The Best Generator for Hurricane Season: A 2023 Buyer’s Guide
With hurricane season rapidly approaching, this is the best time to consider purchasing a new generator to use in case of periodic power outages – which seem to happen a lot with extreme weather – or even extended blackouts.
This leads to a very important question – what is the best generator for hurricanes? What size will you need, what brand should you get and how much should you spend?
We’ll look at all of these questions and more in this detailed 2023 buyers guide for generators for hurricane season.
If you would like to get right to the recommendations, here are my top picks:
- Best Hurricane Generator Overall: Champion Power Equipment 100520 8750-Watt Open Frame Inverter Generator
- Best Hurricane Generator – Standby System: Generac 7043 22kW Home Standby Generator with, 200-Amp Transfer Switch
- Best Hurricane Generator – Large: DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator 13000 Watt Electric Start
- Best Hurricane Generator – Medium: Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator with Remote Electric Start
- Best Hurricane Generator – Small: Champion Power Equipment 200961 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator
Which Generator is Best for Hurricanes and Home Backup?
There are three main questions we might want to consider in choosing the best generator for home backup and extreme weather:
- Standard or Standby?
- How Much Power?
- What Brand?
The question of which brand will be covered below, in the actual list of recommended generators for hurricane weather, but let’s look at the first two now.
Which is the best electric generator for extreme weather – standard or standby?
A standby generator is a larger unit, usually permanently installed, which is designed to power your whole house during power outages – from severe weather or anything else – and which will automatically sense a power cut, turn itself on and take over.
Standby generators use a transfer switch to accomplish this, and will need to be installed by a qualified electrician, but despite this it is usually a great idea to purchase one online, as they can be significantly lower priced (they can be quite a bit more expensive than standard portable generators).
Of course if you live in an area with intense weather systems, a good standby generator can be priceless., and many consider them absolutely necessary.
A portable generator, which we can also call a standard generator, is a good option for small homes, for spot power – that is, generating power in one area or for one purpose – and for short-term backup.
A portable or standard electric generator will not turn on automatically, and will not be hardwired into your home’s electrical system, so during extreme weather blackouts – or any time you use one – there can be a bit more work setting them up and initializing the process – though it really is pretty quick and simple.
The smallest of these generators will typically not have enough power for larger homes, particularly if you want to carry on with normal activities, if you have a normal to large complement of home appliances, or if you want to run air conditioners.
Still, for limited use and activities, for emergency lighting, for sump pumps and for countless other uses even a small portable generator is a brilliant bit of gear to have on hand, and can literally be a life-saver, and for more complete home coverage there are larger portables that should fill the bill nicely – we discuss the size you will need in the very next section, just below.
As you can probably imagine, many homeowners want and have both types of generators on hand – standby and portable – especially people who live in high risk areas where hurricanes and power outages are not a possibility so much as a probability, or even a certainty.
What sized generator is best for hurricanes?
It is important to determine how much power you need in case of a blackout, hurricane or other severe weather, but while we can get into complex mathematical equations and extended discussions about the nature of electricity, we can also make this a much simpler matter.
This discussion really applies to standard, or portable, generators – we can assume standby generators have plenty of power for homes – and in general we can break down those portable generators into three broad size ranges:
- Small – under 3,000 watts
- Medium – 3,000 to 7,000 watts
- Large – 7,000 watts and up
Small generators are really only useful for very small homes, for RVs without aircon, or for single use or site use applications. They are not large enough to power air conditioners, nor are they up to the task of powering a full, busy home with a normal range of appliances.
For something like sump pump operation, emergency lighting, garage or single room power, very small houses or scaled-back emergency use in a larger home, a small generator might just do the trick.
Medium generators are much more suitable for normal sized homes, and can usually handle an average family and their activities. They may not have the power needed, however, for larger homes, full air conditioning, a large number of appliances or even the normal activities of a busy family.
A medium generator can be a great choice for a normal sized home, but usually for somewhat scaled-back activities and usage during emergencies, and for less frequent and shorter power outages.
Large generators, on the other hand, can have enough power for normal activities and usage in most typical homes, and can even handle near-normal activities and usage for even larger families and houses – including air conditioning.
For integrated HVAC / central air systems, however, or for areas with a lot of severe weather or the possibility of extended blackouts, you really want to look at a full standby generator system, as we covered in the previous section.
What’s the best generator for extreme weather, hurricanes and power outages?
Now that we have a better idea of what size and type of generator you might need, let’s look briefly at some specific models. These are my personal picks for the best generators for hurricanes, each of these choices a very solid and reliable unit, quiet and smooth running and built to last.
And while I will say that lower cost should not be a higher priority when it comes to emergency power for your home and family, I can also assure you that each of my choices offers extremely good value for the money.
So, all that said, let’s look at the best generators for hurricanes in 2023.
The Best Generators for Hurricanes: My Five Top Choices
Best Generator for Hurricanes Overall
Champion Power Equipment 100520 8750-Watt Open Frame Inverter Generator
- Advanced Open Frame Inverter Design: 30%...
- Electric Start: The convenient electric...
- Quiet Technology and Extended Run Time: 72...
- Noise Level: 72 DBa
- Power Output: 7,500 Watts
- Startup Power: 8,750 Watts
- Plug: 30 Amp 120/240 Volt, 2 x 20 Amp 120 Volt, 12 Volt DC
- Weight: 155 Pounds
- CARB Compliant: Yes
- Running Time: 10.5 Hours, Half Load
To me, this is the one – the Champion 100520 is the ideal portable generator for hurricanes, emergency power and pretty much any other use.
There are a lot of choices in this popular and highly useful large (+7000 watt) range, and yes, some of them are at least a little less expensive here, but the Champion 7000 watt inverter generator has some important advantages, including:
Inverter technology – most open-frame portable generators in this range are not inverters, but the Champion 100520’s inverter stage provides much lower THD (total harmonic distortion) – this means cleaner and more stable power, which is much safer and will not harm your PC, phone or other sensitive electronic gadgets and appliances.
Extreme quality – actually I can say that lots of electric generators in this range are very well made, but the Champion products always seem to be tougher, more rugged, more reliable and more seriously overbuilt. For me personally, if I wanted to make sure my generator is going to work – especially one I might not use often, but absolutely rely on when it’s needed – I would want it to be a Champion.
Quiet running – if you’ve been through a hurricane, you know the intense noise the storm itself can generate, but you also know the eerie silence after the storm, a quiet that can seem to last for hours and days. The Champion 100520 is not just one of the quietest high-power generators on the market, it is so smooth running that it won’t have that typical constant noise that can so annoyingly cut through that post-storm quiet – in fact, you probably won’t even know it’s running.
Added to these important factors are exceptionally good 10.5 hour running time, a wide range of weather-safe covered power outlets, including 120 and 240 volts, AC and DC, 20 and 30 amp and even USB, low weight and excellent portability for such a big unit, and an intelligent and highly useful layout and monitoring system, and you begin to get the idea of just how good this Champion 100520 inverter generator really is.
There’s a lot more we could talk about here, and to me all of the features and benefits we’ve already mentioned are super important, but the most important thing of all is getting a generator that will not just offer you the power you need during and after a hurricane, but one you can be absolutely certain will start up and work with no problems – even if it hasn’t been used in a long time – and for this the Champion 100520 open-frame 7000 watt inverter generator is the perfect choice.
Best Generator for Hurricanes – Small
Champion Power Equipment 200961 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator
- DUAL FUEL: Operate your 2500-watt portable...
- QUIET OPERATION: With an ultra-quiet 53 dBA...
- PARALLEL READY: The optional, sold-separately...
- Noise Level: 53 DBa
- Power Output: 1,850 Watts
- Startup Power: 2,500 Watts
- Plug: 2 x 20 Amp 120 Volt, 12 Volt DC
- Weight: 39 Pounds
- CARB Compliant: Yes
- Running Time: 11.5 Hours, Half Load (34 hours with 20 pound propane tank)
You may have already noticed that I like certain brands of power generators more than others, and that companies like Champion feature pretty predominantly in my choices for best generators for all kinds of situations and uses.
There’s a very simple reason for this – above and beyond the features, the noise level, even the power rating, the most important factor in a generator is its quality and reliability, and with Champion generators I am so confident that they will work when I need them, and keep running as long as needed.
And so my second choice for best hurricane generator is, like my first, a Champion – in this case, the small Champion 200961 dual fuel inverter generator, which has 2,500 peak watts of power and 1,850 running watts.
To be clear, this is not enough power for most homes – at least, if you want to use the generator for somewhat normal activities, appliances, heating and cooling and all of that. But for emergency lighting and basic climate control, for a sump pump, for localized and limited use this is a fantastic electric generator.
Extremely tough and dependable, and yet very light weight, this Champion 200961 is maybe the quietest running I’ve used, and its inverter stage provides exceptionally clean and stable power, making it safe for your computers, phones and other electronics.
It has very long running time – 11.5 hours with gas and close to a day and a half on propane – and the Champion includes not only two standard 120 volt 20 amp power sockets, but also a DC socket and even two USB charging ports.
A rugged and overbuilt little generator, the Champion 200961 inverter is a perfect product for limited usage or to supplement a larger generator or standby system, and an easy choice for best generator for hurricanes at this lower power level.
Best Generator for Hurricanes – Medium
Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator with Remote Electric Start
- 4500 Peak Watts and 3700 Rated Watts at Less...
- Features a 5–20R 120V Duplex Household...
- Led Data Center: Rotating Digital Display...
- Noise Level: 52 DBa
- Power Output: 3,700 Watts
- Startup Power: 4,500 Watts
- Plug: 30 Amp 120 Volt, 2 x 20 Amp 120 Volt, 5 Volt DC
- Weight: 105 Pounds
- CARB Compliant: Yes
- Running Time: 18 Hours, Half Load
Just like the two Champion Power Equipment generators above, this Westinghouse iGen4500 stands out from the competition in one very important way – it is exceptionally well made and reliable, which again, for me at least, is the most important consideration when choosing an emergency backup generator.
In fact Westinghouse is a bit of a legend in this regard, and to this day every single Westinghouse generator is individually checked and tested before it leaves the factory.
This may be the most important thing when choosing the best generator for a hurricane, but actually there are a lot of ways the Westinghouse iGen4500 stands out – it is very, very quiet, especially for its size, it has very long running time, exceptionally low THD (making it safe for even sensitive electronics), a brilliant layout and control / monitoring panel, excellent safety circuitry, plenty of covered power outlets and a super-easy and dependable electric start with remote.
But for me, again and again, with emergency generators of any size, type or usage, it must come back to the question – is this a generator you can be absolutely certain will work perfectly when you need it? And with this Westinghouse – or any Westinghouse I have had the pleasure of using – the answer is always yes, absolutely!
So the Westinghouse iGen4500 is a really ideal choice for this middle power range. It is a quiet, well engineered and well designed inverter generator with plenty of power for most homes – even larger homes and families, if the activities and usage are somewhat scaled back – and a truly reliable product that will give you the security you need.
Best Generator for Hurricanes – Large
DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator 13000 Watt Electric Start
- POWERFUL DUROMAX ENGINE: The XP13000EH is...
- DUAL FUEL TECHNOLOGY: The ability to run on...
- PLENTY OF POWER: With 13,000 starting watts...
- Noise Level: 74 DBa
- Power Output: 10,500 Watts
- Startup Power: 13,000 Watts
- Plug: 50 Amp 120/240 Volt, 30 Amp 120/240 Volt, 30 Amp 120 Volt, 2 x 20 Amp 120 Volt, 12 Volt DC
- Weight: 234 Pounds
- CARB Compliant: Yes
- Running Time: 8 Hours, Half Load
In the 7,000 watt plus range many of the generators you find are large open-frame models that are simple direct generators with no inverter stage, which is quite possibly not what you want.
If you’re saying to yourself “huh? Inverter?” let me explain.
We’ve covered this in the introduction, but briefly an inverter is an additional stage in the power circuitry of a generator which converts, or inverts, the power from normal AC (or alternating current, like you get from your wall outlets) to DC (or direct current, like what you get from a battery) and then inverts that DC back into AC in a very controlled manner, ensuring that the electricity is now as pure, stable and clean as possible.
Why does this matter? Well, the electrical current coming from generators without inverters can be dangerous to use with computers and laptops, phones, tablets, flat screen TVs, game systems and other sensitive electronics, but stable AC from an inverter is perfectly safe for any electronics – and not just what I’ve just mentioned, but also the electronics in a dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine or any other modern appliance.
Enter the DuroMax XP13000EH portable inverter generator, which is a brilliant and amazingly affordable large generator perfect for hurricanes, extreme weather, emergencies and home backup.
The XP13000EH has way more than 7,000 watts – enough power, in fact, for most homes and their activities – and still runs with amazingly low noise levels. Really, for its size, it is so quiet that you will forget it is even running.
A dual fuel generator – gasoline or propane – the DuroMax XP13000EH is equipped with a very easy electric start, and also has carbon monoxide monitors, and will automatically shut down if CO levels get too high.
I’m tempted to say that the best thing about the XP13000EH is the price, which is surprisingly low for such a big and feature-rich product, but what’s even better is the build quality and reliability of the 13000, which is way, way beyond what you’d expect for the price.
That said, I was originally going to recommend the Genmax 9000W Portable Inverter Generator, which is actually a bit less powerful and a lot more expensive, mostly because the Genmax is sort of the last word in material and build quality, long term reliability and dependability, whether you are using it frequently or only during hurricanes or other emergencies.
But I ended up choosing the DuroMax XP13000EH inverter generator instead, largely because it is fully CARB compliant – as are all my choices here – and so suitable for use in all 50 states (the Genmax cannot be shipped to or used in California).
Anyway, the DuroMax XP13000EH, at around half the price, is a much better value than the Genmax, and a more powerful unit (which is never a bad thing). It is also exceptionally well built and reliable, and can be counted on when you really need it. With such quiet running, such long running time, a full array of controls, monitors and outlets, electric start and more this is the best large electric generator for hurricanes, and highly recommended.
Best Generator for Hurricanes – Standby System
Generac 7043 22kW Home Standby Generator with, 200-Amp Transfer Switch
- Up to whole house protection with the 200...
- Smart, User-friendly controls; Generac...
- 240 volts supply
- Noise Level: 67 DBa
- Power Output: 19,500 Watts
- Startup Power: 22,000 Watts
- Voltage: 240/120
- Transfer Switch: Included, 200 Amp
- Mobile Link Wifi Connectivity
- Natural Gas or LP Gas Operation
With a standby system we are entering into essentially a new realm of home backup – a portable generator is great for emergencies, like hurricanes, and can literally make a life-or-death difference during power outages, but they are in many ways quite limited.
A whole house standby generator, though – like this Generac 7043 – offers some distinct advantages over a portable, including:
Auto On – a standby system will power on automatically and immediately in the case of power outage, which is not only much more convenient but can be a real safety factor if, for instance, you lose power at night, when your family is sleeping, or while you’re away.
Long Running Time – a standby generator can run for days or even weeks without refueling or maintenance, as opposed to hours for a portable.
Very Quiet operation – although modern portable inverter generators are often extremely quiet, a standby system can – especially for its huge power output – be unnoticeably quiet in operation.
Power Output – the best standby electric generators for hurricanes typically start out where portables max out – that is, they have much more power than portables, and one like my choice, the Generac 7043, can power even larger houses and allow for pretty much normal life and activities.
Of course this comes at a cost, and standby generators, which will include the required transfer switch for automatic and seamless switching when power goes out, are a lot more expensive – and do need to be installed by a licensed professional electrician and connected to a (natural or LP) gas line.
Even still, it is my experience that it makes a lot of sense to purchase your standby generator online – my choice, for example, is significantly less expensive online than you can typically find it from local dealers, and is suitable for any house, so you can purchase it without even consulting an electrician first.
The Generac 7043 is a big generator, with 19,500 watts of running power and 22,000 watts peak, and yet its specially noise-attenuated housing means you probably won’t even hear it working. It has a remarkably low level of THD – less than 5 percent – meaning it is as safe as your home’s normal AC power for sensitive electronics like PCs, phones, televisions and gaming systems – not to mention the latest smart appliances.
The Generac itself is pretty smart, with full wifi integration and a really well designed and genuinely useful app. Both the generator and the transfer switch are housed in weatherproof outdoor enclosures, and both are as well made and reliable as it gets – in fact, these made in the US products come with a full 5 year factory warranty.
If you have a small house, a small family, a small selection of appliances and/or relatively small overall electrical consumption, you might be fine with the Generac 7172, which has basically the same feature set and also includes a transfer switch but has a bit less than half the power and is quite a bit less expensive. The 7172 is just as well made and well designed as its bigger sibling, and I highly recommend it.
But for normal homes and families, even larger ones, the Generac 7043 is a better choice – a necessary choice, even – and is an amazing value and an amazing product. There are definitely much more expensive standby generators for hurricanes and home backup, but I’m not convinced any are better than the 7043.