Portable Generators vs. Standby Generators


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Have yo
u ever lost power during a storm? If so, you know how frustrating it can be, between not being able to use your lights, worrying about food spoiling in the refrigerator, running out of hot water, and more. That’s why many homeowners opt to invest in a home generator. If you don’t already have one and are considering one, there are two main kinds: portable generators and standby generators. Here are some of their differences:


The main difference between a standby generator and a portable generator is their ability to be moved. Standby generators are installed permanently outside your home and hook up directly to it. Portable generators, on the other hand, are smaller and can be moved from location to location.

Power Source

Portable generators often run off of gasoline, which means you’ll have to manually fill the generator tank and refill it, if needed. Standby generators, on the other hand, often hook up to existing gas lines and run off of natural gas or propane.


Since a standby generator is hooked up to your home, it has a transfer switch that monitors your electrical power. Once you lose power, it will automatically click on in order to return power to your home. A portable generator, on the other hand, must be turned on and off manually.

Size & Noise

Because standby generators need to power your entire home, they’re much larger than portable generators (and therefore, cost more). However, they’re also quieter because they’re fully enclosed. Portable generators have exposed areas and are a little louder. Their sizes range between 1,000 watts and 15,000 watts while standby generators range between 8,000 watts and 45,000 watts. Usually, the larger the generator, the more expensive.

What They Power

Standby generators are also called “whole house” generators because when you lose electricity, they can power everything electrical in your home. This can come in handy for elderly individuals, those on oxygen respirators, or if you’re away from your home and can’t turn on a portable generator for backup electricity. Portable generators can power nearly anything electrical (including larger appliances like refrigerators), however, you’ll need to plug them directly into the generator.

Which One Is Right for You?

Which generator you choose depends on your budget, your need for electricity, and your location. If you’re in an area that experiences frequent power outages, you may want to consider installing a standby generator. However, if you’re not too worried about backup electricity, a portable generator should be fine.

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