How to Choose the Right Generator for Your Construction Project

Nothing happens on a job site without power. Whether it’s fuel for your vehicles or electricity to run your lights and tools, power is essential. But in the world of construction, finding a power source isn’t always as simple as plugging into an outlet. That’s where generators come into play. Generators are the lifeblood of most construction projects, but with a plethora of options available, how do you know which one is right for you? In this guide, we’ll provide you with valuable insights based on decades of experience in bringing power to projects in need.

Assessing Your Power Needs

The first and most critical question you need to address when choosing a generator is, “What are your power needs?” Your specific requirements will dictate the size and type of generator you should consider. Are you looking to provide power for tools and lighting, or do you require the capacity to run large-scale heating or cooling systems? The answer to this question lies in the measurement of wattage.

Wattage Matters: Every piece of equipment you intend to power has a specific wattage requirement to start and operate continuously. For instance, an air conditioner can demand anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 watts to stay running, with a surge requirement of 11,250 watts to start it up. Your generator must be sufficiently sized to handle the maximum wattage levels of all the devices you intend to power.

Once you have determined your total wattage needs, you can decide whether a 10,000-watt generator (ideal for standard 120/240V tools, lighting equipment, fans, and blowers) is sufficient or if you require a larger 2000kW diesel generator for high-wattage projects. In some cases, especially on large job sites, it might be necessary to use multiple generators to ensure you have the power required to keep your project running smoothly.

Choosing the Right Power Source

When it comes to selecting the power source for your generator, you have two primary options: diesel or gas. The choice between the two mainly boils down to fuel efficiency and, consequently, run time.

Gas-Powered Generators: Gas generators are typically less fuel-efficient than their diesel counterparts, resulting in shorter run times. They are a practical choice for applications where you need power intermittently.

Diesel Generators: Diesel generators, on the other hand, consume fuel at a slower rate and can be equipped with large fuel tanks to extend their run times. This is especially valuable when you require prolonged periods of uninterrupted power. Consider auxiliary fuel tanks to further extend run times for diesel generators when quick refueling isn’t an option.

Identifying Required Outlets

Your chosen generator must have the right outlets to support all the equipment you intend to power. As you assess your wattage needs, also take stock of the different types of outlets required.

Voltage Compatibility: If you’re powering 120 – 240V tools, ensure your generator has outlets that can accommodate both voltage levels.

Safety First: Look for generators with GFCI-protected outlets, which enable safe outdoor operation.

Budget Considerations

Understanding your power needs and equipment specifications is pivotal in making an informed decision that can help you control costs. When it comes to generators, it’s also essential to consider whether to rent or buy.

Renting Advantages: Renting allows you to access a diverse pool of generators tailored to various needs. You won’t need to worry about equipment maintenance or storage, and if issues arise, you have a support team ready to assist.

Buying Considerations: Purchasing a generator can be tempting, but it’s crucial to evaluate whether a single generator can meet the unique power demands of every job site. Each site has its own power requirements, and one-size-fits-all solutions are rare in the world of construction.


The right generator for your construction project depends on several factors, including your power needs, budget considerations, and equipment requirements. Every job site is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’d like personalized guidance to find the perfect generator for your specific needs, our team is ready to assist you. Contact one of Unicel Autotech team members today to start your journey towards a reliable and efficient power solution for your project.