Portable And Standby Generators: Deciding Which Is Right For You

When it comes to safe, reliable backup power in the event of an outage, homeowners have several options to consider. That’s important, because power outages are becoming more frequent due to severe weather, as well as an aging electrical grid. Many of these power outages can last for days—even weeks—at a time. This can lead to discomfort, spoiled food, lost productivity (especially if you work from home), increased security risks and the chance of flooding due to frozen pipes or a sump pump malfunction.

“Homeowners have two main options when it comes to backup power: portable generators or standby generators,” said Ed Del Grande, a master contractor, TV host and home improvement author. “Both are built for different purposes, so it’s important to analyze your individual needs prior to making a purchase.”


Portable Generators

As the name would indicate, portable generators are mobile and can be moved into place wherever needed. These generators—which are great for work sites, tailgates and camping—can power several items, such as a plug-in appliance or lamp using properly rated extension cords. They run on gasoline or diesel and are manually operated. Portable generators must be operated outdoors away from a home due to carbon monoxide issues.

Standby Generators

A standby generator monitors utility power and automatically takes on your home’s electrical load if power is lost, usually within 10 seconds. A standby unit is installed outside the house, much like a central air conditioner, and runs on propane or natural gas, so there’s no refueling. It powers critical appliances and systems such as lights, furnaces, air conditioners, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems, office equipment and sensitive electronics, including TVs and computers.

Companies such as Kohler offer larger standby units that can power an entire home, as well as more compact-sized, affordable standby generators that are good for smaller homes, cabins or situations requiring less power. An 8-, 10- or 12-kilowatt standby generator will power a few key items during an outage, such as a refrigerator, lights and sump pump. Some of the newer models can even start a 5-ton central air conditioner while still powering other items.

“No matter the size, a standby generator provides great peace of mind and can protect everyone in your home—especially those who are most vulnerable, like children and the elderly,” Del Grande said.

If a standby generator is right for you, consider getting a unit that offers:

  • A commercial-grade engine that powers up quickly, provides high-quality, consistent power and can handle heavy loads
  • At least a five-year warranty
  •  A bold, clean look and corrosion-resistant housing, which is critically important if you live near salt water.



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8 Responses to “Portable And Standby Generators: Deciding Which Is Right For You”

  1. Tony
    August 16, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    Wondering how (If) your Generator works in conjunction with previously installed Solar Panels ??

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      August 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Hi Tony,

      This depends upon your application and what the purpose of the generator is for you. If it is just to work in tandem with solar panels in an on-grid situation, any residential model would be fine – the generator would be paired with an ATS to monitor normal voltage, and when that voltage drops due to utility being out and solar not being available, the generator would kick in to supply power. If the application is to operate in an off-grid situation where solar panels are the only reliable power source or where there is a solar battery bank, then there are only a few select models that would be available, the largest being 14 kW. If this is the case, we recommend that you work directly with a certified KOHLER dealer to ensure the generator is properly installed. -Mallory

  2. Contractor Safety Man
    August 29, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    We’ve had a couple outages recently and since I mostly work from home on the computer, down time cost me money. Starting to consider a stand-by generator. Great post.

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      August 31, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      Glad this was helpful for you! Many of our customers have home offices and find a great value in being able to stay up and running amidst an outage. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.

      If you’re interested in finding which generator would be best for you, take a look at our Generator Selector tool: http://www.kohlergenerators.com/home-generators/selector#your-home -Mallory

  3. anderson01
    November 4, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Can you let me know about portable generator ?

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      November 23, 2015 at 8:33 am #


      We would be happy to help. If you give us your contact info, we can mail you additional information as well as connect you with a KOHLER dealer in your area. Please e-mail gpgsocialmedia@kohler.com with your Name, Mailing Address, E-mail and Phone Number.

  4. Chris
    November 23, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    Will Kohler make the available online? Amazon ideally? If so, Id love to add the line of portable generators and home generators to my site.

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      November 23, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Chris,

      They are not available for sale online, but you can certainly sell our product if you’d like to become a certified KOHLER dealer. You can give us your contact information so we can reach out to you or apply online here: http://www.kohlergenerators.com/sales-service/become-a-dealer.

      Let us know if you have any other questions.