When a hurricane occurs, power is often lost. Phone lines go down, and companies are unable to get to access points to restore service. Tropical storms such as hurricanes wreak havoc on power systems, and having a backup generator can provide you with power once the hurricane is over. Home generators let you turn your lights back on, run your A/C systems, use electronic devices, and use cooking appliances. These are our top generator choices for backup power in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.
How Generators Work
Generators work by providing an alternative power source. When a generator is plugged into the transfer switch in your home, it will create power by running on natural gas or propane fuel, and that power will be converted into electrical energy. The user simply has to add fuel to the fuel tank, plug the generator into the correct switch and outlet, and then turn the generator "on." Backup generators have various power ranges, and some are ideal for powering a few items while others can power the whole house.
Benefits of Having Backup Generators
Buying a backup generator in case of a hurricane or tropical storm provides an alternative fuel source when blackouts occur. Generators make homes safer during outages by allowing homeowners to listen to the news on radios and televisions, by keeping the lights on to avoid falling, and by keeping the refrigerator on to save food from spoiling. Many hurricanes can cause power outages that last for weeks, and a backup generator can give you access to power throughout the entire blackout.
Buying a High-Quality Generator for Hurricanes
Generator Size vs. Home Power Needs
Consider your home power needs when purchasing a generator and choosing a generator size. This generator power calculator can help you determine the wattage you need on your new generator. This calculator takes into account the square footage of your home as well as what appliances, entertainment devices, and heating/cooling system items you intend to run during a power outage. This will ensure that your generator can properly power your home.
Gasoline is the most common generator option, but not necessarily the best. Propane is a cleaner-burning gas and requires less maintenance while also being more fuel-efficient. Bi-Fuel and dual fuel systems allow homeowners to choose between gasoline or propane. The fuel tank can easily accept and run both types of fuel.
A transfer switch is needed to transfer the electrical power between your generator and your home. You may already have a transfer switch plugged into your circuit board at your home, or you may need to buy a transfer switch and have it installed. Some generators come with transfer switches that you can use. A professional can help you determine what you need at the time of installation.
The best generator for a homeowner who may experience a hurricane power outage is the standby/stationary generator. These generators are more powerful and have larger fuel tanks. The standby/stationary generator is the best choice for power outages that may last several weeks. A portable generator is also an excellent choice for smaller homes or those who want to be able to move their generator around their home easily.
Generators have different noise levels available. For homeowners who want a whisper-quiet generator, we recommend choosing a generator at 60 dB or lower. Anything above 70 dB is going to be loud. Louder generators often are less expensive or offer greater power at a more affordable price.
Fuel Efficiency & Running Cost
Reviewing the various running costs of each generator can help you make a decision. If you plan to run your generator frequently, you may want to look for a more cost-effective generator. Reviewing fuel efficiency can determine the cost of running the generator on a daily basis.
Build Quality & Durability
Choosing a high-quality generator with durable build parts can mean that your generator lasts longer. You want to choose a generator that is not made entirely of plastic components and instead uses a steel frame.
Price & Warranty
Consider both price and warranty when making your generator choice. The more expensive a generator is to purchase, the more likely the warranty is longer. Consider your budget as well as what you will get for the cost of a high-quality machine with a strong warranty.
4 Best Hurricane Generators Reviewed
1. Westinghouse WGen9500
Our top Pick!
9500 Starting Watts/7500 Running Watts
Yes, three-year warranty and lifetime technical support
The Westinghouse WGen9500 is a powerful generator with a 420cc Westinghouse OHV engine with 9500 starting watts and 7500 running watts of power. This generator has an electric start as well as a remote start with a convenient key fob so you can start your generator while inside your home. A large 6.6-gallon fuel tank holds gasoline and features a runtime of 16 hours.
Included rubber outlet covers protect the generator and keep sensitive electrical wiring dry. Wheels and a handle help make this standby generator more portable. The automatic low oil shutdown feature prevents your generator from overloading. This generator comes with everything you need to start powering your home, including a 12-Volt battery, charger, oil funnel, and tool kit. It is also transfer switch ready with a 120/240 Volt receptacle built-in.
PJ from Lowe’s wrote, “We ordered/purchased this generator to help us in Panama City, FL after Hurricane Michael. We could not have been happier with it. It handled everything we plugged in with ease. Sure made our life much more comfortable with no power and no water. The remote control was such a nice surprise — I could easily start it without having to go out into the garage in the dark, or look for a lantern or my phone for light.”
However, this generator is significantly louder than other models at 73 dB. It is also cumbersome at 192 lbs and cannot easily be moved around your home. This generator comes with a three-year warranty and a lifetime of Westinghouse technical support. If you do not mind a little extra noise and want a high-quality generator with significant power and remote start capabilities, this is a great choice for you.
2. Champion 76533
best rated Model
Gasoline or Propane
9 Hours on Gasoline, 10.5 Hours on Propane
3.4-gallon for gasoline
4750 Starting Watts/3800 Running Watts
Yes, three-year warranty and lifetime technical support
The Champion 76533 is the best rated generator for hurricane season. This generator is highly portable at 119 lbs. Included wheels and durable gripped handlebars make it easy to move this machine around your home or RV. This generator has a starting wattage of 4750 and a running wattage of 3800. It is not the most powerful generator on our list, but it is enough to power most smaller homes. We appreciate that this model has dual fuel capabilities and can use both gasoline and propane to power the machine.
An easy-to-read 3 mode digital meter lets homeowners monitor output and energy availability. This generator can also be plugged directly into the propane tank or gasoline tank without using its own fuel tank. This generator’s fuel tank is only meant for gasoline and propane tank users will need to connect directly to the propane storage tank.
Jim from Lowe’s wrote, “I was impressed with the high quality hardware for the wheels, clear instruction manual, and general solidness of the generator. And when it started up with just two tries with both the electric start and recoil starter, I was very happy.”
Users have noted that this generator requires frequent maintenance. This generator comes with a three-year warranty and lifetime Champion technical support. We recommend this model for homeowners who want a durable portable generator.
3. DuroMax XP12000EH
best portable generator for hurricane
Dual fuel: propane or gas
12000 Starting/9500 Running Wattage
Yes, three-year warranty
The DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Generator is the best portable generator for hurricanes. This generator has 12000 starting wattage with 9500 running wattage and delivers maximum power for homeowners. It is a dual fuel generator, which means that you can use both gasoline and propane. This generator also comes with a 120/240 volt receptacle ready for your transfer switch. All copper windings and a metal frame make this a durable and high-quality generator.
This machine has an optional recoil start and modern electric start. The easy-to-read panel tells you the condition of the circuit breakers as well as offers a low oil indicator light. Users have reported that this generator requires frequent maintenance and is louder than other models at 72 dB. Maintenance problems seem to come from valve issues, and regularly cleaning your generator should avoid this problem.
This model has numerous outlets, including one 120/240V 50A heavy duty outlet, one 120/240V 30A twist lock, two 120V 20A household outlets, and one 120V 30A twist lock. This generator has a three-year warranty. Built-in tires let you move the generator around the home. We recommend this generator for homeowners who want to save money by operating on propane gas and who want maximum power for an affordable price. If you don’t mind frequent maintenance, then this is a wonderful option for you.
4. Generac 5735 GP17500E
Best home generator for hurricane
15 Hours @ 25% Load
26250 Starting/17500 Running Watts
approx. 70 dB
Yes, two-year warranty
The Generac 5735 GP17500E is the best home generator for hurricanes. This generator model offers extreme power with 26250 starting watts and 17500 running watts. This is an electric start model and built with a steel frame as well as copper windings. All outlets are circuit breaker protected, and this model comes with a maximum performance alternator. A 16-gallon fuel tank leads to limited refueling requirements, and the 15-hour runtime is impressive. Full pressure lubrication means this unit requires less maintenance compared to other models. Automatic low oil shutdown helps the machine avoid overheating. An hour meter monitors the generator's effectiveness, and an idle control setting increases fuel efficiency.
Mac from Lowe’s wrote, “After having our electrical disconnect professionally installed by the power company, this generator provides power to our 5,800 square foot home without interruption. Just to give you a little background as to what it operates: 5 ton heat and AC, three deep freezers, two kitchens, all lighting and electrical. I can't get over how impressed I am at how efficient this generator operates."
The included wheel kit makes this a portable generator model. This model is expensive and is not CARB-compliant (California units must be CARB-compliant). We recommend this generator to all non-California residents who want an extremely powerful generator with high-quality build components. If you are not afraid to spend a little more money, this is the best generator model on our list.
Preparing for Hurricanes
To get ready for a hurricane, collect the fuel that you will need to power your generator and store it safely in a dry, secure location. When a hurricane strikes, you will lose access to your heating and cooling systems as well as your electricity. You will be unable to power your electronics and your refrigerator, so food may go bad. Using a generator will protect you from these common problems and allow you to power your home. Before the hurricane strikes, check to make sure that your generator is able to run. Also make sure that you check the coolant tank and have enough coolant available.
What Size Generator Do I Need for a Hurricane?
The size of generator that you need for a hurricane depends on your home power needs. We recommend first using this generator power calculator to determine your power needs. Then, take a look at the four generators for hurricanes on our list. Which generator is the best match for your power needs? Choose a generator with enough wattage to power your home and the appliances/devices that you need. We recommend choosing a standby generator rather than a portable generator because of the higher power capacity and better fuel efficiency. This leads to longer runtimes and will provide you with the best solution if you must power your home for several weeks.
Installing a Hurricane Generator
To install your hurricane generator, make sure that your generator is outside and at least 15 feet away from your home. Make sure that the exhaust hose or vent is pointed away from your home. Your generator also needs to stay dry. You will need to drain the fuel and store it or cover it with a tarp if it is installed permanently outside. We also recommend installing a carbon monoxide monitor in your home to ensure that the carbon monoxide exhaust from the generator does not overwhelm your home. It is not safe to breathe in large amounts of carbon monoxide.
How to Run a Generator Safely
To run your generator safely, make sure that your generator is installed correctly. If you are not familiar with generators, consider hiring an installation expert to install the machine for you. Keep your generator 15 feet away from your home. Point the exhaust hose away from all windows, doors, and other vents. Make sure that you plug in appliance and device cords individually rather than all at once. Safely store your fuel in a safety can and be sure to refuel properly. When it is time to refuel your generator, first turn your generator off and then wait for it to cool down before adding additional fuel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of maintenance is needed for generators?
Are generators safe?
How long will my generator last before needing to be replaced?
How much should I budget for a generator to power my entire house during storms?
What are the top generator brands for emergency hurricanes?
Purchasing a generator for your home can help you prepare for hurricane season. Having power when you need it most can make the impact of hurricane damage less stressful. We recommend purchasing the Westinghouse WGen9500 as our number one choice for hurricane season.
Alternatively, if you are after a model that offers extreme power, numerous safety features, and is made of high-quality build materials, then go for the Generac 5735 GP17500E.
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