Types of generators: Which will power you when the lights go out?

Types of generators: Which will power you when the lights go out?

Three of your family members sit on the couch. One watches television, another scrolls through their phone and the last uses a laptop. That is, until the sky begins to grumble, lightning flashes and suddenly your home is dark. The power is out.

The laptop and television are now useless, since the TV needs a direct power source and the laptop uses internet from a plugged-in router. The cell phone will soon follow suit with yet another black screen in the house. So what will you and your family do to pass the time?

Not only do you have to worry about boredom, but you have financial and safety concerns. How will your family stay warm if an outage happens during freezing weather? What about all the food in your refrigerator? How long do you have until it ruins without being chilled? Can you check the weather and safety updates without a power source?

There is one product that can alleviate all fears and worry: a generator. However, how do you know which types of generators to choose? There are hundreds of products out there varying in price and capabilities. For instance, the most popular types of generators made for emergency use typically fall into two categories: portable and standby. Keep reading for helpful hints on how to make the best purchase for your needs.

Emergency Generators:

As previously mentioned, emergency generators typically fall into two categories.

A standby generator is just as its name suggests; it is standing by awaiting a power outage. This type of generator will immediately start itself and begin to act as a backup power source for whichever appliances and household items you choose.


  • Convenience. You do not have to be home to turn on this generator, so even if you have just boarded a flight to go across country, the foods in your fridge will not spoil if the power goes out
  • Strength. This type of generator can typically power multiple appliances and items at once.
  • Usability. Portable generators can be purchased to function on various types of fuel sources like natural gas, gasoline and more


  • Price. The expense of a standby generator is much greater than a portable generator
  • Installation requirement. All standby generators must be professionally installed, which is not only a hassle but an addition to the already expensive product

Portable generators do not have the convenience that standby generators offer. When the lights go out, these types of secondary power sources need to be manually started. However, this inconvenience is offset by a much cheaper cost. Standby generators need to be installed by a professional, which also dramatically increases their initial cost.


  • Portability. These types of generators can easily be moved for varying projects. For instance, a portable generator can be used for yard work during the summer and then near your refrigerator during a winter outage
  • Affordability. This type of generator can be much cheaper than a standby generator.
  • Usability. Portable generators can be purchased to function on various types of fuel sources like natural gas, gasoline and more


  • Lower energy output. Portable generators do not typically produce the same amount of energy as a standby generator
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of the generators emissions, which can be harmful in large quantities, it is necessary that a home using a generator install a carbon monoxide detector. This additional device could save the lives of your family, so it is a necessary purchase to go alongside the purchase of a portable generator
  • Extra extension cords. Extension cords are necessary to connect the generator to the item you hope to power.


Electric generators are also an option, however they must be charged for long periods of time prior to a power outage. They do not typically provide the amount of power needed for household appliances, but they can be useful for charging small electronics.


There is no right or wrong answer when choosing a generator for you home. Like most choices in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to each decision. Essentially, you should make your purchase once you are informed enough on each type to determine which is the best type of generator for your home.

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