PTO Generators – What Are They & Which Are The Best?

On first glancing at this article, you may well be in the position that you’re trying to work out what indeed, a PTO generator is. PTO generators are less common than other generators such as portable and inverters – they are specifically designed to be used in conjunction with a tractor.

Over the years, farming and harvesting have changed really quite considerably. It’s now become commonplace for farmers to use electricity as part of their farming and/or harvesting routine.

First off, let’s take a bit of a background look at PTO generators and what they actually are, before continuing on to look at the best that are available.

What is a PTO Generator?

A PTO generator is short for a Tractor Power Take Off generator. It is the solution to turning a piece of mobile farm machinery into something that can also generate electricity. A PTO generator uses the output engine shaft of the tractor to which it is attached in order to generate electricity. It uses the wasted kinetic energy from the engine to drive the generator, to produce an electrical current on the move.

A PTO is a great thing for a farmer or anyone with a tractor to have since it makes use of a machine that they are already running regularly anyway. For example,  if you were to be using a normal stationary generator, you may not have to start it all that regularly throughout the year. However, if it were to be attached to your tractor which will undoubtedly be used a lot more regularly, it is being constantly used and maintained as a result.

What would a PTO Generator Be Used For?

You may be wondering even still as a farmer, why would I want to have mobile power? The mobile power from a good PTO can be used to power any of the tools that you may need, wherever you may need them. As long as you can drive your tractor there, you can get the power there.

A PTO can also be used as a backup generator for a home. Assuming that you’re able to fuel the tractor (as you would need to with any other generator that you would be using regardless), you’ll be able to obtain power from it. A large amount of PTO’s has been configured to be able to do just this, with a transfer switch for added convenience.

At present, the PTO generator market is relatively new and really rather small.

Now that you’ve got a bit of a background on PTO generators, let’s take a look at the best two that are available on the market.

NorthStar 13kW PTO Generator

The NorthStar 13kW power take-off generator is a small yet powerful unit. It’s got a maximum surge wattage of 13,000 watts and will provide continuous power up to 12,00 watts.

It’s likely to be more than powerful enough for the large majority, if not all, mobile uses you could have for it.

It’s fitted with a single-phase, bi-directional head that’s fully lined with 100% copper windings. It’s made of metal and has a plastic shielding for added durability. The NorthStar 13kW has also got a 100amp thermal magnetic circuit breaker for added safety.

All of the features that are built into this unit are designed first and foremost with the safety of the user in mind, but also to protect the life of the generator itself. Purchasing a PTO should be an investment, a NorthStar has recognized that when building this unit. It uses high-quality materials and certainly seems like it has been built to last.

It’s fitted with a voltmeter on the outside so that you can see how much power you’re using, and how much of the generator’s capabilities you’re using too. In the event that you’re using too much, the voltmeter will display this.

In the event of a power overload, this NorthStar 13kW unit is fitted with circuit breakers to prevent damage.

There is a good variety of power outlets that should be able to cater well for any appliances or tools that you might wish to plug into the generator. There are four 20 amp 120V outlets, one 30 amp 120V outlet, and one 50 amp 120V outlet.

 Key Features

  • Surge wattage of 13,000 watts
  • Running wattage of 12,000 watts
  • 2-Year parts and labor warranty
  • Not heavy – for a PTO generator, the NorthStar 13kW is relatively lightweight at 174 lbs
  • Safe – the unit is fitted with a number of safety features including copper windings, a thermal magnetic breaker, and a plastic shield for safety
  • Good variety of power outlets
  • Pushbutton reset circuit breakers 

Downsides

  • Not as powerful as some competitors
NorthStar PTO Generator - 13,000 Surge Watts,...
  • Industry standard 1 3/8in., 6-spline input shaft geared for 540 RPM
  • 100% copper windings, metal construction, 100 Amp thermal magnetic breaker and plastic shield provide high performance, durability, long life and safe operation
  • Outlets include welding receptacle and four 120V 20 Amp receptacles and voltmeter
  • Pushbutton reset circuit breakers
  • Four 20 Amp 120V receptacles

IMDLLC 16002P 16kW PTO Generator

The IMDLLC 16002P is a PTO generator that truly allows you to convert a tractor into something that can generate a lot of power.

It’s extremely powerful, being able to output 30,000 surge watts, and running at 16,000 watts continually. It’s fitted with an automatic voltage regulator too, that makes the power that it outputs safe to power appliances that are more sensitive. For example, if you’re using a drill or welder that requires power with minimal harmonic distortion, the automatic voltage regulator (AVR) that are fitted within the IMDLLC 16002P will take care of this.

In addition to an automatic voltage regulator, this power take-off generator is made with 100% copper winding in its cabling, as well as having a low distortion alternator. This combination of an automatic voltage regulator, copper winding, and low distortion alternator make for a power output that’s got total harmonic distortion of less than 5%.

The IMDLLC 16002P is designed to be as lightweight as possible too, so an not to have a negative effect on the overall efficiency of your tractor’s engine. To achieve the lightest weight and thereby best performance, it’s encased in lightweight aluminum and steel. The use of aluminum here provides durability and weight reduction. 

Just because the 16002P is a generator that’s fitted to a tractor engine, it doesn’t come without features that make it as easy to use as possible. It’s fitted with a 3-bar LED meter. This LED meter displays to you how much power is being outputted in amps, hertz, and volts. This information is extremely useful to know to avoid overloading the generator.

The 16002P comes with a number of extra features that do not tend to be found on more basic PTO generators. It comes as standard with a magnetic circuit breaker as well as individual circuit protection. These are essential features for absolute fire safety.

The 16002P has also got a socket that can be used as either a 120V or 240V outlet.

Key Features

  • Running wattage of 16,000 watts.
  • Surge wattage of 30,000 watts.
  • Durable and lightweight – the 16002P is designed to be as lightweight as possible whilst still retaining durability. It does this very well, being constructed from a hardwearing yet lightweight steel and aluminum framework.
  • LED Display – the power output of the generator is clearly shown at all times via the LED – display meter mounted on the unit. From this, it can be clearly seen how many hertz, volts, and amps are being outputted by the generator.
  • Minimal harmonic distortion – the 16002P is designed to output extremely clean power that’s suitable for use with almost anything. The total harmonic distortion in the current that’s output by the generator is less than 5%. For reference, the power in the national grid is said to have a total harmonic distortion level of approximately 6%.
  • Copper-wound internals
  • Safe – the 16002P is fitted with individual circuit breakers for maximum safety
  • Transfer Switch – the 16002P can be optimized for use as a home backup generator via the transfer switch that it has installed

Downsides

  • It’s expensive
  • Very heavy at 351 pounds – professional installation may be required or advised adding cost
  • 33HP required to run the 16002P
IMDLLC 16002P PTO Generator with Auto Voltage...
1 Reviews
IMDLLC 16002P PTO Generator with Auto Voltage...
  • High quality PTO generator with 16KW continuous output
  • Simultaneous 120V and 240V output
  • Aluminum and steel housing for a maximum in durability and lightweight
  • 4" Three Bar LED meter provides accurate display of Hertz, Volts and Amps output
  • Standard 1-3/8", 6-spline input shaft

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that the NorthStar 13kW is a very good quality power take-off generator. It’s well priced, relatively lightweight, and durable too. It’s also included with a number of features that make for a very safe unit. However, it could be a little more powerful in our opinion.

The 160002P is the more powerful of the two PTO driven generators that we have here on our list. In our opinion, it’s the best too. The 160002P is well-reviewed, reasonably priced, packed full of safety features, and even has some nice additional features such as an LED meter. It’s able to push out a huge amount of power and isn’t likely to ever leave you in need of more.

Last update on 2019-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API