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Having a generator that can power every item in your home is important for those living in an area where natural disasters are common. A winter storm, hurricane, earthquake or even wild fire can block your access to fresh water, leave your family suffering in freezing conditions and make survival much harder. A whole home generator is one that can power every appliance you need.
The Briggs & Stratton 40396 is the best of the best because it features a split amp transfer switch that connects it to the electrical system in your home. It comes on automatically after a power failure to provide your home with energy.
Though we recommend the Briggs & Stratton standby motor for most homes, we encourage you to check out the top features of this motor and the main pros and cons associated with the model. You can then compare this motor to some of the other top models.
65 HOURS OF RESEARCHING
40 MODELS CONSIDERED
Top Whole House Generators Comparison Chart
10 Best Whole House Generators Reviews (2020)
1. Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Whole House Generator
Though there are hundreds of standby and whole house generators on the market, our choice for the best is this Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Home Standby Generator System with Dual 200 Amp/Split 400 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch.
It features a durable motor designed by Briggs & Stratton that can run for hours or days, though you should not use it as a permanent power source. This engine can support two air conditioners and any other appliances you need to run.
Designed for use in areas that have less or a lower rated natural gas pressure, it also works with water columns of up to seven inches. Briggs & Stratton designed this generator to look like an outdoor AC unit and to produce less noise than similar models. You can install it right outside your home and put it just 18 inches away from any wall.
With an automatic transfer switch, it will adjust its load based on what you need to run. It also comes on automatically to reduce the time you spend without power.
2. Generac 7040 Synergy 20kW/18kW Whole House Generator
This Generac 7040 Synergy 20kW/18kW Variable Speed Air Cooled Home Standby with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch and Mobile Link is one of the only models on the market that comes with an app that connects to the unit.
This Mobile Link Remote Monitoring app lets you use your tablet, computer or smartphone to check in on the motor when you’re away from home. You can find out if it came on and the number of watts running off the motor.
With its variable speed operation, the 7040 Synergy adjusts the amount of power needed and the wattage used based on the appliances that you use. Though it does not come with a battery, it does come with an aluminum case that has three separate sides you can remove for accessing the inside of the generator. This case is weatherproof and will work in all climates and conditions without rusting.
3. Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Whole House Generator
You might think of Kohler as the company that makes bathroom fixtures, but it also makes a number of dependable products like this Kohler 20RESCL-200SELS Air-Cooled Standby with 200 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase. It responds quickly when the power goes out and provides an almost supply of power within 10 seconds or less.
Its load shedding feature lets the motor reduce the power supplied to certain devices to keep it from overheating or overloading.
An enclosure on the outside of the generator is rust-proof and protects the motor and its motor from salty ocean sprays as well as simple rain and snow. Not only does it run quietly, but it also a power distribution feature that limits the power supplied to certain areas of your home to protect your appliances and electronics.
Kohler gives you a warranty that lasts for five years or 2,000 hours of usage. It can cover up to 20,000 watts too.
4. Generac 7043 Guardian Series Home Standby Generator
This Generac 7043 Guardian Series 22kW/19.5kW Air Cooled Home Standby with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch helps you save money because it comes with both the generator and the transfer switch. This switch lets you connect the generator to your home’s system and select the circuits or areas of your home where you want to use power during an outage.
Though it doesn’t come with a battery, you can buy one separately for a low price.
With a THD rating of around 5%, it runs more smoothly and reduces the risk of your devices and electronics overheating. The smart transfer switch that comes with the motor is a 200-amp switch that you can use inside and out. It also comes with a weatherproof aluminum enclose that features three pieces that come off on the sides.
One top feature of this Guardian Series model is that it has LED lights. These lights tell you when the motor turns on, when it needs some maintenance and when it has power.
5. Briggs & Stratton 40484 20000-watt Whole House Generator
The Briggs & Stratton 40484 20000-watt Home Standby System with 150-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch comes with Symphony II Power Management, which allows you to power larger appliances like an air conditioner, stove or refrigerator at the same time that you power lights and smaller devices.
As it produces up to 50% less noise than other models do, you can use it anytime of the night or day without disrupting your neighbors. It meets all fire safety standards, even when installed only 18 inches from your house.
The transfer switch that comes with this model will work inside or outside once installed and helps the motor more effectively manage a load. This switch is weather-resistant and will keep it running when weather conditions are rough. It supplies your entire home with up to 20 kilowatts of dependable power that will last until the outage ends.
6. Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Whole House Generator
The Briggs & Stratton 40346 20000-Watt Home Standby System with 200 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch is a good all-around generator that works in both larger and smaller homes. The 200-amp transfer switch provides enough power for you to run two air conditioners to stay cool and still power all the other appliances in your home.
The motor will manage its power effectively to send the right amount of power to each circuit or room, which keeps devices from overheating.
This affordable unit is a good choice for homes located on smaller lots as well as townhouses. You only need to keep 18 inches between your home and the generator.
Designed to run up to half as quietly as other models, it lets you relax during an emergency without disrupting anyone else. It comes with an exhaust system that works in the same way a car’s exhaust system does as well.
7. Kohler 14RESAL-200SELS 14,000-Watt Home Generator
Another option from Kohler is the Kohler 14RESAL-200SELS 14,000-Watt Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 200 Amp Whole-House Automatic Transfer Switch. The automatic transfer switch that comes with this model will work when installed indoors or outdoors and works in the same way a 200-amp circuit breaker would.
This switch lets the generator lighten and adjust its load to supply power to more appliances without overheating, and an air-cooled motor further prevents overheating.
Capable of providing up to 14,000 watts of power to your home, this generator comes with a weather-resistant case that completely surrounds the motor. This case will not rust when used in climates with a lot of rain and/or snow.
When properly installed, the generator will monitor your home for signs of a power failure and respond within 10 seconds. The downside is that it may automatically come on when you have a power failure because of a tripped circuit breaker rather than a power failure.
8. Generac 7033 Guardian Series Whole House Generator
The Generac 7033 Guardian Series 11kW/10kW Air Cooled Home Standby with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch comes with the same LED indicator lights that other Generac models do. These lights correspond to features of the motor and tell you when it needs some routine maintenance, when it has a full power supply and when it begins working.
It also comes with a weatherproof aluminum case that features three different sides that come away to give you full access to the motor.
A low THD level tells you that this motor runs smoother and more quietly and that it does a good job of protecting sensitive devices. You can use it to provide power to devices like a smartphone or tablet without it using too much power and frying that device.
Built in the United States, it comes with Mobile Link Remote Monitoring to help you check on it when you’re not home via a linked app.
9. Champion Power Equipment 100177 8.5 kW Whole House Generator
This Champion Power Equipment 100177 8.5 kW Home Standby with ATS50 Outdoor Rated Automatic Transfer Switch is one of the only whole home generators we included on our list that doesn’t come from one of the top three names in the industry. It made our list because it’s one of the best options for those living in colder climates.
Not only will it come on when the temperature drops below freezing, but it can run and continue operating in temperatures of -22 degrees Fahrenheit, though you will need to install it inside your home.
Its gullwing enclose opens easily to give you access to the interior, and the liner surrounding the inside of the motor dampens all noises produced. It does not require any manual operation or fuel because its automatic transfer switch forces the motor to automatically come on and provide power to the circuits you selected during an outage.
10. Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt Home Standby Generator
If you have a smaller home, need less power or want to save some money on a new model, this Briggs & Stratton 40445 8000-watt Home Standby System with 50-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch is a good choice. This is one of the cheapest models on the market that can still supply energy to an entire home, and with 8,000 watts of power, you can run most appliances and devices.
A built-in power management system keeps the motor from overheating and protects your home from overloaded circuits.
As Briggs & Stratton lets you install it up to 18 inches away from any exterior wall, it’s good for homes on smaller lots too. The included 50-amp transfer switch works with the circuit breaker in your home and lets you select the specific circuits that you want to provide power to and run during a power failure.
Final Verdict: Our Favorite For Your House
Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt
The best generator for the whole house is the Briggs & Stratton 40396 20000-Watt Home Standby System with Dual 200 Amp/Split 400 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch.
Made by the same company known for its engines and motors, it works in homes that have less pressure produced by natural gas lines and can work in areas with a water column of 3.5 to seven inches.
Compatible with most systems, it has an automatic transfer switch that switches on the power as soon as your home’s system fails. Briggs & Stratton designed this generator to run smoother and more quietly and recommends installing it at least 18 inches from a home.
How to Choose the Perfect One
Before purchasing a generator for your home, you should ask yourself a few questions.
1. How Many Watts Can It Cover?
You should look at the number of watts needed to run the most important features of your home and search for a model that can cover that same number of watts. You need at least 600 watts to run your refrigerator, 750 or more for a sump pump and around 1,000 for your home’s air conditioner. Most homes benefit from motors that can cover 5,000 watts or more.
2. Is a Standby or Portable Model Right for Your Home?
A standby generator is a permanent addition to your home that kicks on when your power goes out, while a portable model is one that you’ll need to bring inside yourself and move to a central area in your home. Portable models can cover up to 8,000 watts. A standby model can cover up to 20,000 watts but will cos more.
3. Are There Good Safety Features?
The risk of carbon monoxide leaks is high with some types of generators, which is why it’s important that you select one with good safety features. It should have a power-transfer switch that you connect to your circuit breaker and a three-prong cord that works with a grounded outlet. It should also have a sealed container for the fuel source that won’t leak.
4. What is the Total Harmonic Distortion Rating?
Total harmonic distortion, better known as THD, is a measurement that looks at the harmonic distortion of an object. With generators, this tells you whether it has a high risk of failing in the future. It gives you an idea of how much heat and emissions it will produce and whether it can handle currents without losing any core power.
Though some companies do not include a rating in their product descriptions, you should read through each description carefully to try and find a number. The top models have a THD rating of around 5%, which indicates a reduced risk of overheating and failures.
5. What is the Difference Between an Air-Cooled and Liquid-Cooled?
Many of the generators that you see up for sale, including some of the top models on our list, are air-cooled generators. These models feature a small fan inside that blows cold air over the motor to keep it from overheating. A larger motor can run up to 16 circuits and provide up to 20,000 watts of power without the motor seizing.
Liquid-cooled generators work in the same way that car motors do and use a liquid inside that protects the motor, similar to how oil lubricates your car’s engine. These motors are usually much larger in size and can supply power to 20 or more circuits.