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whole house generator

5 Best Whole House Generator Review – 2020 Updated

Have you been searching for a source of backup energy? If you are looking for a generator, you are on just the right track. These are powerhouses that will provide quick, reliable backup energy in power outages, storms, or the like. The best of them will come with a practical transfer switch, as well as allow you to set the priority.  Learn what else to look for, and take a look at 5 of the best whole house generators out there below!

In a hurry and want to see our Editor’s choice? Then click here to see the latest prices on Amazon ↗️

Here’s a look at the 5 we reviewed

Generac 70432 Home Standby Generator Guardian...
5-Year limited Warranty for automatic standby generators.
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby...
20,000-watt air-cooled generator automatically starts up when the power goes out; Includes 100 amp 16-circuit automatic transfer...
Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator...
Includes 200 amp automatic transfer switch with flexible indoor/outdoor installation; Comprehensive 5 year parts, labor, and...
Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator 16/16 kw...
5-year limited warranty for automatic standby generators

Last update on 2020-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What To Look For when purchasing

Power

Next to quality, what should the best whole house generators have? Power. And lots of it! After all, the purpose of these is to provide reliable energy, in order to power home appliances, power tools, and more. The greater the power, the more that you can run at a time. Whole house generator power is rated by wattage (AKA watts).

Pro tip: the best whole house generator will have a good balance of power (wattage), and a lower noise level (dB). Some of the loudest are also the most powerful. This is something you will want to be aware of, and watch out for.

To learn how much power you need. Check out our wattage calculator.

Noise Level

Why does the noise level matter? There are a couple of reasons. First off, a noisy generator is simply unpleasant to listen to. One with a lower noise level will help retain an environment that is quiet and peaceful at home. 

Secondly, in some places, the generator may not exceed a certain decibel level. A campground, for example. If you intend to take one camping, this is definitely something that you will want to be aware of! Most campgrounds have a strict requirement that your noise emission does not exceed 60Db. You would probably not want much more noise than this in your home, either.

Run Time

The runtime of a generator will depend on the quality, the wattage, the fuel-efficiency, the load percentage, and the fuel. Those with a higher wattage will typically also run longer. The best will also get the best use out of fuel, for a greater runtime per full tank. 

Some fuels combust more quickly than others, most notably natural gas, and propane. For the maximum runtime, look for a powerful generator that runs on an alternative like gasoline or diesel. 

A generator should state its runtime according to a specific load percentage, as a guide. This will give you a starting point to work from! Knowing your runtime (and all of the facets that will affect this) is important when it comes to planning a workday, trip, or emergency backup in your home. This will make sure that you don’t prematurely run out of power.

Here is how a generator works

Fuel

The fuel source of your generator is one of the most important aspects you will want to consider. This will affect not only its efficiency and noise level but how available your fuel source is as well.

Gasoline 

Gasoline is a great choice if you are looking for affordable fuel. This is the same fuel that many of us fuel our cars up with every day. You can also get gasoline almost anywhere! Nearly every town will have a gas station or a few. 

The tradeoff? Gasoline has a short shelf life of only 2-3 months, making it hard to store. Should gasoline become temporarily unavailable in the event of a power outage or the like, you will be out of luck. Gasoline creates emissions, so these are not particularly eco-friendly. They are known to have an average-to-high noise level. 

Propane

Propane is a fuel that can be stored long-term in a tank. In fact, propane can last years. This makes for some seriously reliable backup in case of an emergency. Propane is also known to combust quietly, making for generators with a lower noise level. 

Propane generators also create fewer emissions compared to gasoline or diesel, so they are an option that is more eco-friendly. The biggest downside of propane is that it is not the most efficient, and it is a more expensive fuel as well. 

A propane generator will sometimes also need its own, separate propane tank. This can create some additional weight and bulk. Or, you can connect them to the natural gas and LP (liquid propane) fuel source in your home directly.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is fairly quiet-burning fuel. Its emissions are also relatively low. For camping and RV, this can make natural gas-fueled generators ideal. Or, conveniently, you can connect one of these to the preexisting natural gas line in your home. What else do you need to know? Compared to diesel and gasoline, natural gas is rather expensive. 

home backup generator

Diesel 

As with gasoline, you can easily get diesel at your local gas station. Diesel is a little pricier than the gasoline alternative. The payoff is that diesel is also more efficient… in fact, diesel is said to be the most efficient generator fuel out there! So, what’s the downside? 

Well, diesel generators tend to make a bit of noise. If you are looking for a particularly quiet generator, they may not be ideal. This is not always the case, however… just something to be aware of. 

Like gasoline, you cannot store diesel for long (6 months, tops). However, you can store it a few months longer than you could gasoline (2-3 months on average).

Solar Panel

Some generators are solar-powered only or come with an additional solar panel. You can charge these up wherever you are, as long as there are several hours of full sun. A solar-powered generator will take up to 24 hours to charge on average. It may not be the fastest source of power, but it is reliable. Many will opt for fuel-powered generators that have solar panels as well.

Dual Fuel

Some generators are dual fuel, which means that they will take two kinds of fuel. This will effectively increase the number of spots where you can refuel, and offer you invaluable flexibility.

Comparisons

Make & Model
Editors Pick
Generac 70422
Natural Gas
Champion 100294
Low Price
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16
Budget Option
Briggs & Stratton 40531
Ready to go option
Generac 70361
Image
Generac 70432 Home Standby Generator Guardian...
Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby...
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby...
Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator...
Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator 16/16 kw...
Kw
22/19.5kW
14-kilowatt
18 - Kilowats
12 - Kilowats
16 - Kilowats
Power Source
LP or natural gas
Natural gas
Propane-powered
Dual Fuel
Gas Powered
Size
48 x 25 x 29 inches
50.00 x 30.10 x 40.20 inches
48.00 x 26.20 x 29.00 inches
39.00 x 33.50 x 44.80 inches
48.00 x 25.00 x 29.00 inches
Weight
476 pounds
493.90 lbs
560.00 lbs
404.00 lbs
458.00 lbs
Noise Level
62 dba noise level
63 dba noise level
64 dba noise level
62 dba noise level
63 dba noise level
Extra Features
Mobile Phone Monitoring
-
100% corrosion-proof enclosure
-
Mobile Monitoring
Warranty
5 Year Warranty
10-year limited and FREE lifetime technical support.
5 Year Warranty
5 Year warranty
5 Year warranty
Transfer switch included?
Transfer Switch Not Included
Yes
100 Amp Transfer Switch
200 amp automatic transfer switch
100 amp switch
Editors Pick
Make & Model
Generac 70422
Image
Generac 70432 Home Standby Generator Guardian...
Kw
22/19.5kW
Power Source
LP or natural gas
Size
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Weight
476 pounds
Noise Level
62 dba noise level
Extra Features
Mobile Phone Monitoring
Warranty
5 Year Warranty
Transfer switch included?
Transfer Switch Not Included
Latest Price
Natural Gas
Make & Model
Champion 100294
Image
Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby...
Kw
14-kilowatt
Power Source
Natural gas
Size
50.00 x 30.10 x 40.20 inches
Weight
493.90 lbs
Noise Level
63 dba noise level
Extra Features
-
Warranty
10-year limited and FREE lifetime technical support.
Transfer switch included?
Yes
Latest Price
Low Price
Make & Model
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16
Image
Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby...
Kw
18 - Kilowats
Power Source
Propane-powered
Size
48.00 x 26.20 x 29.00 inches
Weight
560.00 lbs
Noise Level
64 dba noise level
Extra Features
100% corrosion-proof enclosure
Warranty
5 Year Warranty
Transfer switch included?
100 Amp Transfer Switch
Latest Price
Budget Option
Make & Model
Briggs & Stratton 40531
Image
Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator...
Kw
12 - Kilowats
Power Source
Dual Fuel
Size
39.00 x 33.50 x 44.80 inches
Weight
404.00 lbs
Noise Level
62 dba noise level
Extra Features
-
Warranty
5 Year warranty
Transfer switch included?
200 amp automatic transfer switch
Latest Price
Ready to go option
Make & Model
Generac 70361
Image
Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator 16/16 kw...
Kw
16 - Kilowats
Power Source
Gas Powered
Size
48.00 x 25.00 x 29.00 inches
Weight
458.00 lbs
Noise Level
63 dba noise level
Extra Features
Mobile Monitoring
Warranty
5 Year warranty
Transfer switch included?
100 amp switch
Latest Price

Last update on 2020-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Portability

Portability may be very important to you when it comes to your generator… or, not as much. This depends on what you intend to use it for.  Generators for homes do not generally need to be very portable, as there is little need to move them.  These are called home standby generators, and what they sacrifice in portability makes them the best whole house generators out there.

Portable generators are lightweight and much easier to move and carry. They are often battery-powered, or else they run on the standard fuels (gasoline, diesel, etc.).

Compared to portable generators, standby generators weigh more, and lack portability features… but they are also much more powerful. In a power outage, the best standby generators are capable of providing tons of energy. 

Many will invest in both standby generators, for their home, and portable generators, for on-the-go. This is all you need, for power wherever you are.

Conventional vs Inverter 

Some generators draw from the fuel tank alone. The result is a current that is fast and powerful. For big tasks, like running power tools, jumping a car, and so on, this can be ideal. These generators are what are called conventional

Inverter generators, on the other hand, offer an electric current that is more refined and complex. This is because they draw from an adapter and inverter as well. This filters the current, creating one with lower harmonic distortion for devices that are sensitive. For example, your tablet, laptop, or cell.

So, when picking between a conventional or an inverter generator, consider what you want to power. Bigger gear? Or devices that are smaller and more delicate? Or both? There’s your answer.

home backup power

What You Can Use Them For

Emergency Backup In The Home

First and foremost, standby generators are used to provide backup energy in the home. The best standby generators will power lights, heating… you name it. Just set the most key appliances to priority.  This way, your standby generator will focus on running these, and also run other, less important appliances once it can spare the energy.

This is the beauty of innovation. The best whole house generators will make sure that you have not only the power for necessities, like lights and heat but also luxuries, like TV. 

With today’s modern technology, there is no reason you have to sit out a storm or flood in the dark. Knowing that you can depend on your whole house generator to provide you power no matter what can be a real source of relief!

Just make sure you are stocked up on fuel, and that you maintain your generator properly, so it is ready to do its work.

Outdoor Events and The Like

If you ever host parties, receptions, or other events, you may find whole house generators or portable generators to be incredibly handy. This will eliminate the need for excessive extension cords, as you will have readily-accessible energy all in one place. Namely, your backyard. Run karaoke, lights, music… with your own standby generator, you can create the perfect event atmosphere, easily.

Camping and RV

If you have a portable generator, you can use it for camping and RV. These convenient little powerhouses can be taken just about anywhere. They are much like normal generators, except smaller, less powerful, and, of course, easier to carry. Many opt for a whole house generator, for backup in the home, as well as a separate portable generator, for camping and RV.

A great small portable generator is the Honda Eu2200i check it out on Amazon here.

Agriculture and Other Work

A standby generator can be quite useful at a construction site, or for any sort of outdoor work. In fact, generators are largely used for agricultural purposes as well. Nowadays, there are carefully-timed sprinklers and feeders to power. Even a short while without power can potentially do a lot of harm. With a standby generator, you simply will not have this worry!

How To Maintain Your Whole House Generator

  • Run your whole house generator on fresh fuel only.  Did you know that some fuels will degrade? Gasoline and diesel will last half a year or less. In fact, you will want to replace gasoline after it has become a few months old. Otherwise, the degraded fuel simply will not work and can even do costly harm to your generator. To avoid this? Make sure to run your whole house generator on fresh fuel only.
  • Promptly change the generator oil. Oil is super important to any type of machinery. This is what lubricates the parts, removing the friction and allowing them to function smoothly. Should you neglect to change your generator oil, it will have trouble operating and will ultimately break! Some generators come with a handy oil gauge, to help you keep track. When it comes to prolonging the longevity of your invaluable generator, changing the oil frequently, and promptly, is key.
  • Secure your whole house generator.  Generators are some truly useful and valuable pieces of equipment, and could potentially catch the eye of a thief. If your generator is portable, you will want to secure it yourself. This will not be necessary if it is a standby generator with a permanent install. To secure a portable generator, use a sturdy chain and lock, and a cover for good measure.
  • Keep the battery charged at least partially.  Did you know that letting a battery get too low will actually cause it to wear out? Even if you recharge it fully, it will not hold its charge quite as well. This will become noticeable over time. This goes not only for generator batteries but for every battery! To keep your generator battery in tip-top shape, give it frequent recharge, even when you are not going to use it anytime soon.
  • Filter your fuel (optional). Some folk will even go so far as to filter their whole house generator fuel. Why? In theory, it will refine its function all-the-more.
  • Is your generator weather-proof?  If you have a generator, it probably has an outdoor install. In this case, it should be weather-proof. If your generator is not weather-proof already, you must do it yourself. This is something you may wish to be sure of.
power outage
No one likes a power outage. A whole home generator will provide instant backup power

Safe Generator Use

Whole house generators are powerful pieces of technology. When using one, you will want to use due care. Fortunately, it is simple to use a generator safely, with a little know-how.

First off, avoid running your generator on low oil. Oil is what keeps the gears lubricated so that they do not wear each other down or get stuck. Without this, your generator may overheat, which can prove a risk.  While some generators have an automatic low-oil shutoff, running on low oil is still bad for your generator.

Next, do not overload your generator. Each generator should clearly state the wattage it offers… exceed this, and your generator may overheat, short-circuit, and break.

Before fueling your generator, changing the oil, etc., make sure it is shut off. Do not run your generator in wet conditions unless it is water-proof. Also, run your generator somewhere with plenty of ventilation, as the emissions from the engine are, unsurprisingly, harmful to breathe in.


Top 5 Whole House Generators

1. Generac 70432

Latest Prices on Amazon ↗️

This Generac home generator was specially designed to provide backup power, in case of a power outage or emergency.  The best-of-the-best whole house generator offers not just energy, but also Wifi! In our modern age, backup Wifi can be a real lifesaver. Stay in contact with friends,  and keep up on work or school. The Generac 70432 Home Standby Generator Guardian Series will have your back.

You can even monitor your real-time whole house generator status, with a mobile link.

This generator has a hardy aluminum housing, to protect it from the elements, bumps, and more. What does it run on? The LP (liquid propane) or natural gas from your home. You won’t ever have to go to the store to refuel.

In the case of a power outage, this whole house generator will start up automatically.

Last but certainly not least, you may set the priority of what this whole house generator will power!

What we liked

  • Backup Wifi
  • Durable
  • Starts automatically 10 seconds after loss of power
  • Allows you to set your appliance priority
  • User-friendly
  • Conveniently connects to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home

❌ What we didn’t like

  • The price, but you get what you pay for!

See more customer reviews on Amazon ↗️


2) Champion 100294 Generator

Latest prices on Amazon ↗️

This whole house generator is both ultra-durable and super reliable, too! In fact, the ultra hardy generator can work in any weather, from -22 to 104F. This means that no matter the temperature (within reason), you will not have to go without backup power… no warming kit necessary! 

The Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator provides 12,000 watts of continuous power when fueled by natural gas, and a whopping 14, 000 watts when using propane as fuel.

This whole house generator will divide your household appliances into managed, or vital. The managed appliances are those that will be removed, should the power be more needed elsewhere (for the appliances that are marked as vital). 

All of this, with a muffler that makes for a quiet, residential-friendly 64dB noise level.

✅ What we liked

  • Quiet function
  • Allows you to set appliance priority
  • Comes with a transfer switch
  • Weather-proof and durable
  • Conveniently connects to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home
  • User-friendly
  • Limited warranty

❌ What we didn’t like

  • We found it a bit tricky to change the oil
  • Be prepare for costly plumbing and electrical contracting.

Read more customer reviews on Amazon ↗️


3) Kohler Air-Cooled Generator

Latest prices on Amazon ↗️

The Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator is a whole house generator with 20,000 watts, designed for backup in an emergency. Say you are out of the house, or asleep in bed. The power goes out, and you’re not there to turn your generator on. Not to worry, because this whole house generator will turn on automatically!

In just 10 seconds, your generator will come humming to life, to provide precious backup energy. With a generator for home use, you can keep your house warm, full of light, and dry… no matter the time, or the weather!

The Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator is built for outdoor-only install. As a matter of fact, this whole house generator has an enclosure that is completely corrosion-proof. You can even use it by the seaside, and it will not wear away.

This is one of the best whole house generators when it comes to powering the true necessities, your sump pump, your heater or air conditioning, even your fridge and oven… all at once!

✅ What we liked

  • 20,000 watts of power
  • Ultra-durable and weatherproof
  • Starts automatically
  • Comes with a transfer switch
  • Air-cooled engine
  • Low decibel level
  • User friendly
  • Conveniently connects to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home
  • Limited warranty

❌ What we didn’t like

  • We found changing the oil to be a little tricky
  • Delivery times are often delayed

Read more customer reviews on Amazon ↗️


4 Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW

Latest prices on Amazon ↗️

The Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator is an ultra-powerful whole house generator, offering an impressive 12 kW. As you can imagine, many of the most powerful generators are also quite large… not to mention noisy. This home standby generator is up to 40% smaller than comparable generators with similar power, and 60% quieter!

This alone makes the Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator one of the best whole house generator options out there. For homes up to 5,500 feet (with up to a four-ton air conditioner), this generator can provide precious backup power. This means that you will always have your electrical necessities and even luxuries, in power outages, storms, or the like.

One of the most noteworthy features of the Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator is how close you can keep it to your home: 16 inches, to be exact, whereas most generators must be no less than 37.” This is very nice if you are looking to save some space, or retain your curb appeal.

Finally, as with all of the best whole house generator options out there, the Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby Generator will allow you to set appliance priority. Put most of the power toward the most important appliances first (like the sump pump or heating, for example).

✅ What we liked

  • Small for its power
  • Quiet for its power
  • Includes 200 amp automatic transfer switch
  • Turns on automatically
  • Allows you to set appliance priority
  • Can be kept exceptionally close to your home
  • Conveniently connects to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home
  • Sleek modern design
  • Limited warranty

❌ What we didn’t like

  • Has been said to use a lot of oil compared to some
  • Can backfire

Read more customer reviews on Amazon ↗️


5 Generac 70361 Generator

Latest Prices on Amazon ↗️

The Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator will back up not only your power but also your Wifi! Thanks to innovation, there is no need to sacrifice this modern luxury.

Along with this, the Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator has the raw power to charge enormous appliances, like your sump pump or AC, as well as the refinement to safely power even the smallest, most sensitive devices, like your laptop or cell. In fact, the harmonic distortion of this remarkable whole house generator is 5% or below.

The best whole house generator should come with an automatic transfer switch, and the Generac 70361 Home Standby Generator is no exception! These standby generators include a 100 AMP automatic transfer switch, which can be installed outdoor or indoor. 

This in home generator connects directly to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home. This means that you won’t have to make any last-minute trips to refuel! Your generator will be ready to go directly after install.  All of this, with a Generac G-Force engine, known for its ease-of-maintenance and reliability.

✅ What we liked

  • Ultra-durable
  • Provides Wifi as well as power
  • Low harmonic distortion, for devices that are sensitive
  • Automatic transfer switch
  • Conveniently connects to the preexisting natural gas or LP (liquid propane) line in your home
  • Limited warranty
  • User-friendly

❌ What we didn’t like

  • It could have been quieter

Read more customer reviews on Amazon ↗️


What Is The Difference Between A Generator and A Power bank?

A generator runs on combustible fuel, such as gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or LP (liquid propane). A power bank, on the other hand, runs on a battery. Power banks are also designed to be portable, whereas many generators are for permanent install.

You recharge power banks instead of refueling them. This makes them a more eco-friendly, yet considerably less powerful, alternative. Power banks cannot be used as power outage backup for the entire home, but they can provide quick-and-ready energy for a few smaller devices, like your cell. Many will get one of each: a whole house generator, and a power bank.

Final thoughts

As you can see, home generators can prove truly invaluable. In the case of a power outage, or another emergency, these can be a real lifesaver.  The best whole house standby generators will enhance your very quality of life. Enjoy peace of mind, no matter the weather.  Stay warm, comfortable, and entertained, with these sources of reliable backup energy.

All the article on Oofgrid offer help and practical advice for using and purchasing a portable generator. However, We are enthusiasts and not qualified electricians. Always seek professional advice when working with electrical or Petrol appliances.