Edward Cochran, Homeowner: “Last year we were out for a period of nine hours. The year before we were out for about 23 hours at one time. Not a lot of times, but when you run out of power it’s really nice to have a backup generator.
Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder: “Generators can be a great safety measure in case of a power outage. It can prevent food from spoiling in your home, it can help you do your everyday things, keep pipes from freezing, and if you have any medical equipment that runs off electricity it can be a lifesaving tool as well.”
Portable generators are cheaper than permanent units, but are designed to run for shorter time periods and are powered by gasoline, so they’ll need frequent refueling. Permanent units can start automatically or with the flip of a switch — and can power everything in your house.
Chris Hinesley, Hinesley Inc.: “Portable is more common than permanent and there are a few reasons. I think that the ease of use is one. Probably the biggest one is it’s cost-effective. We can install your transfer switch, emergency panel, for around $500-$600, then there would be the cost of the generator, whatever generator you would pick.”
Hicks: “If you live in a rural area where you may be without electricity for a longer period of time or if you have medical issues that require equipment to be plugged in you are probably going to go with a whole house generator. A licensed electrician is the type of contractor you’d hire to install a whole house generator. A whole house generator is going to run anywhere from a few thousand dollars to as much as nine or $10,000 depending on the size of the generator.”
Always follow specific safety instructions when using generators. Put the generator outside on a level surface in a well-ventilated area at least ten feet away from the house to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.