Power outages are becoming more and more common as the American power grid becomes less reliable. Storms are also a big danger as they can easily knock out power lines and leave you stranded and powerless, especially when the winter Arctic winds come. If the power gets knocked out you could easily be sat with no air con in the middle of summer while hundreds of dollars worth of food is going off in your fridge.
A standby, whole house generator is essential to make power outages cheaper and much less boring. Without any electricity your entire life could stop as all electrical appliances such as TVs and computers will no longer work. A whole house generator will switch on automatically when there is a power cut and allow you to keep living as you always would, with heating and cooked food.
- Top 10 Whole House Generators
- How to Choose the Best Whole House Generator
- Whole House Generator Reviews
- 1. Generac Protector Series Diesel Standby Generator – 50 kW, 120/208 Volts, 3-Phase, Model# RD05034GDSE
- 2. Generac 7030 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 16 Circuit 100 Amp Transfer Switch
- 3. Briggs & Stratton 40532 12kW Standby Generator with 100 Amp, 16 Circuit Transfer Switch
- 4. Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with Dual 200 Amp/Split 400 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch
- 5. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt
- 6. Champion Power Equipment 100179 12.5 kW Home Standby Generator with ATS100 Outdoor Rated Automatic Transfer Switch (99 Amp, NEMA 3R)
- 7. Champion Power Equipment 100174 8.5 kW Home Standby Generator with ATS50 Indoor Rated Automatic Transfer Switch (50 Amp, NEMA 1)
- 8. Honeywell 17 kW Automatic Standby Generator
- 9. Kohler 20 kW 83 Amp 120/240 Single Phase Natural Gas and Propane Double Fuel Standby Generator
- 10. Briggs & Stratton 76180 25kW Standby Generator
- Our Pick
- Briggs & Stratton 40396
Top 10 Whole House Generators
How to Choose the Best Whole House Generator
Whether you have had a standby generator in the past and it has broken or you are moving house, or if you are looking for your first one, this list will guide you towards the perfect generator for you with important things to look out for and reviews of the ten best whole house generators.
The power of your generator is one of the most important considerations when choosing which one to get. Small houses don’t often require big generators but it does depend on the number of appliances it will be used to power and their own power requirements. For a smaller home like a small bungalow or cottage a generator with wattage of around 5,000 watts might be better than a larger one. For larger homes, generators with larger wattages than 20,000 watts may be necessary if you don’t want to have to turn down the AC and live without small things like microwaveable popcorn. Bigger generators can even run very large homes smoothly without disrupting your life.
The downside to bigger generators and running everything in your house, especially in a large house, is that you will require a lot more fuel to run it. The more power you use the more fuel you will need. As a result, the chances are that you will restrict your power usage, even if you love technology, but it’s a good idea to get a generator that can definitely power your whole house if there is an emergency.
To determine how powerful a generator you would need you should add up the power requirements, in watts, of all the electrical appliances in your house, this includes fridges, computers and microwaves. If the device has a motor then you should use the start-up wattage in your calculations. If the power displayed is in Amperes simply multiply the number by 120 to convert it into watts. For extra safety, once you have added up the power requirements of all the devices you want powered by the generator, you should add a bit more, usually about 10% or so, to make sure the standby generator can definitely power your house effectively.
Portable generators are often very noisy, running constantly at a similar level to that of a loud lawn mower. Whole house, standby generators are often slightly less noisy as they are insulated and more efficient. If your generator will be installed a good distance away from your living area then the noise would be less of an issue, but if it will be very close then you should consider going for a much quieter one to make it easier to live with.
A downside of standby generators is that they are permanently installed, which means they require professional labour to install. A professional electrician should be hired to install the transfer switch and hook it up to the circuits while plumbers and technicians will be required to connect it to fuel lines. Contractors may also be needed to unload and move the generator and pour the concrete slab for it. These extra labour costs can be quite expensive but in the long run a standby generator can be cheaper, more effective and last a lot longer than a portable one.
The type of fuel that the generator uses is of vital importance. The most common options are propane, natural gas and diesel. The cost and availability of the fuel should be considered. For homes with liquid propane and natural gas lines it may be easier to get a generator that runs on these rather than a diesel generator that requires manual filling. Diesel-fuelled generators tend to be bigger, however, and large generators are usually more efficient on diesel, so take the size of the generator required into account when considering fuel type.
Noise isn’t the only consideration when you are deciding where to place your standby generator. The generator should always be placed somewhere relatively high up so that water cannot easily run into it. Accessibility should also be thought of as it will require maintenance and repair. If it is to be outside, there are requirements for the minimum distance it can be from combustible walls and doorways. Indoor placements need ventilation, fuel supply, exhaust ducting and proximity to combustible walls to be considered. In general it should be placed close to the transfer switch and the fuel supply for added ease.
If the generator is to be placed outdoors it will require some form of enclosure. Most generators come with their own enclosure however these are not always soundproof enough. Some places have strict requirements about the possible noise level of the generator when close to other properties. As a result, different enclosures may need to be built to ensure that these restrictions are met.
Just like a car, generators require maintenance to ensure their smooth and effective running in the long term. It is vital, however, not to neglect your generator for a long time just because you haven’t needed it for a while, else it will fail just when you need it. Whether you plan to do it yourself or add a maintenance program it is an important consideration.
Whole House Generator Reviews
1. Generac Protector Series Diesel Standby Generator – 50 kW, 120/208 Volts, 3-Phase, Model# RD05034GDSE
The Generac Protecter Series diesel Standby Generator, model RD05034GDSE is a large scale whole house motor capable of powering very big houses with high energy requirements. With 50kW this generator provides a huge amount of energy making it perfect for large houses. In the event of a power cut this generator could easily run any size house very smoothly even when using lots of electrical appliances and devices.
It comes with a number of preconfigured settings and code-driven accessories which will comply with any required local codes. At only 70 decibels it is a very quiet generator for its size and it has a leak sensor to prevent damages. It also comes with an alarm system which will automatically shut down the generator if need be. It is a very expensive model however it is ideal for large-scale residential use. Diesel tank means manual filling but a 60 gallon tank will very rarely require refilling within a single power cut.
- Whopping 50kW output
- Preconfigured options
- Leak sensor
- Alarm and automatic shutdown
- Very expensive
- Battery and transfer switch not included
2. Generac 7030 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 16 Circuit 100 Amp Transfer Switch
The Generac 7030 Guardian Series is a small standby generator, with an output of only up to 9kW, however it is still ideal for a smaller home. A cottage or a small house would benefit from this size generator as it would provide just about the right amount of energy. Running on liquid propane or natural gas (whichever existing supply you connect it to) means you never have to refill it and it kicks in immediately when there is a power cut.
You can power either an entire house or just certain circuits and appliances with this whole house generator as it has a 16 circuit transfer switch. Generac have also put a lot of innovation into making installation as cheap and easy as possible, reducing extra costs associated with a permanent standby generator. Removable door panels on the unit itself and simplified wiring techniques save a lot of time. It also has its own base pad that requires little ground preparation.
- Easy installation
- Less than 5% harmonic distortion
- 16 circuit, 100A transfer switch
- Runs on LP or natural gas
- Mobile link
- Small power output of 9kW
- Quite loud for its size at 66db
3. Briggs & Stratton 40532 12kW Standby Generator with 100 Amp, 16 Circuit Transfer Switch
The Briggs and Stratton 40532 is a moderate-sized standby generator with a power output of 12kW. Thanks to inventive new technology called ‘symphony II power management’, the lower output generator is still capable of protecting and running quite a large house. The 100A transfer switch can manage 2 air conditioning units while still powering the rest of the house and there is a 5 year parts and labour warranty.
Thanks to its compliancy with the National Fire Protection Agency 37 standard it can be placed just 18” from the house which makes it perfect for a residence with less land. The generator has also been designed so that it can still work effectively in areas with low natural gas pressure.
- Affordable price
- Symphony II power management
- 5 year warranty
- Complies with NFPA 37
- Not enough power for bigger houses
4. Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with Dual 200 Amp/Split 400 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch
If you have quite a large house and get frequent power outages then a great contender for the ideal generator for you is the Briggs and Stratton 40396 20kW standby generator. Its efficiency and the symphony II power management system make it effective at managing very large houses with two major air conditioning systems and lots of household, electrical appliances. Thanks to rigorous testing against National Fire Protection Agency standards, this generator can be placed as close as 18” from your house.
Specially treated, galvanised steel housing means it is rust resistant and, just like a car’s bodywork, will last for years against chips and abrasions. Unique airflow technology encased within this generator makes it quieter than most portable generators so it is friendly both to your own living and that of your neighbours. It is also useable in areas with low natural gas pressures.
- 20kW output
- Fantastic quality
- Dual 200/400 A transfer switch
- Works at low gas pressures
- 5-year warranty
- Quite loud
5. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt
Kohler is a well-regarded brand with a large share of the power market, and for good reason. Kohler is used all over the country in homes and businesses. If a power outage occurs, be it due to a storm or any other reason, this generator will start up within 10 seconds and restore precious power to your house. With a 20kW output it can power a large house with lots of big devices and appliances. The 200A transfer switch is service entrance rated and the corrosion-proof housing for the generator means the unit can withstand even the harshest of weather situations.
With less than 5% harmonic distortion and ±1% voltage regulation, all your sensitive electronic equipment will be perfectly safe for use while the generator is running.
- Excellent durability
- Low harmonic distortion
- 10 second start time
- 200A transfer switch
6. Champion Power Equipment 100179 12.5 kW Home Standby Generator with ATS100 Outdoor Rated Automatic Transfer Switch (99 Amp, NEMA 3R)
The Champion Power 100179 standby generator is a great solution to a power outage for any medium sized house. With 12.5kW of power working on either liquid propane or natural gas you will get seamless 24/7 electrical power to run your house. Designed to work in all weathers this generator can start in sub-zero temperatures down to -22°F.
Innovative gull-wing style doors allow for added ease when servicing and installing the unit. The unit also has a low tone muffler and sound dampeners in the lining to make it as quiet and neighbour-friendly as possible. It also comes with a 10 year limited warranty.
- 10 year warranty
- Great value for money
- Sub-zero start
- Easy access
- Low amp transfer switch
7. Champion Power Equipment 100174 8.5 kW Home Standby Generator with ATS50 Indoor Rated Automatic Transfer Switch (50 Amp, NEMA 1)
The 100174 8.5kW home standby generator by Champion Power is a smaller version of the 20kW home generator. With all the same innovative features it has sub-zero starting capability and gull-wing doors for easy access and service. Dampeners and mufflers also work to reduce the noise of the unit. This generator is much better suited to smaller houses and cottages with less electrical demand. Nevertheless it offers the same high quality standard and the 10 year limited warranty applies as well.
- Sub-zero starting capability
- Very affordable
- Noise muffling
- Easy access
- Only 8.5kW so unsuitable for large houses
8. Honeywell 17 kW Automatic Standby Generator
The Honeywell 17kW automatic standby generator is a whole house generator ideal for a mid-sized house and average electrical demand. A 200A service-rated transfer switch allows a heavy load, capable of powering AC units and other household essentials. Its sleek design will look great in any house and its vents will ensure it stays cool and efficient.
- Good quality
- Sleek design
- Quite expensive
9. Kohler 20 kW 83 Amp 120/240 Single Phase Natural Gas and Propane Double Fuel Standby Generator
This 20kW standby generator works on both natural gas and propane so regardless of which type of fuel lines your house stands upon it will work efficiently and effectively without undue wear. For easy and cheap installation the ceramic base it comes with removes the requirement of a concrete base to be put in. It is EPA compliant and is a 120/240 V single phase generator.
Emitting 20,000 watts of power this generator can be used in almost any large house without a huge electrical load. If you need a backup generator for a large house for when the grid goes down or the storms hit then this unit could well be the best option for you.
- Good value
- Ceramic base
- Cheap installation
- Only 83A transfer switch
10. Briggs & Stratton 76180 25kW Standby Generator
This Briggs and Stratton standby generator is designed for big houses and demanding jobs with a powerful vanguard engine. The liquid cooled engine means there is a lot less wear over time to the unit and you can expect long-term dependability. The corrosion-resistant enclosure also helps to prolong the lifetime of the unit. This generator also works on both propane and natural gas at low pressures so there is little worry about whether it will work where you live; so long as you have gas lines it will work.
Symphony II power management means it can handle even more electrical demand than most 25kW generators. The 76180 also comes with a 5 year warranty on parts, labour and travel.
- High power, 25kw
- Liquid-cooled engine
- Corrosion-resistant housing
- Works with low-pressure gas
- Very expensive