Best Home Standby Generators of 2023

Best Home Standby Generators of 2023

Top-Rated & Best-Selling Standby Generators

Jared, the Generator Expert
By 
Generator Expert

Home standby generators are the ultimate insurance policy against power outages. They automatically ensure the power stays on at your house when the rest of the block goes dark.

Iíve spent years around these backup power juggernauts and have compiled my picks for the best standby generators of the year. Take a moment to read through the various categories below and find my picks and criteria for the best in each. Be sure to click on the generators to view the product page filled with more features, specs, reviews, and other great resources.

The Best Standby Generators†

Best Home Standby Generator† Best Entry-Level Standby Generator Best Essential Circuit Standby Generator Best Whole House Generator Best Off-Grid Generator

Generac Guardian 7042

Generac Guardian 7042

Briggs & Stratton Power Protect

Briggs & Stratton Power Protect

Kohler 14RCA

Kohler 14RCA

Generac Guardian 7209

Generac Guardian 7209

Kohler 14RCA

Kohler 14RCA


How We Picked the Best Standby Generators†

When recommending portable generators, we take five features into account.†

Power

Power is a critical attribute of any generator, but itís most important for standby units because they protect your homeís critical systems. Thatís why we consider how many kilowatts (kW) a given unit can put out.

You canít look at power alone, though, because itís relative to your needs. If you want to back up your entire home, then you need more power than if you only want a few critical items powered. For those few items, youíll be perfectly happy with a less powerful generator because it will be meeting your needs. Thus, we consider power together with the application, which is our next criterion.

Application Readiness

Application readiness refers to how well a standby generator performs for a given use. Some standby generators are only designed to power a few critical items like a sump pump, furnace, or air conditioner. Others are made to backup critical items plus luxuries like a hot tub or home theater system. Youíll notice that I broke out my picks by application (i.e. ďbest essential circuit home standby generatorĒ) because not everyone is going to want or need the biggest, baddest machine. You want the best tool for the job. No more. No less.

Usability

While all home standby generators function similarly, they each have their nuances and particular ways of accomplishing their goal. In this digital age, we look at their ďsmartsĒ and how smoothly they connect to the network for remote monitoring. Other factors to consider are how quickly they react to a power outage, installation complexity, load-shedding potential, and controls.†

Warranty

After investing thousands in a home standby generator, you want to know your purchase is protected if something goes wrong. Thatís why I look very closely at standby generator warranties when making my selections. When two standby generators seem exactly the same, that extra year of coverage could make all the difference.

Overall Value

We prioritize performance over price, so you wonít necessarily find the cheapest standby generators on our list. That's why, instead of evaluating a generator on price alone, we look at what you're getting for the price to arrive at an overall value rating.†


Best Home Standby Generator:†Generac Guardian 7042

Generac Guardian 7042†

Built in the United States, the Generac Guardian 70422 is the gold standard for home standby generators. Boasting 22kW of power, the Guardian can be set up to run on either natural gas or propane as a fuel source (but you must decide this at installation time). Once installed, this unit is more than capable of quickly and automatically powering all your homeís essentials plus extras during a blackout. Itís also worth noting that, when used with a service disconnect automatic transfer switch, Generac has built-in AC shedding for up to four HVAC systems. That means youíll be able to prioritize which circuits get power. The transfer switch can automatically cut power to an HVAC system if thereís too much load on the generator from your priority appliances.


The Guardian works with Generacís Mobile Linkô Wi-Fi remote monitoring application, which monitors the generatorís status on a smartphone, tablet, or PC. This is extremely useful if youíre at work or out of town during a power outage and want to make sure everything is working properly. Simple on-unit digital controls, including a programmable exerciser, let you set how often and at what time the generator will self-test.†


You can count on the Guardian to last with Generacís G-Force engine and a full-pressure lubrication system that keeps the parts moving smoothly. Its durable, all-aluminum sound-reducing enclosure shields internal components from the elements and significantly reduces noise. Finally, a 5-year Generac limited manufacturerís warranty protects your investment from defects. All-in-all, virtually no one can go wrong by choosing this generator for their home.

Spec Details Rating
Power 22 kilowatts (LPG); 19.5 kilowatts (NG); Single-Phase; Generac G-Force engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Application Readiness Great for whole- or partial-home backup; Runs on propane or natural gas† ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Compatible with Mobile Link WiFi remote monitoring; Built-in AC Shedding for 4 HVAC systems; ☆☆☆☆☆
Warranty 5-year limited warranty† ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value The best home standby generator for the price. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Any homeowner looking for whole-home or partial-home backup power

Who It's Not For:

  • Budget-conscious homeowners looking for only essential appliance backup

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Best Entry-Level Home Standby Generator:†Briggs & Stratton Power Protect

Briggs & Stratton Power Protect

If youíre getting your feet wet with home standby generators, are on a budget, or only care about powering a few basic items during a power outage, the Briggs & Stratton Power Protect is your best bet. It provides 12kW of power, which is as much as some larger portable generators. The obvious difference is that youíre getting the benefit of automatic backup power with the Power Protect, so you donít have to run outside at night to manually refuel like you would with a portable unit.


The Power Protect runs on either gasoline or propane, but you must make up your mind during installation. Compact yet sturdy, this entry-level standby unit is 30% smaller than competitive generators in its class with an automotive-grade galvanneal steel enclosure. Its weekly test cycle is much shorter than similar models, resulting in less noise and disruption to your neighborhood. It also includes a 3-stage charger designed to improve its battery's life.


Despite its small size, the Power Protect has a best-in-class warranty of six years, covering parts, labor, and travel. Itís also assembled and engineered in the United States. Overall, I recommend the 12kW Power Protect for anyone with basic backup needs or a smaller budget.

Specs Details Rating
Power 12 kilowatts (LPG); 10.8 kilowatts (NG); Single-Phase; Commercial-grade Vanguardģ engine ☆☆☆☆
Application Readiness Effectively backs up home essentials. Runs on propane or natural gas† ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Compact, space-saving size; 3-stage battery charger ☆☆☆☆☆
Warranty 6-year best in class warranty† ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value One of the most affordable standby generators that will back up your basics. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Homeowners looking for automatic backup power of essential appliances
  • Budget-conscious homeowners who still want a standby generator

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners needing whole-house backup power

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Best Essential Circuit Home Standby Generator:Kohler 14RCA

Kohler 14RCA

For smaller homes or those where you only need to power essentials like the sump pump, fridge, or furnace system, your best solution is the Kohler 14RCA home standby generator. Its 14kW of power is plenty for basic to intermediate backup, and you can set it to run on propane or natural gas during installation.


I especially like the unit's reliable construction. A Kohler Command PRO engine, protected by a 100% corrosion-proof aluminum enclosure, keeps it running. Kohler PowerBoost ô technology easily handles starting large electrical loads like air conditioners, and you can count on the generator restoring power in around 10 seconds. Its streamlined design also speeds up initial installation.


If youíre into tech, the 14RCA works with Kohlerís OnCueģ Plus remote monitoring system, which lets you access the generator from your computer or smart device. Use it to monitor your generatorís status, get alerts, and even control power to household items connected to †Kohlerís programmable interface module (PIM) sold separately.


The 14RCA comes with a premium 5-year, 2,000-hour warranty covering parts, labor, and travel. Itís also priced very fairly for the level of power, reliability, and features youíre getting. I highly recommend it for essential home backup.

Specs Details Rating
Power 14 kilowatts (LPG); 12 kilowatts (NG); Single-Phase; Kohler Command PROģ Engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Application Readiness Effectively backs up essential home circuits; Runs on propane or natural gas† ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Compatible with OnCueģ Plus remote monitoring app; Streamlined design speeds up installation; AC Shedding ☆☆☆☆☆
Warranty 5-year/2,000-hour limited warranty ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Priced fairly based on capability and features. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Homeowners needing to power only essential circuits during an outage.
  • Users with off-grid applications like cabins or lakehouses with minimal power needs.

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners needing whole-house backup power

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Best Whole House Generator: Generac Guardian 7209

Generac Guardian 7209

If absolute power is your thing and you want to live like a blackout never happened, then I recommend the Generac Guardian 7209 home standby generator. This is considered a whole-house standby generator because, at 24kW, itís perfectly capable of powering everything you would want in your home.


Built in the United States and offering a 5-year limited warranty, the Guardian 7209 includes all the reliable features you would expect from the Generac name. Itís protected by a durable, all-aluminum sound-reducing enclosure and powered by Generacís G-Force engine with a full-pressure lubrication system.


Pair it with the Mobile Link Wi-Fi remote app for monitoring via wireless deviceógreat if youíre away from home often like me. If you connect the generator to a service disconnect automatic transfer switch, it provides AC shedding for up to four HVAC systems. That way, youíll be able to prioritize which circuits get power. The transfer switch can automatically cut power to an HVAC system if thereís too much load on the generator from your priority appliances.


Overall, this generator is a beast and will easily handle larger homes and even multiple air conditioners. If youíre the type of person who doesnít compromise on comfort and having it your way, I recommend the Generac Guardian 7209 for your whole home.

Specs Details Rating
Power 24 kilowatts (LPG); 21 kilowatts (NG); Single-Phase; Generac G-Force Engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Application Readiness Perfect for whole-home backup, including essential & nonessential appliances. Can handle multiple air conditioners; Runs on propane or natural gas† ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Compatible with Mobile Link WiFi remote monitoring; Built-in AC Shedding for 4 HVAC systems; Fast response to outages ☆☆☆☆☆
Warranty 5-year limited warranty ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Premium pricing, but expected because you're getting a whole-home backup solution. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Homeowners looking to power both essentials and nonessentials†

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners needing to only power essential circuits or critical appliances

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Best Off-Grid Generator: Kohler 14RCA

Kohler 14RCA

Looking to power your remote winter cabin or summer lake house? The Kohler 14RCA is my pick for the best off-grid generator, off-grid meaning not connected to any utility power. What separates this unit from other standby generators is its special off-grid warranty. Upon purchasing, youíll get an 18-month or 1,000-hour limited warranty for off-grid (non-standby) applications. Itís also fully certified by the EPA for this purpose.

The other major benefit for remote applications is the unitís two starting control wires, which are compatible with most solar inverters. Thatís huge because, if youíre off the grid, youíll probably use solar power to charge the battery and control the generator. You can use propane or natural gas to run the engine.

Besides this, the Kohler 14RCA offers 14kW of power, which should be plenty for your remote application. The enclosure is 100% corrosion-proof and rated for 181 MPH winds, so it can take a beating in the wilderness. Its OnCue Plus capability lets you monitor your generator via a wireless app, which is perfect when youíre not physically at your off-grid site. The 14RCA is truly designed to run independently of utility power, and thereís no other generator I would recommend for this use.

[NOTE: If youíre looking to live PERMANENTLY off the grid, this is not the right power source for you. Itís designed for seasonal off-grid use.]

Specs Details Rating
Power 14 kilowatts (LPG); 12 kilowatts (NG); Single-Phase; Kohler Command PROģ Engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Application Readiness Effectively backs up essential home circuits; Runs on propane or natural gas† ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Compatible with OnCueģ Plus remote monitoring app; Streamlined design speeds up installation ☆☆☆☆☆
Warranty 5-year/2,000-hour limited warranty ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Priced fairly based on capability and features. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Users with off-grid applications like cabins or lakehouses with minimal power needs.
  • Homeowners needing to power only essential circuits during an outage.

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners needing whole-house backup power

SHOP NOW


Standby Generator FAQs

What size standby generator do I need?

What size standby generator you need depends primarily on how many items you would want to keep powered during an outage. While some people are okay with only the bare essentials staying powered, others want to power everything. Power outage frequency and length is also a factor. If you get several multi-day outages per year, you might be more inclined to power more than less.

To size a standby generator, you need to add up the wattages of every device and appliance you hope to back up and add a little buffer. For the easiest way to do this,†use our home standby generator sizing calculator.

How far can a standby generator be from the house?

Each standby generator will have a required minimum distance from the house outlined in the owner's manual. This minimum distance is enforced to prevent harmful exhaust from blowing into the home.

Many of the standby generators I recommended above have an 18-inch minimum clearance, but this can vary. Your installer should consult local building codes for a definite answer.

How long can a standby generator run continuously?

This depends on the generator and fuel source. Each standby generator manufacturer requires maintenance checks to be done on the unit when it's running continuously, which will require it to turn off. Please look over your owner's manual for these maintenance intervals and how long your generator can stay running.


About Jared†

Jared has decades of technical experience working on generators, cars, and even helicopters. His interest began during childhood, as he watched his mechanical engineer father work on and design machines. These experiences inspired Jared to follow a related course.

He began his career attending the Universal Technical Institute, where he earned a degree in Automotive Technology. He also graduated with honors from the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence as a helicopter technician.


Fusing his love of aircraft and generators, Jared spent time working with towable AGPU generators that are powered by jet engines. He is a certified Generac and Kohler installer and has been the electric generator expert at Power Equipment Direct for more than nine years.


When not around wires and alternators, Jared enjoys working on cars and 3D printing.

Jared, the Generator Expert
By 
Generator Expert
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