Having a generator can be a great way to give yourself a little extra peace of mind during power outages. After all, nobody likes the thought of losing valuable food to an extended outage. If your outages tend to come along with nasty winter storms, it’s also nice to know you can at least power some space heaters to keep warm. If, on the other hand, you’re more likely to lose power to summer weather like hurricanes and tropical storms, being able to keep a fan or two or a portable AC or window unit running can help make things a little more bearable. Whatever the reason for a power outage, it’s also more important than ever for us to have a way to charge phones and computers, both as a way to stay informed and connected as well as a way to keep boredom from setting in too soon. Portable generators can also be a great weekend companion if you like camping trips or spending weekend afternoons tailgating before your favorite team’s games. Finding the best generator to meet your needs and budget doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Knowing just a few things about what to look for can make the process a little less intimidating, which can help you make the right investment for you and your family.
When it comes to a backup generator for your house, you can choose to go with a portable model that can double as a camping companion, or you can opt for a fixed model. If you’re not sure which model is best for your home, start by considering how much power you want (or need) to have during a blackout. If you’re okay with only having a couple of outlets along with the fridge and fans or space heaters, you might be perfectly happy with a portable model. If you want everything to be “business as usual” even when the municipal power is out, you’re likely going to need to invest in a fixed model. Typically, you should be prepared to spend at least $3,000 for a fixed model. You’ll also be looking at up to $1,500 for installation unless you are certain that you can handle the job yourself. It’s important to understand what your installation cost (or at least a very good estimate) will be if you’ll need to factor that cost into your overall budget. Portable and fixed models can run on unleaded gasoline, propane, diesel, or solar power (solar power doesn’t come cheap, but is clean and renewable). Some fixed units can be patched into an existing natural-gas supply, which offers the added convenience of not having to worry about needing to refill the generator during bad weather. Just make sure you factor in that expense, too. Visit best home generator for information (including pros and cons) of several fixed and portable whole-home models. They’ve also got some great additional information to help you make your best investment.
After you’ve determined how much power you need and what fuel type works best for you, noise is the other major consideration. Since noise is measured in decibels (dB), look for the lowest decibel rating you can get. To give you a general idea of various noise levels, consider that a typical face-to-face conversation usually registers about 60 dB. A lawn mower comes in at around 90 dB, and a sporting event at its noisy peak can easily reach 130 dB. A good exhaust kit can reduce noise by acting as a muffler. An exhaust kit is also a great way to help keep you and anyone else nearby safer by directing harmful exhaust fumes up and away. If you’re planning to take your generator tailgating or camping, be sure you understand whether or not your venue or campground has generator noise guidelines or exhaust kit requirements before you make the trip. Here’s some great information on some of the quietest portable generators. In addition to pros and cons of some top picks, you’ll get additional information on what to look for when shopping as well as some guidelines on what to expect at different price points.