You can lose power in your home in a variety of ways, such as bad weather, natural disasters, or a transformer malfunction. In the past, electricity was considered a luxury, but today, electricity has become a necessity.
If your power goes out for an extended period of time, your food will spoil, the internet will be lost, and the variety of other mechanical systems that run and protect a home will stop working. This lack of protection can become dangerous during a severe storm.
With a whole-house generator, you will never have to worry during power outages. These generators are designed to be a backup when the power is out and will start automatically when power is lost. This type of generator is designed to handle all of the power requirements of your home.
As you begin researching whole house generators, you will learn that you have a massive amount of options and features to consider. This article will provide you with the best whole house generators on the market, as well as some advice on choosing the perfect generator for your situation.
Top Whole House Generators
1. Briggs & Stratton 040621
This generator introduces Briggs & Stratton’s new control system. This system can utilize a low-speed run, which saves fuel. It also helps to limit the noise the unit makes while it is running. The control system also has a variety of programmable exercise modes and cycle times to give you tighter control.
This unit comes with a wide array of special features. One of these features is the front exhaust, which gives you flexibility in placement. It also comes with a galvanized steel enclosure that is automotive grade. This device also can be converted from natural gas to propane, depending on your preference.
With this Briggs & Stratton, you can purchase modules (sold separately) that work with the power management technology of this unit to automatically power more for less. When you buy this unit, you can access an Infohub app.
This hub can provide you with remote access to your generator. The hub allows you to monitor your generator from anywhere you have an internet connection. If your generator stops working for any reason, you will know with this app.
The engine on this device is a commercial-grade Vanguard. This brand and model of the machine was created to provide power to equipment that works in the toughest and roughest conditions. This engine is a 4-stroke. Made from metal, this device is durable.
Idle mode is low (64 dBa)
41 peak kVA
Does not come with a battery
2. WEN DF1100T
This generator is a portable unit; however, it can still power most of your home appliances to be called a whole-house generator. This dual fuel unit can utilize gasoline or propane. The fuel switch allows you to switch between the two fuels quickly.
The engine of this unit is a 457cc OHV engine, which is a 4-stroke. It is air-cooled and can run 3600 RPM. When running on propane, this device will produce 9500 peak watts and 7500 running watts. When you switch to gasoline, the peak watts are 11000, and the running watts are 8300.
With a NEMA 30A twist-lock, you can quickly plug in your transfer switch. The voltage of the unit can be switched from 120v to 240v with easy. Another excellent feature of this generator is the electric start system. This system is known for its reliability.
The fuel tank on this unit can carry 6.6 gallons. With a full tank and a 50% load, you have 8.5 hours of runtime. With a 20 gallon LPG tank and a 50% load, the unit will run for 3 hours. It also comes with various safety features, which include low-oil automatic shutoff, protection from overload, and voltage regulator.
- Hour meter on control panel
- Four 120v GFCI outlets
- 50A outlet
- Delay with electric start sometimes
3. Westinghouse WGen9500DF
This Westinghouse is one of the best portable generators to use as a backup for your home. With a power output at 12500 starting watts and 9500 continuous running watts, this generator is ready to power all of your critical household appliances, including a sump pump, air conditioner, and freezer.
One of the best features of this affordable unit is it has a dual fuel system. You can use either gasoline or propane to fuel it. With either type of fuel, this Westinghouse unit has a long runtime. With lighter loads, it can run up to 17 hours.
With various outlets available on this unit, you will probably find the 120v outlet handy. This outlet is transfer switch ready, making it incredibly easy to install. With the remote start, you can turn the unit one from within your home.
One drawback of this device is the noise level. Because of the unit’s massive size, this Westinghouse generator can get extremely noisy when it is calling larger loads. One idea to help eliminate this excessive noise is to build an enclosure.
- Capable of utilizing two fuel sources
- 12,500 starting watts
- Easy to set it upa
- Extremely heavy
4. A-iPower SUA12000E
When you first see the manufacturer of this device, you may not recognize it. However, with the affordable price tag, this unit was worth getting to know better. It also has a variety of positive reviews from users who suffered through Hurricane Irma.
The 459cc engine produces 9500 running watts and 12,000 starting watts. With this amount of wattage, you can easily power the majority of your appliances in the home. These appliances would include your refrigerator, freezer, stove, and some lights.
The fuel tank on this unit is made from 100% heavy-duty steel. It can carry up to 7 gallons of gasoline. With a full tank of gas, this device’s manufacturer states it will run eight to nine hours at a 50% load. However, some user reviews indicate the generator will last for up to 13 hours without needing to add fuel.
This unit comes equipped with 9.5 in never-flat wheels, which helps make it easier to move. With the keyless one-touch starter button, it is also incredibly easy to start the generator. When using this unit in damp conditions, the GFCI protected outlets help to provide protection and safety.
- Increased run time
- Steel frame and tank
- Unknown manufacturer
5. Generac 7043
When reading reviews and researching whole-house generators, you soon realize that the Generac 7043 is one of the most recommended units on the market. A popular feature of this device is the air-cooled engine, which is considered to be one of the largest available.
With 22,000 watts of power output, this generator can handle your entire home. It can power all appliances, including those devices that require higher wattage. For example, heating, televisions, and air conditioners require more watts than a light bulb.
This generator comes with a 200 amp NEMA3 transfer switch. This switch is suitable for the whole house backup power, and it can be used indoors or outdoors. Another unique feature of this generator is the built-in wi-fi connection.
This connection allows you to be able to control the generator with a smartphone or laptop anywhere you want. The Generac app also enables you to set up maintenance and monitor the status of the unit during operational times.
This unit also comes equipped with True Power technology. This technology ensures the device has less than 5% harmonic distortion. This control of distortion means that you can power your sensitive electronics like a cellphone or laptop without concerns.
- Can handle bigger houses
- Self-test mode
- 5% or less harmonic distortion
- Professional must complete regular maintenance
6. DuroMax XP12000EH
With this versatile DuroMax, you can choose between using two different fuel types. This versatility allows you to be free from dependence on one particular kind of fuel. If during a specific week propane is cheaper, you can use propane. If during the night, your propane runs low, you can always go to a self-service gas station to fill up the tank.
When using LPG, this unit will give you 11400 surge watts and running watts of 9025. With this much power, it can power an entire small home or most of a mid-sized home. Gas will give you 12000 starting watts and 9500 running watts.
With an 8.3-gallon tank, this DuroMax will run for 8 hours on a single tank at a 50% load. With propane, it will continuously work for more than seven hours. This 50-amp generator is massive and heavy-duty, so it will not be a quiet unit.
However, for a unit this large, the noise level is much lower than some of its competitors. During an emergency, the noise will not be a significant disruption. Most individuals solve this issue by building a wooden enclosure around the unit to help reduce the noise level. This enclosure will also help protect the device from the weather.
- Dual Fuel
- 50 amps
- 225 pounds
7. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16
With the Kohler, you can get 20,000 watts of power when you use propane (LPG) as fuel. When you are using natural gas as fuel, you can get over 18,000 watts. With this amount of power, you can simultaneously send power to a washing machine, dryer, stove, dishwasher, and a variety of other appliances in your home.
With a push of a button, this generator can switch from using propane (LPG) to using natural gas, making it an instant process. It only takes a few seconds after this unit has been activated to power a full house. The automatic transfer switch is service entrance rated.
Kohler has a reputation for having a reliable command pro engine. This engine is said to be strong and powerful enough for commercial applications. The hydraulic valve lifters remove the need for interval stops while the device is in use, ensuring an increase of runtime.
This unit comes equipped with PowerBoost technology. This technology ensures that enough juice is present to start more oversized loads without the need to drop power from smaller application loads. With low levels of harmonic distortion, you never have to worry about unstable power with this device.
- Equipped with PowerBoost technology
- Low harmonic distortion
- Fast response
- Costly installation
8. Champion Power Equipment 100294
This Champion generator is known for its ergonomic and unique design. With 14 kW, this unit can be a complete backup device to power the entire home. It was designed to continue to operate in both extremely hot and cold weather. It is a reliable unit when you are experiencing power outages.
This machine has technology that allows it to start automatically when power is lost and turn off automatically when power is restored. It is fuel-efficient and will run on liquid propane or natural gas. When it is running natural gas, you can get 12,500 watts of power, but with liquid propane, you can get 14,000 watts.
Its 754cc OHV engine is reliable and fuel-efficient, especially when compared to other similar units. This generator is an excellent choice for residential areas because it comes equipped with a lining that muffles sound and a low-tone muffler. The operating noise level for this unit is 63.5 dBA.
With a less than 5% harmonic distortion, this generator allows for a smooth operation for cellphones, laptops, and other sensitive electronics. The control panel on this unit is easy to access and will enable you to have a full view of the control system.
- 5% harmonic distortion
- Starts in -22° F to 104° F without a warming kit
- Durable enclosure
- Installation may be costly
This Generac is considered to be one of the most powerful portable generators available. It can give you over 15,000 watts of running power, which makes it an excellent choice for a whole-house generator. With this amount of energy, it is possible to run almost all of your appliances at the same time.
However, an electric dryer or another high energy appliance may be an exception to this rule. If you try to run an electric dryer and an AC, you may find this generator cannot handle it. With the 992cc OHVI engine, this Generac should, however, be able to handle all of the small stuff easily.
One of the fabulous features of this unit is the automatic low-oil mechanism. This mechanism will turn the generator off if the oil is too low. This feature can save you money by preventing the engine from running out of oil.
The fuel tank on this unit is one of the largest on this list, being able to hold 16 gallons. Depending on the load percentage, this device should be able to run continuously for over 10 hours without needing a refill of fuel.
- Massive fuel tank
- Low-oil mechanism
- 15,000 watts
- Not as affordable as others on list
How should I pick a whole-house generator?
You can benefit from a whole-house generator in a variety of ways. However, the best advantage is knowing your food, heat, cooling, and other vital functions in your home will work when the power is out. When you are choosing a whole-house generator, you can divide the process into three steps.
Step #1- Fuel
If you live in a coastal or rural area of the United States, you may have difficulty finding a fuel source in abundant supply. This fact makes choosing the fuel source a vital step when purchasing a whole-house generator.
Some standby generators will only be able to use liquid propane (LP) or natural gas (NG), which limits fuel availability. However, a wide variety of whole-house generators also offer a diesel option, which makes it more accessible in particular parts of the country.
Regardless if you use gas or diesel, you will need to ensure that you have a tank big enough to handle your chosen generator. If you use natural gas, the lines must be appropriate for the unit. The installation manual will help you or your contractor the correct size.
Some individuals believe that bigger is better. Others think that the most affordable unit is the best choice. However, when choosing a generator, proper sizing is an essential part of a successful installation.
To determine the correct size needed, you must have at least a working knowledge of electricity and the load requirements for each of the electrical appliances in your home. The best place to find load requirements is by looking at the manufacturer’s data plate. These plates are typically on all machines and include the starting amps of the device.
You can use the formula (starting amps X volts = watt) to find the total starting wattage of all of the appliances. You can convert this number into kilowatts by dividing the watts by 1000. This number would equal your peak load.
Once you have this load, you will want to choose a generator that has a rating that is at least 20 to 25% higher. This statement means that if you have a peak rate of 22 kilowatts, you will want a device that can provide at least 27kW.
This advice allows flexibility if the load of your home increases over time. It also guarantees that the device will work comfortably and effortlessly at around 80% of its full capacity.
One of the most considerable wattages will be from heating or central air conditioning units. You can convert the BTUs of an air conditioner to tons by using this formula (tons= BTUs/12000). If any of this is confusing, you can find a standby generator sizing calculator found online.
As a general rule, if you want to backup an entire household, a 48kW generator is an excellent choice. This size of unit can produce 220 amps of electricity at 240 volts. This amount of voltage is almost the same amount you can get from the utility.
Step #3- Transfer Switch
A transfer switch is a switch that allows power to the generator. An automatic transfer switch (ATS) enables the standby generator to kick into action at the first sign of a power outage. This switch will continuously monitor utility power to allow this automatic starting of the generator.
This switch not only starts the generator when the power is out, but it also disconnects any electricity coming from the line. The process of picking the correct transfer switch is just as important as selecting the accurate generator because they work together.
The amps of your electrical service panel are what determines the proper transfer switch. This information can be found by locating the main breaker in the panel. A 200-amp main breaker is typically the amps for an average-sized home. The transfer switch you pick has to match the number of amps of service. For example, if your service is 200 amps, your transfer switch must be 200 amps.
What features should I look for in a whole-house generator?
A wide array of reasons can cause power outages to occur, such as electrical malfunctions, severe weather, natural disasters, and many other reasons. This fact means that power outages can happen anywhere at any time. With this information, a whole-house generator should be a vital part of any home.
However, before purchasing a whole-house unit, you should look for five features to help ensure your house remains safe and comfortable. These features include capacity, warranty, enclosure type, automatic shutoff, and fuel source.
If these features were rated from the most important to the least important, capacity would be at the top of the list. Generators come in a variety of capacities. The term capacity refers to the number of kilowatts a unit can produce.
The first step in deciding on the capacity needed for your particular situation is to determine your home’s total power needs. After determining the power needs of the house, you then have to decide if you want a device with the capacity to run everything.
Some people purchase smaller capacity units because they are more affordable. Even with smaller devices, you can provide power to all of the essentials in your home, such as freezers and refrigerators.
One of the smallest standby generators will produce 20kW while larger units can provide up to 50kW. For a general reference, a home that is 2,500ft typically can be powered with a 22kW generator without too many issues.
Another vital consideration when purchasing is a warranty. You should always read the fine print of any offered guarantee. Almost all whole-house generators provide at least a four to a five-year warranty. The fine print lets you know if you will be happy with the coverage.
With the warranty, you should also investigate how the unit will be delivered. These units are massive and heavy, so the delivery method becomes vital. If the seller does not deliver or will not place the generator in its permanent home, it might be tough to move by yourself.
A standby generator generally is placed outside of the home. With environmental damage and harsh weather exposure, the type of unit needs to be made from a durable material that can handle years of this treatment.
A variety of brands come with an enclosure made from steel, corrosion-resistant composite, or other materials designed to withstand the outdoors. Another idea is to be prepared to build an additional room around the unit to help reduce noise and provide protection from the elements.
Many people overlook this critical safety feature of standby units. When a generator begins to overheat, an automatic shutoff feature will turn the unit off to protect it from damage. This shutoff feature also helps protect your home from fire.
This automatic shutoff feature will also turn the device on when there is a loss of power. When it turns on automatically, you never have to fumble around outside in the dark, hoping to find the right switch.
If you are looking for a large capacity generator, it will typically run on propane, natural gas, or diesel. Propane is slightly more affordable than natural gas and diesel, so it tends to be the preferred choice. In the following section, more information about the different fuel sources will be discussed.
What are the different fuel choices for a whole-house generator?
When you are searching for a whole-house generator, one of the first considerations is fuel choice. With these types of devices, you can typically choose between diesel, natural gas, propane, or a bi-fuel design.
To help you understand your fuel choices better, some general data has been provided here about using each type of fuel.
Diesel has been the most popular choice of generator fuel for years. This fuel has been used for a variety of appliances and backup power sources because of its established history of reliability. Diesel’s record of reliability is why many mission-critical applications chose it as the source of fuel. These applications include 911 services and hospitals that typically utilize diesel generators.
Diesel also has a higher thermal efficiency than some of the other sources of fuel. This advantage means that it may give out a higher work output. This fact also means that it will create a lower capital cost per KW when it is used in larger applications.
Another benefit of diesel is it can be stored at your home, which makes it easier for those homes located in remote areas. When there is a lack of infrastructure in a remote location, natural gas is typically not an option.
In the past, natural gas has had damaging perceptions of its reliability, power density, and durability. This reputation has caused many individuals to avoid gaseous fuels when it comes to generators. However, in recent years, technology has advanced and changed these items. This technology includes optimizing air/fuel mixtures and hard seats and valves.
In today’s market, you can easily find natural gas generators that run similar or even better than gas-powered units. Both types of generators are considered to have an internal combustion engine. This engine creates a perfect blend of fuel and air.
This combination enters the combustion chamber where the piston compresses it. The natural gas engines do the same thing except it burns gaseous fuels instead of liquid fuels.
Another liquid fuel available for whole-house generators is propane. This type of gas can be LP, which is liquid petroleum or LPG liquefied petroleum gas. It is created by mixing hydrocarbon gases into a flammable mix.
These gases are typically known as butane or propane and are used in a variety of appliances. Propane is also used in heaters, cooking equipment, grills, and vehicles. When discussing backup power units, you can find LP vapor or LP liquid configurations. Most experts will suggest LP vapor.
Similar to diesel, propane can be stored on the location of the unit. This fact means that propane can be an excellent alternative for diesel in rural areas. The best advantage of propane over diesel is you do not have to worry about fuel spoilage.
When deciding between fuels, it can be a give and take. However, with a bi-fuel generator, you can avoid a variety of issues. This type of system utilizes a combination of fuel so you can reap the benefits of both.
You can get a unit that uses both LP vapor and natural gas. However, sometimes these types of devices are harder to find. The most common bi-fuel generators use natural gas and diesel. The combination is generally 25% diesel with 75% natural gas.
Hopefully, you have learned a lot about whole-house generators. You should have enough information now to make an excellent decision about your particular needs and wants. Good luck in finding the perfect solution to your whole-house generator needs.