Angie's List: Home Generators - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Angie's List: Home Generators

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You never know when the power might to out, especially during severe weather. In today's Angie's List report, what you need to know about home generators.

"There is a lot of dust, a lot of humidity and when they get big rainstorms it's not uncommon for transformers to blow. It's really nice to have a back up generator. It makes a big difference in your quality of life in that point and time," says Edward Cochran. He has a generator which has come in handy when he loses electricity.

"I'm very glad that we have a generator. You don't need it very often but when you do it's really nice to have it. And it doesn't have to be a big investment. You can get by for several hours on less than $1,000."

When it comes to generators, homeowners have a couple of options. Portable generators are cheaper than permanent units, but are designed to run for shorter time periods and are powered by gasoline, so they'll need frequent refueling.

Permanent units can start automatically or with the flip of a switch, and can power everything in your house.

"Portable is more common than permanent and there is a few reasons. I think that the ease of use is one. Probably the biggest one is its cost-effective," says Chris Hinesley, an electrical contractor.

It's best to have a licensed electrical contractor to install a home generator.

"Generators can be a great safety measure in case of a power outage. It can prevent food from spoiling in your home, it can help you do your everyday things, keep pipes from freezing, and if you have any medical equipment that runs off electricity it can be a lifesaving tool as well," says Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List.

"You know it makes a big difference in your quality of life at that point in time," says Edward.

Generators do require some maintenance. You should regularly check your generator to make sure it starts and is operating correctly. Always follow specific safety instructions when using generators. Put the generator outside on a level surface in a well-ventilated area at least ten feet away from the house to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.