Severe weather doesn’t have to be something sudden and dramatic. Of course, power outages from events like thunderstorms, hurricanes, and ice storms are always a threat. But severe weather can also come in the form of heavy snow, frigid temperatures, and torrid heat waves that can put a strain on the electrical grid.

In response, many are turning to generators—either portable ones that can power your essentials for a brief time, or standby generators that can power the whole home with little concern for fuel. Either way, they could prove vital to maintain a climate-controlled environment and to potentially provide power to medical equipment.

Essex Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing has a look at both portable and standby generators so you can see if either option would be right for your home or the home of a loved one.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are able to power items like air conditioning and heat by connecting to your circuit breaker or by running power cords out of your house to certain items like a refrigerator. These are cheaper options that generally cost in the hundreds and are powered by gasoline. But what you’re saving on cost you will be paying for in lack of convenience. First, they need to be moved into position and powered manually. If the power event is caused by snow, ice or rain, they will also have to be shielded from the elements.

They are noisy and will run through anywhere from 12 to 20 gallons of gasoline per day in consistent use, depending on what they are used to provide power to.

There are also safety concerns with gas-powered generators, as precautions need to be taken so fumes do not enter the home and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Standby Generators

Essential businesses have standby generators, and they are becoming increasingly popular in homes. The cost is much higher (in the thousands) and need to be installed by a professional, but once they are in, you don’t have much else to worry about.

In the event of an outage, the generators kicks in automatically to provide power. They also are weatherproofed and insulated so they are quieter than portable generators.

Finally, they can run for days or weeks on propane, and in the case of natural gas versions, they can run indefinitely.

In conclusion, if you can afford the up-front cost, a standby generator is the way to go, whereas a portable generator is more affordable and can be used to provide the same service but with a little more legwork.

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