What are your options for generators?

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Residents fish along a dam&#39;s drainage system near Havana, three days after Hurricane Ike hit the island Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008. Forecasters said Ike, a category 1 storm, could become a major Category 3 hurricane before slamming into Texas or northern Mexico on Saturday. &#40;AP Photo&#47;Fernando Llano&#41;</span></div>
September 8, 2008 4:29:36 PM PDT
Whenever a hurricane threatens, families across our area have to decide whether to go or stay put. As we're seeing in Louisiana, sometimes, it takes weeks to restore electricity. One option you have is buying a generator to power your home. TRACK IT: Location/forecast track | Satellite | Watches/warnings | Hurr. wind probabilities | TS wind probabilities | Tracking map | Gulf water temps | Hurricane Guide | Tim Heller's blog | Before the storm | Photos

We saw plenty of people looking at the devices today and all had the same questions. How much power can you get, and how long will they run on a tank of gas?

There is no shortage of generators yet, but they are selling fast. If you want a generator, now may be the time to get one. You can't power your entire home, but it'll help you weather the aftermath.

When the electricity goes off for any length of time, Ron Scott turns on his generator. Scott has had a generator for years and has a few tips for anyone thinking of buying a generator this storm season.

"With a small generator, one you can handle yourself, you could probably keep your refrigerator and maybe a fan or small air conditioning unit going, but you certainly are not going to be able to power your whole house with something you get for a few hundred dollars," he said.

Scott paid a couple hundred bucks for a Honda 2200 when he bought it 20 years ago. Today, it costs a bit more for portable power.

We found a Briggs and Stratton generator selling for $800 at Home Depot and Lowe's, but Lowe's also had a Centurion for $650. The devices offer a limited amount of electricity.

"We are looking at a portable room air condition, a little window unit, a freezer, a refrigerator," said Zion Greenfield with Home Depot. "Of course, a television and a radio."

These generators run off gasoline, and at half of their maximum output, you can expect a tank of gas to last about 12 hours. That means you are going to need extra gasoline on hand to keep the generator running.

"I would say 15 to 20 gallons of gas to be comfortable," said Greenfield. "If we had to go 3, 4, 5, days, that would be enough gas to be covered."

If you are interested in a generator, we found plenty of them at Lowe's, but Home Depot is already running low because the company sent generators to Louisiana last week.

The company expects deliveries every day for the rest of the week, but supplies could run dry by late Thursday.

David Shavlan is not waiting to get his.

"I just got out of a meeting and saw a newscast and it looks like it may be coming to Houston so I just stopped by on the way home," said Shavlan.

They do sell large natural gas generators that can power your entire home, but they cost thousands of dollars and you need an electrician to install it. The gas powered generators we saw are all pull start, so if you buy one make sure you can operate it as soon as you get it home.

One word of warning: Do NOT use generators in your home or near an open window. Generators emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

Keep your family safe this hurricane season. Check our complete tropical weather preparation guide


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