Portable generators

Lowe's sells portable generators from John Deering and Troy-Bilt ranging from five to eight kilowatts. The Troy-Bilt 5000-watt Electric Start, at $698, is among the most popular, said James Inman, store manager for Lowe's in Homestead. Annette Sanchez, the store's install sales manager, said that model would be sufficient to simultaneously power a refrigerator, a window air-conditioning unit, a television and a light.

Home Depot's array of portable generators range from 1.8 kilowatts to 12.5 kilowatts, priced from $399 to $1,999. Generators are also sold at a number of other stores.

The stand-by products at Lowe's range from seven to 45 kilowatts, and are priced from $1,995 to $10,995 for the units. Add to that installation fees of about $1,600 to $1,850, plus putting in a propane tank, if necessary, which probably would cost about $4,500 to $7,500, Sanchez said.

For a generator powerful enough to run a central air-conditioning unit, Sanchez recommends at least a 10-kilowatt unit. A popular version, the Lowe's staff said, is the Centurion 5250, with 16 kilowatts. Price, including installation, is $5,245. That doesn't include the natural gas or propane fuel source. That unit would power a five-ton A/C unit, and most other household appliances, Sanchez said.

FPL Readi-Power sells stand-by generators ranging from 25 kilowatts to 130 kilowatts. ‘‘It's totally automatic," Faath said. "Every week, it exercises itself so it stays in optimal running condition."

The price for the stand-bys, including installation and related fees, ranges from about $25,000 to $60,000 for most South Florida homes. Installation, with permits and other preliminary aspects, usually takes four to six months, she said.

A stand-by generator that runs the whole house relatively efficiently is a Rheem 20 kilowatt version, said Hiram J. Frank of Personalized Power Systems, based in Boca Raton. He says it can automatically adjust the power load based on the appliances being used. With the automatic load-shifting device, a whole house is powered with a smaller, less expensive generator that uses less fuel, he said. The package, including installation and propane tank, if necessary, usually costs about $20,000 to $25,000 and takes about one or two months for permits and installation, Frank said.

At Kohler Power Systems, Melanie Tydrich says the 17-kilowatt version is among the more popular generators. That amount of power is sufficient for a home of about 3,000 square feet, she said.

Accessories also are available for generators. Among them is Kohler's remote monitoring system that allows the owner to use a laptop to turn the generator on or off, even while away from home. If service is required, the generator sends e-mails or text messages.