Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: December 23, 2020
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Did you ever find yourself in a conversation where you were telling someone that you had to stay in a hotel because lights went out in your house? The reason might be a neighborhood power outage or a natural disaster, including hurricanes and storms. Sometimes, it even takes more than a week for power to be restored. However, when you have a whole house generator, you don’t have to worry about finding yourself off the grid.
Buying a whole house generator requires you to pay close attention to specifications, which include fuel type, transfer switch, power output, installation and maintenance, as well as warranty period. Your choice will depend on how big your house is and the total wattage you need to power your home, including refrigerator, air conditioner, Wi-Fi, furnace, etc.
Instead of you spending endless hours on the internet and at stores near your house, you can go through our detailed review of top whole house generators. Our review is based on our own experience with the products where we spent two days understanding their features along with expert opinions and customer reviews from trusted websites. In the beginning, you’ll see a list of top generators we managed to find, followed by in-detail reviews of each one, complete with pros and cons, and a buying guide to help you make the right choice.
Champion Power Equipment 100294 is a residential-friendly generator with a power output of 14kW on liquid propane and 12kW, on natural gas. It produces less than 63 dB of noise, which is the sound of a normal conversation or a low muffler tone.
Like many other generators, it is fitted with a 200-amp automatic transfer switch for easier functioning. Also, the generator automatically starts working as soon your house loses power, so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and switch it on manually.
The generator has a 24-volt starting system that helps it operate efficiently in sub-zero conditions or extreme heat weather. And because of this quality, it doesn’t need a warming kit. Its total harmonic distortion is less than 5%, so you don’t have to worry about delicate electronics getting damaged. The generator has a minimum footprint and can be kept as close as 18 inches from your house. Another advantage of this generator is its anti-corrosive enclosure that can withstand salty environment and storm.
Champion offers the best warranty among all generator brands we reviewed. You’ll get a 10-year limited warranty along with free technical support as long as you use the product.
What we liked:
Works perfectly in zero temperature and extreme heat conditions
Supports and protects delicate electronics
Automatically starts when your house loses power
10-year limited warranty and excellent customer service
What could be better:
Installation needs technical support and is time-consuming
A favorite among many, the Generac 70422 has a power outage of 22kW, which means it can easily power an average-sized house. The generator uses both types of fuel – liquid propane and natural gas. It is coated with RhinoCoat powder finish that protects the aluminium body from corrosion, making the generator an ideal choice for all weather conditions.
It has a pressure-lubricated engine called G-Force. It is designed to reduce maintenance and make it more reliable compared to other generators available in the market. You can adjust settings on the generator using the Mobile Link™ Remote Monitoring mobile app, which is free. Using it, you can also schedule maintenance servicing, access information, and also check its current operating status.
Its True Power™ Technology provides clean, uninterrupted energy for the smooth functioning of all electronics. The Evolution™ Controller LCD screen makes it so easier to check battery status and maintenance intervals so that the generator functions best at all times. Users appreciated how easy it was to install. The generator comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
What we liked:
High power output
Anti-corrosive aluminium body suitable for all weather conditions
Enclosed in an all-weather anti-corrosive aluminum body, Generac 7043 has harmonic distortion of less than five per cent, which protects sophisticated electronics. You can either buy the generator by itself or along with the 200-amp automatic transfer switch. It has a power output capacity of 22kW.
You can remove three sides of the enclosure for easy installation, maintenance, and repair. Unfortunately, the battery cost isn’t included in the price, so you will have to purchase it separately. It has a multilingual LCD display to monitor generator status, check for any maintenance, and utility power presence. When the Quiet-Test Self-Test Mode was performed on the generator, it recorded a lower RPM. You’ve it consuming less fuel compared to similar range products from other brands. Its Generac G-Force Engine is pressure-lubricated and built specifically for generator use because of which it requires less maintenance and servicing and is more reliable.
You can use both, natural gas and liquid propane, as fuel for the generator. Generac offers a Mobile Link Remote Monitoring app that allows you to control the generator from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. You can check the current operating status and maintenance schedule using the app. Generac offers five years limited warranty on this generator.
What we liked:
High power output
Mobile and web monitoring application
Excellent and cooperative customer service
What could be better:
No alternator to charge generator battery
Can’t run for more than 24 hours at once
The battery can’t be changed while the generator is supplying electricity
With a power output of 20kW, the Briggs & Stratton 40346 is definitely a go-to choice among homeowners. It is fitted with industrial-grade Vanguard engine, which is designed to provide electricity within a few seconds of a power outage. The generator has a 200-amp transfer switch, which is enough for a residential purpose.
It is relatively quiet, so your neighbors won’t complain about any noise coming out of the generator. It can support two air conditioners simultaneously without any trouble. The generator has a displacement of 993cc and uses 2.31 gallons of liquid propane or 187 ft3 of natural gas per hour. If you choose to go with liquid propane, you will have to install an on-site storage tank. Also, it has a Remote Monitor option, using which you can change the temperature of the fuel in case the weather gets too cold.
The installation process is simple and straightforward. Even though it comes with a metal mounting pad, we suggest you to install it on a level surface. You can place it as close as 18 inches from your house. Briggs & Stratton offers a 5-year limited warranty on parts, travel, and labor.
Briggs & Stratton 40445 is a standby generator with a power output capacity of 8kW and a weather-resistant 50-amp transfer switch. You can use it to provide electricity to the whole house with two bedrooms and two air conditioners for a couple of days or more depending on your power consumption. Installation is easy, and since it is certified according to National Fire Protection Agency 37 standard, you can place it as close as 18 inches from your house.
The generator has an outer body of automotive-grade Galvanneal steel, which ensures durability in all weather conditions and corrosion prevention. It is fitted with Symphony II Power Management that coordinates electronics that need higher energy, including air conditioner, with those that need less energy, including your toaster.
You can fuel it either with natural gas or liquid propane, but you can’t change the type once you start using a specific fuel. If you decide to go for liquid propane, you will have to make an on-site storage tank.
The company offers a 5-year warranty on parts, labor, and travel.
Kohler is a trusted brand among hospitals, homeowners, and restaurants because of its super quiet operation. And this generator is no exception, producing only 64 dB of noise.
It’s also durable with its corrosion-proof enclosure, so it stays undamaged even in harshest seaside conditions.
The generator has a power output capacity of 20kW and a 200-amp transfer switch. You have the option to choose a 100-amp automatic transfer switch as well. Its premium power quality makes it possible to light up the house within 10 seconds of a power outage. You can choose between natural gas or liquid propane to fire it up. It has a harmonic distortion of less than 5% to protect delicate electronics. The battery type you need to run is the Group 51 type.
Also, the generator is checked thoroughly before it is delivered to you so that you don’t go through the chaos of getting it repaired later.
Since it is a hefty product, weighing in at almost 300 lbs, you’ll need some help to carry and put it in place.
The generator is backed with a 5-year or 20,000-working-hour limited warranty for the peace of mind.
What we liked:
Trusted and durable product
100% corrosion resistant enclosure
What could be better:
Hard to repair
The engine needs to be tuned for the generator to work better
Things to Сonsider
Buying a generator at the very last moment is going to end up badly because you decided in haste. You have to be very careful while selecting a generator because some bad ones tend to leave carbon monoxide, which is fatal to human life. Don’t wait for the storm season to arrive to make the purchase. Instead, start looking for one right away, so that your decision is sound and suits your house needs.
What are the benefits of having a whole house generator?
The greatest benefit of having a whole house generator at hand is your peace of mind, when you know that you’re life won’t be disturbed by electricity outages, be it for hours or days.
Whole home powering
Since the generator is connected to your house’s electrical panel, you don’t need to go out and turn the switch on, connect extension cords, and connect it your home appliances. Just sit back and relax because everything is happening on its own.
You can expect the whole house generator to start working within five minutes of power outage. Some good quality generators start working in less than 10 seconds so that you can continue your work without any disturbance. You also don’t have to worry about food in the refrigerator getting spoilt nor about the temperature of the house getting very cold.
First of all, you don’t have to worry about the extreme heat or cold affecting your family and you because the generator will maintain room temperature. Instead of going to the hotel to stay in because of the storm or hurricane, you can stay in the comfort of your home and save hundreds of dollars. The food is maintained at high quality; you can shower, you can work from your home, and also keep the kids entertained inside the house because you can run the television and Wi-Fi using generator energy.
Owning a house without home insurance is a risky business even though it is a costly expense. When you install a whole house generator for your house, most insurance companies give you a discount because the risks attached to your home are less compared to their average model.
Peace of mind
There’s nothing more comfortable than being in your home during a natural or man-made disaster. When you have a generator, you don’t have to worry about how you will go through it. You can continue living your life seamlessly and even help people out of danger.
What to look for in an ideal whole house generator?
Output power, fuel consumption, and transfer switch
When it comes to generators, power is calculated in watts. The higher power outage, costlier the generator would cost. You need 600W to light up a refrigerator, 60 to 600W for lights (depending on how many you have in the house), 1,000W for a window air conditioner, 60 to 300W for a computer or laptop.
On an average, you at least need an 8kW generator to run your house smoothly for a couple of days.
We totally recommend you to buy the Generac 7043, which has a power output of 22kW and an automatic 200-amp transfer switch. It supports both natural gas and liquid propane, so you can choose whichever fuel you are comfortable with.
Often people complain about generators being super loud, which is also one of the reasons why they don’t purchase one. Some generators make so much noise that it won’t let you sleep in the night. It can be horrifying if you have small children at home, you sleep better when it is completely silent.
The Champion Power Equipment 100294 is the most silent generator from our list. It makes up to 63 dB noise level, which sounds like a low tone muffled conversation.
Safety for delicate electronics
When it comes to the safety of delicate electronics, all the generators that we’ve included in the list are good. They all have a total harmonic distortion of less than 5%, which means it protects most sophisticated electric equipment.
The goal to purchase the smallest generator that fulfills all your needs. It will maximize fuel usage. It also depends on the frequency of power outages for which you will require a standby generator with a power output of around 20 to 22kW. The Generac 70422 is an efficient generator for frequent use.
Taking into account how pricey these units are, be sure to go for at least 5-year warranty for whole house generators. As for the products we reviewed, the Champion Power Equipment 100294 comes with the longest 10-year warranty, which is really impressive.
Ditch the hassle of pulling the string to start the generator and buy one that has an electric start. All generators mentioned on our list give you the option to choose between natural gas and liquid propane as fuel.
Always check if a generator comes with an automatic low-oil shutoff, which shuts off the engine when oil levels drop below the minimum.
How to Set Up a Whole House Generator?
Setting up a whole house generator is relatively simple, which doesn’t require any technical or professional help. It will take you around 10 to 15 minutes depending on how big the generator is.
Step 1. You will have to start by installing an electrical sub-panel and a transfer switch next to the main electrical panel.
Step 2. Then, redirect your generator’s critical circuits to the sub-panel from the main panel.
Step 3. Create a concrete base for your device. If you don’t want to increase your expenses, you can level the ground but make sure you there is no water source close to it.
Step 4. Place the generator on the base.
Step 5. Place a new high-pressure gas meter in a trench near the generator.
Step 6. Run a natural gas line, if that is your fuel of choice. Trace a wire from the gas meter to the generator and make the connection.
Step 7. Attach the generator’s electrical cable from the generator to your house.
Step 8. Connect the electrical and gas connection to the generator’s rear part.
1. Maintain distance from the house
Generators should be placed far away from the house. Some generators are certified to be kept as close as 18 inches from your house.
2. Never store it in enclosed areas
Never store the generator in your garage, crawl space, or your basements even if it is well-ventilated.
3. Follow manufacturer instruction
No matter how much you know about generators, follow the instructions that come written in the manufacturer manual. The instructions differ from one manufacturer to other, so if you are switching from one brand to another, don’t ignore reading the installation and care instruction.
4. Monitor fuel safety
Switch off the generator when you are refilling it. Also, make sure it has cooled down because the fuel might spill or spark if you fill up when the engine is still hot.
Make sure you store the fuel in an air-tight, non-glass container.
Label it properly, so that there won’t be any negative incidences. Always store it away from a fuel-using electronic or equipment and in a cool and dry place.
5. Keep it dry
When you go to refill the generator or check the LCD screen for details, make sure your hands are completely dry, especially if it is on and running.
6. Avoid carbon monoxide
Make sure to install carbon monoxide battery-operated alarms in your house. If the generator gets overheated, it might leave the gas, which is fatal to human life.
7. Choose propane over gas
Propane is a more affordable option compared to gasoline because the latter needs a stabilizer. On the other hand, propane doesn’t need any stabilizer, and refueling is easy. All you need is to build an on-site propane storage unit.
8. Check local service
Always buy a generator that has a service center in your locality. It is convenient because you’ll get immediate service for maintenance and repair. Parts are also easily available.
Write down all the electronic equipment that you have in your house and need to run smoothly. Check the internet for the amount of power required for different types of electronics. For example, air conditioner consumes 1kW of power. Calculate the total. If the total is around 8kW, double it to 16kW.
Purchase a generator which has a power outage of at least 16kW. Don’t go for house generators that huge power output because it won’t be of much use. It will use a lot of fuel, which will become an expensive affair. Before buying the generator, visit a local repair shop and ask them for the best brand that you should buy.
Natural gas is measured in price per cubic foot, while liquid propane is calculated in price per gallon. Propane needs to be refuelled every time the level reduces. You can store it in a tank in the garage. Also, propane is multi-purpose as it can be used in a variety of electronics. It is also clean energy, so it has a very low carbon footprint. If you use propane for stove, furnace, and grill, stick to the fuel because changing fuels can be an expensive affair.
Natural gas is a lot of cheaper and is also eco-friendly. Also, it is delivered at your doorsteps when you make a call. Maintenance of generator that is run on natural gas is low cost. Longer you use the generator, less and less will be the consumption.
You can back feed your generator in the dryer outlet after you switch off the main breaker. You might get an electric shock if you don’t switch it off before the backfeed or even destroy the generator. To make the connect, you can either use 12 or 14-gauge extension cord.
However, it isn’t allowed in all states in the United States, so you will have to check with your local repair shop if you can do it. If the network fails, you will have to call a repairman. To avoid the chances of it happening, you can instead install an automatic transfer switch.
Even though Champion Power Equipment 100294 is costlier compared to other models on our list, it is the best in terms of a power outage, warranty, and also has a 200-amp automatic transfer switch. Also, it is the quietest and doesn’t make more than 63 dB, which it the sound intensity of a muffled conversation.
Generac 70422 is the second best whole house generator. It can support both liquid propane and natural gas and has a power output of around 22kW. It also comes with a 200-amp automatic transfer switch, which switches on the generator when electricity is cut off. The generator has an anti-corrosive aluminum enclosure that protects its engine during extreme conditions. We highly recommend it to those who live near the sea.
Briggs & Stratton 40445 is our budget pick. It has a power output of 8kW and comes with a 50-amp transfer switch, which is weather resistant. Also, Briggs & Stratton offer five years limited warranty on the product. You can either fuel it up with natural gas or liquid propane at your choice.
We hope that our guide was a helpful hand in your search for the best whole house generator. If you know other great generators that we overlooked, please share in the comments.