Home appliance trends come and go. Small appliances like air fryers may soon follow rice-makers and bread machines down the path toward extinction. But there’s nothing small or temporary about the latest must-have home appliance. Everyone wants a standby generator.
Do you really need one?
Main Reason You Need a Home Standby Generator: Disasters
The 2021 cold front in Texas was just one of the recent disasters that caused homeowners to re-evaluate the worth of whole-house and portable standby generators. Without electricity and heat, water pipes froze, and people were stranded in their own homes. The death toll was uncertain and estimated to be between 200-700.
Also in Summer 2021, Michigan rains and flooding knocked power out for days, while heatwaves led to brownouts and rolling blackouts on the West Coast. Hurricanes continue to leave homes powerless. Wildfires threaten power grids.
“Standby generators are gaining a foothold in households,” says Interesting Engineering, and there are many reasons why. The uncertainty of weather disasters and our electrical power supply is the main reason more homeowners are investing in a standby generator.
In 1971, only one percent of U.S. homes had a microwave. You were either a pioneer-owner or waited until the 1980s, but soon, every home had a microwave. Many believe standby generators are taking that direction.
Portable vs. Standby Generators
Most of us have owned or used a portable generator. They’re great for tailgate parties, camping, and other activities that benefit from electricity.
Portable generators are noisy – as much as 90 decibels, which can damage your ears over even a short period of time. They are powered by gasoline. Handling and pouring gasoline into a small generator have their own risks, plus the carbon monoxide fumes are dangerous. You need to position yourself and your loved ones at a safe distance from the unit. A heavy-duty extension cord should run from the generator to whatever you need to power.
Standby generators are expensive enough to qualify as an investment. But like most investments, the return is worth it. It adds value to your property and the inconvenience and peace of mind are priceless.
A standby generator is permanently attached outside and connects to your home’s electrical system and a natural gas or propane line. An automatic transfer switch (ATS) detects a power interruption and starts the generator. When power is back, it shuts off the generator.
A professional electrician should be consulted before you buy. You’ll need at least 8,000 watts but your electrician can tell you if more wattage is required. Professional installation is also required. Standby generators can weigh more than 500 pounds and must be mounted on a dedicated strong, flat surface.
Top-Selling Home Generators
Most of us do online research to learn about products and brands. These top-selling generators are also top-rated.
The generators most U.S. households buy are:
- Briggs and Stratton
Forbes rates these models as the best generators in 2023:
- Generac Guardian Wi-Fi
- Briggs & Stratton 12,000-watt
- Champion 14kW aXis
- Generac PowerPact
- Generac Guardian 3-phase
Ask Yourself 9 Questions
To learn if you need a standby generator, answer these questions:
- Do you depend on a sump pump?
- Do you have a standalone freezer?
- Do you have an electric/hybrid car?
- Do you have well water?
- Do you live in a high-risk-for-severe-weather area?
- Do you live in an area that has wildfires?
- Do you or a family member depend on electricity for a medical device/appliance?
- Do you work from home?
- Does your area suffer from grid failures?
If you answered yes to several of these questions or if you answered yes to question 7, a standby generator is a good idea.