Updated: November 2017
Generator ReviewsWithout electricity, the modern world as we know it would stop. Electricity powers everything from our lights, TVs, air conditioners, tools, factories, you name it. If there is an electric outlet nearby, you are in good shape - just plug in. But when the power goes out, or you are not near an outlet, that's when a gas-powered generator comes in. A generator is basically a engine, powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, and its power is converted into electricity. Many people have standby emergency generators for their homes in case of power outages. Portable generators are also popular for RVs when there is no electrical hookup nearby, allowing use of appliances, lights, etc. And construction workers and contractors often use generators to power tools and equipment on job sites where there is no electricity hooked up yet. As a home owner, if the power goes out, just fire up the generator, plug in a few cords, and you regain power for critical things like lights, furnace, refrigerator, water pumps. Without electricity, you face the risk of frozen pipes and water damage, spoiled freezer and refrigerator contents, and more.
Buying Guide - What to look for when buying a generator? Portable generators are smaller units that you can use in many situations, while permanent standy generators are built into your homes wiring, coming on automatically when the power goes out, and turning themselves off when the power comes back on. Generators for home use are rated by their power output in terms of watts. A generator that puts out 1000 watts of power can provide electricity for thirteen 75W light bulbs. A typical furnace might require 2500W. Check out the power requirements of the appliances you want to connect to your generator - furnace, refrigerator, water pump, microwave, one TV, and some lights are the most common things people want power for during an emergency. You may find that you need a 10kW or 15kW generator, which could set you back from $1500-$3000. Most stores that sell tools and equipment also sell generators. Places like Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart. Walmart sells a smaller Coleman Powermate generator with 6250 watts (powered by a 10HP engine) of output for $500. Its five gallon tank lets it run for up to 6 hours at 50% load. Noise is often a factor with generators. Unlike silent electricity, a generator is a gas powered engine and it makes noise like an engine (think leaf blowers!). If you have a private setting around your home, noise may not be an issue. But if you are in a neighborhood setting, consider a quieter model (like the Honda units mentioned below) to not keep the neighborhood up all night. When buying a generator, ask yourself these questions: What will I be using it for? (commercial/construction, home emergency, camping); How quiet does it have to be? How much power do you need? Does the generator need to be portable? Honda offers an online Wattage Calculator to give you an idea how much power various appliances need. For example, a coffee maker needs about 170W, a microwave oven needs about 650W, a refrigerator needs about 700W, a radio might need 50-200W, a color TV needs about 300W, etc. Generator reviews - We found quite a few articles online that pitted top brands like Honda, Yamaha, Troy-Bilt, Briggs & Stratton, Craftsman, Northstar and Coleman in head to head competition. Also, Consumer Reports does an excellent job rating generators based on power quality, noise levels, ease of use, and emergency power. They differentiated the generators into 3 categories - stationary units, midsized portable units, and small portable units. Honda scored well for noise as did the Briggs & Stratton Elite Series. A complete list of the best selling portable generators online is here.
Best Portable GeneratorRECOMMENDED - The Briggs & Stratton 30242 6,200-Watt 11 HP Portable Generator is capable ofrunning most lights and appliances in a small home (2000 sq ft or less). It will run up to 13 hours at 50% output capacity and the internatl powersurge alternator will protect any valuable electronics you have in your home. The never flat 10" inch tires let you wheel the generator around - it does weight 165 lbs. With slightly less watts, the newest version is the Briggs & Stratton Power Products 5,550-Watt Portable Generator. View the whole inventory of Briggs & Stratton generators here.
Top Rated Small Portable Generator:It seems that most people go with the smaller generators since they don't need to light up their entire house when the power is off. The most popular models are the ETQ TG32P12 4000 Watt 7 HP Gas Powered Portable Generator and the Blue Max 4,000 Watt Generator. They are all rated very high on Amazon in terms of customer reviews. The ETQ features 3200 running watts and 4000 max watts and an air cooled OHV engine. The 4 gallon fuel tank will give you up to 13 hours of run time at 50% load. How loud are these suckers. The ETQ 4000 Watt is rated at less than 65 db (decibel). It won't power up your entire house, but you can get enough juice from this portable generator to power your refrigerator, TV, water heater, and other household appliances. See the entire lineup of top rated small portable generators online.
Standby Generators - Generac Power SystemsGenerac Power Systems also makes a line of reliable generators. The Generac portable 15kW model costs just over $2000 and can be used as an emergency standby home generator or for recreational use while camping or with an RV. These are air cooled engine generators with electric starters. These generators can be heavy, weighing up to 400 pounds or more. Commonly they are housed inside a tubed frame to protect them, and with wheels on one side they can be rolled around like a wheel barrow despite their weight. Another sample residential use power generator is the Northstar 13HP 8000 Watt Generator. Priced at $1650, it weighs 240 lbs, has a 6.5 gallon gas tank, and comes on a wheeled tubular frame for portability. It comes with 5 receptables, two 15 Amp 120V receptacles, two 20 Amp 120V receptacle, and one 120/240V 30 Amp locking plug receptacle. In terms of noise, this unit puts out 75 decibels at 20 feet. We suggest that you browse the top selling standby generators online here.
Honda GeneratorsHonda generators are among the most widely respected and most popular. They make a full line of generators for both commercial and residential use. One of their specialties is their super quiet inverter generators that produce only 59 decibels at 20 feet, which is less than the sound of normal speech. Their EU1000, EU2000, EU3000, and EX4500 are in this family. The EU2000 for example provides 2000W of power, weighs only 46 lbs, and can run up to 15 hours on a tank of gas. These are designed for smaller resistive loads. Honda also makes a line of economy generators, like the EN2500, EG3500, and EG5000. The EG5000 costs $1800 and puts out 5000W of power from its 11HP OHV engine. It has a 2 gallon fuel tank, weighs 150 lbs, and is portable. RECOMMENDED - The quietest generator is the Honda Eu 3000 Is with 3000 watts of power.
Get detailed information on specific brands - Coleman Generator Reviews - Generac Generators Review - Honeywell Generator Reviews