Are You Ready For A Major Power Outage? 5 Reasons To Buy A Portable Electric Generator

Have you considered how your life would freeze to a standstill if a general outage cut electric power for more than two or three days? As every summer dawns, it’s a question more and more people ask, because demand for electric power is growing inexorably, and summertime is when the grid always gets strained to the max. Many experts say all it will take is one unusually bad heat wave and a single computer glitch. The last major outage happened in the summer of 2003, and it affected over 55 million people.

Anyone who has wished they had electricity when no power was available can appreciate the value of having a portable electric generator available for use. Whether the generator is merely a backup power supply to use in the event of an emergency power outage or the generator is used occasionally for convenience or recreation, portable electrical power is available in a number of different models and styles of generators. Some buyers may even rely on a portable electric generator to provide electricity to power tools they use daily in their trade or profession. This guide discusses a number of ways a portable electric generator can be a beneficial or even essential device to have. The guide also provides a reference to the sizes of generators required to power specific devices. Generators can be purchased from home improvement stores, farm supply stores, some department stores, and discount retailers.

Portable Electric Generator Uses

The reasons why a person might buy a portable electric generator are probably as diverse as the different types of generators on the market. Being prepared in the event of a power outage is a very valid concern; hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can create a loss of electrical service. In some cases, the outage may last for days or even weeks. While many reasons for buying a portable electric generator are linked to preparedness, another purpose is the ability to carry power to a location where none is available. Below are five good reasons to consider the purchase of a portable electric generator.


1. Backup Household Electrical Power

Many people buy a portable electric generator because they want to be prepared in the event of a power outage. For one, having a backup source of power will keep food in the refrigerator fresh during a lengthy power outage. Individuals with health concerns may also need an available electrical source in the event of a power failure. Oxygen-producing machines or other electrically powered medical equipment can be run short-term with a portable electric generator. A room air conditioner might be a critical unit in need of power for individuals with breathing problems and for elderly individuals during hot weather. With a large enough generator and proper wiring, a household air conditioner can be powered with a portable generator.

2. Power Backup for Small Businesses

Any business that would be significantly harmed by more than a few hours of no electricity is a candidate for buying an electric generator as an emergency backup.

Small businesses that provide client services can benefit from having a portable electric generator. A firm that provides Internet-based services to their sales force or gives clients access to online information and reports would be severely impacted by a power outage of even a few hours, especially if the company services clients outside of the area affected by the power loss. Small businesses, like family restaurants, butcher shops, rural markets, and other stores that rely on refrigeration could have inventories ruined by a mid- or long-term power outage and could thus benefit from having a portable generator on hand. For critical health care providers, a backup electricity source is vital, particularly to power life-saving machines for critical patients.

Tip: If using a portable electric generator to power a computer, it would be advisable to have a backup battery unit installed between the computer and the generator. Backup battery units or uninterruptible power supply units protect computers against voltage spikes and voltage drops which can occur with an electric generator.

Some have seen this problem coming for a long time and changed their entire way of life by going off-grid. They have found alternative sources such as solar, wind and diesel to power their homes and machinery. A majority of us, who have not gone off-grid, are making a concerted effort to avoid dependence on this ailing infrastructure and preparing for life without it.

3. Safety for Residents Living in Severe Climates

Individuals who reside in areas where severe climates exist might be well advised to own a portable electric generator. Living in an extreme cold climate and experiencing a power failure could be deadly; having a generator to power portable heaters or backup a furnace could be a lifesaver. Coastal areas in hurricane lanes, geographic regions frequented by tornadoes, and floodplains are all locales where residents could benefit from owning a portable electric generator.

4. Electricity for Recreational Activities

Camping does not have to be a primitive experience; a portable electric generator can bring some of the conveniences of home to a rustic campsite without a power hookup. Campers who like to get away from the confines of a campsite but still want to run acoffee maker first thing in the morning will appreciate a portable electric generator. A hunting cabin deep in the woods can still have small refrigerator and electric stovewith a generator providing a supply of electricity.

Portable lights, electronic bug zappers, electric fans, an air compressor, microwaves, and any number of other electronic convenience items can be powered by a portable electric generator. Whether moving a party to the back yard or to the local park, there are occasions when having available electricity will make the event more comfortable and enjoyable.

5. Electrical Supply for Work Site Contractors

Contractors who work on building sites without available electricity often need a portable power source to operate their tools. Painters who use spray gun systems powered by electricity, roofers with nail guns that run off compressed air provided by an electronic air compressor, and contractors who work indoors and need portable lights to illuminate work areas are a few of the types of trade workers who could benefit from having a portable electric generator.

Construction sites without power and work sites where power is limited or where power is not easily accessible are places where contractors commonly use portable generators. Some portable electric generators are capable of producing 240-volt power; work sites may have 12-volt connections, but if higher voltage is required to operate a powerful construction tool, having a generator with the extra capacity will be invaluable.

Generator Size and Power Output


An important consideration for portable electric generator buyers is how large a generator they need to purchase to power the devices they want to run. The following chart provides a summary of generator power output and the types of electronics that could be powered with a generator of that size.

Generator Size in Watts

Capable Electrical Devices

3,500 watts Furnace, small air conditioner, fan, color television, small refrigerator, light bulbs, microwave, coffee maker, toaster
7,000 watts Small to medium central air conditioner, washing machine, electric range, freezer, sump or well pump, air compressor, saws, grinders
10,000 watts Large central air conditioner, clothes dryer, electric water heater

The above chart can be used as a quick reference for prospective generator buyers looking to determine which generator size they need to buy.

Not all devices can be run simultaneously, and some devices create an extra load when first started that pulls additional wattage from the generator. The following chart provides some examples of common household items and their individual wattage consumption.





Light bulb 60 Microwave 750
Fan 75 Coffee maker 850
Radio 100 Furnace 1,000
Small color TV 300 Vacuum cleaner 1,000
Computer 500 Toaster 1,500
Garage door opener 600 Air compressor 2,000
Refrigerator 700 Freezer 2,500
Dishwasher 700 Central air 5,000

By selecting which devices are to be run at the same time, a 7,000-watt generator can power most household devices on an alternating basis. A 3,500-watt generator can handle a small cabin and most recreational activities, and a 10,000-watt generator can provide alternative power for a house or small business in the event of an extended power outage.


Portable electric generators can be nice convenience, an essential business tool, or a life-saving power backup system. Buyers have a number of different reasons for purchasing a portable electric generator; getting the right generator for your needs is important. This guide discusses several reasons why people buy portable electric generators, also providing a basic reference on portable generator wattage output. A listing of common household electrical devices shows how many watts each device requires to operate. Buyers can use the information provided in the guide to determine the ways in which a portable electric generator would benefit their lifestyle or business needs. The guide also discusses the convenience of shopping for portable generators on Liberty generator  ; busy consumers can appreciate the ease of ordering online and having their purchase delivered to their doorstep. When a natural disaster strikes, portable electric generators are one of the first items to sell out in local retail stores; consumers who wish to be prepared in the event of such an occurrence can benefit from having a generator already sitting in their garage.

Medication: Ask your pharmacist to keep you a month ahead on your prescriptions for this emergency. If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, remember to include backup power in your evacuation plan. If you are on electrically operated life support systems or special equipment for heart or kidney problems, be sure to notify your utility now, in advance of any outages. They will put you on a list and make sure your power needs are provided for first. Oh, and don’t forget the first-aid kit.

People: Set up an agreement with people about two to three hundred miles away that you can go and stay with. It’s infinitely less stressful to simply get in your car and drive somewhere else where there’s still power so you can wait out the crisis. It will be difficult to call around when the power is out, so it’s best to set up two or three families with whom you have an arrangement where if anyone has a major crisis, they know they’re welcome somewhere else for the duration of the emergency.

Practice living without connected utilities. Do it periodically. You will discover what your real needs are and you’ll learn how to meet them in an emergency.

In winter, allow a small stream of water to run from faucets in order to prevent water pipes from freezing. The American Red Cross advises this action and says, “Running water through the pipe — even at a trickle — helps prevent pipes from freezing.” In frigid weather, if your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to call your plumber and ask about draining your home’s water pipes so they don’t freeze and burst.

An extended power outage, be it from overloading or terrorist action, will be a major emergency, and will cause damage in many ways. However, with some basic and inexpensive preparation, you can keep that damage to a minimum.

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