With the Atlantic hurricane season kicking off June 1, now is the time to get prepared for the powerful storms that are likely to threaten the East Coast and Gulf states in the months ahead. Within the last decade, at least a dozen hurricanes have battered coastal communities and even inland areas with devastating winds and massive storm surges. In many cases, millions of residents were forced to survive without electricity for days or weeks until overwhelmed utility companies were able to restore power.
While there’s not much anyone can do about the destruction hurricanes can cause, there are steps you can take to ensure your family stays safe and comfortable in the immediate aftermath of a storm. In addition to stocking up on bottled water, batteries, flashlights and first aid supplies, investing in a hurricane generator is a decision you won’t regret when storms are in the forecast.
Getting the Best Hurricane Generator
With a hurricane generator on hand, you’ll be able to keep perishable foods cold, operate your microwave or other cooking appliances, power small air conditioners and fans and light parts of your home once the sun goes down. And if you or your family members rely on medical devices that run on electricity, owning a generator is essential if you live in a hurricane-prone area.
The time to purchase a hurricane generator is now, when availability is high and prices are moderate. If you wait until a storm is headed your way, you’re likely to run into empty shelves and inflated prices. But before you start shopping, check out our list of recommended models to determine which option best fits your household’s needs.
Best Large Portable Generator: Generac GP7500E Home Generator ($999)
With nearly every element of our daily lives depending on electrical power—from hot showers to charging our mobile phones—storm-related power outages can be incredibly stressful, especially when they last for many days. Having a large portable generator can help you maintain some semblance of normalcy in the days following a major storm, and the Generac GP7500E Home Generator is a well-rounded workhorse that offers excellent value.
The sturdy exterior of the Generac GP7500E is designed to last through many years of use, with a thick steel-tube cradle, rugged internal brackets and impact-resistant joints encasing the motor. A steel fuel tank provides longevity, and the unit includes a low-oil shutdown feature to prevent damage to the motor if the oil level gets too low.
When it comes to capacity, the Generac GP7500E is capable of powering multiple small appliances or several large, power-hungry items that need to run continuously, such as a refrigerator. The large fuel tank minimizes the frequency with which you’ll have to refuel it, which is particularly convenient after a hurricane when roads are often filled with debris and driving to a gas station may be difficult or impossible.
The unit comes with oil and detailed instructions, along with an intuitive design that allows you to go from box to operation in about 15 minutes. A convenient, easy-to-read fuel gauge and accessible controls make this generator extremely user-friendly, even to those not familiar with gas-powered devices, and built-in maintenance notifications ensure smooth operations for years to come.
For such a powerful generator, the Generac GP7500E is surprisingly easy to move. Weighing in at just under 200 pounds, a fold-down locking handle and heavy-duty, never-flat wheels allow you to take the unit where you need it. The relatively quiet extended-run engine minimizes noise and permits continuous operation with reduced noise fatigue.
- DuroMax XP12000EH ($1,299): If you’re looking additional power and flexibility, the dual-fuel DuroMax XP12000EH can operate using propane or gasoline as its fuel source. Producing 9,500 running watts, this unit can handle heavy loads from lights and a refrigerator to a home air conditioner and power tools. The sturdy, all-metal frame includes an oversized noise reducing muffler and built-in spark arrestor for smooth and quiet operation.
- DuroStar DS10000EH ($999): With this unit, you’ll be ready to weather any storm, thanks to a dual-fuel system that can use either gasoline or propane to produce 10,000 watts of power. The convenient keyed electric start and optional recoil start make it easy to operate, and the all-copper windings and three-year factory warranty guarantee longevity and peace of mind.
- Pulsar G12KBN Dual Fuel Generator ($1,000): Like the previous two models, the Pulsar G12KBN can be operated from gasoline as well as propane, which can be easier to acquire and store during natural disasters. It generates 12,000 watts of starting power and 9,500 watts of running power, allowing you to keep your fridge, fans and other critical items running during an extended power outage. Other convenient features include electric push start, large fuel tank, drop-down handles and never-flat wheels.
Best Small Portable Generator: DuroMax XP4440EH ($399)
If you’re not ready to make the investment in a large generator, a small portable generator can still provide enough power to get you through a multi-day power outage with significantly less discomfort.
The DuroMax XP4440EH offers hybrid technology that permits operation using either gasoline or propane. Producing 4,400 starting watts and 3,500 running watts, this generator provides 8 hours of use at 50 percent load. It’s ideal for running small appliances and lighting, but may not be sufficient to handle long-term operation of large appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners or water heaters.
The unit is highly portable, thanks to durable wheels attached to the base as well as its 116-pound weight and compact size, which also provides for convenient storage. The keyed electric starter makes it a snap to get going, although it also includes a recoil starter as an alternative. It’s also surprisingly quiet, which you’ll appreciate after a day or two of hearing the incessant drone of generators around your neighborhood.
Additionally, the unit is ideal for non-storm use, such as yard or shop work, camping trips and tailgate parties.
- Briggs & Stratton 30676 ($477): This gas-powered generator comes with the trusted Briggs & Stratton name along with 3,500 watts of running power to keep the lights on and your food cold after a storm. The Power Surge Alternator has the muscle to start large household appliances and tools simultaneously, while circuit breaker protection, rubber outlet covers and easy-to-read angled control panel ensure safe and smooth operation, even in low-light situations. The 115-pound unit is outfitted with 7-inch never-flat wheels for convenient portability.
- Champion 4000-Watt Digital Hybrid Open-Frame Inverter ($539): Weighing in at a breezy 82 pounds, Champion’s innovative Digital Hybrid is 50 percent quieter and 20 percent lighter than a traditional 3500-watt generator. Advanced features include Quiet Technology, Extended Run Time, Economy Mode and Clean Power, allowing for extensive use during power outages, camping trips and more.
- DuroStar DS4400E ($431): This durable, dependable unit produces 4,400 starting watts and 3,500 running watts. The 7 HP air-cooled, gas-powered engine includes a low oil shutoff feature to protect your investment, and the strong steel frame and four-point isolated motor ensure longevity and smooth operation.
Best Permanent Generator: Generac 7039 Guardian Series ($4,847)
While the price tag is several orders of magnitude higher than its portable competitors, the Generac 7039 Guardian Series permanent generator may be a smart investment if you live in an area that sees one or two major hurricanes every season.
This hardworking unit is powered by Generac’s groundbreaking G-Force Engine, which includes cold smart start technology, a thermal safety switch, low oil pressure sensor, extended run times and maximum efficiency. It’s also the only engine in its class with an oil filtration system that removes debris from oil, enhancing its performance and extending its life.
Unlike smaller portable generators, you won’t have to pick and choose which appliances you can live without during a power outage—this 20,000-kilowatt monster can support the power needs of your entire house, allowing you to continue living your life as if the storm had never happened. It also comes with True Power Technology for clean, safe operation of delicate electronics and appliances.
Generac’s Evolution Controller features a multilingual LCD display that allows users to monitor battery status and maintenance schedules to keep the generator in prime operating condition, and Mobile Link Remote Monitoring lets you see the status of your generator from anywhere in the world with your mobile device or computer.
The Generac 7039 is protected by a five-year limited warranty, and the RhinoCoat finish ensures the unit will stand up to the elements for many more years of use.
Briggs & Stratton 40346 20,000-Watt Home Standby Generator System ($4,499): This highly efficient, compact unit uses Briggs & Stratton’s Symphony II Power Management technology to balance the needs of high-demand appliances, such as your central air conditioner and electric oven, with lower-demand items to maintain power to your entire house. An automotive-style exhaust system and sound-reducing technology make this generator 50 percent quieter than most portable generators. A five-year warranty protects your investment.
Cummins RS20AC 20kW Quiet Connect Series Home Standby Generator System ($4,500): This package includes a 200-amp service entrance rated automatic transfer switch, which connects the main meter and service panel for streamlined installation. Protected by a sturdy, weather-resistant aluminum and steel enclosure, the unit can operate consistently in temperatures as low as 0 °F, meaning you’ll stay comfortable even when an ice or snow storm knocks out power to the rest of the neighborhood. A sound-dampening feature keeps noise to a minimum, while smart technology allows you to monitor the status of the unit from your phone, tablet or computer.
Kohler 20RESCL 20kW Composite Standby Generator System ($5,067): Within 10 seconds of a power outage, the Kohler 20RESCL comes to life to restore electricity to your entire house, including your air conditioner, major appliances and electronics. It’s powered by the reliable Kohler Command PRO engine, a heavy-duty, commercial-grade system designed to withstand extreme weather. With noise levels on par with a typical air conditioning unit, your neighbors won’t even know you’re operating it—until you invite them over to cool off and enjoy a hot meal during an extended outage.
If you live in a region that frequently experiences hurricanes, tornadoes or other major storms, investing in some type of backup generator is a wise move. If you’re on a limited budget, a small portable generator may do the trick; if you can spend a bit more, a large portable generator will get you through an extended outage while still enjoying most creature comforts. If price is no obstacle, purchasing a permanent backup generator will ensure that every aspect of your household continues running smoothly through storms, utility failure and other power issues—and it’s an attractive feature to add to your listing should you decide to sell your home in the future.