There are two types of simple electric generators available: conventional generators and inverter generators. While inverter generators use more complex technology, both types are simple to use, only requiring the user to fill up the fuel tank, plug in a device and turn on the engine. Manufacturers of both types for recreational, home and emergency use include Honda, Yamaha and Generac.
Conventional electric generators use a gasoline, diesel or liquid propane engine connected to an alternator. Basic models produce 120 volts of alternating current, enough to power most household appliances. Models such as the Generac GP3250 use gasoline-powered engines. Designed for emergency and recreational use, generators in this class can power one to three small appliances or electronics. These types of generators typically use a pull-cord starting mechanism. Extra features are limited to safety devices such as outlet covers and automatic low-oil engine shutdown.
Simple inverter generators are typically lower-wattage units ideal for recreational use. Inverter generators are smaller, quieter and more fuel efficient than conventional models. These generators produce a more consistent flow of electricity that is well-suited for powering sophisticated electronics such as computers. Basic models provide 2000 watts or less of alternating current electricity. Many models also provide a direct current outlet for charging batteries. The Yamaha EF2000iS provides 1600 watts of alternating current and may be paired with a second unit for doubled power output.