Best Standby Generator For Your Home – Our Top 10
- Champion Power Equipment 100294This 14-kilowatt home standby generator from Champion Power Equipment is designed and engineered in the United States and provides a permanent source of backup power. Whenever there is a power cut, the generator will automatically start and deliver continuous power to your whole house.The most noteworthy feature of this home standby generator is its engine. The unit is fitted with a Milwaukee series 754cc 2-cylinder engine that continuously delivers 14 kilowatts (58.3A x 240V) when powered by propane and 12.5 kilowatts (52.1A x 240V) when powered by natural gas. You connect the generator directly to your fuel system, eliminating the need for refueling.The generator’s innovative 24-volt starting system ensures that the generator starts reliably in temperatures ranging from -22° F to 104° F. The onboard battery charger maintains the charge 24/7 to ensure that you have enough starting power when you need it.The generator’s enclosure has an all-weather design with a composite mounting pad that protects the unit from the elements. The enclosure itself is resistant to rust, and it has an innovative gull-wing design that provides easy access to the engine and a full view of the onboard control system.This system provides control over all the generator’s functions, including automatic transfer switch control, start and stop features, weekly testing and exercise functions, and utility monitoring.
– Suitable for sensitive electronics and stable power
– 24-volt starting system requires no warming kit
– Enclosure’s gull-wing design gives complete access to the engine and control panel
– The enclosure is weather-proof and resistant to corrosion
– Bulky and heavy
– 14-kilowatt power output may not be sufficient for central air and electric heating power requirements.
This generator from Champion Power Equipment has a lot to offer in terms of power, usability, and reliability. The unit also has a relatively reasonable price tag.
- Generac 7033 Standby Generator
The Generac 7033 standby generator is designed and manufactured in the United States. The unit is fitted with a Generac OHVI G-force engine that produces 22 kilowatts of power on propane and 19.5 kilowatts on natural gas. The generator’s power delivery is sufficient to power whole-house loads, including high-wattage units like electric stoves and air conditioning units. The engine works together with True Power technology to deliver high-quality, stable power with less than 5% total harmonic distortion, making it ideal for powering sensitive electronics. Fitted to the Generac 7033 standby generator is a 200-amp NEMA 3 whole-house smart transfer switch that is rated for both in- and outdoor usage. In the event of a power outage, the generator will kick in reliably and within seconds. One of this generator’s standout features is mobile link remote monitoring. With this feature, you can access things like the generator’s current operating status and maintenance schedule from any smart device anywhere in the world. The unit also has a control panel with a multilingual LCD which provides you with information on the generator’s battery status, maintenance intervals, and much more.The generator’s enclosure is made of aluminum, and it is powder-coated with RhinoCoat to protect against extreme temperature fluctuations, the sun’s UV rays, and water damage.Pros
– Quiet self-test mode
– True Power technology produces clean power
– Aluminum enclosure with RhinoCoat protects the unit from the elements
– An LCD and mobile monitoring to control the unitCons– Requires a fair amount of maintenance
– The space for wiring is restricted, and the terminals are difficult to access.ConclusionWith the highest output on this list, the Generac 7033 standby generator delivers sufficient power to meet most household power requirements and is suitable for powering sensitive electronics.
- Briggs & Stratton 20,000 Standby GeneratorThis Briggs & Stratton standby generator is fitted with a commercial Vanguard engine that provides whole-house power to the tune of 20 kilowatts on liquid propane and 18 kilowatts on natural gas. The generator features patented Symphony II Power Management technology that regulates power usage to save you money.The unit can power several high-demand appliances simultaneously, including HVAC units, electric ovens, and washer and dryers. The generator’s output is also clean and stable, rendering it suitable for delicate electronic appliances.The Briggs & Stratton generator is fitted with a 200-amp automatic transfer switch and computer-controlled load management power switching. The result is a seamless transition from grid power in the event of a power outage.The generator features an automotive-style exhaust system, sound-dampening technology, and unique airflow technology. Because of these integrations, the unit is up to 50% quieter than most other portable generator models, making it suitable for use in any neighborhood.The design and construction of the unit meet the requirements of Article 37 of the National Fire Protection Agency’s standards, and it can be placed as close as 18 inches from a building.
– Reliable standby power during power cuts
– Commercial-grade 20-kW Vanguard engine
– 200-Amp automatic transfer switch with flexible indoor and outdoor installation
– Greatly reduced noise
– Can be placed very close to a structure
– Steel enclosure is resistant to corrosion, temperature fluctuations, and the elements
– Heavy and large
– Transportation and handling can be costly and time-intensive
– Transfer switch is large and complicated to set up
The Briggs & Stratton 20,000 standby generator is powerful enough to meet the demands of most households. Although it is bulky, this generator also comes with several technologies to regulate power usage and ensure quiet operation.
- Briggs & Stratton Power Products 40555 17kW Standby Generator
- Generac 7043 Home Standby Model
- Briggs & Stratton 40532
- Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Model
- Briggs & Stratton 40450 10,000-Watt System
- Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt
- Champion 8.5-kW Home Unit
Long term power outages can be frustrating for anyone trying to carry on their daily lives without the basic needs that depend on electricity. If you live in an area that is prone to power outages due to natural calamities or other factors, then you’ll want to invest in a standby generator.
There’s a wide selection of standby generators on the market, and not all of them are made equal. Some of the top products on the market today include models by Champion, Generac, Kohler, and Briggs & Stratton. This guide will help you choose the best standby generator for your home.
Who Needs a Home Standby Generator?
There are numerous reasons to invest in a standby generator; below are some of the more critical or obvious ones. If any of the following reasons apply to you, then you can be confident that you need to have a dependable standby generator at the ready:
You live in a severe climate area
Some areas are prone to weather-related outages. Others are characterized by extreme temperatures, necessitating constant air conditioning and heating to uphold comfort and safety. If you’re a resident of any of these areas, you’ll need a standby generator to avoid any detrimental effects of a power outage.
You keep a large stock of food
FDA recommends that perishable food items be disposed of if the refrigerator has been without power for at least four hours. Investing in a standby generator can help you avoid this and save a lot of money and aggravation in the long run.
You have a well-pump
During a power outage, your well-pump and filtration systems may not be able to supply you with fresh, safe water for domestic use, including drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
You work from home
If you work or run a business from home, going without electricity for even an hour can cause significant inconvenience to your customers and clients, as well as a loss of income for you.
A family member depends on electrically-powered medical equipment
If you or someone in your home uses a medical device that runs on electricity, an outage can be catastrophic. A standby generator can ensure non-stop operation of these devices.
You have a sump pump
If you rely on a sump pump to maintain dryness in your crawlspace or basement, power outages also make those areas vulnerable to water damage.
You’re rarely at home
If you’re a frequent traveler and are away from home for prolonged periods, having a standby generator can help protect your property from outage-related emergencies.
Are Standby Generators Worth It?
Standby generators come equipped with an automatic transfer switch which disconnects you from the main power supply once it detects an interruption in service. Once your property is safely off the grid, the switch starts up the generator and transfers its power to your home’s electric panel.
That’s basically how a standby generator works. And while more expensive compared to the traditional portable generators, standby generators are a worthy investment, thanks to their numerous benefits, including:
- Minimal noise – Most standby generators utilize technologies that keep the noise at residential-friendly levels.
- Improved fuel efficiency – These generators feature advanced, automotive-style engines, which are more fuel-efficient.
- Liquid-cooled – They can handle prolonged outage periods as they are typically liquid-cooled.
- Longer maintenance intervals – With a standby generator, you can go for extended periods between maintenance, as compared to their portable counterparts. This can save you lots of money and hassle in the long run.
What’s the Difference Between Standby and Portable Generators?
Portable generators can handle brief power outages; they are capable of powering your essential appliances during an outage. True to their name, they are also very portable so that you can bring them to a campsite or job site.
Portable generators are turned on manually whenever they’re needed. Likewise, they are switched off manually when they are no longer in use. They need regular checks and maintenance to ensure they don’t fail during a blackout.
Portable generators must run outdoors. This makes them prone to theft and risk of electrocution in the case of a severe storm or other natural disasters. If you run the generator indoors, there is the ever-present, deadly risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Also keep in mind that when preparing for the potential use of your portable backup power system, you’ll need to stock up on fresh diesel or gas. These fuels depend on volatile particles to get the engine running. The fact that these particles are the first to evaporate can make it challenging to always have fresh, functioning fuel for emergencies.
Conversely, standby generators are designed to handle prolonged outages. They start up automatically in the event of an outage. They are integrated into your home’s electrical system to ensure they shut off automatically and revert to standby mode when the grid power supply is restored.
Most of these generators connect to your natural gas line, so you don’t need to keep fresh fuel around. One of the most significant advantages of a standby generator is that it will do a test run automatically every 14 or 30 days, and will notify you of any problems. If you never get any such alerts from your generator, you can rest assured that it will be ready to power your home in the event of a blackout. These generators are very bulky and quite challenging to disconnect; this makes them unattractive to thieves, unlike their portable counterparts.
Also notable is that standby generators can increase the value of your property significantly. This benefit is especially true for areas that are prone to power interruptions. Generally, you can expect at least a 50% return on investment at the time of resale.
Conversely, portable generators do not affect the value of your property because you have the option of carrying them with you when you move.
How Do I Choose A Standby Generator for My Home?
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a standby generator. Here are some of the essential questions to ask yourself when trying to find the best standby generator for your home.
What size generator is best for my home?
Generators come in many different sizes. The larger the generator, the more power it generates. Also, a larger-capacity generator will typically cost more than a smaller option.
Nonetheless, you don’t necessarily have to acquire a whole-house generator to power your home. You can go for a small-capacity generator to run just a few lights and the essential appliances, like kitchen equipment, water heater, well pump, and security system. But how do you know if a standby generator is the right size for your house?
Standby generators are sized by kilowatts (kW); one kW is equivalent to 1,000 watts. That means an 18kW generator provides 18 kilowatts or 18,000 watts of electrical power.
That said, you can determine the exact size of the generator you need by following the three simple steps outlined below:
Step 1: Choose what to power
Start by creating a list of essential appliances and equipment in your home. These may include refrigerators, air conditioning systems, well pumps, sump pumps, and medical devices. Afterward, add in some amenities that you may need during a blackout, such as television, cell phone chargers, and a couple of lights.
Each item adds more power to the total capacity you will need. While powering the entire house is an option, it is usually the least cost-efficient choice. If you decide to power your home partially, then you’ll have to determine what you’re likely to use during a blackout and how much power it needs.
Once you’ve chosen what you want to keep running during a blackout, add at least a 15 percent margin for growth.
Step 2: Determine your power requirements
For every item on your list, note the power requirements in watts. Keep in mind that some items will express power as watts and others as kilowatts. Some will show the amps or volts used, while others will list the power as volt-amps. Fortunately, it is quite easy to convert between different units of expressing power. Your ultimate goal is to determine the number of kilowatts you need.
These tips should help you convert any units to watts:
- If power is listed as volt-amps (VA), the figure remains the same in watts
- If volts and amps are listed separately, multiply the numbers to get watts
- If power is listed as kilowatts (kW), divide the figure by 1000 to get watts.
- If power is listed as watt-hours, the figure remains the same in watts
In your list, check the items that have electric motors and pick the one with the highest wattage. Multiply that wattage by three and substitute the result for the original wattage listed. This method allows for a margin that ensures your generator will be able to handle the extra load (referred to as “Starting Watts”) of any motors.
Step 3: Calculate your possible power consumption during an outage
The final step is to sum up the total watts to find out how much power you’re likely to use in your home during an interruption. After adding up the total watts, multiply it by 1000 to get kilowatts.
Next, multiply kilowatts x 1.25 to account for safety and future power needs. The result you get is the minimum generator size required for your home/house. For example, if you find that your minimum generator size is 16.5 kW, you should consider investing in at least an 18kW generator. This will ensure your home is powered sufficiently during an outage for the foreseeable future.
With these steps, you can get a rough idea of the generator size you need. For an average homeowner looking for a reliable whole-house backup power solution, a 20kW standby generator is an ideal option. If your home is somewhat bigger, a 26-36kW option would work well for you.
If you want your home to run as it would with your regular grid electricity, then you’ll want to go for at least a 48kW generator.
Where is the best place to install a standby generator?
A standby generator should be installed where it is easily accessible for maintenance and repair. The location should be raised a bit to ensure water doesn’t reach your generator. Moreover, it’s advisable to install the generator as close as possible to its fuel supply and the transfer switch.
If you’re installing the generator on a rooftop or anywhere else outdoors, be sure to observe code guidelines for minimum distance from building openings and combustible walls. For indoor installations, take into account the requirements for ventilation, exhaust ducting, fuel supply, and proximity to flammable materials.
Here are some other guidelines to keep in mind when looking for the best place to install a standby generator:
- Place your generator where winds can blow the exhaust fumes away from your
- Keep the generator away from living areas, bedrooms, and where the noise won’t be a nuisance to your neighbors.
- Avoid locating your generator in a breezeway, under an overhang, or areas blocked by vegetation. Areas prone to snowdrifts should also be avoided. Also, make sure your generator is safe from interference by animals, unauthorized people, and traffic.
Are there any installation and permit requirements?
Once you’ve identified an ideal location, you’ll need to have it assessed and approved by your local building codes authority. Make sure you get a building permit before you commence installation. You don’t want to purchase materials and install them, only to have a code inspector cite your installation because it didn’t meet codes or you didn’t acquire a permit.
With a permit and approved installation, you can rest assured that your insurance provider will honor the policy in case of damage. Also notable is that some local codes require the generator be placed on concrete; others have no problem if the generator is placed on a bed of gravel.
Are There Any Specifications to Look for in a Standby Generator?
There are several specifications that you should look out for to ensure you are purchasing a quality generator. They include:
- Electronic voltage regulator – A good standby generator should have an electronic voltage regulator, which prevents voltage spikes that can potentially damage your household appliances. With electronic voltage regulation, you get a +/-2% variation in voltage fluctuation. That means your power will typically be more stable than it would come from the grid.
- Transfer switch – What type of transfer switch does the generator have? While transfer switches for standby power backup systems are usually automatic, you can also get a manual transfer switch for your generator if you so choose.
However, keep in mind that the lack of automation may undermine cost-efficiency. Also, be sure to get the right size transfer switch. If you are not sure about that, consider seeking the advice of a reputable electrician.
- Enclosure – Because standby generators usually are installed outdoors, they need to be made of a hardwearing material that can bear up to harsh weather, environmental damage, and many years of use. Choose a brand or model that has an enclosure made out of steel or a corrosion-proof, composite material.
- Warranty and delivery – Before you purchase a standby generator, it’s important to read the warranty’s fine print carefully. Most manufacturers offer a 4- or 5-year warranty, so be sure you are satisfied with what the warranty covers. Some manufacturers only cover parts and labor; others offer more extensive coverage, including parts, labor, and travel time. Choose a brand that provides the most comprehensive warranty.
- Delivery – Standby generators are very bulky and heavy machines, so it’s wise to consider the delivery method when shopping for one. You want to purchase from a dealer that offers delivery, installation, maintenance, and other generator-related services.
- Service – This is a factor that homeowners overlook when they are shopping for a generator. Some dealers don’t offer service or support to their customers after the sale is finalized. Fortunately, many dealers have a comprehensive service program to ensure their customers get the best from their generators. You should only purchase your generator from these kinds of dealers.
What type of fuel options are available?
The most common types of fuel for standby generators are natural gas, diesel, propane, and bi-fuel. Cost and availability are usually the top factors to consider when choosing the best fuel type. However, each has pros and cons to take into consideration when trying to determine the most appropriate option for your needs.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at each fuel type:
- Diesel – Diesel is one of the most common types of fuel used in standby generators. Besides being readily available, it is also easy to store in your home. Furthermore, diesel-fueled generators have a reputation for reliability.
They make an excellent backup system for mission-critical functions as they have an incredibly fast kick-in time. The major disadvantage of diesel is that it has a higher level of emissions compared to other options. As a result, it may have a hard time passing EPA standards.
Moreover, diesel doesn’t store well over extended periods. Hence, you may need to put extra measures in place to ensure your stored fuel is always ready for use.
- Gas – The best thing about natural gas is that it produces lower levels of emissions. This is because it burns cleaner as compared to diesel. Gas-fueled generators are also usually less expensive to buy compared to their diesel counterparts. Unfortunately, you cannot store natural gas in your home. Another downside is that generators fueled by natural gas have a slow kick-in time, and this can cause some interruptions in operations when an outage occurs.
- Propane – if you live in a remote area where it is difficult to find other types of fuel, you would probably want to choose a propane-fueled generator. Propane-fueled generators are often smaller than other types, and larger-sized models can be costly to acquire and run.
- Bi-fuel – As the name implies, a bi-fuel system is designed to use two types of fuel. The fuels aren’t mixed during operation, however. The system can switch between the two and use the kind of fuel that is most efficient for the prevailing conditions. Bi-fuel generators can use both diesel and natural gas, offering a high level of flexibility. With these types of generators, it is easy to meet EPA standards as they usually have lower emissions compared to conventional generators. The major disadvantage of bi-fuel generators is that they are not a standard unit type, and most leading manufacturers don’t produce them.
With this information, you’ll have an easy time choosing the best standby generator for your home based on fuel type. Besides storage and availability, it’s also advisable to consider the size of generator you need when choosing the appropriate fuel type.
Having a standby generator can protect your family from outage-related effects such as cold, food shortage, and carbon monoxide poisoning. It can also protect your property and household appliances from costly damage. There are numerous factors to consider when looking for the best standby generator for your home, including power output, overall size, and fuel type.
Before you install a standby generator, you should notify your local electric utility company of your intention to use a standby backup power system during power interruptions. You also need to have the installation approved by your local code authority and acquire a building permit.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a transfer switch. It is recommended that you install a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch to disconnect your load from the main grid. An experienced and certified electrician should install the transfer switch. Expert installation will prevent power generated by the generator from flowing out onto the grid lines where it can electrocute repair crew members.
The bottom line? Make sure the generator you choose is capable of providing sufficient power without putting your family or property at risk. We hope this article helps you find the best standby generator for your home. You can also check out user reviews for various generators on the market.