Best Whole House Generator Reviews 2018

Last updated on September 11th, 2018 at 05:27 am

Don’t get left out in the dark when you can own a standby generator. If you live in an area where outages are the norm and go out for hours, then you might benefit from a whole house generator. From bad weather to natural disasters, there are many ways that power can go out. Without electricity, much of our normal operations are put to a halt. Food goes bad, the internet is lost, and lots of other services including TV and phone are interrupted. This may present a danger and an unpleasant situation. The best whole house generator is designed to handle the power requirements for an entire home. This post explores all aspects of the best standby generators. Including the most recommended standby generator reviews and comparison tables that you can leaf through to see what is best for your home.

  • Champion 14kW
  • 4.8 Customer Rating
  • Liquid Propane / Natural Gas
  • Watt: 14,000 LPG/12,500 NG
  • Noise Level: 63.5 dbA
  • Alternator: Computer Friendly >5 THD
  • Warranty: 10-Year
  • Price: $$$

  • Generac 22kW
  • 4.0 Customer Rating
  • Liquid Propane / Natural Gas
  • Watt: 22,000 LPG/19,500 NG
  • Noise Level: 67 dbA
  • Alternator: Computer Friendly >5 THD
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Price: $$$

  • Briggs & Stratton 20,000
  • 4.1 Customer Rating
  • Liquid Propane / Natural Gas
  • Watt: 20,000 LPG/18,000 NG
  • Noise Level: 68 dbA
  • Alternator: Computer Friendly >5 THD
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Price: $$$$

  • KOHLER 20RESCL
  • 3.2 Customer Rating
  • Liquid Propane / Natural Gas
  • Watt: 20,000 LPG/18,000 NG
  • Noise Level: 69 dbA
  • Alternator: Computer Friendly >5 THD
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Price: $$$$$

Keep reading through to learn more about these products through our reviews and more detailed comparison charts.

Best Whole House Generator Reviews – Top 4

1- Champion Power Equipment 14kW Home Standby Generator

Champion Power Equipment 14kW best standby generator

Among these whole house generator reviews, the Champion Power Equipment stands out in an ergonomic and striking design. The Champion’s 14 kW standby generator offers backup power system for your home. Operates even in extreme cold or hot weather. With a 10-year limited warranty, you are assured of a reliable system that will power your home in case of blackouts.

A fuel efficient machine that starts automatically when there is a power outage and turns off when the power comes back. Has 14,000 watts of continuous power on liquid propane and 12,500 watts on natural gas.

The Champion Power Equipment 754cc OHV engine offers continuous power on either propane or natural gas. A residential-friendly quiet generator with a sound muffling lining and low-tone muffler, the generator emits a soft purr ideal for home set up. Has an operating volume of 63.5 dBA.

Pros:

  • Delivers high-quality power with less than 5% total harmonic distortion for a smooth operation for sensitive electronics.
  • With an innovative gull-wing design, the generator provides easy access to the control panel which allows for a full view of the onboard control system.
  • The 24-volt starting system operates in temperatures ranging from -22° F to 104° F with no warming kit required.
  • Features a tough and durable enclosure that is easy to remove for installation, maintenance, and service.

Cons:

  • The Champion generator might fail to start automatically. To keep your appliances safe you might need to manually start the unit.
  • Stiff and very heavy.

Conclusion:

The best fuel efficient standby generator. Also, offers a good price tag compared to other home standby generators. Overall, the Champion Power Equipment will cover your home’s power needs in case of emergencies, all year round.

 

2- Generac 22kW Whole House Generator

Generac 22kW best whole house generator

The Generac 22 kW, a good solution for whole-house operation. Has 22,000 watts on propane and 19,500 watts on natural gas. With a remote monitoring option that allows you to check the status of your generator using any of your electronic devices including your tablet, smartphone, and PC to easily access your information.

The G-Force pressure lubricated engine designed to handle whole house loads. Comes with NEMA 3 smart transfer switch, both outdoor and indoor rated. This generator has controllers with a multilingual display for the monitoring of battery status and maintenance intervals to make sure your generator is always in great condition.

It has the ability to balance the power for high wattage items such as electric stoves, electric dryers, air conditioning units and that of small appliances for uninterrupted, whole-house power. Not to mention, a five-year limited warranty on the unit.

Pros:

  • It features a quiet self-test mode to easily check that everything is working smoothly.
  • Boasts of True Power technology that delivers high-quality power with less than 5% THD for clean and stable electricity that is safe for sensitive electronics.
  • A multilingual LCD display and mobile monitoring for easy monitoring and maintenance.
  • An all-aluminum enclosure with a RhinoCoat powder-coated finish to prevent rust in all weather conditions.

Cons:

  • The main problem with Generac is that it needs frequent maintenance which beats the purpose of owning a standby generator.
  • Limited space provided for the wiring and the location of the terminals is hard to reach.

Conclusion:

With scheduled maintenance intervals, the Generac provides automatic backup power that will protect your home from blackouts.

 

3- Briggs & Stratton 20,000 watt Standby Generator

Briggs & Stratton 20,000 watt standby generator reviews

The Briggs and Stratton’s symphony power system is the brains behind this 20 kW house generator. It regulates the power usage so you get the best performance. Enabling the unit to multiple different applications simultaneously without overloading the unit. It’s also safe for delicate electronic devices.

Runs on both natural gas and liquid propane. The generator package comes with an automatic transfer switch that can handle quick and seamless transfer during a power outage with a computer controlled load management power switching. The generator can automatically sense a blackout and automatically power up in a matter of seconds.

A 20,000-watt system on liquid propane and 18,000-watt on natural gas. Comes with a 5-year limited warranty for unrivaled support. Quiet mufflers with a unique airflow system and sound dampening technology.

Pros:

  • Highly reliable with a commercial grade Vanguard engine.
  • Safely tested against tough National Fire Protection Agency standards and can be placed as close as 18 inches from the buildings.
  • Front air ventilation which pushes the engine exhaust out the front and away from the house structure.
  • Rust-free steel enclosure to keep the machine safe from harmful elements.

Cons:

  • Cumbersome and large transfer switch which makes it complicated to set up.
  • Very large and heavy when installing.

Conclusion:

For home backup power, the Briggs and Stratton is a good choice. It provides flexible installation options, tons of power, and comes with an automatic transfer switch.

 

4- KOHLER 20RESCL Whole House Generator

KOHLER 20RESCL whole house generator reviews

This generator is able to generate up to 20,000 watts of power using propane (LPG) or 18,000 watts using natural gas. It can simultaneously deliver electricity to your washing machine, air conditioner, electronics, dishwasher and other applications in the house. And comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

It can instantly use LP gas or natural gas and you can switch the type of fuel in a heartbeat by a push of a button. Within seconds of activation, the Kohler 20 kW generator can fully power an entire house. It is equipped with an automatic transfer switch, service entrance rated.

Powered by the powerful and reliable Kohler command pro engine that is designed for tough commercial applications. It has hydraulic valve lifters that eliminate the need for breaks while in operation as it can handle long periods of operation.

Pros:

  • Features PowerBoost technology that provides enough power to start large loads without the failure of dropping power to smaller applications.
  • It delivers great digital voltage and frequency regulation with low levels of harmonic distortion thus protecting advanced electronic devices.
  • Fast response, within 10 seconds it automatically restores power.
  • Designed with a stylish and corrosion-resistant enclosure.

Cons:

  • If not installed by a Kohler dealer, the setup costs can be very high. Kohler also provides concrete mounting pads that lower installation time and costs.
  • Lacks quality control during manufacturing.

Conclusion:

Passing a good quality control the Kohler is a good pick. It can stand the test of time and bad weather to give you the energy you need to power your home.

 

Best Standby Generator Comparison Table

Feature/ProductChampion 14kWGenerac 22kWBriggs & Stratton 20,000KOHLER 20RESCL
Wattage (LP):14000 W22000 W20000 W20000 W
Wattage (NG):12500 W19500 W18000 W18000 W
Volts, Hertz, Phase:120/240V. 60Hz, 1Ph120/240V, 60Hz, 1Ph120/240V, 60Hz, 1Ph120/240V, 60Hz, 1Ph
Amps at 240 Volts (LP/NG):58.3/52.1 amps91.7/81.3 amps83.3/75 amps83/75 amps
Engine Displacement (cc):754 cc999 cc993 cc999 cc
Engine Speed (RPM):3600 RPM3600 RPM3600 RPM3600 RPM
LPG Consumption at 1/2 load:1.6 gallon/hour2.5 gallon/hour2.3 gallon/hour2.3 gallon/hour
NG Consumption at 1/2 load:116.5 ft3/hour228 ft3/hour187 ft3/hour161 ft3/hour
Low Oil Shutdown:AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable
Weight:494 lbs515 lbs500 lbs560 lbs
Dimensions L x W x H: 50 x 30 x 40 inch48 x 25 x 29 inch48 x 34 x 31 inch48 x 26 x 29 inch

What is a Standby Generator?

A standby generator is a backup system that automatically switches on in case of a power outage. Within seconds of a blackout, the generator automatically senses power loss through the automatic transfer switch and commands the generator to start transferring the electrical load to the generator. The standby generator then supplies power to the circuits.

Almost everything in our homes runs by electricity and when it is unavailable, there is no joy or comfort. The truth is that nearly every home needs a backup generator in case of a power outage. When there is a blackout a home backup generator will provide enough power. So that frozen food remains refrigerated and you can microwave meals while enjoying the entertainment of your electrically-powered devices.

The good thing about whole house standby generators is that they are already installed. Simply waiting to rescue you in the event of a blackout. For its simplicity and benefits, the best choice for homes is a standby generator.

what is a standby generator

How Do Standby Generators Work?

A home standby generator system has two parts: the generator unit and an automatic transfer switch. The two work in tandem to ensure your home is powered in a matter of seconds when a blackout occurs.

The standby generator and the transfer switch are installed by a professional to the home’s existing electrical wiring. It is always ready and works automatically if there is a power loss by sensing when the utility power stops flowing to the home’s system. Within seconds, the automatic switch transfers the home’s selected circuits and appliances to the generator. Once the backup generator senses the utility power is back on, your home is automatically transferred to the utility power and the generator is shut down until when it is needed again.

Benefits of a Standby Generator

best home standby generator

  • Reduced noise for better operation. Most standby generators make use of new technologies that muffle sound to residential-friendly levels.
  • Allowing longer maintenance intervals. Unlike portable generators, you can stay longer periods between maintenance.
  • Standby generators are designed for better fuel efficiency. They have higher quality automotive style engines that are more reliable and efficient.
  • Standby generators are usually liquid cooled to handle the longer outage periods. Featuring A/C shedding and load management options for better efficiency.
  • A great solution to back up the entire home. You can use your sensitive and high wattage appliances like air conditioners alongside your computer and standard equipment.

What’s the Difference Between Portable and Standby Generators?

Portable generators keep vital appliances running during a blackout and can offer mobile power for a job site or a campsite. They are designed for short-term use and have to be switched on manually as they have no automatic switch. The connection is done manually using power cords which are then switched off when the generator is no longer needed. These generators are intended for backup portable use and require regular maintenance and tests to ensure they are ready for an outage.

Standby generators, on the other hand, are designed for a more permanent solution to outages. They connect automatically in case of a blackout. Standby generators also run a weekly test to check that they will respond well to an outage. These whole house generators are designed to run for longer times using either liquid propane or natural gas. They are hard-wired into the electrical system so it can shut itself off automatically. The generators return to standby mode automatically when no longer needed.

Understanding Whole House Generator Fuel Choices

  • Diesel

Diesel fuel is the traditional fuel of choice for many appliances and backup power applications. One of the diesel’s benefits is that it has high thermal efficiency so it will yield a low capital cost per kW in bigger applications. Also, diesel is often stored on site so it can be used in remote areas where natural gas is not a viable option due to lack of infrastructure.

Because of reliability, most mission-critical applications like 911 and hospitals have diesel-fueled standby generators.

  • Natural Gas (NG)

For cost-effectiveness, perceptions of fuel reliability, durability and also power density, gaseous fuels were avoided in the past. However, recent technological advancements have changed that. There are hardened seats and valves and also optimized air/fuel mixtures.

Natural gas powered generators run like gasoline-powered ones. An internal combustion engine introduces a blend of air and fuel into the combustion chamber and the piston compresses the mixture. Unlike diesel and gasoline powered generators, natural gas generators must have the ability to burn gaseous fuels rather than liquid ones.

  • Liquid Propane (LP)

Liquid petroleum gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LP or LPG gas) are flammable mixtures of hydrocarbon gases that are also simply known as propane or butane and used in heating appliances, vehicles, and cooking equipment. In backup power systems, this can be in LP vapor and LP liquid configurations. LP vapor is preferred.

The spark ignited fuel runs in automotive style engines adapted for its use. LP must be stored on site just like diesel, and might, therefore, provide a great gaseous-fuel alternative to diesel for applications that require on-site but has the benefit of no fuel spoilage.

  • Bi-Fuel Systems

whole house generators transfer switch

One way to alleviate the problems that arise when comparing on-site or utility-supplied fuel is to get a system that utilizes both fuels, either simultaneously or one at a time. Bi-fuel and dual fuel generators fit this criteria.

A dual-fuel system can operate on natural gas and LP vapor depending on their availability. It will typically start on natural gas and if that supply is interrupted then it switches over to on-site LP fuel. For larger systems, the bi-fuel configuration is quite popular. Bi-fuel generators burn both natural gas and diesel at the same time in one engine. Starting up using diesel which acts as pilot fuel then slowly introduce natural gas in a process that the generator system can govern until it reaches the optimal fuel blend, usually 25% diesel fuel and 75% natural gas.

8 Important Questions About Whole House Generators

There are several factors to put into consideration when buying a whole house generator. Here are the top things to consider.

best home backup generator

  1. How to Pick the Right Size?

With generators, size matters. Proper sizing of your house generator is important to the success of any installation. It needs a good knowledge of electricity and the load requirements of your home’s appliances. When checking electrical loads, look at the manufacturer ’s data plate on the equipment or appliance to determine the starting amperage. This sizing guide will help you know what the ideal generator for your home is.

Whole house generator size options are rated by kilowatt which is abbreviated as kW and it measures the total load or capacity that the generator can handle. For home-owners who want a good whole house generator power solution, a 20kW is an ideal choice. Bigger homes will do well with a generator in a 26-36kW range. These generators are equipped with an advanced load-managing hardware that will not overload the system.

If you are looking for the ultimate backup system, then a 48kW generator is capable of producing the power needed to run your home like a blackout never occurred.

  1. Which Fuel Type?

The most common fuel types for standby generators are diesel, natural gas, and propane. Gasoline is not a good choice as it has a short life of stability. You may factor in costs as you choose the type of fuel as the cost difference can change depending on the size of the generator. Also, remember that the type of fuel should be easily accessible to you. Diesel and propane offer an ‘on-site’ fuel source but may also require a refill if there is an extended power outage. Local code requirements also dictate the fuel types available in your location.

  1. Who Will Install the System?

Usually, this will be handled by a qualified electrician or a licensed plumber but the choice is up to the user. You might decide to go with a reputable company that has a history with standby generator system installation. If you have no company in mind then go with a referral.

  1. Where Will it be Located?

A whole house generator should be placed in a place that is easy to access for repair and maintenance, but also high enough to keep off water from reaching it. For rooftop and outdoor installations, ensure you abide by the local code requirements for minimum distance with building openings and combustible walls. In the case of indoor installations, comply with the requirements for ventilation, fuel supply, exhaust ducting and also proximity to any combustible materials. Generally, the rule is that the generator should be located as close as possible to the fuel supply and transfer switch. This brings us to the next factor to consider – the type of transfer switch.

  1. Which Type of Transfer Switch?

automatic transfer switch for whole house 20 circuits

Transfer switches for emergency house generators are often automatically controlled. On the other hand, manual transfer switches can be used for some systems if they are preferred but this lack of automation does not come with any cost saving. The size of the transfer switch (based on amperage rating) and the location where it will be installed will be determined by your electrician and it may also depend on whether the generator serves the whole house or just emergency loads.

If the system is made to carry the whole house, the transfer switch may need to be rated ‘service entrance’ so it can incorporate a utility disconnect within the transfer switch cabinet. For industrial or commercial applications, there are other transfer switches available such as bypass isolation, programmed transition, and closed transition.

  1. What is the Warranty Duration?

This is very important as with the purchase of other electrical equipment. The standard warranty for generators runs from one to five years depending on the type of generator. While a home generator may have a warranty ranging from one to five years, an industrial one will offer some optional upgrades. Understand the warranty duration and the type of coverage for your standby system, and also ask for upgrade costs if you need better coverage.

  1.  Who Will Maintain the System?

Just like all major motors, a generator needs proper maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly thus covering you in case of power outages. Generators tend to be neglected for long periods between blackouts which can result in equipment failure when you need them. Get your equipment on a maintenance program or do it yourself for reliable operation.

  1. Is it Residential Friendly?

A generator can be a great investment that brings so much to your home including some unpleasant qualities such as noise. You do not want a machine that sounds like a Subaru engine running in your home. Check the decibel levels to ensure that the generator muffler is of good quality.

Bottom Line

When it comes to powering your home, having the best standby generator is of paramount importance. Our whole house generator reviews provide you with a rough idea on what to look for when purchasing one. We have also included all the vital information that you should consider when getting the best whole house generator for your home. We hope you liked this article and welcome feedback from you. We’d love to know what you liked most about our standby generator reviews. Now that you know what to look for in the ideal house generator, you can be confident that your home is protected from power outages.

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