Power outages can be expensive, especially when they’re long or occur frequently. That’s why more and more homeowners are investing in backup generators. A portable generator can help keep refrigerators and freezers running, prevent perishable food waste and keep you comfortable during extended outages, such as after a major storm or an electrical event at your home or business. To choose the right generator for your needs, it’s important to assess a few key factors including fuel type, size, durability, and features. You’ll also need to determine what wattage you want to run and the generator’s capabilities.

To make the most of your generator, you should look for one that has an Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) engine. This technology eliminates the carburetor, which can clog and limit the generator’s ability to produce electricity. EFI models are easier to start, and they don’t require as much maintenance. Another feature to consider is a voltage regulator. This helps maintain a stable 120 volt output, which protects your appliances from burnout.

A generator works by converting fuel, such as gasoline or propane gas, into electric current through an internal combustion engine and a set of coiled copper wires surrounded by magnets. When the engine spins the magnets, it produces electricity, which is then passed through a voltage regulator and into outlets on the generator to power your appliances.

Portable generators image of a portable generator are ideal for use at home during a power outage, as well as while camping or using an RV. They can also be useful on construction sites or at work in remote locations without an electricity source. A portable generator can also power a CPAP machine and other essential medical devices when you’re traveling for an extended period of time.

The largest portable generators in our ratings have a tank that holds up to 16 gallons and can provide 7-9 hours of runtime at 50% load with a full tank. They’re heavy with a full tank of fuel and should be transported in a trailer or other wheeled device to avoid fatigue. When comparing generators, it’s also worth considering their starting wattage—the extra power needed to turn on motor-driven appliances like refrigerators and air conditioning units.

A portable generator can add comfort and convenience to any outdoor event, such as a backyard barbecue or tailgate party. You can add a screen projector, string lights or even a bouncy house to an otherwise simple gathering and turn it into a special occasion. Just remember to assess your power needs and follow all safety procedures when operating a generator. Also, to get the most out of your generator for years to come, be sure to clean it after each use and store in a dry place, such as a shed or garage. For longer storage, it’s a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank.