What Size Generator Is Best For Mobile Car Detailers?

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If you’re looking for an electric generator for your mobile detailing business, you should know the right sizes (power) of generators, so it’s not either too weak or too powerful for all the tools you’ll run on them.

In this post, I’ll show you what’s the ideal size of generators and what you should pay attention to.

Key Takeaways:

  • 3000W generators are the optimal choice for mobile car detailing businesses.
  • Before purchasing a generator, you should first know the power of all your devices and whether you’re using all of them at once or not (mostly, you won’t).
  • The dimensions of the generator are also very important, so you can fit it inside your mobile detailing vehicle.

Basic Generator Terms To Learn

electric generator for car detailing

Before everything, there are some things that you should understand. That’ll help you a lot when choosing the right size generator for your auto detailing business.

Generator terms you should get familiar with:

  • Continuous power – the number of watts an inverter generator can distribute all the time. It would be best to always choose a generator with at least slightly higher continuous power than the device you run with the generator.
  • Maximum or peak power – the number of watts an inverter generator can export in the short-term period. It’s always a bit higher than the continuous power. It’s important because some tools also have peak power that is higher than constant power. Usually, tools will use more power when you’re just starting them up.
  • Watts (W) – a unit used to measure the power. It’s the amount of energy that some tools need to function correctly.
  • Volts (V) – the difference in charge between two points. Usually, USA appliances are 110-120 volts, while European appliances are 220-230 volts.
  • Ampere or amps (A) – the unit of electric current. 

Most devices have all these numbers listed in the description. However, sometimes, you’ll see that there are no Watts numbers on some tools. That’s why you need to know how to calculate the wattage required for a specific electric device.

The formula for calculating watts: Amps * Volts = Watts. So, to calculate the required power, you need to know the Amps and the Voltage numbers.

For instance, a device has 8A, working on 120V. 8*120=960 Watts. Or a 6A device, working on 220V. 6*220=1320 Watts.

If you’re not familiar with calculations, you can use an online calculator for the amp-to-watt conversion. Now that you know all the basics, we can continue further with the article. 

The Ideal Power of Generators For Mobile Detailing

electric inverter generator

As I already said, I suggest you buy a 3000W inverter generator. It’ll distribute enough power for all tools and equipment you might use when detailing vehicles.

I want you to understand everything, so let me show you how I came up with this number. I made a table of the six most common auto detailing tools you might use when washing cars.

Also, I’ll concentrate on USA-based tools to avoid getting confused with Volts if you’re from Europe.

ToolVolts (V)Amps (A)Watts (W)
Karcher K1700 Pressure Washer120V14A1620W
Rupes LHR 15 ES Big Foot Polisher110V4.5A500W
Rigid 12.Gal Wet and Dry Vacuum120V9A1080W
Bissel Spot Clean Pro Heat Extractor120V2.3A276W
Hulk 20 Gallon Air Compressor115V13A1500W
Vapamore MR-75 Steam Cleaner120V8.3A1000W
Power Consumption of Commonly Used Tools by Car Detailers

As you can see in the table, even the 2000W generator can power all of these tools. However, I still recommend you go with a bit more powerful generator.

The 3000 Watts generator will give you plenty of additional power in case you ever need it. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but at least you’re 100% sure that you have more than enough power needed. 

Also, when you use a 3000W generator with devices below 2000W, it won’t work 100%, and I believe it’ll last longer that way.

Find out all the benefits of using generators for auto detailing.

How To Buy a Generator That Fits Your Needs

Now that you know the basic things and my recommended generator size (power), I want to show you a quick buying guide for generators. 

Types of Generators

First thing first, you need to know the types of generators. I’ll show you two types only (there are plenty) that I believe can benefit auto detailers.

Two types of generators you should consider:

  1. Inverter Generator – it’s the best type of generator for auto detailers. Inverter generators don’t always work at 100%. They only work as enough as it’s enough to power the plugged-in tools. They’re very efficient because of that, so you’ll spend less money on gas. They’re also much quieter. 
  2. Conventional Generators are cheaper than inverter generators and usually give you more watts per money invested. However, they are less fuel-efficient since they work at the same pace all the time. Also, they’re not as quiet as inverter generators and are usually much bigger. 

So, if you’re not on a tight budget, I advise you to buy an inverter generator since it’s quieter and more energy-efficient. So, in the long run, it’s better to invest a bit more money.

The Tools You Have

To determine the needed generator size, you need to know the power consumption of the auto detailing tools and equipment you’re using when cleaning vehicles.

I suggest you check the table above again, so you can get a better picture of the power consumption of some auto detailing tools and equipment.

If you only use a pressure washer and a vacuum cleaner, especially some less powerful ones, you can save some money and choose a less powerful generator. However, I’d never go with a generator that distributes less than 2000 Watts.

The Free Space Available For Storing The Generator

As a mobile auto detailer, you know the struggle with space and organization. Depending on what vehicle you use to store all the tools and equipment, you should only choose a generator that will fit your vehicle. 

If your working vehicle is smaller, you will have to buy a smaller generator. Otherwise, you won’t be able to carry it everywhere, or you’ll just have to buy a larger vehicle. 

The Best Generators For Mobile Car Detailing

By choosing any of these two generators, you won’t make a mistake. However, make sure to choose a powerful enough generator, so you can run all your detailing tools and equipment.

1. Predator 3500 – Plenty of Power For An Affordable Price

3500 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator With CO Secure Technology For RVs, Home Back-Up by Predator

If you need more power (as I suggested earlier in the article), you might want to go with this Predator 3500 Inverter Generator. With this generator, you’ll get more power than with the Honda one for even less money. 

Predator 3500 is also a high-quality generator, and you shouldn’t have any problems with it. I see many detailers use this brand, and it’s justified. The price is affordable, and you get plenty of power so that you can run more than just one device on it. 

Predator 3500 Specs

  • 3,000 Watt inverter generator, works at 120V
  • 3,500 Watt surge load (maximum load)
  • 12V output for charging batteries
  • LCD showing volts, amps, and watts
  • Electric start
  • Three power outlets
  • 3 gallons fuel capacity
  • Weighs 115 lbs
  • Standard wheels for portability
  • A fuel gauge and hour meter
  • Electronic overload protection

I suggest buying this inverter generator if you want a quality device that’s affordable and produces plenty of power. With this generator, ROI is fantastic.

PROS

  • More power for fewer dollars
  • High-quality generator
  • Very quiet for that power
  • Excellent fuel efficiency

CONS

  • 90 Days guarantee only

2. HONDA EU2200i – Extremely High-Quality Inverter Generator

Honda 664240 EU2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Co-Minder

Honda produces one of the best inverter generators on the market. They’re known for making high-quality car engines, so nothing stops them from doing the same thing with generators.

Since Honda generators are of the highest quality, they tend to cost a bit more than others on the market. If you don’t mind spending a bit more money on a new generator, this Honda EU2200i will give you fantastic performance and serve you for many years.

Honda EU2200i Specs

  • 1,800 Watt inverter generator, works on 120V
  • 2,200 Watts maximum (surge load)
  • Three power outlets
  • 1-gallon fuel capacity
  • It runs up to 8 hours with less than a gallon of fuel
  • Extremely quiet device – operates at only 48-57 dB
  • Carbon monoxide detection system
  • Remote generator operation with your phone
  • Lightweight – it weighs only 47 pounds.
  • Improved inverter technology that’s safe even for the most sensitive devices (PCs, TVs, etc.)
  • You can parallel it with another Honda to get the 4,400 watts of power.
  • Electronic Circuit Braker – prevents the engine from overloading.

I suggest you buy this inverter generator if you don’t need too much power and you want the best generator on the market. If your tools are more powerful than this device, I suggest you check the 2nd recommendation. 

PROS

  • One of the best generators out there
  • Extremely quiet and fuel-efficient
  • Fantastic buyer reviews
  • Well-known manufacturer
  • 3 Year both commercial and residential warranty

CONS

  • A little pricy when compared to the competition

FAQs

What kind of generator do I need for the pressure washer?

Since most pressure washers are up to 2000 watts, a generator that can continuously produce at least 2000 watts should be enough. However, make sure to check the power of your pressure washer. If it’s a 1500-watt device, you can use a less powerful generator.

What size generator do I need to run a vacuum cleaner?

Vacuum cleaners are not big consumers of electricity, so you don’t need a robust generator. However, I’d still go with at least an 1800-watt one.

Should I pick a diesel or gasoline generator?

Most generators run on gasoline. If you’re an auto detailer, you should go with a gasoline one. Diesel generators are often too loud, and you can barely find an inverter generator that uses diesel fuel.

How noisy are generators?

It depends on the type and the power of the generator. High-quality generators will operate on up to 70 dB. I had an old diesel generator, and it was above 100dB, which is unacceptable unless you’re somewhere in the wild.

Do cheap generators work? Are they any good?

Cheap generators will work and produce electricity, but the problem with them is quality and reliability. Cheap generators will often have large voltage deviations, leading to the failure of the connected devices. I suggest you invest more money in the beginning. You’ll have fewer problems later.

What are the benefits of having a generator as an auto detailer?

If you’re a mobile auto detailer, having a generator means that you’ll always be able to use all your tools and equipment, regardless of whether you have access to electricity.

Conclusion

Having a high-quality and reliable generator is a must if you’re a mobile auto detailer. I hope that now you know what size generator you need for your auto detailing business or even a hobby. 

More power is always beneficial, and that’s why I recommend you go for a 3000-watt generator. Most auto detailing equipment will work under 50% of the generator’s capacity.

At first, buying a generator is a significant investment, but it’ll quickly pay off. You’ll work quicker. There’s no need for carrying electrical cord reels everywhere, etc. You get the point. If you’re serious about your auto detailing business, you’ll surely get one. 

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