But whether you're using a standby model or you plan to employ a portable generator, safety is always paramount. And with standby models, this becomes a particularly important point when it comes to installation. We're talking about natural gas or propane being introduced to electricity in a confined space, which, even in the hands of an experienced pro, can be hazardous.
We certainly recommend you have yours installed by a professional, and you don't try to save yourself the money by doing it yourself. Keep an eye on noise ratings while you're pursuing our selection. These are often listed as dB (decibels) or dBA (A-weighted sound levels).
Frequently Asked Questions
7. Generac 7033 Guardian Series
In this article, we’ll detail the features of the Top 10 Standby Generators of 2021 and we will also present the most important things to consider when purchasing a whole house generator in our Buyer’s Guide.
This 50-amp generator from Champion comes with an automatic transfer switch that makes the transition from the grid to the generator seamless when the power goes out. It operates efficiently in extreme temperatures (-22 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and comes with an all-weather, composite pad for easy mounting and installation next to your home.
The Champion Duel Fuel Generator provides 14-kilowatts of continuous battery power. This eliminates the need to refuel by relying on battery power rather than liquid fuel. This generator also features easy access to the engine and control panel via double doors that give you a full view of the onboard control system.
The 40531 Generator from Briggs & Stratton can be installed indoors or outdoors and this model includes a 200-amp automatic transfer switch that’s designed to ensure a seamless transition from the power grid to the generator in the event of an outage.
- The updated version of the 40531 generator is now 60% quieter and 50% smaller than previous 12-kilowatt generators.
- The Briggs & Stratton 40531 is a 12-kilowatt standby generator that is capable of providing power for a home up to 5,500 square feet in size with a 4-ton air conditioner.
- Unlike some generators, this model can safely be placed closer to your home.
You’ll be able to install it as close as 18 inches to your home, according to the National Fire Protection Agency 37 standard (1).
- The Generac 70422 is a great whole house generator for second homes and those that travel frequently but want to make sure everything is running smoothly back at home.
This model included a free mobile link that allows you to connect to, and monitor the status of, your generator on a phone, tablet, or computer from anywhere that you can connect to a good Wi-Fi network.
This standby generator connects to your home’s existing natural or LP gas supply and it automatically senses when the power goes out. When it does, it will start up within seconds and run until utility power returns. This 22-kilowatt generator is also air-cooled and Generac’s pressure-lubricated engines are designed o deliver more reliable power while also requiring less routine maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
If you have a lot of sophisticated electronics in your home that you want to protect from power surges, this Kohler standby generator is an excellent option. It can provide reliable power with less than 5% harmonic distortion (2) and + or – 1% voltage regulation.
This means that voltage won’t fluctuate largely enough to damage even the most sensitive appliances.
- The Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS connects to your home’s natural or LP gas supply and automatically detects a loss of power.
- Within 10 seconds, it will start up to power your AC, heat, sump pump, and any other major appliances that you need to keep running.
- This whole house generator features a 200-amp service entrance rated, load shedding, automatic transfer switch.
This generator is a great option for anyone that wants a reliable standby power source that won’t reverberate annoying noise throughout your neighborhood when it powers on.
- It comes with a sound-insulated, weather-protective enclosure that makes it one of the quietest generators in its class and keeps it running when the weather turns south.
1. Champion 8.5-kW Home Standby Generator with 50-Amp Indoor-Rated Automatic Transfer Switch
The Cummins RS20AC generator includes Cummins Connect Cloud remote monitoring, which allows you to access the controls from a smartphone, computer, or tablet when connected to reliable Wi-Fi Internet.
From your preferred device, you’ll be able to remotely operate the generator, run it through an exercise cycle, and monitor its status and the events happening around your home when you’re away.
The 40396 model is slightly larger than the 40531 that we mentioned earlier in this article. This standby generator can power homes up to 12,000 square feet with a 5-ton air conditioner and it is designed for easy installation indoors or outdoors. It can also be safely placed within 18 inches of your home and comes with a dual 200-amp automatic transfer switch.
The Briggs & Stratton 40396 whole house generator includes Symphony II power management, which seamlessly coordinates your large, high-demand appliances with your smaller, lower-demand items to deliver true whole-house power.
It also features an automotive-style exhaust system and sound dampening technology for quiet, neighborhood-friendly operation.
- The Generac 7033 Guardian Series standby generator can deliver 11-kilowatts of steady, reliable power that keeps your sensitive electronics and critical appliances running when an outage occurs.
- It comes with True Power Technology that ensures smooth operation and less than 5% total harmonic distortion.
- This generator comes with a 200-amp NEMA 3 (3) whole house smart transfer switch that allows for a seamless transition from utility power to the generator power.
8. Champion 8.5 kW Generator
It also features Generac’s Evolution Controller, which includes LED indicators to show you the generator’s status, the presence (or lack thereof) of utility power, and when maintenance is required.
Finally, this whole house generator has three removable sides to allow for easy access during installation, service, and maintenance. This 8.5-kilowatt standby generator is great for smaller homes and it’s the quietest in its class thanks to advanced sound dampening and a specially designed low-tone muffler.
It’s certainly a residential-friendly generator that will also provide reliable power in extreme weather conditions. It is rated to operate efficiently in temperatures ranging from -22 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The Champion 8.5-kW home standby generator features an automatic transfer switch with eight available circuits.
When an outage occurs, it will provide a seamless transition from utility power to generator power with a 24-volt starting system that requires no warming kit and regularly performs weekly self-diagnostic tests.
- Finally, this generator provides up to 8500 watts of continuous power when running on propane (7500 watts when running on natural gas) and doesn’t require refueling, manual operation, or the use of extension cords.
- This Kohler standby generator wires into your home’s electrical panel and fuel system so that it comes on automatically when needed, regardless of whether you’re at home or traveling far away.
It delivers up to 12-kilowatts of reliable power to keep your appliances running, heat or AC pumping, and security systems monitoring, depending on total load size.
- The Kohler 12RESVL100 comes with power boost technology that allows it to start large loads without dropping power to other appliances.
6. Briggs & Stratton 40396
It also includes a load center automatic transfer switch to safely switch your house from utility power to generator power when an outage occurs.
This generator is protected by a corrosion-resistant enclosure and backed by a five-year, 2,000-hour warranty. This 25,000-watt standby generator runs on LP or natural gas and can hook directly into your home’s fuel supply.
It is protected by a corrosion-resistant enclosure and base that are made of galvanneal steel (4) and covered in powder-coated paint.
The unit’s liquid-cooled engine can easily convert between running on natural gas or LP during installation. The Briggs & Stratton 76180 whole house generator features Symphony II power management, which provides coordination between the various large, medium, and small appliances in your home.
By doing so, it provides whole-home power in a smaller, more affordable package.
- This generator can come with a 200-amp transfer switch that can handle the load of 1 or 2 air conditioners while still maintaining power to the rest of your household appliances.
- In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ll discuss the most important characteristics of a whole house generator and provide guidance for you to make the best decision possible.
- We will focus on fuel source, power needs, transfer switches, cooling mechanisms, installation location, and safety tips.
Most standby generators that deliver up to 22-kilowatts will be powered by natural gas or liquid propane (LP).
- Generators that run on diesel tend to cost a lot more and they must be liquid-cooled (more on that later on!).
10. Briggs & Stratton 76180
Generators that run on LP or diesel fuel will require a tank large enough to hold ample gas to properly operate the generator. Similarly, a generator that runs on natural gas will need to be compatible with your home’s existing natural gas meter and gas lines.
This information should be available in the installation manual for the generator of your choice, but it’s a wise step to double-check compatibility with your contractor and/or architect. Picking the right size standby generator is important because the goal should be to keep everything in your house functioning as close to normal as possible when an outage occurs.
But if that’s not your goal, you still want to make sure your generator provides enough power to back up crucial systems like refrigerators and AC/heating units. If you want a generator that can power your air conditioner during a blackout, you’ll first need to know the size of your AC unit.
The unit’s data plate should be an easy enough location to identify its size, which will typically be displayed in BTUs or tons.
- One ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs and 3.517 kilowatts of energy.
- So, if you have a three-ton air conditioner, you’ll need a generator that can provide at least11-kilowatts (11,000 watts) of energy.
- A 5-ton AC unit will require a 20-kilowatt (or larger) standby generator.
You can calculate the perfect-sized generator for your home’s needs here (5).
- Once a generator and its accompanying transfer switch are hooked up to your home’s electrical panel, it will automatically be sensing utility power.
2. Briggs & Stratton 40531
When it detects an outage, the switch starts the engine on your generator and, simultaneously, disconnects your home from the power coming through the utility line. Choosing the right transfer switch is just as important (if not more so) than choosing the right-sized generator.
The transfer switch must be able to handle a load of your home’s main breaker while working in tandem with your generator. To select the right transfer switch, you need to find out the amperage of your home’s electrical service panel.
In most homes, you’ll be able to find this on the panel of your home’s main breaker, but you can also ask your home’s installer to verify the correct number for you.
Many homes have 200-amp main breakers, but many older and smaller homes may have 100 or 150 amp breakers.
- The transfer switch you choose should be rated for the same amperage as your home’s main breaker.
- Especially if you live in a hotter, more humid climate, keeping your home’s standby generator cool is another important consideration.
- When it comes to this, there are basically two methods for keeping generators cool.
They are liquid-cooling and air-cooling.
- Air-cooled generators utilize a fan that forces air across the engine.
5. Cummins RS20AC Generator
Keeping It Cool
Through this process, the air keeps the engine cool enough so that it doesn’t overheat. While it depends on the exact model, of course, most air-cooled generators are capable of powering 8, 10, 12, or even 16 key circuits in your home’s main distribution panel when the power goes out.
For the vast majority of homes, air-cooled generators provide exceptional reliability and fantastic value. Liquid-cooled generators, however, also have their applications. These generators use an enclosed radiator system to keep the engine cool. This radiator system is similar to what you’d find in most modern automobiles. As you might imagine, larger generators that deliver more kilowatts of energy also require larger engines that can maintain higher power output.
For this reason, these generators need to be cooled more aggressively and they require a liquid-cooling system to do so. How close or far you can install your generator to your home will depend on a few factors. The generator’s safety rating and installation recommendations are good starting guides.
But you should also be sure to check in on any local restrictions or regulations governing safe generator installation. Ultimately, your decision on where to install your generator should adhere to local regulations and the manufacturer’s explicit instructions. That being said, there are several other things to consider when deciding where to install your home’s standby generator. First, you’ll want to locate the generator as close to your home’s existing fuel supply and electric panel as possible.
This will mean less wire, less gas pipe, less installation cost, and, overall, less time to get the unit installed. Second, you’ll want to choose a spot that offers consistent, unobstructed airflow. This will help keep the generator cool and leaving plenty of room around the generator will also make any future service work needed that much easier.
Third, make sure your generator isn’t located close to windows, doors, AC condensers, or vents. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (6) actually requires that generators are installed at least five feet away from the nearest wall unless that particular wall has a fire resistance rating of one hour or more. As anyone that has ever felt even a minor electrical shock knows, electricity is nothing to be taken lightly.
Where to Install
When you’re installing and operating a standby whole house generator, there are several safety precautions to take into consideration. First, it’s always a safe best practice to hire a licensed electrician to install your standby generator (unless you’re a licensed electrician yourself!).
If you do prefer to install your standby generator on your own, however, make sure you utilize an appropriate transfer switch (guidelines above!). Ideally, the switch you install should be of the ‘double-pole, double-throw’ variety. Second, make sure that you ground your unit properly. Ideally, this will be through the use of number six solid copper wire and an eight-foot ground that that is properly bonded to the unit’s electrical grounding system.
Picking A Fuel Source
As a general rule of thumb, generators should never be run in a basement or any other enclosed area. The fumes they produce can be lethal to anyone who is sleeping or otherwise unaware of the danger. Your generator’s fuel should also be stored far away from the generator itself and you should never begin to refuel your generator while it is hot or while the engine is running. We hope that, by now, you have a good idea of what to consider when purchasing a standby generator. But we understand that there is a lot to cover so, in the interest of providing the most comprehensive buyer’s guide possible, we’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions to address a few more potential concerns.
9. Kohler 12RESVL100
While it’s certainly possible, it wouldn’t be the most economical option with the current prices of natural gas, liquid propane, and diesel fuel. The cost of fuel to continuously power your generator would currently far exceed the cost of buying power from the utility company.
In addition, all responsibilities for maintenance of your home’s power source would then fall on you as the individual, rather than your municipal utility company.
- Having an enclosure over your generator is highly recommended. These enclosures protect your generator from rust and corrosion. Many manufacturers recommend aluminum or composite enclosures because they are more resistant to rust and corrosion than other materials, such as steel. The number of hours your generator can run on a single propane tank will depend on the size of the tank, the size of the generator, and the appliance load that the generator is being asked to power.
- For the purposes of providing you with some numbers to wrap your head around, however, here is what you might expect from an average 16-kilowatt generator operating at 50% load capacity:. 100-gallon propane tank: 50 hours. 250-gallon propane tank: 125 hours. 500-gallon propane tank: 251 hours. 1,000-gallon propane tank: 503 hours. Every generator requires regular maintenance. This can be as simple as periodic oil and filter changes, but larger services are sometimes necessary as well. Preventative maintenance is always a good idea and it will help you ensure that your generator performs to the best of its ability for years.
- You should always consult the owner’s manual for your specific generator for the best information on routine maintenance procedures and schedules. As our population continues to grow, our demands for electricity are also increasing. Our power grid is undergoing some much-needed updates (7), but the possibility of extended outages is far from zero. With one of the best standby generators on the market, however, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.
- We hope you enjoyed this article and we wish you the best of luck selecting the right whole house generator for your home. Watching your favorite team vying for a major cup or binge-watching your favorite TV show then the power goes out is the most frustrating thing ever. And the worst part is finding out your neighbor across the street has power, yet you share the same power line. You can avoid these unnecessary disappointments by getting the best standby generator for your home.
It will automatically restore power, and you can continue enjoying the TV show with no fuss. While portable generators are great for home backup power, they cannot compete with standby models in terms of convenience.
For portable generators, you have to do things manually; add fuel if there’s none, run the engine, and connect the cords to your most important items.
This means you have to be home for it to work. Standby models take the uncertainty out of the equation.
They are hooked up to your natural gas or propane line so you’ll never have to worry about buying fuel or starting your generator. A standby generator is a significant investment and can cost thousands of dollars. To maximize your investment, you want to find the right one for your needs.
- We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and rounded up the best options in the market today. But before we go any further, let’s take a quick overview of our top 7 options. By far the largest air-cooled standby generator available in the market. It’s easy to use and reliable. It also provides the lowest cost per kilowatt MSRP of any residential unit. This makes it an excellent back up option.
- Generac 70432(Best Advanced Home Standby Generator). By far the largest air-cooled standby generator available in the market. It’s easy to use and reliable. It also provides the lowest cost per kilowatt MSRP of any residential unit.
- This makes it an excellent back up option. Being part of the Guardian series, the 7033 is a dependable generator that keeps your house humming when the power goes out. It’s easy to install courtesy of the three removable all-weather aluminum enclosure.
- It can run on both liquids: propane and natural gas. Generac 7033(Best Efficient Whole-House Standby Generator). Being part of the Guardian series, the 7033 is a dependable generator that keeps your house humming when the power goes out. It’s easy to install courtesy of the three removable all-weather aluminum enclosure. It can run on both liquids: propane and natural gas.
- This generator restores power to your appliances in just 10 seconds. Therefore, you may not even notice an outage unless you hear it running. It’s quieter than some competitors and can be monitored online. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a 5-year limited warranty. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16(Best All-Weather Standby Generator).
- This generator restores power to your appliances in just 10 seconds. Therefore, you may not even notice an outage unless you hear it running. It’s quieter than some competitors and can be monitored online. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
- The 76180 liquid-cooled engine is modified to run on either liquid propane or natural gas. It can power two AC units in addition to your other household appliances. Very reliable and offers a customer-friendly warranty. Briggs & Stratton 76180(Best Powerful Standby Generator for Large Houses). The 76180 liquid-cooled engine is modified to run on either liquid propane or natural gas.
- It can power two AC units in addition to your other household appliances. Very reliable and offers a customer-friendly warranty. The 40394 is a remarkably solid standby generator. It offers powerful and reliable performance in a smaller, affordable package.
- The 20000 watts can power your 5-ton air conditioner along with other items at the same time. Briggs & Stratton 40394(Best Powerful Standby Generator for The Money). The 40394 is a remarkably solid standby generator. It offers powerful and reliable performance in a smaller, affordable package.
- The 20000 watts can power your 5-ton air conditioner along with other items at the same time. The Champion Power Equipment is powerful enough to supply power to your essential appliances. It among the quietest standby generators in the market.
Besides, this is the only unit on the list that’s backed by a 10-year limited warranty. Champion Power Equipment 100294(Best Quiet Standby Generator). The Champion Power Equipment is powerful enough to supply power to your essential appliances. It among the quietest standby generators in the market.
Besides, this is the only unit on the list that’s backed by a 10-year limited warranty. This model has a significantly lower fuel consumption compared to other standby options. Not the most powerful generator by any means but, it can provide enough power to run essential items in your house.
It’s also pocket-friendly. Generac Guardian 7030(Best Standby Generator for Small Houses). This model has a significantly lower fuel consumption compared to other standby options.
Not the most powerful generator by any means but, it can provide enough power to run essential items in your house.
It’s also pocket-friendly. 1Editor choiceGenerac 70432 – Best Advanced Home Standby Generator. FeaturesMobile Link monitoring67 dB noise levelGenerac’s G-Force engineFive-year warrantyCustomer support 24/7-36522000-watt liquid propane19500-watt natural gas. Mobile Link monitoring. 67 dB noise level. Generac’s G-Force engine. Five-year warranty. Customer support 24/7-365. 22000-watt liquid propane. 19500-watt natural gas. The Generac 70432 is among largest air-cooled standby generator available in the market.
With 22000-watt liquid propane and 19500-watt natural gas, the generator can supply enough power to meet the demands of your home without a glitch.
Even if you have multiple air conditioners or power-hungry appliances, this model is capable of handling the tasks. The 200amp automatic transfer switch keeps your home’s electric appliances safe and secure. Just like most Generac Guardian Series, the 70432 model is driven by the pressure-lubricated G-Force engine. This engine is built for maximum power output, trouble-free performance, and durability.
So this means it’s reliable and can handle frequent use with minimal maintenance.
- While some generators are designed to run for 8 or 24 hours, the 70432 if well maintained can run for days in a row.
- This is as long as there is a supply of liquid propane or natural gas. It has a fuel consumption rate of 228 cubic ft/hr at half load on natural gas and 98 cubic ft/hr on liquid propane.
- Hence, you don’t have to worry about your utility bills going up if the generator keeps running. The Generac 70432 isn’t the quietest generator on the market but, less noisy than a lot of other models.
At a normal operating load, the 67dB produced by this device is just a bit louder than normal human conversation – normal being 60 dB. In addition, the generator features the innovative Mobile Link Remote Monitoring. It allows you to keep tabs on your generator wherever you are on your smartphone, tablet or PC.
The True Power Technology incorporated in this Guardian series lessens harmonic distortion to less than 5 percent. This makes it safe for direct charging of sensitive electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones. Another interesting feature is the evolution controller. It allows you to monitor your battery status and maintenance interval on an LCD, which is multilingual.
Overall, the 70432 is a generator that ticks all the boxes; it’s fuel-efficient, superior power, easy to use and it’s loaded with features to ensure every appliance in your house is up and running.
- Reliable and fuel-efficient. Clean, smooth power for sensitive electronics.
- Convenient mobile monitoring.
- Not too loud for such a powerful model. 5-year limited warranty plus 24/7-365 customer support.
- Expensive installation costs. 2Generac 7033 – Best Efficient Whole-House Standby Generator.
- Features200-amp automatic switchTrue Power technologyNoise rating of 63 dBPower coated enclosure11000-watts continuous power on liquid propane10000 watts natural gas.
- 200-amp automatic switch. True Power technology.
Noise rating of 63 dB. Power coated enclosure. 11000-watts continuous power on liquid propane. 10000 watts natural gas. Generac is a household name for a superior and reliable generator, and the 7033 is no exception. This model can generate up to 11000 watts of power using liquid propane or 10000 watts using natural gas.
While not as powerful as its brothers, it runs strong with things like water pumps, heaters and AC unit going simultaneously. A 200-amp automatic switch is included in the package.
This is enough for most residential applications as an averaged sized home has a 200-amp main breaker. With a noise rating of only 63dB at a normal operating load, this generator is still quieter than most units on the market.
Additionally, it uses the True Power Technology just like its 70432 counterpart for a smooth operation of sensitive appliances and tools. This model comes with three removable sides to provide easy access to the generator set elements.
What’s the best enclosure for my generator?
This makes installation and maintenance much easier. The aluminum enclosure is coated with RhinoCoat powder, making it corrosion resistant. For your convenience, the generator is equipped with the Monitor Link. It lets you assess the status of your generator like maintenance schedules, system updates, review logs directly from your mobile phone or computer.
The not-so-great thing about the Generac 7033 is that the battery is not included in the package.
- Hence, you have to purchase separately, adding to the total cost of the generator.
- If you’re looking for the ultimate entry-level standby generator, this unit can be a great option.
- Protects your sensitive electronics from damage.
- Convenient remote monitoring. Smart transfer switch.