By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Losing power is never convenient and if you lose electricity during the winter months you’re left frustrated and frozen.

Generators can help you keep the lights on and the house warm…But which is best for you? In this week’s Angie’s List report, a look at what you should know if you’re thinking getting one.

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Do you have plan in place if your electricity goes out?

“That’s usually my first question when I walk up to a homeowner is: How do you want to live if your lights go off,” said electrician, Greg Wells.

A generator can be a great solution.

“The sound of the generator kicking on when the power is out in your neighborhood can be music to your ears,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

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But you need to determine if you need a standby generator to power everything in your house or if you can get by with a less expensive, portable generator.

“With an 8kw generator, we can power up two refrigerators, a gas furnace, several outlets and a microwave, if you need,” said Wells.

“A portable generator costs around a thousand dollars and might help you get the bare necessities, so maybe your furnace running; making sure you’ve got your sump pump going, which are important during a storm, but if you’re looking for full-house functionality during a storm, you might want to consider a full-house generator, which is going to cost anywhere from five to ten times that much,” said Hicks.

Installing a standby generator requires a licensed electrician who will locate the unit near a power source just a few feet from your home. He’ll also install a transfer switch that automatically detects when the main power goes out and triggers the generator to turn on.

Portable generators are more commonly used for emergency power and can easily be stored in a garage or shed.

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They usually require gasoline to operate and should never be used in a garage or an enclosed area because they give off carbon monoxide.