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The Portable Generators for the Money

Buyers Guide Questions

What is the Best Generator to Buy?

There are two different types of generators – stationary and portable. Stationary units are more costly and should be installed by a professional, and includes the labor for installation. You would also need to check with your town’s municipal permits, noise ordinances, and the proper location. These stationary units start automatically when the power goes out, and they will also run their own self-diagnosis for maintenance requirements, and some can send reports directly to your email or text. These units range from roughly 5000 to 20,000 watts and can cost up to $10,000.

Portable generators are lighter, more affordable, and run on gas or propane – click for garage heaters. A stabilizer must be added to safely store the gasoline. Being portable means you can use them anywhere on your property, but they need to be at least 15 feet away from your home, doors, and windows, not in an enclosed space. Several models have an electric start, and the battery may or may not be included. Their wattage is from 3000 to 8500, and the cost can be up to $1000. Definitely a more affordable choice.

According to online reviews, the best installed generators would definitely include the Generac 6438/6441 11KW Guardian Standby Generator. For under $3000, it provides essential circuit power protection, and will back up a 3-ton air conditioner, well pump, or water heater, including the main rooms of your house.

Portable generators are great to have in various situations that include as a backup power supply for the household, A backup for small businesses, a safety net for residents who live in severe climates, as an electrical course for camping or boating, and as an extra supply resource for construction and job sites.

The best generator to buy is the DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Generator for both its powerful and economic features, as a mid-level generator that will deliver a maximum 4000 watt output and a 7.0 amp air cooled OHV engine with a low oil shutoff. This has a run time of eight hours at half-load and includes two 120 volt outlets and one 120 volts 30 amp outlet, plus it is easy to start with the EZ-Pull starting mechanism. All in all, an affordable, great value that won’t break the bank.

Westinghouse WGen5500 Generators

What is the Best Whole House Generator?

Unlike portable generators, a whole house unit is permanently installed on a concrete pad and connected right to your home’s electric box to provide automatic, uninterrupted power. It is directly connected to a ready fuel source, such as gas, propane, or diesel, that is able to supply all of your electricity needs for days, if needed. For instance, a unit that generates 20 kilowatts can easily power the average home, and you may not have to cut back on normal usage.

It really depends on the size of the home and power needs; and no matter what happens to the power grid, the most durable whole house units will keep things running smoothly until the issue is resolved. Most likely you’ll conserve power to conserve fuel, but if you’re one of those whose loved ones or livelihood depend on electricity being available, the best whole house generator for your budget is vital.

For installed units, we recommend the Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with 200 Amp Symphony II AutomaticTransfer Switch that provides ample backup power for average to larger sized homes. Designed to withstand the elements, this system’s outer shell is made from automotive-grade Galvanneal steel that resists rust, with an advanced powder coating that will provide years of protection against the environmental chips and abrasions.

You can install this unit as close as 18 inches away without worry. These generators are fully compliant with the strict standards of the National fire Protection Agency, and in full accordance with the Underwriters Laboratories, stationary engine generator assemblies, and the Canadian Standards Association. Besides being safe, it is also attractive and will not bring down your home’s curb appeal.

The Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System manages full power to all your appliances with a managed Symphony II Power Management whole house power system – this organizes all your high-demand appliances like your air conditioner or electric oven, along with lower-demand items, plus up to two air conditioners, providing true whole-house power with this smaller, affordable generator without issue.

The dual 200/400 split amp transfer switch replaces any need to have two separate 200 amp switches in a standard split 400 A service homes with two 200A distribution panels, making this convenient and more affordable to maintain whole house back up for larger homes and businesses.

The quick response means that upon seconds after sensing a power outage, this unit kicks in at full operation. There is a transfer switch included that means more flexibility for indoor or outdoor needs, making it easy to install. And the five-year limited warranty consists of parts replacement, labor costs, and travel, which further testifies to Briggs & Stratton’s continued dedication to customer satisfaction.

This unit has an automotive-style exhaust system and sound-dampening technology so this unit runs quietly and is neighbor friendly. The unique airflow system allows these units to run 50 percent quieter than most generators. And if you live on a tight lot line, no worries. As mentioned, you are allowed to place this unit as close as 18 inches from your home, in compliance with the NFPA 37 standard.

Briggs & Stratton (who also make quick turning riding mowers) provides superior customer support for all their generators and will be there every step of the way to ensure you receive answers and support to all your questions in a fast, friendly manner. They know that shopping for the right standby generator can be a bit of a daunting process, so they have partnered with Synchrony to provide special financing solutions that will fit your specific needs. For qualified models, Briggs & Stratton offers to finance through their own Briggs & Stratton StandBy Power credit card.

What is an Inverter Generator?

When talking about inverter generators, let’s first compare inverter to conventional generators: Conventional generators are the most popular and widely used, having been around the longest. They are gas-powered with a motor that is attached to an alternator, producing electricity at a consistent speed that is usually 3600 rpm to produce the required 120 volt current. Inverter generators are a relatively new technology that has been made possible through advanced electronics and the highest quality magnets.

These generators function by outputting AC current like most units, but then the current is converted to DC voltage and “inverted” back to clean AC voltage. The advantage of this method is that it keeps a constant flow of current to your appliances. Inverter generators are generally smaller than conventional, and weigh less, plus they can operate at variable speeds, which makes them more fuel efficient. And finally, they are a quieter model, enabling you to carry on a normal conversation while it runs in the background with no issues.

A few of our favorite inverter generators are the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas Powered Portable Inverter, the Honda EU2200I Super Portable Inverter Generator, the WEN 56200i, 1600 Gas Portable Inverter Generator, and Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 Portable Inverter Generator. All of these models provide consistent, durable power in a lightweight unit, and is affordable, delivering full value to its cost.

How much does it cost to run a House on a Generator?

Estimating an accurate cost to operate a whole house generator can be fairly tricky given all the variables involved, but there are ways to calculate an estimate overall for each type of scenario. Most electric generators are powered by gasoline, propane, natural gas, or diesel – with gasoline being the most common for portable generators. These fuel prices will vary, which in turn affects how much you will spend running your generator.

  • Fuel Capacity ( Gal )

For instance, a typical 3,500 Watt gasoline-powered generator running at 50 percent load (1,750W), will run for approximately 2 hours on one gallon. So typically you will be spending about $27-34 if you run the generator for an entire 24 hour period, assuming you aren’t running it at full capacity the entire time – and, really, the important thing to consider is comfort and convenience. This is still a lot cheaper than getting a hotel room, or replacing spoiled food!

Who Makes the Best Portable Generator?

As a consumer favorite and one of the best selling portable units on the market, the preferred generator to buy would be the portable DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Generator for both its powerful and economic features, as a mid-level generator that will deliver a maximum 4000 watt output and a 7.0 amp air cooled OHV engine with a low oil shutoff. As our Top Pick of the top ten best portable generators, This has a run time of eight hours at half-load and includes two 120 volt outlets and one 120 volt 30 amp outlet, plus it is easy to start with the EZ-Pull starting mechanism.

All in all, a great value for your buck. Another favorite of ours is the Honda EU2200I Super Portable Generator (as our Premium Choice) for its lightweight, durable, and user-friendly portability. This unit is made for optimum performance and thanks to its superb industrial design, it runs very quietly at 53 to 59 dBA, almost a whisper, it runs efficiently, and is backed by an extensive manufacturer’s warranty for peace of mind.

This unit provides great functionality without compromising any comfort and it handles virtually any circumstance consistently well, offering a smooth flow of power to keep everything running as they should for hours on end without worries. Finally, the WEN 56180 1500 Watt Gas Powered Portable Generator is packed with features and always ready to supply reliable, efficient power whenever and wherever needed.

It has an 1800 watt starting wattage and 1500 running watts of continual running power, and provides an essential companion for the campground, job site, or mainly, in those home power emergencies, allowing you to run those vital power appliances such as the refrigerator, computer, television, microwave, and more, without worry. As a bonus, this engine is EPA III approved and CARB-compliant, which means that it is allowed to operate in all 50 states.

The 1.45 gallon tank provides 7.5 hours of half-load runtime at a full tank that produces 98cc of power, and has an internal forced-air cooling system that helps maintain the engine and prevent it from heating up to dangerous levels. The low-oil shutdown is a nice safety feature that prevents any damage to the engine when the oil is depleted below the minimum level, protecting the engine from irreversible destruction.

This generator is also smartly equipped with a spark arrestor to help reduce the sparks during operation, making it safe to use in forests or on the campsite. All three of these portable units are highly recommended and have received numerous positive reviews online. So having one of these on your self at home you know you can be prepared for all kinds of uses.

How many watts do you need in a generator?

This answer really depends on your basic home power needs, so ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do you use city or well water?
  • Do you run on electric, heat pump, or gas/oil forced air?
  • Is your hot water heater infrared, electric, gas, or oil fired?

These three answers will better determine just how many watts you will need to power a home, but in general, the average homeowner can often receive adequate power using between 3000 and 6500 watts. If there is a smaller furnace, and if you have city water, you can typically expect 3000 to 5000 watts will cover your needs. For a larger furnace and/or a well pump, expect to need more like a 5000 to 6500 watt generator. Click here to find out more on how they exactly work.

Westinghouse WGen5500 Generators

Top Pick

If you are needing a generator that will power a bit more than the basic essentials, then you need to consider the DuroStar DS4000S, 3300. Both powerful and economic, this is a great investment for your dollar. As a consumer favorite and one of the best selling portable units on the market, this unit has a maximum 4000 watt output and provides some powerful features, including a 7.0 amp air-cooled OHV engine with low oil shutoff, and a heavy duty steel frame with four point fully isolated motor mounts that are for operating smoothly and quietly.

This unit claims it will run for eight hours at a 50 percent load. The EZ-Pull starting mechanism provides an easier, non-stressful way to start the unit, and will conveniently run on regular 87 octane. The engine has an air-cooled, robust 7HP overhead valve with a 4-cycle engine and provides the benefits of a lower fuel consumption that burns cleaner, and has no need for the more expensive two stroke oil. Definitely a great value for its affordable price.

Premium Choice

As the pioneer of smaller generators and celebrating 50 years of its generator design philosophy, Honda’s clean, precision inverter technology makes certain that Honda’s inverter generators will put out the reliable power you have always depended on from your own home outlets. So efficient, you will almost forget your appliances aren’t running on normal power. Over the past 50 years, few other items have accomplished the goal of these units by helping those in need, and Honda is proud to have helped pioneer this handy item for worldwide consumer use.

At just 46 pounds, this generator is considered to be one of the lighter portable units that is easy to carry and transport just about anywhere. The Honda EU2200i is gas-powered and will run up to 8.1 hours on one gallon of gas, making this an efficient, affordable portable system that serves your electrical needs well, and provides great functionality without compromising any comfort. This unit handles consistently well and offers a smooth flow of power to keep everything running as they should for hours on end, with no worries.

DuroStar DS4000S, Reviewed as the Best

Great Value

Whether you are dealing with a sudden power outage due to bad weather, or even if you are searching for that perfect power companion to take on your next camping venture in your RV, you want a generator that is not only easy to transport, but reliable and powerful enough to handle several appliances and devices for hours at a time. This lightweight and portable WEN power generator does just that and is always ready to provide reliable power whenever and wherever needed with 1800 watt starting wattage and 1500 running watts of continual running power.

This unit provides an essential companion at the campground, job site, or in those home power emergencies, allowing you to run those essentials such as the refrigerator, computer, television, microwave, and more with little effort. Plus, this engine is EPA III approved and CARB-compliant, which allows for operation in all 50 states. For an affordable cost, this is a solid, dependable portable generator that will power those essentials for the home, in an outage, or in a campground or job site. This generator makes a great addition for a cost that is quite affordable.


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Daniel Martínez
Daniel Martínez
Como recién graduado, me encantaría poder entrar a formar parte de una empresa en la que poder aplicar todos mis conocimientos y, al mismo tiempo, que me permita desarrollarme profesionalmente. Gracias a mi formación especializada, considero que puedo aportar valor y seguir desarrollándome profesionalmente en una compañía que coincida con mis valores y expectativas.

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