Consumer Reports: How to pick the best generator for your home

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Thursday, August 9, 2018
Consumer Reports: How to pick the best generator for your home
Lauren Glassberg reports on the best generators for your home.

This week's power storms serve as a good reminder to always be prepared in the event of a power outage.

A generator can save the day in some cases, keeping the lights on and vital utilities running. But how do you pick the best one for your home?

Hurricane season can wreak havoc on a home.

When Maureen Ball's neighborhood lost power in a hurricane, she gave her husband an ultimatum.

"You know I've just been without heat and electricity for four days, and I said 'I want this generator and I want it now,'" homeowner Ball said.

If you're in the market for backup power, Consumer Reports says you should start by assessing your needs.

"The first thing you need to do is to make a list of the stuff that you absolutely can't live without during a storm," Consumer Reports Home Editor Eric Hagerman said.

Here are a few scenarios to use as a guide, along with some models that topped the tests:

  • If you just want to power your refrigerator, some lights and a phone charger or laptop, consider the lightest type of generator that delivers up to 2-thousand watts. The Yamaha model is also fuel efficient.
  • A midsize inverter will give you up to 35-hundred watts, so you can also power a window air conditioner, and run either your coffee maker, washing machine or hair dryer. The mid-sized Predator did well in Consumer Reports tests.
  • If your needs include running a large sump-pump or water-well pump, a larger portable generator providing up to 75-hundred watts can handle all this plus a gas furnace. Consumer Reports recommends the Generac model.
  • And if you want whole-house power, a permanently-installed standby generator that provides up to 20-thousand watts can make you forget there's a storm outside. The Champion model kicks in automatically, and can power everything in a typical home simultaneously.

As for the Ball family? They installed a whole-house generator, and the next time there was an outage...

"We kind of smiled, turned on the generator, we walked around and it was wonderful," Ball said.


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