I’d Never Spend $2K on This Emergency Supply, but Now It Feels Essential

published Sep 26, 2023
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When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest a decade ago, I felt over-prepared for climate emergencies. My husband spent hundreds of dollars on emergency backpacks and water containers for our cars and our home, and I honestly balked a bit at the prices. With student loans and the astonishingly high rent of our Portland, Oregon, apartment, I wondered if we really needed to allocate funds to worst-case scenarios in a city known for its mild summers and rainy winters. 

Quick Overview

A Look at the DuroMax Tri-Fuel Portable Generator

  • Powerful, portable 13,000-watt generator for household emergencies. 
  • Compatible with propane, natural gas, or gasoline.
  • Can be connected to your home’s circuit breaker, and 30 and 50 Amp outlets. 
  • Currently on sale for $1,999, with smaller models starting at $899.

But as the years went by, weather-related crises became a regular occurance. We now cancel road trips because of nearby wildfires. We purchased an air purifier for the days the air quality is unhealthy even indoors. We’ve looked out across an apocalyptic orange sky while brushing ash from our car more times than I care to think about. Storms have left some Portland streets without power for many days at a time, and with the ever looming Cascadia earthquake, we now need to be prepared for even longer stretches without power.

Credit: Meg Asby

Why Did I Buy the DuroMax Tri-Fuel Portable Generator?

As a person who camps frequently, being without power didn’t sound too scary at first — until the heat dome of 2021. I’m from Texas originally, but the 116°F weather in Portland that summer was the hottest I’d personally ever experienced. Ninety-six people died of hyperthermia in Oregon that week — most of whom had no air conditioning. 

The home we bought in 2019 does have AC, but only if we have power. Which brings me to my latest investment in our unpredictable climate future — I spent $2,000 on a DuroMax 13,000-Watt Tri-Fuel Portable Generator when it was on sale during Labor Day this year. Even at the sale price, I didn’t hesitate, which proves I’ve come a long way from the days when emergency backpacks felt like an unnecessary splurge. 

Why Is the DuroMax Tri-Fuel Portable Generator So Essential?

The DuroMax 13,000-Watt Tri-Fuel Portable Generator can power our lights, major appliances, AC, and other essentials during emergencies. If you just want to power your refrigerator or AC alone, there are smaller and less expensive models that will do just that.
You can even get an extra-small 4850-watt generator, and if you live in a place with enough sunlight year-round, you might consider a more eco-friendly solar generator. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Our generator has a footprint only slightly larger than our camping cooler, measuring at 30x29x26 inches, so it was easy to make space for it in our garage. The 13,000-watt model we have can run off three different fuel types: propane, natural gas, or gasoline. This makes it a bit more convenient to use whatever usually powers your home. 

Depending on the fuel chosen, the running wattage ranges from 8,500 to 10,500 watts — this number is always going to be slightly under the max wattage of the generator, just like any smartphone’s battery life or electric car’s maximum range. The gasoline tank is 8.3 gallons and, when full, it will give us an approximate runtime of eight hours running at 50 percent wattage. 

Our home is wired for a generator, so to use ours, we plug it into a 240-volt inlet in our garage, which runs to the circuit breaker that powers our home. If your home isn’t wired for a generator, you can still use the DuroMax. It comes with installed outlets on the generator itself where you can plug in appliances such as a window unit AC or refrigerator. 

When in use, the generator must be outside in a well-ventilated area, so definitely take that into consideration when figuring out the best place for it. For extra safety, this model comes with a built-in carbon monoxide detector that will automatically shut off the machine if CO levels in the space get too high. Just as you wouldn’t run your car in a closed garage, you shouldn’t run your generator there either. 

If you go with a large generator like ours, keep in mind that they’re very heavy — 240 pounds, to be exact. Ours was delivered right in the center of our driveway, and it took us the better part of an hour to move it out of the way. The generator has wheels for portability, which made it easier to move into the garage (well, once we managed to get it off the delivery pallet so we could attach them). 

Despite the hassle of unpacking and moving the generator into the garage, buying one has given me a sliver of much-needed peace of mind. When I let myself think too long about our climate reality, I spiral into a vortex of hopelessness and helplessness. Knowing that we might not have to abandon our home to stay alive during the next inevitable disaster gives me a tiny bit of control in this unpredictable world. 

Buy: DuroMax Tri-Fuel Portable Generator, $1,999 (normally $2,499)