Power generators
Many Floridians turn to portable generators during power outages. Before you buy one, here are a few things to consider.

How portable generators work
Portable generators generally run on liquid fuel, such as gas or diesel, and have several outlets into which home appliances are plugged. A qualified electrician can also connect one directly to your home. To do this, a manual transfer switch must be installed to direct power to the house from either the utility lines or the generator. This prevents electricity from flowing back to utility lines and shocking workers fixing the outage.

How standby generators work
The power from the utility company comes into the house through the meter box.

When the power is lost, a panel turns on the standby generator.

This generator sends power directly into the house.

How to buy
Besides the amount of power you need, your available budget will be a strong consideration when buying a generator. Some models and their prices:

  • Coleman Power Mate
    Watt output: 1,850
    Fuel capacity: 1.3 gallons
    Horsepower: 3.5
    Run time: 7 hours
    Starting system: Recoil
    Cost: $399-$520
  • Cummins HomeSite 2400
    Watt output: 2,000
    Fuel capacity: 4
    Horsepower: 6.5
    Run time: 13 hours
    Starting system: Recoil
    Cost: $399-$859
  • Standby Generator
    Watt output: 7,000 to 12,000
    Fuel capacity: Unlimited
    Horsepower: 18
    Run time: 50 hours*
    Starting system: Automatic
    Cost: $5,000-$12,000 to install

Safety tips

• Always run your generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area.
• Regularly maintain your generator engine.
• Do not operate the engine near combustible materials.
• Keep gas fresh.
• Place generator on level ground.
• Use extension cords that are grounded and are a sufficient wire gauge for the application. Heavy-duty, outdoor rated cords are the best.
• Never plug your generator directly into your house circuit.

Sources: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, West Miami Discount Tool, Master Distributors, Briggs & Stratton, The Home Depot, HowStuffWorks.com, Cummings Inc.

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