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Best Inverter Generators to Buy: A Top 5 List

If you are in the market for an inverter generator, you need to be aware of its characteristics, what it does, how it works, along with the types and models that are considered the best for the money spent. So, before you run out and buy one, take a look at some of the preliminary information and the reviews of the top 5 given here to get an idea which ones are currently top of the line. No matter the model, there is one that will likely meet your needs.

Quick Overview: How an Inverter Generator Works

An inverter produces direct current (DC) power and then converts it to alternating current (AC) power using digital electronics. Digital electronics transmit information, which has been encoded digitally for the storage and processing of information. It generates AC power in phases at high frequency. Then it is converted to a direct current (DC),then back to alternating current (AC), which can be used with electronic equipment, power tools and appliances that require power.

READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE >>

Types of Output

Most inverters put out AC current in pure sine waves, others in square or block waves and still others in modified sine waves. They not only modify the signal but they can make it clearer and cleaner. Consumers need to be aware that pure sine wave AC power is the most reliable, steady and clean of the three.

A pure sine wave will deliver the same wave as what is delivered from a normal generator or a power company. There will not be fluctuations in voltage, which can occur with more traditional generators. They produce a purer energy output as opposed to square or block waves. The output from an inverter is often called clean power, which brings a stable and consistent current and a stable sine wave delivery.

Square wave inverters are not used as much as others, though they are good for powering motors in power tools. They are less expensive, but they are difficult to find.

Modified sine wave inverters create power with a wave form that is similar to a square wave. Larger items like pump motors, fans, refrigerators and other items will not operate as efficiently with this type.

Characteristics of These Generators

Most are usually compact, rectangular or streamlined in shape, considerably lighter than regular generators and are easily moved from one area to another because of their portability factor, which usually includes a built-in carrying handle. They are also safer, quieter, eliminate distortion and, depending on the model, can be started through a remote device or a pull start.

They are used for both restoring back-up power and for operating equipment such as small and large appliances, power tools, laptops, tablets, monitor screens, cellphones and other sensitive electronics. Restoring back-up power is a necessity, especially if you’re in a position to invest in a generator.

Most inverters are equipped with display panels, USB ports, 12V DC receptacle, and three-pronged 120V (Volt) receptacles. They are fuel-efficient and are usually fueled by gas, propane or natural gas, and have excellent run times.

Top 5 Inverter Generators to Buy

1. Honda Eu2000i Companion Portable Model

 

honda-EU2000-generatorThe Honda EU 2000i has a 2000 maximum wattage with a 1600 watt rated output. It contains one 20 amp 120V (Volt) outlet and one 30 amp 120V (Volt) outlet that can be linked with another Honda inverter to double the power of the GX100 OHC engine.

When two Honda EU2000i’s are linked this way, a recreational vehicle air conditioning unit is easily powered as well as more demanding power hungry equipment. This model is lightweight and quiet, particularly in the eco save mode; starts easily and runs clean and smoothly, for about 6 hours, though the gas tank could be slightly larger to accommodate a lengthier running time.

It is gasoline run and is CARB-compliant (California Air Resource Board compliance that ensures strict air quality measures in the state) for the 50 states, and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

2. DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator

 

With a 4400 Watt surge (3500 Watt Continuous), you’ll be able to relax knowing that the Duromax generator has you covered. With this model comes a four-gallon gas tank, an 8 hour runtime, and also an electric key start.

Highlighted Benefits:

  • 4400 Watt Surge/3500 Watt Continuous
  • 4 Gallon Gas Tank/8 Hour Run Time
  • Electric Key Start/Includes Battery
  • EPA Approved
  • Automatic Low Oil Shut Off

3. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable

 

Yamaha EF2000iSv2 PortableThe Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a pure sine wave inverter that is an upgrade from its previous EF2000is model. It is packed with power yet quiet, compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to transport and store. There is quick access to controls as well as a fuel gauge that is easy to view.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC outlets and one DC outlet-8A (amps) 12V (Volt) for charging batteries, which includes cables. It powers a number of items in various ranges and has a 1600 watt rated AC output with a 2000 watt maximum.

It also has a very quiet muffler with a spark arrestor. A Smart Throttle aids in varying the engine speed based on load, which improves fuel use and limits noise. Its  system has a Pulse Width Modulation control (PWM) that provides voltage stability. This Yamaha, like the other models reviewed, is CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board), and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

4. Champion 100261-3100 Watt Portable

 

Champion 100261-3100The 3100 maximum watt Champions 100261 has a true sine wave output along with a remote wireless starter that contains an automatic choke design for easy start and stop- up to 80 feet in distance. There is a 12V (Volt) DC outlet as well as dual-port USB adapter and battery charger.

The inverter is fully enclosed with a durable housing that eliminates sound output and enables quiet operation, and it contains integrated wheels and stow away handles for moving and storing. Its clean power output can be utilized for just about any energy need such as campsites, recreational vehicles, cabins, electronics and appliances.

A Champion 192cc OHV engine powers with a low oil shut off provides protection and extends the life of the generator. There is even an economy mode with this model that allows it to run over seven hours as it adjusts engine speed to optimum levels. Fuel use is reduced as is engine wear. There is a 2-year limited warranty and it is EPA and CARB (California Air Resource Board) certified in 50 states.

5. Westinghouse WH2400i Portable

 

Westinghouse WH2400iThe WH2400i gas powered inverter is a reasonably priced, lightweight, compact and quiet inverter that offers power at any time and any place. It can safely power sensitive electronics with its low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) as well as provide clean power for refrigerators, power tools, smartphones, tablets and laptops with its 1800 running watts and 2200 starting watts.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC power outlets and one 12V (Volt) DC power outlet. This model has a 13 hour run time that allows for all night use and enhanced fuel efficiency along with an automatic low oil shutdown. Power can be enhanced with anchoring to another Westinghouse inverter to increase wattage and the power necessary to take on real energy eaters.

Westinghouse has provided a 2-year limited warranty on this model, and it is EPA and CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board) certified.

Inverters manufactured by Honda appear to be leaders in the industry, though their higher price-points can hold off a purchase, which comes down to where they are purchased. Yamaha, Champion and Westinghouse provide competition with somewhat lower prices and are still effective given the necessary features and fuel efficiency to get power going when electric power is limited, or is required for any number of devices that require power.

Whatever the choice, these five inverters are top of the line for most any use or need you might have.

Why Investing in a Generator is Actually Worth It

It’s 2am. Lightning strikes and the LED for your alarm clock flickers. It’s the first sign that your electricity is about to fail. Your little one comes scampering into the room screaming “Mommy, Daddy, I’m scared!” Of course, you take a minute to calm her down and remind her that the boogeyman doesn’t exist, but you have a real monster to worry about.

You just spent $300 on groceries and all the food in your refrigerator and freezer will go bad if your electricity fails. Come to think of it, your phone only has 20% charge, your laptop is dead, and your internet depends on your electricity. How will you call work? How will you find information about the current weather situation with no television and no internet?

Worse, what if it was a serious problem that caused the electrical outage, such as a tornado that came through your neighborhood? Even if it completely missed your house and you are otherwise safe, you could still be displaced for lack of basic services.

You could be without electricity for days. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you could wait out the clean up in the comfort of your own home because you were well supplied and prepared?

Winter storms present a danger as well. Even though most have gas heat, their heat won’t switch on without electricity. I remember a winter when my parents were trapped at home for a week with no electricity and no heat but what came from turning on their stove and lighting the gas with matches. They had a 3,000 square foot two-and-a-half story ranch house with a basement…but no electricity.

All they could do was wall off the kitchen with blankets and sleep on the hard tile floor. They literally lived in that one small room for a week with the exception of trips to the bathroom or trips outside to Nature’s “great outdoor refrigerator,” which thankfully preserved their food. No hot water. No showers. No TV. No light for books because the flashlight batteries wore out.

A week–cooped up in the same room–with a hard tile floor for a bed and no entertainment. They now have very reliable backup electricity.

A lot of people wonder whether a generator is a worthy investment until they find themselves replacing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries after sweltering in the heat or stumbling around in the cold and dark for days. After that, the question is no longer, “is this worth the cost?” but “which one should I buy?”

How did I become so sage about this particular decision-making process? I went through it last week. Live and learn. And now I’d love to share what I have learned with you so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll never be left in the dark.

How Do I Choose the Right Backup Power for My Needs?

When deciding on a major purchase with several different factors to consider, I like to think of each decision as I would a game of table tennis. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so I just keep track of what wins for the most important factors (for my needs) and look for the best product in my price range with all of these characteristics. Here are some points to consider:

Convenience: Stationary vs. Portable

Stationary generators are large, produce a lot of electricity, and are already connected to your house’s electrical supply. If the electricity goes out, the motor switches on and supplies enough electricity (if we have chosen well) to keep your basic essentials on. You won’t need to trudge outside in the rain and mess with a pull starter or search for extension cords. You won’t be without electricity for more than a few short moments as long as your equipment is well-maintained. And best of all, you won’t lose your hard-earned groceries.

>> READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE

Lightweight machines offer the convenience of transport so they can be used for camping and traveling as well as house electricity. But they are not as easy to use for the house since they must be stored at least 20 feet away. They should also be kept in a covered area to protect them from rain. When the electricity goes out you will have to start it up, check cords for any worn areas and then plug them into the house’s transfer switch.

Fuel Supply: Propane or Natural Gas vs. Gasoline

Most small machines require large quantities of gas to provide enough electricity for your basic household appliances unless you can find one with alternative fuel capabilities. Large standby models use natural gas or propane. Natural gas and propane tend to be safer to store than gas, and gas will require stabilizers for storage.

But, sometimes all you have left is the gas in your car. That’s why having an alternative options is a bonus. Some transportable machines, even very inexpensive ones, can use both gas and propane. Some can even run on natural gas too. These are called tri-fuel options, and you can expect to pay a couple thousand dollars for one that produces around 10,000 watts. It’s worth it though if you consider the security that comes with having several different options.

Cost: Large vs. Small

Lightweight machines can cost 1/5th to 1/10th as much as a large stationary unit, yet the more expensive transportable machines (around $1,000) will produce as much energy as a small stationary one (between 5,000 and 8,000 watts). So when it comes to bang for the buck, transportable provides more watts per dollar. (Consider the fluctuating cost of gas, however.)

Starting: Manual vs. Electric

This won’t be a concern for the larger, whole-house equipment, but it applies to the smaller machines. Most small units use a manual starter instead of a switch. If you have trouble pull-starting a lawnmower, you will want a machine that will operate with an electric start.

Don’t Forget the Transfer Switch

When considering cost, don’t forget that you’re going to need to install a transfer switch for any equipment that produces over 5,000 watts of electricity to safely share it with your household appliances. While some people try to make use of only an extension cord when the electricity goes out, this is unsafe for both your electronics and for you. Your only use for an extension cord should be to plug it into the transfer switch.

Now for the last of our tips. Whichever type of machine you get, make sure it produces enough electricity to meet your appliances electrical needs. You can take a look at your energy bill to see what your daily usage is. Most electric providers will even tell you how much electricity you use on average during peak hours.

Even if you were assured by the salesperson that this is all the machine you need for your household, double check the instructions to be sure that you completely understand the capacity of your unit. You don’t want to find out that you can overtax it in the middle of a storm.

Now that you know a little more about your backup electricity choices, feel free to share this information with your friends in hopes that you can all become better prepared with your backup and safety equipment together. Meanwhile, we’ll keep the light on for you.

honda generator outside

Inverter and Conventional Generator Quick Reviews

Maybe you’ve got an outdoor project you need a little juice for. Maybe you’re going on a backyard camping adventure and want to have some of the amenities of living back home. No matter what kind of use you need it for, an inverter generator is your friend. With that said, not all of them are created equal.

If they were, we wouldn’t have to drum up this handy little guide for you. But they are different, so we’re going to give you the lowdown on what this generator is, how you can use one in your favor, and what kinds of generators are out there to make your life just a little bit easier.

You can also find a more in-depth article about just an inverter generator and leave most of the conventional generator talk out.

Let’s get a glimpse of 3 top inverters on the market:

3 Top Inverter Generator Quick Reviews

Not all inverters are created equal when you’re looking at a portable generator. We’re going to take a look at some pretty cool inverter generator reviews in order to give you some options when you’re in the market.

Yamaha EF2000iSv2 – 1600 Watt Inverter (Scratch & Dent)

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This inverter is especially resistant to scratches and dents on its exterior panels, which is a great trait to have. It has completely new tech for the new year, making sure that new apps are covered with this generator.

It can safely run any product with a built-in microcomputer, so you don’t have to worry about your mobile devices. It has an efficient and reliable engine that will make sure you’ve always got the highest quality generator on your side.

Honda EU2000i – 2000 Watt Portable Inverter

With this option, you’ll be going back to the granddaddy of all inverters: Honda. This one is super quiet and yet it still has enough power to get the job done. It’s completely controlled by a microprocessor so that no matter how sensitive your device is, you won’t have to worry about power surges.

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Also, find the EU2000i/ic Parallel Combo Kit here on Amazon (used to double wattage)

It’s got stable and clean power with a cool sort of form function. It’s also got an Eco Throttle system to automatically adjusts the speed of the engine to maximize efficiency. Another cool thing it’s got built in is an oil alert warning system that will shut the engine down in the case of oil reaching an unsafe level. This is a super cool option for anyone.

Honda EU7000is – 5500 Watt Electric Start Portable Inverter

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Here’s another Honda. We would say we apologize for including a second Honda on the list, but the things are that good that it only makes sense for us to highlight the best options for you regardless of the company that made them.

This generator is super quiet and yet still powerful as well. It’s got advanced inverter technology that makes it safe for any type of application. It’s been designed for service diagnosis and performance monitoring, so you can always count on this generator.

Find the latest price and discounts on generators available on Amazon >>

What Exactly Do Inverters Do?

These are a whole new kind of animal. They’re more portable, lighter, and cleaner with the kind of electricity that they produce. They do give lower wattage, but at the same time they provide you with the option of inverting the electricity right back into stable electricity. That’s pretty awesome.

The way these generators work is that you use fossil fuels to power the thing, and it’ll then create electricity for you to use. That’s a cool concept, isn’t it?

The generator as a concept goes all the way back to 1965 when Honda released the first generator. Since then, companies have made a boatload of innovations for the key concept in order to flesh out the overall concept.

The big problem was trying to minimize the sound and the heat that was generated by these things. To get this done, small changes were made incrementally over time and per generator.

Why Should I Go With an Inverter Generator?

You might be wondering what the major benefits of having this kind of generator might be, why you should for sure invest in one. Well, they have a higher quality output and that power will be just as reliable as if you were plugging something into an outlet.

These machines also have a higher level of fuel efficiency when compared to other regulars. Also, there’s such a thing as parallel capability. This is where you put two of them together in order to double the power you’ve got on your hands.

One of the big struggles with owning a generator is that the power will tend to fluctuate depending on the RPM of the generator. The great thing about these is that this doesn’t happen. These generators are more of a stable source of energy than regular, traditionals.

Back around the late 90s, Honda knew they had something awesome on their hands with the possibility of these machines. They put research, money, and time into it when no one was able to perfect it. They got the job done, and the rest was history.

These machines tend to be used for recreational reasons like RVs, outdoor excursions, and tailgating parties. Whatever you need portable power for, you can find it in one of these machines. With all of that said, we might as well take a gander at what the key differences are between a traditional generator and an inverter.


Read the generator buying guide here >>


What’s the Difference Between a Conventional and an Inverter?

Conventionals are the most well-known of all of these machines. They’ve been around forever, and they have a really good track record. You can use a variety of gasses like propane, diesel, and regular gasoline to get the job done.

Inverters are still the new kid on the block, and they are used for a lot of the same outdoor activities as the conventional generator. The key difference here is that they are much cleaner to run, and they provide a stable source of power no matter the RPMs.

Noise levels are a big difference too. Conventional generators can be quite noisy, which might get you into trouble with the neighbors. On the flip side, we’ve got inverters that are designed to be quieter right from the start. This is kind of similar to how websites now are first developed with mobile access in mind, and then designed the rest of the way.

Another difference is wattage output. Some conventionals are producing upwards of 20,000 watts or more. This can give you the power you’re looking for, even capable of powering your home in the event of a power outage. Inverters will be in the 500 to 5,000-watt range, so you won’t be able to use as many plugs unless you’re using additional wattage as a cushion for future uses.

Fuel efficiency is where they really differ. A typical conventional is going to be stuck at about 3,600 RPM when it’s giving a maximum output. This can lead to a power surge which can destroy devices that are plugged in.

Inverters, on the other hand, rely on a smart control system that adjusts the RPM used depending on what is needed, effectively nixing the chances you have of your power going out or even surging the power and in the process destroying your electronics.

In terms of runtime, both conventionals and inverters are optimized to work for a very long time. The average generator is going to last you between 8 and 12 hours on a single tank of gas. That’s pretty efficient, isn’t it?

Higher Quality Power – Is it a Need?

The science and technology behind how an inverter works is pretty darn cool. When you start up the generator, it generates electricity that’s sent through an alternator. That electricity is in the AC form of electricity. While this can be a strong source of power, it’s definitely pretty sporadic too. AC electricity can go all over the place.

Once that generator grabs hold of the AC, it’s converted into DC. This is a much more stable source of power. Now the power’s going to be flowing stably through the system. The last step is actually to turn that DC back into AC, which is the same type of power used by outlets. This way, you’re going to have a reliable, steady way of generating power for your needs.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what all inverters and conventional generators are, let’s go ahead and take a look at some examples of inverters so that we can see which ones are the best in the business.

Summary and Thoughts

As you can see from the following information, inverters can be a good choice for many occasions, but sometimes you might decide that a conventional is going to be a better option. Take the time to consider your options, what you will be using the generator for, and how long you’ll need access to it.

Don’t forget to check out our generator buying guide for even more information about finding the right one for your needs.

swing set playground

The Ultimate Swing Set Buying Guide: Your Kids, Your Money

Once spring arrives, the kids hopefully will start heading outdoors to enjoy the great weather. One thing that might be in the finances this year is a swing set. And, depending on the number of kids you have, their ages, and other factors, your family might just be looking at getting a new residential playground right in the backyard.


1

Find the Right Size Area

​Although this may seem like a common sense question, find the right part of the yard where the swing set (or playground) will go. One important consideration is to think about the kids on the swings.

Will there be enough room for multiple children to be actively swinging and other kids to run around the swing set?

Further down in the guide we'll talk about things like terrain and safety features, but finding the right area is important. Remember changes outside including where the sun will be and whether or not there is adequate space for all of the features of the playground.


2

How Big Is Your Family?

Even though your children may not be toddler age, think about the next couple of years and how that may have an impact on your investment. Yes, that's right, having a swing set is an investment and will make a world of difference when the kids start to grow older than five years old and are ready for something other than a swing or small slide.

If you get the right swing set, you might even be able to add on this climbing cargo net or outdoor rhythm band for the clubhouse area.

Here are questions you may be able to answer:

  • Are you a stay-at-home parent or will you be?
  • How many children do you and your spouse plan to have?
  • Do your kids have friends that come to play?
  • Are there enough activities on the swing set to accommodate all of the kids?

As you picture the little guys (or girls) playing on the set, try to understand the highest number of kids that will be present on each activity. If friends plan to come over, how often will this be? Is there a part of the extended family that is going to get to enjoy the fun?

​Really think about the size of your family and whether or not your next swing set will fit for everyone. The cost over time will work itself out and will help with future growth should you decided to have more kids.


Want to skip this guide and find your next swing set? Here's best selling swing sets on Amazon or best sellers at Walmart.


3

Overall Design and Material

Choosing your design is going to help fulfill your child's needs and/or wants. Each playset is different and will have an impact on individual needs for children. For example, if you have monkey bars, a slide, and some type of rock climbing wall, the kids will be sure to get their workout in for the day.

The typical options for a swing set are wood and metal. You can also find sets that are a blend of plastic with metal, or wood with plastic parts (i.e. the canopy on top of the clubhouse).

Choosing Wood
Wood is definitely the higher-end and recommended playset. It offers a very robust and sturdy setup as a long term solution. Cedar wood offers the natural decay, rot, and insect and insect resistance along with a great color and look for your yard. You can also find southern yellow pine swing sets that are treated with non-toxic chemicals.

Wood Maintenance:
Normally, for wood sets staining and checking the nuts/bolts will need done after a couple of years.

Wood Swing Set Benefits

  • Naturally does not rot or decay
  • Very sturdy with heavy-duty bolts/hardware
  • Very long-term solution

Wood Swing Set Disadvantages

  • Longer installation time
  • Overall playground is heavy
  • Possibility of termite damage

Choosing a Metal Set
Depending on the quality of the metal used by the manufacturer, you might just be able to find a great swing set for the price. If you have kids that like to rough house or are on the older side, the metal can bend.

You should find that on average choosing metal over wood will be the more affordable option, but it also depends on what you're looking for. Specifically, what are the size of your children and their ages?

Metal Maintenance:
Metal swing sets are practically maintenance-free due to the powder coated finish on them. You won't have to worry about them rusting unless the finish starts to come off.

Metal Set Benefits

  • Typically less expensive than wood
  • Faster/easier to put together
  • Metal is not prone to rust

Metal Set Disadvantages

  • May not support the weight of older kids
  • Not as sturdy/stable as wood
  • May bend or break if metal is exposed

Backyard Discovery has an awesome selection of wooden swing sets and other outdoor items. You can find their Amazon page here with all different types of cedar wood playsets and even smaller playhouses.

Listed below are some examples of both wooden and metal swing sets so you can compare quick features of both items. Remember that with a wooden setup, you'll generally spend more time to set it up. Although the complexity of the product may change whether or not the installation will take very long.

prescott all cedar wood playset
Backyard Discovery Prescott All Cedar Wood Playset Swing Set on Amazon

Backyard Discovery Prescott Cedar

  • Built with lightweight, heavy-duty cedar wood
  • Age range 5-11 years
  • Site to store shipping (from Walmart)
  • 7-12 hours for installation

sportspower super 8 metal swing set
Sportspower Super 8 Fun Metal Swing Set on Amazon

Super 8 Metal Set

  • Powder coated paint finish (weather resistant)
  • Components are pre-drilled for easy setup
  • Offer electric starting (less pull starting)
  • 90-day limited warranty

Their Own Kind: All Plastic Swing Set

little tike clubhouse swing set
Little Tikes Clubhouse Swing Set on Amazon

An all plastic swing set will help you to not worry about bends in metal or wood getting attacked by termites.

Another advantage to having only plastic is easy assembly. Plastic can last an extremely long time given that it is properly cared for and put together correctly.


4

Playground Features


swing set feature - rocking horse

How do you find out what the kids like? Especially if this is your first swing set, it may be hard to tell what features are going to be the best.

A great way is to just take the kids to the local playground. See what they are interested in and what they play with most. Maybe they need to go a couple of times or they've been in the past, so the swings or slide might be the favorite.​

The features of your swing set will go a long way and hopefully help the kids discover more fun outdoors.​


5

Terrain, Yard Type, and Playground Surfacing

Generally speaking, you'll want to find an area of the yard that's relatively flat. This is not to say that it will be hard to work with an uneven surface. Some swing sets will give the ability to adjust them to compensate; however, it's best to have a flatter area for stability.

Do You Have a Movable Shed?​
We have an 8x10 shed in our backyard, so finding an oversized playground is not exactly going to fit in that corner. The good thing is that we could move it to a different part of the yard given the fact that we want to put our swing set there.

Would You Consider Laying a Foundation?​
If you're yard doesn't have the best foundation like wood, mulch, sand, or gravel, you might consider laying it down to have a "playground area". This is common out at the neighborhood playgrounds and really helps with a soft landing from the swings and slides.

Fall Height Rating for Surfacing
There's a reason for the rubber mulch that's used in commercial playground areas. It's used for what's known as a fall height rating. This shows how bad the impact of falling into the surface will be. Keep this in mind when searching for the right surface.


Swing sets just aren't the same without a slide. You know it's true. @Lawnaholic

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6

Safety Features & Concerns


Remember that we were talking about having the correct amount of space around the swing set when other children are active on it.

Using a 6' safety zone will help you allocate the correct space for safety reasons. For example, if a child were to fall after standing up from the slide, they would still be in the zone.

​Take a look at the wood being provided. Are they 2x4, 4x4, or 4x6 beams? It can also be two 2x6 pieces glued together (bad move!).

Think about the following when you are deciding on the safety of your children:

  • Does the set come with recessed hardware (not sticking out)
  • Is it commercial grade or cheap hardware?
  • Is the wood pre-drilled for convenience?

There's an entire Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook that covers everything about playground safety.

7

What's the Budget Look Like?

Of course, if we all had our choice, we'd definitely go for the Skyfort II All Cedar Wood Swing Set. C'mon, it's got a clubhouse, which means windows and a door. Plus, there's multiple swings, a sandbox, AND monkey bars.

(The thing's so nice I had to include a video below)

But we all simply don't have that luxury, so we're forced to make a decision about features vs. cost. 

Price of Wood
A good estimate for wooden swing sets will cost around $500-$1,500. It's an important thought to consider how long these will last though. It's an investment, not just the next toy that's going to get left outside in the rain.

Price of Metal
You can find metal sets from about $100-$400. There are some above that price range, but for the most average purchases, this is the typical cost. For
a good quality set with standard features, the average cost is close to $300.

All Plastic Swing Sets
These materials are in the price range of $500-$1,000 depending of the added accessories and features.

The Skyfort II Backyard Discovery Skyfort Playset Video


8

Installation (Don't Forget Labor Costs)

Unless your family is the DIY kind, you'll have to find someone to install your swing set and/or help you unpackage the delivery.

*Some of the wooden playsets can weight up to 800 pounds! In some cases, that means an 18 wheeler might even show up in your neighborhood (or driveway in the country).

The swingset that you purchase will most likely come with an instruction manual that could include upwards of 100+ steps to follow. This means that yes any person can follow the instructions, but it may be more beneficial to have someone experienced/willing to help with the installation.

Believe it or not, Amazon offers swing set assembly pros to help with your installation. Head over there to enter your zip code and see if there is someone available in your area.

If you can't find Amazon to connect you with someone, simply go to Google and type in "swing set assembly near me" after your set is delivered to find a local contractor.


Wrapping It Up

Purchasing a swing set is a big deal. Having the right amount of safety features, something that is going to last a long time and make the kids happy all at the same time is a challenging decision.

Keep in mind the benefits of the different types of swing sets and you'll be golden. It should be easier to decide when you know the features that you're looking for and the quality of products your family likes.

You can also visit Playground Safety for recalls and state regulations for playgrounds in your area.

Take care of yourself -- and your fun playground!

lawnaholic signature

--Nick

christmas laser lights

Outdoor Holiday Review: Laser and Projector Christmas Lights

Okay, so right now there’s a debate going on between my wife and I . Our age puts us both right in the era of old-fashioned string Christmas lights, but not quite into the whole laser projection lights that seem to growing more and more popular as the years go on.

Reader, meet Whitney.

Whitney, meet reader.

Great introduction there!

Anyway, I feel that the lights kind of make your house look as if it has been diagnosed with the chicken pox.

It does depend on the specific laser Christmas light you’re using, but in general, it seems that’s the effect they put off.

Since we already have similar lights like these there’s no reason at this point to consider buying new ones, or a new outdoor laser light system for that matter. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t look!

See, I’m not sure how I feel about them yet. Are they unattractive? Do they make life easier? Are we in a new generation of Christmas lights where there will be less ladder falling injuries and more holiday celebrations?

It’s a great question to ponder, but it doesn’t answer whether or not it’s time to make the switch from the good ole fashioned Christmas bulbs that take out half of the strand after quitting.

In order to answer that question, let’s take a look at some of the available projector lights on the market.

First Question: What Do Laser and Projector Christmas Lights Do?

Although sometimes the terms are used synonymously, they do actually have different uses and may have a better application depending on what you want to use them for.

Laser
These shine laser lights onto your home in a similar fashion to traditional Christmas lights.

They look more like tiny light bulbs and fill the front of your home (or whatever side they’re placed on) to give a Christmas light effect. Some of the 1byone lights offer red stars and green Christmas tree patterns to create that holiday and festive atmosphere.

You can set them up on any interior or exterior surface, so it helps if you want to bring the lights inside instead of only using them on the outside of your home.

Projector
The projector lights are LED and are made to give more of an image like a snowflake, snowman, or Christmas tree.

Having a projector light alleviates the concern of the possibilities of a laser light potentially damaging eyes.

You can even use presets like Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, and Birthdays. Here are some of the different options for projected images:

  • Snowflakes
  • Snowman
  • Pumpkin
  • Moon
  • Heart
  • Gifts (Birthday)
  • Wineglass
  • Animals (Kid’s Parties)
  • Ghost/Skull (for Halloween)

Are Outdoor Laser Lights Safe?

One main concern for laser lights is the fact that they can pose a safety risk for airline pilots at night. Some lights actually project hundreds of red and green “speckles” that could potentially hurt a pilot’s night vision, making it much harder to see in the sky.

Of course it helps to live farther away from an airport, but if you do live close and something happens with your lights and an airplane, you possibly be fined. That’s a little something to keep in mind, right?

Other than blinding a pilot, the majority (if not all) of the lights available on the market are FDA approved and consumer-ready.

Can They Only Be Used For Christmas?

Nope! I was reading through some reviews on Amazon and a lady named Laura said that she bought these for her wedding. They were used to put colored lights around the walls and the ceiling.

The cool thing is that she used them in the daytime with light coming in windows; so, they’re not like a traditional projector with low visibility during the day.

Most of the products like these Mabor Christmas lights even advertise as being used for weddings, holidays, parties, and garden decorations. More and more of the lights are being used as a complete replacement of Christmas light sets instead of other purposes, but I think it’s quite possible to start seeing the lights used for more occasions. Especially if they are offered with different color light options.

I’ve Also Seen Star Shower Lights. What Are Those?

Whitney has a shirt on with thousands of these little things on it called sequins. They are highly reflective and when she stands next to a window on a sunny day, the light will “refract” or “bend” into hundreds of little spots all over the ceilings and walls. That’s exactly how these star shower lights work.

There are lasers inside the housing that are send out of the glass (or plastic) depending on the model and the light gets showered all over your home in thousands of particle lights.

Typically, you’re going to find that they come with an auto timer and are waterproof (I hope!) to prevent damage when it rains or I guess when you’re sprinkler is on. Not sure why you’d be running your sprinkler at night though.

Do Projector Lights Work The Same As Lasers?

The two technologies are different and it depends on what your preference is regarding safety and the style or look you’re trying to achieve. Many of the laser lights will give you green and red colors, whereas the projector lights are going to have the option of any color since they’re LED lights.

The only mention about safety is because of the possibility of the lasers becoming exposed or having children that might be inclined to look directly into the lights at night.

When it comes to using them for Christmas, the laser lights will give more of the “Christmas light feel”, but keep in mind that other traditional light sets are multi-color, not just green and red.

Looking For a Specific Brand or Recommendation?

If you’re looking for more brand specific lights, here are some that I found with great features and that would be worth your time according to a mass amount of reviews.

ecolighting firefly laser projector light
Aluminum Housing Firefly Projector Light on Amazon

Ecolighting Firefly Lights (with Aluminum Housing)

What I like about the Ecolighting Firefly light is their ability for high temperatures. You can operate them with a wide range of -15 degrees to about 90 degrees (fahrenheit). They also come with a remote that has an extendable antenna to allow control of the lights for up to 10 meters. This is basically somewhere between 10-33 feet.

They are designed more for your home and can used for wall or Christmas holiday decoration. You’ll also get the benefit of more green lights (vs. red) to show a more natural light similar to a Firefly. The Ecolighting brand lasers that come on the lights are FDA approved so you don’t have to worry about damaging eyesight.

More features of the Firefly laser lights:

  • Come with a 3 year warranty
  • Indoor or Outdoor models available
  • Wireless remote (w/extendable antenna!) included

A big brand I’ve seen all over the web (and heard only good things about) is 1byone. They are in the best seller category for their laser lights.

Designed for both indoor use or for your lawn. They’re energy efficient and offer star and Christmas tree patterns. Another cool thing you can do is set them to motion, flashing, or a stationary setting. This gives you good flexibility if you’re not happy with the default settings.

More features of the 1byone laser lights:

  • Covers up to 2,100 square feet
  • Built-in Ambient Light Sensor
  • Weather Resistant (IP65 Rated)

Now if you're really looking for large images to put on your home, these motion landscape projection lights are right up your alley.

You're going to get snowflakes the size of your front door! Or, maybe you'd like a life size Santa?

More features of the 1byone laser lights:

  • 12 Different Slides to Show
  • Operate in Weather -30℉ to 122℉
  • 5 Modes of Motion & Waterproof (IP65 Rated)

Summary & Thoughts

I think it's still too early to tell whether or not these lights are really going to take off. They've been around just long enough to get noticed and it's definitely going to be interesting to see how the future of holidays (or weddings) will progress.​

In the meantime, since these lights are weather-resistant, you might want to make sure your snow is cleared off in order to place them in your yard!​

Take care guys!​

lawnaholic signature

--Nick