Whether you live in a storm prone area or you’re just trying to make sure that you’re prepared for anything the world might throw at you, you might be considering a home standby generator in case the normal power grid shuts off. We highly recommend that you take a look at the Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt. These handy machines are made to automatically power on when the grid goes down and they’re experiencing a soaring level of popularity as faith in the electrical infrastructure goes down.
This unit is perfect for those who simply want to make sure their essentials don’t go out during a prolonged outage, but it’s not going to power a whole home.
Top 5 Home Standby Generators
|Name||Wattage||Included Transfer Switch?|
|Briggs & Stratton 40445||8kW||Yes||Check Price|
|Briggs & Stratton 40532||12kW||Yes||Check Price|
|Briggs & Stratton 40396||20
|Generac Guardian Series 5871||10kW||Yes||Check Price|
|Generac 6551 Guardian Series||20kW||Yes||Check Price|
1. Best Budget Generator
Briggs & Stratton 40445
As a budget generator to make sure that you’re going to be able to keep the essentials powered during an outage, the Briggs & Stratton 40445 shines. Included in the cost is a 50 amp start up switch.
This is an “essentials only” model, which can keep a few appliances and lights running but it’s not going to keep your whole house lit up in the event that you lose the grid.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the 8000 watt rating is only in effect when using propane, if you tap into the natural gas you’re looking at a maximum rating of 6000 watts.
It runs fairly quietly and you can be assured of a long life since it’s a high quality motor with a good alternator as well. Overall, the unit stands on its own despite some limitations on its use.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent square inch to power ratio
- High build-quality
- Comes with transfer switch
- 4 year limited warranty
- Rust resistant exterior
- Fairly low powered
- No cables provided
2. A Little Bit Bigger
Briggs & Stratton 40532
For something a little bit bigger, this 12,000 watt standby generator can manage quite a bit of your home without needing to break down. We’re still not talking complete functionality in the event of an outage, but it’s a considerable amount of power.
Like all of the Briggs & Stratton generators you’ll get a heck of an engine and a well-engineered box which is easy to maintain.
You have the ability to select from four different transfer switches to suit your needs when you make your purchase as well. Higher amperage is a good idea if you’re planning on keeping the AC on with the generator, but in more temperate climates you can run a 100A switch just fine.
It’ll run on both natural gas or liquid propane, with the propane offering a bit more power, as well which is pretty much ideal. To keep more than the lights and fridge on without getting into the really big stuff, the 40532 is a great solution.
Pros and Cons
- 12kW of power
- Multiple transfer switches available
- Corrosion resistant body
- Easy maintenance
- 5 year warranty
- No cables provided
- Still not designed to power a whole house
3. Best Heavy Duty Machine
Briggs & Stratton 40396
If you want to make sure that your lifestyle isn’t interrupted because of something small like a power outage, then you might want to go with the 20,000 watt 40396. It’s a behemoth of a machine, and you’re going to spend some serious money getting it installed but you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.
The options of the transfer switches are pretty wide on this one, go with one of the 200A or 200/400A switches if you have multiple air conditioners in place, but most people will be fine with a 150A switch for the start up.
With the higher amp loads this one might even be suitable for small businesses, it’s a beast of a machine and the whole thing is well-engineered to provide you with lasting power to keep you comfortable when the power goes out.
This is a large, heavy-duty machine which is suitable for larger homes with a lot of appliances, especially if you want to keep the whole thing powered.
Pros and Cons
- Massive wattage
- Wide variety in transfer switches
- Low maintenance
- Corrosion resistant case
- Runs on propane or natural gas
- Massive and heavy
- Needs heating kit for oil
4. Best For The Money
Generac Guardian Series 5871
Generac generators make for a good, cheaper alternative to some of the more expensive brands. The engines may not be up to Briggs & Strattons quality, but they’re no slouch when it comes down to it.
This 10,000 watt generator is good for just keeping the fridge and lights on during shorter outages, and most people will find it sufficient for their needs as long as they’re not planning on keeping the whole house powered.
It holds together well, but it’s not the kind of generator you want to be running for days at a time. This makes it more suitable for those who are living in areas with occasional outages of a couple of hours or so, but if you’re living in hurricane country it might not be ideal.
It is low priced however, and provides a good amount of power.
If you deal with intermittent outages of a few hours and aren’t looking to break the bank, this is a good choice to make.
Pros and Cons
- Runs on natural gas or propane
- Comes with a transfer switch
- Low maintenance
- Not designed for long run times
- Transfer switch only runs 10 circuits
5. Another Great Option
Generac 6551 Guardian Series
This is a large home standby generator which is certain to keep most homes fully powered in the event of a power outage. It comes in at 22,000 watts and comes with a 200 amp transfer switch which should cover most people’s power needs.
Keep in mind, that like most of the older Generac generators this one probably shouldn’t be used if you’re anticipating days and days of your power being out. Instead, they’re a good idea for those who experience only intermittent power outages and want to save some money.
Overall this generator is recommended for those looking to keep their whole house powered during short, intermittent outages and comes in at a great price.
Pros and Cons
- 20,000 watts
- 200 amp transfer switch included
- 5 year limited warranty
- Aluminum, wind resistant case
- Mobile link compatible
- Not designed for extended running
- Heavy and large
Who Needs a Home Standby Generator?
A lot of us keep a generator around for those occasions where some extra power might be warranted, but a home standby generator isn’t just a little piece for handling a couple of extra rooms.
These generators often tie directly into gas lines, or less commonly work on propane, and are designed to kick on as soon as the power goes out. A good one will have you back online within just a couple of seconds, lessening the damage that an impromptu power shutoff might cause.
They’ve become quite popular in the US among certain circles, but the biggest consumers are still those who live in areas where massive storms for part of the year are a real possibility. Depending on how long a power outage goes on for, you might just have to use candles for a night or you might end up losing all of the food in your fridge.
In extreme climates, the loss of air conditioning or heating can be very uncomfortable as well.
Of course, they represent a significant investment since they’re massive units. The simple answer is this: if you think you’ll have need of one they’re a sound investment.
What to Look For in a Home Standby Generator
Of course, you’ll be looking for the best bang for your buck which means that you definitely have to consider the purchase as a whole when you’re picking one out. There are a number of different factors you’ll have to keep in mind when you pick one out and we encourage you to make sure you do your research instead of just spending the money on something which looks handy.
Making this purchase is an involved process, and one of the first things you’ll need to do is write down which of the devices in your home you consider essential and measuring the amount of energy you’ll need to generate in order to keep these devices powered.
For the most part, central air systems and your refrigerator and freezer probably take more power than anything else. You’ll still want to take account of everything you think you’ll need to power, for many people it’s simply going to be unfeasible to power the whole home like normal with a standby generator.
Remember that the wattage required to start many of these devices will require a lot more power than just running them and plan accordingly to make sure you have the surplus required. Take a look at the start up wattage.
You’ll also want to make sure that the wattage measurement given with the generator isn’t just the maximum wattage. While one of these devices can operate at that level it’s going to fail much more quickly, if the product listing doesn’t have a running measurement you’re usually safe judging it at 90% of the listed maximum capacity.
Natural gas is rarely interrupted in most places, but you’ll also require a plumber to come out and make sure that your generator is hooked up safely to the line in addition to an electrician.
Propane, on the other hand, will take up some storage room but renders you pretty much immune to any kind of utility shut off for as long as you have supplies for it.
In general natural gas is fine if you’re just planning on having to weather a storm or two during the rough season in your area. It’ll cost a little bit more to set up, but you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel for the most part.
Propane is ideal for those who want to be as off-grid as possible. It will also be a little bit more expensive to run for the most part, but if you have a decent stockpile of the stuff you can have power for quite a while in pretty much any situation.
Obviously you’ll want to make sure it’s still a durable and long lasting device, but the chance of running into a cheap knock off in this arena is pretty small. As long as you go with a reputable brand the above qualities are the main things you should be concerned with.
Wait! You Also Need to Think About…
A home standby generator is a little bit more of a complex undertaking than just running a portable and using an extension cord and some surge protectors. There’s a few other things you’ll need to factor into the whole thing.
Unless the generator includes a transfer switch when you purchase it you’ll need to pick one up separately. The transfer switch will go off when the power is cut and bring the generator to life in order to make sure that you’re back online as soon as possible.
You can probably contact the electrician you’re planning on having do the install of the generator to find one if you’re not confident in what you need.
Most people really shouldn’t be installing their own standby generator. This means that you’ll need to get some quotes from electricians to see how much it’s going to cost you to install it. This is a major project and you’re going to be looking at spending some serious money in order to get it done but the peace of mind might just be priceless.
If you’re running a natural gas powered generator then you’re also going to need a plumber to make sure that the gas line is attached correctly since an improper installation of this line can be downright disastrous.
You may also need to install gravel or concrete in order to make sure that everything is approved.
Permits and Licensing
Depending on your local laws, you may also need to make sure that you have the building permits and other legal necessities in place when you’re getting ready to set things up. Check with the contractor you’re planning on using to make sure everything is the up and up since fines will definitely add to the total cost of your project.
It’s not a simple job, but if you decide to make the investment in a home standby generator then you’re off to a good start to make sure that you can lower your energy dependence on the outside world. Once you have this major job complete, you can sit back and enjoy the fact that you have the ultimate back up plan in place.