Choose The Best Standby Generator For Your Home: Life without electricity would be a disaster for most of us. From powering our homes to cooking our food to washing our dirty clothes to charging our electronic gadgets, we need electricity for practically everything. Though frequent blackouts have become a thing of the past, no one knows what nature has in store for us. Whether it be a sudden storm or a wicked tornado, these natural calamities can disrupt power supply, and that too, for several days at a stretch. Not only that, a mishap could also cause disruption in the power supply and you would suddenly be left in the dark. And if you aren’t quite prepared for such a situation, you will have a hard time getting on with your regular life until power resumes. But why would you do that when you can buy yourself a standby generator to power your home or any other property as your need might be.
While many may think that the portable generator that you already own may be sufficient for the purpose, the truth is quite different. Portable generators cannot power up all devices and units that you may need on a regular basis and for several days at a stretch. That is the very reason why standby generators are recommended if you want to ensure that you do not want to suffer should a power outage occurs.
What is a Standby Generator?
Much like any other generator, a standby generator’s primary function is supplying electricity to your home or any other property whenever there is a power outage/blackout. However, the way a standby generator works makes it different from a portable generator that many of you may own. A standby generator is usually connected to your home’s electric panel and has a trigger that detects whether there is a power outage. As soon as it detects that there is a blackout, the generator automatically starts so that it can start supplying power to the entire house. Then again, as soon as the electric supply resumes, the generator stops supplying power and shuts itself down and your house continues running on the utility power. In short, it remains in ‘standby’ till there is a power outage which is when it starts operating. All this occurs automatically and you do not need to do anything to get back the power once your utility supply stops.
Standby Generator vs Portable Generator
Though the purpose of having a standby generator and portable generator is quite similar, the two are different in many ways.
- First and foremost is the portability factor. As the name goes, portable generators (even bigger ones) can be moved from one area to the other. Standby generators, on the other hand, aren’t portable at all. They are usually placed and installed on concrete bases and are intended to remain in that way, unless you shift homes or the unit goes out of use.
- The next major difference is the size. Standby generators are usually huge, many times bigger than the portable generators. This means that they need a lot of space to be installed.
- Standby generators work automatically as they are already connected to your home circuit. But not portable generators. You have to plug them in, start them up, and stop them when the power comes back, every time. With standby generators, these aren’t an issue.
- Standby generators are meant to supply huge amounts of electricity that can run everything that you may have at home. But not portable generators. They are usually meant to run selected electric devices. Moreover, these generators can run for days at a stretch without any issue. But not portable generators.
- The price tag of these two different types of generators vary widely too. Portable generators come at only a couple hundred dollars while the Best Standby Generator will cost several thousand dollars.
- Another difference that one must take note of is the sound level. Standby generators do create quite an amount of noise while running. So, while they may be easily used in the suburban and rural areas, cities may not allow that level of noise creation. However, this isn’t often an issue with portable generators.
- Maintenance of the unit is also another difference. Portable generators are easy to maintain, but if you want your standby unit to last a lifetime, you have to take good care of it, especially during use. Post-use maintenance may need the services of a professional unless you know well what to do.
Benefits of Having a Standby Generator
Standby generators are costly, bulky, and also require professional help during setup and maintenance. But the benefits that these units can offer to any household or small workshop or office are incomparable. They serve in ways that portable generators can never do, even if they are of the best quality. The advantages of having a standby generator surely outdo the issues that you may have with its size or cost. Here’s how the standby generators can come to your rescue:
Electricity supply at all times: Power outages may not be common in your area, but there is no telling when a natural calamity might strike or an accident may occur putting your house out of electricity for many days at a stretch. But having a standby generator at your home or any other property will save you from any such hassle. Whatever may the calamity or incident be, you can be sure that you will have backup power until the supply resumes. This means that you do not have to go without your room heaters when a nasty blizzard strikes or feel the scorch of the sun if there’s a power outage during the hot summers.
No disruption in daily life: Believe it or not, a sudden blackout doesn’t only mean that you will have to live in the dark. It can also cause other inconveniences too. For example, you cannot run the temperature regulators which mean that you will have to bear the wrath of the sun, or the shivers of the cold. Food preservation will be another issue as without electricity freezers or refrigerators do not work. The plumbing may freeze due to lack of heat production and the basement may get flooded. If you want to avoid this and loads of other inconveniences, having a backup is necessary.
Stay connected, always: In the modern times, staying connected to the outside world is very important. Irrespective of your age and what you do, you simply cannot be off the grid for hours at a stretch, let alone for days. That is why, it is important that you can use your mobile phones, laptops, PCs, etc. anytime you want, even if there is a power outage. With a standby generator, you will be able to power up these devices at will any time. This means that you do not have to worry about completing your school/college projects or your work even if there is no supply of electricity. In short, you will never to miss a deadline or lose a project.
Convenience and ease of use: While there are other ways to have a backup supply of power in case of an emergency, none offer the convenience that the standby units offer. With standby generators, you do not have to grope about in the dark when the power fails to switch the unit on. These units are not only connected to your electric panel, but also start up on their own as soon as the power goes out. So, you can just relax and your house will be powered up in a matter of minutes, all by itself. This seamless experience is very important, especially if you have elderly and children at home.
Advanced operation: Though the standby generators are meant to shut down and allow the electric panel to switch to the utility power supply, this doesn’t happen immediately after the power resumes. This is to avoid the sudden spikes or surges that often occur when a power supply is turned on. Once the voltage has been stabilized, the generator will cut off its own power supply and allow the circuit to switch to the utility power supply. Moreover, many units are equipped with technology to self-detect its present condition at intervals of 7 days and alert the user about the same. This makes maintenance easier.
How to Choose the Best Standby Generator?
Making the correct choice of the model is very important. This is because standby generators are an investment of a lifetime and you cannot make a mistake while deciding on the Best Standby Generator for yourself. Here we will list a few things that must be taken in account while making a choice:
Your power requirements: This is, undoubtedly, the most important thing that you should consider. Not all houses have the same requirement of power during an outage. For some, it may be just powering the lights, fans and the essential cooling or heating systems, while some households may need to run additional appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, cookers, etc, thus entailing higher power requirements. So, before you plan on buying on a standby generator, make sure that you have chalked out all your needs carefully. This will not only help you in choosing a generator that will be able to supply power according to your needs, but also reduce your expenses as you wouldn’t need to invest unnecessarily for higher power supply than what is needed.
Size of the generator: This goes in line with your power requirements. Higher the power output, bigger is the generator that you have to go for. So, once you have calculated the wattage you need to power all things that you consider important, go for a generator size that will be able to offer the same. However, remember that the maximum output of the generator must always be atleast 10 – 20% greater than the amount of output need or there maybe chances of the unit failing.
Power source: Standby generators use either propane or natural gas or both as their fuel source. While taking a decision, this is an important point to consider too. While natural gas is easily available and cheap, you may not have access to natural gas in case of a severe calamity like a quake. On the other hand, though you may stock up on a lot of propane, it will occupy a lot of space and cost more. However, you can have power even when the natural gas supply has been disrupted. So, the kind of conditions that you want to stay immune to, will decide the type of fuel source that you go for. If budget permits, you can surely go for a dual fuel type generator.
Price: Much like any other product, standby generators come at a variety of prices. While buying the cheapest one may not be ideal, going for an uber expensive product is also often not required. In fact, you need to find a model that suits your requirements and is available in your budget as well. Buying an expensive model just because it offers better power output or has better features is not recommended unless you have a need of the extra output or additional features. So, buy only what you actually need.
Product performance: Unless you are planning on buying a very new model, you should get a lot of info online about the model that you have you have zeroed in on. You can read the feedback that previous customers have provided on various popular platforms. You can also read the detailed Standby Generator reviews to know how the product performs and whether it has been able to meet the claims and promises made by the manufacturers. You can ask anyone you know about the product if they have been using it already. This will be able to have an idea about how good the product is and whether it will actually meet your needs or not.
Features That you Can Look for in the Standby Generator
Apart from considering the factors mentioned above, it is also important to take into consideration the features that a particular model has and whether it is good enough or not. Though each model will have its own set of features, some features are very important to ensure that you have a smooth experience during power outages. That is why, when you are out shopping for a standby generator, make sure that you take into account whether or not a particular model provides these features and whether the performance is upto your level of expectation:
Automatic transfer switch: This is a must have feature for any standby generator that you may want to buy. An automatic switch ensures that you do not have to manually switch the power supply source to your generator in case of a power blackout. Most manufacturers have ensured that the standby generators come with the automatic switch that match their model, however, it is vital that you check whether your preferred model comes with one.
Low oil sensors: Standby generators are meant to run long hours at a stretch and even for days. It is quite natural that you will have to refill the tank several times if it run for several days. But how do you get to know that when it’s time to refill the fuel tank? That is what the sensors are for. These sensors detect the amount of oil left in the fuel tank and alert you of the same. Without these sensors, you run the risk of the generator running on very low oil which may severely damage the unit. In fact, the Best Standby Generator models will not only indicate that the oil level is low, but also turn itself off if the level falls too low.
Power management: It is true that a standby generator can power up all electrical appliances that your house may have. But that doesn’t mean that it will have to supply power to all appliances at all times during an outage. Firstly, not all appliances or devices are needed to run 24*7 nor do you need to use all of them when there is a blackout. As such, you should opt for a model that has power management options. This way, you will be able to do with a unit that is cheaper. Though different techniques of power management are in use, all of them guarantee that the various electrical appliances do not draw a lot of power at the same time.
Voltage control: Unstable power generation is harmful for both the generator and the appliances/devices being powered. As such, it is important that the standby generator has stability in voltage at all times, and that is what the voltage control option does.
Best Standby Generator Reviews
1. Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator:
Champion has been one of the best brands in the world of stand by generators. This particular model from champion is an amazing collection to the home generators. Well, this generator supports dual fuel and can delivery 14000 watt of power at the hour of need, especially if you have a power outage for long duration. Apart from this, there is another point which makes this generator a better one than its comparison: the noise. Unlike very few models, most of the generators tend to create a lot of sound while running, but this model from champion does not generate a lot of noise at all. So, even if you live in a dense residential area, running it at the late night isn’t a problem. Overheating is another problematic issue that most of the generators come with. But with this beauty from Champion, you can always rest assured that you do not have to worry about the overheating. Even if you are willing to run it for 24 X 7, this generator is not going to get overheated at all, because of its auto-temperature regulating system. And if you add a self-diagnostics test capability that runs itself, this will definitely be one of the best stand-by generators that you can buy.
- Can power up your home seamlessly for 24 X 7 without any issue at all
- Comes with low-tone muffler which reduces the noise level to as low as 63 dba which is pretty much residential friendly
- Reliable startup system makes sure it runs even in extreme weather conditions and it can perform a self-diagnostic test on weekly basis.
- Capable of generating 14000 watt of power if you use propane and if you are using natural gas it can generate 12500 watt of power which is still good enough to power your home for long duration.
- Comes with 10 year warranty on the unit
- Really easy to install the unit
- Noise reduction at its best
- Supports the use of dual fuel
- Self-temperature regulation to eliminate any chances of overheating
- Can work for 24 X 7.
- Maximum power output can be 14000 watt.
- Quite larger in size compared to any other models under same category.
2. DuroMax XP4400EH Dual Fuel Powered Portable Generator:
This stand by generator from DuroMax is one of a kind and can surely provide you an all-round performance. And when you combine the fact that it’s portable too, this becomes one of the best generators that you can choose. This generator can be run on gas and propane and comes with a power panel to control the unit all along. If you use gasoline, you can have a power backup upto 10 hours and for propane it can serve at least 20 hours.
- Ac o/p: 3500 watt.
- It’s a 7.0 hp unit and comes with low oil shutoff functionality
- Can be run using propane and gasoline according to your convenience
- Power panel to control power outlet, circuit breaker, volt meter and engine control switch
- Gasoline does not tend to gum up the carburetor thereby ensuring a reliable start every time.
- Comes with a steel frame to protect the motor and allow a smooth operation without a lot of sound.
- Electric key start
- You can hold a constant level of RPM to reduce noise and save fuel.
- Comes with 3 power outlets
- Heavy duty steel frame
- Dual fuel intake
- Maximum back up will 20 hours
- Power panel for full proper control
- Noise reduction technology
- Quite heavy in weight
- Power supply is quite inconsistent
See Also: Best Emergency Generators
3. Generac 6438 11,000 Watt Gas Powered Standby Generator:
Generac has been providing with promising stand by generators for long time now and this Gurdian series generator is not a surprise either. The 6438 generator can produce 11000 watt of power when run on natural gas or propane. This device is capable of running maximum of the electric devices in any medium sized home. Although it might not seem like a powerful generator, but can surely power up your AC, water pump, water heater, in short every single electrical item that is necessary, and if you compare the budget for this generator, this is way to affordable in its class.
- Comes with hands-free operating feature along with no-manual start and no-extension cord
- If you have sensitive electronic or electrical devices at the home, this is the perfect generator to have as it can generate smooth and clean power all along.
- Comes with a smart 200-amp transfer switch
- 530 cc engine that is capable of generating 11000 watt of power.
- According to the Standby Generator reviews the unit is EPA, CUL and UL compliant, basically it meets the safety measures
- Completely enclosed to cut down the noise
- Comes with 2 years of warranty
- Generates Safe and clean power
- 530cc powerful engine
- Simple and easy installation procedure
- 2 years of warranty
- Noise reduction till 63 dB, which is enough to run in any residential area
- Quiet costly if you compare the power generated
- If you are using natural gas you are not going to get the best fuel efficiency
See Also: Quietest Generators in the Market
4. Generac 6551 Guardian Series, 22kW Air Cooled Standby Generator:
6551 model of Guardian series is certainly one of the best and efficient Standby generators you can get. According to the Standby Generator reviews, this generator can power-up your house completely even if there is an outage of power for longer durations. With a 22kW power output and 220 amp switch, this seems to be a really a good match for most people’s requirement. That being said, you have to keep in mind that Generac manufactures such generators that might not work for 24 X 7, but it’s capable of delivering high quality power at the time of need and especially if you are looking to save some money, then this is the generator that you should be looking for.
- Can operate on liquid propane or natural gas
- Meets the safety requirements of EPA, CUL and UL
- Safe, smooth and clean power every time you switch on the generator
- Comes with OHVI engine specially designed for generators by Generac
- You can control it using your mobile that means you can add it to your remote control systems but you will have to buy the kit separately.
- According to the Standby Generator reviews, this generator can certainly generate power at the lowest cost
- Really easy to install without any help or guidance from experts
- Comes with an enhanced Aluminum enclosure to help it work in all weather condition
- 24 X 7 customer support is available, so if you have any query just dial the number and you might have the right solution to your problem.
- Can generate 20kW of power
- Transfer switch of 200 amps
- 5 year of warranty
- Wind resistant aluminum case
- Can be controlled using a mobile
- Cannot be run for extended period of time
- Large and heavy in nature
5. Briggs & Stratton 40484 20000-watt Home Standby Generator:
If you are looking for a reliable standby generator, then 40484 from Briggs & Stratton is one of the best that you can get. With a power output capability of 20kW this can truly serve industrial standard and is capable of power up at least 2 air conditions. It comes with a transfer switch of 150 amps which is good enough to handle most of the residential appliances. It has capability of auto start and stop. You can use propane and natural gas as fuel. It might seem like a bit costly, but its efficiency and power output is really good enough help you out at the hour of need.
- Flexible for outdoor and indoor installation
- 20kW power output is good enough to power up your house for longer duration even if you have air conditioners in your home.
- Meets the NFPA-37 standard
- Noise reduction technology makes sure that you do not disturb your neighbor at all while it’s on.
- If you take into account the kind of power it can generate and the price of this product, it is actually quite affordable.
- Comes with 5 years warranty on labor and parts
- You do not need to use 2 different transfer switches of 200A and 400A, instead of that you can easily use the dual transfer switch that comes along with the generator.
- The motor serves industrial standard and it consumes 2.31 gallons of fuel of per hour.
- Generates 20KW of power
- Industrial level engine
- Simple to install that does not require any professional guidance
- 4 dB noise level
- Automatic start and stop
- Meets the NFPA 37 standard
- Can be used in weather condition
- Comes with a 5-year warranty on parts, and labor
- Quite costly
- Heavier than any other model in its class
6. Generac 6462 Guardian Series, 16kW Air Cooled Standby Generator:
According to the Standby Generator reviews the 6462 model from Generac is another good quality stand by generator of Guardian Series and certainly lives up to the expectation and reputation of Generac brand. It comes with a warranty of 5 years and you get to enjoy their 24 X 7 support as well. You can use either propane or natural gas and you will get clean, smooth, and safe power every time you use the generator.
- Dual fuel capability so you can use Liquid propane or natural gas.
- 200 amp transfer switch is enough to power your house.
- Best for use in case you have a lot of sensitive electronics items
- Meets the safety norms of EPA, CUL and UL
- Powerful enough to help you run most of your electrical system at a time
- Comes with pre-wired switch which makes it a lot easier to use the generator
- 16kW power output is enough for any standard home requirements at the time of power outage.
- Comes with a premium quality steel enclosure that keeps the generator working in all types of weather condition
- Comes with a 992cc engine which is definitely powerful enough to light up your water pumps, AC units, heaters and other necessary electrical systems
- Comes with noise reduction technology so that you can easily install it in any residential area without causing problems to your neighbors
- Robust and powerful in every way possible
- Clean power supply
- Powerful 992cc engine
- Simple to install
- 5 year warranty
- 66dB sound generation
- Less power output compared to what you spend
- Low efficiency if you are planning to run this machine on natural gas
- Need a level surface, preferably concrete to install the generator.
Safety Tips For Standby Generator Use
Standby generators are, indeed, a savior in times of power outages, but you need to ensure that you use them as they should be. Else, they could cause damage to both life and property. That being said, using a standby generator isn’t difficult. One just needs to follow a few simple safety rules while using one. Here, we will list a few simple but important tips of safe use:
- If you are planning to install the standby generator yourself, you have to make sure that you follow the instruction manual at each step. It is, however, best that you ask a professional to install and connect the unit to your home panel.
- The generator must always be placed outdoors so that no carbon monoxide can enter the house. Ideally, there should be a gap of atleast 5 feet of open space on all sides of the generator to ensure that there is no problem with ventilation.
- The generator should never be placed directly on the ground. A level concrete base must be built and the generator should be installed on the top of it. Ensure that the upper layer is flat so that there is no unnecessary vibration.
- Make sure that you fill the fuel only upto the indicated level. Since the fuel expands on being heated, there must be enough space to allow the expansion without causing any problem.
- Make sure that you always keep a note of the fuel level. Generators running on low fuel levels can get damaged.
- Always try to keep the power consumption level below the maximum output for the model. Overloading the generator can cause fires.
- Make sure that your generator isn’t exposed to vapor, moisture, or dirt. Getting your generator serviced at regular intervals is the best way to go.
How to Take Care of Your Standby Generators?
Standby generators are, indeed, a great investment. But to ensure that your unit can last a lifetime, maintenance is important. What you can do is follow the steps mentioned below on a regular basis:
Inspect the generator at regular intervals: Standby generators are often times meant for backup and if you do not live in an area that sees frequent power shortages, you won’t need to use the generator quite often. However, that doesn’t mean that you can leave the generator as it is for long periods. It is vital that you inspect the unit at regular intervals to ensure that the unit hasn’t developed any kind of problem during the dormant period. If you see any signs of problem, it is best to get it inspected and solved by a technician.
Do not let your generator get dry: This is something that you need to keep in mind at all times. Irrespective of the fuel that you are using, you should never let the fuel level fall very low, let alone run it till the very last drop. It is ideal that you refuel the unit once the oil level goes below the median mark. This will eliminate any chance of the generator burning out or breaking down.
Hire a professional: Even if you are a DIY expert, make sure that you get the unit inspect and serviced by a professional. This is important because a professional servicing from time to time will go a long way in enhancing the longevity of the unit.
Points to Remember Before Buying a Standby Generator
Well, now that you know everything that you need to know to make a wise choice and also have the best models listed above, you must be ready to buy yourself a unit to meet your needs. But before you make the actual purchase, here are a few more points that are worth considering:
Installation costs: Standby generators need to be installed by a professional to avoid all sorts of problems. This entails additional costs that vary across different areas and you must include this in your budget.
Space: Standby generators are not only bulky, but require a good amount of open space to ensure that they aren’t too close to the building or any type of inflammable material.
Noise: Standby generators produce a lot more sound than the portable models. As such, it must be placed at a distance from the house to avoid having troubles with the high decibels. You must also ensure that it doesn’t cause inconvenience to the neighbors.
Permits: Many areas or states may require you to obtain permits to install a standby generator. You have to ensure that you ask your local authorities about the laws of the areas and follow the same.
By buying the Best Standby Generator, you ensure that you and your family never run out of power even when there are power supply breakdowns or natural calamities. They ease your life and offer convenience even at the worst of the times.