may also lead to insurance claims. All of these can be factored into a review and a broker may frown on budget generators. So always check on your insurance company’s opinion around generators before making that purchase.