How to Adjust the Power Output on a Generator

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Some portable generators are designed to handle only light loads and cannot be adjusted.


If you adjust power via the throttle, take care to carefully study the manufacturers instructions. Sustained operation outside of normal tolerances, either at higher or lower speeds, can damage the generator, void the warranty or even cause a fire. Changing power via a voltage dial always works within the recommended tolerances of the generator you use. Have the generator checked by a service professional if you encounter any unusual problems.

Portable generators offer security to homeowners in case of a power outage and convenience to campers who want to get outdoors without sacrificing all conveniences. Power, or voltage, is produced in generators via rpm. The greater the rpm, the greater the power produced. You should set the power output of a generator to match the load it will bear. Any power you produce beyond what is needed for the load simply wastes fuel and can damage the appliance you hook power to. If you do not produce enough power to match the load, the appliance you are trying to power will not work properly.

Step 1

Consult the owner's manual before you first use the generator. Different generators have different capacities and limitations. Make sure you understand yours before you start.

Step 2

Locate the voltage dial. This is usually on one of the sides of the generator. Adjust the dial to the voltage you need it to produce. Not all portable generators come with a voltage dial.

Step 3

Locate the throttle. This is usually on the side of a generator that does not have a voltage dial or at the top of one that does. It usually has "RPM" imprinted on it. By increasing the rpm, you will increase the power output. Do the opposite to decrease the output.

Step 4

Apply the voltmeter to the spot where you will plug in appliances to determine how much voltage is being produced. This is vital if you use the throttle to adjust voltage, but even if you have a voltage dial, it is prudent to independently confirm the voltage being produced.

Step 5

Plug in the appliances you want to power after you have matched the voltage output to the load those appliances require to operate.

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Joe McElroy

Joe McElroy has been writing on politics and culture since 1983. His articles have appeared in a diverse array of publications, including the "Chicago Daily Observer" and "Immaculata" magazine. McElroy works occasionally as a strategic consultant to federal candidates. He majored in American history at Northwestern University.