Solar Stoves – Hot Food and Water for Emergency Situations Reply

Solar-Cooker-Operating-Backyard-v2_edited-1Many canned foods are precooked, so it’s okay to eat them right out of the can.  However, eating hot food is a great way to add some normalcy to your life during an emergency situation.  So having a simple solar stove can become a treasure during an emergency.  Of course if the sky is overcast a solar stove will not work, but if you can see your shadow, you have enough sunshine to use a parabolic solar stove.  And, they are simple to make if you have access to a few basic materials.

An old TV satellite dish makes it easy to build a solar stove.

An old TV satellite dish can be used to build a solar stove. It is an easy do-it-yourself project if you have access to a dish. If you don’t have a dish to use, offer to remove a neighbor’s unused dish, or find one on eBay or in a classified newspaper ad. Or, a higher-quality dish can be purchased for $65-100. (You will find links to retailers at the bottom of this post).

You can purchase a ready-to-use solar stove, but you can also make one from materials you might have on hand during an emergency.

CAUTION:  This is not a project for children as a solar stove can produce blinding light and extremely high temperatures.  These simple-to-build stoves can quickly burn skin, and can ignite fires in less than two seconds.  A solar stove can produce a substantial amount of heat.

Probably the easiest method for building a solar stove is to utilize a television satellite dish.  Even a small one, such as the gray 18-inch dish in the photo (above right), is large enough to boil a small quantity of water or cook a small pot of food.  As you would expect, the bigger the dish and the more reflective the mirror-like surface, the larger the cook pot that can be accommodated. For the sake of simplicity, the directions and photo illustrations used in this article are for a TV dish, but any parabolic dish will work.  Other readily obtainable parabolic dishes can be found in certain types of space heaters, light fixtures, wok cooking pans, etc.

Parabolic-Dish-Heater-n-Light-Fixture

Other products which utilize a parabolic dish are some models of space heaters and light fixtures.

If you would like to purchase a pre-polished parabolic metal dish to keep with your emergency supplies, or purchase an already built stove (or oven), there are several online vendors listed at the end of this article.

What is a parabolic dish?  In the non-technical practical sense, it is like half of a ball.  These are commonly used to gather and concentrate televisions signals from satellites, for concentrating and projecting heat in certain types of portable room heaters, and also in some light fixtures to reflect light in a certain direction.

To make a solar stove, it’s a simple task if you have access to a parabolic dish that is 12-inches (30 cm), but twice this size is much better for cooking a meal.  The larger the dish, the more heat it can generate and therefore the larger the pot of food that can be heated.  But creating a mirror-like surface on the dish is extremely important, too.  Even if the dish is not perfectly curved, it may still work if you apply a mirror-like coating to the dish (described below).

The conversion of a satellite dish into a stove is a simple do-it-yourself project.  You just need to mount your dish on some type of bracket or fixture, so that you can aim it at the sun.  It needs to remain solidly in place while your food cooks, and yet it needs to be sufficiently adjustable so that you can keep it aimed at the sun.

If the surface of your dish isn’t already mirror-like, you will need to polish it, or cover it with a highly-reflective foil.  Then, to make it function as a stove, you will need to add a bracket or design a hanging method, to hold your cook pot in place while the stove heats the food or water.

Materials Needed:  Parabolic dish (such as a satellite TV-dish); space blanket or highly-reflective foil; spray adhesive; metal tubing, wood scraps or other materials to fabricate a stand and pot bracket; and, a suitable cook pot, ideally with a lid.

Homemade-Solar-Stove

Old satellite dish covered with inexpensive but highly-reflective silver Space Blanket foil.

1.  First, mount your dish so that it is adjustable, as you will need to point your solar stove directly at the sun to make it work.  This can be an elaborate mount, or this can be accomplished by using sandbags, a stack of tires, or anything else which can prop the parabolic dish in place while it’s operating as a stove.  The focal point of the sunlight is the place on the stove which gets hot, so the rest of the stove does not necessarily need to be fireproof.

2.  Clean, and then coat the surface of the satellite dish with spray adhesive.  Be sure that your hands are clean and glue-free before proceeding, as glue on your hands can tear the foil.  Glue left on the surface of the foil will also attract dirt.  This dirt, and even dust left on the shiny surface between uses, will reduce the reflectivity of the shiny surface.  This will diminish heat production.

space-blanket-folded

Select an inexpensive Space Blanket which has a bright silver finish that is highly reflective, for surfacing your dish.  This is far superior to tin foil for creating a mirror-like surface on your dish.

3.  Cover the surface of the dish with highly reflective material.  An inexpensive silver-surfaced Space Blanket works great for this purpose.  The shinny-side of tin foil will also work, but it is far inferior to the more mirror-like surface of an inexpensive emergency (solar) blanket.

Cut your shinny material oversize, to make it easier to handle, but still large enough so that you can form it, and mold it, to completely cover the entire surface of the dish.

If you want to be more precise, cut the foil material into triangular strips, spray glue onto the back of the foil, and apply it with a pointed corner to the center of the dish.  Repeat with other triangular pieces of foil until the surface of the parabolic dish is completely covered.  To avoid coverage gaps, the triangles of material should overlap, as precise placement is difficult.  Use a soft rag or t-shirt to make the finish smooth, making sure that the foil follows the curvature of the dish.  Patch if necessary with small pieces of foil.  Be sure to keep the cloth from becoming contaminated with glue.  If you cloth gets glue on it, immediately switch to a new piece of cloth.

Apply the reflective foil to the dish carefully to avoid tearing and crinkling.  If the dish is large, start in the middle.  If it is smaller than 2-feet (approx. 60 cm) you may want to start on an edge.  Either way, keep in mind that your objective is to make the surface of the dish mirror-like and smooth.  Ideally, you don’t want any bubble-like gaps between the foil and the surface of the dish.  Use care to keep from crinkling the foil, too.  Some crinkling of the foil is inevitable, but it is important for a majority of the surface to be as smooth and mirror-like as possible.

Solar-Stove-Focal-Point-v2_edited-1

A piece of wood can be used to easily find the focal point of the dish. Note the bright spot near the end of this piece of wood–and the smoke. This piece of wood started to burn after a few seconds of exposure to the focal point of the sunlight. (Bracket on the top right is to hold the cook pot). The focal point of sunlight should be on the bottom of the cook pot, not on the bracket.

4.  Your next step is to determine the focal point of the dish.  (The focal point is the precise point where the reflected sunlight becomes highly concentrated.  If you are using a piece of wood to find the focal point, it should start to burn after a few seconds of exposure to concentrated sunlight at the focal point).

You can go online and find the mathematical formula for determining the focal point of your dish.  Or, you can simply aim the dish directly at the sun and experiment.  This trial-and-error method can usually be accomplished in a minute or two, by using a scrap piece of wood.

All you need to do is carefully position your dish to directly face the sun, then move a piece of wood from the edge of the dish outward until you see a bright focal point of light develop.  Move it in and out until you have found the location where the spot of light is the smallest (most concentrated).  This is the focal point.  (If you have used a magnifying glass to capture sunlight and start a fire, this is a similar process.  However, the concentrated light beam on a homemade solar stove will be much larger than the focused spot of light produced by a magnifying glass.)

Focusing-Beam-Solar-Stove_edited-2

As shown in this photo, the beam of sunlight must be focused on the bottom of the pot. (The tube mounted at the center of this parabolic dish makes it easier to center the dish on the sun. When sunlight travels down the tube as evidenced by a spot of light on the ground, you can be confident that the dish is directly facing the sun.)

6.  Once you have determined the focal point for your dish, take rough measurements to help you design and position a bracket or holder for your cook pot.  Then, make your bracket.  Remember, with your cook pot attached to the bracket, the pot must be held precisely in the right place–and kept stationary.

The concentrated beam of light, when at its smallest size, must be centered on the bottom of the cook pot.   The beam of sunlight needs to be concentrated to the smallest possible circle of light to achieve maximum heat.  If the beam is not focused precisely on the bottom of your cook pot, your solar stove will not work.

Solar-Stove-TV-Dish-on-Truck-Tire

This 4-ft diameter solar stove was made from an old satellite TV dish. It rests on top of a truck tire, which makes adjustment easy. After the focal point was identified, steel rods were used to support and keep the cook pot in the optimal location.

7.  Select a cook pot that is heavy-duty and capable of distributing the heat.  Cast iron cookware, such as those made by Lodge Manufacturing Company, are the best commercial option.

Caution: On a sunny day, a well made solar stove will create a tremendous amount of heat.  It is possible to generate more than a thousand degrees of heat, so if you are using a tin can or standard metal pot, it can melt.

Unlike the stove in your kitchen which distributes the heat across the bottom of a pot, a solar stove concentrates the heat on a very small spot.  As a result, it is far more dangerous than your kitchen stove as it is capable of melting metal and quickly catching things on fire.  Therefore, you need to either select a pot which will help distribute the heat, or you will need to design another method to distribute the heat.

Lodge-Dutch-Oven-12

Cast iron cook pots work best as they do a better job of distributing the intense heat of the solar oven.

Pot Selection:  Most people find that they prefer to use a cook pot with a lid, rather than a pan.  The lid will help keep heat in the pot, and it will also reduce the chance of spilling your food when you are attaching, and removing, the pot from the stove.  As a result of this heat retention, your food will cook faster and more uniformly.  But be sure to stir your food often, regardless.  Once the pot is heated, food can quickly burn, especially at the bottom of the pot near the spot where the heat-beam is striking.

If your food takes more than a minute or two to cook, you may need to slightly reposition the dish of your solar stove.  Keep your eye on the heat-beam while cooking, to make sure that it hasn’t moved off of the bottom of your pot.  Small adjustments are better than waiting until the beam moves off of the bottom of your cook pot.

The earth’s rotation makes it necessary to keep adjusting the solar stove to keep the beam of sunlight concentrated at the bottom of your pot.  You will be able to maximize the reflected heat of the sun by repositioning the stove, as necessary, to keep the beam in the same spot.  As a result of this diligence, your food will cook much faster.

If you don’t have matches, another advantage of the solar stove is that it can be used to ignite a scrap of wood, thereby making fire-starting quick and easy, too.  However, this same benefit can also create a safety hazard if the solar stove is left outside and unattended.  When not in use, the solar stove must be either brought indoors, the dish upended to face the ground, or the stove’s dish covered with something to prevent the sun from striking its mirrored surface and accidentally starting a fire.

Cooking with a solar stove does take some practice, but once your stove is built, it can provide you with a free, easy and almost microwave-quick heating solution for both food and water.

Links to Vendors and Other Resources:

Parabolic-Reflectors-Various-Sizes-Foremost-Mfg

If you want to build a higher quality solar stove, a pre-polished parabolic dish can be purchased from various science equipment retailers. The dishes in this photo were made by Foremost Mfg, and  are available through Sears Online.

Other Designs for Solar Cooking:  http://solarcooking.org/plans/

Solar Cookers and Supplies:  http://www.solarcooker-at-cantinawest.com/buy-a-solar-cooker.html

Solar Cookers: http://www.solarovens.net/

Sears Solar Cooker:  http://www.sears.com/american-educational-products-american-educational-solar-furnace/p-SPM6528369805?prdNo=2&blockNo=52&blockType=G52&PDP_REDIRECT=false&s_tnt=39869:4:0

Retailers of Solar Cookers by Country:  http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Manufacturers_and_vendors

Sources for Parabolic Dishes:

Edmund Scientifics:  http://www.scientificsonline.com/large-parabolic-reflectors.html

Ward’s Science:  https://www.wardsci.com/store/catalog/product.jsp?catalog_number=4807000

Sears Online:  http://www.sears.com/foremost-mfg-company-inc-large-parabolic-reflectors/p-SPM6986457808?prdNo=5&blockNo=55&blockType=G55&PDP_REDIRECT=false&s_tnt=39869:4:0

Generators for Emergency Power Reply

Having the power needed to produce light and prepare food, maintain refrigeration, and to provide for heating/cooling of your home may not be essential for life, but it is nevertheless important in any emergency situation.

Though the loss of grid electrical power is not part of every emergency, many incidents do include at least a temporary loss of utilities such as electrical power.  To provide a hedge of protection against potential power loss, many people buy either a gasoline, diesel or natural gas fueled generator.  This can provide an easy, albeit temporary solution.

Despite the popularity of these generators, there is still a lot of confusion in regard to what to buy.  This article is provided to help you evaluate your needs and consider your various options for a fossil-fuel powered generator.

It must be understood that long-term failure of the electrical grid will require a different solution.  This information on generators is only to help you solve the problem of short-term outages.  The equipment mentioned in this article is not adequate for an electric grid failure lasting more than two weeks.

Long-term power generation must come from an alternative power source such as solar, wind, or some other renewable energy source.  It usually also involves the use of deep-cycle batteries to store the electricity as it is generated, so that the power can be used later.  This particular article will only address the easy-to-solve short-term electrical needs using fossil-fuel powered generators to produce electrical energy on demand.

For as little as $700, a small portable gasoline generator can be purchased to power the essential electricity needs of the average American household.  However, important components and features which some feel are important, will cost extra.

Yet, even a low-cost generator will make it possible for you to use your existing electrical equipment, appliances and power tools.  Conversely, long-term solutions involving the use of batteries, are not only much more expensive, but also often include the acquisition of specialty appliances which operate on 12-volt DC power.

Generators and Security Considerations

The noise of a generator and the use of lights during an emergency situation can have negative consequences.    If there is a concern for safety from violence during an emergency, the use of a generator may focus unwanted attention on your home.  Further, the noise of a operating generator can mask important warning sounds of approaching trespassers and impending violence.

It is important to be judicious in the use of a generator during a serious emergency.  At the very least, it may be prudent to run your generator only during daylight hours, or for a short period of time to satisfy specific needs rather than creature comforts.

If the danger is minimal but it does exist, consider using your generator during the day for a few hours, just to charge batteries and to operate essential appliances such as a freezer.  This way you can plan to have your generator turned-off before dusk.  This will help reduce the likelihood of drawing unwanted attention to your home and family at night, and it will also stretch use by consuming less fuel.

Generator Features and Specific Recommendations

The following information was supplied by Consumer Reports, a good source for reliable information on various home-related products.

They focused on moderately priced portable and stationary models that deliver 5,000 to 7,000 watts, enough for most needs. Portables cost the least and can be stored in a garage or shed when you don’t need them. A lower-priced model powered refrigerators, well pumps, and other home gear almost as well as a more expensive top-scorer.

Stationary models install permanently outside your home and start automatically when needed. And because they run on propane or natural gas instead of gasoline, they offer extended or unlimited run time.

Buying a generator is just the beginning. Many models don’t come with parts that you’d think would be part of the price. And some could let you down when you need them most or put an added load on appliances. Here are the details.

Reliability Matters

Generators are typically sold by wattage. How much they put out determines not only how many lights and appliances you can run at once but how well they run. For example, a refrigerator often requires about 600 watts, a portable heater 1,500 watts, a window air conditioner 1,000 watts, and lights 60 to 200 watts. Our wattage calculator provides an average wattage rating for most appliances and devices to help you to tally your needs.

“Batteries not included” applies. Several portables offer electric starting. But the battery required for that feature usually costs an extra $50. And if you think all portables have wheels, think again: They’re a $150 option on one model we tested.

Some slipped when demand surged. All of the tested generators met their basic wattage claims. Manufacturers also make higher surge-wattage claims for the extra power needed when fridges, air conditioners, and pumps cycle on. Subpar surge wattage lowered the power-delivery scores of some models in our tests.

Some can overheat appliances. Our power-quality test judges the ability to deliver the 120 volts that home circuits usually need. Most met that challenge although one model was more than 10 volts shy under a heavy load and voltage from another was also low–and slightly uneven. Both conditions make motorized appliances and some electronics run hotter.

How to Choose

Decide what you really need to power. If that includes a central air conditioner or an electric dryer or oven, you’ll need a larger generator than the ones we tested. Here’s what else to keep in mind:

Count on a transfer switch. It costs about $500 to $900 installed and connects a portable generator to your home’s circuit box as with a stationary model. In addition to eliminating the risk and hassle of extension cords, the switch protects the generator and appliances from damage when grid power returns and keeps the generator from endangering technicians working on the power lines.

Think about the fuel. Most portables use roughly 8 to 22 gallons of gasoline a day, compared with four to eight 20-pound tanks of propane for portable models. (A 250-gallon tank for stationary units can run 8 to 15 days.) Buying and storing lots of fuel before a storm can be unwieldy, although you can pour unused gasoline into your car’s gas tank.

[If you are thinking of using gas cans for fuel storage, be sure to read the 36ReadyBlog.com article on Specter fuel cans, the gas cans used by the U.S. military.]

Look for smart features in your generator. All but two of the portable generators in our tests turn themselves off when engine oil is low. And the fuel shutoff on all tested gasoline models lets you run the engine dry to draw gas out of the fuel system to keep it from fouling parts if it degrades during storage.

Play it Safe

Powering too many appliances will trip the generator’s circuit breakers, causing power loss. Be sure what you’re powering is within the generator’s rated wattage; most transfer switches make that easier by showing wattage levels.

And protect against carbon monoxide, which kills about 86 people each year–and sends thousands more to the emergency room. Run any generator outdoors and away from the house, far from doors, windows, and anywhere else air enters the house. Never run it in a basement or garage; even with the garage door open, it endangers people inside the house.

Types of Generators

Knowing what you’re powering is the first step to choosing the right generator. Here are the types of generators and their pros and cons.

Portable Generators

These small and mid-sized models typically put out anywhere from 3,000 to 8,500 watts. They cost from $400 to $1,000 and are adequate for many homes, which is why they’re the biggest sellers. Most portables run only on gasoline, but some can also use liquid propane or connect to a natural gas line.

Pros:

They cost the least and are relatively easy to move and store. And they’re adequate for powering common plug-in appliances and lights.

Cons:

Portables don’t provide nearly enough power for heavy drains like central air conditioning. And for most, you’ll have to store large quantities of gasoline, a hazardous fuel.

Stationary Generators

These large models mount permanently outside the house and are growing in popularity. Their roughly 5,000 to 15,000 watts let the largest power an entire house, including central heat and air conditioning.

Pros:

Besides providing plenty of watts, stationary generators can power a bevy of hardwired items, eliminating the hassle and risk of running power cords. Most run on either propane or natural gas, eliminating the risks of pouring and storing gasoline.

Cons:

All of that power and convenience comes at a price ($5,000 to $10,000 for the largest models). Stationary generators also require professional installation.

Features to Consider

Wheeled, portable generators are the biggest sellers. But whatever you buy, make sure its features help make it safe and easy to use. Here are the generator features to consider.

Alternative-fuel capability

Stationary generators often run on either propane or natural gas. Most portable models run only on gasoline, though come equipped to run on a propane tank or natural-gas line or can be converted with kits.

Wheels

A single person can move a portable generator with wheels, but you’ll still need two people to lift it. Models with pneumatic tires are easier to roll.

Oil guard

This feature protects the engine from damage by shutting down the generator if the oil level falls below the minimum. It’s typically on stationary generators and on some portables.

Fuel gauge

The gauge lets you check a portable’s fuel tank at a glance. It’s especially useful during a prolonged power failure.

Electric starting

Portable generators with a battery-powered, pushbutton starter save you the hassle of pull-starting the engine. But we’ve found pull-start models relatively easy to start. All stationary models have this feature.

Inverter technology

A feature on higher-end portables, it makes wattage output smoother and more consistent via a microprocessor-controlled circuit.

Multiple outlets

Four or more outlets let you best use a generator’s wattage by spreading the load through more outlets–important if you’re using extension cords instead of a transfer switch.

Wattage Requirements

Wattage ranges:  How much machine do you need?

How much generator should you buy? Here’s what different sizes can power. Pick a model with a wattage at least equal to the total for what you’re powering. Manufacturers also suggest totaling the higher surge watts some appliances draw when they cycle on. Models that scored well for power delivery were up to that surge; for untested models, we suggest simply focusing on running watts.

To Estimate Your Wattage Requirements:

Inspect the label on your tools and appliances to determine your specific power needs.  These estimates are provided to help you estimate the size of generator that you will need.  Keep in mind that it is best to operate a generator at 75% of its rated capacity.

Refrigerator (600 watts)

Microwave (1,500 watts)

Sump pump (600 watts)

Several lights (400 watts)

TV (200 watts)

Price range. $400 to $800 for most; more for inverter models.

Midsized portable and small stationary, 5,000 to 8,500 watts

What it powers. Same as small models, plus:

Portable heater (1,300 watts)

Computer (250 watts)

Heating system (500 watts)

Second pump (600 watts)

More lights (400 watts)

Price range. $500 to $1,000 for portables; twice that for stationary.

Large portable, 10,000 watts

What it powers. Adds choice of:

Small water heater (3,000 watts)

Central air conditioner (5,000 watts)

Electric range (5,000 watts)

Price range. $2,000 to $3,000.

Large stationary, 10,000 to 15,000 watts

What it powers. Same as large portable models, plus:

Clothes washer (1,200 watts)

Electric dryer (5,000 watts)

Price range. $5,000 to $10,000 or more, plus installation.

Recommended Generators

Recommended models are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. (Occasionally, high-scoring models are not recommended due to their Brand Repair History or other issues.) When narrowing your choices among models, weigh performance, features, price, and attributes that matter to you, such as color, size, or style.

Generators that made our winners list produce smooth, steady power for refrigerators, well pumps, and other home items without losing voltage under load. Most also shut off automatically if engine oil is low.

Portable Generator Recommendations
Portable generators cost less than stationary models and can be stowed away in a garage or shed when you don’t need them. To use a portable, you wheel it outdoors and start it manually, replenishing fuel and adding oil when necessary.

Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $900

Overall score: 100

This 7,000-watt, gasoline-powered portable generator from Troy-Bilt was tops among portables. Helpful features include electric start, fuel shutoff (which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage), low-oil shutdown, a power meter (needed only with a low-end transfer switch that lacks one), a 9-gallon tank for an average 15 hours of run time, and a fuel gauge. And unlike some, it comes with the battery for the electric-start feature. It also includes the starter bottle of engine oil you’ll find with many portable models.

Generac GP5500 5939

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $670

Overall score: 100

This gasoline-powered portable is rated at 5,500 watts and performed almost as well as the top-scoring Troy-Bilt for hundreds less.Features include fuel shutoff (which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage), low-oil shutdown, and a fuel gauge. It also comes with the wheels and the starter bottle of engine oil you’ll find with many portable models. One feature you give up is electric starting (you’ll need to pull a cord, as you would with many lawn mowers), though the Generac is still a great value.

Troy-Bilt 6000 30475

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $700

Overall score:  100

Ample power delivery is a top attraction of this 6,000-watt, gasoline-powered Troy-Bilt portable, though you might miss a couple of important features. Included in the package is fuel shutoff, which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage, a fuel gauge, and a starter bottle of engine oil. Three features you give up: electric starting–you’ll need to pull a cord, as you would with many lawn mowers–a low-oil shut-off (protects the engine from overheating if the oil level dips too low), and an hour meter (tells you how long since the last oil change). But the Troy-Bilt remains a great value.

Honda EM6500SX

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $2800

Overall score:  100

Providing ample power, cleanly and consistently, are top strengths of this 5,500-watt, gasoline-powered Honda portable–though you might balk at its price. You get a number of helpful features for the price, including electric start, low-oil shutoff (protects the engine from overheating if the oil level dips too low), and fuel shutoff, which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage. There’s also a fuel gauge and a starter bottle of engine oil. But what isn’t included considering the price is surprising: a battery for the electric start (about $50 separately). There’s also no hour meter, which tells you how long since the last oil change.

Stationary Generator Recommendations
Stationary models are the most expensive but start automatically when needed. They’re permanently installed outside the home, connected to a transfer switch, and run on natural gas or propane for extended or unlimited run time.

Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7

Type: Stationary

Price as tested:  $3,200

Overall score:  100

Stationary generators turn themselves on and off when needed and run on propane or natural gas for longer run time and safer fueling. The Kohler delivered smooth, steady power and offers 7,000 watts with natural gas and 8,500 using propane. It was also quietest of the models we tested, and it shuts down automatically if the engine-oil level gets low. On the downside, it is pricey and requires costly professional installation.

GeneracCorePower 5837

Type: Stationary

Price as tested:  $1,800

Overall score:  100

This Generac stationary generator offers capable performance for roughly half the cost of the top-rated Kohler. It offers 6,000 watts using natural gas and 1,000 more if using propane, saving you the risks and hassle of storing gasoline. An added benefit: This generator was the only one we tested that comes with a transfer switch–usually an extra $400. Automatic low-oil shutoff is part of the package as well and a starter bottle of engine oil. It requires professional installation, but it’s still a great value.

Comparisons and Ratings

Portable Generators

Ratings Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…
Overall score (Out of 100) 72 Very Good 67 Very Good 65 Very Good
Ease of use
Noise
Power delivery
Power quality
Run time range (hrs.) 12 – 18 8 – 14 9 – 16
 Features & Specs Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…
Claimed output (watts) 7000 5500 6000
Electric start Yes No No
Fuel gauge Yes Yes Yes
Fuel shutoff Yes Yes Yes
Fuel type Gasoline Gasoline Gasoline
Low-oil shutoff Yes Yes No
Weight (lbs.) 270 212 204
View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs
 User Reviews Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…

Stationary Units


Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7 Generac CorePower 5837
Brand Reliability
Price & Shop $3,200.00No sellers available $1,800.00No sellers available
 Ratings Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Overall score (Out of 100) 92 Excellent 77 Very Good
Ease of use
Noise
Power delivery
Power quality
Run time range (hrs.) 196 – 252 226 – 366
 Features & Specs Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Claimed output (watts) NG 7000 LPG 8500 NG 6000 LPG 7000
Electric start Yes Yes
Fuel gauge No No
Fuel shutoff Yes Yes
Fuel type LPG/NG LPG/NG
Low-oil shutoff Yes Yes
Weight (lbs.)
View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs
 User Reviews Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Brand & Model Price Ratings and Test Results
Portable Approximate retail price
Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477  $900 72 12 – 18
Generac GP5500 5939  $670 67 8 – 14
Troy-Bilt 6000 30475  $700 65 9 – 16
Honda EM6500SX 4  $2800 64 7 – 12
Yamaha EF6600DE 3 4  $2450 62 7 – 14
Champion 41535  $1000 57 7 – 11
All Power APG3560 1 4  $850 51 4 – 6
Gentron GG3203 2  $1250 50 7 – 11
Generac XG7000E 5798  $1200 49 11 – 19
ETQ PG60B12 1 4  $900 47 3 – 4
Briggs & Stratton 30468  $700 45 7 – 12
Stationary
Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7  $3200 92 196 – 252
Generac CorePower 5837  $1800 77 226 – 366
Briggs & Stratton EmPower 040301  $1800 69 200 – 353

Features & Specs

Brand & Model Price Features & Specs
Portable Approximate retail price
Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477  $900 7000 Gasoline 270
Generac GP5500 5939  $670 5500 Gasoline 212
Troy-Bilt 6000 30475  $700 6000 Gasoline 204
Honda EM6500SX 4  $2800 5500 Gasoline 298
Yamaha EF6600DE 3 4  $2450 6000 Gasoline 291
Champion 41535  $1000 7500 Gasoline 248
All Power APG3560 1 4  $850 5000 LPG 218
Gentron GG3203 2  $1250 5000 Diesel 358
Generac XG7000E 5798  $1200 7000 Gasoline 262
ETQ PG60B12 1 4  $900 6000 LPG 194
Briggs & Stratton 30468  $700 5500 Gasoline 199
Stationary
Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7  $3200 NG 7000 LPG 8500 LPG/NG NA
Generac CorePower 5837  $1800 NG 6000 LPG 7000 LPG/NG NA
Briggs & Stratton EmPower 040301  $1800 NG 6000 LPG 7000 LPG/NG NA