Last updated on January 28th, 2021 at 06:14 pm
Why choose a standby generator over a conventional generator?
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.
Home Standby Generator Reviewed
Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator
Generac 7033 Guardian Series Home Standby Generator
Briggs & Stratton 40555 Standby Generator
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Standby Generator
Champion 8.5-KW Home Standby Generator
Champion 12.5-KW Home Standby Generator
Generac 7174 Guardian Home Backup Generator
1. Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator – Overall Best
Fuel Source: This Generac 7043 model can run on both natural gas and propane.
Construction: It is constructed in the USA with the help of both domestic and foreign parts. It features a durable all-weather aluminum enclosure with RhinoCoat powder-coated finish. This enclosure has three removable sides so that you can easily service and maintain the generator.
Engine and Power Output: A pressure-lubricated 999cc Generac G-Force 1000 Series engine can produce 22,000 watts of rated power on propane and 19,500 watts of rated power on natural gas.
THD Rating: Its THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) rating is less than 5%, thanks to its True Power Technology that makes the generator highly suitable for sensitive electronics. This THD shows how much distortion is there in a signal.
Fuel Consumption: If we talk consider its fuel consumption, and then it consumes 228 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at half load and 92 cubic feet of propane per hour at half load.
Transfer Switch: Generac 7043 is featured with a 200 amp Nema 3 transfer switch.
Self-Testing Mode: It also performs self-diagnostic tests to be prepared every time. A self-test of five or twelve minutes is carried out at a very low RMP.
Noise Level: The operational sound of this generator is between 57 dB (A) and 67 dB (A).
Controller: The control panel is featured with a multilingual LCD display that helps you to keep an eye on the battery status and maintenance intervals.
Remote Monitoring: You can also monitor your machine remotely through a smartphone, tablet, or PC.
Safety Features: Low-oil shutoff, overload protection, automatic voltage regulation, and circuit-protecting mechanism.
The low-oil shutoff feature turns off the engine when the oil level goes down. Overload protection protects the engine and equipment from overload damages. An automatic voltage regulator (AVR) regulates the voltage to give you constant voltage all the time.
Weight and Warranty: It offers a 5-year warranty and weighs 515 pounds.
2. Generac 7033 Guardian Series Home Standby Generator – Under $3500
Fuel Source: Another Generac standby generator is in our list that runs on both natural gas and propane.
Engine and Power Output: It is featured with a 530cc Generac OHVI V-Twin engine that can produce 11,000 continuous watts on propane and 10,000 continuous watts on natural gas.
THD Rating: With less than a 5% THD rating, you can power your most delicate electronics.
Construction: Generac 7031 is also made in the USA with an all-weather resistant aluminum enclosure.
Fuel Consumption: It consumes 43 cubic feet of liquid propane per hour at half load and 123 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at half load.
Transfer Switch: A 200 amp NEMA 3 transfer switch comes with this generator.
Self-Testing Mode: A self-diagnostic test is also conducted every week to be prepared every time.
Noise Level:63 dB (A) is its operational sound.
Weight and Warranty: It is lighter in weight than the Generac 7043 with a weight of 446 pounds. Also, it comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Controller: Color-coded and backlit buttons are the part of the controller that helps you to navigate easily. It has a new controller design that is very user-friendly.
Remote Monitoring: Generac 7033 can also be easily monitored through a smartphone or tablet. You can check not only the current operating status but also focus on the maintenance schedule of your generator.
Safety Features: Its safety features copy the safety features of the Generac 7043. There are overload protection and automatic voltage regulator along with the low-oil shutdown and circuit-protecting mechanism.
3. Briggs & Stratton 40555 Standby Generator – Under $4500
Weight and Warranty: This Briggs &Stratton 40555 generator weighs 484 pounds and features a 5-year limited warranty.
Fuel Source: It runs on both natural gas and liquid propane.
Construction: A corrosion-resistant steel enclosure increases the durability of the generator.
Engine and Power Output: Briggs & Stratton 40555 is powered by a 993cc V-Twin OHV engine with full pressure lubrication. It produces 17,000 watts of power on liquid propane and 15,300 watts of power on natural gas.
The generator is powered by the Symphony II Power Management System that gives you true whole-house power. It ensures both of your lower-demand and higher-demand appliances work together.
Fuel Consumption: It consumes 170 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at 50% load and 2.06 gallons liquid propane per hour at 50% load.
Transfer Switch: Briggs & Stratton comes with a Symphony II 200 amp automatic transfer switch that can power all circuits without a sub-panel.
Self-Testing Mode: Self-testing every seven days ensures the unit is ready to provide backup power every time.
Noise Level: Its operational sound is 64 dB (A).
Controller: A user-friendly digital display makes programming and viewing event log easy. Its hour meter helps you to track the maintenance intervals easily.
Safety Features: Overload protection and low-oil alert/shutdown are included in the safety features.
4. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Standby Generator – Best Heavyweight Standby Generator
Fuel Source: You can run this Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 either on natural gas or propane.
Construction: The 100% corrosion-proof composite enclosure keeps the generator in its original condition even if you live in a harsh seaside environment.
Engine and Power Output: It is featured with a 999cc Kohler Command Pro OHV engine that generates 20,000-watt power on liquid propane and 18,000-watt power on natural gas.
THD Rating: You will always get clean energy to power your sensitive electronics without any hesitation. Less than 5% THD rating and +/-1% voltage regulation makes it safe to delicate power electronics.
Fuel Consumption: If we talk about natural gas, then the generator consumes 161 cubic feet of gas per hour at half load and 2.3 gallons of liquid propane per hour at half load.
Transfer Switch: It is powered by an RTX 100 amp 16-circuit automatic transfer switch.
Noise Level: Kohler 100LC16 operates at 69 dB (A) at 23 feet away.
Response Time: Within only 10 seconds, all of your appliances will get automatic power, thanks to its PowerBoost Technology.
Controller: Its DC2 controller provides advanced control and system monitoring. A 2-Line Backlit LCD digital display tells important information related to the generator.
Safety Features: Overload protection and low-oil shutdown
Weight and Warranty: Its weight is 560 pounds, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.
5. Champion 8.5-KW Home Standby Generator – Inexpensive
Fuel Source: Champion 100177 can run on both propane and natural gas.
Construction: It is enclosed within an all-weather steel enclosure. Also, its mounting pad is all-weather resistant.
Engine and Power Output: A 439cc Champion 4-stroke V-Twin engine produces 8500 rated watts on propane and 7500 rated watts on natural gas.
THD Rating: Less than 5% THD rating makes it ideal for smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
Fuel Consumption: Champion 100177 consumes 1-gallon of propane per hour at half load and 97.5 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at half load.
Transfer Switch: A 50 amp automatic transfer switch provides seamless power.
Noise Level: An advanced sound dampening system and a low-tone muffler keeps the noise levels at 59.5 dB (A).
Controller: Its control panel is very user-friendly.
Safety Features: We have a low-oil shutdown feature along with overload protection.
Weight and Warranty: Champion 100177 comes with a 10-year limited warranty and weighs 460 pounds.
6. Champion 12.5-KW Home Standby Generator – Under $3000
Fuel Source: Same as the above-mentioned standby generators, this Champion 100176 uses both natural gas and propane to run your appliances and electronics.
Engine and Power Output: It features a 717cc Champion 4-stroke V-Twin engine that can generate 12,500 watts of continuous power on propane and 11,000 watts of continuous power on natural gas.
THD Rating: Less than 5% THD rating is produced by the alternator to power delicate electronics safely.
Fuel Consumption: Champion 100176 uses 122.2 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at 50% load and 1.6 gallons of propane per hour at 50% load.
Transfer Switch: The 100 amp automatic transfer switch features 12 available circuits.
Construction: All-weather steel enclosure and composite mounting pad
Self-Testing Mode: It also performs self-diagnostic tests every week.
Noise Level: Champion 100176 operates at 63 dB (A) that makes it a little noisy unit than the Champion 100177.
Controller: Its control panel allows you to have a full view of the onboard control system.
Safety Features: Low oil shutoff sensor and overload protection
Weight and Warranty: It is more substantial than Champion 100177 with 520 pounds but its warranty period is the same, ten years.
7. Generac 7174 Guardian Home Backup Generator – Lightweight
Fuel Source: It also runs on both gasoline and propane.
Construction: Corrosion-resistant aluminum with RhinoCoat powder-coated finish makes the generator work long.
Engine and Power Output: Generac 7174 comes with a 530cc Generac OHVI engine that can generate 13,000 watts of power on both natural gas and liquid propane.
THD Rating: Its True Power Technology ensures less than 5% THD rating that is suitable for sensitive electronics.
Fuel Consumption:1.54 gallons per hour at half load (Propane) and 154 cubic feet per hour at half load (Natural gas).
Transfer Switch: It comes with a 100 amp auto-transfer switch with an integrated load center.
Noise Level: Generac 7174 operates at a decibel rating of 65 dB (A).
Controller: A multilingual LCD display with user-friendly controls.
Remote Monitoring: You can also monitor your unit remotely with ease.
Safety Features: If we focus on its safety features, then we have a low-oil alert/shutdown and automatic voltage regulation system.
Weight and Warranty: The weight of this Generac 7174 is 385 pounds, and it comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Self-Testing Mode: A self-diagnostic test of five or twelve minutes is carried out every week.
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 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 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 when the demand is increased. 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.