In the event of emergency, which is best for your home? Choosing a standby or portable home generator

Home generators are highly valuable when disaster strikes or when you experience a power outage, but are standby generators or portable generators the best option for your home? When making the decision to purchase a generator, chances are good that you will look at electric generator costs and other factors to make a wise choice. So how do standby and portable generators stack up when compared side by side?


What do you expect from a generator? Standby generators are sometimes also referred to as whole home generators. That term also reveals their biggest benefit: the ability to run most things inside your home. Whereas a portable generator is great in a pinch for powering things like your lights or your computer, they don't have the level of power that a standby generator does.

If it is important to you to power the bulk of appliances in your home in the event that you lose connection from the power grid, a standby generator is your best bet. If you want a generator to get you through until power is restored, then a portable generator will suffice.

Portable home generator

Portable home generatorConvenience should also be considered when deciding between a standby and portable generator. Standby generators are hard-wired into your electrical system. When the generator senses that your power has gone off, it can be programmed to turn on automatically. You may be in the dark for 30 seconds or so before the generate kicks back on.

In contrast, a portable generator will likely be stored away in your utility shed. When the electricity goes off, you will probably need to go to the shed, get the generator out, and power it up with fuel that you may or may not have and then start it manually.

How much do you want to spend on an electric generator? Whole home generators can run from a few thousand up to ten thousand dollars or more. By comparison, portable generators in a minimalistic design can be found for $500 or less. That's a huge price gap.

Another consideration to help you decide whether you would best be served by a portable generator or a standby generator is smell, noise level and safety. The odor from running a portable generator powered by fuel can be quite noxious, and if you operate it within close proximity to your home, you risk exposure to carbon monoxide.

Standby generator

Standby generatorThis type of generator can also be annoyingly loud. The standby generator, on the other hand, is installed safely away from your home - usually near your central air unit - and operates quietly.

Although nearly anyone can understand how to use a portable generator, standby generators require professional installation. QualitySmith can help you find the best HVAC professionals in your area to install your standby generator before the next power outage hits if you decide to go with this type of generator.

Electric generator costs are usually a deciding factor when purchasing home generators. Standby generators have definite pluses if you are willing to be out a lot of money. Portable generators, although loud, smelly and a hassle to use, meet the short-term need many people have for powering their homes.