A standby generator has its perks over a conventional portable generator. Besides providing you lots of power, a standby generator is the best option for people living in areas prone to weather-related power outages. It is also the best option for business places such as banks, restaurants, medical clinics, schools, and colleges.
It also comes in handy if you work from home as it saves you from the hassle of turning the generator on every time the power goes out. A standby generator also saves you from the hassle of bringing out your generator, adding fuel to it, getting it started, and then storing it back once the utility power has been restored. If you have a natural gas standby generator, you don’t even need to refuel the generator and check the fuel level in it.
A standby generator will do everything for you. It will start automatically within 1-2 seconds, bring the power back to your home, and turn off once the utility power is restored. As it is connected through a transfer switch to your home, a standby generator also ensures that none of your appliances will malfunction during a power outage.
Standby units are advanced units. They come with various safety features like surge protection, overloading and overheating protection, low oil, fuel shutdown, and indications when anything is wrong with them.
If you want to get rid of all the power issues for your home and don’t want to be troubled by a long spell of a power outage, a standby generator is the best option for you.
This guide will cover the top 7 standby generators along with a detailed buying guide, a comparison of the different fuel types, and a FAQ section. After reading this review/guide, you will be able to select a standby generator according to your needs.
Standby Generators Comparison Chart
Terms used in the below table along with their meanings:
Propane Wattage (Watts)
Natural Gas Wattage (Watts)
Propane Consumtion/hour at 1/2 load
Natural Gas Consumtion/hour at 1/2 load
Natural Gas & Propane
228 cu ft
92 cu ft
48 x 25 x 29/515
Natural Gas & Propane
123 cu ft
43 cu ft
48 x 25 x 29/44643 cu ft
Natural Gas & Propane
170 cu ft
50.5 x 32.9 x 31/484
Natural Gas & Propane
161 cu ft
48 x 26.2 x 29/569
Natural Gas & Propane
97.5 cu ft
52.4 x 33.5 x 32.1/460
Natural Gas & Propane
122.2 cu ft
52.4 x 33.5 x 32.1/520
Natural Gas & Propane
154 cu ft
48 x 25 x 29 /385
1. Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator– Overall Best
When the power goes out for a long time, you need a generator to keep your life going and make sure that everyone in your home is safe. Further, the security systems are running, your food stays fresh in the refrigerators, well pumps, and water heaters keep running. No one would want their kids to wake up in the middle of the night only to find out the AC stopped working.
All of this is made possible with Generac 7174’s output of 22,000 watts on propane and 19,500 watts on natural gas. It has enough capacity to power your entire home for as long as you would like. While a RhinoCoat aluminum casing is protecting it, it works hard to let you sleep peacefully. With its 200 amp automatic transfer switch, you won’t be left in the dark for more than 2 seconds. The machine is loaded with safety features and keeps all your appliances and circuits safe. So there is nothing to worry about during an outage with a Generac standby generator.
2. Generac 7033 Guardian Series Home Standby Generator– Under $3500
Generac is well known for making standby generators. It offers whole house generators in various power ranges and for different budget categories. This machine is made for small homes and consumes way less fuel than 7043.
You can run your sensitive appliances on this generator as its THD is below 5%. You can also run your heavy machines such as well pumps, refrigerators, and AC units without any issues. Its fuel average is excellent and helps keep the utility bills in the pocket. The noise level of the generator is very low, and it won’t disturb your neighbors.
Overall, it has the same features compared to the machine reviewed above but comes with a lot less power output. The 11,000 watts power output is ideal for small homes, offices, and small workshops.
3. Briggs & Stratton 40555 Standby Generator– Under $4500
If you are looking for a standby generator in the mid-range, then Briggs and Stratton 40555 is a feasible option. Its power output capacity is perfect for running heavy machines along with sensitive appliances at your home. It has enough power to support your heavy tools for workshops and commercial facilities and let you complete your tasks without any interruptions.
The machine produces 17,000 watts on propane and 15,300 watts on natural gas. Both the outputs are ideal for medium to large-sized homes. Its running sound is way lesser than other models with the same power output. The weight to power output ratio is also impressive. Compared to the model reviewed above, Briggs and Stratton 40555’s size is compact, and the running sound is low. It comes with a 5-year warranty and is easy to operate the machine. It is an easy to maintain and user-friendly machine.
4. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Standby Generator– Best Heavyweight Standby Generator
Kohler is also a well-known name in the world of standby generators. This machine is an ideal fit for coastline areas where corrosion and rust are common issues. It is enclosed in a 100% corrosion-proof enclosure that keeps your machine’s contents safe and just like brand new even after 10 years.
As far as the output is concerned, the machine produces 20,000 watts on propane and 18,000 watts on natural gas. It is enough power to run large homes, restaurants, offices, and workshops without any issues. The THD rating for this machine is below 5%, and +/-1% voltage regulation makes it safe to run selective appliances without any worries.
A 5-years warranty covers the generator. Please note that this machine is not certified to be sold in California as it doesn’t come with CARB certification.
5. Champion 8.5-KW Home Standby Generator– Inexpensive
Champion has also provided standby generators for small homes with 1-2 inhabitants or small shops and offices. This model from Champion is branded as the most affordable standby generator currently available in the North American market. It supplies 8,500 watts on propane and 7,500 watts on natural gas. This power output is best for small homes that just want to power their essentials during a power outage.
This machine is also one of the quietest standby generators. Its fuel consumption is also outstanding, and the running costs won’t make a dent in your pocket. With this generator, the only thing you need to worry about is load management. You may feel a bit limited while running multiple heavy machines with this machine. But don’t worry; it has enough power to run all your essentials without any problems.
The generator is protected with a 10-year warranty and is housed with an all-weather resistant steel enclosure for durability.
6. Champion 12.5-KW Home Standby Generator– Under $3000
This is also one of the best standby generators from the trusted house of Champion. You can run this machine on gasoline and propane, and it is capable of delivering 12,500 watts of power on propane and 11,000 watts on natural gas. This power is not only enough to run essentials but also keep your ACs, heating units, refrigerators going without any issues.
The fuel consumption rate is also economical. Your propane tanks will last for a very long time, and your natural gas bill will stay within the budget. Apart from having a low initial price, the running cost is also very low. Hence, this generator will give you some big savings in the long run.
This machine is also protected with a 10 year warranty period and is enclosed in a weather-resistant casing for durability.
7. Generac 7174 Guardian Home Backup Generator– Lightweight
One of the best things about this generator is that it provides equal power on propane and natural gas. So, you don’t have to worry about the fuel type being used to run it. With a starting and running capacity of 13,000 watts, the machine can run heavy and light appliances without any issues.
Like other Generac models, it has a 5-years warranty and is protected with a RhinoCoat powder finish aluminum casing to give it a long life. One of the unique features of this generator is the True Power technology which keeps the THD below 5% and makes it fit for running sensitive and delicate appliances. The generator operates at a sound level of 65 dBA and won’t disturb your neighbors.
You can monitor the generator with a mobile application and check the maintenance schedule of the machine. Its safety features ensure a safe working experience and are designed to keep the generator and your appliances safe from short circuits and voltage surges. It is a lightweight and compact machine.
What factors must you keep in mind when buying a standby generator for home use? If you are not aware, then here we are going to elaborate on those factors.
Output and Power Needs
When you are on a hunt for a standby generator, the first thing to come to your mind is its output and your power needs. Standby generators are often confused with utility power supply. It is not the case, they are machines, and all machines have some limitations. The best way to deal with this problem is to buy a generator that meets your power needs. A too-small generator will not serve the purpose of a standby generator, whereas an overly sized generator will be too expensive to buy, run and maintain in the long run. Therefore it is important to buy a generator that will match your needs.
You can ensure this by making a list of all the appliances you plan to run on your generator. We have given an example below for your understanding.
|Appliances||Starting Wattage||Running Wattage|
|1 HP Furnace||4700||1750|
|1/2 HP Well Pump||2000||900|
|1/2 HP Sump Pump||2000||900|
In the data above, 16,700 is the wattage needed to start all the mentioned appliances at one single time, and 8750 watts are needed to keep all the appliances running simultaneously. In such a situation, a generator with 9000 running watts of power will do the work. However, we suggest you add a cushion of 800-1000 watts as we are talking about standby generators, and you may need to power any other appliance as well. A generator of 10,000 running watts of power will be perfect in this situation.
You can calculate all your power needs in the same way. To know about your appliances’ exact starting and running wattages, refer to the user manual or check online.
The common fuel sources to run a standby generator are natural gas, propane, diesel, and gasoline. Each fuel type has some advantages over the other and some drawbacks as well. Let’s look at the factors that differentiate the fuel from each other.
Energy Density: Diesel is the most powerful amount of the lot, followed by gasoline, propane, and natural gas. If you burn the same amount of fuel in a combustion engine, diesel will provide the highest amount of energy.
Availability and Shelf Life: All the fuel types are available around the year. However, gasoline and diesel are most difficult to find during the time of a disaster due to infrastructural problems. Their shelf life is also less as compared to propane. While gasoline can be stored for 10-12 months, propane cylinders can be stored for 8-10 years without any risk of going stale. Natural gas has no storage issue, but its availability comes into question when infrastructure is damaged or increased demand. Its pressure also reduces when the temperature falls below the freezing point.
Runtime: Diesel offers the best runtime when it comes to large standby units followed by gasoline. The runtime of propane is higher than natural gas. However, propane has a higher energy rating and can provide more power in the same generator compared to natural gas.
Safety: Propane and natural gas are the safest to use and burn. They produce harmless exhausts as compared to gasoline and diesel. Gasoline is the most dangerous to operate and use as there is always the risk of spillage and fire breakout while using it. If you are using natural gas, you need to take utmost care while making the connections, as any mistake can lead to an unfortunate event.
With this information, it is now easy to select the best fuel type for your standby generator.
A standby generator must come with a fully advanced control panel. All the information regarding the unit must be easy to access. A control panel will tell you about the wattage drawn from the generator, current running hours, total running hours, oil level, and indication for oil, oil/air filter replacement, and service reminders. It will also tell you about the battery condition and if your generator is overheated or overloaded.
The transfer switch is also equally important to focus on. If there is no transfer switch with your generator, then you have to buy one. When the power cuts, it goes off automatically and allows the generator to generate power to rerun your appliances.
You may get 200, 100, and 50 amp transfer switch with your generators depending on their power production capacity.
In general, home standby generators work without making much noise. So, it is obvious that you are not going to buy a loud generator. But still, before going to make the payment, ask the decibel ratings of your generator if not mentioned.
All the latest standby units have excellent safety protocols installed in them. A standby unit must not start if the oil is low and will shut down when overloaded or overheated. Such features will ensure that the unit and your home’s electric system are not harmed in case of any problem.
Also, never miss to check or ask about the warranty period. A 5-year warranty period with free technical assistance is a must to have.
Standby generators don’t come cheap. When you are buying a standby generator, you are making an investment that will give you a better living standard and increase your property’s value. It is best to spend a little extra and get the best generator for your home.
Portable vs. Standby Generator
Portable and standby generators are often compared with each other. While one provides power on the go, the other ensures that your home is never out of power during an outage. With a portable generator, you can handle a brief power outage and run a limited number of appliances. It is also best when you need power outdoors or at a job site. Portable generators require more maintenance than a standby generator, and you would need a fresh stock of fuel to run them. A portable generator needs to be started manually when you want to power from them and then turned off and stored safely.
On the contrary, standby generators can provide way more power than portable generators. Their maintenance needs are less frequent but would need a professional for servicing and repairing. You would also need a place to install a standby generator and keep it safe from rain/snow. A standby generator needs a transfer switch to connect to your home’s electrical system and is automatically turned on/off during a power outage. Standby generators also increase your property’s value, and you can expect a return of 50-60% on the generator price while selling your home.