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 Generator

The portable generator is much less expensive 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 or whole house 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 thin 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 22kW Standby Generator

The true mark of a best whole house generator that can power a house is efficiency, sufficient watts, and proficiency – The Generac 22kW generator checks all the boxes. Is it the perfect generator? Let’s find out.

It boasts 22,000 watts that could run on propane and slightly step down to 19,500 watts when using a natural gas line. The sheer power and efficiency are impressive – by a long shot, it can power the whole house’s electrical appliances.

Generac stanby generators integrate an LCD screen that displays battery status and monitors routine maintenance to ensure the machine operates in tip-top condition. In addition, it features mobile link remote monitoring that allows you to check the workings of your generator from any part of the world. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or PC to know the status of your generator with a click.

The G-force engine is rather impressive – it is pressure-lubricated and can carry about any whole house load you throw at it. On durability, we are blown by the dedicated craftsmanship of the manufacturers – utilizing a Rhino coat finish that is resistant to rust and can stand the perils of outdoors.

The Generac generator is brimming with unique features. Here are some features of this standby generator for homes:

  • True Power technology – Help to deliver enough power with less than 5 percent total harmonic, which is fitting for sensitive electrical units.
  • Propane & Natural gas – Either of the two provides more options for powering the unit up. Depending on your discretion, you can use propane or natural gas. However, the fuel consumption for propane is lower.
  • You can monitor the system using Mobile Link Remote Monitoring.
  • It has a 200 amp NEMA 3 (works well both indoors and outdoors) whole house Smart transfer switch.
  • The G-force engine provides smooth operation.
  • LED indicators allow users to know the status of the battery or maintenance required
  • Quiet Test – ensures it runs at a lower RPM, but it could get loud at up to 80dB

PROS

  • Multilingual LCD & mobile monitoring ensures you tackle problems that might come up
  • Massive and enormous watts to cater for the whole house electrical appliances
  • It features a self-test mode that allows users to know everything works fine
  • The coated finish makes it resistant to adverse weather conditions
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty

CONS

  • Constant maintenance & professional checks are required.
 

Champion 14kW Generator

If you’ve been around the generator space, then Champion generators shouldn’t be alien to you. The company is at the helm of creating high-end, top-of-the-line generators of all kinds ranging from a portable generator to RV, construction, and much more.

The  Champion 14kW Generator  is unlike other standby generators on the market. It would be normal to mistake it for a Lambo – this owes to the switchblade doors. If there’s a generator design award, the champion 14kW would easily win it. But it doesn’t stop there; as a matter of fact, there’s more than meets the eye.

The champion generator is an absolute beast in terms of performance – it runs on a 14kW and provides up to 14 000 watts of power on liquid propane and steps down to 12 500 watts when connected to a natural gas line. The Champion Power Equipment 754cc OHV engine delivers faithfully, powering all essential appliances in homes effortlessly. This portable generator operates even in weather extremes; you can trust it to provide backup power during power outages. It also performs weekly self-diagnostic tests to monitor the status and notify you when there are maintenance needs.

Compared to machines in its class of weight, this is by far the quietest as it registers a 63dba noise level. Sound dam9pening and a low tone muffler provide a quiet operation. Topped with a 10-year warranty, your mind will be at rest knowing you are actively covered for defects.

To understand the full features of the Champion 14kW generator is to see it with your eyes. But since you can’t, we’ve made sure to include the most important points that will ensure you make an informed decision. Rest assured, it can handle your air conditioning units, electronics, dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machines, etc.

 

PROS

  • It has a sound-dampening lining and a low-tone muffler that reduces noise better than most models in its class.
  • The standby generator operates in adverse conditions that range from -22° F – 104° F without warming.
  • Conserves fuel and provides 10-year limited warranty / free lifetime technical support
  • It comes with a durable enclosure that protects the body system.

CONS

  • It’s heavy
 

Briggs and Stratton 20kW Generator

With a rated power supply of 20kW output, the Briggs Stratton will be perfect for whole-house operations. It integrates a supercharged engine that is reliable and fast – expect the unit to supply power itself automatically after a power outage. In addition, the Briggs and Stratton 20kW Generator  integrates a 200amp transfer switch for seamless power transfer between electricity mains and generators.

The Briggs Stratton dual-fuel generators run on liquid propane or natural gas. As seen in most generators, there’s a slight difference in the standby generator capacity when using either fuel. For example, natural gas runs at 18,000 watts and 20,000 watts on propane.

Another perk to the Briggs Stratton generator is a quiet operation – Thanks to the dampening mechanism, noise emanating is bearable, and you won’t have your neighbors disturbed. On the downside, installation is complex; assembling the Briggs & Stratton unit would require a handyman for this.

PROS

  • Remote monitoring
  • Flexible power management
  • Features a ventilation vent that transports carbon far from the residence
  • Placed at 18 inches – the Briggs Stratton passed the National Fire Protection Agency standards.

CONS

  • The setup is hard – you’ll need a handyman.
  • Some users reported poor packaging when their Briggs Stratton unit arrived.

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.

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 5 Best Portable Generators

 

Champion 4250 Watt Duel Fuel Inverter Generator 


Do you need a powerful and high performance portable generator? If so, then the Champion 4250 Watt Dual Fuel inverter generator  is an intriguing option. The manufacturers cut the noise level in half by integrating the Quiet Technology components in advanced inverters to help the generator operate quietly. Still, it has an efficient mechanical design that reduces the overall footprint and weight by only 20%. 

You can efficiently operate this quiet generator on propane or gasoline with this model. You can easily change fuels using the patented fuel selector dial. Besides the dual fuel ability, it has versatile outlets, making it great for RV.

Champion 4250 quiet generator has a Cold Start Technology that ensures good starts, frequency, operating hours, and intelligently monitors voltage. The smart economy Mode will monitor the electrical load to reduce the engine’s noise, speed, and fuel consumption. 

Usage 

The 224cc generator’s engine will produce 4250 starting Watts and 3500 running Watts using gasoline. It will efficiently run for 22 hours at half load when the tank is full. It has a 6ft propane hose with a regulator where it offers you flexibility. With only a 0.5-quart tank and low oil shut-off sensor, the inverter operates quietly at 64 dBA from 23ft. 

Since it produces clean and reliable power, you can easily connect your sensitive devices without worrying about their safety. In addition, it is fitted with multiple outlets and two 2.1A USB ports that can be used to charge laptops, smartphones, or smart devices. 

There is an optimal Parallel connection kit sold separately. It will help you increase the output by connecting two 2800-watt or higher inverters. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • High performance-22 hour run time on Gasoline at 25% load/21 hour run time on Propane at 25% load
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant for safety 
  • Free lifetime technical support
  • Clean, stable power than can charge your sensitive electronic devices using the 2.1A USB ports

CONS

  • The customer support is poor
  • Its remote start feature has a design flaw 
  • This inverter takes 1-3 seconds to respond to a load increase. 
 

Flashfish 300 Watt Solar Generator

The Flashfish 300 is fitted with different output ports that you can use to charge most of your devices at the same time, including a phone, laptop, fan, drone, car fridge, LED light, digital cameras, MP3, and other smart devices.

it provides you with three ways of recharging using a wall charger, solar panel, or car charger. So, whatever device you want to charge FlashFish 300W has got you covered.

The recharging time depends on temperature, location, weather, and many more factors. Besides, you can carry this generator anywhere thanks to its sturdy handle that can withstand all the weight without breaking. Therefore, it allows you to go with power when outdoors. 

With this generator, you are guaranteed a safe product. It has built-in safety protections, such as low-voltage, overheat protection, short-circuit protection, lock-on protection, over-current protection, and over-voltage protection.

It has a silver casing and black ends made of plastic, making it more durable than other solar generators in the market. FlashFish portable generator has 300W continuous power, 350W peak power, pure sine wave, and a 60000mAh battery.

The generator can charge multiple devices stably with all this power, and the 5.6lbs weight makes it fit well in your backpack. In addition, this is a compact generator that never compromises the power supply, and it will not require much space for storage. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable metal material 
  • Enough power to charge TVs, laptops, phones, fans, refrigerators, cameras, etc.

CONS 

  • It does not have pass-through charging 
  • The generator doesn’t have a power off warning 
  • Electrical problems detected

Westinghouse iGen2200

 

The Westinghouse iGen2200  inverter generator designed to help you in power-critical situations. It is a lightweight and compact generator that weighs 46lbs, allowing you to carry it outdoors with ease, and it doesn’t require much space for storage.

It has a built-in suitcase-style handle for simple transportation and storage. The inverter generator produces 2200 peak watts and 1800 running power, making it one of the best backup portable power options for home and recreational use.

With a 1.2gallon fuel tank capacity, you can use it to power refrigerators, fans, large appliances, or necessities you may require for traveling. It is run by a Westinghouse engine that allows you to automatically adjust the engine speed to the needed amount for great fuel efficiency. 

It has an ultra-low tone that allows for use anywhere without causing noise pollution. It operates as low as 52Dba, making it great for home or outdoors. Compared to traditional generators that can’t power sensitive electronics, this generator charges most electronics.

Because it produces clean and stable power at less than 3% THD. It can power sensitive electronics such as laptops, mobile phones, LCD TVs, tablets, power banks, etc. You can combine iGen2200 with Westinghouse WH2200Ixl generator using Westinghouse WHPC parallel cord if you need extra power.

It includes built-in safety features, including overload protection, overcharges protection, short-circuits protection, lock-on protection, over-current protection, and over-voltage protection. In addition, it has an automatic low-oil shutdown feature that alerts when the oil level is low, protecting the engine from damage. 

The inverter generator meets all CARB and EPA standards, making it eco-friendly. Still, it has a clear readout display that keeps you up with run times, oil levels, and some updates for maintenance. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • The generator is compact, lightweight, and reliable for outdoor occasions
  • It is eco-friendly and fuel-efficient 
  • Strong enough to charge multiple devices simultaneously 
  • Safe and simple to use 

CONS

  • The customer support is not good 
  • It is a bit noisy
 

Jackery 500 Power Station

Designed for recreational and outdoor use, Jackery 500 is the best generator to have so that you can keep all your favorite electronics powered. It is fitted with multiple features that bring reliability, safety, and ease of use.

The generator features a built-in lithium-ion battery pack in a frame structure, increasing outdoor adventures, and home use power.

With a 518-watt hour capacity, this generator can power multiple appliances at the same time, including a projector, blanket, heater, lamplight, TV, tablets, and smartphones. The power station features 1 AC outlet, 3 USB-A ports, 1 carport, and 2 DC ports.

All these outlets allow for pass-through charging, and you can use them to charge different electronics. In addition, it has a battery management system that rules every cell, improving the battery life while supporting pass-through charging.

Still, the battery management system will protect the battery from short-circuiting, overcharge, overload protection, overload protection, and many more.

The Explorer 500 portable generator is simple to carry because it has a heavy-duty handle, making it a compact option for road-trip, camping, hiking, hunting, RV, and home backup scenarios.

If you don’t have much storage space, don’t worry because this is a compact portable generator that allows for storage even in tight spaces.

You can easily pair the Explorer 500 with the SolarSaga panel to get continuous and reliable power from the sun. When the portable power station continuously operates under 10W power for 12 hours, it activates the fuel economy mode and shuts down to reduce fuel consumption.

In addition, it comes with everything you need to get clean energy, including a user manual that will make it hassle-free to operate the generator.

 

PROS

  • It has long-lasting endurance and reliability 
  • The generator supports pass-through charging 
  • fuel gauge and low-oil auto-shutoff
  • You can use it to charge a wide range of electrical devices 
  • Its battery management system increases safety and performance 
  • All the ports are versatile and functional 

CONS

  • The price is high for those on a budget
  • Most customers complain that they don’t receive a solar panel
 

DuroMax XP10000E

The DuroMax XP10000E portable generator is a high power, high performance generator that can provide power to many different appliances and devices.

With 10000 starting watts and 8000 running watts, the generator can handle refrigerators, lights, home conditioners, smartphones, high amperage power tools, and many more appliances. Due to its dual-fuel feature, it is powerful yet flexible to have.

It is a dual fuel generator that can be run by propane and gasoline, making it one of the best gas generators for emergencies. You can decide to use instead of just gasoline because it is more affordable to save extra running costs.

The generator uses DuroMax MX2 technology that helps you get enough power from the 120V receptacle. You can choose to operate the generator at 120V and 240V simultaneously or with full power at 120V only.

The generator has an all-metal construction designed to protect the generator from all elements. The structure is resistant to rusting. It comes with a set of heavy-duty rolling wheels that can be used on any terrain without slipping to give you maximum flexibility.

Assembling the wheels is essential because the generator weighs 218lbs which can be tough to carry around manually.  It also has an easy-to-use control panel that allows you to see all the operations with ease, and it provides accurate details all the time.

The machinery has low-voltage protection, overheat protection, short-circuit protection, lock-on protection, over-current protection, and over-voltage protection. In addition, due to its compact design, you can store the generator anywhere without needing much storage space.

PROS

  • 10,000 peak watts-powerful enough to be a true home backup generator
  • The included handles and wheels make it portable
  • High performance- up to 10.4 hour run time at 50% loadPowered by a 439cc OHV DuroMax Engine 
  • It is powerful machinery that can power different electrical appliances 
  • All metal construction enhances better performance and durability 

CONS

  • The wheels it comes with are poorly built 
  • Running watts are less than described 
  • Noisy

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.

Price

Most portable generators will range from $400 to $2,000 and more.. varying mostly by power output, safety, and other technologies. 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.

Technology

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.

Fuel

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.

Runtime

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

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.

Uses

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.

Also Read: Best Inverter Generators [2022]


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

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?

Yes, a portable generator can power a whole house (medium sized) if it has 7,500 Peak Watts or more. 

Are standby generators worth it?

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?

A portable generator is worth buying because of its ability to provide electricity on the go. It can also be a valuable resource to have handy during a power outage to help keep your essential appliances running. 


Conclusion

Best Standby Generators

 

Best Portable Generators

 

The debate of portable generator vs standby 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.

 

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