Generator Buying Guide: Picking a Generator for Your Florida Home

generator, portable generator, electric generator, mobile generatorWe’re currently in the peak of hurricane season and that means families all over Florida are likely considering purchasing a generator. After all, last year’s Hurricane Irma left some homes without power for weeks (or more). With possible hurricanes on the horizon and constant rain and thunderstorms, the time to buy a generator is now – before you need one. Keep reading our Generator Buying Guide to find out which type of generator will work best for your needs and budget.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are the most common types of generators due to their price and portability. They’re smaller, gas powered, and can maintain a small amount of appliances. They’re also cost-efficient, ranging in price from $500 to $1,500 depending on power output. Their price and simplicity position them as an easy alternative to their large and expensive counterpart. They also provide plenty of options, including models with wheels or key-starts versus pull-starts.

However, there are downsides. Being gas-powered, portable generators emit poisonous carbon monoxide and need to be placed in the yard and away from the home. They must be on a flat surface and not in any awnings or garages. If you purchase one, also consider buying a carbon monoxide monitor for your home to keep you and your family safe. Due to the distance of the placement, you’ll need to run extension cords to power any appliances. The power cables have wattage ratings as well, so be aware of which cords you purchase. Gas power also means you’ll need to purchase and store gas in order to run the generator.

Standby Generators

Standby generators are larger and powered by natural gas or propane. They are set up ahead of time and start automatically when the unit recognizes a power outage. Most standby generators are powerful enough to run a central A/C, kitchen appliances, and lighting or other items simultaneously. Models often offer great special features like reduced noise levels and conduct self-maintenance checks weekly to ensure your generator is prepared for anything. They provide 24/7 protection and peace of mind for your home.

generator, standby generator, home generatorThe major drawback is the price. Standby generators are expensive with costs ranging from $5,000 to more than $15,000 (installation included). They’re also not portable which means that you can’t take them with you should there be damage to your home during a storm or hurricane. While they can be a great feature for homeowners that later decide to sell, renters are unlikely to want to invest in something for a home that they’re only living in temporarily.

Generator Wattage Output

Once you’ve decide on the type of generator, you’ll want to consider the wattage output.  The more things you want plugged into the generator, the more wattage you will need. Talk a walk around your house and try to evaluate how much wattage it would take to power the necessities. First, go around and list off all the items that you would like to be powered during an outage. Then, find the tags that say how much wattage is needed for each item on your list. This label could be on the door of some appliances or could be on the back of them.

You might not need every single appliance. For example, ovens and air conditioners require a lot of energy and cost more to be powered. Depending on how much you’re looking to spend, you might need to trim these high-wattage items. Find a balance between necessary appliances and your budget. Also, remember that, after you figure out the level of wattage needed, multiply it by 1.5x to account for the amount needed to start the appliances as well.  All electronics use more energy to start up.

Picking the right generator is crucial to powering all of your necessary appliances and accessories in an emergency. Don’t wait for disaster to strike and for all of the generators in nearby stores to be out of stock, forcing you into purchasing whatever is available (or leaving with nothing at all). Take the time to find the right generator for your needs and budget and buy it beforehand.