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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Whole House Generators Reviewed

In the case of power outages, be sure to have a backup power supply for your entire home.

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When your home experiences a power outage, you lose your access to electricity. It’s frustrating when you can’t turn on lights, run fans or A/C units, run heaters, use electronic appliances in the kitchen or use your favorite technological gadgets. A whole house generator works to provide electricity to your entire home, so regardless of the blackout details, you have access to power. In our review, we rate and compare our favorite high-quality whole house generators for your home. 

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Product

Fuel Type

Wattage

Check Price

Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator 22kW/19.5kW...

Generac 7043

Liquid propane, Natural gas

22000 LP Continuous

Westinghouse WGen12000DF Ultra Duty Portable...

Westinghouse WGen 5500

Gasoline

6850 Starting Watts, 5500 Continuous Wattage

Generac Guardian 7030 9/8 KW Air-Cooled Standby...

Generac Guardian 7030 Optimus

Natural Gas, Propane

22,000 (continuous)

Champion 8.5-kW Home Standby Generator with 50-Amp...

Champion Power Equipment 100177

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

8500 Continuous

Briggs & Stratton 76107 25kW Home Standby...

Briggs & Stratton 76107

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

25,000 Continuous

Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby...

Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

20,000 Continuous

Generac 7033 Guardian Series 11kW/10kW Air Cooled...

Generac 7033

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

16,000 Continuous

How do Whole House Generators Work?

Whole house generators work by using natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, or another fuel source to power your home. The generator is connected directly to your home’s electrical wiring as well as to your home’s fuel source.

Some generators must be turned on, while others will turn on automatically in the event of a power outage. The goal of a whole house generator system is to keep your power and electric on regardless of the weather, power company, or other factors.


Benefits of Having Backup Generators

Did you know that 3.5 million Americans are without power each week? Losing power, whether because of inclement weather such as blizzards, wind storms, tornados, or hurricanes, can wreak havoc on your life. When the power goes down, pipes can burst, temperatures can soar or fall to uncomfortable and even life-threatening conditions, and safety alarms no longer work.

Food spoils, and the lights won't turn on. Electronics cannot be used or charged. A whole house generator can "back up" your house with power by supplying power when you need it most. A whole house generator is perfect for people who experience power outages frequently as well as those who may only experience power outages on occasion in emergency situations.


Buying a High-Quality Whole House Generator

Generator Size vs. Home Power Needs

Where you live is essential when it comes to choosing your generator size. You want to select a larger generator if you expect that you will have a lot to power on an ongoing basis. For example, people who live in hurricane areas of Florida should have a large generator that can keep their power running for days at a time.

You also want to choose a larger generator if you have a lot of power needs in your home. This calculator from Kohler can help you choose the right generator size.

Fuel Type

There are several fuel types available for whole house generators, including diesel, natural gas, liquid propane, and bi-fuel/dual-fuel systems. Always choose a fuel type that is compatible with your generator system. Bi-fuel generators allow you to use multiple types of fuel. Gasoline does not store well but might be most available in a crisis situation. Propane and natural gas are usually the best choices.

Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is an electrical switch and switches between two different sources. A transfer switch is needed to connect your whole house generator to your home safely. It ensures that you will not have a negative back-feed situation.

Generator Type

There are many different types of generators. A standby or stationary generator is a permanent fixture in your home. These generators offer the most power, the most considerable cost savings, and the best performance. However, portable generators are more cost-effective. You might want to choose a portable generator if you intend to move the generator or need to save money.

Noise Level

The noise level from your whole house generator won’t affect the quality of the machine. However, many users prefer to have a quiet generator. Check the noise level on various machines before making your final purchase if a quiet motor is important to you.

Fuel Efficiency & Running Cost

Another factor to consider when purchasing a whole house generator is the fuel efficiency and running cost of the machine. If you must run your generator for several days at a time, costs can really add up. Consider how much fuel you will use to determine the cost of running each generator.

Build Quality & Durability

Build quality and durability is one of the most important factors when choosing a generator because it determines whether or not your generator will work when you need it most. Because generators are used during emergencies, it's challenging to repair a product that falls apart. If you can afford to choose a high-quality generator with few maintenance needs by a reputable brand, then we recommend doing that. Selecting a cheap machine won’t help if it breaks down in the middle of a power outage.

Extra Features

Extra features are not necessary for a good generator experience. However, they can really make a difference when it comes to maintenance and convenience. Extra features available on some whole house generator models include Automatic CO Shutoff, Automatic Start, Electric Start, Alternative Fuel Capacity, Fuel Gauge, Low-Oil Shutoff, Multiple Outlets, and Removable Console.

Price & Warranty

Strong warranties are typically available most frequently on expensive whole house generators. A more expensive generator with a strong warranty may end up saving you significantly more money in the long run, so always consider the warranty when purchasing.


7 Best Whole House Generators Reviewed

1. Generac 7043

Our top Pick!

Power Source/Fuel Type

Liquid propane, Natural gas

Dimensions

48 x 25 x 29 Inches

Weight

515 Lbs.

Runtime

170+ hours

Noise Level

67db

Wattage

22000 LP Continuous

Warranty

Yes, 5-year limited warranty

The Generac 7043 whole house generator is our top pick on this list. It is the best whole house generator for homeowners who want convenience, power, and large fuel capacity. The G-force engine is pressure-lubricated and can handle rigorous use over time. It does not require as much maintenance compared to other whole house generator models and can power your entire home.

This unit can also be purchased with a 200-amp smart switch that protects your house from electrical charges. The engine also comes with Generac’s Quiet-Test technology. This technology allows the generator to run quietly while also running a test to let you know the current power consumption.

Mobile Link remote monitoring will enable you to view the generator consumption, operating status, and all maintenance alerts on an app on any tech device. All Generac brand generators are built in the U.S.

Total harmonic distortion is the level related to the quality of electricity in your device, and the Generac 7043 has less than 5% THD. This unit is efficient and powerful. It also has a large capacity for fuel, and you won't need to restock often. The multilingual LCD display lets you know when you need maintenance or require a new battery. However, this generator does not include its own battery. Homeowners will need to purchase a battery.

The warranty also does not cover all parts, and several spare parts are not covered. We wouldn’t worry too much about either of these inconveniences. If you want the best standby whole house generator, this is it.

Pros

  • Multilingual LCD display
  • G-Force engine
  • Less than 5% THD
  • Large capacity

Cons

  • Battery not included
  • Warranty does not cover all parts

2. Westinghouse WGen 5500

best portable generator for house

Power Source/Fuel Type

Gasoline

Dimensions

26.2 x 27.32 x 27.32 Inches

Weight

178.57 Lbs.

Runtime

20 Hours @25% Load

Noise Level

62 dB @25% load

Wattage

6850 Starting Watts, 5500 Continuous Wattage

Warranty

Yes, three-year limited warranty

The Westinghouse WGen 5500 is the best portable generator for your house. It is inexpensive, easy-to-assemble, comes with a tool kit and oil, and has plenty of power to power most small to medium-sized homes. It has two ground fault circuit interrupters and features 5500 continuous watts of power.

This portable generator offers 20 hours of run time with a 6.6-gallon tank and includes a 420 CC 4-stroke OHV engine. This generator includes a built-in automatic low oil shutdown, digital hour meter, and a clean, clear control panel. It is built with durable and high-quality materials at an affordable price.

Some users did report that it was difficult to know how to properly use the generator because the instructions were unclear. It is also a heavy machine at 178.7 lbs. Some users may find that the wheels and handles are not enough to easily move the machine. But, if you want an affordable whole house generator that is also portable, you cannot go wrong with this generator.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with a tool kit and oil
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Difficult to start
  • Heavy

3. Generac Guardian 7030 Optimus

best standby whole house generator

Power Source/Fuel Type

Natural Gas, Propane

Dimensions

48 x 25 x 29 Inches

Weight

515 Lbs.

Runtime

2.5 gallons per hour used / runtime not listed

Noise Level

68 dB @25% load

Wattage

22,000 (continuous)

Warranty

Yes, five-year limited warranty

The Generac Guardian 7030 Optimus is the a close 2nd for standby whole house generators on our list. It has an all-aluminum enclosure, which helps protect the unit from rust and inclement weather. This generator can also use both natural gas and propane to power itself.

It has a remote monitoring system that can detect when fuel is low as well as alerting you to the power output rating. The runtime remaining is also listed. These details are available on the multilingual LCD display, as well. The G-force engine is both powerful and durable. It is pressure-lubricated and requires fewer maintenance treatments.

This generator is also built by the brand Generac, which is well known for creating premium generators. This generator is easy to set-up and install, although the wiring may be difficult to reach by hand. However, it is a louder machine at 68 dB compared to the most premium whole house generators that fall below 60 dB.

This machine also has higher fuel consumption and may not be as cost-effective as other machines. If you do not mind a louder machine or higher fuel consumption, then this generator is an excellent choice for you. It is powerful, durable, and has a clean, clear display.

Pros

  • All-aluminum enclosure
  • Multilingual LCD display
  • G-force engine

Cons

  • Higher fuel consumption
  • Louder machine

4. Champion Power Equipment 100177

best propane whole house generator

Power Source/Fuel Type

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

Dimensions

40.2 x 30.1 x 50 Inches

Weight

394.1 Lbs.

Runtime

Not Listed

Noise Level

59.5 dB @25% load

Wattage

8500 Continuous

Warranty

Yes, 10-year limited warranty

The Champion 100177 is the best propane whole house generator on our list. It has 8500 continuous watts of power and is air-cooled. Once permanently installed, the powerful engine has an automatic start and automatic shutoff feature, so you won't need to monitor the generator.

The 59.5 dB volume level on this generator is quiet and won't be heard indoors. This generator can also run in extreme temperatures ranging from -22 degrees to 104 degrees. Both natural gas and propane are fuel options for this generator. The starting system is made with 24-Volts and can quickly power without a warming period.

Some users have noted that this generator is difficult to install, and the wiring is inaccessible. However, hiring an installation expert can make the process a breeze. A professional installer can easily access the wiring and install the unit permanently for you. This generator also comes with a 10-year limited warranty, which is one of the best warranties on the market for propane whole house generators.

Pros

  • 8500 continuous wattage
  • Quiet 59.5db noise level
  • 10-year limited warranty
  • Automatic shutoff

Cons

  • Difficult installation
  • Wiring inaccessible

5. Briggs & Stratton 76107

top of the range

Power Source/Fuel Type

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

Dimensions

71 x 32.5 x 37 Inches

Weight

1056 Lbs.

Runtime

2.9 gallons per hour @25% Load

Noise Level

59 dB @25% load

Wattage

25,000 Continuous

Warranty

Yes, five-year warranty

The Briggs & Stratton 76107 is the top of the range generator choice on our list. This generator comes with a 200 amp/split 400 amp automatic transfer switch. This option can save you money when installing your unit because it should fit easily into any home’s wiring set-up.

You can also place this generator closer to your home, as close as 18 inches away, which is unusual for a whole house generator. This closer placement can save space. The powerful 25,000-watt engine can power your whole house comfortably, up to 19,000 square feet. This generator comes with a five-year warranty.

Automatic start and automatic shut-off options allow your family to rest peacefully while the generator monitors itself. The generator's enclosure is fully enclosed in sleek Galvannealed Steel. This steel enclosure will protect your generator from inclement weather and holds the same durability as the steel used in vehicles. This generator is both heavy and expensive. Over 1,000 lbs., this unit will require an experienced installer.

This unit is also one of the most expensive generators in the marketplace; however, every part of this generator is commercial grade. If you want a high-quality, premier whole house generator that is durable, reliable and comes with state-of-the-art features, then it is a perfect generator for you.

Pros

  • Commercial grade parts
  • 25,000-watt engine
  • 200/400 transfer switch
  • Fully enclosed unit

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

6. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS

best backup whole house generator

Power Source/Fuel Type

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

Dimensions

48 x 26 x 29 Inches

Weight

500 Lbs.

Runtime

Not Listed

Noise Level

69 dB @25% load

Wattage

20,000 Continuous

Warranty

Yes, 5-year limited warranty

The Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS is our best backup whole house generator. This generator can be connected to your home’s fuel supply and run on either natural gas or liquid propane. This means you won’t need to refuel your unit, but can let it run permanently without issues.

Kohler also sells additional accessories for this generator, including a maintenance kit and fuel regulator heater. A remote monitoring system comes with a wireless remote and allows you to access your system even when you are not home.

The monitoring system also shows the hourly fuel usage and includes overload protection notifications. An automatic shutdown system is in place for low oil. When the unit shuts down, it will also send an alert via the monitoring system. The generator is fully enclosed to avoid debris from getting stuck in the engine and fans.

Many users have reported a positive experience with their generator, but note that the technical support from Kohler is not great. If you expect to fix technical issues over the phone, this generator may not be your best option. Installation is also tricky, and professional installation is recommended for this product. This unit does come with a five-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • 20,000-watt engine
  • Fully enclosed
  • No refueling necessary

Cons

  • Difficult installation
  • Technical support not great

7. Generac 7033

best for small house

Power Source/Fuel Type

Natural Gas, Liquid Propane

Dimensions

48 x 25 x 29 Inches

Weight

420 Lbs.

Runtime

Not Listed

Noise Level

64 dB @25% load

Wattage

16,000 Continuous

Warranty

Yes, five-year limited warranty

The Generac 7033 is the best generator for small houses on our list. It is similar to the Generac 7043 model but has a smaller fuel capacity. The smaller fuel capacity will not work for more substantial homes but is perfect for smaller homes that simply do not need a massive generator with large fuel capacity.

This can save small homeowners money while still providing them with a strong, durable whole house generator. It has a 16,000-watt pressure-lubricated engine and is fully enclosed with an all-aluminum exterior.

This exterior is weather-resistant and adds durability to the model. A multilingual LCD display includes a remote control and offers a mobile link remote monitoring system. This model protects sensitive electronics with less than 5% total harmonic distortion.

CB from Lowes said, 

"Bought this unit and had it installed just before PGE started their rolling blackouts. Powers over half my home, the important stuff, TV, lights, outlets, AC, furnace, and 2 refrigerators.”

This generator does not have any circuit breakers included and does not have a battery included. It requires more frequent maintenance compared to larger whole house generator units. This generator also comes with a 5-year warranty. It is easier to install than other models simply because of its size and lower weight capacity.

Pros

  • 16,000-watt engine
  • All-aluminum fully enclosed generator
  • Multilingual LCD display with remote control

Cons

  • Small fuel capacity (advantage for small homes)
  • No circuit breakers included

Portable Vs Standby Whole House Generator

Both portable and standby whole house generators are useful in the event of a power outage. Portable generators are smaller, mobile, and are typically used to power a few items in the event of a blackout. For example, a portable generator might turn on a few lights, power the TV, and run the refrigerator.

These units can easily be stowed away in a garage or shed when not in use. A standby whole house generator is permanently installed outdoors and can power your entire home. They are convenient, easy-to-use, and offer maximum power.


Sizing Generator for Home Use

When purchasing a whole home generator, it is important first to calculate the size of the generator that you need. If you buy a generator that is too small, you will not be able to correctly power your home in an emergency.

This calculator from Kohler will let you determine the size of generator you need. Work your way through the questions to calculate your power requirement. As you answer, remember to answer realistically based on your average power consumption.


Installing a New Generator From Your Home

A new whole house generator should always be installed by a licensed professional. The cost of installation will depend on where you live as well as the type of generator you purchase. The cost will typically range from $400 to $3,000.

The best place to put your whole house generator is usually between your gas meter and your electric meter. In some cities, you must have permits for standby generator installations, so make sure that you check with your zoning officials.


How to Run a House Generator Safely

If your home experiences a blackout or power failure, you want to be able to use your whole house generator to restore power. However, there are safety precautions that you need to take to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe while using your generator.

The first safety tip is to always run your generator outside. You don’t want to run your generator indoors or in a tight, enclosed space. For example, do not run your generator in the garage because carbon monoxide levels can reach dangerous levels if you do.

The second tip is to ensure that your generator cools down completely before you refuel. It can be tempting to refuel immediately because you want to keep using your generator. However, any gasoline that is spilled on the generator can cause a fire. Wait until the generator has completely cooled off before you add more fuel.

Finally, make sure that you have enough gasoline stored to power your generator. In the event of an emergency, you won’t have time or perhaps the ability to run out and buy more gas.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost to have a whole house generator installed?
Most whole house generators can be installed for $400 to $3,000. This cost is in addition to the purchasing price of the generator unit. Installing a whole house generator is a process that requires a professional. These units need to be connected to various wires and pipes within your home and must follow local building codes.
What are the best whole house generator brands?
The best whole house generator brands are Generac, Champion, Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, Westinghouse, and DuroMax. These brands are all available on Amazon.com.
How often should a generator be serviced?
Whole house generators require regular maintenance. We recommend servicing your generator every two years to ensure that the engine is working properly. It’s important to stay on top of maintenance so that your generator will work when you need it most.
Does a whole house generator increase home value?
Yes! In fact, installing a whole house generator in your home is one of the best ways to increase your home's value. Most homes will see an increase in value between 2 and 7%.
How much is a whole house generator on average?
The cost of a whole house generator depends on many factors. Size, features, and power capabilities all influence the actual cost of purchasing the generator. Most whole house generators cost anywhere from $500 to $6,000. 
How long does a whole house generator last?
Most whole house generators can last anywhere from 10 years to 30 years. Regular maintenance every two years can help extend the life of your generator. The higher quality generators tend to last longer than smaller, more portable options.
How much does it cost to run a house on a generator?
It typically costs between $80 and $130 to run your whole house generator for a day. This cost depends on the city that you live in and the cost of fuel there. Whole house generators are meant to be used in emergencies and rare circumstances, not for regular use.

Conclusion

A generator is an excellent machine that can power your home and appliances through blackouts and other power outage emergencies. If you want the best, most powerful standby generator for your home, we recommend purchasing the Briggs & Stratton 76107.

However, if you can’t afford that unit, the Generac 7043 is a close second. This generator has everything you need to provide power while offering convenience and a strong warranty. If you prefer to purchase a smaller, portable unit, then we recommend buying the Westinghouse WGen 12003.

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