In the modern world, even a few minutes without electricity can seem like an eternity. It’s not until we are without it that we fully realize how much we depend upon power for almost everything in our day to day lives.
Power outages can happen anywhere, at any time. When they do occur they are inconvenient, to say the least. They always have an uncanny habit of striking at exactly the wrong time. Losing power when you’re in the middle of cooking dinner, or working from home to a strict deadline, or getting to the climax of a long movie is infuriatingly aggravating.
Additionally, with climate change altering the world’s weather patterns, natural disasters are becoming more and more common. Even areas that are traditionally safe from extreme weather are now experiencing devastation that can leave homes without power for days (or even weeks) at a time.
These are just some of the reasons why more and more people each year are deciding to invest in a home standby generator to provide their homes with the power they need during outages.
Most people don’t have the faintest idea of what they should be looking for when shopping around for a standby generator. It’s an unusual, complicated, and reasonably expensive world for the uninitiated.
What kind do you need? How big is big enough? And much should you spend?
Today we are going to review 3 of the best backup generators on the market to give you a good starting point for your research. At the end of this article, we will be providing a short (but comprehensive) buyer’s guide to ensure you’re fully prepared to make a decision.
Let’s get started.
List of Best Standby Generator Reviews
|STANDBY GENERATOR||QUALITY||PRICE||OUR RATING|
|Generac 730 [ Amazon Link ]||B+||$|
|Kohler 14RESAL [ Amazon Link ]||A+||$$|
|Generac 7043 [ Amazon Link ]||A||$$$|
Generac is one of those companies you’ll probably never hear about until you start looking at buying a generator (because they only deal with generators). Admittedly they don’t have the big name recognition of some of the other brands on the market. But what they lack in recognition, they make up for in affordability and quality.
Generac’s 730 home standby generator is the smallest product on our list in both terms of Kilowatts and circuits (but it’s also the cheapest). If you want an affordable way to keep the essentials running when the power cuts out, this could be the product you’re looking for.
This is what would be classed as an “Essential Coverage” generator (learn more later in our buyer’s guide).
The 9kW that the Generac 730 produces isn’t enough to supply a whole home with power when the mains supply cuts out. But it is enough to supply essential circuits that will keep you going temporarily.
This means that you’ll be able to have lighting, heating (or cooling), refrigeration, and a few average load devices in plug sockets running at the same time (in a small to medium-sized property). Any more than that and you’ll start to encounter supply issues.
The 100watt 16-circuit transfer switch is a little overkill for this generator if we are honest. It’s capable of handling more than the 9kW that the Generac 730 can produce. But, that being said, it’s much better to have too much capability than too little.
There are a few handy little features that the Generac 730 has that makes it one of the most advanced generators in this price bracket.
We love the mobile uplink technology which allows you to monitor the status of your generator via a smartphone app from anywhere in the world. Additionally, the 5-year warranty is a welcome feature (that will probably never be needed due to the build quality of Generac’s products).
Additionally, the 730 has a less than 5% harmonic distortion rating. Without getting technical this basically ensures that your sensitive electronics that need a highly regular and consistent supply of power will not be damaged during operation.
It’s a super tough generator that requires very little maintenance thanks to the durable thick aluminum covering and the robust “Generac G-Force Engine” design. The user-friendly controls also mean that configuration and operation are super simple.
This is a great little generator that will provide you with a much-appreciated source of electricity should the mains fail. While you’re not going to be able to run all of your electrical appliances on the 730, it’s more than enough for most homes to get by reasonably comfortably.
But that being said, if you need to ensure an almost 100% normal energy supply when the power goes out, you’ll find this generator to be lacking.
Due to this, we recommend the Generac 730 for people who don’t expect regular outages but want a fail-safe for when the inevitable does happen.
As an infrequently used backup device – it’s a great value product that does the job well.
| Supplies essential power
Value for money
Consistent and safe power supply
| Covers only basic power needs
Heavy and large for it’s output
Kohler is probably one of the most well-known brands out of all the generator manufacturers in the world. Over the years they have earned themselves a respected reputation for building reliable high-quality products without cutting corners. Their generators are widely regarded as being some of the best in the world, and they are relied upon by homeowners and businesses globally.
The 14RESAL is a big step up from the Generac above in terms of kilowatts. It can boast of a massive 14kW output rating. This is more than enough to power an entire home on a “Managed Whole-House” basis (see the buyers guide at the end for more information on this).
The 14RESAL, however, could also operate on an “Essential Coverage” basis (like the Generac above) too, it all depends on which transfer switch you decide to go for.
By default, the 14RESAL comes with a 100 amp transfer switch that is capable of connecting to 16-circuits. With this option, the potential of the 14RESAL is limited by the switch, and the generator will not be providing as much power as it is truly capable of.
We highly recommend that you instead go for the 200 amp whole house transfer switch for a reasonably small additional cost.
This will allow you to run (almost) everything in a small to medium sized home at the same time without having to worry about overloading. If you intentionally turned everything on at the same time (including water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and hairdryers) you’d probably notice an issue with capacity.
But in all honesty, that never really happens.
Kohler doesn’t just make reliable products, they are at the cutting edge of generator technology.
A great example of this is the ramp up time of the 14RESAL. Within 10 seconds of a power outage, the generator will have turned on, warmed up, and will be creating power for your home. In comparison, the Generac above takes 20 seconds to do the same thing.
Again like the Generac the 14RESAL has a 5-year warranty and provides less than 5% harmonic distortion to keep your sensitive devices safe. Its super quiet motor and its corrosion-proof outer casing combine with all the other features we have mentioned to make this of the most fully featured (yet affordable) generators in the world.
There’s nothing not to like about the 14RESAL. It’s a great product made by a respected brand that is priced very reasonably. We strongly suggest that you go for the 200 amp whole house transfer switch, instead of getting the 100amp version.
It’s like paying for a Ferrari but only having two gears, you’re really not getting the most out of the product with the 100amp switch.
(In all honesty, you may as well get the Generac above if you’re planning on getting the smaller switch. It makes that much of a difference)
Trust us, get the 200amp version and you’ll never look back because this is honestly of the best home standby generators in the world at this price point.
| Excellent engineering & innovation
Powerful for smaller switch
| 100amp switch is not enough
Expensive if compared to similar models
The 7043 is the second Generac generator on this list, it’s also the most powerful (by a very long way). This is a product that is going to provide you and your family with an almost unparalleled level of reliability (and electricity) should an outage occur.
This is the big beast of this list. Its massive 22kW rating allows for even large properties to have power on a “Managed Whole-House” basis. Smaller and medium-sized homes will be able to have power on a “Complete Whole-House” basis. This means you can turn every electrical device on without having to think twice about your power generation capabilities.
To put the sheer amount of power this generator can produce into perspective think about it this way…
This home standby generator review shows us that it can produce almost as much power as both the two generators above combined (1kw difference). Considering both the generators above aren’t exactly “poor performers”, this is quite an achievement.
The 7043 comes with a 200 amp whole house transfer switch which is perfectly suited to the amount of power this unit can generate. If you already have a transfer switch you can purchase the 7043 without one for a saving of around $600.
Despite this being a much more powerful (and expensive) unit than the Generac 730 it has pretty much the exact same special features. You’ll find the same G-force motor and rugged housing. It has the same 5-year warranty and smartphone mobile link monitoring. And you’ll find a less than 5% harmonic distribution rating to protect your electronic devices.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide if this is good value for customers buying the 730 or bad value for customers buying the 7043.
As you would expect, all the additional power present in the 7043 comes at an additional cost. This is the most expensive generator on our list. It’s around $800 more than the Kohler above (which is not an insignificant increase), but it does provide you with 8kW more power.
Remember that this is a premium product that has a premium price tag. Sure it’s not cheap, but it’s a seriously powerful piece of kit that is going to reliably provide you and your family with more emergency electricity than you will probably ever need.
If you’re living in an area that is prone to regular power outages, then this is most certainly the product you are looking for. It entirely removes the issue of electricity reliability (regardless of how good or bad your mains supply is).
The additional 8kW the 7043 provides over the Kohler above is more than worth the additional $800 cost (if you’re going to get semi-regular use out of your generator).
But you’re only going to use it once in a blue moon, we would probably recommend the Kohler instead.
| Additional power
Reliable for regular outages
| Good value if used regularly
Reports of malfunctions
What Do Standby Generators Do?
In a nutshell, standby generators are pretty much what you would expect from the name. They are designed to be a permanent way for a home or business to have access to reliable power should the mains supply fail due to grid issues or natural disasters.
With a home standby generator, you don’t have to wheel out the generator or run extension cords when the power cuts out, it’s a permanent fixture that is hardwired into your property. Within seconds of an outage, your automatic standby generator will switch on and provide power to your home. When the power supply returns, the generator will automatically switch off and begin waiting for the next outage.
Because backup generators are hardwired into your home it means your internal circuits (like lights, pumps, and water heaters) will function as normal when the power cuts out.
What Is A Transfer Switch?
A transfer switch is the backbone of any automatic standby generator. It’s the brains of the operation (whereas the generator is the brawn). Transfer switches are permanently installed devices that are usually located next to your property’s main circuit breaker panel.
It’s the transfer switch that is monitoring for power outages and commands the generator to turn on when a true outage has occurred (and commands it to turn off again when power has returned). It’s also responsible for determining which circuits in your home receive power when the generator is active.
Some switches will provide whole house power, and others will only supply predetermined circuits. Some transfer switches have what is known as “load shedding” capabilities which prioritizes certain circuits and shuts down less important ones when the generator is reaching maximum capacity.
What Kind Of Standby Generator Do I Need?
Finding the right sized generator for your home is the most important part of the buying process. Home standby generator reviews are usually rated in terms of Kilowatts (kW), and are almost always paired with a transfer switch that has a circuit rating. The circuit rating determines how many of your home’s circuits can be powered.
Generators are generally placed into one of three main coverage type categories.
Essential Circuit Coverage
As you might expect from the name, essential circuit coverage generators only supply power to the most important circuits in your home. These usually include things like lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, and a few plug sockets. As seen in the standby generator reviews, these are the cheapest kind and are one of the most popular options for people who don’t experience regular outages but want an emergency system in place.
Managed Whole-House Coverage
Managed whole house coverage generators provide all your property’s circuits with power when there is an outage. However, while all circuits are eligible to receive power, they are not able to provide enough electricity to run all your electrical devices at the same time.
What this essentially means is that your house can function as normal 99% of the time when there is an outage (because most people don’t run all their electrical appliances at once anyway).
They are a great middle ground for people who want their house to function as normal during an outage but don’t require guaranteed 100% usage capability (which includes most households).
Complete Whole-House Coverage
As you probably expect from the name, complete house coverage standby generators are able to supply 100% of your property’s energy demands when there is an outage. With these generators, you could go round and turn on every appliance and switch, and still have power to spare.
They are usually used in nondomestic environments that require an uninterrupted and totally unrestricted power supply at all times, or in places where outages are a regular occurrence.
So there you have it, probably the most comprehensive guide to backup generators on the entire internet.
We have made sure to include a product that is suitable for every budget and every home in our top 3 list. They are all generators that are reliable, great value for money, and are more than worthy of your consideration.
Whichever one you choose you’re going to love the peace of mind that having a fully functioning backup generator provides. But be warned…
It’s hard not to feel smug when you’re the only family with the best home standby generator on the street with power.