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Best Generators For Home Backup Power Of 2023: Completed List

Gretchen Rubin
  Jan 28, 2023 12:02 AM

Home generators have grown very widespread as severe weather has become increasingly frequent. Those who are familiar with the sound of dozens buzzing across a suburban neighborhood know all too well how often power outages are in these areas during storms. You can also get portable units that you can set up on demand and take with you when camping or having a picnic, so you don't have to commit to a large unit permanently installed in your garden. With the price of generators dropping, it is becoming more feasible for anybody to have one on hand.


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Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API


Buying Guide

Types of Generators

Standby

Standby generators are wired into a house permanently. These might either supply backup power for essential circuits or the entire house in the event of a power loss. When the utility power goes out, the standby generator will kick on automatically.

Portable

Electricity can be temporarily supplied in the event of a power outage by using portable generators, often known as backup generators. Some things can be carried around more easily than others, hence the phrase "portable" is relative. The tiniest ones are designed to be picked up and carried, but most larger ones feature wheels and a handle for portability. With a weight of 100 pounds or more, however, hauling them up may require two people. Standard outlets on the generator's front panel allow you to connect appliances, power tools, and other items. In addition, a manual transfer switch can be connected to various models' twist-lock connector to give up to 240 volts and power house circuits.

Inverter Generators

Even though inverter-type generators are also portable, we decided to give them their own category due to the many important technological distinctions between them and the other two types. Inverter generators, like other generators, provide AC voltage in the 120/240-volt range. Like the others, they produce alternating current (AC), but it is inverted from DC (Direct Current) to AC. A filter-like circuit smooths out spikes and cleans up the sine wave (or oscillating wave) of the electrical current to control the conversion and inversion. The sine waveform of AC current is distorted to variable degrees by most generators. In most cases, this is not a problem, but some electronic gadgets, such as tablets, laptops, televisions, and smart devices, are susceptible to damage from current distortion and surges and should be used with caution. These components have a longer lifespan when supplied with "clean" power and a consistent voltage source. Due to the complexity involved, inverter generators can be much more expensive.

Power Needs

A good starting point for selecting a generator is estimating how much electricity your home will need during a blackout. To save money, you can get by with a smaller generator if you only need to power the essentials in your home. However, larger generators will be required to restore normal power levels.

 

A 5,000- to 7,500-watt generator can run essentials like a refrigerator, furnace, and water heater, while a 20,000-watt generator is needed to power an entire house. The starting watts and running watts ratings of a generator are of utmost importance. Because of the additional power required to start appliances, the starting watts tend to be higher.

Fuel Source

Since standby generators connect to your home's gas supply, you'll be able to use the same fuel you normally would to power your home's appliances. Although propane gas is more efficient than natural gas, it is more expensive and has had shortages in the past.

Installation

The installation is simple if you plan to connect to an existing gas line; nonetheless, it is recommended that you use a professional. Intricacies arise when you factor in the necessity for a licensed electrician, the availability of necessary building permissions, and the flatness of the area where the generator will be installed. According to AlltimePower, a generator's installation costs should account for around 75% of the generator's total price.

Size

The size of a generator is proportional to the amount of power it can produce in watts, which can be anywhere from 800 to over 50,000. There are two types of ratings for generators: "starting watts" and "running watts," with the latter revealing the continuous wattage the generator can give to the connected devices. Starting watts is the maximum amount of power a generator can produce for a brief period of time to start motor-driven appliances like refrigerators.

 

The number of appliances and how long they can be used at once are limited by the power supply's "running watts" rating. It's vital to distinguish between the starting and running watts of a generator when figuring out how much power your home needs. Typically, the starting watts are 1,000 to 2,000 watts more than the operating watts.

Transfer Switch

You can "transfer" between grid power and generator power by using a transfer switch to link your generator to your home's main electrical panel. Power transfer switches can be operated manually or automatically. In the event of a power outage, a manual transfer switch will not automatically switch over from the grid to generator power, but an automatic transfer switch will do so without any intervention from you.

 

Any generator producing 5,000 watts or more must have a transfer switch installed, and all standby generators come with automatic transfer switches.

In order to avoid the risk of electrocution or fried appliances, transfer switches are advised for all portable generators, regardless of their power rating. The necessity for many extension cords to power your home's various appliances is also eliminated.

Features

Low-CO Engine

Tools from Ryobi and Echo, among others, include this sort of engine to reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Automatic Start

In the event of a blackout, the generator will automatically start up. If you frequently travel for work or have a job that keeps you far from home, this is a lifesaver.

Electric Start

This convenient push-button alternative to cumbersome pull-starting is available on a number of different portable variants. If the battery is not included, you should plan on spending an extra $50. Vehicles that remain in one place have an automatic starter.

Alternative Fuel Capacity

Some portable units are pre-fitted to use a propane tank or a natural gas line, while others can be easily changed to do so with a simple kit.

Fuel Gauge

It's helpful to know at a glance how much gas is left in your portable generator, especially during extended power outages.

FAQS

How long will a backup generator run?

A standard standby generator hooked up to a gas line can keep running for two to three weeks during a blackout. With regular upkeep, a standby generator has a 20- to 40-year lifespan. The generator should be run for around half an hour once a week while checking oil and clearing snow or other debris.

Is it cheaper to run a generator on propane or gas?

When deciding between natural gas and propane, the amount of fuel you'll need will determine which will be the more cost-effective.

Are backup generators worth it?

If you need constant electricity, value the peace of mind that comes with having uninterrupted power, or reside in a location where power outages are common, a standby generator is a worthy investment. In the case of a power outage due to extreme heat or cold, a standby generator is an excellent safety measure to have in place.

Do generators have to be maintained?

A generator's engine needs routine maintenance just like your car's engine does. You should change the oil at regular intervals (every 100 hours for a new generator, and after only 20 hours), clean the air filter once every 100 hours of use, and run the generator for 20 to 30 minutes at least once every three months.

Where should a whole house generator be located?

While the whole-house generator's precise placement in the yard is a matter of taste, it is recommended by most manufacturers that it be set up at least five feet away from any doors, windows, vents, or combustible materials. Whole-house generators can be expensive, so it's important to make sure yours complies with local construction rules and installation guidelines by checking with the authorities first.

Can you plug a generator into a house outlet?

No. In many places, it is illegal and dangerous to connect a generator directly to a household outlet. Backfeeding is a dangerous practice that can lead to a house fire or serious electrical system damage. There is also a higher risk of electrocution for any technicians working on the same power grid.

Conclusion

In the event that your primary power source fails, you can choose from a variety of backup sources. Before settling on one, it is important to weigh the available options against your specific energy demands.

The topic of "best generators for home backup power" comes up regularly. A comparison of the products' features and your requirements might help you decide.


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