Best for: Homes, Cottages, Farms or Offices
- Start automatically within seconds of a power outage
- No refuelling or extension cords necessary
- Remote monitoring accessories available
Things to Consider:
- More expensive than portable models
- Professional installation required
- Not moveable
A standby generator is a true back-up electrical system that’s installed outside your home like a central air conditioning unit. It automatically supplies power within seconds of a utility outage and shuts itself off when power returns. It operates on natural or propane gas and can generally handle between 10,000 and 15,000 watts.
Before purchasing an automatic standby generator, decide whether you want to back up a few essential circuits or your whole house. These circuit diagrams will help determine the amount of wattage you need.
Best for: Recreational or Jobsite Use
- Easy to start and move around
- Provide power to individual appliances or tools
- Less expensive than a standby generator
Things to Consider:
- Don't start automatically
- Need refuelling (and fuel should be changed regularly, meaning you need to have gasoline on hand)
- Cannot sit outside in inclement weather for long periods
- Limited wattage
Portable generators run on gasoline and include outlets for running electricity; they typically handle anywhere between 1,000 and 8,500 watts. If you plan on transporting your generator regularly, look at weight, dimensions, wheel type and handle style to determine ease of mobility. If you need your generator to run for extended periods without refuelling, such as overnight or through full work days, run time is an important consideration.
Inverter generators are a newer breed of generators that are designed to be lighter, quieter and more fuel-efficient than other portable generators. Many are suitable for use with computers and other sensitive electrical equipment.
Overtaxing a portable generator reduces fuel efficiency and, in some cases, can cause damage to connected equipment. It's important to calculate the power output you need and to give yourself some wattage cushioning