Best Standby Generator Reviews

Updated October 29, 2020

It’s definitely inconvenient when you suddenly experience a power outage, especially at a time when you’re being encouraged to stay in and work from home. It can be a much bigger problem if outages happen during the summer when it can get scorching hot and you rely heavier on your indoor air conditioners, or during wintertime when heating is just as important. In these cases, having a top-rated home generator will help make your home more resilient to power interruptions.

Choosing the best standby generator for home use depends on several factors, including the size of your home, the types of appliances that you have, the space available in your backyard where you’ll be placing the generator, and the type of fuel available in your area. Below, our standby generators’ review can help you decide which option to go with.

Best Standby Generators

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1 Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator Champion 100294 Standby Generator
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2 Champion 8.5-kW Home Standby Generator with 50-Amp Indoor-Rated Automatic Transfer Switch Champion 8.5-kW Standby Generator
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3 Generac 7033 Guardian Series 11kW_10kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch (not CUL) Generac 7033 Standby Generator
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4 Generac 6998 Guardian Series 7.5kW_6kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 8 Circuit 50 Amp Transfer Switch
Best Overall
Generac 6998 Standby Generator
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5
Best For Low Budgets
5Yamaha EF2600 Standby Generator
Yamaha EF2600, 2300 Running Watts_2600 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator
Best For Low Budgets
Yamaha EF2600 Standby Generator
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6
Best For Higher Budgets
6Generac 7039 Standby Generator
Generac 7039 Guardian Series 20kW_18kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch (not CUL)
Best For Higher Budgets
Generac 7039 Standby Generator
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1. Champion 100294 Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Low noise levels at 63 dBA
  • All-weather reliability 
  • High generator capacity
  • Runs on both propane and natural gas

The Champion 100294 comes with an output of 14,000 watts of power when using propane gas and 12,500 watts when used with natural gas. It’s equipped with an automatic transfer switch for seamless starts in the event of a power outage. This model is ideal for small- to medium-sized households.

Compared to others with similar output, this unit comes in a slightly less bulky package and has a more modern, subdued design that should be perfect if you’re not keen on industrial-looking home standby generators on your lawn. It connects directly to your gas lines, so there’s no need to constantly refuel it every now and then.

Apart from its best-in-class sound dampening thanks to a uniquely designed muffler system, it also offers up to 58.3 amps of power, which is enough to manage 8 separate circuits for high-demand appliances such as air conditioning or heating systems. The unit directly manages these circuits and automatically shuts them off based on pre-set priorities to avoid overloading and possible damage.

Specifications

Size:
50 x 30.1 x 40.2 inches
Voltage:
120 volts
Wattage:
14,000 watts
Noise Level:
63 dBA
Output:
58.3amps @ 240V (Propane), 52.1amps @ 240V (NG)
Power Source:
Propane or Natural Gas

Pros

  • Compact, modern design
  • Quietest-in-class low noise operation
  • Automatic load management
  • Almost seamless auto-start

Cons

  • Might not be suitable for bigger homes

2. Champion 8.5-kW Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Low noise levels at 59.5 dBA
  • All-weather reliability 
  • Runs on both propane and natural gas
  • 10-year limited warranty

The Champion 8.5-kW has a 50-amp output unit, which is enough to power crucial circuits in a small home. It runs on either propane gas or natural gas and outputs 35.4 amps and 31.3 amps of power respectively. It features an Automatic Transfer Switch that lets the home standby generator kick in almost seamlessly once it detects a power outage. 

The 50-amp automatic transfer switch can accommodate 8 circuits. It also has a low-noise system thanks to top-class sound dampening on the body and a low-tone muffler system, which makes it run just as quiet as an external air conditioner unit.

The unit comes with a 24-volt starting system that’s weatherproofed for a wide operating temperature range. This is great if you live in areas that can get extremely hot or cold. You also won’t need to worry if the standby generator hasn’t been used in a while. This model performs self-diagnostic tests weekly, and an onboard charger system ensures that the included battery is ready to go at all times.

Specifications

Size:
52.4 x 33.5 x 32.1 inches
Voltage:
120 volts
Wattage:
8,500 watts (Propane), 7,500 watts (Natural Gas)
Noise Level:
59.5 dBA
Output:
35.4 amps @ 240V (Propane), 31.3 amps @ 240V (NG)
Power Source:
Propane, Natural Gas

Pros

  • Quietest-in-class low noise operation
  • Automatic load management
  • Almost seamless auto-start
  • Connects directly to gas line

Cons

  • Lower power output limits use for high-demand appliances
  • A bit bulky for the capacity

3. Generac 7033 Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Can connect to mobile phones 
  • Automatic switching function
  • All-weather rated aluminum enclosure
  • Dual-fuel compatibility (LP and NG)

The Generac 7033 runs on two fuel types — liquefied petroleum or natural gas — and can be connected directly to your existing gas lines so there’s no need to keep refueling every use. It automatically switches on through an indoor- and outdoor-rated 200-amp NEMA 3 smart transfer switch, which facilitates the shift within seconds upon detecting an outage. 

But of course, on normal days, you’re not supposed to feel the presence of the generator. During these times, you’ll be able to rest assured that the home standby generator is still working — it conducts its own quiet, low-RPM self-test mode to make sure that everything’s in working order. 

Any remaining worries can be dispelled by using the Mobile Link system, which will allow you to quickly check the generator’s status, as well as keep up with its maintenance schedules.

The unit comes in a weatherproof, durable aluminum enclosure that opens three ways for easy service and maintenance. It outputs 11,000 watts at 45.8 amps with liquefied petroleum and 10,000 watts at 41.7 amps with natural gas, which can power up to a medium household with a few high-power appliances. The battery for this unit is sold separately.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
11,000 watts LP, 10,000 watts NG
Noise Level:
63dBA
Output:
45.8 amps (LP), 41.7 amps (NG)
Power Source:
Liquefied petroleum, natural gas

Pros

  • Connects directly to household gas lines
  • Weatherproofed aluminum enclosure
  • Easy-to-use design with LED indicators
  • High-capacity indoor and outdoor transfer switch

Cons

  • Battery and mobile link remote device sold separately

4. Generac 6998 Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Automatic switching function
  • All-weather steel enclosure
  • Dual-fuel compatibility (LP and NG)
Best Overall
Generac 6998 Guardian Series 7.5kW_6kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with 8 Circuit 50 Amp Transfer Switch

The Generac 6998 has most of the core features of the brand’s bigger home standby generators but on a more compact package suitable for smaller houses. It outputs 7,500 watts at 31.25 amps with liquid propane and 6,000 watts at 25 amps with natural gas. 

As such, you’ll likely be using this standby generator to power the most crucial circuits at home. You’ll also have an 8-circuit switch that you can use to shift power manually based on your needs. This switch is a lightweight indoor type, which is durable enough but could take up some space on your wall.

Compared to its bigger, higher-capacity siblings, this unit settles for a heavier but also weatherproofed steel enclosure versus an aluminum one. This won’t really be an issue as long as you make sure you constantly clean and dry the unit to prevent possible damages.

Overall, this unit retains the reliability and efficiency measures that the brand is known for, including its class-leading power quality of less than 5% THD, its automatic self-test functions, and the Generac Evolution Controller for quick status checks. Mind that the unit doesn’t include a battery yet, and you’ll have to purchase that separately.

Specifications

Size:
36 x 27 x 25 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
7,500 watts (LP), 6,000 watts (NG)
Noise Level:
69 dBA
Output:
31.25 amps (LP), 25 amps (NG)
Power Source:
Liquefied petroleum, natural gas

Pros

  • Connects directly to household gas lines
  • Weatherproofed steel enclosure
  • Easy-to-use design with LED indicators

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a battery
  • Basic functionality

5. Yamaha EF2600 Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Small and portable
  • Built-in AC voltmeter
  • Maintenance-free alternator
Best For Low Budgets
Yamaha EF2600, 2300 Running Watts_2600 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

The Yamaha EF2600 is a much smaller, more compact, and a no-frills option for a standby home generator. It runs on unleaded gasoline and outputs 2,600 watts at 21.6 amps maximum and 2,300 watts at 19 amps rated continuous power. This is definitely enough for a small house with a few basic appliances and one or two high-power devices such as an air conditioner or heater. It’s small enough that you can stow it away after every use, but note that it won’t be suitable for all weather conditions as it doesn’t have any weatherproofing.

At its rated load, the unit can run for a maximum of 8.5 hours thanks to its 2.9-gallon fuel tank capacity. As a reputable maker of motorcycles with high-performance engines, Yamaha pours in its technical prowess with the 4-stroke overhead valve (OHV) 171cc engine that features a brushless alternator for minimal maintenance. Expect a basic, straightforward, and reliable operation with this home standby generator.

Specifications

Size:
20.1 x 16.3 x 16.7 inches
Voltage:
120V
Wattage:
2,600 watts max, 2,300 watts rated
Noise Level:
68 dBA
Output:
21.6 amps max, 19 amps rated
Power Source:
Unleaded gasoline

Pros

  • Small compact design for home and more
  • High power rating for its size
  • Quick setup and durable frame design

Cons

  • Will need refueling before use
  • Suitable for powering only a few basic appliances

6. Generac 7039 Standby Generator

Highlights
  • Can connect to mobile phones 
  • Automatic switching function
  • All-weather rated aluminum enclosure
  • Dual-fuel compatibility (LP and NG)
Best For Higher Budgets
Generac 7039 Guardian Series 20kW_18kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch (not CUL)

Generac offers consistent heavy hitters in the home standby generator category, and the Generac 7039 ventures into the high-output range. Outputting a maximum of 20,000 watts at 83.3 amps with liquefied petroleum and 18,000 watts at 75 amps for natural gas operation, this top home standby generator is definitely capable of powering your entire home in case of an outage. As with Generac’s standby generators, this unit also runs on either liquefied petroleum or natural gas and can be hooked up directly onto your home gas line. It guarantees hands-free, automatic operation once it detects a power outage. It also relies on a 200-amp NEMA 3 indoor/outdoor automated smart transfer switch to power and automatically balance load across appliances that demand it.

It also comes with the company’s top features for home backup generators. It has a self-test program that ensures top working condition by going through low-RPM operations weekly. It’s also compatible with an optional mobile link remote monitor system, which pairs your smartphone, tablet, or PC with the generator for hassle-free monitoring.

The unit is weatherproofed with an all-aluminum enclosure that protects it from the elements. Its three easy-open panels allow for easy maintenance.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Voltage:
120V/240V
Wattage:
20,000 watts (LP), 18,000 watts (NG)
Noise Level:
66 dBA
Output:
83.3 amps (LP), 75 amps (NG)
Power Source:
Liquefied petroleum, natural gas

Pros

  • Connects directly to household gas lines
  • Weatherproofed aluminum enclosure
  • Easy-to-use design with LED indicators
  • High-capacity indoor and outdoor transfer switch

Cons

  • Battery and mobile link remote monitor sold separately
  • Could be a bit noisy

Standby Generator Buying Guide

Standby Generator Sizing

Home standby generators vary in size, both physically and in terms of its suitability for different households. The first thing you’ll want to consider is how much appliances you’ll need to power at a given time. Maybe you have a medium-sized home but would only realistically use one or two rooms at a time with modest power requirements. If so, then a relatively medium-sized generator that can generate around 8,000-10,000 watts would be adequate. 

This also leads you to consider the physical space available in your lot. Considering that standby generators use fuel and work pretty much the same way your car’s engine does, you’ll need to find an adequate outdoor space with enough ventilation for both cooling and exhaust. Most home standby generators will occupy an area similar to the length of a low wall, but just ensure that you have enough space to pass through and, more importantly, enough working space in case you need to have it examined and maintained.

Fuel

Standby generators work like your regular vehicle engine — an electric starter starts the cycle of combustion in an engine, which then constantly generates power through the consumption of fuel. Many modern home standby generators use a wide range of fuel types, with the most common ones being liquefied petroleum or propane gas, and natural gas — both of which are also the most commonly installed service gas lines in residences. These types of generators have a few key differences:

Natural Gas Standby Generator

Natural gas standby generators are often also compatible with propane gas. However, the downside to natural gas is it provides marginally less power output compared to propane gas. But considering the availability of natural gas (as is the case for household gas lines) and lower emission levels, natural gas tends to be a more convenient option for home use.

Propane Standby Generator

Propane generators are also widely used, due in part to the wide availability of propane gas in residential areas, much like natural gas. Aside from convenience, propane standby generators also tend to produce less noise due to the nature of combustion.

Diesel Standby Generator

Standby generators that use diesel as fuel are commonly seen in heavy-use applications such as construction sites and other commercial sites. This is because diesel standby generators have a higher cost of operation, which only lessens the bigger the generator becomes.

Noise Reduction

One of the most important things you’ll likely consider when looking for a home standby generator is its operational noise levels. The quietest generators commonly employ several measures, such as padded casings, special muffler designs, and even vibration reduction parts in their engines. Consider units that use either natural gas or propane, as they also tend to have lower noise output compared to those that use more traditional fuels like diesel or gasoline.

Standby Generator Installation

Unless you’ve had extensive experience working with home backup generators, it’s best to look for a contractor that will install your standby generator for you. Before anything else, make sure to check your local community guidelines and obtain any necessary permits before installation.

Work with your contractor, and prepare a flat, stable ground where you want your generator to be installed. Also, make sure that the area doesn’t have an excess of rainwater or heat in extreme weather to ensure maximum lifetime for your generator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Have a Generac Standby Generator Installed?
A:

A Generac standby generator generally runs at an average of $1,900 depending on the capacity of the unit you avail. The companies where you purchase your unit will often offer installation services as part of your purchase.

Q: What Size Standby Generator Do I Need?
A:

First, determine the number of appliances that you’ll want to run in case of a power outage.

A rule of thumb is to measure the entire wattage of all of these appliances (including lights, refrigerators, heaters, etc.) and multiply it by 1.5 to give you a buffer for the wattage of the standby generator you’re going to get.

Q: Do You Need a Permit To Install a Standby Generator?
A:

It’s best to consult with your local community or municipality as this will vary by area, but since the installation of a standby generator will involve heavy equipment from delivery to having it set up in your backyard, it’s safe to treat it as a moderate home improvement project and acquire your permits.

Our Verdict

There’s a lot of factors to consider when getting a home standby generator. You’ll need to make sure that all your power requirements are met, especially if you want uninterrupted whole-home power in case of outages. Ensuring the availability of fuel sources, both in-line and with back-ups, should be your first consideration. 

Choose units from brands that have a trusted track record. Reliability should be a key focus, as these kinds of equipment often run for several thousand dollars and could be quite expensive to have repaired.

Furthermore, select brands that offer long-term warranties and even those that provide lifetime tech support. You’ll be relying on these units to give you power when you’ll most need it, so it’s better to be extra prepared just in case you encounter issues with your generator.