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6 Best Standby Generators 2020 Reviews & Buying Guide

Last updated on December 3rd, 2020

As each storm season approaches it becomes more of a possibility that our homes will lose power. Power outages are uncomfortable and they can make us vulnerable to looters. Having a standby generator will keep your home secure because looters can’t evade motion sensors, security cameras, or even floodlights that can be powered during an outage.

Making the right standby generator investment is hard, and that’s why we’ve researched all the top standby generators on the market and became experts. We’ve analyzed all the important features including transfer switches, amount of watts, and reliability.

It is important to have the best standby generator because you need a generator that is reliable and provides enough power for your home.

A mediocre generator will fail during an emergency and will cost more over time. This resource has all the information you need to make a conscious decision.

6 Best Standby Generators on the Market:



Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt


This 20RESCL-200SELS air-cooled standby generator and 200 amp transfer switch are by Kohler. It is a single phase 20,000 watt unit. It is also available with a 100 amp transfer switch. It kicks on in about 10 seconds once an outage hits.

It has a strong enclosure which will keep it protected from even the harshest seaside conditions. The dimensions of this unit are 48 x 26.w x 29 inches.

What Customers Are Saying

More than half of the automatic standby generator reviews are positive for this unit. It doesn’t look bad attached to the home and the sound is not that loud.

It comes with good and easy instructions. Some of the customers who already used it during an outage said it was quite dependable. Some of the more disappointed customers had trouble getting this unit maintained and installed.


  • Functions well
  • Dependable
  • High operating cost
  • Might not be service entrance rated


This generator is one of the top-rated standby generators. There are some customers who have used this generator for years and are still happy with the functionality of it. It has easy instructions and customers encourage others to take the necessary steps to maintain the 5-year warranty. The installation is not simple and you’ll want to hire a professional.

When you’re ready to own a durable and dependable generator that won’t be eyesore outside of your home, purchase this unit for your house.


Generac Guardian 7030 Optimus Generator, Aluminum


This Generac generator is an aluminum standby guardian in 7030. It is a 9/8 KW air-cooled and has a 16 circuit transfer switch. It delivers great power technology for running appliances and electronics smoothly. It has LED indicators informing you of generator status, maintenance required, and utility power presence.

What Customers Are Saying

The one customer who has reviewed this product seems happy so far with the functionality. The few concerns they had was that the unit is pretty loud, there isn’t a cool down mode, or a variable speed control. It only runs on high.


  • LED indicators
  • Aluminum enclosure
  • Easy access for maintenance, repairs, and installation
  • Battery sold separately
  • Unit is loud
  • No cool down mode
  • No variable speed control


If you’re looking for a best rated standby generator for home use that is rated for indoors and outdoors, this might be the generator for you.

It has a quick and easy way to access the controls for any installation repairs and maintenance. It runs a little loud, but it has an aluminum cover that is tough and durable in all weather.

Generac 7029 Guardian Series 9kW/8kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator (no Transfer Switch)


This 8,000-watt air-cooled liquid natural gas/propane powered standby generator is by Generac. This product was made for smaller single-family residential homes.

The controller will let you know your utility power, it controls the automatic transfer switch, starts and stops the generator, exercises the generator, and monitors it for any system issues. The item dimensions 48 x 25 x 29 in No customers who have purchased this generator have placed a review yet.


  • Reliable
  • Good price
  • Good safety features
  • Doesn’t include transfer switch


Even though recent customers have yet to rate this product, the features prove that this is one of the best rated residential standby generators on the market.

Customers who purchase this generator must be thrilled with the dependability, functionality, and price of this generator. If you’re interested in getting great features and reliability at an affordable price, purchase your generator today.

Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator


This 100294 standby generator is by Champion Power Equipment. It can power your entire house around the clock in the event of an outage. It provides seamless, managed power to the home in the quietest manner possible.

It has a low-tone muffler that has a unique design as well as advanced sound dampening. The trustworthy starting system will operate in sub-zero or extreme heat. It doesn’t need a warming kit, refueling, manual operation or extension cords.

What Customers Are Saying

The couple of the customers who have provided home standby generator reviews are pretty pleased. It has a low hum that can’t really be heard from the far end of the home, and it comes on automatically, which gives customers peace of mind in the event of an outage.


  • Comes on automatically
  • Quieter than other generators
  • Can power the entire home
  • N/A


This might be the best quiet standby generator for the price. It automatically comes on in the event of an outage and it also performs its own weekly tests. It doesn’t have any trouble operating at any temperature. If you’re looking for a reliable generator you should consider this one.

Generac 7042 Standby Generator


This 7042 standby generator is by Generac. This option is a generator only but it is also available with a 200 amp transfer switch. This generator allows your sensitive electronics and appliances to run smoothly.

The LED indicators show utility power presence, maintenance required, and generator status. The aluminum enclosure has sides that can easily be removed for installation, maintenance, and repairs.

What Customers Are Saying

More than half of the customers who have purchased this generator feel that it has worked well for them. It is a solid unit and has been the best standby generator for the money. Only a handful of customers who posted reviews stated that the generator failed them.


  • Functions well
  • dependable
  • No indicator for poor battery


This generator is one that you can depend on during a power outage as long as you have a solid battery. There is no bad battery indicator on the LED system so you might have to frequently check that you have a healthy batter for the most dependability.

If you’re ready to stop worrying whenever there might be a power outage get this generator.

Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with 200 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch


This gray 20 KW standby generator is a 40336 by Briggs & Stratton. It comes as the generator only, but you can purchase a transfer switch in a dual 200/400 split, 100 amp, 150 amp, or a 200 amp.

What Customers Are Saying

Of the couple customers who purchased the generator only, just one of them is extremely happy. They feel it is easy to install and maintain on your own. The disappointed customer felt the generator was loud and unreliable.

During an emergency, the generator ran for a while and then stopped running completely. Other people who purchased this generator purchased the style including a transfer switch and seemed to be happier.


  • Easy to get installed
  • Easy to maintain on your own
  • Generator only might be unreliable
  • Very loud


If you plan to purchase one of the best rated whole house standby generators it is probably best to purchase the style that includes a transfer switch. This generator might not be as trustworthy on its own, but the transfer switch options seem to work really well for most people.

If you want to independently maintain your generator and you don’t mind the weekly noise, this unit is a great choice.

Tips on Choosing the Best Standby Generator for the Whole House

Prioritize your power needs

Make a list of all the important things that need to be powered and placed them in order of most important. Then also list the necessary watts to run each item. This will give you an idea of what size generator you’re leaning towards. Generac Guardian 7030 9/8 KW Air-Cooled Standby Generator, Aluminum


Make sure you’re ready to spend in the thousands. Home generators are permanent and are not cheap.

Depending on how many things you plan to operate in your home including your entire home, you can expect to spend anything from $3,000-$6,000.

Don’t ignore the transfer Switch

This switch provides the seamless connection of generator power to your home.

The switch is responsible for making sure only a single phase of power is transferred at a time. An automatic transfer switch will give you peace during a storm because you’ll know that in seconds of an outage, your generator will begin to power your home.


Get a solid warranty. You’ll want to make sure your generator lasts a long time because you’re investing lots of money upfront. Try to get a warranty that includes some type of maintenance or repair contract. A company that is willing to warranty its product is probably selling a good quality item.

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Standby Generator

Fuel Source

Depending on the type of fuel you prefer to use, you will need to make a few adjustments to your home. Standby generators up to 22kW will usually need liquid propane or natural gas.  There are also dual-fuel types of generators.

If you go this route, you will need to verify the size of your gas meter and fuel lines. If you prefer to use a diesel generator, then you will have to get a liquid-cooled whole-house type of generator that will run you more in expenses.

Power Needs

Realizing the amount of power you might need in the event of an outage is an important step in determining the generator size you’ll need.

When you determine the things you need to backup you’ll be considering big items such as refrigerators, whole house, and air conditioning units.

If you are looking for a generator that is portable and 2000 watts of power is enough for you, click here to check what are the best 2000 watt generators.

Power Ratings

Once you figure out your power needs you will determine the power rating for your generator. The standby home generators are usually larger and are rated by KW.

The electrical output of a single kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. Depending on what you need to power up you might need a very powerful generator.

Keep in mind that your air conditioner is one of the most power-dependent appliances in your house.


The size of your generator will be determined by how much power you plan to use. If you do need to run your air conditioner you can check on the data plate to see the tons of BTUs that it takes up. Each 1 ton equals 12,000 BTUs, and that equals 3.517 kW of energy.

A 3-ton air conditioning unit would need a standby generator of 11 kW or bigger. Check an online standby generator calculator to make sure you’re buying the right size

Transfer Switch

This switch will control when your generator kicks on. If you have an automatic switch, you can expect your generator to start up on its own as soon as a power outage is in effect.

The switch is smart and will stop the power going into the home and only use the generator’s power. You’ll need to check the amperage of your home’s electrical panel to make sure you’re buying the matching switch. The most common residential need is a 200 amp switch, but smaller homes can use 100 or 150 amps.

Standby Generator FAQ

Why is a transfer switch so important?

A transfer switch gets permanently installed near your electrical panel. It monitors and detects when power is out and signals for the generator to turn on.

It also determines when electricity is coming back into the home and the generator should be turned off. It is the safest way to connect the generator to your home’s power circuit. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt

How do I get the standby generator installed?

You’ll want to contact the manufacturer of the generator you purchase. They will get you in contact with a local dealer who will come out to your home and install the generator.

If you find a brand that you would like to use you can also contact them directly to have a local dealer help you pick the right generator for your home.

The local dealer will be aware of city permits and ordinances and can help you get the right product for you and your neighborhood. Always hire a professional to make sure you keep your product warranty in-tact.

The cost of your installation will vary but new purchasers should be ready to spend between $5,000 – $10,000, which will include the generator, transfer switch, and installation. Briggs & Stratton 40336 20kW Standby Generator, Gray

How do I know when my generator needs maintenance?

Your residential standby generator will run a self-diagnosis on a regular schedule and will notify you of any system maintenance needs.

Depending on your setup you can get this information in a text, email, or it can be sent directly to your maintenance company.

If standby generators are too noisy and you looking for something quiet and portable check out list of quietest portable generators

Making The Decision

Now you should have enough information on the best standby generator the market has to offer and you are capable of narrowing down your options. Start off with the list of what you need power for during an emergency.

There are several options, but once you decide what type of fuel you want to use and factor in your budget, you’ll drop your list down to one or two options in no time. Don’t forget to read the standby generator reviews.

Take a look at what other people are experiencing who have already purchased your product. A generator is a major investment. You want to make sure you purchase one with a great warranty and that you can depend on for a long time.

When you make your budget, be mindful of your product warranty and safety. Hiring a professional is very important. Invest in a professional installation.

Add that cost to your budget upfront. It might even mean you’ll have to get a less expensive generator. With strategic planning, there is a way to run your generator and provide sufficient energy to your home.

You are officially an expert on home standby generators. Make one final evaluation of your needs and go buy your dependable home standby generator today!