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Best Standby Generators

These are our picks for the best standby generators available at These picks are made by our in-house generator expert, Jim Baugher.

18 Pins

Generac 5875 - 20kW Smart Circuit Standby Generator System. With the new Nexus Smart Switch™, you can actually alternate high-wattage appliances instead. One air conditioner will run until it’s finished. Then, when the extra electricity is available, the second air conditioner will automatically kick on. The system comes with two Digital Load Management (DLM) switches built into the Nexus Smart Switch. They are typically reserved for two central air conditioners.

The Briggs & Stratton 40303PACK - 15kW Smart Circuit Standby Generator System. With its patented central air technology, the system automatically senses when extra electricity is available. If the power exists, it will automatically start the second air conditioner. If it doesn’t, it won’t start, protecting the generator from overloading. Note: If one of your central air conditioner is a 5-ton model, you’ll need to get a more powerful system.

Generac Guardian Series 6051 - 10kW Smart Circuit Standby Generator System. This new Generac 10kW comes with the latest technology Nexus Smart Switch and Nexus Digital controller. This 10kW with a DLM and Nexus Smart transfer switch will give you the ability to power most of your house and run your air conditioners if power is available. At 63dBA it is less noisy that your vacuum cleaner! This model has been a great seller for us since we added it to our site.

The Generac QuietSource 27 kW generator includes all of the same great features in the smaller 22 kilowatt version. Plus, it features a more powerful Generac engine capable of producing an extra 5 kilowatts of electricity. An extra 5 kilowatts might not seem like much. But, think about it. Most portable generators only produce 5 kilowatts. If you get the 27 kilowatt version, you're basically combining the best liquid cooled generator and a portable emergency together into one package.

The Generac QuietSource 22kW features a high-quality automotive-style (instead of lawn-mower style) engine. Instead of running at 3600 rotations per minute, it runs at 1800 RPM. By running at half the speed, the engine is a lot quieter, consumes less fuel and lasts much longer. It also has an aluminum enclosure which is ideal for luxury homes along the coast. Salt water is notorious for eating away steel enclosures.

Generac Guardian Series 25 kW Emergency Standby Power Generator. The 25kW liquid cooled becomes a smart choice when you need a little extra power to muscle thru multiple air conditioners or if you live in a hot climate and the generator is running at or above 50% duty factor regularly. We like this 25kW model because of the smaller footprint and cost penalties compared to other liquid cooled models. It has been in production for some time and has proven itself to be a reliable.

The step up from the 8kW version is rather dramatic – although not necessarily in just power output. The model 5871 features a 530cc v-twin engine for smoother operation and comes with a total of 12 pre-wired circuits in the transfer switch. If you want to run more than the basics, this is a good machine to consider. Wireless monitors are one accessory which is offered in 2 variants, basic status alerts & the full blown generator controller display replicated inside your home.

The 8 kilowatt version can restore power to 10 mission-critical circuits, including a sump pump, refrigerator, furnace fans, lights and more. The 17 kW version can restore power to 16 circuits, including a central air conditioner. The 8 kW version simply lacks the strength to turn over a central air conditioner. If you can live without air conditioning during a power outage, it's a whole lot better than manually setting up and starting a portable generator. Plus, it runs automatically!

The new Generac CorePower 7kW, offers you a compact home standby system at the price of a portable generator. For the price, can you believe this model even includes an 8 circuit load center style 50 Amp automatic transfer switch? The Generac CorePower won a Popular Mechanics Editor's Choice Award from the May 2010 National Hardware Show. If they think it's worthy of making their list, you better believe it's on my list!

If you live in an area where there’s lots of moisture, this model from Kohler might be just what you’re looking for. The enclosure is 100% corrosion-proof. Combine that with Kohler’s award-winning performance and reliability, you have yourself a generator that provides clean power for sensitive electronics. This package includes a transfer switch that can accommodate up to 16 breakers, so you can select the circuits that are essential to your application.

This line of generators is a little unique in that it is more a hybrid between Essential and Smart Circuit generators. This unit has Air Conditioning Control module which gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to running your air conditioner while still powering your essential circuits. While the model in our "good" recommendation will allow you to run one 4 ton AC this home standby system can give you the ability to run two if you have enough power left over.

If you want to run a central air conditioner, get something stronger. We recommend at least 15 kilowatts to run a 4-5 ton central air conditioner. If you're willing to sacrifice the air conditioner, you can usually save some money by getting a 7- or 10-kilowatt generator instead. This model is very popular with larger homes in northern states. It'll run the majority of the house - minus the air conditioner.

The Generac QuietSource replaces all 200-amps of electricity supplied by the utility company. Sure, you may not use all it. But, it's there if you want it. The Generac engine runs at half the speed, resulting in less fuel consumption, less wear and less noise. Aluminum simply doesn't rust as quickly as steel. If you want your generator to last, aluminum is the way to go.

The 36 kilowatt version generates only 150-amps or roughly 75% of the 200-amps coming through your electrical panel. But, here's the bonus. You rarely use all 200-amps supplied by the utility. You use a ton during hot summer days. You barely use any at night. In reality, you can save a bunch of money by buying a smaller generator, which will still power the whole house. It just won't have massive amounts of electricity to spare.

This Generac Guardian Series 45kW home standby generator has the power to produce nearly 200-amps of electricity. It will energize every single appliance in your home with some extra electricity to spare. While it excels in strength, it lacks a few features. It's built with a steel - instead of aluminum - enclosure, which is fine as long as you live a way from the coast. Also, it comes with a 3600 RPM engine - instead of the 1800 RPM version on the QuietSource models.

This package comes with a flex fuel line and 200Amp indoor/outdoor Nema 3R Automatic Transfer Switch. You can also add in Kohler's available accessories such as: Cold Weather Carburetor Heater, Load Control Module and the new OnCue Generator Management System. OnCue gives you and/or your local dealer true remote control of your system, for 24/7 online status with the ability to start or stop your generator remotely from your computer.

Guardian's 100-Amp Distributed Load Center ensures the easiest, trouble free installation. You simply pick 16-circuits that you want to power during an outage. Most people choose this option. Guardian offers a steel and aluminum enclosure. The aluminum option is great if you live near the ocean or gulf because it simply doesn't rust. If you live inland, the steel option will serve you well. Guardian uses a powder coat painting system which keeps the enclosure well protected.

Centurion is made by Generac and basically the same as a Guardian series, just with a different logo. Centurion can be found exclusively at Lowes and now this model at Power Equipment Direct. This 16kW is a great size for people living in the Northeast or Midwest, where running your air conditioner is not a necessity. This 16kW comes with a 100 Amp automatic transfer switch with 16 circuits. 16 circuits should help you ride through the next storm comfortably.