More people want a backup, portable generator to have on hand for emergency situations. An alternative source of power can help a household stay put when faraway wildfire or smoke has cause high voltage lines to trip offline, creating a power outage.
The most economical way to supply power during a blackout is to use a portable generator with at least 4000 watts, according to Northern Tool’s Generator Buyer’s Guide. (To calculate your needs, see a wattage chart here.)
Never put a generator in your home, garage, porch or breezeway. To power lights, appliances and tools, have an electrician install a transfer switch or use long, outdoor-rated extension cords certified to carry the generator’s power load.
Check that the generator has enough outlets to plug in all of the items you want to power and know how many hours of operation the fuel tank size will provide. Also find out its noise level. Low tone mufflers make for quieter operation.
“Today’s generators offer a variety of features and there is a product for every need,” said Kris Kiser of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.
Circuit-breaker-protected outlets will guard against generator overload. Integrated fuel gauges will help keep tabs on fuel levels and prevent power interruptions. And fold-down handles and built-in wheels make it easier to move your generator.
Outdoor Power Equipment Institute experts and others offer this advice when buying and maintaining a backup generator:
Give a portable generator plenty of open outdoor space for ventilation. Place it away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, just in case, and be sure to keep extra batteries on hand for the detector.
Keep generators dry with a model-specific tent or generic generator cover.
Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. Store the fuel in an appropriate container like a well-sealed gas can and away from heat sources and out of the reach of children. Label the can with the date of purchase and the ethanol content. Fuel more than 30 days old should not be used in any outdoor power equipment and can phase separate.
It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. For more information on proper fueling for outdoor power equipment, visit LookBeforeYouPump.com.
The Home Depot carries these highly rated generators:
- Champion Power Equipment 6250-watt, gas- and propane-powered portable generator has carbon monoxide (CO) shield technology ($749)
- Dewalt 2200-watt inverter with an auto throttle and CO protect technology is $649
- Duromax 12000-watt/9500-watt generator can run up to 20 hours on propane or less with gas ($1,299)
- Ryobi 2300-watt, gas-powered generator on wheels has a CO shutdown sensor and Bluetooth capability ($629)
- Westinghouse 12500-watt/9500-watt, dual-fuel portable generator with a remote start is $999
Honda 2200-watt portable gas generator ($1,699 at Amazon) is one of the top-rated options from review sites, and experts like the folks over at Wirecutter, and this model is Bluetooth-connected and can operate appliances at home, camping and on a job site. See more generators at Amazon
Battery-powered EGO Nexus power station ($999 at Lowe’s) is safe to use indoors and out and provides up to 3000 watts (2000 continuous watts).
Harbor Freight has the new Predator 9500-watt inverter generator with CO secure technology for $1,999.99
In a blog post, the company also recommends the following options at a variety of price points to meet your needs:
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072