Standby Home Generator Buying Guide

Not familiar with this type of generator yet? Read through these facts and tips to decide whether this is the better alternative to a portable generator.

Standby Generators vs. Portable Generators

The difference is already quite clear from their names. A home standby generator is a stationary backup electrical supply while a portable generator can be moved.

It is possible to install a portable generator in a way that it starts automatically when power cuts out. However, many recommend against this because of fire hazards and the risk of a reverse current flow.

Getting a generator started can take quite some time and is a precise series of steps. So, a standby generator is the more user-friendly option.

Also, for commercial purposes the quick reaction of a standby generator is essential. In hospitals and power plants, for example, a power cut of only a few seconds can already prove disastrous.

Another big difference is the capacity of these generator types. A portable generator is rarely as powerful as home standby generator.

Finally, most home standby generators are directly connected to the natural gas supply of the building so that there is a constant flow of fuel at a more affordable price. This is rarely possible with portable generators since most run on either gasoline or diesel so the running costs are higher.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Standby Generators

  • Easy automatic start and automatically switches off when mains power supply returns
  • Higher capacity compared to other types of generators
  • Less frequent maintenance
  • Generally more quiet than a portable generator
  • Weather-resistant
  • Longer run time
  • Many models perform an automatic self-test
  • Lower running costs


  • More expensive compared to other types of generators
  • Maintenance tends to be more expensive, often requires professionals
  • Complicated installation requires professionals
  • Though more quiet than portable generators, still somewhat noisy
  • May affect your building permits and taxes

Standby Generator Buying Checklist

  • Power requirements: Which appliances do you want to keep running during a power outage and how many watts do you need for this?
  • State Laws on Stationary Generators: How will installing a permanent stationary generator affect your taxes, building code and environmental laws in your area?
  • Liquid Propane and Natural Gas Supply: Are your fuel sources compatible with the chosen generator?
  • Installation Pad: Does the model need one and if so, where will you place the concrete pad?
  • Service Centers: Are there physical service centers nearby and what is their availability?
  • Noise & Fumes: How noisy is the generator? How will the fumes spread? How do these noise levels and exhaust fumes affect my neighbors?
  • Budget: What is your cash budget? Is it worth it to buy the generator on credit or opt for the payment schemes that the manufacturer offers?
  • Accessories: Do you need to purchase any accessories like a warming kit, battery or transfer switch?

Final Thoughts

Getting a home standby generator is a good investment if you live in an area with frequent power cuts. They are also more suitable for longer operation so if the power cuts in your area tend to last several days then this is the safer generator option.

However, they are pricey machines so take into the account how much more they will cost compared to a smaller portable generator.

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