Old Man Winter is about to pay us another visit, and forecasts are once again calling for record cold and snow. No matter where you live, chances are good you're going to be without power for some length of time. |
If you don't already have a good home generator -- especially one that is also whisper-quiet -- now might be a wise time to invest in one.
Things to Look For
What are the most important things to consider?
First, you want a generator that will keep the lights on, the freezer powered up, and, if possible, the showers hot -- maybe for days on end.
Second, you want something that won't rattle the windows every time it cycles on or off.
Third, it would be nice if you didn't have to take out a second mortgage to afford a reliable, portable, quiet generator.
And, fourth, the most quiet new generators are also super portable -- about the size of a large suitcase. This will be handy for camping or tailgating.
Key Factor No. 1: Wattage
Your new generator must be able to start -- and run, possibly for days -- your lights, your TV, your laptop, and, certainly, your heat -- at a minimum.
That means that your generator must be rated at 2000 watts or better to power on and operate these items.
Here's a handy guide that gives the power requirements for several items in your home:
(The first figure is the number of watts needed to start the item. The second, the number of watts needed to keep it running.)
--Computer Monitor (LCD style):30/30
--Incandescent Lights: 60/60
--DVD Player: 350/350
--Furnace Fan for Heat, Gas or Fuel Oil: 500/300
--Coffee Maker: 600/600
--Microwave Oven: 1000/1000
--Refrigerator or Freezer (Energy Star): 1200/192
--Automatic Washer: 1200/1200
--Sump Pump: 1300/800
--Garage Door Opener: 1420/720
--Electric Range (8-inch element): 2100/2100
--Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU): 2200/1500
--Hot Water Heater: 4500/4500
--Clothes Dryer (Electric): 6750/5400
Estimate calculator courtesy Honda Power Equipment
It becomes obvious at once that you can't run everything at the same time. So, stick to the essentials unless you opt to buy a couple of generators and hook them together.
Key Factor No. 2: Quietness
It would be nice if your generator would let you (and your neighbors) sleep soundly at night. To achieve this objective, look for generators with a decibel rating anywhere from 50 to 60.
Generators in this noise level category sound about the same as a normal conversation.
Of course, daisy-chaining two together will ratchet up the volume somewhat. But at least you'll be able to take a hot shower once a day. :-)
Key Factor No. 3: Cost
It IS possible to find a quiet portable generator that will make all these things happen for well under $1,000 -- not an insubstantial amount of money, but one with a good ROI when the lights -- and everything else -- go out.
For example, you can pick up a couple of the following brands without breaking the bank:
WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator -- at a price just under $500, it delivers 2,000 watts at a whisper-quiet 51 decibels. And, at only 48 pounds, you can take it camping or tailgating in summer and fall.
Yamaha EF 2000iS Portable Inverter Generator -- even at several hundred dollars more for this brand name item, it will do everything the WEN does -- and, it can run 10.5 hours on a single tank of gas.
Champion Power Equipment 100263 Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator -- this one has a couple of advantages over the first two. One, it runs on either gasoline OR propane (14.5 hours on a single 20-lb. bottle). And, it has significantly more starting power than a single one of the first two (a whopping 3400 watts). But, it's more expensive at just over $1,000.
Remember: you can easily power most items in your home with any of these three, but you’ll still need two portable generators to start and run the hot water heater.
The Bottom Line
Having your power interrupted -- sometimes for many days and nights -- can mean real hardship. Especially if you wait until the last minute to get prepared. Even IF you can find a generator for sale when a severe snowstorm passes through, you'll likely pay quite a bit more more than if you’d planned ahead.
Don't be caught shivering during this winter's upcoming snow and ice storms. Buy a quiet portable generator or two today and keep your family out of the dark and cold.
Don Sloan is a professional reviewer and home handyman. His reviews and tips on purchasing portable, quiet generators -- including product features, pros and cons, videos, and much more -- can be found at QuietGeneratoReviews.com.
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