- These units cost more money and should be installed by a pro (so factor in labor costs). An experienced electrician can help with town or municipal permits, noise restrictions, and proper location.
- These start automatically when the power goes out, and often supply more power.
- They run a self-diagnosis and let you know when maintenance is needed. Some even do this via email or text, to you or your dealer.
- You have your choice of fuel—natural gas or propane, both of which are less risky to store than gasoline.
- They range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts.
- They cost from $5,000 to $10,000.
- These units tend to cost less.
- They run on gas or propane that you may need to store in large quantities. Stabilizer must be added to store gasoline safely.
- You can use them anywhere on or off your property, but they must be at least 15 feet away from your house, doors, or windows—and not in an enclosed space. If it's raining, you must use a tent or cover.
- Several of these models offer electric starting. The battery required, however, may not be included.
- They provide from 3,000 to 8,500 watts.
- They cost from $400 to $1,000.
Generator Features That Count
Don't let rain, snow, or wind keep you in the dark. Consider these options to make sure you get the best generator for your needs.
When the power goes off, the stationary generator goes on—without your intervention. This is great if you travel a lot or have a long commute.
Several portables offer this push-button alternative to the hassle of pull-starting the engine. Just factor in the added cost (around $50) if the battery is not included. Stationary models have automatic starting.
Alternative Fuel Capacity
Most portable models run only on gasoline, though some come equipped to run on a propane tank or natural-gas line—or can be converted with kits. Wheels
Believe it or not, some portables price these separately. You could probably move a wheeled generator solo, but without wheels, you'd need help. (All the ones we've tested weigh upwards of 200 pounds.) Wheels can cost up to $150 extra.
Check fuel level at a glance on a portable; this is especially useful during long blackouts.
If oil falls below minimum levels, the generator shuts down to prevent damage. This is usually standard on stationary generators, but it's increasingly common on portables, too.
On some higher-end portables; this provides cleaner power that won't overheat sensitive electronics. Some campsites require it because inverter generators typically run much more quietly.
Four or more lets you best use the wattage by spreading the load, though we recommend using these only for emergency use—or for away uses such as camping. See the next section on transfer switches.
This connects to the generator so you can plug in appliances without running (potentially risky) extension cords outdoors.
For more information, contact South Shore Generators in Wareham, MA.
Source: Consumer Reports