Portable vs Standby Generator: Which is Best?

Generators are a necessity for most homes, as our society needs electricity to function. If we don’t have electricity in our house, we won’t be able to watch our latest TV shows, go on the internet, or even have access to AC or a portable heater.

That being said, generators will come in handy during power outages, specifically when we need to restart our electricity supply. Two of the most commonly used generators are portable and standby generators. They are the easiest to use and are widely available.

First, let us discuss generators more in detail, and then compare the portable vs standby generator.

What is a Generator?

A generator provides backup power in the case of a power outage. For example, most large corporations or hospitals have generators that keep the electricity flowing even if their primary electricity source has been compromised. Generators can also be used at a smaller scale to be a backup power source for family homes in case of a power outage.

Depending on the size of the entire home, you need to pick the right generator. The two main ones are portable and standby generators. Both work great, but some may require a standby generator, and others will do just fine with a portable generator.

Portable Vs Standby Generator: Which is the Best?

Portable and standby generators do the same job, providing electricity during a power outage. Still, the way they function is entirely different. So let’s talk about the two generators in more detail.

Portable Generatorwhat can a 6000 watt generator run

The portable generator is much cheaper than a standby generator, plus they run on diesel fuel, propane, or natural gas. A portable generator is connected to a manual transfer switch. It needs to be manually installed every time you use the generator, as it can’t withstand extreme weather conditions.

If you want to use a portable unit when there is a rainstorm or experiencing inclement weather. In that case, you must keep them outside due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and protect your generator with covers.

Portable generators are also quite loud, and for some individuals, the noise can be annoying. Therefore, portable generators are ideal for occasional usage.

Standby Generator

A standby generator is a much larger unit that is permanently installed by a professional. The standby generator starts working as a backup power soon as it notices an electricity shortage.

The great thing about the standby generator is that it can produce more power than the portable generator, which means it can supply power to the whole house without any problems.

Depending on the model, they usually run on propane or natural gas and can run for days while keeping the entire home functioning with electricity. They are much more expensive than a portable generator and have to be connected to an automatic transfer switch, but they have much more benefits.

Which one is better?

If we look at the statistics, then standby generators are much more efficient than portable generators. But it entirely depends on the person and their needs.

Should I Get a Portable Generator or Standby Generator?

The type of home generator you get will depend on the usage. For instance, if you only need a generator for a couple of hours every once in a while, then you can make do with portable inverter generators. However, suppose you need a generator to power a house for days at a time. In that case, you should consider the standby generator.

Most experts suggest getting a larger generator for most cases, especially if you have the money to get one. However, a standby generator is always a safe option because you will not have to worry about it breaking down under bad weather, getting exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, or being too loud.

The standby generator starts by itself, unlike the portable generator where you have to connect it to the power source through a manual transfer switch.

For many reasons, some people opt for portable generators. Although it isn’t as secure or robust as the standby generator, it does get the job done. However, most people who get the portable generator are only looking to get it because it helps them meet the minimal electricity needs.

It does everything without spending a large amount of money on a generator or having it affixed permanently to their home.

Now, if you need a home generator that will stand the test of time and work without any hiccups, a standby generator with an automatic transfer switch is an excellent option for you. But if you need a generator for temporary power, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then a portable generator can be a great option.

How Does a Standby Generator Work?

A standby generator needs about 13 to 50 gallons of propane or natural gas per day to work. A standby generator works by supplying power to the home circuit via an automatic transfer switch when it detects a loss in electricity.

Also, a standby generator can work for days or weeks without requiring a refuel. An automatic standby generator will do a weekly test to make sure the generator is working correctly.

In addition, the standby generator provides power to your home air conditioners and other appliances to make sure everything runs smoothly and without any hiccups.

Most apartment buildings need to have a standby generator with an automatic transfer switch as a safety measure to ensure there is no technical issue, especially when there are security cameras in the building.

The standby generator can work for more significant structures and provide power to more systems that a family home might have, such as technical security systems and more.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how a standby generator works, let’s talk about the top three standby generators.

Top 3 Best Standby Generators

Generac Guardian 24kW Home Standby Generator

The Generac Guardian 24kW standby generator is one of the best-selling standby generators, and for a good reason. This generator is one of the most reliable generators available in the market. In addition, many professional installers say that this model is straightforward to install, making it a hassle-free standby generator.

Power Output: 24,000 watts, 240 volts

Technology: Wifi connected, get real-time updates

Safety: Connected to your phone, any issues arise with the generator, you will be updated.

Size & Weight: 48 x 25 x 29 and 455 lbs.

Uses: Great for small or large homes, as it has immense power and will keep the electricity alive for a long time as long as you top off the oil.

Champion 8,500 Watt Standby Generator

The Champion 8.5KW standby generator is one of the more affordable standby generators in the market. Even though it’s cheaper than other types, it still does a great job of caring for your electrical needs when necessary. As a result, many people are still buying this model and are having great experiences.

Power Output: 8,500 watts with 200-Amp

Technology: The champion aXis platform comes with a digital aXis controller.

Safety: The champion aXis platform is very safe, notifies if there is any issue with the generator.

Size & Weight: 52.4 x 33.5 x 32.1 inches and 460 lbs.

Uses: Works excellent for smaller to medium-sized homes, can also work for larger homes, but the power might be too little. Some have said the power lacks when used for a larger scale space. Ideal for personal residences.

Briggs & Stratton 10,000 Watt Home Standby Generator

The Briggs & Stratton 10kW home standby generator is a popular option for people who live in all medium to large homes up to 4,200 square feet in size. This generator produces low, but reliable power through natural gas or liquid propane.

Power Output: 10,000 watts

Technology: Advanced alternator technology

Safety: The advanced alternator technology has advanced safety features, which will keep everything working correctly.

Size & Weight : 28 x 24.4 x 35.1 inches and 272 lbs

Uses: This generator is great for people who own homes up to 4,200 square feet and need an inexpensive generator.

Even though this generator is not the lightest, most technologically advanced, it’s still very inexpensive. It works great for people who need a generator for their homes. Of course, the generator is best suited for smaller homes.

If you have a larger home, then we would suggest a more powerful generator. But overall, this generator is an excellent option for people who want a cheaper generator to get the job done.

What Do You Need To Know About Standby Generators?

Even if you know the basics of a standby generator, you must know more about them if you want to buy one for your home. These large generators are not that complicated; they are straightforward to manage.

However, if you know all the standby generator details, you will better understand what to buy and what type of generator would work best.

Price: Most home standby generators cost a few thousand dollars, ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 and up. In most cases, you will buy a standby generator that will cost you around $4,000 to $6,000. You will also have to factor in installation and shipping fees, as these generators are not light.

So if you factor in the installation and shipping fees, you can expect to pay around $500 or more, based on where you live and whom you hire for installation. This number can more or less if you decide to pick it up from the store yourself.

Power Output: A typical standby generator will have a power output of between 10,000 to 24,000 watts which is more than enough to care for your home’s electrical needs. If you own a larger home, you should consider getting standby backup generators with higher power output.

A smaller home will do just fine with a standby generator lacking in the power output department. Make sure to have a good understanding of your home’s electrical needs. If you can, get a consultation from a professional who can help you decide.

Technology: The new generators have great technology that helps keep everything safe if there are any issues with the generator. Make sure always to get a generator with great technology, as it can help prevent many malfunctions.

Fuel: Most whole house generators work on liquid propane or natural gas. Depending on the home standby generator, you will need to have an ample supply of liquid propane or natural gas to ensure you always have enough fuel for your standby generator. Most generator fuel tanks take anywhere between 13-50 gallons of fuel.

Runtime: Run time will depend on the generator and its fuel capacity, but a typical generator will have a run time of around 8-12 hours. These generators can keep running for days and weeks; you have to make sure to refuel them before they run out of gas. Or, you can often connect your home standby generator to your electricity provider as well.

Safety: You have to make sure that the standby generator you get is safe and alert you if there is an issue with the generator. Always get a technically advanced generator. It will give you the convenience of security as it will alert your phone or a device.

Most modern generators do have a way to connect notifications to your phone, which won’t be an issue when purchasing a standby generator.

Size & Weight: A regular standby generator will be around the size of your HVAC system, but it ultimately depends on the model. You can expect the standby generator to weigh around 400-600 lbs, as they are pretty heavy and have many moving parts. Also, since they are technically advanced, you need someone to move and set up the standby generator.

Uses: The usage of a regular standby generator is to power the entire house for days or weeks. These generators are connected to a transfer switch and start working as soon as they detect a power outage. Some of these generators are built for smaller homes, and other generators are built for larger homes.

Make sure to get a generator that fits your requirements. If you don’t know which standby generator to get, consider hiring a professional who can help you decide based on your needs.

A regular standby generator is usually used for homes, buildings, and many other spaces. They are very reliable and are the first option by professionals to consumers in the market for a generator.

Top 3 Best Portable Generators

Honda EU3000IS 

This Honda 3000W generator is an excellent option for people who need reliable inverter generators that gets the job done. Honda is known for its reliability, and this generator is no exception.

Power Output: 6,000 watts

Technology: Advanced inverter technology

Runtime: up to 20 hours on a full tank of fuel

Safety: It is protected by an oil alert, which shuts the generator down when it is low on oil.

Size & Weight: 27 x 26 x 21 and 131 lbs

Uses: Great for powering appliances and other power tools.

Westinghouse WGen7500

The Westinghouse WGEN7500 portable generator is an excellent option if you are in the market for a portable generator with good temporary power output. This generator can power many appliances with ease.

Power Output: 9,500 watts

Technology: Plug and play technology, and comes with a remote key fob

Runtime: up to 11 hours

Safety: Factory tested for safety

Size & Weight: 27.2 x 26.1 x 26 and 196 lbs

Uses: This generator is great for people who would like to power appliances or power tools.

DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Generator

The DuroMax XP12000EH generator is an excellent option for people in need of a portable generator that does well with power. This generator is one of the more powerful variants in regards to a portable generator.

Power Output: 12,000 watts

Technology: Dual fuel technology, which allows it to run on gas or propane

Runtime: 7.2 hours on half a tank of propane

Safety: Factory tested

Size & Weight: 30 x 29 x 26 and 224 lbs

Uses: This generator is very powerful as a portable generator. This product can take care of a regular-sized house’s electrical needs.

How Does a Portable Generator Work?

Portable generators work by running a natural gas-powered engine, which sends power to the alternator, producing electricity. In addition, the portable generator has a power outlet that allows you to connect a few appliances and other things into it.

What’s different about the portable generator is that it’s not permanently installed like the home standby generator, making it much easier to move around and install.

Some people love the versatility of the portable generator, they are independent units and connect to a manual transfer switch. Still, it does lack when it comes to power and running time compared to the standby generator. Let’s talk about the top three portable generators. That way, you can see what is available in the market.

Everything You Need to Know About Portable Generators

Portable generators are just like home standby generators but have less power and are smaller in size, leading to less power output. Unfortunately, they are also labor-intensive, which means you will have to move them whenever you want to use them.

This can be a problem for some, but they are very inexpensive and easy to use, which outweighs the inconvenience. If you are looking for a generator that will come in handy in a pinch, you can’t go wrong with a portable generator. They are easy to use and install, and unlike home standby generators, you don’t need a professional to install them.


Most portable generators will range from $800 to $2,000 and more. You don’t need an expensive portable generator, and if you see yourself spending more than $2,000 on a portable generator, then consider a home standby generator.

Power Output

A typical portable generator will produce around 6,000 to 12,000 watts, a unique power output range. At 6,000 watts, you can only power appliances or power tools, but once you get into the 10,000 watts range, you can power most regular-sized homes. This metric makes it such that depending on the model, portable generators are versatile.


Most portable generators lack technology compared to these generators, but now we see a trend where more companies are adding safety features to the portable generators.


Most portable generators need diesel fuel or natural gas as a fuel source; some may work on propane. Some models operate on propane and gas, known as the dual motor. This makes things easy if you don’t have access to one or another fuel source.


Run time will depend on the motor size and the tank size. But usually, you can expect to get anywhere between 7 to 20 hours.


Safety is not overlooked in portable generators, as most stop working automatically if it detects issues within the system.

Size & Weight

A typical portable generator is around 150 to 200 lbs and will be as big as the motor of a car.


The portable generator is used to power sensitive electronics or power tools. Depending on the size and power output, you can use it to take care of your home’s electrical needs if there is a power shortage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a standby generator and a portable generator?

Answer: A standby generator is a larger unit that is installed permanently. In comparison, a portable generator requires a manual operation and can be moved around.

Can a portable generator power a whole house?

Answer: Depending on the power output, a portable generator can power the whole house.

Are standby generators worth it?

Answer: Yes, most professionals suggest getting a standby generator if you have the extra money. They are safe, and they start working as soon as they detect power loss.

Is having a portable generator worth it?

Answer: If you can’t commit to a standby generator or need a generator to power your tools and appliances, yes, a portable generator is worth it.

[table id=4 /]
[table id=3 /]
[table id=2 /]
[table id=8 /]


Best Standby Generators

Best Portable Generators

The debate of standby generator vs portable generator has been going on for some time now. Both the portable generator and the standby generator are great. It all comes down to your needs. If you need a generator to power your tools and appliances and power your house for a short time, then a portable generator is excellent. On the other hand, a standby generator is a right choice if you need a more secure way to power your home.