Best Whole House Generator Reviews

Updated October 29, 2020

If you live in an area which is often affected by power outages, whether because of weather conditions such as storms or flooding, or utility company failures, a whole house generator can give you a stable backup source of power. A home backup generator can keep your air conditioning running during hot weather, your lights on and avoid your refrigerated or frozen food supplies being spoiled.

There are different types of home emergency generator you could choose, depending whether you prefer an installed full house generator, or a portable generator. The best home generator depends on the power output you require.

Some offer extra peace of mind with features such as remote monitoring of system status, so you can check on your home power no matter where you are. Read on for our reviews and recommended best generator for home, plus our advice on generators for home use.

Best Whole House Generators

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1 Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator 200 Amp Transfer Switch Generac 7043 Whole House Generator
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2 Kohler 20RESCL 20,000-Watt Standby Generator Single Phase Kohler 20RESCL Whole House Generator
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3 Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Best Overall
Westinghouse WGen9500DF Whole House Generator
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4 A-iPower SUA12000E Gasoline Powered Generator with Electric Start
Best For Low Budgets
A-iPower SUA12000E Whole House Generator
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5 DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator DuroMax XP12000EH Whole House Generator
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6 Briggs & Stratton 76107 25kW Home Standby Generator System
Best For Higher Budgets
Briggs & Stratton 76107 Whole House Generator
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1. Generac 7043 Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Produces 19,500W running watts (22,000W peak watts).
  • Durable aluminum enclosure with removable sides for easy maintenance.
  • Clear LCD display to monitor battery status and maintenance intervals.
  • Can connect to a propane or natural gas supply.

With a running watts output of 19,500W, this powerful generator can power all of the essentials in your home. The THD (total harmonic distortion) of less than 5% means it’s going to give you clean power for any sensitive devices such as televisions and laptops. 

A durable aluminium enclosure ensures it withstands all weather conditions, and if there’s an issue such as a storm whilst you’re away from home, you can monitor the status of your generator wherever you are in the world. We like the fact that this generator is supplied with a 200amp transfer switch, but there’s no battery included.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Voltage:
240V
Wattage:
19,500W running watts
Noise Level:
67dB
Output:
19,500W running watts / 22,000W peak watts
Power Source:
Propane or Gasoline

Pros

  • Includes a 200 amp whole house smart transfer switch.
  • Suitable for running sensitive electronics and appliances.
  • Mobile link remote monitoring to check the status of your generator.
  • 5-year limited warranty.

Cons

  • Does not include battery (sold separately).
  • Warranty has some exclusions.

2. Kohler 20RESCL Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Supplied with a 100 amp 16-circuit automatic transfer switch.
  • Can be run on natural gas or propane.
  • Comes with a five-year warranty.
  • Corrosion-proof enclosure to protect from the harshest conditions.

This generator will provide backup power to your home in as little as 10 seconds if your mains supply cuts out, meaning you’ll barely notice any down time. The corrosion-proof enclosure protects the generator even in seaside locations. 

It can produce up to 20,000W to power all of your home electronics and gives you the option to run on either natural gas or propane. The power is clean, with less than 5% THD, and when operating at full load the generator is still pretty quiet at 69dB. The LCD display gives you comprehensive status and maintenance information, and this generator is also supplied with a 100 amp automatic transfer switch.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 26.2 x 29 inches
Voltage:
240V
Wattage:
20,000W rated watts (propane) / 18,000W rated watts (natural gas)
Noise Level:
69dB
Output:
20,000W rated watts (propane) / 18,000W rated watts (natural gas)
Power Source:
Propane or Natural Gas

Pros

  • Generator automatically starts up when mains power fails.
  • Comprehensive LCD display showing system status.
  • Suitable to run sensitive electronics and appliances.
  • Weekly exercise modes to test the system.

Cons

  • Requires professional installation.
  • Some users report customer service delays.

3. Westinghouse WGen9500DF Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Runs on either gasoline or propane.
  • Produces 9500W rated watts / 12,500 peak watts.
  • Runtime of up to 17.5 hours on a 6.6 gallon tank.
  • Automatic low oil shutdown.
Best Overall
Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator

This is a smaller backup generator which might suit you if you have a modest home, or only want to keep your key appliances running. It’s portable and has an open frame design. It produces 9500W running watts, which should be enough for your refrigerator and freezer, lights and possibly an AC unit, depending on the size. 

It’s both transfer switch and RV ready, if you want the option of putting your generator to work at home or on the road. You have the option to run this model on propane or gasoline, with a runtime of up to 17.5 hours. This generator has an electric start and remote start key fob.

Specifications

Size:
27 x 24 x 35 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
8500W running watts (propane) / 9500W running watts (gasoline)
Noise Level:
73dB
Output:
8500W running watts / 11,200W peak watts (propane) 9500W running watts / 12,500W peak watts (gasoline)
Power Source:
Propane or Gasoline

Pros

  • Transfer switch ready,
  • Remote electric start.
  • Range of outlets including 120V, 120/240V and USB ports.
  • Control panel showing voltage, frequency and lifetime hours.

Cons

  • Less powerful than other home backup models.
  • Although this is a portable generator, at 220 pounds it’s heavy to move.

4. A-iPower SUA12000E Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Produces 9000W running watts / 12,000W peak watts.
  • Runtime of 9 hours at 50% load. 
  • Transfer switch ready. 
  • Wheel kit and folding handle.
Best For Low Budgets
A-iPower SUA12000E Gasoline Powered Generator with Electric Start

This is an open-frame portable generator, which offers great value. It produces 9000W running watts, so may not power your entire home but should cover the essentials. It has a good range of outlets, including a DC outlet, and is transfer switch ready. 

This generator runs on gasoline only, and a full tank will give you a runtime of around 9 hours at 50% load, so you will need to be organised if you want to keep this going for an extended period. The open frame design means it’s relatively noisy at 78dB, but this offers a solid emergency backup option for smaller homes or key electronics.

Specifications

Size:
27 x 27 x 27 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
9000W running watts
Noise Level:
78dB
Output:
9000W running watts / 12,000W peak watts
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Keyless one-touch electric start.
  • Range of outlets including 120V, 120/240V and 12V DC.
  • Great price.
  • Digital data centre showing lifetime run hours.

Cons

  • No remote start.
  • Relatively noisy.

5. DuroMax XP12000EH Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Produces up to 9500W running watts (using gasoline).
  • Transfer switch ready. 
  • Electric start. 
  • Quiet for a generator in this power range.

This DuroMax generator offers a good value alternative to some of the bigger name brands. It’s a dual fuel option that can produce up to 9500W running watts on gasoline. The wheels and handle mean you can move it into position as needed. It’s transfer switch ready, and there are a range of 120V and 120/240V outlets, plus a DC outlet, with an individual circuit breaker for each outlet. 

There’s idle control to reduce fuel consumption and noise when the generator isn’t in use. A downside of using this generator for home backup is that the high THD means it’s not suitable for powering sensitive electronics.

Specifications

Size:
30 x 29 x 26 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
8075W running watts (propane) / 9500W running watts (gasoline)
Noise Level:
72dB
Output:
8075W running watts / 10,200W peak watts (propane) 9500W running watts / 12,000W peak watts (gasoline)
Power Source:
Propane or Gasoline

Pros

  • Can be run on either gasoline or propane.
  • Idle control to save fuel and reduce noise when the generator is not in use.
  • Portable, with heavy duty frame and solid-fill wheels.
  • Range of 120V and 120/240V outlets, plus a 12V DC outlet.

Cons

  • High THD means it’s not suitable for powering sensitive electronics.
  • No remote start.

6. Briggs & Stratton 76107 Whole House Generator

Highlights
  • Produces up to 25,000W running watts
  • Runs on either propane or natural gas. 
  • Corrosion resistant enclosure to resist rust. 
  • Dual transfer switch.
Best For Higher Budgets
Briggs & Stratton 76107 25kW Home Standby Generator System

This liquid-cooled generator has a power management system that will balance the electronics you need to power. It’s quick to respond to an outage, so you’ll notice the minimum of disruption. It produces up to 25,000W running watts with options to run on propane or natural gas. 

The dual 200amp transfer switch is rated for indoor and outdoor use. This generator can be installed as close as 18 inches from your home. The enclosure and base are made with galvanneal steel, to resist rust.

Specifications

Size:
120 x 36 x 44 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
25,000W running watts
Noise Level:
66dB (at 7 metres)
Output:
25,000W running watts
Power Source:
Propane or Natural Gas

Pros

  • Transfer switch is rated for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Powerful home standby option for powering high-demand appliances.
  • 5-year limited warranty.
  • Can be placed close to your home or building.

Cons

  • Ideally needs expert installation.
  • A wireless monitoring system can be added, but is not included.

Whole House Generator Buying Guide

Whole House Generator Sizing

If you’re considering investing in a whole house generator, there are a few calculations you’ll need to do in advance to ensure that you buy the right model for your needs. The right generator for you will depend on the size of your home and what you want to run. 

Let’s assume that as the title suggests, you want a backup generator that covers all your household needs and not just some of your more important appliances. Making a list of all the electronics in your home may take a bit of effort but it’s the best way to work out the size of generator you need. Be sure your list includes all the high-demand items such as air-conditioners as these could make a big difference. 

Don’t forget that some appliances require a surge of power to start up, which then drops down to a running watts level. Once you have a total wattage, to be on the safe side you can add on a buffer of 20% to cover any extras you’ve forgotten. This final figure gives you the size of generator you’ll need. 

Type

The type of generator that will best suit you can depend on how often you expect to use it, and whether you want to get any other usage out of the unit. You have two choices:

Portable Whole House Generator

The benefit of a portable whole house generator is that you can move it around if you want to. Portable generators that produce enough power for a whole house are likely to be heavy – over 200 pounds – but once they’re on the ground it’s possible to move them on wheels. 

This means you can also use your generator for other things, if you like – such as DIY projects or on a worksite. They’re also likely to be cheaper than a standby generator

The downside is that the power output is lower, so this isn’t an option that suits larger homes, or households running a lot of high-demand appliances. 

Standby Whole House Generator

If you want a generator that will sit in place ready to kick in when your mains supply fails, a standby whole house generator is probably the better option for you. 

These are powerful and large units that tend to be the best standby generator for home use. Some models will automatically switch on if your mains power goes out, and have monitoring systems that allow you to check their status from anywhere in the world.

The downsides of this option are the cost and size of these generators. They may need professional installation, often (but not always) at some distance from the outside of your home. 

Noise Level

Your mains power supply keeps your home running through the night, so if your supply cuts out, your standby generator needs to work all night, too. That means finding the quietest whole house generator might be important for you. 

Although many of the larger, static, models generate a significant amount of power, their outside installation means they have an enclosure that helps to muffle the noise. You may even find that these larger options are quieter than less powerful portable models, which have an open frame. 

The easiest way to compare the volume of your shortlist is to look at the decibel level. The lower the level, the quieter generator is. 

Power Source

Powerful whole house generators require a constant supply of fuel, and large installed models will connect to your home supply of natural gas or gasoline. Portable models may use gasoline, which is easy to source, or may be dual fuel offering you a choice of gasoline or propane.  

Natural Gas Whole House Generator

Natural gas generator is popular as it’s so readily available. You’ll also notice that dual fuel generators produce more power from gas than propane. 

Propane Whole House Generator 

Although propane isn’t so easy to find if you need regular top-up tanks for a portable generator, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem if you’re running a propane generator from a home supply. Propane is a cleaner burning fuel, but the power output it produces is a little lower than natural gas or gasoline. 

Whole House Generator Cost

The cost of a whole house generator can vary significantly, depending whether you want to opt for a portable model or one which is permanently installed. A portable model can be anything from $300-$400 for a budget model, up to several thousand dollars. 

Standby generators installed at your property are roughly in the range of $5000-$15,000. Spending more doesn’t always guarantee better reliability and performance. The best generator for the money is one that caters to your individual situation. 

Whole House Generator Transfer Switch

A whole house transfer switch supplies your breaker panel with power during a mains outage. Once the switch is installed, when there’s an outage the switch will disconnect the regular incoming supplier from your utility company and connect your standby generator. 

Generator transfer switch can detect when your usual power supply is unavailable or too low, and switch to generator power very quickly, to minimise any appliance down time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Much Does It Cost To Install a Whole House Generator?
A:

A standby portable generator does generally not require professional installation. Larger static models will require an expert to install, and the cost of this can be up to several thousand dollars.

Some experts recommend you should expect to pay roughly the same amount for installation as the cost of the generator. The exact cost can vary according to the installation site and location of your utilities.

Q: What Size Generator Do I Need To Run My Whole House?
A:

The answer here greatly depends on the size of your home, and the appliances that you need the generator to run. We’d recommend that you calculate the wattage you require by adding up the requirements of your major electronics – air-conditioning units, refrigerators, cookers etc.

Include an allowance for items such as lighting. Whatever figure this all adds up to, add a 20% buffer to be safe and you’ll arrive at the total wattage you require.

There are some calculators online that can help you figure this information out. A very rough ballpark figure is around 15kW generator for an average size home, to keep all your electrics running.

But this can vary significantly by property.

Q: What Is The Best Whole House Generator?
A:

For a combination of performance and value, we recommend the Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator. See our verdict for why this is our pick. For more of these generators, check our Generac Generators reviews.

Q: How To Install a Whole House Generator?
A:

If you’re installing a large, whole house back-up generator it’s highly recommended to use a qualified professional to carry out the installation.

Using a professional will ensure that your generator installation complies with all electrical codes, and that no damage is caused during installation that could void your warranty.

Also remember that the installation connects a fuel supply (either natural gas or propane) to your generator, which is another aspect of the process which requires a certified professional.

Our Verdict

A whole house generator gives peace of mind and minimises disruption, especially if you live in an area prone to storms or power outages. If your power cuts out, a generator will mean that your essentials like light, air and heat will continue to run, food won’t spoil and you can still enjoy watching television or charge up your devices. 

They can be a significant investment, but a reliable generator will last you for many years and through many outages. We recommend the Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator, which offers great performance and benefits such as remote monitoring and an included transfer switch, at a value price.