Emergency PowerA home generator can keep your refrigerator running, along with your lights, microwave, air conditioners, TVs, computers and cell-phone chargers \u2014 even the washer and dryer. And in the aftermath of a storm, it will allow you to run circular saws and other power equipment. It can significantly improve your ability to comfortably manage a power outage and quickly recover from a storm.There are two basic types of generators to consider: stationary and portable.Stationary Systems:In these systems, the generator is connected indirectly to a home\u2019s wiring system. They are most suitable for people who regularly experience long power outages or who have special requirements for continuous power.Stationary systems typically run off natural or propane gas and have a \u201ctransfer switch\u201d that allows you to select the equipment you want to be powered. It also prevents the generator from feeding power back into the utility supply system, endangering utility line workers. The whole system generally costs $3,000 or more and can provide 10 to 30 kilowatts or more.In most areas, installing a backup system requires a permit and installation approval from an electrical inspector. Unless you are an extremely electrical-savvy do-it-yourselfer, we recommend the system be installed by a licensed electrician.Portable Generators:These units run off a small gasoline engine and can power a limited number of lights and appliances via extension cords. Frequently used to provide emergency power during and after a storm, these units are easy to store and roll wherever you need them. A portable generator for this use can typically run for eight to 12 hours on a tank of gas and provide two to eight kilowatts or more. Prices start at $500.Plus, these are the things you should NEVER do during a power outage.Generator SafetyWhichever kind of generator you select, think safety. Generators produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and deadly gas. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 28 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with portable generators after Hurricane Katrina. Here\u2019s how to use generators safely:Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents. Never in homes, garages, basements or other enclosed areas, even with plenty of ventilation.Even if you use a generator outdoors, install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms in your home and test them based on the manufacturer\u2019s directions.Keep the generator dry, and dry your hands before touching the generator.With portable generators, use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated, three-prong extension cords that are in good condition. Use GFCI-cords for maximum safety.Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Store fuel outside in\u00a0properly labeled, approved containers away from any fuel-burning appliances.When using the generator, start your high-wattage devices first, one at a time,\u00a0then proceed to lower-wattage devices.Learn more tips for using emergency generators here.What Size Generator Is Right for You?Here\u2019s how to figure out the generator capacity you need: Determine the electrical requirements of the devices you\u2019d like to run, and add them up. Say you wanted to run a small microwave (750 watts), radio (200 watts) and four lights (300 watts total). That requires at least 1,250 watts.However, devices with motors need much more power to start them than they use running. A refrigerator that runs at 1,200 watts might require up to 3,000 watts to start. For running wattage and startup wattage for various electrical devices, visit www.Lowes.com.Plus, here are some\u00a0great electricity-saving tips.Here is a list of what you can expect from three typical sizes of generators:A 3,550-WATT generator can easily power:One refrigerator;One air conditioner (10,000 BTU);One television;Four lights (75 watts each).A 5,000-WATT generator can easily power:One refrigerator;One air conditioner (10,000 BTU);One television;Four lights (75 watts each);One microwave (1,000 watts);One deep freezer.An 8,000-WATT generator can easily power:One refrigerator;One air conditioner (10,000 BTU);One television;Eight lights (75 watts each);One microwave (1,000 watts);One deep freezer;One 1\/2-hp well pump;One electric stove;One security system;One garage door opener.Up next: Every family should have a storm readiness kit. Here are suggestions for how to make three kits: basic, upgraded and superior.