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Best Standby Home Generator

Most of these generators have the capacity to power an entire home, but that doesn't mean they are all built the same. When your family's survival could depend on your backup generator, it's nice to be confident in your decision.

People have different budget constraints and different power requirements, therefore we're awarding a best standby generator in different price ranges to accomodate as many different people as possible. If you're looking for a commercial standby generator for your business, I suggest checking out this page.

See all of our standby generator reviews to help make your final decision.

What is a Standby Generator?

Standby generators are a back-up electrical system that operates automatically and supplies power to the circuits. Once a utility power outage occurs, an automatic transfer switch senses the power loss, commands the generator to start and then transfers the electrical load to the generator. After utility power returns, the electrical load is shifted back to utility power and the generator is signaled to shut off.

A portable device has to be rolled out from the storage, filled with fuel or hooked up to a fuel line, manually started, and connected to the circuits whereas a fixed standby generator by contrast is already connected to both the house wiring and the fuel source. It can start immediately either by a push of a button or automatically depending upon your preferences.

An electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electric energy. In case of an emergency, it allows you to continue using essential appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, as well as lights.

Pros:

  • Automatic operation
  • Most efficient consumer supplied power
  • No extension cords
  • Capability to power entire home
  • Refueling not necessary
  • Easier to fuel/longer run-time
  • Most powerful type available
  • Safe for electronics

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Stationary
  • Requires professional installation
  • Requires yearly maintenance

Important characteristics and attributes

Installation/Convenience:

When compared to portable generators, standby generators require more work to get started and require professional installation. The generators are permanently mounted and the installer prepares the installation site outside your home, place the generator, run the natural gas or LP fuel line, install the transfer switch, and make all of the necessary electrical connections.

Once installed, a standby generator is very convenient to use. Most models come with automatic transfer switch which automatically turns on the generator when utility power goes off and turns off once it comes back. Some models also come with the ability to remotely monitor your home’s power and appliances.

But what size generator do I need?

Price:

The size of the generator, where its placed, the amount of materials required and the installation of the natural gas or LP fuel source all affect the final price. On an average a standby generator in itself is more expensive than a portable generator plus all the other factors drive the cost up.

Fuel Type:

Standby generators come in a variety of fuel options, the most prominent home standby generators come have the ability to run on your home’s existing LP fuel or natural gas supply. They do not need to be refueled as they automatically take the fuel from the supply.

Best standby generator under $2000

Generac 5837

Generac CorePower Series 5837

The Generac CorePower Series 5837, a 7000-watt standby generator is designed to be an economical choice for homeowners and is powered by a Generac 432cc OHV engine. It comes with a complete system including a 50 amp transfer switch and is the most affordable home generator in its range. It can automatically supply you with electrical power during power outages for a moderate load need.

Efficient - Low Fuel Consumpiton

Fuel consumption for natural gas is 85 ft3/hour at half load and 148 ft3/hour at full load. It is designed to run either on natural gas or liquid propane. This generator is capable of supplying 6000 watts of continuous power when running on natural gas and 7000 watts of power when running on liquid propane. The specs don’t provide a surge capacity. The generator has a main line circuit breaker and a trickle battery charger as well as a revolving field alternator design which is 25% more efficient than other alternators. The generator comes with automatic voltage regulation which prevents the voltage from spiking.

Standby Generator Dimensions

The overall dimensions of this generator are 24.4 x 30.2 x 33 (L x W x H) and it weighs in at 225 lbs. At a height of under three feet and a foot print of less that two and half feet it is unobtrusive and will blend in well with a little properly placed landscaping.

Automatic and Quiet

Setting the generator to Auto, turns On the generator automatically when it detects a loss in the utility power supply and turn itself Off automatically when power is restored. This generator is a relatively quiet generator producing only 67dB of sound when running because it has an enclosed critical grade muffler which reduces its noise level. It has an enclosed critical grade muffler which reduces its noise level. It would not be a good fit for a large power hungry home where 10kW or more would be needed to provide your comfort level. It is a very compact generator and can even fit in tight spaces.

Generac 6438

Best standby generator under $3000

Generac 6438

The Generac 11,000-Watt Guardian Series provides the automatic backup power you need to protect your home and family during a power outage. The generator starts automatically within seconds of determining power loss and runs for as long as necessary until utility power returns. It connects to your existing LP or natural gas fuel supply. Generac OHV engine is purpose-built to run dependably for extended periods, delivering power when you need it most.

Click here to see more Generac generator reviews

Weather-Protective Covering

It is rated for operation in areas with low natural gas pressure, significantly lower than published numbers for competitive standby systems. Sturdy gal anneal steel enclosure with rhino coat finish for superior weather protection to withstand 150 MPH winds. DPM technology intelligently manages household loads for a more affordable standby solution.

LCD Display

Generac evolution controller features a dual-line, multilingual LCD display allowing for easy monitoring and management of generator functions. On start up, if the switch measures too much of a start up load, it will open up those contacts allowing the generator to start up, balance out the load and then will close allowing the AC to start up normally. The generator can also be monitored wirelessly via your mobile, tablet or computer. True power technology provides clean, smooth operation of sensitive electronics and appliances.

Your Circuits, Your Choice

This generator configuration allows the transfer switch to go between the meter and your load center instead of putting up the sub panel with breakers. What this means is you do not have to pick and choose which circuits you want to keep and which ones you lose. As with all generators however, you are limited on what you can run at one time based on the amp draw of your load compared to how many amps your generator will put out.

Kohler 14Resal

Best standby generator under $4000

Kohler 14RESAL-200

The Kohler 14RESAL-200 14000-watt standby generator is enclosed in a corrosion-proof frame. This generator is designed to be as easy to install as possible. The connections come through the enclosure wall so there’s no need for stub-ups and the load connection terminal block makes field wiring a really simple task. From installation to operation, the Kohler 14RESAL-200 is easy to handle and manage. All you need to do is to connect it to your electrical system at your house.

Automatic

One of its amazing features is that it automatically turns on seconds after power loss. It is ready to be used as soon as it is connected to your electrical system with enough fuel. The advanced and sophisticated voltage and frequency regulation protects your electronics from sudden power surge.

Low Harmonic Distortion

It has technology that provides an advanced level of voltage and frequency regulation so that there are extremely low levels of harmonic distortion in the power that is produced, providing a clean and consistent level of power so that even the most sensitive electronics can be powered by this generator.

Surge Boost

There are some other features to think about with this particular generator as well: This generator contains power boost technology so that its starting power is immense. The Kohler 14RESAL-200 even includes electronic speed control so that it can directly respond to the varying demands that a house can need.

Kohler 20Resal

Best standby generator under $5000

Kohler 20RESAL-200SELS

The Kohler 20RESAL-200SELS 20,000-Watt Air-Cooled Standby Generator is built to endure the worst conditions, gives out a healthy dose of power without damaging the appliances, and it’s one of the fastest-acting generators on the market. This generator produces up to 20,000 watts of only clean energy with insanely low levels of harmonic distortion. It is one of the quietest generators in the market which makes a much more comfortable and relaxing experience when you’re going through a power outage. It either runs on natural gas or liquid propane gas.

Hydraulic Valve Lifters

Kohler Command PRO OHV engine with hydraulic valve lifters for reliable performance without routine valve adjustment or lengthy break-in requirements. The DC2 controller works with the included transfer switch to automatically provide power during an outage. It includes a four button operator interface with an LCD display and LED indicators. The display provides a scrolling system status that includes eight functions that include generator status, voltage and frequency, and maintenance reminders.

Highly Efficient

Kohler's Command Pro CH1000 air-cooled engine with hydraulic lifters powers the generator. LP gas offers a higher power capability of up to 20 kilowatts versus 18 kilowatts for natural gas. At half load, consumption is reduced to 2.2 gallons of LP gas or 161 cubic feet of natural gas. Fuel consumption is dependent on the load, and as the load varies from minute to minute, so does the amount of fuel that is used.

Protective Covering

The 20RESAL-SE has a polymer enclosure that dampens sound and won't rust or corrode, even in harsh environments. The 69 dB sound rating compares to the amount of noise made by many central air conditioning units.

Transfer Switch

The transfer switch continuously monitors the utility line for electrical current and provides the data to the controller. When utility power is interrupted or falls below acceptable levels, a short delay before engine start prevents the generator from starting during a momentary outage. The generator engine starts, reaches operating speed, and the transfer switch moves the home's power source to the generator. After utility power is restored, the home is moved back onto utility power, the generator goes through an engine cool-down cycle, and then shuts down. The RXT-JFNC-200ASE 200-amp service entrance automatic transfer switch with load shed kit installed with nema 3R aluminum enclosure. The load shed kit monitors generator current and frequency to determine when to shed loads. Two HVAC relays to control two independent air conditioner loads are included.

Conclusion

With the power grid becoming less reliable every year, power outages are bound to occur more frequently and last longer. That means you could end up sitting in the dark, sweating without an air conditioner, and eating canned meals while food spoils in your freezer. Standby generators run on your home’s natural gas supply or a propane tank, which can be underground. The transfer switch automatically starts the generator, which powers the circuits in the sub panel. Automatic standby generator systems may be required by building codes for critical safety systems such as elevators in high-rise buildings, fire protection systems, standby lighting, or medical and life support equipment. Residential standby generators are increasingly common, providing backup electrical power to HVAC systems, security systems, and household appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and water heaters.

Power grid problems aside, we all lose electricity occasionally. But when outages become routine, leaving you without electricity for days on end, it’s time to take action by getting a generator. Smaller, portable generators are great for powering the essentials, like the refrigerator and microwave, while large standby generators can power everything in your house.

Still can't decide? Try looking at this generator comparison chart.