Temporary power outages can do a real number on production, which if you’re a farmer, is something you definitely can’t afford. The good news is a PTO generator can help. Not only can a power take-off generator allow you to work smarter not harder and provide portable power for your tools when out in the field, but it can be used as a backup power source for your home in the event of a power outage as well. To take the guesswork out of finding a great PTO generator, we’ve done the research and discovered the best of the best.
Best PTO Generators in 2020
PTO INPUT SPEED
1 x NEMA L5-30R
1 x NEMA 14-50R
1 x NEMA 14-60R
1 x NEMA 14-60R
1. NorthStar PTO Generator – Best Tractor PTO Generator
The NorthStar PTO Generator is lightweight yet performs admirably by cranking out 100 amps at 120 volts and 50 amps at 240 volts. At 12,000 continuous watts and 13,000 surge watts, it provides more than enough power to heat a home, runs a few outlets, and keep all of the appliances running without a hitch at only half a load.
However, like most PTO driven generators, you’ll need to install a transfer switch first. The good news is this is inexpensive and pretty straightforward to do.
The NorthStar’s impressive performance, in spite of its compact size, is due to its quality materials and craftsmanship. It features all-metal construction with 100 percent copper windings for proven, unparalleled performance time and time again.
With a 6-spline 540 rpm input shaft, 100-Amp thermal magnetic breaker, and a plastic shield as well, it provides durability, high performance, and safe operation.
Incredibly Lightweight and Easy to Use
In addition to all of these components, the real beauty of the NorthStar PTO Generator is its lightweight, portable design. At only 127 pounds, you can easily load and lug it from the house or barn to the furthest field for instant power whenever you need it. Just hook it up to a tractor with a 24-hp or larger engine and you’ll be good to go.
2. Winco W15PTOS-3F – Best PTO Generator for Quality Performance
Weighing in at 232 pounds, it’s a little heavier than the NorthStar. However, when paired with a tractor engine of 30 hp or more, it can deliver 15,000 continuous watts.
That being said, it’s the quality craftsmanship of this Winco that really steals the show. Thanks to its 100 percent copper windings and brushless revolving field alternator design, it delivers a strong starting capacity, smooth continuous electricity, and longer operating life.
In terms of ease of use, the Winco W15PTOS-3F also scores high marks. In addition to two 60-amp 120 V full power receptacles mounted to the control panel, it also comes shipped with a separate 60-amp NEMA 14-60R plug to get the most from its power potential.
Plus, it has a large voltmeter to make monitoring and adjusting its power output right from the tractor seat easy as can be.
Almost ZERO Harmonic Distortion
Nonetheless, aside from the fact that it’s made in the USA by a company known for making top-quality products, one of the best features of the Winco W15PTOS-3F is its ability to run with minimal harmonic distortion.
In fact, it provides enough clean, safe, and consistent electricity to keep any farm or ranching operation running with less than five percent harmonic distortion. This is a tough feat.
3. IMD 16002P – Best PTO Generator for Power Output and Immediate Home Use
The IMD 16002P is large, in charge, and ready to produce some serious power for your home, farm, or any job site. This high-quality PTO generator provides simultaneous 240V and 120V output and produces up to 16,000 continuous watts.
Like the other great PTO generators in this guide, this high-quality generator also features 100 percent copper windings, a steel and aluminum housing for minimum weight and maximum durability, and a 1 3/8-inch 6-spline input shaft.
It also has two 20-amp 120V receptacles and one 60-amp 120/240V receptacle. However, unlike the other units, this last receptacle is already equipped with a transfer switch, allowing you to use it for your home right away. it also comes with a handy three-point hitch, which is an additional accessory with most PTO generators.
The only real downside with the IMD 16002P is its weight. At 352 pounds, this beast of a tractor driven generator is tough to lug around and can be difficult to mount. However, as far as everything else goes, it’s tough to find a single complaint.
Serious Power and Performance
If you’re in search of serious PTO power, the IMD 16002P might be the right generator for you. While it requires a larger tractor engine that cranks out at least 32 hp at 540 rpm, it makes use of the added power quite well to deliver 16,000 continuous watts. This is more than enough electricity to power a 2.5-ton or larger HVAC system as well as a hot water heater and just about every other household appliance with minimal drawdown. Out in the field, its uses are near limitless.
Let’s just say, if you want power, this premium PTO generator has it in spades.
PTO Generator – Buyer’s Guide
As you can see from the PTO generators above, there’s a lot that goes into their designs and there are quite a few differences between them. Therefore, in order to pick the right one for you and your needs, it helps to know a little about them first.
What is a PTO Generator?
A tractor power take-off, or PTO, generator is an easy and reliable way of transforming the most important piece of farm equipment, the tractor, into a mobile power station for use out in the furthest field, most remote job site, or even up at your home.
Why Choose a PTO Generator?
Will you be using your generator daily? If you’re like most people, the answer to this question is likely no.
This means fuel will sit unused and the engine will go for months without even being started. Do you really want to be without power when you need it most and find yourself fiddling with a carburetor in the middle of a blizzard?
Your tractor, on the other hand, probably gets used much more often. It’s also probably one of the most valuable and well cared for pieces of equipment you own. If you own a tractor, it simply makes sense to leverage its trustworthy diesel engine and use it as a power source.
Here are some more reasons why a tractor driven PTO generator is an ideal companion on any ranch, farm or homestead:
Take Power With You Anywhere
A PTO generator gives you the ability to create and utilize power at several locations on your property. Not to conjure up memories you would rather forget, but when was the last time you found yourself out in the field needing to repair the combine, picker, or another piece of equipment during harvest? Think about how quick and easy the repair would have been if you simply had some power tools to use.
By hooking up a PTO generator to your tractor, you can enjoy your very own mobile shop that can literally go anywhere your tractor can, which is pretty much everywhere. Pairing your tractor with the right PTO generator will allow you to use your MIG or ARC wire welder, compressor, and virtually anything else out in the field or “Back 40”.
For a small investment, you can make any repair anywhere on your property and stay right on track for optimal production and profits. Of course, you can pull your tractor around and use a PTO generator to power your home whenever needed as well.
Power Your Home
As just mentioned, PTO generators can be used anywhere a tractor can go, even parked right beside your home. These days, more and more people are using PTO generators as a source of backup power during power outages.
With a PTO generator, you’ll have no need to worry and be able to supply power to your home when you need it most. If you have a running tractor and some diesel fuel, you’ll be able to power your AC, furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator, range, and more.
One of the things farmers and others especially like about PTO generators is their virtually maintenance-free designs. After all, the last thing a farmer wants is another engine to take care of.
While we could get deep into the technical aspects of these machines, the basic components of a generator are pretty simple and straightforward once the engine is taken out of the equation.
As such, the potential points of failure are almost non-existent with a PTO generator. Even after months or even years without use, as long as your tractor is running properly, the odds of it starting right up almost guaranteed. If your tractor is running right, your PTO generator will as well.
Repairs aside, or lack thereof, PTO generators are also synonymous with minimal maintenance. Unlike the average generator that requires an oil change after 50 hours and a new oil filter every 100 hours, many tractors can run for 100 hours or more between oil changes. In fact, some can go upwards of 500 hours.
With a PTO generator, you’re making use of your tractor’s engine. This means you can get a much more powerful generator capable of producing more amps for much less money.
In fact, in comparison to a similar-sized diesel generator, a PTO generator will cost you on average 50 percent less. For example, a 25,000-watt diesel generator can cost upwards of $8,000 or more. A 25,000-watt PTO generator, on the other hand, will typically sell for $3,000 or less.
If you have a tractor to supply the horsepower, you’re one step ahead of most ordinary consumers. By pairing it with a PTO generator, you’ll be able to power just about anything and enjoy lower costs and the reliability only your trusty tractor can provide.
What to Look for When Shopping for a PTO Generator
Size and Capacity
When shopping for a PTO generator, it’s important to consider its size and capacity. By size, we’re talking less about a generator’s physical dimensions and more about its capacity to hold the power created by a tractor engine.
Generally, about two horsepower is needed for a PTO generator to create 1,000 watts or one kilowatt. So, if you have a larger tractor engine, you might want to go with a larger PTO generator to make full use of its horsepower. You can never have too much power, right?
Like any other large purchase, reliability should be a major consideration. Do your research, which you obviously are by reading this, and make sure to select a brand with a solid reputation for making durable, high-quality products requiring minimal maintenance and repairs.
Another thing to consider is the generator’s output power characteristics. PTO generators generally produce two types of electricity: single-phase and three-phase. That being said, most PTO generators are single-phase, making them well-suited for use with home wall sockets. We talk more about this below.
Like many products, some PTO generators come with additional accessories to make life on the farm or ranch easier. One of these is a transportation hitch, which makes transporting a PTO generator much, much easier. A transfer switch is another neat accessory. With this, you can supply power to your home with the flip of a, well, switch.
Three Steps to Picking Out a PTO Generator
While it’s important to understand the above considerations, here’s how to choose the perfect PTO generator for you and your property in three simple steps:
- Choose the Engine Size. This is the first and most critical step in choosing the right PTO generator. However, it’s also one of the most basic – you simply match the generator to your tractor engine’s horsepower.
- Choose Engine Speed (RPM). The shafts of PTO generators typically run at either 540 RPM or 1,000 RPM. While many newer tractors are able to operate at both speeds, many older tractors can only operate on one or the other. So, if your tractor is limited to one speed, make sure to select the corresponding generator.
- Choose the Electrical Phase. A PTO generator will only produce electricity in single-phase or three-phase. Single-phase electricity is just like the electricity coming from a wall socket. Three-phase electricity, however, is more complex. If you need power in either 208V or 480V, you will need a three-phase generator.
Generators are little more than engines with alternators. However, if you have a tractor, then you already have a powerful and reliable engine. PTO generators are designed to make use of these engines, making them the perfect companion for any farm or ranch.
Like any major purchase, there’s a lot to think about and consider when shopping for a PTO generator. Fortunately, aside from the sheer number of different models out there to choose from, selecting the right one is pretty simple and straightforward.
Best of all, we’ve done all of the research and hard work for you. Just match the horsepower and RPM of your tractor engine with one of the excellent PTO generators above and you’ll be good to go!