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The right generator can protect your family and keep your home safe until help arrives after an emergency or until the power returns. Though some smaller models can supply you with enough power for just a few hours, some of the larger models are standby generators that can run for a full day or more. These models can power any of the appliances you need to use until the power comes back too.
We like the Briggs & Stratton 40415 17kW 3-Phase Standby because it’s suitable for smaller lots and homes located close to other buildings. It will work in areas that have different types of water columns and is available with a transfer switch for permanent installation. We provided you with an extensive review of this model, a list of its pros and cons and created a ranking of the top 10 models on the market to help you make the right choice in choosing a model for your home and family.
65 HOURS OF RESEARCHING
58 MODELS CONSIDERED
Our Favorite Generators on the Market
10 Best Generator Reviews (2020)
1. Briggs & Stratton 40415
The best choice for many homes and shoppers is the Briggs & Stratton 40415 17kW 3-Phase Standby, which supplies more than enough power to keep your family safe.
When used with liquid propane, it generates up to 17,000 watts, but it can generate more than 14,000 watts when used with natural gas instead. Though you will need to purchase a transfer switch when you purchase just the machine, this switch lets you permanently hook the 40415 to your home and avoid power outages.
Capable of running up to 50% quieter than any other model, this model has an automotive exhaust system that keeps the motor cooler without the use of any loud fans. With its built-in power management system, it can adjust the wattage produced to supply all appliances with the necessary amount of power. This Briggs & Stratton model works with all leading appliances, including refrigerators and HVAC and AC systems.
2. Generac 7041 Synergy
The Generac 7041 Synergy 20kW/18kW Variable Speed Air Cooled Home Standby features a design that automatically detects the size of the load and adjusts itself to accommodate that load. When you need to use less power, it reduces its overall wattage, which in turn reduces the noise produced. If you need to run a larger load though, you can expect to hear the machine making more noise.
Generac was one of the first companies to create an app that works with its top models. The Mobile Link Remote Monitoring App is available for different operating systems and will work on a tablet, phone or even computer. This app lets you check in on the generator anytime you want.
This Synergy model has a maximum output rating of between 18,000 and 20,000 watts and comes with an all-weather aluminum case with three sides that pop off. You can remove one or more sides to do some simple repairs or to check on the motor.
3. Kohler 20 Kw 83 Amp 120/240 Single Phase
The Kohler 20 Kw 83 Amp 120/240 Single Phase Natural Gas and Propane Double Fuel Standby comes ready for installation outside your home and is one of the only standby models on the market that does not require a base or platform underneath.
If you live in a region with wet conditions though, you may still want to use a base to keep it safe. It can produce up to 20,000 watts and automatically adjusts the wattage produced based on your current load size.
Kohler guarantees that this model will meet all the emissions standards found in major cities and states and gives you a long-lasting warranty that covers parts and labor. As a double fuel machine, this model can work with both natural gas and liquid propane, but its run time depends on the size of your load and the amount of fuel available. Its rating makes it suitable for use with both 240V and 120V appliances.
4. Generac 7039 Guardian Series
With built-in LED lights on the front, this Generac 7039 Guardian Series 20kW/18kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator is easy to maintain. Those lights come on automatically to tell you when the generator has power, when it sends power through to your system and when it needs some maintenance. It also automatically adjusts the power supplied to keep sensitive items safe and has an output of up to 20,000 watts.
As it does not come with a battery, you will not have access to all its features until you purchase and install a battery, and you can only use batteries made by Generac. If you need to do any maintenance or want to check the motor, you can remove one of the three removable sides on the aluminum case.
This case has an all-weather design that can withstand rain, snow, sleet and dozens of other weather conditions without rusting and without letting moisture get inside.
5. Honda Eu7000is 7000W Super Quiet Light Weight
The first portable generator that we felt was worthy of a spot on our list is this Honda 7000W Super Quiet Light Weight Inverter 120/240v Fuel Efficient, which comes with both 120V and 240V outlets.
With a maximum output of 7,000 watts, this is best for using with just one major appliance and some smaller devices, but it has an LCD monitor that shows you how much time you have left based on load size and remaining fuel. A metal cage on the outside serves as a protective feature but also acts as handles for carrying and moving the generator.
Moving it also easy because of the built-in wheels on the base that can slide across almost any surface inside or out. Not only does this Honda generator run quietly, but it comes with an electric start that forces it to spring to life in five seconds or less.
6. Kohler Generators 14RESAL-200SELS
When the power goes out, this Kohler 14RESAL-200SELS 14,000-Watt Air-Cooled Standby will come on quickly. It takes just 10 seconds for the unit to respond when connected to your home, though you may find that it takes a little longer than that for the generator to come on based on certain conditions. With built-in voltage regulation though, it regulates the power produced to protect any sensitive electronics you plug into it.
Capable of powering a sump pump, refrigerator and other heavy appliances all at the same time, it produces up to 14,000 watts. It comes with a 100% rustproof enclosure that keeps the generator safe from rain and any other weather conditions outside.
Kohler also gives you a durable warranty with this machine, which has an air-cooled design to prevent overheating, that lasts for a full five years or the first 2,000 hours that you use the generator.
7. Dewalt PD123MHB008
Dewalt, the same company that makes some of the power tools in your garage, also makes some other tools for job sites that you can use in your home like this Dewalt PD123MHB008 Gas Powered Portable Generator. Though you will need to keep gasoline around to power the generator, it can run for hours before you need to add any more fuel. This generator comes with a built-in lifting hook on top for convenient moving, a kit for adding wheels to the base and a battery.
The four outlets on the generator include two 120V GFCI outlets and two outlets that can accommodate devices that need 240V connections. Each outlet has a rubber cover that keeps the outlets locked away from the little hands in your home.
When you use the included wheel kit, you can add durable wheels to the base for easier moving of the generator.
8. Subaru RG4300iS
Even if you never drove a Subaru in your life, you’ll still find ways to use this Subaru RG4300iS 9.0 HP Gas Powered Inverter, which is one of the top portable models available. Weighing only 163 pounds, it is easy to move, though you may find that it doesn’t feel as heavy or durable as other models do.
It produces up to 4,300 watts of power and is suitable for use with the lights in your home as well as some major appliances.
Though it does have three 120V outlets that work with standard cords, it doesn’t have as many outlets as other models do. It comes with a nine-horsepower motor that runs as smoothly as the motor in any Subaru vehicle does. The manufacturer includes a wheel kit that gives you the option of using it as a portable model on wheels or as a permanent model on the ground.
9. Briggs & Stratton 40531
One of the more affordable standby models available is this Briggs & Stratton 40531 12kW Standby, which works in homes of up to 5,500 square feet in size. It comes with a 200 amp transfer switch for attaching it to your circuit breaker, but you will need to pay extra to have both the generator and switch installed in your home.
You can place this machine closer to your house to save on lawn space too.
Unlike other manufacturers that give you a warranty based on how many hours you use your machine, Briggs & Stratton gives you a solid warranty that lasts for a full five years that covers both the cost of labor and any parts needed. You also get a Symphony II Power Management System that automatically adjusts the wattage produced to help you get more use out of your fuel.
10. CAT RP12000E
If you ever used CAT equipment on the job site, you can expect to get the same quality those tools have when you use this CAT RP12000E 12000 Running Watts/15000 Starting Watts Gas Powered portable Generator at home. A single tank of gas can last for just over 11 hours when set to a half load, but you’ll get around six hours of run time with a full load.
Built-in indicators let you see when the machine runs low on both gas and oil, and built-in LED lighting helps you turn on the machine when the power goes out without fumbling around in the dark.
CAT supplies you with both wheels that attach to the base of the metal frame surrounding the generator and a built-in hook for lifting and moving.
To find the best generator, we looked at factors like how much power each model provides, how you can use each one and the pros and cons of the top options. All our research led us to the Briggs & Stratton 40415 17kW (Check Price on Amazon.com), which we think is the top choice. As a standby, you can permanently install it outside of your home and feel confident in knowing that you’ll have power when a storm hits.
Suitable for use in regions with a water column of up to seven-inches deep, it is compliant with most standards and will work in homes that sit close to other structures and on smaller lots. You only need to leave an 18-inch gap between your home and the machine It’s available as-is or with a transfer switch for faster installation.
An exhaust system works like your own vehicle’s engine rather than the air-cooled designs found on other models. This allows cool air to easily escape from inside and keeps the decibel level down to keep your power from disrupting your neighbors. Briggs & Stratton offers a five-year warranty on this model that covers both the cost of parts and labor on all necessary repairs.
How to Choose the Right One?
Choosing the right model for your home requires asking some questions as you look at the top options we selected.
1. Do You Need to Travel With the Machine?
There is a big difference between generators designed for home use and those designed for travelers and campers. Portable models weigh well under 100 pounds and often feature a handle that lets you carry it with just one hand. Larger models can weigh hundreds of pounds or more and provide more power.
2. What is the Maximum Amount of Wattage Needed?
Each device and electronic in your home requires a different amount of watts to run properly. Refrigerators and major appliances require the most, but even the lights that you use daily need 50 to 100 watts. Cell phones, televisions and other electronics need around 30 watts or more too.
Major generator manufacturers list the amount of wattage provided right on the packaging. You’ll find models that provide 5,000 to 10,000 watts or power or more. It’s best to calculate the total amount of watts that you need based on the electronics and devices that you will run off the generator.
3. How Many Outlets Do You Need?
Though many people think that they can just run extension cords from a machine to other areas of their homes, this increases their risk of a fire breaking out. You should determine how many things you want to plug into it and then find one that has that same number of outlets.
4. Do You Need a Transfer Switch?
Some manufacturers design models to work with a transfer switch, which you can use to more permanently connect the model to your home. This switch lets you select one or more circuits that you want to run or use off that machine. You will need to install this switch yourself, but it comes in handy during an emergency.
When the power fails, it automatically kicks on, and the transfer switch causes it to take over the operation of that circuit or circuits. This significantly reduces the time your home goes without power.
5. What is the Maximum Run Time?
Run time tells you how long a machine will run based on the size of the tank and the amount of fuel in the tank. Smaller models can run for six to 10 hours, but larger and whole house models can run for up to a full day. The run time often depends on the size of your load too.
Our other reviews
We have also reviewed other types of generators. Check out our reviews if you are interested.