We’ve all heard of the age-old adage: hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That certainly holds when the grid is down. And when that happens (because it will, eventually), you wouldn’t want to stumble around in the dark or freezing in the cold.
Whether it be threatening weather, or a natural calamity, when push comes to shove, a good backup generator will help keep a bad situation from getting worse. Because in emergencies, no one can say when the power will come back.
But since it’ll be a smart albeit, sizeable investment, you wouldn’t want to pick the first generator that fits your budget and call it a day. All backup generators should be reliable and power-efficient but there a few questions that you’ll have to ask yourself before you can shortlist a few.
Should it be permanent? Or will a portable one suit your need better? Which fuel source will power it? And how much ‘oomph’ you’ll need out of it? I’ll break these down for you in the buyer’s guide section of this post. But first, here are some of the best backup generators for your home.
Honda has been in the generator business for quite a few decades now, and they’ve managed to stay on top of their game by developing high-end generators that are second to none. What that essentially means is that you won’t have to manage your expectations. Their flagship models are powerful, peaceful, fuel-efficient, and above all dependable, and the EU2000i is no exception.
- Runs on a GX100 engine
- The output of 2000W at max
- Can hold up to 95 gallons of fuel
- Can run for anywhere between 3.4-8 hours
- Weighs 45 lbs.
What We Like
Thanks to its familiar recoil starter, you can start it conveniently with just a pull of a cable. It is easily set up, and it doesn’t just end there, the whole design and the operation are just as intuitive and straightforward.
It can run for approximately 8 hours on a single gallon, and it can run well.
And you can kick this fuel efficiency up a notch by flipping the switch and putting the generator into eco-mode. This mode not only cuts fuel consumption but also the noise.
Which brings us to our next point…
What’s the overall noise level? The manufacturers promise that its operation is ‘super quiet’, and with a range of 53 decibels – the same level you speak at in your home when having a normal conversation, and it seems to deliver on that promise.
It’s durable and its 3-year warranty speaks volumes in its favor. With regular maintenance, this little guy will be your trusty companion for years to come.
Although you’re asked to pay a pretty penny, this premium pick will not disappoint.
- Excellent performance
- Durable construction
- User-friendly design
- Extremely quiet
- Requires regular maintenance if you don’t want the parts to fail
If a quiet operation, reliable performance, and fuel efficiency are your priorities, you can’t go wrong with this purchase, as evident by the flood of stellar customer reviews it has managed to amass.
This WEN is quiet, much quieter than comparable portable generators in the same price bracket. With a noise level of just 55 decibels when operating at near full capacity, this generator impresses. And because this generator is almost silent – at least as silent as a conversation in a very quiet room, it’ll make for an ideal power source, when you’re out camping or traveling to a place where you don’t have a steady supply of electricity.
- Weighs 48 lbs.
- Fluctuation-free energy supply
- Maximum output of 1600 W
- Automatic shutdown
- 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
What We Like
And it’s not just the noiseless operation that makes it a good travel companion, it’s also fairly light-weight and portable. When you’re camping, it’s a hassle to find accessible power outlets. This model attempts to solve that particular problem by providing you with a USB port and direct power outlets which you can use to charge your laptops or phones.
Even though this generator offers great performance outdoors, it works just as well indoors, if not more. So not only is this model an excellent camping generator, but it’s also appropriate for home use.
Same as the Honda mentioned above, this model features a power saver mode called ‘eco-mode’ which regulates the gas consumption depending on the number of appliances and electronics it’s powering.
- A stable source of power
- Extremely quiet
- Can power your electronic devices
- Can be used outdoors
- Refueling takes some time
If you’re looking for an efficient fuel economy, noiseless operation, and support for your laptops, computers, and phones this model should be on your shortlist.
Next up we have DS4000S from Durostar, with its massive output of 4000W, this fella can power your refrigerator, your microwave, and every appliance in between. But that’s not the only reason it’s a bestseller on Amazon, it’d also be its very reasonable price tag.
- Weighs 94 pounds
- The runtime of 8 hours on a half load
- 7.5 HP OHV engine
- Max fuel capacity of 4 gallon
- One-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
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For a portable generator, this model packs some serious punch, so much so that it can rival some stationary generators. It can be started with its EZ-pull recoil starter – which even the elderly can manage, and you can expect at least 8 hours of runtime on 50% load.
Now, this model isn’t the quietest on this list, but for its output range and size, it qualifies as one of the quieter ones. When it’s not operating on full load, its noise level should be no more than 69 decibels, thanks to its ‘muffler system’.
In case of a blackout, this generator can supply enough constant wattage to keep a couple of vital appliances running simultaneously. But do keep in mind that the fuel consumption (and by the same token, noise level) will be at its highest when it’s operating on full load.
- Respectable power output
- Sturdy build
- Is a bit heavy
- Can be noisy
If you don’t mind the heavyweight and limited portability (which can be remedied by investing in a wheel kit), this machine will be a great buy for you. And while there are few downsides to this model, it offers the best value you’ll find in the market – especially in this wattage class.
This generator is more compact than most models we have on this list, but the power output is generous, especially when you factor in how portable this little guy is. It may not be beefy enough to power your whole house but it is powerful enough to keep a few important appliances going. If all you want is for your perishables to not spoil, and the lights to stay on in an emergency, you’ve found the right machine.
- Max output of 100Q
- 2-stroke 2HP engine
- Weighs 35 lbs.
- Can hold 1 gallon in the tank
- Max noise level of 60 decibels
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It can generate up to 1000 watts of power a maximum capacity but the wattage stabilizes at 900 Watts. The engine is a two-stroke 2HP 63cc which needs fuel mixed with oil –2.5 oz of oil per gallon, to be precise.
As you might have guessed from the low power output, it is very lightweight. Weighing in at only 36 lbs., this model is perhaps the lightest in this roundup. And since it’s so lightweight, it is portable too. You can lug it around comfortably with you on your camping trips.
It’s also quiet. Arguably not the quietest of the bunch, but the noise level is comparable to what you’d hear from two people conversing at a distance of 10 feet from you.
- Reasonably priced
- Eco-friendly operation
- Great fuel economy
- Portable and light
- To keep the price down, the manufacturer’s traded off some durability
To bottom line it for you, this machine will make a great backup generator for homes which don’t demand a great deal of power. If the 9000 W output meets your requirements, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a sweeter deal in this price range.
Champion Power Equipment 42436
If the price-to-value ratio is the deal-breaker for you, Champion’s 4243 should fit the bill. Not only is it well-designed and solidly built, but it can also grind out at least 1200 W, which is enough to bear a load of a few vital appliances at once.
- Max power output of 1500 watts
- The runtime of 10 Hrs for 1.4 gallons
- Noise level of 65 decibels
- 3-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
- Auto shutoff
What We Like
There’s not a whole to dislike about this product. It’s durable. It’s quiet in operation. It’s economical. The design is eco-friendly. But above all, it is reliable.
The engine is housed in a steel frame and it itself is cast iron so right off the bat, you can tell just by looking that it can take some punishment. Surprisingly enough, it has a runtime of a whopping ten hours per 1.2 gallons. And it’s just not economical in its fuel consumption; with a price tag just sound of $200, it certainly won’t break the bank either.
On top of being extremely affordable, it’s as quiet as a human conversation from a few feet. And if you step back a few meters, you won’t even be able to tell if it’s running. That being said, there are quieter models available in the market. So if noise levels are your priority, I suggest skipping this one.
Owing to its liquid-cooled OHV engine, this machine can be relied upon to supply you with continuous power for days, even weeks in the end – which you might need in case of a hurricane or a blizzard. And it’s important because reliability is of the essence during unforeseen situations like those.
- Louder than most
Champion’s generators are generally well-made and it’s a brand many swear by, that’s because they’ve almost always managed to exceed expectations and deliver on their promises. And this model is no exception. It’s portable enough to be carried around outdoors, and it’s powerful enough to keep your essentials running.
In this section of the post, we’ll take a look at what needs to be factored into your decision before you make the purchase. And the research is required not just because of budget reasons, but also your safety and the safety of your loved ones, because it’s not unheard of for deaths to occur from carbon monoxide poisoning – more on that in a few.
So let’s kick things off with answering the most important questions first.
What size should I pick?
To calculate the power output which you’ll need from your generator, figure out how many appliances you’ll need up and running simultaneously during an emergency, and how many watts of power each appliance needs. The second part can be tricky because you need to factor in both the running and the starting power.
The power an appliance demands to start (starting power) is often higher than what they need to keep running (running power). So you’ll have to work out those and then pair them with the number of appliances you have to keep going at any given time, and you’ll get the size you’ll be needing.
On a similar note, keep in mind the number and kind of outlets you’ll require. The more outlets you have, the better your generator can bear the load.
Most portable generators you’ll come across will feature 120 V outlets. Some recent models also offer the option to directly charge your tablets and phones via USB ports, so consider that if you find it useful.
What features do I need?
Many modern generators come with an auto-shutoff feature which powers off the generator if the fuel is low, or if it senses higher than normal carbon monoxide levels. Other safety features should include outlet protection against weather and protection against earth leakage.
If you’ll be lugging your generator around often, you’ll need to consider its weight, and whether or not it comes with a wheel kit. A wheel kit makes it easier to get your generator from point A to point B. Even if the model you pick doesn’t feature one, you can buy a wheel kit separately.
Depending on your usage and frequency, you’ll have to shortlist generators with enough tank capacity that they don’t have you refueling them every so often. Speaking of which, make sure the model you chose comes with a fuel gauge, so you have some idea as to when you need to refuel.
Most older models which you’ll find in the market are started with an old school tug on a cord, but if you find that cumbersome, you can also opt for a model which features wireless remote start. There’s also a convenient push-button option which should work fine but it requires an additional battery to work.
We’ll conclude this post on the following note: people often make generator purchases at the last minute when a natural disaster is imminent. In doing so, they also often overlook the factors that make a generator ideal for their particular situation. This guide should help ensure that the generator you purchase will suit your requirements and your hard-earned money won’t go to waste.