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Standby vs Portable Generator – which one is a better choice

Every time there’s a power outage, you start hearing the sound of generators rumbling. It’s at this point that if you have NOT invested in one, you automatically start pondering over the idea, wondering whether it’s a smart move to go for a portable or standby generator.

So how do the two types of generators stack against each other?


a) Portable Generators

Portable generators are operated manually. They require you to take them outside to an appropriate spot you’ve selected and to plug them right into your home or office. You’ll also be required to keep adding fuel (usually gasoline, diesel or propane) to keep them running.

That means that portable generators are not the best choice if you are looking for a 100% hands-free emergency power supply. In the event that you’re far from home and the power goes off, you might expect to return back only to find a burst pipe or spoilt food in your refrigerator.

b) Standby Generators

Standby generators on the other hand switch on automatically whenever they register a drop in power.

You do not have to be physically present at home to turn them on whenever your power goes out. There will be a very short delay (usually less than 15 sec) as they fully switch on, but they’ll eventually go on and get your home power rolling again.

Many models such as the ones offered by Generac offer internet connection. This allows you to control your generator via a smartphone app even from hundreds of miles away.

Usually, they’re hooked to a more consistent energy source such as propane or natural gas. This frees you from the need to worry about refueling the generator in the event of an extended power outage.


a) Portable Generators

There isn’t much to the procedure of installing a portable generator. You simply set them up where you want them to be, and make sure they’re both fuelled and plugged in before you can go ahead and switch them on. Do not forget the transfer switch though!

b) Standby Generators

Standby generators have a little complicated installation procedure and can as such only be installed by a real professional in the field. Usually, the company you bought it from such as Generac or Kohler will provide such a service for you.

In addition to all that, you’ll be required to seek out the service of a plumber to help you hook the generator to a fuel source — particularly propane or natural gas, and only after they have been thoroughly inspected by your fuel supplier.


a) Portable Generators

It should cost you anywhere between $500 and $1500 to acquire a portable generator that can provide up to 10000 watts of power. This is pretty much enough to power an average home with lights and standard home appliances.

Besides the cost of fuel, you’ll also be incurring a little setup cost of about $30, and that’s pretty much it.

b) Standby Generators

To acquire a standby generator with the capability of powering your entire home, then be prepared to fork over anything between $3000 and $5000. In addition to all that, you’ll also be spending between $2000 and $4000 to install it, which is inclusive of the amount you’ll be paying the plumber and the installation technician assigned to you.

On the other hand, the clear long term advantage of a standby generator is that since is it a permanent addition to your property – it can increase your home resale value.


Both portable and standby generators produce a certain degree of noise. Standby generators are however less noisy compared to their portable counterparts. They are quiet enough to let you go about your household chores as normal.


As seen, each of the two generators boasts its share of perks and cons. However, if your need for a generator is limited to home use only, then you may want to install a standby generator for the simple reason that it also increases your property value – besides being the most reliable choice of the two options you have.