Your Comprehensive Generator Buying Guide


It’s Sunday evening. Game 7 of the World Series is about to come on. You pop some popcorn, grab a soda, and stretch out on the couch, ready to watch your team kick butt in the winner-take-all game. And all of a sudden — poof! The power goes out, the house goes dark, the TV switches off, and game 7 is about to happen without you.

If that situation sounds like something you’d want to avoid, then what you need is a portable home generator. Don’t know the right one to get? No worries — this article will provide you with a comprehensive generator buying guide. We’ll go over all of the specifications you need to decide on before purchasing a generator.

Your Budget Defines the Generator Buying Guide

The first and most obvious decision up for deciding is budget. However, it’s by far the most important factor, as your budget will guide many of the decisions you make regarding the options available for a generator. Typical cost for a home generator ranges between $500 and $4000.

Fuel Type

The principal decision to make here is whether you want to go for a traditional gas-powered generator, or spring for a diesel generator. The latter will typically hurt your wallet a tad more, but a diesel generator holds several advantages over a gas-powered one. For one, diesel generators don’t have carburetors, which are susceptible to clogging. If you’re not the mechanical, fixer-upper type, that feature alone might be worth it.

Diesel also gives you better fuel efficiency if you’re going to be running this generator quite a bit — which brings us to our next point in this buying guide.

Usage Level

Do you live in a location where storms and power outages are frequent? Or is a power outage more of a rare, once-in-a-year kind of deal? Or do you plan to buy a generator for an entirely different application requiring more consistent use?

Depending on your projected usage level, you may want to spring for a commercial generator. Obviously, such a machine will be higher cost, but will come with better equipment for longer, more often runs, as well as longer warranties if you ever need servicing.

Noise Level

If you’ve got a large garage sectioned away from the house that can tolerate the noise, then, by all means, go for just any model without regard for noise level. If however, you plan to use the unit for tailgates, while camping, or in a crowded neighborhood, try to find a unit that outputs at a reduced decibel level. Nothing kills conversation quite like the deafening whirr of a noisy generator.

Starting Mechanism

The macho physical labor lovers among you may love the idea of a traditional pull-cord starting mechanism. Others may prefer to opt for a push-start. Nowadays, push-starts are the norm rather than the exception, and don’t even mean that you’ll be footing a higher price tag.

Another starting feature that does merit a higher cost is the automatic start. This type of generator will kick in automatically if a power outage occurs, which comes in particularly useful if the power goes out when you’re not at home. Once you’ve decided which mechanism to go with.

Final Thoughts

Armed with this generator buying guide, it’s time for you to begin your search to find the perfect portable home generator for your needs.

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