Storm season is upon us, and that can mean a blackout at your house for a few days, even weeks.
But it doesn't have to result in rotten food in the fridge or fumbling around in the dark. A generator can keep things running until the power comes back on.
Consumer Reports just tested more than a dozen.
More and more people like Vincent Pici are convinced it's worth buying a power generator.
Pici says, "Once you lose power the first thing for any period of time, you don't need any reasons to get a generator, you're going to get one."
But which one?
Consumer Reports just tested 14 power generators, ranging in price from around 700 dollars to more than three thousand. Some are portable, while others are stationary.
Consumer Reports tests by hooking them up to small appliances, a water pump, and lights.
Testers found that with portable generators, run time depends on the type of fuel they use.
Dave Trezza of Consumer Reports says, "We found that most gasoline models were about the same, running anywhere from eight to ten hours, depending on your power demands. However, when we looked at propane models, they went through a tank of propane in about four to six hours."
So whichever you choose, be aware you'll need plenty of fuel on hand. And you'll need a transfer switch to safely hook up the generator. It can run up to 900 dollars.
Stationary generators are more convenient. They run on natural gas or a large tank of propane and start automatically in a power outage.
Trezza says, "If you want to power your whole house, a large stationary generator would be better, cause it'll power things like your stove, your dryer, your central A/C system, stuff like that."
Among stationary generators, Consumer Reports named the Generac CorePower 5837 a Best Buy. It costs 1800 dollars plus installation.
For far less, Consumer Reports recommends a portable Generac, model GP 5500. It will keep your basic necessities going for 670 dollars.
If you use a portable generator, Consumer Reports has this important caution. More than 100 people a year die from the carbon monoxide produced by portable generators and similar equipment.
To be safe, never run a generator inside a garage or shed.
Always run it as far as possible from your house, ideally at least 10 to 15 feet, and away from any windows or doors.