Consumer Reports: Storm-worthy generators

Consumer Reports: Storm-worthy generators

Storm season is upon us, and that can mean a blackout at your house for days, even weeks. But it doesn’t have to result in rotten food in the fridge or fumbling around in the dark. A generator can keep things running until the power comes back on. Consumer Reports just tested 14 power generators, ranging in price from around $700 to more than $3,000. Some are portable, and others are stationary.

Consumer Reports tests by hooking them up to small appliances, a water pump, and lights.

Testers found that with portable generators, run time depends on the type of fuel they use. Gasoline generators run 8 to 10 hours. Propane generators run through a tank in 4 to 6 hours. So whichever you choose, be aware that you’ll need plenty of fuel on hand. And you’ll need a transfer switch to safely hook up the generator. It can run up to $900.

Stationary generators are more convenient. They run on natural gas or a large tank of propane and start automatically in a power outage. Consumer Reports says that if you want to power your whole house, a large stationary generator would be better because it will power items such as your stove, dryer, central A/C system, and more.

Among stationary generators, Consumer Reports named the Generac CorePower 5837 a Best Buy. It costs $1,800, plus installation.

For far less, Consumer Reports recommends the portable Generac GP 5500. It will keep your basic necessities going for $670.

If you use a portable generator, Consumer Reports has this important caution: More than 100 people a year die from the carbon monoxide produced by portable generators and similar equipment. To be safe, never run a generator inside a garage or shed. Always run it as far as possible from your house, ideally at least 10 to 15 feet, and away from any windows or doors.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.