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4 Good Home Standby Generators for the Money 2017

Updated on November 7, 2017
The Generac Guardian Series 5875 Standby Generator is an amazing option that is not only durable, but affordable as well.
The Generac Guardian Series 5875 Standby Generator is an amazing option that is not only durable, but affordable as well.

Standby Generators - A Must-Have for Emergencies

Growing up in Indiana it seems like we lost power to our home on multiple occasions every single year.

On our street the lights would all go dark except for one home who had a standby generator waiting in the case of a power outage. In a few cases the power went out for several days at a time.

While we scrambled to find a place for our freezer and refrigerator food, they sat at home watching TV like nothing had ever happened.

My family was lucky that we weren't in a location like the coast where it can be difficult to purchase food or where things can get bad quickly. Tornadoes, while dangerous, don't have the widespread effects like you get with a Tsunami or hurricane. That being said I'd always wished we were just a little more prepared in case of an emergency.

I practice emergency preparedness today:

Today I have my own family and we've tried to make emergency preparedness a priority whenever we can. We have a separate cold storage room stocked with food and a standby generator just in case the power goes out.

When it comes to a standby generator for your home you want something that has maximum output and stable energy that will work well with sensitive electronic devices and appliances you may have.

While a good inverter generator will give you stable energy for any device, budget options generally don't have enough output to power your entire house.

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Understanding Who Needs a Standby Generator

How do standby generators work?

After the power goes out an automatic transfer switch disconnects you from utility power , the generator switches on, and then transfers power to your electrical panel and throughout your house.

The standby generator will continue to provide power as it is fueled by either natural gas, diesel, or a propane source.

Unlike a portable generator if connected properly the standby generator is pretty much worry-free. It even disconnects when power is once again detected on the grid.

Why should you purchase a standby generator?

A standby generator provides an uninterrupted backup power supply in the case of a power outage. In the case of an emergency it can be essential in making sure food doesn't go bad and that you have other essentials like heating and cooling.

Who needs a standby generator?

A generator is nearly a necessity in areas which are prone to natural disasters and power outages. Other reasons to have one would be if you have small kids or an elderly family member.

For me if I don't have power I simply lose that time that I could be working so if you work out of your home like I do, then it's also a really good idea.

How much power does your standby generator need to provide?

A standby generator doesn't necessarily have to power everything in your house, but you'll want to make sure you have enough power for essentials like a freezer, refrigerator, sump pump, air conditioning, heater or even a microwave.

You should make a list of each item you'll need. If you don't know how much power each item will require, then sometimes you can find a number on the tag of the item or look online for additional information.

Keep in mind that after you find this number you'll want to adjust the total wattage upward just in case. You'll also want to think about major appliance start up wattage. I recommend going with a standby generator that can handle at least 1.5 times your calculated amount.

Choosing a Standby Generator

When choosing a standby generator you'll want to keep in mind that older units have a high THD or total harmonic distortion. Because a poor standby generator with high THD can damage sensitive electronics you should look for one that has a THD of no more than 5%.

Most modern generators are built with this in mind, but you'll want to check the technical specifications of the standby generator just in case. Various brands advertise units with lower THD differently.

For Generac its called True Power Technology whereas Kohler may simply advertise it as Premium Power Quality. Since this can be a bit confusing you'll ultimately want to dig a little to see if you can find the real THD number.

For Residential Neighborhoods:

If you live in a densely packed residential neighborhood, then you may also want to look for a generator that operates at a lower decibel level. For example, Generac's 5837 claims to be 10dB quieter than other competitive units.

The Generac 5837 is a good overall value and provides you with enough energy to run your major appliances and Heating or AC.
The Generac 5837 is a good overall value and provides you with enough energy to run your major appliances and Heating or AC.

Top Rated Home Standby Generators for the Money in 2017

Standby Generators Under $2,000

Generac CorePower Series 5837

If you're looking for value at around $2,000 I strongly recommend you take a look at the Generac 5837. While the Generac CorePower Series 5837 is, perhaps, a bit quieter than conventional units, it's still pretty loud.

I'd compare it to having a lawnmower running at all times. That being said this unit is quiet for the cost and good for covering basic needs. It's not a unit for covering your sump or whole home option, but it'll work good powering your lights, A/C, dryer, and fridge.

Basic Technical Specifications: 7,000 watts, Generac OHV Engine, 10DB quieter than many competitive units, easy installation, CARB compliant

5 stars for Generac 5837 CorePower Series 7,000 Watt

Standby Generators Under $3,000 to $4,000

Generac Guardian Series 6052 Vs. Kohler 14RESAL

For about $1,000 more than the previous unit you can get the new Generac 6052 which has twice the amount of available power at 14,000 watts. With True Power Technology it has less than 5% THD so it's safe to use with your computers or other modern appliances that may have sensitive equipment or processors. This particular unit is also recommended by many of today's industry experts and will provide you with reliable backup power for many years to come.

Another similarly priced and rated standby generator in this category is the Kohler 14RESAL. Both units offer a 5 year warranty and a similar output rating at 14kW. Like the Generac the Kohler has high quality power with THD coming in at below 5% from no load to full load.


While the Generac model is rated at 66dBA, Kohler advertises the model at 63dBA during weekly engine exercise and 67dBA during full speed operation.


Overall both of these models are very similar and include automatic transfer switches. Ultimately, you may want to go with the one that happens to be on sale. For more information you can take a look at the Generac and Kohler website for more technical information.

Under $5,000

Generac Guardian Series 5875

If you're looking for a reliable option to power the entire house, then the Guardian Series 5875 from Generac is where you should look first. It powers most 4,000 square foot homes and will safely run your electronic devices with Generac's True Power Technology. You may also want to look into the Generac 6244, a newer version of this model.

© 2013 Brandon Hart

Standby Generator Open Review and Discussion Area

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    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Great and informative Hub! I've never owned a generator, but definitely could have used one when I lived in Louisiana and Texas. We often had power outages because of storms. Thanks for sharing this information!