Chad Thorne

The Best Generators I Recommend for People Living in Cold Climates


If you live in an area where winters are especially harsh, you know how important staying warm is.  You also might spend the winter months hoping that an ice or snow storm doesn’t knock out the power.  Those who want to be the most prepared rely on generators for backup power.  Finding the best generator, whether you’re looking for a smaller backup model or a model that can power your entire house, can be daunting given how many models there are and the fact that a new generator will set you back more than a few bucks.  Spending a little time understanding the difference between model types and what factors should top your list can make the process a little easier.


If you want a simpler backup generator to keep critical equipment going, you might be able to get away with a portable unit.  In addition to being less expensive than fixed models (those that have to be installed and are non-moveable), portable generators are great for those who like to go camping or tailgating.  You won’t find a portable model that can power your whole house at once, but you can find models that will connect to your breaker box via a transfer switch so that you can run different applications at different times.

If you want a generator that will allow you to run anything and everything in your home, you’ll want a fixed unit.  These units start at around $3,000 and go up to well over $10,000.  Smaller homes or homes that don’t plan to run everything at once can find very efficient models in the $5,000 to $7,500 neighborhood.  More fuel-efficient models do cost more, but the extra expense can be recouped in fuel savings if you live in an area where you know you’ll have to use the generator at least once or twice a season.  The more applications you want to power, the wiser it is to look for maximum efficiency.  For reviews that include pros and cons of several whole-home generators, including natural gas and propane-powered options, visit  You’ll also get additional tips to help you make the right choice for your home.


When it comes to power sources, you’ll find generators that run on gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, and solar power.  Gasoline-powered models are generally the least expensive, but also usually the least powerful and on the lower end of things in terms of fuel efficiency.  Solar-powered models are the cleanest and don’t require that you keep fuel on hand, but are more complex and typically require the most maintenance and are the most expensive.  Natural gas models offer the convenience of being able to tie directly to your home’s natural gas supply, meaning that you don’t have to worry about fuel containers or going out to top off the tank during a blizzard.  With any fixed whole-home model, you’ll want to factor in the cost of installation (which could easily reach $1,500) unless you are 100% comfortable with and capable of doing it yourself.

Whichever type of generator you choose, make sure to familiarize yourself completely with its operation and required maintenance before you need it.  While most generators aren’t difficult to operate, different types and models will have slightly different processes and maintenance and testing schedules.  Making sure you know how to run your generator and how to maintain and test it between power outages is the best way to make sure it’ll be ready when you do need it.  Wouldn’t you rather “figure it out” during the fall when the weather’s still decent as opposed to two in the morning during an ice storm?


For even better fuel economy, be sure to unplug all devices that you won’t be using, as anything that’s plugged in, whether it’s turned on or not, can draw some power as long as the outlet is live.
Here’s a great resource if you’re leaning toward a solar-powered portable, backup, or whole-home generator.  You’ll find pros and cons and other information to consider as you decide on the best match for your needs and budget.

Avoid generators that emit so much smoke, it can give the same harmful effects of nicotine to the body as in smoking.

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About Chad

Chad Thorne is a high school math teacher and wrestling coach in Juneau, Alaska. He also offers math and wrestling coaching outside of school for those who could use it. Please contact him for rates.


“Chad has helped me to take my wrestling skills above and beyond. He is just such a motivational and smart guy. I highly recommend coaching by Chad.”