Portable vs Standby Generators

Which one is Right for You?

Your power is out!  You look out the window and the neighbor’s lights are on and you hear the sound of their generator rumbling.  This is when you realize that you have not made an investment in the peace of mind and safety for your home.  And you start to assess the idea of whether it is a wise expense. . . but should you opt for a portable or standby generator?

How do the two types of generators compare?


Standby Generators – switch on automatically whenever they detect a drop in power.  There is usually a very brief delay (less than 15 seconds) as they fully switch on.  You do not have to physically be home to turn them on when the power goes out.  Generac offers models that have internet connection that lets you operate and monitor your generator via a smartphone app from anywhere you may be located.  These standby type generators are typically connected to a permanent/more consistent energy source such as natural gas or propane.  So, there is no need to worry about fueling your generator in the event of an extended power outage.

Portable Generators – are manually operated.  They require you to take them outside to a safe location and physically plug them in to your home or office.  You will also need to continually add fuel – gasoline or diesel to keep them running during an extended outage.  This means portable generators are not the best choice if you are looking for a hands-free emergency power source.  If you are away from home, you may come home to a dark house with spoiled food or even worse a burst pipe.


Standby Generators – are typically a much more sophisticated installation process and should only be done by a licensed electrician and plumber.  Typically, the company you purchase your generator from will perform the installation and start-up.  In addition to the electrical installation you will require the service of a plumber to help you hook up the generator to a fuel source (natural gas or propane).

Portable Generators – the key benefit to the purchase of a portable generator is the minimal time and expense needed to install.  You basically set them up in a safe outdoor location and make sure they are fueled and plugged in before you switch them on.  Do not forget the appropriate TRANSFER SWITCH!


Portable Generators – typically cost between $500 and $1500 dollars to provide 10,000 watts of power.  This is enough watts to power the lights and a few small appliances in your typical home.

Standby Generators – the purchase of a standby generator with the capacity to power your entire home will cost anywhere from $3000 to $6000 dollars.  In addition to the purchase of the generator unit you will need to pay between $2000 and $3000 dollars for the installation of the unit both electrical and plumbing.  This is a significant expenditure but note that this is a permanent addition to your home which will increase the value of your property.


Standby generators are typically less noisy compared to portable generators, but both produce a certain degree of noise.  Standby generators are quiet enough to allow you to go about your household or business functions as normal.


Both types of generators share some pros and cons.  However, if you are looking for the most reliable, easy to use option, that will also increase the value of your property, a standby generator is your best solution.

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