Power outages from extreme weather is a year-round threat, but with a portable gas or battery-powered generator, you can keep essential medical equipment, appliances, and mobile devices running. When shopping for a portable generator, make sure you know how many watts you'll need to run things like lights, phone chargers, and electric ranges, then add around 10 percent to ensure that there will be enough energy to go around.
And when you get your generator, remember to never use a gas or liquid propane-powered engine indoors and never plug a generator into your home's electrical system without first installing a transfer switch to prevent fires and other electrical damage. I've combed the web to find the best deals on portable generators, so you can save a little money while prepping for extreme weather situations.
Also: Best portable power station: Emergency power when you need it
The best generator deals: November/December 2022
Here are 4 of the best deals on home generators right now:
- Price: $699
- Features: Solar panel, 1600W output, 13 outlets
If you're looking for a backup generator before winter weather sets in, but don't want to deal with the hassle of propane or gasoline, you can save $900 on the EcoFlow Delta 1000 at Walmart. This battery-powered backup generator is capable of 1600 watt output to keep devices charged, medical equipment running, and necessary appliances working in the event of an outage.
It features 6 wall-style outlets, 2 USB-C ports, 4 USB 2.0/3.0 inputs, and a 12V DC outlet, so you can plug in up to 13 devices at once. It also includes a solar panel for fast charging and topping up the internal battery when wall charging isn't an option or for a greener fast-charging option.
- Price: $800
- Features: Propane/gasoline compatible, 9 hour run time, 7 outlets
If you prefer the dependability of a gas-powered generator, but also want a cleaner-burning fuel option, you can save $800 on the Sportsman 7500 watt dual fuel generator at Tractor Supply Company. It can run on either gasoline or propane, giving you flexible fuel options for cleaner backup energy as well as reliability in cold weather.
The 13HP engine and 6.2-gallon gas tank give the generator up to 9 hours of run time, and if you prefer propane, you can get up to 5 hours of use with a 20 pound tank. This generator has 7 outlets, so you can plug in multiple devices at once to keep phones, medical equipment, and important appliances running during an outage.
- Price: $1119
- Features: 2000W output, 11 outlets, wireless charging
The Bluetti AC200P portable battery generator is perfect for camping and beach trips, and you can save almost $600 on one at Walmart. Not only does it feature 11 outlets and ports, the top of the generator is also a wireless charging pad for fast-charging 2 devices at once. The LCD screen makes it easy to check battery life, output, energy consumption, and to catch issues before they cause damage. It even has an outlet for powering appliances in an RV so you can have modern conveniences on that family road trip.
- Price: $949
- Features: Dual fuel, push button start, 5 outlets
The DuroMax 13000W hybrid generator is a dual-fuel model, using either gasoline or propane for power. This gives you flexible options for cleaner and cost-effective energy during an outage. I has a 500cc engine with a push-button start, which saves time in an emergency situation when you need power right away or in the cold when you don't want to stand in the snow pulling on a rip cord.
It also features a fuel switch so you can flip between gas and propane as needed, and it makes running the engine empty for storage faster. With a low oil shut-off and idle control mode, the generator automatically shuts off when there isn't enough oil in the engine, preventing damage while also reducing noise and fuel consumption -- which is great news for residential use.
If you're looking to set up your house to go off-grid and be entirely self-sufficient, you'll want to install a home standby generator. These types of generators are permanent installations, designed to work with a solar panel array or wind turbines to provide consistent power on cloudy or windless days as well as at night.
If you want to make sure you have electricity for at-home medical equipment and appliances during a weather emergency, a portable or inverter generator is your best option. If you do opt for a portable or inverter generator, you'll need to make sure you get one with more than enough wattage to run everything. Lowe's has a handy worksheet available, so you won't accidentally burn up your fridge.
Home standby generators require licensed technicians to properly install. And even portable generators need proper preparation before you can attempt to power your whole house with one. You should never plug a portable generator directly into your home's electrical system without first having a technician install a transfer switch.
Without a transfer switch, you could overload your home's wiring, causing fires, short-outs, and all kinds of other damage. If you intend to use a portable or inverter generator to run just a few appliances, make sure to read the operating manual thoroughly before plugging anything in.
A typical gasoline or dual fuel generator can last up to 2,000 hours with proper engine maintenance. Portable generators aren't meant to run continuously for an indefinite period of time, but you can have one going for one to two days during an emergency, as long as you have enough fuel.
Home standby generators are much more robust, having lifetimes upwards of 40 years. No matter which kind you choose for your home, proper engine maintenance is a must. Make sure that all air, oil, and fuel filters are regularly changed as well as regularly changing the oil itself, and you'll be able to keep your generator at optimal efficiency for quite some time.