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What type of generator should you get for the hurricane season?

Years ago, a tropical storm knocked out the power to the Jacksonville home I lived in with my family.  For three days, we had no refrigeration, no lights, and no internet or TV. All we had was each other. I never want to live that way again!

Before the start of the next hurricane season, I purchased a generator. It came in very handy when we got hit again. There was a three-day power outage, and I was very glad we had a generator.

If you’re thinking of getting one, the first thing you should do is  figure out how much power you’re going to need. Make a list of the appliances and electronics you’ll want to use when the power is out. Write down the wattage each item needs to run. This information is usually on a sticker on the device. If you can’t find the sticker, look for that information on the internet. Add up the wattage, multiply by 1.5, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much power you need to run everything.

I looked at Harbor Freight’s website and found a gas generator which will crank out over 4000 watts and costs less than $500. That could be a good fit for lots of folks. It would be fairly noisy. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more noise a generator will make. A quieter alternative would be an inverter generator, but they’re more expensive. Harbor Freight has a 3500 watt inverter generator priced at $899. (Harbor Freight isn’t paying me for the mention. It’s just the place I go to for this sort of thing.)

Pay attention to the warnings. Every generator comes with a warning about carbon monoxide. Generators need to be run outside the building. Also,  if you want to tie the generator into your house wiring, get an electrician to do it. It’s really not a do-it-yourself job.

Retailers don't want people returning generators after a storm has passed. They will make it known that returns won't be allowed. I remember one store that had stickers about that on every generator box.

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