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The Best Generators to Keep Your Home Powered Up

The Best Generators to Keep Your Home Powered Up

Maya Deleon and Rachel RossLast Updated Nov 21, 2020 9:28:20 PM ET
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A reliable home generator helps ensure you have stable power and comfort during blackouts that can last for hours or days. That's why it's important to choose the right unit for your needs in case of an emergency.

While you’re preparing for storms or unexpected outages, you’ll find that there are different types of generators, including standby, portable and inverter models, each of which has its own particular functions and benefits. A home standby generator is a large investment, as it provides high wattage levels and automatically switches into operation when the main power goes off. A portable generator costs less than a standby due to its lower output and requires more maintenance because these smaller generators need their oil changed more frequently. Inverter generators are quiet, efficient and offer power comparable to most portable generators, creating enough power to meet your home’s load instead of running at the same output rate constantly.

Generators provide different levels of power, which determines what appliances you can run. For instance, a unit with 5,000 watts can power the average home to run basic electrical devices like lamps and TVs. If you need more power, you need a generator with a higher wattage output.

With all of that in mind, we've rounded up the top-rated generators for your home to keep things running even under the worst conditions.

1

Best Value: Champion 3,800-Watt Dual-Fuel Generator

With a budget-friendly price tag and 3,800 running watts of power, Champion's dual-fuel generator is a top contender for use during power outages and other emergencies. It's a fraction of the cost of many larger models, but it still provides dual-fuel capabilities, a convenient push-button electric startup and batteries. This generator is also easy to set up and run. In addition to a three-year limited warranty, you get lifetime technical support for no charge. This workhorse delivers up to nine hours of power on a full tank of gasoline or up to 10.5 hours using a 20-pound propane tank.

2

Best Whole-House Generator: Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator

If you're looking for a standby generator that's capable of powering your whole home, the Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator can handle that job thanks to its 22,000 watts of output. It offers immense power to let you run various electronics and household appliances for an extended amount of time. Thanks to its tough, durable case, this generator will effectively work in all weather conditions. The five-year warranty and 24/7 tech support mean you won't be on your own if something goes wrong. You can even remotely monitor the generator's status and maintenance schedule using your mobile phone, tablet or computer.

3

Best Portable: Honda 2,200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

While other portable gasoline generators weigh up to 100 pounds or more, the Honda 663520 Portable Inverter Generator weighs in at less than 50 pounds, making it an ideal option for anyone who wants to tote the generator between home and an RV, vacation home or campsite. The inverter technology delivers enough power to run a furnace, microwave, fridge and more — all at low noise levels. You'll get between seven and 20 hours of run time on a single gas tank. Wheels, a folding handle and an offset handle for lifting make this powerful generator super portable. If you need to check the unit's performance or operate it from a distance, you can use Honda's My Generator smartphone app to do so. Just make sure your phone has Bluetooth capabilities.

4

Best Quiet Operation: WEN 56203i Inverter Generator

The WEN 56203i Inverter Generator operates no louder than a normal conversation — without compromising performance. Not only is it one of the least -noisy generators for home use, but it also provides minimal harmonic distortion, so you can use it safely to power your phones, tablets, televisions, computers and other sensitive electronics. It provides 1,600 running watts and lasts up to six hours at 50% capacity. If you need more juice, you can connect multiple units using an optional parallel connection kit. If you need less power, you can use its Eco mode, which conserves fuel as you plug or unplug devices and appliances.

5

Best Lightweight: Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart Series

Designed to be easily carried by one or two people, the Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart Series features a unique H-handle design and weighs about 55 pounds. That means you can easily transport the generator from your home to an RV or a campsite. It provides up to eight hours of run time and 1,700 running watts. This generator also lets you flip a switch to activate its Quiet Power Technology, which reduces noise and saves fuel by adjusting the engine speed. Plus, you can safely power laptop computers, TVs and game systems thanks to the harmonic distortion-minimization function.

6

Best Overall: DuroMax XP1200 EH

The DuroMax XP1200EH portable generator is a top pick for people who want uninterrupted power in case of unexpected outages. This heavy-duty portable generator gives you up to 20 hours of power. It runs on gas or propane for extra flexibility and delivers 9,500 running watts of power to your home's key lights, appliances and power tools. Like all portable generators, you'll need to use it outside because of the exhaust it emits, but otherwise, it should do the job in most situations — and do it well.

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