The 7 Best Standby Generators
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in October of 2018. If you've ever suffered a days-long power outage, you know how uncomfortable and inconvenient it can be. Installing a standby generator outside your home or business can keep the juice flowing for as long as you've got fuel running to it. There are models suitable for any size of building, and we've ranked them here by their kilowatt output, noise level, durability, and special features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 10, 2020:
Picking the right generator will have a lot to do with the amount of power you'll need in the event of a blackout, which can be affected by everything from the size of your home to the number of occupants. But whether you're using a standby model or you plan to employ a portable generator, safety is always paramount. And with standby models, this becomes a particularly important point when it comes to installation. We're talking about natural gas or propane being introduced to electricity in a confined space, which, even in the hands of an experienced pro, can be hazardous. We certainly recommend you have yours installed by a professional, and you don't try to save yourself the money by doing it yourself.
Keep an eye on noise ratings while you're pursuing our selection. These are often listed as dB (decibels) or dBA (A-weighted sound levels). The difference is subtle, but dBA measures sound as perceived by the human ear, not by unbiased instrumentation. So, a 100 dB source would have approximate perceived loudness of 80 dBA, even if a decibel meter says it's 100. That can be a tricky way that companies compare loudness, so be on the lookout for it. If noise is a serious concern for you, the Champion 12.5W Home Automatic is a fine choice, as it has special dampening features and a muffler designed to cut the sound as much as possible. With more power often comes more noise, however, so don't get something that has a ton of kilowatts just to have them.
One other important consideration would be the inclusion of a switch, which is essentially a circuit breaker for your generator. Some models, like the Generac 70371 Home and the Briggs & Stratton 40449 10KW come with their own, while others sell them separately. The switch that comes with the Generac 6998 Guardian Series 7.5KW is a good example of an indoor option that you would install inside your home, while others, like the one that comes with that Briggs & Stratton model, can be installed outdoors.
November 30, 2018:
Generac and Briggs & Stratton appear to be the big names in this category, with subtle differences among each company's lineup at different kilowatt levels. For its size and output, the Briggs & Stratton 76180 is one of the best.