Home generators fall into two categories, the stationery built in type, which is more than likely a whole home generator and the portable type which can be set, to power selective appliances and lights as a matter of priority. It goes without saying that the higher the wattage on the generator, the higher the cost and the more complicated the installation. Basically it is a personal choice which will depend on finances, if you want to have your whole house powered during a power outage you would have to pay the price. Most people cannot afford this option as apart from the initial cost you would have to consider installation costs and also how much fuel you would need to power the generator on a daily basis.

A home generator is also an investment as it will add value to your home and probably reduce insurance costs. Bear in mind that there is also red tape that you might have to deal with, especially with the stationery home generators. Building permits and code requirements vary according to where you live, and it is a good idea to thoroughly investigate these issues before you purchase a home generator. Also find out what the noise level of the generator you want to buy is, this might also cause an issue with your neighbors. If you are determined to purchase a stationery unit to keep your whole house lit in an emergency, then it is a good idea to call in a trained electrician to assess your needs and give you an estimate. Installation costs can run into the thousands, depending on which unit you choose.

With a standby units, you would need at least 5,000W to power the basics of the average home. These units cost a lot less and they run on gas or propane. You can use them anywhere, even take them on camping trips. If you are using propane then these units must be kept away from the house and not in an enclosed area. With portable or standby generators you will have to calculate how much wattage you would need to power essential appliances like the refrigerator, and the lights. You can find models that are electric starting or with a battery that needs to be charged. Portable generators usually offer from 3,000 to 8,500 watts. There is also solar generators that can provide up to 2,000 watts of power. These are suitable for people living in rented homes or for those in small apartments. The battery charges with daylight panels which draw energy from direct sunlight.

Top 10 Home Generators

ImageProduct Name
Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with 200 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch
Generac 7030 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 16 Circuit 100 Amp Transfer Switch
Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt Home Standby Generator System with 50-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch
Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt
Briggs & Stratton 40517 12kW Home Standby Generator, Gray
Generac 6672 5500W 49 State Portable Generator with Cord
Raven GEN6500E, 5500 Running Watts/6500 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator
Briggs & Stratton 30663, 7000 Running Watts/8750 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Our Pick

Briggs & Stratton 40303

Our top pick must be Briggs & Stratton 40303 which is gas or liquid propane powered and big enough to power up the whole house. Try as we did, we did not find any complaints about this generator. All reviews were extremely positive and therefore we can recommend the 40303 with confidence. This generator has a built in automotive exhaust system and acoustic foam dampeners make this a very quiet generator. The permanent connection to natural gas or propane makes it easy to run without having to refuel constantly. The construction of the 40303, with its rustproof polymer and motor car paint, makes it durable outside in all weather conditions. This is a full automatic generator made by the well-known Briggs & Stratton which will give you many years of reliable and efficient service.

How to Choose the Best Home Generator

What type of Generator do you want?

There are basically four types of generators, stationary or standby, portable and solar.

Stationary Generators

Also referred to as standby generators, these units are placed where the homes electrical grid is as it is linked directly to the electricity box. They automatically monitor the houses electricity and when there is an outage the standby generators will kick in and take over to supply electricity to selective lights and appliances, or the whole house. The unit will switch off automatically as soon as the electricity is restored. The stationery generators are installed permanently and are hooked up to an existing fuel source that is either propane, gas or diesel. The range of these generators is from 5,000 to 20.000.

Portable Generators

These generators usually come with a power range from 600 to 9,000 watts and run with gas, propane or natural gas. Once powered you will need to connect extension cords to your appliances from the receptacles on the generator. You can use them anywhere on or off your property and depending on the fuel source you would need to take the necessary precautions.

Solar generators

If you are living in a small apartment or flat, or are renting a home you will not want to go to the big expense of installing a generator. Solar generators are available for small premises and they can supply up to 2,000 watts of power. The solar generators get their energy direct from the sun through daylight panels.

Fuel Source

The options you have to power home generators are basically, gasoline, diesel, propane or the use of a natural gas line in your home.

Standard gasoline can be purchased easily and remain the most popular fuel used to power generators. Most portable models only run on gas.

Diesel is another option which you can purchase easily and also needs to be stored in tanks.

Propane is a popular source of fuel and it is easy to purchase tanks from any hardware or supermarket. Special safety measures are necessary with propane.

Natural gas-powered are usually used to fuel stationery or standby generators. This type of fuel runs naturally into your home as a fuel source.

How Generators Work

Automatic Start

Stationery generators are programed to start automatically when the power goes off. The installation of these generators would require a qualified electrician as a direct connection will have to be made to your electricity system.

Manual Start

With manual versions you would need to add a transfer switch as it would require you to fire up the generator and switch over to using it, to power your home.

Electric Start

Some portable home generators have a push button alternative which involves a charged battery that would fire up the generator.

Extra Accessories and Functions

Wheels

Moving a portable generator without wheels is very difficult as they can weigh over 200 pounds. Wheels are essential. and in some cases you would have to order them separately.

Fuel Gauge

Being able to check the fuel levels so you can program refilling is essential with portable generators.

Low-Oil Shutoff

A generator should be able to shut off automatically when oil falls to minimum levels. This will prevent damage to the generators.

Inverter Technology

Most stationery generators and some high end portables, have inverter technology which provides cleaner power that won’t overheat.

Multiple Outlets

Stationery and portable generators that power up selected appliances and light will need multiple outlets to spread the load of power.

Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is essential in order to protect your appliances or damage to the generator. The transfer switch is linked to the circuit panel with one cable

Noise Factor

Some generators can be very noisy and running one continuously could cause problems with your neighbors. Consider the noise factor when purchasing a home generator. Whole house units and most stationery units that are placed indoors are insulated enough and will generally be quieter. Noise levels are measured in decibels and most manufacturers state this on their units. Basically the generator should be at least 25 feet away from your living area.

Installation Costs

All generators will require some installation, but it is the stationery whole house units that require the most complex installation. Starting with the cheaper installation, you might need to pay for are a fuel tank, installation and set-up fees. These would probably apply to all generators. Also consider that if you will be connecting the generator to the electrical supply of your home then you definitely need a qualified electrician to do the electrical work.

Connecting to your fuel source is another consideration and here you need to take safety into account. If you need to put the unit on a concrete slab, you will need to get another technician in to build it for you. Your local code authority will also need to inspect the premises to make sure that you are not contravening any regulations. It will cost you less in the long run if you hire a specialist in this field who knows what is required in advance and can ensure that all work will pass any inspection.

Safety Features

Standard safety issues should be strictly adhered to when you are working with gas and propane. Another consideration is a circuit interrupter which will prevent anyone from being electrocuted, if the current should take an alternative path. For electronic equipment like computers and phones, make sure the generator supplies a balanced electricity supply during outages as some generators could damage these sensitive items.

Home Generator Reviews

1. Briggs & Stratton 40394 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with 100 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with 200 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Powered by a Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine the 20000-Watt 40394 is considered to be a commercial grade, reliable home generator. This model is an affordable generator that is capable of powering up large appliances like air conditioners and electric ovens together with smaller items due to the Symphony II Power Management facility. The automotive exhaust system and the airflow technology on Briggs & Stratton 40394 generator acts as dampening technology which makes this unit quitter than most generators of this size.

This standby generator is compliant with stringent National Fire Protection standards and is perfect for large sized homes. Your home will be automatically powered up in seconds after the sensor picks up that there is a power outage. The Briggs & Stratton 40394 can be fitted within 18” from your home and it is made of rust resistant galvanized steel which will protect the unit under any weather conditions. A 100 amp transfer switch provides power to your household appliances and keeps a couple of air conditioners working at the same time. The Briggs & Stratton 40394 comes with a 5 year parts, labor, and travel limited warranty

Pros

  • Vanguard engine
  • Power management facility
  • Airflow technology
  • Quieter than most
  • Automatic switch on
  • Transfer switch
  • 5 year limited warranty

Cons

  • Customer service slow

2. Generac 7030 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 16 Circuit 100 Amp Transfer Switch

Generac 7030 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 16 Circuit 100 Amp Transfer Switch

The Generic 7030 is a standby home generator that offers True Power Technology for smooth operation, which makes it safe to use with sensitive electronics and appliances. This unit comes with 16 circuit 100 Amp, in and outdoor transfer switches. The Evolution Controller has LED indicators that show the status of the generator, and indicates when maintenance is required. The battery is not included and needs to be bought separately. The Generac 7030 is made out of durable aluminum with RhinoCoat powder coated finish, which makes it suitable for outdoor installation. Engineered in the USA the Generac 7030 will save you a lot on installation as it comes with removable door panels and a base pad that does not require any ground preparation. New and efficient wiring techniques also save time on installation.

The Generac G-Force Engine is pressure lubricated and reliable with less maintenance requirements. It runs at a lower RPM which makes this generator quieter and cheaper on fuel. There is also a LCD display so that you can monitor your battery and schedule maintenance, and you will have the capability of monitoring your generator from a smartphone or tablet from anywhere at any time. With this Generac model you can decide whether you want the whole house covered, or choose which appliances and lights you want to work if there is a power outage. This unit switches on automatically once it senses that the power is off and goes off as soon as the power returns. Generac offers a 5 year limited warranty and a 24/7 customer service.

Pros

  • True power technology
  • LED indicators
  • Durable outer coating
  • Cheaper installation
  • Less maintenance
  • Automatic switch on
  • 5 year limited warranty

Cons

  • Not strong enough to work air conditioners

3. Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt Home Standby Generator System with 50-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt Home Standby Generator System with 50-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

The Briggs & Stratton 40445, is an 8000 watt home generator that manages power to your whole house during power outages. The unit is designed to switch on automatically the minute it senses a power outage and to switch off when the power is restored. This is all due to the flexible all weather transfer switch which is included. The Symphony II Power Management feature manages to switch on high powered appliances like the oven or air conditioner at the same time as smaller less powerful light switches and small appliances. The robust vanguard engine is of a commercial grade and provides reliability and power in a compact generator that is suitable for larger homes.

As a permanent backup solution for power failure, the Briggs & Stratton 40445 is an affordable generator that covers your homes basic needs.  Briggs & Stratton generators are compliant with the standards of the National Fire Protection Agency. The 50 amp transfer switch is flexible and weather resistant and gives you the plug and play package, so you can power selective circuits only. This unit is usually installed outside and due to its durable rust resistant galvanized steel, it is completely weather resistant. These units are normally placed next to the circuit breaker so that it can be connected to the sections that you want powered up. The user control panel lets you know when the generator needs maintenance and shows how much fuel is left. The Briggs & Stratton home generator comes with a 4 year limited parts and labor warranty.

Pros

  • Robust Vanguard engine
  • Commercial grade
  • Suitable for larger homes
  • Affordable
  • 50 amp transfer switch
  • Durable & rust proof
  • Weather Resistant
  • 4 year limited warranty

Cons

  • High installation costs

4. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt

Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt

The Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS is a standby, reliable and surprisingly quiet generator, due to its composite noise dampening enclosure. This 20,000 watt air cooled generator includes a 200 Amp whole house automatic transfer switch and the generator will switch on automatically when there is a power outage. The enclosure of the Kohler generator is corrosion proof and the unit, which is usually installed outside, can withstand any weather conditions. The Kohler generator also allows you to set up online monitoring and text alerts so that you are fully aware of what is happening with your generator if you are away from home.

The voltage regulator, which is less than 5% harmonic distortion, will protect your sensitive electronics from any damage. Every Kohler generator has a heavy duty engine that will keep working, reliably and quietly. The Kohler generator is backed by a 5 year, 2,000 hour warranty for extra peace of mind. Kohler is a trusted company that has been manufacturing generators from 1920. They supply hospitals and airport nationwide. Be aware that there are some costs involved with installation of the Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS and the unit has to be level in order not to have any vibrations.

Pros

  • Reliable and quiet
  • 20,000 watt whole house generator
  • 200 Amp automatic transfer
  • Corrosion proof enclosure
  • Online monitoring
  • Low harmonic distortion
  • 5 year limited warranty

Cons

  • Expensive to install
  • Throttle problem

5. Briggs & Stratton 40532 12kW Standby Generator with 100 Amp, 16 Circuit Transfer Switch

Briggs & Stratton 40517 12kW Home Standby Generator, Gray

The Briggs & Stratton 40532 can manage a house up to 5,500 square feet easily with its Symphony II Power Management System. This is a smaller home generator system which is NFPA 37 compliant and it can be placed as close as 18” away from your home. The 40532 works well with tight tot lines and is rated for operation in areas with low gas pressure. This model from Briggs & Stratton is small and affordable and can manage to power up large and small appliances at the same time.

The 40532 is a standby home generator that works with 12kw and 12,000 watt, so even though it is compact in size it still generates a lot of power. This is in part due to the commercial grade Vanguard engine. The Briggs & Stratton 40532 is small in size and the 100 Amp transfer switch provides power to more of your household appliances during a power failure. The patented Symphony II Power Management ensures that the automatic transfer switch can load a couple of air conditioners while keeping other household appliances in full working order. The 40532 comes with a 5 year limited warranty which covers parts, labor and travel.

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • NFPA 37 compliant
  • Affordable
  • 12kw and 12,000 watt
  • Vanguard engine
  • Symphony II power management
  • 5 year limited warranty

Cons

  • No cons registered

6. Generac 6672 5500W 49 State Portable Generator with Cord

Generac 6672 5500W 49 State Portable Generator with Cord

The Generac 6672 is a portable generator which is gasoline powered, with 5.500 watts offering 5 power outlets. Provide backup power to your home with the turn of a switch. This PowerDial streamlines the whole process by putting all functions on one dial. You can switch it on or off, open the fuel valve and adjust the choke all from one dial. The Generac 6672 also comes with an automatic shutoff feature which switches the generator off if you are running low on fuel or oil. The 389cc OHV engine comes with splash lubrication which will go a long way in prolonging the life of the engine.

The Generac 6672 is also fitted with an hour meter which tracks maintenance intervals. This generator is built to last with hardened steel tube cradle and covered outlets that provide added protection. The handle folds down and locks for compact storage and together with the sturdy wheels, it is built to be mobile. The fuel tank holds a large amount of fuel and has a fuel gauge so you can monitor how much fuel you have.

Pros

  • One switch dial
  • Automatic shut off
  • OHV engine
  • Hour meter
  • Hardened steel tube
  • Folding down handles
  • Easy portability

Cons

  • Can be a bit noisy

7. Raven GEN6500E, 5500 Running Watts/6500 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Raven GEN6500E, 5500 Running Watts/6500 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

The WEN Raven GEN6500E is a gasoline powered home generator and works with 6.500 surge watts. This is a portable generator that comes with a wheel kit and foldable handles for easy transportation. You can run this generator for up to 10 hours at half load with 6.5 gallons of gas. This is an electric start generator that can be started at the flip of a switch. The Raven GEN6500E is a lightweight yet powerful generator with a reliable 4 stroke, 389cc engine and it includes a fuel gauge, a low oil alert system, an hour meter for maintenance and a non-fuse breaker.

An electric start switch is used to ignite the generator when it is needed. The outlets included with this generator are 4 x 120V 20A receptacles, one 120/240V 30A receptacle and a 12V 8.3A DC cigarette lighter style receptacle. This is a small unit that is inexpensive and portable enough to be taken on camping trips, as well as illuminate selected areas of your home and keep certain appliances working. Raven offers a two year limited warranty on their product. You can find all the information you want on their official website.

Pros

  • Easy to transport
  • 10 hours on half load
  • Lightweight
  • Low oil alert
  • Fuel gauge
  • Hour meter
  • Non fuse breaker
  • 2 year warranty

Cons

  • Not suitable for sensitive electronics

8. Briggs & Stratton 30663, 7000 Running Watts/8750 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Briggs & Stratton 30663, 7000 Running Watts/8750 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Briggs & Stratton is a company that has been manufacturing power equipment for over a century and their products come highly recommended. They offer power, performance and value with all their products and the 30663 gas powered portable generator is no exception. This generator produces a clean an instant power which is safe for sensitive electronics and the power surge alternator which produces up to 25% more surge wattage can power multiple large appliances at the same time. The Briggs & Stratton 30663 uses a 2100 series OHV 420cc engine that can power a 7.5 gallon metal fuel tank for up to 9 hours on a full tank. This unit is fully portable and comes with sturdy wheels which are designed to travel over any terrain.

The 30663 has 4 x 120-volt outlets, 1 x 120/240-volt 30-amp outlet with circuit breaker protection. The generator also features a fuel gauge, an hour meter and a super low tone muffler which makes the machine quieter than most. The multi featured control panel has twist lock outlet and a circuit breaker protector. To start up there is a key electric start up and a remote choke, all in one central location for effortless starting. The 30663 is rated in accordance with PGMA and CSA standards. A 3 year limited warranty is offered with this product that covers defects in materials and workmanship.

Pros

  • Safe for electronics
  • 420cc OHV engine
  • 9 hours on a full tank
  • Circuit breaker protection
  • Electric start
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • Packaging & Transport damage

9. Powermate PM0601258, 12500 Running Watts/15625 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

The Powermate PM0601258 is powered by gas and has a 22 horsepower, Subaru V-twin engine and a 12,500 watt capacity which is enough to power up your whole house. The Powermate is a portable generator with a push-button start. It comes with an automatic shut down when it runs low on oil and a control panel with 6 power outlets which include 4 x 120V 20A GFCI protected outlets, 1 x 120/240V 50A outlet and 1 x 120V 30A twist lock outlet and circuit breaker protection. The large fuel tank fits up to 8 gallons of fuel which can run for up to 6 hours at 50% load.

The wheels are no-flat pneumatic with ball bearings, steel hubs and axle bushings and are made to go over any terrain. Powermate has been in this industry for over 40 years and all portable generators are designed to the highest standards. Their products are backed by the best warranty and they have 2000 service centers in the USA. Fuel consumption is reduced when the generator is idling and the unit comes with dual folding handles which makes it easy to transport. The generator is delivered with 2 x 1 quart bottles of oil and a 12V 34AH battery.

Pros

  • 22 Horsepower
  • Subaru V-twin engine
  • 12,500 watts
  • Push button start
  • Automatic shut down
  • Large Fuel Tank
  • No flat pneumatic wheels

Cons

  • Axle bushings too small

10. Briggs & Stratton 40303 15,000 Watt IntelliGen Natural Gas/Liquid Propane Powered Air Cooled Home Standby Generator

The Briggs & Stratton 40303 is standby generator which is powered by gas or liquid propane and has a 15,000 watt capacity. They are built with an automotive exhaust system and have acoustic foam dampeners which reduces the noise by at least 50%. This air cooled generator has advanced electronics which detects power failure automatically and starts the generator working even if you are away. The 40303 is permanently connected to natural gas or propane and needs to be installed by a professional. The generator is enclosed in a rust proof polymer with vents and lovers which makes it suitable to be installed outside.

This is a space saving design which is painted with the same paint used for motor cars for maximum durability. The Briggs & Stratton 40303 is a fully automatic generator which is part of the IntelliGEN series and is designed to give you many years of flawless and reliable service. This series guarantees half the fuel consumption and half the noise of other generators of this size. The Vanguard V-Twin Engine is a commercial grade air cooled engine which provides powerful, yet quiet performance. All these units have a Turn Key, an hour meter and an installation pad. All IntelliGEN Briggs & Stratton generators come with a 4 year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Vanguard V-Twin Engine
  • 15,000 watt capacity
  • Automotive exhaust system
  • Air cooled generator
  • Acoustic foam dampeners
  • Advanced electronics
  • Rust proof polymer
  • Installation pad
  • 4 year limited warranty

Cons

  • None