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Everything you need to power anywhere

Almost everything we own today needs power: smartphones, laptops, TVs, air purifiers, refrigerators, game consoles, and even electric cars. Loss of power can be a minor nuisance or a catastrophic situation that threatens personal safety and life.

Our test editor Brad Ford

Expert:

Bradley Ford has spent most of his life repairing, building, and creating tools. Growing up he worked on a farm where he learned to weld, repair and paint equipment. From the farm, he worked for a classic car dealer, repairing and servicing Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Jaguars. Currently, he is not testing tools or creating his how-to guides. popular mechanics A gear editor, he’s busy working on a project at an old farmhouse in eastern Pennsylvania.

Trevor Raab

Extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent, can disrupt power systems and cause outages lasting hours or days. Losing power not only leaves you in the dark, but also freezes your refrigerator, disables the drain pump in your basement, disrupts the use of medical equipment, or stranded you if you’re driving an electric car. There is even But the solution is simple. With a generator or portable power station, you always have power wherever you go. Whether you’re at home, camping, or living off the grid, one of these devices can charge your gadgets or power your appliances and devices, no matter the conditions.

For all these reasons, generators can be a great investment. Best of all, you don’t have to commit to a large unit anchored in your backyard if you don’t want to. There is a portable model that can be deployed and taken camping or cooking when needed.

Before purchasing a generator, it is important to think about where and how it will be used. There are several types of generators to consider, including standby, portable, and inverter. Each requires a specific type of fuel, and some work with multiple fuels. Generators typically run on gasoline, but some dual-fuel models run on gas or propane. There are also tri-fuel models that can run on gasoline, propane, or natural gas. In addition, unlike portable generators that use a battery bank, there are also portable power stations that can be easily carried on the go. These are ready to power your power tools, charge your electronics, or run your appliances when the power goes out at home.

Standby generators run on natural gas or propane and are permanently installed and connected to the home via a transfer switch. These can power some critical circuits during a power outage or power an entire house. A standby generator has a system that monitors the power supplied by the utility and automatically starts in the event of a power failure.

If you choose a permanently installed standby generator, you may need a professional to obtain the necessary permits and carry out the work. And since all standby generators must comply with local codes and/or national electrical codes, they will be the ones to ground it.

Emergency backup power is one application for portable generators, but it’s not the only one.

Electrical circuits must be grounded for safe operation of electrical equipment. This directs short-circuited or faulty currents to ground (actual, literal ground) and prevents the user from becoming a conduit to “ground.”

Portable generators, sometimes called backup generators, require gas, propane, or sometimes natural gas. The smallest models can be lifted and transported, but most have wheels and handles for easy mobility. Emergency backup power is one application for portable generators, but it’s not the only one. Its on-the-go power makes the portable generator a handy thing that works both at home and on adventures. Not just for camping, it’s great for tailgates, barbecues, parades, or anywhere you’re out of extension cord range. Appliances, power tools, or other devices can be plugged directly into standard outlets on the front panel of the generator.

Inverter generators run on gas or propane. These machines are usually portable, and in the way they work, they can also be very different technically from standby generators and portable his generators, and can be very expensive. Other machines generate AC (alternating current) power first, but inverter generators convert AC power to DC (direct current) and then back to AC. Conversion and inversion are controlled by a circuit that acts like a filter, flattening surges and providing cleaner, more stable power. This is important for sensitive electronics such as tablets, laptops, TVs and other smart devices that can be damaged by current distortions and surges.

Generator Dos and Don’ts

what I have to do

✅ do Inventory what you plan to connect to the power plant in order to select the appropriate size. Many manufacturers have charts showing estimated power requirements for common appliances and devices to help you total your needs.

✅ do Keep gas generators that need to be used outdoors at least 20 feet away from your home. Fuel generators emit carbon monoxide when in use, so you should stay away from windows and doors to allow the exhaust to blow away from your home. Also, look for models with built-in carbon monoxide sensors for added safety.

✅ do Consider a dual fuel generator that can run on gasoline or propane. Switching between fuels is easy and you’re never locked into one type of fuel.

✅ do Start the generator regularly and treat the fuel with a stabilizer. This will prevent gasoline from losing its flammability over time.

✅ do Please consider the noise level. Propane generators run slightly quieter than gas-powered machines, with slightly less wattage when starting and running. Kits are available to convert many common generators to run on propane.

✅ do Work with an expert when choosing a permanently installed standby generator. They obtain the necessary permits and perform work such as grounding machines in accordance with local codes and/or national electrical codes.

Prohibited matter

❌ don’t Operate a generator or fuel-powered engine in a closed space such as a garage or storeroom. Even if you run your generator in or in front of an open garage, carbon monoxide can slowly get trapped in your garage before entering your home.

❌ don’t Forget planning ahead. Homes and campgrounds may have laws, regulations, or even restrictions regarding the use of generators.

enjoy a power trip

Gas generators are a great solution for temporary power during a power outage, but they can be a hassle to bring on a camping trip. If you’re an avid adventurer who still enjoys living creature comforts, a power plant will come in handy. They’re great for on-the-go, but they also give you the peace of mind of having an emergency power source at home in case of an unexpected power outage.

Portable power stations are powered by large batteries rather than fuel, so they can be safely used indoors, unlike gas generators that can only be used outdoors. Additionally, there are a number of smaller models that are easy to carry around for off-grid excursions. The portable power station can be charged either with a standard 120 volt AC plug or by harnessing the power of nature with a solar panel. Reaching the maximum charging capacity of a particular solar panel can be difficult, mainly because conditions are rarely perfect. This is not to say that solar panels aren’t a viable option for charging portable power stations. If you rely on solar panels, you should plan accordingly. Don’t wait until the power station is close to empty before starting solar charging. Using multiple panels can reduce charging time, but requires more space and investment.

new line

best portable generator

DuroMax XP13000HXT

DuroMax XP13000HXT

Duromax
amazon.com

$2,499.00

Voted Best Portable Generator at the 2022 Lawn & Garden Awards, the DuroMax boasts tri-fuel technology that gives you the freedom to choose between gasoline, propane, or natural gas. The included flexible fuel line allows you to connect the generator to your propane tank or your home’s natural gas line. With a peak power of 13,000 watts during storms and blackouts, this generator keeps lights on, appliances running, and HVAC systems running uninterrupted. Read the full review on page 82.

best standby generator

Generac PowerPact Standby Generator

Generac PowerPact Standby Generator

Generak
lowes.com

$1,999.00

This affordable generator can keep your refrigerator from spoiling and keep your home at a moderate temperature. Fully enclosed design with internal sound baffle makes it much quieter than portable generators. This is typical as standby generators are permanently installed near the home to provide power. A durable aluminum shell protects the generator from adverse weather conditions.

best inverter generator

Champion DUAL Fuel Portable Inverter Generator

Champion DUAL Fuel Portable Inverter Generator

champion power equipment
lowes.com

$1,149.00

Champion packs a lot of value here, starting with the ability to run on either gas or propane.With a 30 amp RV style plug, this generator is suitable for powering mid-sized campers. I’m here. There are no 240 volt outlets, but they may come in handy in an emergency at home. Considering this for your next adventure? This ultra-quiet generator can simultaneously run a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, LCD TV, laptop, charger for mobile devices, and 4 of her CFL lights.

best portable power station

Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

goal zero
amazon.com

$1,999.95

$1,599.89 (20% off)

The Yeti 1500X is the bridge between emergency home backup and off-grid power for camping, tailgating, or remote power needs. Our gear team ran it from 100% to 0% using a load of 459 watts that took him 3 hours and 11 minutes. For reference, this is like he has 4 refrigerators running for the same amount of time in a row. During testing, he used the Yeti 1500X to power one refrigerator and keep it running for 28 hours and 17 minutes.

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