Are Portable Power Generators Really Worth It?

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Posted 05/24/21 7:45am by Prim

Suffering from a power outage has got to be one of the ultimate inconveniences. Usually, a power cut only lasts for a few hours, but occasionally you can be unlucky enough to experience one that endures for a few days. The best way to ensure you’re never without power is by having a backup generator on your property. 

Standby generators can be costly to install and are typically large. Portable generators are a cheaper and smaller alternative, making them popular with homeowners. That’s not to say they don’t have drawbacks. They have disadvantages, but the benefits can often outweigh the negatives. Let’s take a closer look to see if portable power generators are worth it.

What is a Portable Power Generator?

As its name suggests, a portable generator supplies electricity when required. You can easily pick one up and move it around, making them very versatile. They usually feature two power outlets and run on either gasoline, propane, or diesel. Because they run on combustible fuel, they need to work outside. An extension cord can help them deliver power to the home.

How Much Does a Portable Power Generator Cost?

The price range for portable generators is between $500 – $2,000. As a comparison, a permanent standby generator can easily cost $10,000 upwards. If you know where to look, you can find portable generators on sale for reasonable prices. A portable generator, therefore, is a very affordable alternative source of power.

How Much Power Do Portable Power Generators Provide?

Portable generators typically provide between 3kW to 10kW of power. This could be a downside if you require a lot of power, as 10KW is only enough to run a few essentials within your home. You can forget about the TV, air-conditioning, and other creature comforts.

The portable will manage lights, refrigerator, a heater, water pump, and enable you to charge your phones. It’s enough for you to get by during a power outage, but don’t expect to have every convenience available to you.

Are Portable Power Generators Dangerous?

As long as you operate the generator outside your home and follow all the safety protocols, they’re not very dangerous. The biggest risk is inhaling the fumes, so ensure that the area around the generator is well ventilated.

Look at Your Needs

Whether a portable generator is worth it or not comes down to your requirements and the level of inconvenience you can tolerate. If you can’t do without power-hungry items like heating/cooling systems, your laundry machine, TV, and other entertainment systems, a portable may not be the right choice for you and you want want a larger permanent standby generator.

Your choice also depends on where you live. Those in urban areas will find they have modern conveniences close by, so they can probably survive a short while without power. Those who live in more isolated areas, however, may find they can’t do without some kind of power source to see them through.

What Do You Need to Run a Portable Power Generator?

Before deciding to purchase a portable generator, look closely at what is essential to run in your home. Aside from the lights, fridge, and phone charger, things people tend to forget include:

  • Electric cars and bikes
  • Electrical medical equipment
  • Equipment for home businesses or remote workers
  • Sump pumps to keep basements flood free

The more you deem essential, the higher your need for a generator. Portable generators can plug the gap and provide vital power when you need it, but if you have a lot of items requiring energy, you will likely have to rotate them so the portable generator can cope.

What Are You Likely to Do During a Power Outage?

Finally, it’s time to get brutally honest with yourself. What would you do during a power outage? If you have family or friends close by, would you stay with them? Or are you the type of family that would prefer to check into a hotel or motel for a few days? What would you do if you had a choice of staying at home or going someplace else?

If you realize that, realistically, you would take the opportunity to go elsewhere until the power is restored, it’s likely you won’t need any type of generator. If staying at home can’t be avoided or makes the most sense, a portable generator is a good, affordable option to help weather the storm.

The Bottom Line

If you can do without luxuries and are happy running only the essentials during a power outage, a portable generator is an excellent choice. Their compact size and portability make them versatile, useful products.

If, however, you’re likely to vacate your home during power outages, you probably don’t need one. If you have a lot of electrical items that must remain on at all times, look at standby generators with the capacity you need to keep things running.

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