Why Portable Gas Generators Are A TERRIBLE Investment!


Do you enjoy spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars unnecessarily when you don’t have to? Of course you don’t.

If not, then why would you EVER spend your hard-earned money on a portable gas generator when you don’t need to? Because… as you are about to learn, more than likely you don’t. You simply don’t realize that you already own one!!

Do you own a vehicle? If so, then you already have a perfectly suitable mobile generator sitting in your garage or driveway already!!

Generators consist mainly of two components: A) A gas-powered engine and B) an electric motor that is spun by the gas motor to generate electrical power.

Well that’s precisely what your vehicle is! Your vehicle is powered by a gas engine that turns an electric “motor” (your alternator) to generate electricity that is stored by your vehicle’s battery to start your vehicle and run all of its electrical components!

And the good news is… it’s not difficult AT ALL to quickly and easily transform your vehicle into an emergency gas-powered generator!! We can show you how HERE!

We can also show you how to save HUNDREDS of dollars (the cost of a gas-powered portable generator) in the process!!




Now just to be 100% clear, this article is NOT intended to be a criticism, admonishment or “slam” on anyone who already owns a portable gas generator!  If you already own a portable gas generator, GREAT!! Portable gas generators do exactly what they are intended to do: provide electrical power. This article is for those who DON’T have a portable gas generator already but are considering purchasing one for emergency power purposes. I simply want to give these folks an opportunity to consider another option before investing hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on a portable gas generator when… they really don’t need to. So please, current portable gas generator owners… don’t take this article personally. 😉

OK, now back to the alternative option:

Imagine for a moment that you are thirsty and you would like a glass of water to drink.

Now… to pour that single glass of water, would you go to every faucet in your house and turn them ALL on FULL BLAST and then LEAVE them all on as you pull a single glass out of the kitchen cabinet, fill the glass up with water from just one faucet, take a sip… and then just LEAVE ALL OF THE FAUCETS ON IN YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE INDEFINITELY?? Simply because you know that sooner or later you are going to need another glass of water again??

Of course you wouldn’t. That would be absurdly wasteful and ridiculous.

The vast majority of us would NEVER be this cavalier about our water usage or be this blatantly wasteful with our water (We all know someone who loves those long hot showers in the morning, right?)… which, for the sake of perspective, costs about $0.0015 per gallon. (Average nationwide)

Now imagine that tap water cost $2.70 per gallon like gasoline does!! From that perspective, how does it make ANY KIND OF SENSE to run a gas generator continuously with NO REGARD for A) how much power your generator is generating for you that is going completely unused, and B)  how much fuel (money) we are burning continuously keeping that generator running just to power a few items??

Sadly, that is EXACTLY  what most people do when they purchase and use a gas-powered portable generator. They leave the generator running at full capacity just to power a few smaller items… or sometimes while powering no items at all!! What a complete waste of fuel and money!! This is exactly like keeping all of those faucets running full time all at once just so you can dunk your glass under the faucet periodically to rehydrate… only fuel costs SO much more than water does!! Is that really smart??

Not to mention that fact that even if money were no object to you, in MANY emergency situations fuel can become a scarce commodity and may not even be accessible to you at all no matter how much money you have and are willing to pay!!

Now back to our water analogy for a moment: Let’s pretend for a moment that our only option is to have all of the faucets in our home either A) completely off, or B) ALL of them on at once and on full blast. (I know, I know… just work with me here for a moment for the sake of our analogy. I’m making a point.) What then? Not having water isn’t an option. But turning on all of your faucets full blast just to get a little bit of water… that is a terrible option as well. Hmmm…

Well what if you had a large container that you could connect to ALL of your full blast faucets at once, fill with that container with water and never waste single a drop, and then once the container was full you could simply turn off all of the faucets and then just trickle out EXACTLY what you needed when you needed it from that container?? That would work, right? Absolutely it would! Wouldn’t that be much smarter? Of course it would!

So the “full blast water faucets” in this analogy are our power source (your current vehicle which you already own and don’t need to spend extra money on, or… you could spend money on a portable gas generator, solar panels, wind turbines, micro hydro etc. if you really want to). The “container” in this analogy would be… A BATTERY BANK!! With a simple DIY battery bank you can simply use IT to recharge and power devices, lights, etc. and only use the “faucets” (your generator) to top of your “container” (battery bank) again as it gets low! No wasted fuel!! NO WASTED MONEY!! 


You already have an amazing portable/mobile gas-powered generator sitting in your garage or driveway, and we can help show you how to set it up!

So you don’t need to spend more money on a portable gas generator.

And we can show you how to EASILY build your very own DIY emergency battery bank system to meet all of your power needs during an outage for a FRACTION of what you’d pay for a commercially made battery bank!

So let us help you SAVE MONEY and simultaneously GET COMPLETELY SET UP for any power outage!!
What are you waiting for??


Still having a bit of trouble conceptualizing the importance of power STORAGE vs power generation? No problem! We created an infographic to help clarify the matter visually for you!!

Author: Josh Nieten

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  1. Generator have much more efficiency at low power, than your car. Car alternator have too low power in compare with generator. Battery bank is many times havier than gas+generator for same energy.
    So, use a properly selected technology.

    Post a Reply
    • Mmmm… Yes and no, Viktot.

      While I 100% agree you that we should use “properly selected technology”, I would suggest that the critical (and often overlooked) distinction in this equation is failing to recognize the difference between A) power GENERATION and B) power STORAGE. Conflating the two is the mistake most folks make.

      For example, most folks that implement a solar or wind power system understand that you have your solar panels or wind turbines to generate your power, but you also have to have power STORAGE capacity in your system to use that power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

      My point is that you can actually do a LOT more by investing your hard earned money in a stand-alone power STORAGE system than you can with a stand-alone power GENERATION system (with no means to store the power that you generated).

      A standard vehicle alternator will produce between 1000W and 2000W. 1000 to 2000W (peak) generators will run you between $500 and $1000 (if not more). So you are spending $500-$1000 to purchase something… that you already own. That money could be invested in a REALLY nice DIY battery bank so that you have both power generation AND power storage. Investing that money in a generator instead only gives you power generation with no storage capacity.

      You can do a LOT with a single 100Ah deep cycle battery. We use batteries every day for so many other things. Why not for emergency power? Doing so has the potential to save us hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It’s a shame so many instantly gravitate toward portable gas generators for emergency power when they could easily accomplish their emergency power needs without an additional unnecessary $500 – $1000 (or more) expense.

      Post a Reply
      • running the engine attached to that automotive generator will cost a LOT more than running a 2000 watt generator – and a 2000 watt generator OR your battery bank will not handle 240 volt loads (north America) You need a 4000 watt minimum to get 120/240capability – anything less is a bit of a waste.
        Also, automotive generators rated at 120 amps will put out about 1500 watts – for a limited amount of time before burning out. In a car they put out high amps for a short period of time to recharge a 70amp-hour battery. Then they “idle” at about 50 amps providing for the load of lights, accessories ,and heater/ac fans. They do NOT work well as chargers for mega-sized battery banks required to provide long-term power backup.

        Post a Reply
        • It would indeed cost more to recharge your batteries with your car than a portable gas generator… if you were actually running your “automotive generator” like people tend to run portable gas generators. But that’s not what I am advocating for here, Clare. Adding a battery bank to your equation would prevent you from having to do that. That’s kind of the greater point of my article.

          I fully acknowledge that your car’s alternator is not nearly as efficient or equipped to do the job a portable gas generator is designed to do. But when you have a battery bank in your equation, you don’t NEED to use your car alternator like a portable gas generator. That’s the point. You are approaching this scenario from a conventional portable gas generator mindset. The equation is completely different when you actually have a power STORAGE capacity and only need to top of your battery bank occasionally once it drops to about 70% capacity. Your vehicle’s alternator is more than sufficient to achieve this. You are a bit too focused on power GENERATION and not looking at how having a power STORAGE capacity would be a game changer. It truly changes the game in terms of how much emphasis needs to be placed on power generation.

          Notice that this article does NOT advocate for just skipping a portable gas generator AND a battery bank. If I was truly advocating for just using your vehicle as a portable gas generator, then why do you think I would advocate for a battery bank system instead? Why not just use your vehicle as a portable gas generator and skip the battery bank expense too? But I’m not doing that. And there’s a very good reason for that.

          Portable gas generators absolutely perform better as portable gas generators than cars do. But when you add a battery bank into the mix, you no longer need power generation capabilities like most people think they do (running the generator non-stop so you have power at all times regardless of how much they are actually consuming at any given moment). The battery bank allows you to draw power little by little only as you need it. Then you simply top off your battery bank when it is at about 70% capacity. With your vehicle’s alternator. Saving $500 or more in the process.

          What I am describing is a completely different mindset. But it works. I can assure you. You simply have to be willing to forgo a little bit of what you already know and be a little more open-minded to truly see the potential of what I am describing. You have to grasp the impact having power STORAGE capacity in your system to realize that power GENERATION becomes a lot less important.

          It’s truly not dissimilar from when individuals get really excited about solar panels and wind turbines for off grid power… only to quickly discover both of these cool power generation devices are virtually worthless until they are coupled with a battery bank to STORE that power for when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing. 😉

          So yes, you are right… portable gas generators are much better at being portable gas generators (imagine that!) than vehicle alternators are. But you are missing the greater point here: The efficiency and power output differences between a $500 – $1000 portable generator (an extra expense) vs. your car alternator (something you already own) matters far less when you become more power STORAGE centric in your approach to emergency and off grid power. You only need brief power generation/recharging “sessions” to top of your batteries again. Because your BATTERIES are the hub of your emergency power system as opposed to your “generator”.

          See how it’s a bit of a paradigm shift/mindset change there?

          I hope that helps!

          Post a Reply
          • Using your vehicle battery needs careful monitoring
            If you reduce the battery volts too far you won’t be able to start the vehicle to recharge it because the battery will be flat
            To be safe you would need a SPLIT CHARGE setup and a separate Battery with a low power 12 v dc to mains ac voltage
            Alternatively or as well a portable solar panel to trickle charge the battery , a small suitcase type generator is still a must,
            cheap to buy and run
            Don’t shortchange on power
            Also a few rechargeable batteries for radios Walkie talkies torches etc

          • Great points Brian! Thanks for reading our article!

            Yes, to your point, as with anything else, there are absolutely better and worse ways to do this. Running your battery bank directly to your alternator/battery on your vehicle is not ideal (especially if your vehicle is not running) for several reasons, but it will indeed work in an emergency. But just to be clear, that’s not what I am advocating for in this article. I am not recommending that people should simply dump the charge from their vehicle battery into their battery bank. What I am suggesting is that you should do this with your vehicle running so that the alternator is generating charge to both batteries (your vehicle and your battery bank). Your vehicle’s alternator producing charge is a very important part of this equation that many seem to be overlooking.

            To your point regarding safety, a smart dual charge battery isolator (like this: Smart Dual Battery Isolator) would be a TREMENDOUS addition to this setup for sure. We go into this in great detail in our DIY Battery Bank Video Series (above) but not in this article. The third video in the video series is all about using your vehicle as a generator and mobile battery bank.

            Yup, a solar panel will charge a deep cycle marine battery, but A) that solar panel is an additional purchase, and B) a portable solar panel would take DAYS to recharge a 100Ah battery while a vehicle alternator can do do the job in about 2 hours.

            “Small suitcase generators” (they really aren’t generators at all since they don’t generate anything. They only STORE power.) are really nothing more than a battery bank. And to get a commercial 100Ah battery bank with ports, plugs, etc., you are talking HUNDREDS (if not thousands) of dollars. You can get a 100Ah deep cycle marine battery at Wal-Mart for a little over $100. I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 100Ah personally, but that’s ultimately up to everyone to decide for themselves.

            DIY Battery Banks are SO easy to build, SO much less expensive than purchasing commercial/store bought battery banks, and are SO much more versatile, customizable, and you get SO much more bang for your buck. I can show you EVERYTHING you need to know about building your own custom DIY battery bank (100Ah!! Purchasing such a battery bank from Costco would run you $1,400!!!) for as little as under $200!! That’s a $1,200 savings!!

            If you are truly interested in a solution for emergency power during a natural disaster or other crisis that is practical, inexpensive, easy to build, easy to us, reliable, high-quality, high-performance and lasts for years, then PLEASE check out our AMAZING video series!!:


  2. Battery banks are much more expensive than a 1000 watt generator. That cost is $ 69.00 at harbor freight. A 100 AH battery will cost you 5 times that and will require weekly maitanice and the ability to charge. The person that has a battery bank and the generator owner both want the same end result (off grid power) with very different ways of accomplishing that goal.

    Post a Reply
    • Actually Mike, you can get a 100AH deep cycle marine battery for just over $100. Albeit not the best quality battery, but in fairness… that “$69” Harbor Freight generator isn’t really the best quality generator either. Regardless, even at $69, my point is that it’s still $69 that you are spending unnecessarily on a generator because… you already have one sitting in your garage/driveway. Batteries also don’t require “weekly maintenance” if you simply leave them hooked up to a quality charger.

      I think the greater point that is getting lost in this discussion is the difference between power GENERATION and power STORAGE. If you invest in a generator, all you have is a power GENERATION mechanism with no means to STORE that power. If you invest in a power STORAGE solution, you already have a power GENERATION device sitting in your driveway, meaning… by default you will have power generation AND power storage capabilities now. And many folks are completely overlooking this dynamic by immediately gravitating toward a portable generator. I’m merely suggesting that people consider power STORAGE as an important variable in this equation. A variable that I would argue should be prioritized OVER power generation for the reasons that I have laid out.

      Post a Reply
  3. It’s going to take a LOT more than one battery power ANYTHING for ANY length of time.
    You still need a means to invert 12 volt into 120 volt.
    The life expectancy of any battery is 3-5 years. A LOT of money for replacement.
    To get the required (same as a generator or any household item) voltage / amperage / amper hours, you would need a LOT of batteries. The wiring to hook up all the batteries would be very expensive.
    I carry a 2000 watt generator on my boat. It weighs 45 lbs and is VERY portable. Batteries to do the same would be extremely heavy, take up a bunch of room, and still wouldn’t provide near the run time as my little generator.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks so much for reading our article and for leaving a comment Ray!

      I think part of the problem here is that many reading this article and leaving comments (like yourself), are still missing the real point of this article: The important difference between power GENERATION and power STORAGE. When you really slow down and consider each of these important functions (both individually and in concert) in any emergency or off grid power system, the implications are truly eye opening and incredible when you finally truly grasp and appreciate each of these roles. When you really start to take a much broader look at these very different roles, you start to see them everywhere in our daily lives! We have power GENERATION and STORAGE both in our vehicles, our technology (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.)… even hospitals utilize backup battery banks and generators for power outages, etc. to keep critical medical devices running! Why can’t we do the same in our homes, camping, tailgating, boating and more?? We absolutely can! We simply have to be open to the prospect! 🙂

      I hope you will forgive me for saying so, but you’ve also laid out a few assumptions that aren’t entirely accurate, so hopefully I can help explain some of those a bit better toward helping you gain some clarity.

      For starters, it does not take more than one batter to power anything for any length of time as you asserted. A single common 100Ah deep cycle marine battery from Wal-Mart can actually do quite a bit more than you seem to appreciate. Let’s take a closer look at some of those:

      A single common 100Ah deep cycle marine battery can recharge/power:
      A rechargeable headlamp 165+ times
      A smartphone 50+ times
      A tablet 37+ times
      A laptop 17+ times
      A 110 Lumen LED Light 335+ hours
      A mini fridge 17+ hours
      A 32″ LCD TV 10 hours

      If you still aren’t convinced, I suggest you take a look at a company called Goal Zero. They make terrific quality portable, ruggedized battery banks (they call them “portable power stations”) with battery, inverter, DC port, USB, AC outlets, battery meter, etc. all built in and ready to go. I actually own one of their smaller units and it’s great! The only criticism I have of Goal Zero products is… they are EXPENSIVE!!! I can build a NICE 100Ah battery bank for give or take $200. To buy a comparable Goal Zero (100Ah) would cost you $1,300!!! Personally, I am not interested in paying an additional $1,100 for pretty packaging and convenience.

      The reason I suggest you go to their site regardless of their prices is you can actually see laid out in a very organized and informative way exactly what their 100Ah “portable power station” can do in terms of powering/charging. In fact, for your convenience, here’s the link to the exact Goal Zero product that has a 100Ah battery (comparable to a $140 deep cycle marine battery from Wal-Mart):


      Yes, deep cycle marine batteries do deliver DC power, but is quickly and easily overcome with a simple inverter. Generators also produce DC power but have these inverters already built into them… just like the Goal Zero “power stations” I mentioned above.

      Deep cycle marine batteries can actually last 10+ years when taken care of properly. And with a battery desulfator, you could potentially get 5X more life out of those batteries, meaning a potential lifespan of 50 years!!!

      No, you don’t actually need a lot of batteries to get the same volts/watts as a generator. I think you might be conflating your volts/watts/amps/amp hours a bit. Your inverter converts 12 volts to 110 volts. You can get a 2000W inverter (the same as your generator that you described, but you may not actually even need that much wattage… thus yet another one of the disadvantages of portable gas generators: they produce more power than you are actually using most of the time causing wasted fuel consumption) on Amazon for about $150.

      When it comes to amp hours, comparing a portable gas generator to a battery is like comparing a horse to a cart. Your horse PULLS the cart, but the cart CARRIES the load. Sure, you could criticize the cart for not having any “horsepower”. But you can also criticize the horse for not having any storage capacity. At the end of the day, you get the most out of your cart AND your horse when you put them together as a team! Now you have lots of storage capacity and load bearing ability AND a strong animal to pull it all!! See how that works?

      Comparing a power GENERATION system to a power STORAGE system is much the same. In a battery, your AH is fixed based on the size battery (or batteries) you purchase because each battery is a power STORAGE device with a fixed capcity. When it comes to power GENERATION systems like a generator, AHs don’t even apply. Generators don’t STORE power. They simply create it. So a generator basically has ZERO AHs innately because it doesn’t store power at all. I hope that helps clarify regarding the Ah issue.

      Like I mentioned before, ONE battery would do the job in most cases. You could absolutely double (or triple) your capacity with additional batteries, but you’d have to tell me a bit more about how you are actually using your generator out on your boat and what you are actually powering with. If you are powering hair dryers and coffee makers on your boat, then this might be a different conversation altogether. 😉

      The wiring for a DIY battery bank is not expensive at all. You could put together a pretty nice quality yet completely budget-friendly DIY battery bank for around $200 (battery included).

      Deep cycle marine batteries aren’t light, but the extra weight of a single marine battery is negligible compared to the generator you are describing (don’t forget to count the weight of fuel you need to power that generator as well!). People lug such batteries in and out of boats all the time to charge for their trolling motors. And if you don’t want to do that, many professional fisherman install onboard chargers for their marine batteries! So you could actually use your BOAT as a portable generator just like I describe using a CAR above!! 🙂

      Just so you are 100% clear, my article wasn’t intended to be a criticism or indictment of anyone who already has invested in a portable gas generator, like yourself. My article was really intended for folks that haven’t already invested in a portable gas generator (primarily because they view them as cost prohibitive) and would like a terrific option that is far less expensive to make their own home “power outage proof”. Admittedly, portable gas generators do have a few advantages over using your vehicle as a PGG. That being said, those advantages come at a significant cost. Primarily financially.

      If you or anyone else reading this already own a portable gas generator… GREAT!! Portable gas generators are absolutely assets if you already own one and/or money is not an object for you! I never meant to suggest otherwise. That being said… even if you already own a portable gas generator, it would behoove you to couple it with a DIY battery bank so that you can benefit from both a power GENERATION system AND a power STORAGE system!! No emergency power system is complete without BOTH!! That is really the point of this article. My intention with this article was never to criticize anyone who owns or has purchased a gas generator. It was to A) show people that don’t already own a gas generator that there is another more affordable option, and B) to demonstrate to readers the important contrast between power GENERATION and power STORAGE.

      Alright, I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions! I’m here to help! 🙂

      Post a Reply

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