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Did you ever find yourself in a conversation where you were telling someone that you had to stay in a hotel because lights went out in your house? The reason might be a neighborhood power outage or a natural disaster. Sometimes, it takes more than a week for power to be restored. Luckily, we’ve found the 6 best whole house generators, so that you won’t have to worry about finding yourself off the grid.
Buying a whole house generator requires you to pay close attention to such specifications as the fuel type, power output, ease of installation and maintenance. You need to carefully consider how big your house is and the total wattage you need to power your home and all appliances. With these factors in mind, take a look at our picks and decide which one is best for you.
More features: 59.5 dBA, Champion 439cc OHV engine, NEMA 3R rated enclosure
The Champion power 100177 is among the top preferred residential generators because of its super-quiet operation and easy functionality. the unit produces 59.5 dBA, which is a very low muffler tone similar to that produced when having a conversation.
The best thing about the generator is that it is fitted with a 50-amp transfer switch that ensures you have power immediately you get a black-out in your home. You wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of a stormy night to go switch it on.
Unlike most generators, the Champion power 100177 does not need a warming kit thanks to its 24-volt starting system that enables it to operate efficiently in sub-zero conditions or extremely hot weather. In addition, the generator has a harmonic distortion of less than 5%, which means you will never have to worry about your delicate electronics getting damaged.
Best of all, the generator has a small footprint, and you can keep it as close as 18 inches from your house. It is also built to last with an anti-corrosive enclosure that can hold up well to different weather elements.
To top it all, you will enjoy a whopping 10-year warranty and free technical support from Champion. This adds to the generator’s exceptional value for money.
What we liked:
Automatically starts in the event of a power outage
More features: UL, CUL and EPA, CARB compliant, all-weather aluminium enclosure
A favorite among many, the Generac 70422 has a power outage of 22kW, which means it can easily power an average-sized house. The generator uses both types of fuel – liquid propane and natural gas. It is coated with RhinoCoat powder finish that protects the aluminium body from corrosion, making the generator an ideal choice for all weather conditions.
It has a pressure-lubricated engine called G-Force. It is designed to reduce maintenance and make it more reliable compared to other generators available in the market. You can adjust settings on the generator using the Mobile Link™ Remote Monitoring mobile app, which is free. Using it, you can also schedule maintenance servicing, access information, and also check its current operating status.
Its True Power™ Technology provides clean, uninterrupted energy for the smooth functioning of all electronics. The Evolution™ Controller LCD screen makes it so easier to check battery status and maintenance intervals so that the generator functions best at all times. Users appreciated how easy it was to install. The generator comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
What we liked:
High power output
Anti-corrosive aluminium body suitable for all weather conditions
More features: LED indicators for generator status
Enclosed in an all-weather anti-corrosive aluminum body, Generac 7043 has harmonic distortion of less than five per cent, which protects sophisticated electronics. You can either buy the generator by itself or along with the 200-amp automatic transfer switch. It has a power output capacity of 22kW.
You can remove three sides of the enclosure for easy installation, maintenance, and repair. Unfortunately, the battery cost isn’t included in the price, so you will have to purchase it separately. It has a multilingual LCD display to monitor generator status, check for any maintenance, and utility power presence. When the Quiet-Test Self-Test Mode was performed on the generator, it recorded a lower RPM. You’ve it consuming less fuel compared to similar range products from other brands. Its Generac G-Force Engine is pressure-lubricated and built specifically for generator use because of which it requires less maintenance and servicing and is more reliable.
You can use both, natural gas and liquid propane, as fuel for the generator. Generac offers a Mobile Link Remote Monitoring app that allows you to control the generator from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. You can check the current operating status and maintenance schedule using the app. Generac offers five years limited warranty on this generator.
What we liked:
High power output
Mobile and web monitoring application
Excellent and cooperative customer service
What could be better:
No alternator to charge generator battery
Can’t run for more than 24 hours at once
The battery can’t be changed while the generator is supplying electricity
More features: 70 dBA, shuts down in the event of a fuel leak, built-in hour meter, weekly self-test mode
Like all Generac’s new Protector series diesel generators, this unit raises the bar for residential and light commercial diesel generators. The automatic standby generator will restore power in your home within seconds of an outage.
The most outstanding thing about this generator is that it comes with a set of pre-configured options and a vast range of code-driven accessories that make it compatible with a wide range of required local codes.
The generator is incredibly easy to install, and it comes with removable doors that offer easy access for servicing and fuel re-fill. Also featured is an external viewing window that allows easy inspection of the generator’s breaker position and status.
Another unique thing about this generator is that it runs a weekly test to ensure its system is running properly. The self-test runs at a lower and quieter RPM than the regular operation.
Moreover, Generac allows you to monitor your generator’s status from anywhere in the world with the mobile link connectivity feature on your phone, tablet or PC. The feature allows you to access crucial information like your generator’s maintenance schedule and current operating status.
You can count on the generator’s rugged build to last you a lifetime. Generac backs its first-class innovative design with a 5-year warranty. As if that’s enough, the unit sounds an alarm in case of a fuel leak before shutting down automatically, guaranteeing you safety.
What we liked:
Built-in hour meter offers great convenience
Leak sensor for safety
Compatible with a wide range of required local codes
5-year limited warranty
What could be better:
The generator’s transfer switch is sold separately
More features: 67 dBA, auto shutdown, air-cooled engine, aluminum enclosure
The Generac 7210 is one of Generac’s reliable guardian series models that offer automatic power back up when you lose power in your home. It is one of the largest air-cooled generators in the market and it can cover your entire house.
The generator boasts a durable build with its powder-coated finish that makes its corrosion-resistant aluminum perfect for all weather conditions. Its pressure-lubricated engines are capable of handling all the rigors of generator use without needing much maintenance.
You can use the Generac 7210 with all of your sensitive electronics as it has less than 5% harmonic distortion. Moreover, it is significantly quieter than most brands. It does a 5 to 12-minutes self-test weekly and during the process, it consumes less fuel and runs at a lower RPM than it normally does.
As with all Generac generators, you can monitor your 7210’s status and track its maintenance intervals to ensure it is in its top working condition from your smartphone, tablet or PC via the mobile link remote monitoring feature. It also has a multilingual LCD display that allows you to monitor the battery status and its maintenance intervals.
Finally, the Generac 7210 is fitted with a 200 amp automatic transfer switch that provides you with a whole-house circuit coverage. In case of a power outage, you don’t have to go switch it on manually.
More features: 65 dBA, aluminum enclosure, automatic or manual start
This is one of the best small standby generators that money can buy. Although it is small, this Cummins generator’s power should not be underestimated. Its compact build takes up less space and you can install as close as 18 inches away from your house.
The Cummins Power RS13A comes in both liquid propane and natural gas options, thus suitable for various households running on either type of fuel. Both types of generators offer super-efficient operation.
Moreover, you can turn the generator on or off according to your needs with the intelligent load management. The feature allows you to have certain items on an others off like you would with a much larger unit.
As if that’s enough, you get remote diagnostics that let you monitor the generator from your mobile phone or computer. This is a rare feature for generators within this price range.
This unit is made with the QuietConnect technology for less noisy operation. It is the best of the 65dBA class, which is not the quietest but is still residential-friendly.
Another praiseworthy feature of the Cummins Power RS13A is that it has a cold-start capability down to 0 degrees F. Plus, you can either start it automatically or manually.
The Cummins Power RS13A is durably built with an aluminum enclosure that can withstand various weather elements, including winds up to 180 MPH. Its durability is backed by a generous 5-year limited warranty or extended 10-year warranty.
What we liked:
Compact yet powerful
2 fuel options
Automatic and manual starting
Convenient Intelligent load management
Offers excellent value for money
What could be better:
It requires professional installation
Things to Consider
Buying a generator at the very last moment is going to end up badly because you decided in haste. You have to be very careful while selecting a generator because some bad ones tend to leave carbon monoxide, which is fatal to human life. Don’t wait for the storm season to arrive to make the purchase. Instead, start looking for one right away, so that your decision is sound and suits your house needs.
What are the benefits of having a whole house generator?
The greatest benefit of having a whole house generator at hand is your peace of mind, when you know that you’re life won’t be disturbed by electricity outages, be it for hours or days.
Whole home powering
Since the generator is connected to your house’s electrical panel, you don’t need to go out and turn the switch on, connect extension cords, and connect it your home appliances. Just sit back and relax because everything is happening on its own.
You can expect the whole house generator to start working within five minutes of power outage. Some good quality generators start working in less than 10 seconds so that you can continue your work without any disturbance. You also don’t have to worry about food in the refrigerator getting spoilt nor about the temperature of the house getting very cold.
First of all, you don’t have to worry about the extreme heat or cold affecting your family and you because the generator will maintain room temperature. Instead of going to the hotel to stay in because of the storm or hurricane, you can stay in the comfort of your home and save hundreds of dollars. The food is maintained at high quality; you can shower, you can work from your home, and also keep the kids entertained inside the house because you can run the television and Wi-Fi using generator energy.
Owning a house without home insurance is a risky business even though it is a costly expense. When you install a whole house generator for your house, most insurance companies give you a discount because the risks attached to your home are less compared to their average model.
Peace of mind
There’s nothing more comfortable than being in your home during a natural or man-made disaster. When you have a generator, you don’t have to worry about how you will go through it. You can continue living your life seamlessly and even help people out of danger.
What to look for in an ideal whole house generator?
Output power, fuel consumption, and transfer switch
When it comes to generators, power is calculated in watts. The higher power outage, costlier the generator would cost. You need 600W to light up a refrigerator, 60 to 600W for lights (depending on how many you have in the house), 1,000W for a window air conditioner, 60 to 300W for a computer or laptop.
On an average, you at least need an 8kW generator to run your house smoothly for a couple of days.
We totally recommend you to buy the Generac 7043, which has a power output of 22kW and an automatic 200-amp transfer switch. It supports both natural gas and liquid propane, so you can choose whichever fuel you are comfortable with.
Often people complain about generators being super loud, which is also one of the reasons why they don’t purchase one. Some generators make so much noise that it won’t let you sleep in the night. It can be horrifying if you have small children at home, you sleep better when it is completely silent.
The Champion 100177 is the most silent generator from our list. It makes up to 63 dB noise level, which sounds like a low tone muffled conversation.
Safety for delicate electronics
When it comes to the safety of delicate electronics, all the generators that we’ve included in the list are good. They all have a total harmonic distortion of less than 5%, which means it protects most sophisticated electric equipment.
The goal to purchase the smallest generator that fulfills all your needs. It will maximize fuel usage. It also depends on the frequency of power outages for which you will require a standby generator with a power output of around 20 to 22kW. The Generac 70422 is an efficient generator for frequent use.
If you experience an occasional power outage or have less power needs, the smaller generator like the Generac 7210 with its 8kW power output would be enough. You can also consider getting a smaller dual-fuel generator or propane generator to cut your expenses on fuel.
Taking into account how pricey these units are, be sure to go for at least 5-year warranty for whole house generators. As for the products we reviewed, the Champion 100177 comes with the longest 10-year warranty, which is really impressive.
Ditch the hassle of pulling the string to start the generator and buy one that has an electric start. All generators mentioned on our list give you the option to choose between natural gas and liquid propane as fuel.
Always check if a generator comes with an automatic low-oil shutoff, which shuts off the engine when oil levels drop below the minimum.
How to Set Up a Whole House Generator?
Setting up a whole house generator is relatively simple, which doesn’t require any technical or professional help. It will take you around 10 to 15 minutes depending on how big the generator is.
Step 1. You will have to start by installing an electrical sub-panel and a transfer switch next to the main electrical panel.
Step 2. Then, redirect your generator’s critical circuits to the sub-panel from the main panel.
Step 3. Create a concrete base for your device. If you don’t want to increase your expenses, you can level the ground but make sure you there is no water source close to it.
Step 4. Place the generator on the base.
Step 5. Place a new high-pressure gas meter in a trench near the generator.
Step 6. Run a natural gas line, if that is your fuel of choice. Trace a wire from the gas meter to the generator and make the connection.
Step 7. Attach the generator’s electrical cable from the generator to your house.
Step 8. Connect the electrical and gas connection to the generator’s rear part.
1. Maintain distance from the house
Generators should be placed far away from the house. Some generators are certified to be kept as close as 18 inches from your house.
2. Never store it in enclosed areas
Never store the generator in your garage, crawl space, or your basements even if it is well-ventilated.
3. Follow manufacturer instruction
No matter how much you know about generators, follow the instructions that come written in the manufacturer manual. The instructions differ from one manufacturer to other, so if you are switching from one brand to another, don’t ignore reading the installation and care instruction.
4. Monitor fuel safety
Switch off the generator when you are refilling it. Also, make sure it has cooled down because the fuel might spill or spark if you fill up when the engine is still hot.
Make sure you store the fuel in an air-tight, non-glass container.
Label it properly, so that there won’t be any negative incidences. Always store it away from a fuel-using electronic or equipment and in a cool and dry place.
5. Keep it dry
When you go to refill the generator or check the LCD screen for details, make sure your hands are completely dry, especially if it is on and running.
6. Avoid carbon monoxide
Make sure to install carbon monoxide battery-operated alarms in your house. If the generator gets overheated, it might leave the gas, which is fatal to human life.
7. Choose propane over gas
Propane is a more affordable option compared to gasoline because the latter needs a stabilizer. On the other hand, propane doesn’t need any stabilizer, and refueling is easy. All you need is to build an on-site propane storage unit.
8. Check local service
Always buy a generator that has a service center in your locality. It is convenient because you’ll get immediate service for maintenance and repair. Parts are also easily available.
Write down all the electronic equipment that you have in your house and need to run smoothly. Check the internet for the amount of power required for different types of electronics. For example, air conditioner consumes 1kW of power. Calculate the total. If the total is around 8kW, double it to 16kW.
Purchase a generator which has a power outage of at least 16kW. Don’t go for house generators that huge power output because it won’t be of much use. It will use a lot of fuel, which will become an expensive affair. Before buying the generator, visit a local repair shop and ask them for the best brand that you should buy.
Natural gas is measured in price per cubic foot, while liquid propane is calculated in price per gallon. Propane needs to be refuelled every time the level reduces. You can store it in a tank in the garage. Also, propane is multi-purpose as it can be used in a variety of electronics. It is also clean energy, so it has a very low carbon footprint. If you use propane for stove, furnace, and grill, stick to the fuel because changing fuels can be an expensive affair.
Natural gas is a lot of cheaper and is also eco-friendly. Also, it is delivered at your doorsteps when you make a call. Maintenance of generator that is run on natural gas is low cost. Longer you use the generator, less and less will be the consumption.
You can back feed your generator in the dryer outlet after you switch off the main breaker. You might get an electric shock if you don’t switch it off before the backfeed or even destroy the generator. To make the connect, you can either use 12 or 14-gauge extension cord.
However, it isn’t allowed in all states in the United States, so you will have to check with your local repair shop if you can do it. If the network fails, you will have to call a repairman. To avoid the chances of it happening, you can instead install an automatic transfer switch.
The Champion 100177 topped our list because of its powerful, reliable, and quiet operation. It is one of the best residential-friendly generators, thanks to its unmatched sound dampening technology that limits its noise to a reasonable level. Further, the generator is fully automatic and will provide seamless power to your home during an outage.
Generac 70422 is the second best whole house generator. It can support both liquid propane and natural gas and has a power output of around 22kW. It also comes with a 200-amp automatic transfer switch, which switches on the generator when electricity is cut off. The generator has an anti-corrosive aluminum enclosure that protects its engine during extreme conditions. We highly recommend it to those who live near the sea.
Cummins Power RS13A is our budget pick. It has a power output of 13kW and is durably built with an aluminum enclosure, which can withstand winds up to 180 MPH. Also, Cummins offer five years limited warranty on the product. You can either fuel it up with natural gas or liquid propane at your choice.
We hope that our guide was a helpful hand in your search for the best whole house generator. If you know other great generators that we overlooked, please share in the comments.