Summer 2012 is turning out to be the summer of the storm, and the summer of the power outage.
With so many outages every time a storm blows though, more and more homeowners are making the decision to buy a generator.
The sound of a generator (which sounds like a lonely lawnmower running in the middle of the night) is a comforting sound when the power is out, especially if it's a generator that can run lights, the fridge, and even a room air conditioner.
But before you head out to the hardware store, Consumer Reports magazine says buy more wattage than you think you need.
Check the Wattage
Most manufacturers suggest you will want at least 3,000 watts for a portable generator to power your fridge and some lights.
Expect to refill it about every 5 hours.
Look for 6,000 watts if you want to add a room air conditioner.
You'll should look for 15,000 watts for a whole house unit to power everything, including central A/C.
Consumer Reports says many low wattage generators bog down and stumble well below their listed wattage, so the bigger the better.
It says a basic 3,000 watt generator may not be able to handle 3,000 watts without stumbling. Refrigerators and other big appliances pull a big surge when they first turn on, which causes weaker generators to stumble, and even stall out.
Cost? A basic model runs $500, but a whole house generator will cost $5,000 or more. Experts suggest you don't buy the cheapest generator you find. Cheap generators are also noisier.
Put Safety First
Two last safety tips: Never run a generator in the garage, or even right outside the door, because of carbon monoxide fumes it gives off.
And never refuel a portable generator when it is running, due to the risk of spark that could cause a flare up and burn you. Turn it off and let it cool down for a few minutes first.
As always, don't waste your money.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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