Power out? Consumer Reports tests generators

SAN ANTONIO – Losing power is always annoying, and it can also be costly and dangerous. 

But a generator can save the day -- and night.

To find the right generator for your home, Consumer Reports said assess your needs first.   
If you just want to power your refrigerator, some lights and a phone charger or laptop, consider the lightest type of generator, which delivers up to 2,000 watts. Consumer Reports recommends the Yamaha model EF2000isV2 for $900.

A mid-sized inverter will give you up to 3,500 watts, so you can also power a window air conditioner and run either your coffee maker, washing machine or hair dryer. The mid-sized Predator model 3500 for $770 did well in Consumer Reports' tests. 

If your needs include running a large sump pump or water well pump, a larger portable generator providing up to 7,500 watts can handle all of that plus a gas furnace. Consumer Reports recommends the Generac model RS7000E for $1,000.

And if you want to power your entire home, a permanently installed standby generator that provides up to 20,000 watts can make you forget there's a storm outside. The Champion model 100179 for $2,800 kicks in automatically and can power everything in a typical home simultaneously. 

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, never operate your generator in an enclosed space. Keep it at least 20 feet from your home with the exhaust port pointed away from the house. 

Consumer Reports recommends a transfer switch, but if you use an extension cord, make sure it's a 12-gauge cord rated for outdoor use.

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