Normally, I do not advise the purchase of a generator for the simple reason that generators provide a false sense of security, among others. I’m always amazed at how people will run out and spend hundreds of dollars on a generator at the first major hiccup of their electrical grid or immediately prior to a huge blizzard.
In my opinion, most people who run out and purchase generators in such a fashion likely have little else in the way of actual preps. At least initially, this money is better spent on preps you know you’ll use general such as food, lanterns or flashlights, batteries, and so on. Most families could put together a very substantial home emergency kit that will see them through all of their expected needs for at least a week or two for the money they would otherwise spend on a descent generator.
So, exactly what are the reasons I’m against generators? Here’s my list:
- Cost – Like I mentioned, you could start your preps off quite well with the money you would spend on this single piece of equipment. Several hundred dollars (the cost for most generators) is a lot of money to spend for potentially little in return.
- Fuel – Depending on the unit you purchase, it likely uses gasoline or diesel fuel. The problem is that this fuel WILL run out at some point in time. What are you going to do when that happens? You’re in the same position you would have been in without a generator!
- Safety – Generators aren’t inherently dangerous. It’s just that you need to know how to use them properly (that is, how to connect them to your appliances), how to refuel them without burning yourself silly, and—if desired--how to safely connect them to your home electrical system without endangering yourself or maintenance workers.
- Regular Maintenance –Generators need to be run regularly; they are not meant to sit for years in a box. A neglected generator will very likely become a useless generator precisely when you need it the most.
- Too Much / Not Enough Power – Generators need to be sized properly to fit your expected needs. Are you purchasing one just for your refrigerator, or will you include a chest freezer, lights, television, the microwave? You need to know the power consumption of these devices and how that relates to the generator you purchase. As such, going out and purchasing one on a whim is not the way to do it.
- Noisy – Noise attracts attention. If the power is out for a day or two then running a generator during that time is no big deal. If it’s out for weeks on end and your generator is still humming along nicely when you may attract unwanted attention. Granted, there are generators that are fairly quiet, but none are silent; it's when the surroundings are dead silent that even a little noise will travel a long distance.
- False Sense of Security – As I said in the outset of this post, generators provide a false sense of security because people assume that so long as the lights are on then everything will be ok. That’s just not always the case.
Since I’ve just given several reasons why I feel generators are NOT a good purchase, there’s no way I could possible recommend one, can I? Well, in fact, I would eventually advise you purchase a generator ONLY after you have your preps squared away. Specifically, only after your family is prepared to live without one. A generator should be viewed as a convenience, not a necessity. It should be a “bonus” item, not a “reliance” item.
That said, there are reasons for including a generator in your preps...
For example, if you or a family member are insulin-dependent, then it would be a wise decision to include some ability to cool a small refrigerator for days or weeks on end. A generator could be a means of accomplishing that (there are others). There are other life-saving equipment that people might use, including respiratory failure ventilators, kidney dialysis machines, infant respiratory monitors, heart pumps, asthma nebulisers, and oxygen concentrators. If this includes you then, yes, generators may prove necessary.
The other major reason I’m OK with purchasing a generator is for the very specific reason of running a small window air conditioning unit to battle the relentless summer heat.
I couldn’t help but wonder what most people would do to cool themselves if their power went out right now. It’s ridiculously hot right now and, since our homes are not designed to be passively cooled, seeking shelter inside will bring little relief. This is particularly true for anyone who is less likely to tolerate the heat well, such as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly, to name a few. In these cases, it makes sense to have the ability to cool a small room.