Although we don't have the good fortune to own a Briggs & Stratton Elite Series 8,550 generator, we hired one for a week during a period of particularly bad regular, long lasting power outages about three years ago. If I was going to buy a generator, I would have no hesitation in buying this one.
Fortunately the outages have become less frequent over the past few years, and they normally don't last much longer than four or five hours. In that period of time, there's usually not any damage, or even food wastage. We keep the refrigerator closed and, if it the power fails at night, we light candles and enjoy a peaceful evening without television.
When we hired a machine, we got the Briggs & Stratton generator because a local tool hire company stocks them. In fact they only stock Briggs & Stratton tools, and we've hired other items as well as a brush cutter and lawn mowers, as well as a really powerful chain saw.
This generator is a powerful machine that has a 10 HP OHV (overhead valve) engine that provides extra torque when needed. It has 8,550 starting watts and 5,550 running watts and you can hook it up to your lights, fridge, television set, heater, laptop computer, microwave oven and even your furnace (which we don't have). You won't be able to run your stove because it needs far too much power. It will run for up to 13 hours if you operate it at half its output capacity. We found it exceptionally easy to start, and effortless to run.
If you're a happy camper, this is also a great portable generator to consider because it has wheels and is small enough to fit into most trailers. It is also ideal if you need to use power tools in the field, where there is no access to a power point. It measures 28.2 " x 22.6" x 24.1" and weighs a little less than 180 lbs.
The only real drawback of the machine is that it is noisy. But then generators ARE noisy. That's one of the reasons we take advantage of the dark during power outages, and light candles and enjoy some peace and quiet.
While there are quite a few portable gas generators that are considerably cheaper than this one, you won't get the power you need to keep a household running during a power outage, even though they might suit your other needs. There are also generators that are considerably more expensive than this one - double the price in fact.
It isn't available in Canada because it is non-CARB compliant, which of course means that that it doesn't meet the exceptionally high air-quality standards set by the California Air Resource Board (CARB).