Have you ever been in one of those cliché scenarios where a storm is unleashing its powers outside, and you’re left with no power as a result? Well, in one of these situations, an emergency generator that can power the entire house is exactly what you need.
The best whole house generators are powerful units that help you power most of the appliances that you use on a daily basis, such as your fridge, washing machine, heaters, and anything of the sort. But to make sure your generator will really power every appliance, you have to purchase the proper unit. It’s not that easy, though.
If you are looking for such a product, then below we prepared some whole house generator reviews and a useful buying guide. These should help you make your choice when shopping for a new powering unit, so let’s not waste any more time and get started!
What Are the Advantages of Owning a Whole House Generator?
When you purchase a whole house generator and set it up, there are a bunch of advantages that you will get. You can discover the benefits of owning a whole-house generator below;
What’s great about whole house generators is that they can stand by and they won’t get ruined. Basically, these units are made to be used in special situations – so, they will not run all the time. They will be inactive for many days, even months. As such, they will not need much maintenance, making things easier for you, especially if you don’t have time to care for the unit.
Whole house generators are designed to be set up outside of your property, being safe alternatives when you’re left with no power. Because they are installed outside, you don’t have to worry about any noise caused by the machine. But the most important thing of all is that you’ll be safe because generators can be dangerous if they run inside a house.
A Lot of Power
You’ll come to love these whole house generators because they have powerful engines and have been engineered to handle multiple appliances. Thanks to that, you can rest assured that the units you use on a regular basis will be able to run in any situation.
Probably one of the most amazing features with these units is that they automatically switch on whenever a power outage occurs. That being said, they have the ability to turn on by themselves when something happens and turn off the same way when you don’t need them anymore. This way, you will not have to manually turn them on, having the benefit of continuously running energy.
Amazing Fuel Efficiency
Another benefit of whole house generators is fuel efficiency. Whereas other generators might guzzle fuel a lot, whole-house units use automotive-style engines of the highest quality. Thus, they ensure that they don’t have the same issues as your typical generator.
Food Spillage Prevention
The worst thing with power outages is that your fridge won’t be able to maintain its cooling ability since it’s not connected to a power source anymore. But if you have a whole house generator that can power even the most powerful appliances, there’s no need to worry. Your fridge will be able to keep running. As such, you will prevent food spillage, saving money in the process as well.
Things You Should Take into Account When Purchasing a Whole House Generators
No matter whether you get a great solar generator or a whole-house generator, you always need to pay attention to certain factors when shopping for such a product. Having said that, here are the features to consider first;
How much power does your house need? That’s a question to ask yourself before you rush to buy a whole house generator. Well, the power output is specified for each product, so you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding one.
The power output will generally depend on how much power you consume, which is why you need to check the watts of everything that you use in the house first. Then, you can add up the watts and decide your power requirement.
We’re talking about a very powerful and unique unit here, so you should be aware that they are not the cheapest ones. Before buying one, make sure that the product that grabbed your attention fits your available budget
If anything, make sure to check for one that has a good price but still delivers enough benefits to be worth the cost.
You cannot overlook the size of a generator. The best home generator’s size will be assessed by the Kilowatt. It will pretty much measure the capacity that the unit is able to handle, so the more power you need, the bigger the unit should be. A 20Kw generator, for example, will be suitable if you need a good power solution.
Upkeep Cost and Efficiency
Aside from the price you pay when purchasing the generator, you must also consider that you’ll need money to keep the unit running. After all, it wouldn’t be advantageous to have a generator that costs more to take care of than to purchase. Look for something durable, preferably something corrosion-resistant, that still works efficiently.
Every whole house generator has to stay outside because it burns fuel and it could be toxic to stay near it. Placing such a unit inside will put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Since you need to connect it to the circuit box with wires, you may be a little limited in terms of location depending on the size of the unit.
Noise is something that most people don’t like, particularly those who want a quiet environment while they perform various tasks. As such, it’s essential to look for an item that doesn’t produce a lot of noise. Since many products make false promises, make sure to check the reviews and find out if the product is actually quiet.
How much can the generator run? It’s something that should not be overlooked, especially as long as you experience long power outages pretty often. Some generators can work over 10 hours if they have the necessary fuel, so look for one that can run long enough to keep your appliances working during long outages.
Safety features are more important than you think because the last thing you want is a life-threatening situation. Look whether the generator has a low-oil auto shut-off feature. It’s important in case the oil is low, so the generator can stop working and not overwork the engine.
Remote monitoring helps you monitor the generator without having to walk to it all the time. If a unit has a mobile-friendly application, then you should consider buying it, because this helps you keep an eye on it all the time.
It’s essential to have a good warranty that ensures that you will have coverage in case there are specific issues with the generator. More often than not, whole house generators come with a 5-year warranty, so don’t settle for any less. If you go for a short one, you risk getting something that will stop working too soon.
Best Whole House Generators Comparison Chart
Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator
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Westinghouse WGen12000 Ultra Duty Portable Generator
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Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator
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A-iPower SUA12000E 12,000-Watt Gasoline Powered Generator
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DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator
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Best Whole House Generator Reviews
1. Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator
Generac doesn’t play around when it comes to whole house generators. This model proves it. It comes with a controller with LED indicators, so it’s easier for you to track the way the unit operates. You will be able to check the utility power presence, as well as the generator status and more.
The unit can deliver one of the best energy power qualities. Thanks to this quality, it can properly deliver the energy that you need, in a smooth manner. Therefore, it will be suitable even for more sensitive appliances and electronics.
The installation will be very easy, as the aluminum enclosure has 3 removable sides, so you have easier access to them. Not to mention that you will also be able to maintain it due to the same feature. The enclosure is tough and durable as well, being able to resist harsh weather.
- Very powerful unit
- Smooth operation
- Can deal even with more sensitive electronics
- LED indicators so you can always follow the generator status and other things
- Resists in any weather condition
- Has mobile link remote monitoring for easier control
- Can run pretty quietly
- Doesn’t come with an included battery, so you will have to buy it separately
2. Westinghouse WGen12000 Ultra Duty Portable Generator
If you need something reliable, then you might like this Westinghouse product. The whole house generator has been provided with a great engine, respectively an Ultra Duty 713cc OHV V-Twin Westinghouse one. It is really powerful, and on top of that, it also has a long-lasting cast iron sleeve with automatic low oil shutdown, as well as a digital hour meter. So, it can run safely and shut off automatically in case of low oil, for better maintenance and your own safety. For even more safety, the outlets have rubber covers.
It has a 10.5-gallon fuel tank with fuel gauge, so you can fit enough fuel inside. With the right amount, the generator has a runtime of up to 16 hours. Also, it comes with pretty much everything you need, such as a 12V battery charger, a tool kit, a remote start key fob, oil, an oil funnel, and a user’s manual.
- Can run for a good amount of time, up to 16 hours
- Backed by a 3-year warranty
- Has a big fuel tank
- Comes with pretty much everything you need
- Safety ensured by the rubber covers on outlets and auto-shutoff when the oil is low
- It cannot really be exposed to snow, rain or ice as it could damage the generator
3. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator
When it comes to whole house generators, you need something resistant, and Kohler may have just the right product for you. This unit is 100% corrosion-proof. So, you don’t have to worry about keeping it outside, even when the weather is not exactly the friendliest. Your unit will stay safe at all times.
Not to mention that this machine can give you immediate power-up for your house. It only takes 10 seconds for it to power your entire home, and it has an outstanding power quality as well. Add that to the fact that the operation is a very quiet one, so you shouldn’t even worry about potentially being disturbed during your daily tasks.
As soon as the power goes out during an outage, this unit will start up automatically. It is a 20,000-watt air-cooled generator, and it will work amazingly in such a situation.
- 100% corrosion-proof enclosure
- Fast response – it can easily power up the entire house in 10 seconds
- It will start automatically when the power goes out
- Has a 5-year warranty
- You may have to pay additional costs to have the engine tuned in
4. A-iPower SUA12000E 12,000-Watt Gasoline Powered Generator
Do you want something that offers enough safety for your peace of mind? If that’s the case, then this A-iPower product may meet this requirement. The unit has Gfci protected outlets, and the cords are protected too. A protective cover makes sure they are concealed, and they also look nicer than regular cords.
Starting the unit is a piece of cake. You basically have a keyless one-touch push button that makes it very easy to turn on the machine and allow it time to operate. It has 12,000 starting watts, as well as 9,000 running watts with electric start.
There is a built-in DC adapter plug that helps you charge your battery much easier. In addition, you can use it with your USB adapter to charge your phone whenever you need it. The DC charging cables are included with the whole house generator.
- Can be easily moved around thanks to the wheels, as they were designed for heavy-duty loads
- Safe cords and protected outlets
- Easy to start
- Comes with DC charging cables for charging your cellphone or your battery
- 7,0-gallon capacity tank
- Can run for up to 9 hours
- The powder coating might come off very easily
5. DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator
DuroMax wanted to make sure they came up with a wonderful whole house generator, and they succeeded. The XP12000EH model is a dual fuel one, allowing you to use two different types of fuels, so you can pick whichever is the more convenient option for you: propane or gasoline. But that’s not all: apart from giving you the option to use two types of fuel, it is also approved for use in all 50 states.
This amazing unit has 12,000 starting watts and 9,500 running watts, making it suitable for handling heavy loads such as home conditioners, refrigerators, and many others. It’s great when you have a long power outage.
To make sure you will not have to deal with any annoying noise, the unit has a noise-reducing muffler with a built-in spark arrestor.
- Covered by a 3-year warranty
- Has an oversized noise-reducing muffler with a built-in spark arrestor
- Can provide enough power for multiple appliances at once
- You can use it with two different types of fuel
- Portable and easy to transport
- Comes with no oil in the engine
- The tires will go flat after a while
6. Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator
With outstanding power, this whole house generator will be enough to provide energy for your house during a long outage. This Champion Power Equipment generator model will provide 14,000 watts of continuous power if used on propane, and 12,500 watts on natural gas. Apart from that, it can give the entire house power 24/7.
It has an Ats200 whole house transfer switch, which has demand control as well. Therefore, you can easily control the unit and make sure it doesn’t fail to provide the necessary amount of energy.
It’s reliable too because it can operate in either extreme heat or sub-zero temperatures. As such, no warming kit will be necessary. Also, let’s not forget the fact that the unit will let you know if there is any problem, as weekly self-diagnostic tests are being performed.
- Has a 10-year limited warranty with free lifetime technical support
- Very powerful engine
- Can work with two different types of fuel
- Operates great during very low or very high temperatures
- Quiet operation
- You may have to spend additional money on plumbing
7. Pulsar G10KBN Space Gray 10,000 Watt Portable Dual-Fuel Generator with Electric Start
In case you want a generator that is not only easy to carry but also has durable wheels, then you can take a look at this model. It has drop-down handles, as well as 10” never-flat wheels. They make the unit easy to store, as well as more portable overall.
The tank is pretty spacious, having a 6.6 fuel capacity. It can run for up to 12 hours due to that – so, it can run continuously if you make sure to use enough fuel. The engine has an electric start and the powder-coated frame is durable enough to protect it. Furthermore, there is a 3-in-1 digital meter, and you get a low oil shutoff together with automatic voltage regulation. This is for your own safety and peace of mind.
- Up to 12 hours of runtime
- Backed by a 1-year limited warranty
- Low oil shutoff, automatic voltage regulation and 3-in-1 digital meter for more safety
- Dual-fuel capability
- Engine protected by a powder-coated frame
- The generator can be quite heavy
- It may be a little too loud
Types of Fuel that Whole House Generators Can Use
Just like dual fuel generators, whole-house units come with a selection of fuels that you can use to run them. It’s great to have multiple choices, as it allows you to pick the one that you like the most. Here’s some information about the fuels a whole house generator can run on:
Liquid propane is often used for vehicles, heating appliances and even cooking equipment. Known as liquid petroleum gas or liquefied petroleum gas, this is a great fuel as it can run in automotive style engines, as long as these were designed to use it. The fuel is spark ignited.
If you are going to use this, it’s important to know that you have to store it on-site. It’s a great alternative to diesel, so if you don’t have diesel, this could be a great replacement.
Natural gas-powered generators don’t run that differently compared to gasoline-powered ones. They are pretty similar. Natural gas may be a greater option, though, due to its durability, perceptions of reliability, and power density. Also, gas is cost-effective. Although fuels like this one were not really a preferred option in the past, the technological evolutions paved the way for natural gas.
A natural gas-powered generator will have an internal combustion engine, which will introduce a mix of fuel and air into the combustion chamber. The mixture will then be compressed with a piston. Also, it’s important to note that natural gas generators don’t burn liquid fuels, but rather gaseous fuels.
Diesel is probably the most common choice when it comes to fuels. It is used for many appliances with one of them being, of course, the whole house generator. Not only that it can be stored on-site, but it is also great due to having high thermal efficiency. So, if you cannot exactly use natural gas because you lack the infrastructure, you can use diesel.
Gasoline comes in the form of a liquid and can be used in internal combustion engines. Usually, this wouldn’t be the first choice of fuel for a generator, unless it’s a portable generator. Not to mention that gasoline is less powerful than other types of fuel, meaning that you could only use it for less powerful units.
Believe it or not, but there are even systems that can use both types of fuels at the same time. These will make sure to alleviate the problems of comparing utility-supplied fuel to on-site fuel. The engines that run on two types of fuels are bi-fuel generators and dual fuel generators.
Depending on the availability, dual-fuel units can operate on LP vapor and natural gas. Meanwhile, a bi-fuel one will use natural gas and diesel, burning both of them simultaneously in the same engine. The unit will start up using diesel, and then natural gas is being slowly introduced until the blend is perfect. The blend will usually be of 75% natural gas and 25% diesel.
Differences between Standby and Portable Whole House Generators
With whole house generators, you have two different types you can pick from; standby and portable. Choosing either of them depends on your needs.
Standby units represent a more suitable option for people who want a permanent solution for outage problems. Those who live in areas that often get storms and power outages might need a standby generator. They are installed in a permanent place, and the coolest thing of all is that they will automatically start working when an outage occurs. So, there’s no need for you to go outside in the storm to turn on the unit – it will start by itself and turn off alone when you don’t need it anymore.
To make that possible, the units are hard-wired into the electrical system. They run on natural gas or liquid propane. For proper functioning and maintenance, standby generators usually perform a weekly test to check out whether they will be able to respond in case of an outage.
On the other hand, portable generators, such as an inverter generator, are used for emergencies like an outage. Still, they are made for short-term use and they’re smaller. Basically, you can move them around as you please, being suitable for road trips or anything of the sort. Of course, they can be used at home too.
Unlike their standby counterparts, portable whole house generators will not start automatically during an outage. You have to switch them manually, and then switch them off when you don’t need them anymore. They will require maintenance now and then and are made specifically for portable backup use. Although whole house generators are usually not that silent, you will have a better chance of finding a top-notch quiet portable generator.
Difference Between Liquid-Cooled and Air-Cooled
Because current circulates through them, whole house generators tend to heat up. This would be dangerous and even damaging to the unit over time, which is why all generators have been provided with a cooling system. But there are two different types of generator cooling systems: liquid-cooled and air-cooled.
Air-cooled ones can be either enclosed systems or open-ventilated systems. With enclosed ones, the air is kept in one place and recirculated. This allows it to be cooled and, as a result, the generator maintains its coolness as well.
Open-ventilated ones will work differently, respectively by using the air in the atmosphere with an exhaust system. The air is always released back into the atmosphere, and since air keeps circulating in and out of the unit, the generator will stay cool.
Then, we have liquid-cooled generators. As you can tell by their name, they use the liquid in order to stay cool. These use different types of liquid to maintain the right temperature, such as hydrogen, oil or others.
They usually have a water pump that helps the coolant get moved around, and the coolant absorbs the heat generated by the unit. As such, the generator will stay cool. But you need to be aware that this type of system is more suitable for a larger generator because it will only stay cool if there are heavy-duty components.
Types of Transfer Switch
There are different types of switches that can be operated with a whole house generator, respectively:
This one pretty much speaks for itself – it’s a switch that powers the entire breaker panel, so your whole house gets the power that you need. It is a great option when the 16-circuit load center limit is not enough for you.
The cool thing with them is that they are less annoying when it comes to installation because they require no wiring for single circuits with single disconnect switches. As such, there is less effort to deal with, so it’s worth it, despite being pricier.
Load center switches are usually made in case you only want the basic appliances of the house to be powered by the generator. They are also known as essential circuit switches, and you will need an electrician to wire the individual circuits from the panel. Make sure you have one of these if you live in an older house, which has a 100-amp service or less. Keep in mind – these switches can power about 8-16 critical circuits from the main breaker panel.
These switches are great for people who have subpanels and need to power them. Before using one of these, you need to make sure that such a switch meets the codes in your area. This transfer switch can be more beneficial than you think if you have a subpanel, so make sure to talk to your electrician about this before you purchase one.
Whole House Generator FAQ
Here are some very commonly asked questions about whole house generators:
- Can I install a whole house generator alone?
Yes, you can install a generator alone as long as you know enough about safety standards and adhere to the state electrical codes. If you don’t know about any of these, it’s always a better and safer idea to have a trained or licensed electrician install it.
- Do standby generators last long enough?
It all depends on the type of fuel that they use. On average, natural gas or a propane generator should run about 3,000 hours. Meanwhile, a diesel one can run for up to 20,000 hours. Check the fuel type before making assumptions.
- Can I run a computer off the generator?
Yes, it is possible to do so. Since the generator can power the entire house, it is possible to use a computer with it without any problem.
Whole house generators can make a huge difference in homes that deal with power outages quite often. That’s why you need to look for the best whole house generators to make sure you will find a model that will accompany you for many years.
Our whole house generator reviews have revealed some good models and prepared you for your shopping adventures. We also hope that you can use the buying guide to your best advantage when you have to pick a suitable type of generator for your house. Happy shopping!