Updated: June 8, 2015

Standby Generator Reviews:

Finding the Right Standby Generator - A power outage can be fun. The whole family can gather round the fireplace, tell stories, and fall asleep listening to the snap and crackle of burning logs. See, it's good family fun! Unless you don't have a fireplace. Or you have a freezer full of food you need to keep frozen. Or it is 100 degrees outside - or 10 and air conditioning or heating is more than a luxury but a necessity for survival. Power outages can be fun - if they last for a few hours, and you only have one or two a year. In many areas of the country, however, outages are much more common, and during storms, the duration of an outage can be several days. Can you survive for days without power? You can if you have a good standby generator. These provide the backup power you need, but just as importantly, they provide you with the peace of mind you need to protect your family, your appliances, and your home during emergencies.
standby generator

What is a Standby Generator? - The job of a standby generator is to provide your home (or business or garage or whatever you need power for) with power in the event of an outage, storm, rolling blackout, or other emergency. Generators are not just for those in very rural areas or those who are "preparedness nuts." The fact is anyone can lose power, and it is becoming more common to have outages of longer durations. Unlike a portable generator, this one is stationary and provides electricity to your appliances, computers, medical devices, and anything else which you choose to power up. It can be a matter of convenience or a matter of safety and health; whatever your needs, make sure you choose the standby generator that has the juice to meet them.

How to Choose Your Standby Generator - The size of the generator refers not to its physical dimensions, but how much wattage it provides. So what size do you need? The first step is to decide which appliances you want to run in an outage. Some people want a "whole house" generator, which provides the power to fuel all of their appliances just as the electric grid does. These are obviously more expensive, so if you just want to run the essentials, figure out what those are. Add up the wattage and add startup wattage. This tool (http://www.gillettegenerators.com/sizing/sizing02.html) can help you determine the amount of watts you need. Size does matter, and choosing the correct size is more important than any other decision you'll make regarding your standby generator. Take the time to use the tool and get the correct size for your needs. You don't want to be underpowered during an outage, and you don't want to pay too much for your needs. Next, you'll have to choose your fuel. Gas is probably the most common fuel, but diesel standby generators have their diehard fans as well. Propane and natural gas are options, too. Each has advantages and drawbacks, and your choice of fuel contributes to the initial cost as well as the operating cost of your generator. This page (http://www.findgenerators.net/Choosing_The_Right_Generator.html) can help you sort out which fuel will be best for your needs. Besides size, this is one of the most important considerations. In addition to cost, think about the availability of fuel during an outage. Cost is a big factor in any decision. Standby generators that power only essential appliances can cost from $2100 to $4000; whole house generators can cost over $7500. While you can find cheaper models, you really want to look for durability and reliability. Cutting costs is always important, but here, keep in mind that you could be cutting safety during an outage. If budget is an issue, consider a portable generator. These cost less and can power essential circuits in an outage. Big names in the generator industry include Generac, Kohler, Briggs and Stratton, Onan, and Honda. These have excellent reputations for durability and quality and will keep you powered up in an outage. You can browse the best selling standby generators here.

Best Standby Generators:

Generac Guardian Series 5875 - This Generac standby generator is top of the line and is capable of providing up to 20,000 watts of power. It features hands-free operation, no fueling, no manual start, and no extension cords. Since it is powered by natural gas or liquid propane, it is fueled from that line and you do not have to manually refill it. It has clean, smooth True Power Technology for safe operation, patented Quiet-Test low speed exercise mode, 20 amp automatic transfer switch for whole house protection, and is CARB compliant. This is an excellent standby generator for anyone who wants easy, convenient, and reliable power. It costs about $4500. See all Generac standby generators here.

Briggs & Stratton 40301 - According to FindGenerators.net, Briggs and Stratton offers a full line of "practical and innovative" generators. The Briggs & Stratton 40301 offers up to 7000 watts of energy, as well as an automotive-style exhaust system, acoustic foam dampeners for 50 percent quieter operation, air-cooled, electronics to detect power outage and automatically start, 504cc Intek engine with permanent connection to natural gas or propane lines, space saving design, steel enclosure with automotive paint, and 3-year warranty. The Briggs and Stratton costs about $1900. View top rated Briggs & Stratton models here.

Kohler Residential Standby Generator - Another respected name, this Kohler generator features cleaner, safer power, exclusive PowerBoost technology for greater starting capability, 100 percent corrosion proof enclosure, 14kW of power, dual fuel mode (natural gas or liquid propane), weekly self-diagnostic testing, quiet operation, 100 amp indoor automatic transfer switch with 12 circuit load center, and 5-year or 2000-hour warranty. The Kohler restores power 2 to 3 times faster than competitors and was rated as the best brand in standby generators by a leading independent brand test. The Kohler costs $3900.

Installing Your Standby Generator:

When you get your standby generator, it is a good idea to have an electrician install it for you. While some retailers provide free installation, this is not at all the norm. It typically costs another $500 to $1000 to install the generator, which you should build into your budget. It is possible to DIY the installation, but you should only do this if you have experience working with electrical systems. For guidance, you can look for videos on YouTube, like this one which talks about the installation of a Generac Guardian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kWuRHegXuk). Make sure that if you do it yourself, your warranty will not be void. A standby generator may be expensive, but it is a terrific investment in your home, your family's safety, and your comfort during a power outage. Even when the power is on, you have the extra peace of mind you need to deal with emergencies..